Quality of carbohydrates is vital to good health

Published: 14 November 2017 at 11:00

Brown rice

World’s leading nutrition scientists clarify the importance of whole grains

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The consumption of quality whole grains is associated with lower mortality rates and lower risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity and possibly colorectal cancer, according to a statement released today by the International Carbohydrate Quality Consortium (ICQC), a global committee of leading nutrition scientists.

The committee, which includes Dr Marie-Ann Ha of Anglia Ruskin University, today released the Consensus Statement on Whole Grains as the culmination of its third meeting, which took place in Rome in late September.

Whole grains, such as those found in wholemeal bread, pasta and brown rice, are important sources of dietary fibre, nutrients and phytochemicals in the diet. The scientists stressed the importance of consuming about two servings per day (16g dry weight per serving) of whole grains, as this quantity is associated with health benefits. The statement adds that whole grain foods with a low glycaemic index, such as pasta, should be encouraged.

Furthermore, the scientists stressed the need to communicate information on whole grains to the public and health professionals, including increasing awareness about health benefits, information on whole grain content of foods, promotion in the media, efforts by the food industry and food services to make whole grains enjoyable and affordable, and to support a regulatory environment that promotes simple but evidence-based labelling and on-pack promotion.

Dr Ha, Senior Lecturer in Public Health at Anglia Ruskin University said:

“Grains are the major source of carbohydrates globally, but the quality of these grains is vital to ensure a healthy diet.

“The ICQC decided to focus on this subject for our third meeting, and we believe this Consensus Statement is important to promote healthy eating and lower the risk of obesity and disease.

“We need to determine the difference between intact whole grains, like brown rice, and milled whole grains, such as those found in wholemeal bread and pasta. Both have a positive effect on health, but the question of how exactly these respective benefits are seen requires more research.”