Wednesday, March 10, 2010

All about rye

Keep regular and feel fuller for longer

Chronic constipation affects up to 27% of the population in Western countries and may affect an individual's quality of life. Research has shown that eating wholegrain rye bread relieves constipation and also decreases appetite.

Rye bread can help keep you regular

Nearly one half of those suffering from constipation are unsatisfied with their treatment due to it being ineffective. Various products are available in the market to alleviate constipation - ranging from natural to medicinal sources - but these can be costly and may result in unfavourable gastrointestinal effects (cramps, bloating, flatulence or diarrhoea).

A recent study has shown that an average of 2-3 slices* of wholegrain rye bread relieved mild constipation within one week without increasing unfavourable gastrointestinal effects. Wholegrain rye bread was more effective than wheat bread or laxatives, and improved bowel function compared to other forms of fibre or laxatives. It also created a favourable bowel environment, regulating gastrointestinal activity. Previous investigations have also shown that rye bread had positive effects on bowel function in healthy and constipated adults.

Rye is rich in dietary fibre and contains components such as arabinoxylan which appear to feed the growth of beneficial bacteria in the bowel. The growth of beneficial bacteria discourages the growth of harmful bacteria and contributes to intestinal health.

Rye bread can help keep you fuller

Other research has shown that eating wholegrain rye bread approximately 3-4 slices* resulted in decreased appetite compared to white wheat bread. Wholegrain rye bread decreased hunger feelings both before and after lunch when included in a breakfast meal, and rye bread and rye products resulted in a better insulin response. What contributed to the feeling of fullness is not known, however research to date has shown that foods naturally rich in dietary fibre promote this feeling and decrease appetite in the short term. Dietary fibre that delays absorption of nutrients may lead to the feeling of fullness for longer by increasing the time required for digestion.

Long term studies show that an increased intake of dietary fibre results in a lowered energy intake and loss of body weight. These results are also supported by studies that show a diet low in dietary fibre is associated with an increased risk of obesity.

About rye

Dating back as far as 500AD, rye was introduced as a staple in Britain by the Saxons and Danes. Today rye bread is made with various percentages of rye flour and is generally available in 3 varieties:
  • light rye - a combination of rye and wheat flour (lighter, softer, milder flavoured bread)
  • dark rye - includes a large proportion of rye flour
  • pumpernickel - dark bread made from a mixture of rye flour, rye meal and kibbled or cracked rye grains
Rye bread can be light or dark in colour depending on the proportion of rye flour used. It is often dense in texture and high in fibre. Look out for words "whole", "wholegrain", kibbled" and "flaked" next to rye in the ingredients list. Remember ingredients are listed from highest to lowest quantity in the product.

*1 slice = 35g

1. Holma et al. Constipation is relieved more by rye bread than wheat bread or laxatives without increased adverse gastrointestinal effects. J.Nutr. 2010; 140: 534-541
2. Isaksson et al. Effect of rye bread breakfasts on subjective hunger and satiety: a randomized controlled trial. Nutrition Journal. 2009; 8:39
3. Rosen et al. Endosperm and whole grain rye breads are characterized by low post-prandial insulin response and a beneficial blood glucose profile. Nutrition Journal. 2009; 8:42

Monday, March 8, 2010

Awesome oats

Beyond cholesterol lowering

Don't wait for a cold winter's day to reap the health benefits of oats. New evidence suggests there may be more to oats than cholesterol lowering, with recent research revealing special compounds in oats may help protect against heart attached by reducing inflammation and blockages in blood vessels, and initial investigations have found oats may decrease the risk of asthma in young children.

Killing one Australian every 10 mins and affecting two out of three Australian families, cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death in Australia with huge financial impacts on our health care system. Fortunately, many of the risk factors for CVD are preventable including smoking, high blood pressure, lack of physical activity, diabetes, overweight, obesity and high cholesterol.

For the past decade or more, there have been a growing number of scientific studies supporting the role that oats can play lowering cholesterol and helping to protect against cardiovascular disease. A new study has found oats can help not only reduce LDL (bad cholesterol), but also decrease waist circumference in overweight and obese adults as part of a 3 month weight loss program. Just 2 serves (40g each) of a wholegrain oat cereal each day as part of a weight loss program reduced LDL cholesterol by almost 10%, significantly more than lower fibre control foods as part of a weight loss program (5%). The even better news is; these favourable outcomes were noticed as early as 4 weeks into the study. Both groups lost around 2kg over the duration of the weight loss program, but the group eating oats lost significantly more weight from around their waist.

Oats are naturally rich in beta-glucan (a type of soluble fibre), considered to be responsible for the cholesterol lowering benefits of oats. More recently, another powerful component of oats has been linked to good health. Avenanthramides, a type of antioxidant has been found to help reduce the ability of blood cells to stick to artery walls. This effect could help reduce hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis) which can in time lead to heart attack. One study also suggested these avenanthramides could help explain how oats can reduce the risk of colon cancer.

In addition to heart health, some evidence from initial investigations has shown oats can help reduce the risk of asthma in young children. The study conducted in Finland found early introduction (in the first 6 months) of oats into the diets of babies with an increased risk for type 1 diabetes was associated with a significantly lower risk of persistent asthma by the age of 5 years. These findings need to be confirmed in other populations.

Oats are an economical and versatile wholegrain that can provide the whole family with essential vitamins, minerals, and fibre for good health. Many food manufacturers have realised the health benefits of oats, and you can now enjoy the pleasure of eating oats all year round with new product developments such as oat breakfast biscuits, bread with added oats and many flaked and shaped breakfast cereals made from oats. Aim to eat 4 or more serves of grain-based foods (like oats, breads, breakfast cereals, pasta and rice) everyday - at least half should be wholegrain.

1. Maki KC et al. Whole-grain ready-to-eat oat cereal, as part of a dietary program for weight loss, reduced low-density lipoprotein cholesterol in adults with overweight and obesity more than a dietary program including low-fibre control foods. J Am Diet Assoc. 2010; 110;205-214
2. Andon MB et al. Stae of the Art Reviews: The oatmeal-cholesterol connection: 10 years later. AJLM 2008; 2:51-57
3. Virtanen et al. Early introduction of oats associated with decreased risk of persistent asthma and early introduction of fish with decreased risk of allergic rhinitis. B J Nutr. 2010; 103:266-273