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2004 Edition

New Research:
Whole-Grain Foods May Help Prevent Type 2 Diabetes

A new study finds that a diet high in fiber from whole-grain foods may help prevent type 2 diabetes in both men and women.

Researchers in Finland assessed the dietary habits of more than 2,200 men and more than 2,000 women (age 40 to 69) who did not have diabetes. Ten years later, 54 men and 102 women had developed type 2 diabetes.

When the participants were divided into four groups based on their consumption of whole-grain foods, those with the highest consumption were 35% less likely to have diabetes than those with the lowest consumption. In addition, those consuming the most fiber from cereal were 61% less likely to have developed diabetes than those consuming the least, suggesting that the association between whole grains and diabetes is largely due to cereal fiber.

The study does not prove that diets high in whole-grain foods prevent diabetes, but it suggests that people who eat these diets have some protective factors. The researchers offer two possible explanations. First, soluble fiber may slow the absorption of carbohydrates and so reduce the demand for insulin. Second, insoluble fiber moves carbohydrates more quickly through the intestines, leaving less time for the body to absorb the carbohydrates.

American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Volume 77, pages 527 and 622
March 2003


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The Diabetes White Paper from The Johns Hopkins White Papers series is an annual, in-depth report written by Hopkins physicians.



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