Which Whole Grain Is Best for Men's
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July 1, 2012
By A. Turner, Contributing Columnist

Almost everybody knows that men should eat protein to help increase
our muscle. But did you know that you eating the right kinds of whole
grains can help you lose weight and even stave off conditions such as
heart disease and prostate cancer?  Read on.

It's Not About White Bread Anymore

For those of us who have shopped for bread in the 21st century, we
know that for many years now it has not been as simple as "white
versus wheat".  Bread aisles stretch their starchy wings spanning entire
aisles, leaving many of us as confused as we would be without sliced
bread.  What’s a modern shopper to do?  According to the Whole Grains
Council, more and more Americans are making the right choices in
bread: overall consumption of whole grain bread in the United States
rose 20% from 2005 to 2008.  Why is whole grain the right choice?

Choosing Bread for Health: Not As Simple as White Versus Wheat.

Most of us who are concerned with health know that white bread is a
no-no, especially on a daily basis.  But what makes brown bread so
much better for us than white?  It turns out that what we want out of
our bread is not a dark, rich color, but rather whole grains rather than
refined grains. The word “grain” is another way to say “cereal,” and
the words refer to the seeds of grasses that have been cultivated for
consumption, ranging from large kernels of popcorn to tiny quinoa
seeds. The term “whole grains” means that the seeds have not had their
bran and germ removed by milling, and are thus better sources of fiber
and many nutrients such as potassium and magnesium.  

“Refined grains” are seeds that have been milled, a process that strips
the bran and germ from the seed in order to create a finer texture and
to extend the shelf life of the product.   

How Many Whole Grains Are Enough Whole Grains?

The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that all of us
should be eating at least half of our grains as whole grains  but other
research suggests that the more whole grains we eat, the better.  

In 2010, the American Society for Nutrition pulled experts together for
a “Satellite Symposium” on the health benefits of whole grains  and
concluded that “current scientific evidence indicates that whole grains
play an important role in lowering the risk of chronic diseases, such as
coronary heart disease, diabetes, and cancer and also contribute to
body weight management and gastrointestinal health.”  (Read more
about the
ideal weight for men of different heights.)

Furthermore, a study in 2009 by experts from various departments at
the Harvard School of Public Health and the Harvard Medical School  
found that whole grain intake was inversely associated with incident
hypertension (high blood pressure) in men, which, if left untreated, can
lead to heart disease and kidney problems.

Rule number one in the bread aisle: whole grains over refined grains.  
But that still leaves us with quinoa versus sourdough, wheat versus rye,
and so on and so on.  

Check out the list of ten types of whole grain bread below, which have
recently been analyzed for their more specific health benefits; perhaps
knowing your options can help to make bread shopping fun again.

Looking to Lose Weight? Bond with Bran.  Some math gets easier as
we get older.  Here’s a new formula for men at any age to follow if they
want to watch their weight in the long term:
whole grains plus bran
equals long term weight loss.

Of course it’s not quite as simple as that, but in 2004 experts found a
relationship between whole grains, bran, and weight loss in men.
Pauline Koh-Banerjee with the Departments of Nutrition at the Harvard
School of Public Health, and a large team of colleagues from The
University of Tennessee Health Science Center, Harvard Medical School,
and the Institute for Nutrition Research with the University of Oslo in
Norway,  followed the weight gain of over 27,000 American men for
over 8 years.  

What did they find? Results showed that first of all, men who ate more
whole-grain products were less likely to experience long-term weight
gain.  Furthermore, men who added bran to their diet (or consumed
bran from fortified foods), showed an even further reduced risk of
weight gain.  

The team concluded that added bran to whole grain consumption in
men is “inversely” related to weight gain, and that the combination
should be recommended as part of a diet intended to “reduce long-term
weight gain.”

Time to put the math from the paper into your bread basket.  If you’re
worried about your weight in the long run, choose cereals or breads
with whole grains and that are fortified with bran.

Sourdough Helps You Control Blood Sugar.  Think San Fransisco,
the 49ers, and "Sourdough Sam" -- and now, when thinking of
sourdough, also think healthy stable glucose and insulin responses.

In 2010 Jenni Lappi with the Department of clinical Nutrition at the
University of Kuopio in Finland, along with colleagues from other Finnish
researchers,  responded to the dilemma that "glycemic responses to
most of the conventional breads are high," a problem that complicates
breakfast and sandwich choices for people with diabetes, or who
struggle with maintaining steady blood sugar levels in general.  

The team experimented with sourdough fermentation in whole wheat
bread, versus wheat bread without sourdough, which were served at
random to eleven insulin resistant subjects.  Blood samples from these
subjects were taken to measure glucose and insulin concentration, and
results showed that the sourdough whole wheat bread "resulted in the
lowest postprandial glucose and insulin responses."  

If you think you are at risk for unstable insulin or glucose levels, or will
be later in life, you may have found the perfect excuse to return to the
nostalgia of sourdough.

Whole Grain Barley Makes You Feel Full.  What if there was
something we could eat that made us feel full before our stomachs
began to bulge?  What if we finished our breakfast or sandwich at lunch
and didn’t immediately look around for something else to munch on?  
Experts from Minnesota may have found that whole grain barley might
do the trick.

In 2009, Natalia Schroeder with the Department of Food Science and
Nutrition at the University of Minnesota, and colleagues,  analyzed forty
seven participants who ate either barley, wheat, or refined rice
breakfast, and were later presented with a “smorgasbord lunch.”  The
scientists measured the amount of lunch consumed by each participant
(via stealthy but detailed observations of what remained on each
participant’s plate after the meal), and the eaters assessed their own
sense of hunger, fullness, desire to eat, and thirst before and after both
breakfast and lunch.  

People who ate barley reported “significantly less hunger before lunch
compared to their hunger before breakfast” than those eating wheat or
refined rice at breakfast.

If eating beyond your needs is one of your health problems, try adding
whole grain barley to your diet: it might be just what you need to keep
your needy appetite quiet.

Why Eat Rye?   The reputation of rye varies regionally, known for its
Reuben sandwiches and American rye whiskey.  Recent research
proposes another reputation for rye: rye may both improve glycemic
profiles and help to regulate an overactive appetite.

Yes, rye brand helps you control your appetite. In 2009, Swedish
experts led by Liza Rosen with the Division of Applied Nutrition and
Food Chemistry at Lund University  followed 12 healthy subjects and
their blood glucose, serum insulin levels, as well as their subjective
satiety, 180 minutes after eating rye products from endosperm, whole
grain, or bran.  Results showed that whole grain rye products produced
“significantly lower insulinaemic indices” and “improved glycaemic
profiles.”  For those of us who do not know much about diabetes, this
is, plainly put, good news.  Furthermore, the team’s results suggested
that rye products in general “possess beneficial appetite regulating

Next time someone asks why you should eat rye ,you’ll have an answer
that is perhaps more convincing than whiskey and Reuben sandwiches
(though those two answers are already pretty convincing).

Whole Grain Oats: Not Just for Grandma's House Anymore.  Whole
grain oats aren't only for slow stove-top breakfast bowls of steaming
milk topped off with brown sugar.  These days, all of our oatmeal
memories can be baked into the slices of bread that make up our lunch
sandwich.  Even better, eating whole grain oats may help us to maintain
our weight and lower our cholesterol levels.  

In 2010, Dr. Kevin Maki and colleagues at Provident Clinical Research in
Illinois  evaluated how whole grain oat cereal influenced weight loss,
LDL cholesterol levels, and cardiovascular disease risk markers in 144
overweight and obese adults.  Lipoprotein levels, waist circumference,
and body weight were measured at the beginning of the study, and at
weeks 4, 8, 10, and 12 during treatment.  Results showed that "LDL
cholesterol level was reduced significantly" in those consuming whole
grain oats, versus those who were not, and that waist circumference
also decreased more than in non whole grain oat-eaters. (Read more
normal waist size for men.)

If you're worried about cholesterol and the size of your pants, maybe
it's time to return to Grandma's advice: eat your oats! And now you can
take that sage advice with you in a plastic sandwich bag.

You Can Go Gluten Free, and Eat Healthy Bread, Too.  For those of
you out there who are trying the gluten free approach to your daily diet
because of allergies or celiac disease, don’t lose hope: there are plenty
of bread options left for you.  One of the healthier options for you may
be brown rice bread, which may help you out even more if you struggle
with type 2 diabetes.

In 2010, Dr. Qi Sun with the Department of Nutrition at Harvard School
of Public Health, along with a large team of other experts,  compared
how brown rice and white rice affected the risk of type 2 diabetes in
nearly 40,000 men.  Data revealed that consumption of white rice was
associated with a higher risk of type 2 diabetes (at a quantity of over
two servings per week for at least one month).  The team concludes
that substituting brown rice products for white rice “may lower risk of
type 2 diabetes.”  

If you’re allergic to gluten and have never considered your risk for type
2 diabetes (or the other way around), why not hit two conditions with
the same bag of brown rice bread?

Quinoa: Full of Flavor, Protein, and…Antioxidants, Especially in
 Pronounced “keen-wah,” this grain is about to be on everyone’s
mind: word on the internet is that the Food and Agricultural
Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has officially declared that
2013 will be “The International Year of the Quinoa.”   

It is hard to find a grain more worthy of this admirable honor.  Quinoa
offers impressive nutrient richness for its modest size, providing
essential fatty acids, anti-inflammatory benefits, nutrients such as
copper, folate, phosphorus, and calcium, and even has enough protein
to serve as a complete protein source on its own.   Furthermore, a team
of experts in Japan finds that quinoa serves as an excellent source of

In 2009, Yuko Hirose with the Faculty of Education and Human Sciences
with the University of Yamanashi, along with researchers from other
Japanese institutions,  evaluated the “nutritional advantages of quinoa
seeds cultivated in Japan.”  Their study compared quinoa to other
cereals, as well as to quinoa seeds grown in South America.   

Surprise, surprise, the Japanese scientists found that Japan's version of
quinoa is superior. They found that “the crude extracts of quinoa seeds
cultivated in Japan exhibited higher anti oxidative effects than those
from South America and other cereals,” so that “quinoa seeds cultivated
in Japan are the most effective functional foodstuff” in terms of anti
oxidative properties, among cereals.  

If you find that labels on packages of quinoa bread refuse to inform you
of the origin of the whole grain quinoa, fear not: quinoa from anywhere
packs a powerful nutritional punch.

Buckwheat: Another Tempting Gluten-Free Option.  Buckwheat is full
of surprises.  While it is actually a fruit seed and not a cereal grain, it is a
smart substitute for grains for people who are sensitive to wheat and
gluten products.  Buckwheat has been linked to lowered risk of
developing high cholesterol and high blood pressure, and is impressively
loaded with magnesium, which relaxes blood vessels and improves
nutrient delivery throughout the body.   Polish researchers have
recently emphasized buckwheat’s benefits for those of us who are
sensitive to gluten.

In 2010, Malgorzata Wronkowska with the Division of Food Sciences at
the Polish Academy of Sciences, along with colleagues from other Polish
institutions,  experimented with substituting buckwheat flour in various
intervals for corn starch, which is the main component for gluten-free
bread.   Results showed that 40% buckwheat flour “showed the highest
antioxidant capacity,” and that such a mixture “could be developed and
dedicated to those people suffering from [gluten allergies].”  

If you can’t find gluten-free bread with exactly 40% buckwheat
enrichment, try other varieties of buckwheat bread, especially if you’re
concerned about your daily dose of antioxidants.  

Sprouted Grain Bread: Nothing to Fear.  The term “sprouted grain”
may make some of us picture furry substances growing on our peanut
butter and jelly sandwich.  However, research from 2011 suggests that
we should not fear sprouted grain, but rather enjoy it, especially if we
are overweight or obese men.  

A study conducted by Terry Graham at the University of Guelph in
Ontario, along with other experts,  followed the status of obese males
who ingested various types of bread, one of which was sprouted-grain.  
Blood glucose and insulin levels of participants were monitored.  Results
showed that “sprouted-grain bread improved glycemia” so that the
Canadian team concludes that “in overweight and obese men, the
glycemic response to sprouted grain bread was reduced,” while other
types of bread “did not improve metabolic responses.”  

Whether or not you’re overweight or obese, sprouted-grain bread may
be the right choice for you and the sake of your glucose and insulin

All These Grains…Mix ‘Em Up!  The list above suggests nine different
types of bread, which may be particularly beneficial to people with
certain conditions.  But who says we have to choose which kinds of
whole grains to consume?  

Why not spice up our lives, at least in terms of bread, and get the best
that all nine breads above have to offer?  Research from Spanish
experts suggests that this is not such a bad idea.

In 2011 Concha Collar and other researchers at the Food Science
Department with the Institute of Agrochemistry and Food Technology in
Valencia, Spain,  assessed how multi grains compared with single
grains.  Their work concluded that the “quality profile” associated with
mixtures of various whole grains was “highly nutritious” and offered
“improved dietary fibre fractions, minerals and antioxidant activity.”

In a world of endless options, why choose?  Who says we can’t make
our favorite sandwich with one slice of rye and another of oat bread?  
Not only can whole grains keep us healthy, but, it seems, they could also
keep us creative.

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