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Whole grains can help normalize blood sugar


Last updated 4/24/2008 at Noon

There is no such thing as a diabetic diet; it is just eating well-balanced meals with fiber-containing foods, such as whole grains (fruits, vegetables) and other whole-grain products.

Whole grains can help normalize your blood sugar, reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, help with weight management (fiber content makes you feel full), lower cholesterol and promote proper bowel function.

There are two main types of grain products: whole and refined.

Whole grains contain the entire grain kernel – the bran (outer shell; protects seed fiber, B vitamins, trace of minerals), germ (nourishment for the seed; antioxidants, vitamin E, B vitamin) and endosperm (provides energy carbohydrates, protein).

Examples include whole-wheat flour, bulgur, oatmeal, rye bread, whole cornmeal and brown rice.

Refined grains have been milled, which means the bran and germ are removed. This process also removes much of the B vitamins, iron and dietary fiber.

Some refined grains are enriched. This means certain B vitamins (thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folic acid) and iron are added back after processing.

Fiber is not added back to most enriched grains. Some examples are wheat flour, enriched bread and white rice.

Reading labels

It is important to read the list of ingredients to ensure you are actually getting a whole-grain product.

Don’t rely on the name or appearance of the product.

“Wheat flour,” “unbleached wheat flour” and “stoned wheat” are not the same as whole wheat.

Don’t be mislead by products that say “made with whole wheat,” “made with whole grain” or “made with oatmeal.” You must read the ingredients.

Make sure that the whole-wheat or other whole-grain flours are listed first or second on the list.

Men should eat between 30 and 38 grams of fiber each day, women 21 to 25 grams. Kids should eat their age in grams plus five; for example, a 13-year-old should eat 18 grams of fiber each day.

Kaishawn McDuffie, RN, BSN, CDE, is a registered nurse and a certified diabetes educator. Resources: American Dietetic Association:, United States Department of Agriculture:


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