DENMARK – Substituting refined grain products – such as white bread and pasta – with whole grain varieties causes overweight adults to eat less, lose weight, leading to a decrease in the amount of inflammation in their bodies.

According to a Danish study headed by the National Food Institute, Technical University of Denmark, the study supports the scientific basis for the dietary recommendations of many countries to choose whole grains.

In the most comprehensive study, researchers studied the effect of exchanging refined grain products in the diet – such as white bread and pasta – with whole grain varieties.

The study found that participants eat less when whole grain products are on the menu – presumably because whole grain consumption causes satiety, and while eating the whole grain diet, participants generally lost weight.

“Our analysis confirmed that there is a sound scientific basis for the dietary recommendation to eat whole grains.

This may particularly apply to people who are at increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease or Type 2 diabetes,” Professor Tine Rask Licht from the National Food Institute says.

The researchers used DNA sequencing to analyse stool samples from the participants to examine whether the different diet types affected the participants’ gut bacteria composition.

Overall, the analysis did not show major effects of the dietary grain products on the composition of the gut bacteria.

“However, even though the analysis did not reveal significant changes in the average gut microbiota after whole grain consumption, it may well be that the individual composition of our gut microbes has an impact on the individual reaction of our body to dietary whole grains, given that our bacteria help us digest the fibers in the whole grains.

This is something that further studies of our data may answer,” Tine Rask Licht explained.

“However, while many people think they are buying wholegrain products, in reality, most people are still not,” Gusko noted.

“The reason for this is quite simply that here are many misleading products on the market. Consumers who choose dark, coarse-textured breads or seed-rich bakery items are convinced they are buying wholegrain products.

What they are actually purchasing in many cases is made from coloured refined flour, perhaps with additional seeds and cereals.

These items look like wholegrain products, but they have the poor nutritional profiles of white flour.”

“Conversely, there are innovative wholegrain flours that deliver bakery items with a light and soft crumb and no visible bran particles.

Breads and rolls made with these flours look like they are made with white flour, but in fact, they are real wholegrain products with excellent nutritional value.

So we can safely state that the color and texture of bread says nothing about its wholegrain content.

Health organizations can’t force people to eat wholegrain bread if they don’t like the taste.

But the industry can support wholegrain consumption with tasty products with good mouth-feel and improved nutritional profiles.

At the same time, the industry needs to improve transparency so that consumers can see at a glance the wholegrain content of every product they purchase,” Gusko concluded.