If you’ve been a reader of my blog for some time, you’ll recall that I’m generally not a fan of grains when it comes to general health.
Most grains tend to be pro-inflammatory: they contain lectins, chemical compounds known to trigger inflammation in humans.
On the other hand, numerous nutritionists (and medical associations) recommend that people increase their intake of wholegrains to lose weight and improve cardiovascular health (research remains very mixed on these benefits).
One of the common wholegrain people are advised to consume is “wholegrain wheat”.
Of all the grains, wheat is by far my least favorite, for multiple reasons:
(i) most of the wheat today is cross-bred for the purpose of increasing gluten content, which makes it more economically attractive to farmers (more gluten = less flour needed to make bread, pasta, etc)
(ii) wheat is one of the crops most heavily sprayed with pesticides and herbicides
(iii) the significantly higher gluten content of wheat (compared to 100+ years ago) combined with the increase in the quantity consumed by the average person means that each of us is consuming a LOT more gluten than our ancestors did. Human beings do not have the enzymes to fully digest gluten, which is why many people react badly to the consumption of gluten in large quantities.
This new study from the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition looked at how 3 types of grains affect body-weight and fat mass:
- Wholegrain Wheat
- Refined Wheat
- Wholegrain Rye
This study was an “intervention” study, as opposed to be just “observational”. This means that they took a group of people for 6 weeks and controlled the type of cereal (grain) they ate.
The results were quite interesting:
- Bodyweight and fat mass dropped the most in the group consuming Wholegrain Rye, beating both Wholegrain and Refined Wheat
- The group eating Rye also “ate less grains by around 200Kcal”. So it seems that the Rye was more filling
Rye is an ancient grain that is historically native to Turkey, but has been cultivated in many parts of Europe. Today, Germany, Poland and Russia lead the world in the production & consumption of Rye.
The main difference between Rye and Wheat is the gluten content: Rye is substantially lower in gluten than Wheat.
It is also richer in soluble fiber, which may explain why the subjects in the study ate less (it’s more filling).
In general, ancient grains (such as Rye) are far less commercial than wheat, which means that giant agricultural companies (such as Monsanto) have not invested billions in genetic modification and pesticides specific to these crops, so they tend to be a relatively safer bet.