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Monday, 16 July, 2001, 00:10 GMT 01:10 UK
Adults miss out on whole grain benefits
Some bread contains whole grains
Nine out of ten adults in the UK fail to eat the recommended three servings of whole grain per day.

And one out in three fails to eat whole grain on a daily basis.

People are therefore missing out on the significant health benefits delivered by whole grain foods

Dr Beckie Lang
The research, based on interviews with 1,035 people and presented at the Nutrition Society's Summer Meeting, means that significant numbers of people are missing out on a range of beneficial nutrients contained in whole grain foods.

These include antioxidants, vitamins, complex carbohydrates and phytochemicals.

Campaigners from Whole Grain for Health (WGFH) claim that if people regularly ate the recommended amount of whole grain food it could save almost 24,000 lives each year in the UK.

Lead researcher Dr Beckie Lang, from the MRC Human Nutrition Research unit, said: "This new research highlights the worryingly low consumption of whole grain foods in the UK.

Big benefits

"Evidence shows that people who eat whole grains on a regular basis reduce their risk of suffering from heart disease, diabetes and certain cancers by up to 30%.

"People are therefore missing out on the significant health benefits delivered by whole grain foods."

The research found that people aged 65 and over ate on average five servings of whole grain a week.

Younger people managed just 2.3 servings a week.

One of the worst offenders were male smokers, 47% of whom failed to consume any whole grain foods during the study period.

This new research into consumption levels of whole grain comes at a time when there is increasing confusion about the health benefits of eating carbohydrate rich foods.

The confusion is highlighted by another new survey which reveals that almost a third of UK adults believe carbohydrate free diets are beneficial to their health and a quarter have restricted their carbohydrate intake to try to lose weight.

Mixed messages

The survey also found that for every woman who thought whole grain foods were good for the heart, there was another who associated it with bloating, weight gain and constipation.

Dr Lang said: "There is no scientific evidence to show that carbohydrates increase bloating, constipation and weight gain.

"People who choose low carbohydrate diets risk missing out on the nutrients offered from foods such as whole grains which have been found to provide significant health benefits."

Wholegrain foods are made from wheat, oats, barley, rye and rice.

They include wholemeal bread and wholegrain breakfast cereals.

See also:

22 Jun 01 | Health
Fibre slashes bowel cancer risk
21 Feb 00 | Health
Eat whole grain, live longer
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