Carb lovers, rejoice!

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Since type 2 diabetes relates to blood sugar control, if you're unfamiliar with our well-balanced diabetes meal plan, you might think that a low-carb diet is your best bet for controlling it, preventing it or potentially shifting it into remission.

Think again, suggests a new study published October 13, 2021, in the journal Nutrients. Eating more whole-grain foods will not only reduce our risk for receiving a type 2 diabetes diagnosis, but it will also greatly reduce the overall health care costs of related treatments (naturally). This news comes on the heels of a July 2020 BMJ study that discovered that those who eat one or more servings of whole grains per day had 29% lower risk for type 2 than those who ate less than one serving per month.

BTW, nearly two dozen foods fall under the whole-grain umbrella, according to the Whole Grains Council, including barley, corn, farro, oats (Ina Garten's favorite!), quinoa, sorghum, wheat and wild rice.

Broccoli & Quinoa Casserole
Credit: Photography / Antonis Achilleos, Styling / Christine Keely, Ali Ramee

"Our study shows that already one serving of whole grains as part of the daily diet reduces the incidence of type 2 diabetes at the population level and, consequently, the direct diabetes-related costs, when compared to people who do not eat whole-grain foods on a daily basis," Janne Martikainen, a study co-author and professor at the University of Eastern Finland, tells University of Eastern Finland News. "Over the next 10 years, society's potential to achieve cost savings would be from $300 million (-3.3%) to almost $1 billion (-12.2%) euros in current value, depending on the presumed proportion of whole-grain foods in the daily diet. On the level of individuals, this means more healthier years."

Researchers estimate that about 16% of our overall carb consumption comes from whole grains—far less than the nutrition rule of thumb that half of our grains, or 3 to 5 servings per day, should be whole. As a result, a whopping 95% of us fall below the level of recommended fiber consumption (25 grams for women, 38 grams for men). And, over time, we're not maxing out our type 2 diabetes prevention potential. (ICYMI, here's more about the latest science on the importance of whole grains.)

As a refresher, here's what counts as a serving of whole grains, per the Whole Grains Council:

  • ½ cup cooked whole-grain pasta, rice, bulgur, barley or oats
  • 1 slice whole-grain bread
  • 1 cup whole-grain cereal flakes
  • 1 ounce whole-grain dried pasta, rice or other dry grain (Many recipes call for 2 to 3 ounces of dried pasta, cooked, per person, so you can score a great dose in any of our 30-minute whole-wheat pasta recipes that actually taste good!)
  • A 1-ounce whole-grain muffin

Feeling stumped about where to start in your quest to eat more whole grains? Our favorite whole- grain recipes to help you live longer can help!