Whole-grain products reduce risk of chronic disease
A group of leading nutritionists, comprising the International Carbohydrate Quality Consortium (ICQC), reported at a symposium held in Rome that increased intake of whole-grain products is directly associated with a reduced mortality risk, a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and obesity, and possibly also colon cancer. ICQC feels that it is legislators’ duty to explain to consumers through proper legislation what is and what is not a whole-grain product. According to Prof. Fred Brouns of Maastricht University (UM), one of the speakers at the ICQC symposium, many manufacturers in the Netherlands are allowed to claim their products are ‘whole grain’, even though they hardly contain the latter. This is an issue that must be addressed, says Brouns.
Whole-grain products twice daily
To enjoy the aforementioned health benefits, eating whole-grain products twice a day suffices, says ICQC. You will not enjoy the same benefits by consuming products containing refined grain, such as white bread or white rice. The ‘whole grain’ designation means that all substances contained in the original grain source must be represented in equal proportions in a food product. Whole-grain products are a high-quality source of dietary fibre and nutrients, and it is vital and urgent that this is communicated to the general public and health advisers, according to the ICQC panel.
Better than vegetables and fruit
Recent data show that whole-grain products appear to have even greater health benefits than vegetables and fruit. For this reason, many international food authorities now promote the consumption of whole-grain products in addition to the consumption of fruit and vegetables. Grain is one of the main sources of food across the world. This has resulted in a great deal of investment and rapid developments in the field of food technology, such as modern milling processes, creating many refined flour products. This has resulted in refined products that hardly contain any fibre and nutrients. ICQC feels it is time for a change. We need to return to completely natural products – to whole-grain products.
During the ICQS symposium, UM Professor Brouns presented a paper on grain and gluten intolerance that occur in a small percentage of the population and on his cross-border Well on Wheat? study, which investigates the relationship between grain and intolerance. Brouns is the coordinator of the project, which is carried out by Maastricht University in association with the universities of Wageningen and Leeds and the Rothamsted Research Institute in England.
The ICQC’s findings were confirmed this month at the international Whole Grain Summit in Vienna, which brought together over 200 experts from 36 countries. ICQC has called on the food industry to focus more whole-grain products and to perform better checks of products claimed to be ‘whole grain’.