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Ask Tufts Experts March 2013 Issue

Q: If you’re worried about developing diabetes and keeping blood-sugar levels low, is it better to eat whole grains or simply to eat less grains and cereals of any type, to consume fewer total carbs?

Answer : Nicola McKeown, PhD, director of Tufts’ Nutritional Epidemiology Program, answers: "The first goal would be to keep within a healthy weight and to ask yourself if your overall dietary pattern is a healthy one. To help you achieve a healthy weight, try out the Food Tracker and the Physical Activity tracker at

"Overall, the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that all Americans make half or more of their grains whole grains. For adult men and women, this means between three and four servings of whole grains. Where possible, I would recommend that you replace your refined grains with a variety of whole-grain foods, making sure to keep a check on the portion size. Examples of whole grains include whole wheat, dark bread, oats, brown rice, rye, barley and bulgur. Substituting your refined grains with whole-grain alternatives is easier that you may imagine. For example, replace cornflakes with old-fashioned or quick oatmeal or a whole-grain cereal, replace regular pasta with whole-wheat pasta, replace white rice with brown rice or bulgur wheat, and consider popcorn rather than another type of snack. Because carbohydrates are sources of calories, it’s impor-tant to substitute your refined grains with these healthier whole grain alternatives.

"A recent study reported that compared with those who rarely or never consume whole grains, those reporting an average of 48 to 80 grams per day of whole grain (three to five servings) had a 26% reduction in type 2 diabetes risk and a 21% reduction in cardiovascular disease risk, independent of known cardiovascular risk factors."

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