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The Prediabetes Nutritionist

5 Blood Sugar-Wholegrains to Eat with Prediabetes

5 Awesome Blood Sugar-Friendly Wholegrains to Eat with Prediabetes

All whole grains are not created equal! Here are five blood sugar-friendly wholegrains you can eat and still reduce your HbA1c!

There’s a common misconception that you can’t control your blood sugar without eliminating grains from your diet. 

You CAN absolutely eat grains and LOWER your blood sugar. But you must control your portions, pair them with high-quality proteins, fats and vegetables and ideally choose high-quality wholegrains.

In this post, I’ll share five blood sugar-friendly wholegrains to eat if you have prediabetes.  

What are wholegrains?

Grains are the seeds from which new plants grow. The seeds are considered whole grains if all three parts – the bran, germ and endosperm – are present in their natural proportions. If one or more of these three parts are missing, the seed is considered a refined grain.

Whole grains are more nutritious than refined grains because they contain the bran and germ layers where most of the grain’s vitamins, minerals, fats, antioxidants and fibre are found (Slavin, 2000). They are also associated with a lower risk of pre- and type 2 diabetes, partly because of their lower glycaemic index (GI) compared to refined grains (Slavin, 2000).

Of note, GI describes the impact of carbohydrates on blood sugar levels relative to pure sugar or white bread (Atkinson et al., 2008). Usually, foods with GI values in the range <55, 55-69 and >70 are considered low, medium and high GI foods, respectively.

The Blood Sugar-Friendly Wholegrains

Wholegrains generally have a low to medium GI, making them fantastic additions to any diet. However, most people eat only brown rice, quinoa and oats without realising that other nutrient-dense options with (sometimes) lower GIs exists.

Here are six other wholegrains to add to your diet.

1 | Millet (includes sorghum, fonio and teff)

Millet, an ancient gluten-free grain, was cultivated as early as 6000 BC (Martin et al., 2021). Thirteen types of millets are available worldwide, including pearl, finger, sorghum, little, proso, kodo, barnyard, brown top, foxtail, Guinea, Job’s tears, fonio and teff (Anitha et al., 2021).

The GI of millet varies depending on the type, with some exhibiting low GIs (Barnyard millet, fonio and teff) and others medium GIs (Kodo, little and pearl). The average GI of millet is 52.7 (Anitha et al., 2021).

Millet has a distinctive corn-like flavour and can be prepared in many ways. You can cook it al dente or fluffy to use in salads or to replace rice and couscous. Nigerians ferment it to form a pudding popularly known as ‘pap’ or ‘ogi’. Indians make bread, biscuits, and porridge with it or use it as a rice alternative.

Nutritional facts (per 100g raw)

Calories: 378

Carbs: 72.8 g

Sugars: 0.8 g

Fibre: 8.5 g

Protein: 11 g

Fat: 4.22 g

Sodium: 5 mg

Potassium: 195 mg

Magnesium: 114 mg

2 | Barley

Barley is another ancient grain that has been in existence for at least 17,000 years (Badr et al., 2000). It is a rich source of fibre and many health-promoting plant chemicals such as flavonoids and phytosterols (Idehen, Tang & Sang, 2017).

Wholegrain barley has a GI of 21-26. However, pearled barley which is typically available in grocery stores and has all of the bran and most of the germ layers removed has a GI of 30-41 (Atkinson et al., 2021).

You can add barley to soup and stews; its starch lightly thickens meat or vegetable juices. You can also use it as a replacement for couscous and rice in summer salads or as an alternative to rice in puddings.

Nutritional facts (per 100g raw)

Calories: 354

Carbs: 73.5 g

Sugars: 0.8 g

Fibre: 17.3 g

Protein: 12.5 g

Fat: 2.3 g

Sodium: 17 mg

Potassium: 452 mg

Magnesium: 133 mg

3 | Buckwheat

Buckwheat is a greenish-brown, almost triangular-shaped, gluten-free grain cultivated in China since 1000 BC. Two main types of buckwheat exist – common buckwheat and Tartary (bitter) buckwheat (Li et al., 2018).

Buckwheat is a good source of protein, fibre, vitamins and minerals, health-promoting antioxidants, and sterols (Li et al.., 2018). It has a distinctive earthy and nutty flavour. Its (wholegrain) flour is used more often than the grain, typically for noodles and crepes.

According to a Polish study, the GI of buckwheat is 34.7 (Rozanksa et al., 2020).

Nutritional facts (per 100g raw)

Calories: 343

Carbs: 71.5 g

Sugars: –

Fibre: 10 g

Protein: 12.3 g

Fat: 3.4 g

Sodium: 1 mg

Potassium: 460 mg

Magnesium: 231 mg

4 | Bulgur wheat

Bulgur wheat is pre-cooked wheat berries milled into smaller pieces. Since it contains all three parts of the wholegrain wheatberry bulgur wheat, it is considered a whole grain. It is rich in manganese and fibre and a good source of protein, magnesium, zinc, potassium, selenium, phosphorus and vitamin B3 (Dorra et al.,2022).

It is widely used in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean dishes to make tabbouleh, pilafs and kibbe. Bulgur wheat makes a great alternative to rice and couscous.

The GI of bulgur wheat is 48 (GI News, 2012).

Nutritional facts (per 100g raw)

Calories: 342

Carbs: 75.9 g

Sugars: 0.41 g

Fibre: 12.5 g

Protein: 12.3 g

Fat: 1.33 g

Sodium: 17 mg

Potassium: 410 mg

Magnesium: 164gmg

5 | Rye berries

Rye is common in colder climates such as Russia, and Northern and Eastern Europe, where it’s widely used in bread, cake and biscuit making. It is closely related to wheat and barley but very low in gluten with a strong flavour.

Among cereals, rye has the highest fibre content and is unique because it contains fibre in the bran and endosperm layers (Jonsson et al., 2018). It is a good source of magnesium, phosphorus, copper and selenium.

Wholegrain rye has a GI of 35; on average, rye bread has a GI of 60 (Atkinson et al., 2021).

Nutritional facts (per 100g)

Calories: 338

Carbs: 75.9 g

Sugars: 0.98 g

Fibre: 15.1 g

Protein: 10.3 g

Fat: 1.63 g

Sodium: 2 mg

Potassium: 510 mg

Magnesium: 110gmg

REFERENCES

  1. Slavin, J.L. (2000) Whole grains, refined grains and fortified refined grains: What’s the difference? Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 9 (Supp 1): S23-7.
  2. Atkinson F.S., Foster-Powell, K., Brand-Miller, J.C. (2008) International tables of glycemic index and glycemic load values: 2008. Diabetes Care, 31: 2281-2283.
  3. Martin, L., Messager, E., Bedianashvili, G., Ruishvili, N., Lebedeva, E., Longford, C., Hosvsepyan, R., Bitadze, L., Chkadua, M., Vanishvili, N., Le Mort, F., Kakhiani, K., Abramishvili, M., Gogochuri, G., Murvanidze, B., Giunashvili, G., Licheli, V., Salavert, A., Andre, G., & Herrscher, E. (2021). The place of millet in food globalisation during late prehistory as evidenced by new bioarchaeological data from the Caucasus. Scientific Reports, 11: 13124.
  4. Anitha, S., Kane-Potaka, J., Tsusaka, T.W., Botha, R., Rajendran, A., Givens, D.I., Parasannanavar, D.J., Subramaniam, K., Prasad, K.D.V., Vetriventhan, M., & Bhandar, R.K. (2021) A systematic review and meta-analysis of the potential of millets for managing and reducing the risk of developing diabetes mellitus, Frontiers in Nutrition, 8:687428.
  5. Badr, A., Sch, R., El Rabey, H., Effgen, S., Ibrahim, H., Pozzi, C., Rohde, W., Salmini, F. (2000) On the the origins and domestication history of barley (Hordeum vulgare). Molecular Biology and Evolution, 17(4): 499-510.
  6. Idehen, E., Tang, Y., & Sang, S. (2017) Bioactive phytochemicals in barley. Journal of Food and Drug Analysis, 25(1): 148-161.
  7. U.S. Department of agriculture (2019) Barley, hulled. Accessed: 8 Jan 2023. Available: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170283/nutrients
  8. Atkinson, F.S., Brand-Miller, J.C., Foster-Powell, K., Buyken, A.E. & Goletzke, J. (2021) International tables of glycemic index and glycemic load values 2021: a systematic review. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 114(5): 1625-1632.
  9. Li, L., Lietz, G., & Seal, C. (2018) Buckwheat and CVD risk markers: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Nutrients, 10(5): 619.
  10. Rozanska, D., Mikos, K., Regulska-IIow, B. (2020) Assessment of the glycemic index of groats available on the Polish market. Rocz Panstw Zakl High., 71(1): 81-87.
  11. U.S. Department of agriculture (2019) Buckwheat. Accessed: 8 Jan 2023. Available: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170286/nutrients
  12. Dorra, S.T., Farah, D., Nesrine, H., Wafa, A., & Youkabed, Z. (2022) Drying behaviour of bulgur and its effect on phytochemical content. Foods; 11(7): 1062.
  13. U.S. Department of agriculture (2019) Bulgur. Accessed: 8 Jan 2023. Available: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170688/nutrientsGI News, University of Syndey, School of Life and Environmental Sciences and the Charles Perkins Centre (2012). Get the scoop. Accessed 8Jan 2023. Available: https://glycemicindex.com/2013/03/get-the-scoop-2/
  14. Jonsson, K., Andersson, R., Knudsen, K.E.B., Hallmans, G., Hanhiveva, K., Katina, K., Kolehmainen, M., Kyro, C., Langton, M., Nordlund, E., et al. (2018) Rye and health – where do we stand and where do we go. Trends in Food Science & Technology, 79: 78-87.
  15. U.S. Department of agriculture (2019) Rye grain. Accessed: 8 Jan 2023. Available: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/168884/nutrients

DISCLAIMER: Not a substitute for medical advice – All content is for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide medical or nutrition advice or to take the place of medical/nutrition advice or treatment from your doctor or health professional. Since each person’s health conditions are very specific, viewers of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. All content, including text, graphics, images, and information, contained in this post/video is for general information purposes only and does not replace a consultation with your own doctor/health professional.

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