Monday, September 26, 2011

Avoid unwanted kilos with wholegrains

20 year study shows how to halt weight gain

Have you ever wondered which foods and beverages, when consumed on a regular basis, are most likely to pack on the kilos? A recent paper published in the New England Journal of Medicine sheds light on this very question.

The researchers looked at the relationship between the intake of 15 key food groups and long-term weight changes. They examined data from three large prospective studies that included over 120,000 non-obese American men and women. The changes in body weight were evaluated in 4-year intervals from 1986 to 2006. Wholegrain foods and refined grain foods were among the 15 key food groups that they examined.

In each 4-year period, participants gained an average of 1.51kg. Weight gain was most strongly associated with intakes of potato chips, potatoes, sugar-sweetened beverages, unprocessed meats, processed meats, and sweets /desserts. Having an increased intake of refined grain foods was also moderately associated with weight gain. However, the effect of refined grains foods in the diet was found to be much less than the impact of other food categories, such as potato crisps and sugar-sweetened beverages, listed above.

On the flipside, weight gain was halted with greater intakes of yoghurt, nuts, fruits, wholegrains and vegetables. Findings were similar in magnitude and direction across the three study populations for men and women.

The researchers concluded the strong link between weight gain with processed foods and refined grains might be because these foods are less satiating, which increases subsequent hunger signals and triggers the desire to eat more at the next meal.

They noted that some foods, including wholegrains, were associated with less weight gain, when intakes were actually increased. This is most probably because an increase in these nutrient dense foods means there is a decrease in the intake of other foods with higher kilojoule content. Also, wholegrain foods, fruits, vegetables and nuts have a higher fibre content and slower digestion rate – two factors which promote satiety (the state of being satisfactorily full).

This very large and well-conducted study provides further evidence to support the role of wholegrains in the prevention of unwanted weight. Most interestingly, when it comes to weight control, this study revealed elevated intakes of wholegrain foods has a larger protective effect than elevated intakes of vegetables.

The study participants had a very similar pattern of grain food intakes to Aussies, with approximately one-third from wholegrain foods and two-thirds from refined grain foods. A move to make at least half of the cereal foods that we eat wholegrain is likely to help combat excess weight in the Australian population.

Go Grains encourages all Aussies to enjoy 4 plus serves of grain foods each day, with at least half of those serves being from wholegrain foods.

Here are a few simple tips to help you swap those weight gaining foods with wholegrain foods, in your diet:

• Swap potato chips with plain popcorn or a wholemeal sandwich
• Include brown rice or wholemeal pasta instead of mashed potato with you main meal
• Choose wholegrain crackers over sweet biscuits.


Changes in diet and lifestyle and long-term weight gain in women and men. Mozaffarian D, Hao T, Rimm ER, Willett WC, Hu FB. New England Journal of Medicine, 2011; 1364:2392-2404.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Dietary Fibre - a well being star

Important for digestive health & overall wellness

It’s hailed a digestive health star, yet most people are unaware dietary fibre also takes centre stage for its ability to lower ‘bad’ LDL-cholesterol levels, stabilise blood sugar levels, aid weight control and much more. 

What is dietary fibre?

Found only in foods of plant origin (e.g. grains, legumes, vegetables, fruit, nuts and seeds), dietary fibre is the part of a plant that escapes digestion and absorption in the small intestine. The dietary fibre we eat makes its way into the large intestine (colon), where it is partially or completely broken down by an army of beneficial bacteria that reside in the colon1,2

There are several types of dietary fibre:

Soluble fibre:
Think ‘gelatinous’ fibre. These fibres, which attract water to form a thick gel, are totally broken down (fermented) by good bacteria in the colon3. During this process, substances are produced which help keep cells in the colon wall healthy. Good sources include cereal grains (especially oats, barley and rye), legumes (red kidney beans, chickpeas, baked beans), psyllium, some fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds.

Insoluble fibre:
Think ‘bulking’ fibre. Best known for increasing the weight and volume of faeces and producing softer and bulkier stools, these fibres aid regular bowel movements3. This beneficial stool bulker is found in wholegrains, wheat bran, legumes, nuts and the skins of vegetables and fruits.

Resistant starch:
This is a starch that acts like dietary fibre in that it too escapes digestion in the small intestine. It moves along to be fermented by friendly resident bacteria in the colon, producing substances that help keep the colon healthy. Common sources include legumes like lentils and baked beans, some cereal grains like pearl barley and brown rice, ‘Hi-maize’® (found in some retail breads and cereals) and cooled cooked potato, rice and pasta3,4,5

Dietary Recommendations

The total amount of dietary fibre we need to eat each day varies according to age, gender, life stage and disease risk6. Maximise the health benefits of fibre by eating a variety of high fibre grain-based foods and legumes each day, together with a selection of fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds.

Ways to Increase Your Fibre Intake with Grain-Based Foods

• Wholegrain (wholemeal, mixed-grain) toast, crumpets or English Muffins
High fibre or wholegrain breakfast cereal or natural muesli
• Porridge or bircher muesli made with rolled oats

• Sandwiches, rolls or wraps made with high fibre bread and with your favourite filling
• Salads made with grains like brown rice and cracked wheat (bulgur), or legumes like four bean mix, kidney beans and chickpeas

•  Casserole or soup with added legumes
• Stir fry or curry with brown rice or soba noodles
• Wholemeal pasta topped with your favourite vegetable-based sauce
• Wholegrain bread used for crumbing fish or chicken

• High fibre or wholegrain snack bars
• Muffins, biscuits or pikelets made with wholemeal flour or rolled oats
• Wholegrain crispbreads/crackers

For more information on Dietary Fibre and its benefits, download our dietary fibre brochure (


1. Food Standards Australia New Zealand. Food Standards Code, Standard 1.2.8 – Definition of Dietary Fibre.
2. American Association of Cereal Chemists. The Definition of Dietary Fiber (Report of the Dietary Fiber Definition Committee to the Board of Directors), Jan 2001.
3. Anderson JW, Baird P, Davis Jr RH, Ferreri S, Knudtson M, Koraym A, Waters V and Williams CL. Health benefits of dietary fiber. Nutrition Reviews. 2009; 67(4):188–205.
4. Landon S. Resistant Starch Review, 2011 Update for Health Professionals. Hi-Maize and National Starch Food Innovation.
5. Marlett JA, Longacre MJ. Comparisons of in vitro and in vivo measures of resistant starch in selected grain products. Cereal Chem. 1996 ;73:63–68.
6. National Health and Medical Research Council (2006). Nutrient Reference Values for Australia and New Zealand including Recommended Dietary Intakes.