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HomeWellnessDietHealth benefits of whole grains are due to a newly discovered compound

Health benefits of whole grains are due to a newly discovered compound

Researchers examined the health benefits of whole grains by examining concentrations of glucose and betainized compounds in mice and humans.

Previous studies have found that consuming whole grains can reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, and cancer. Whole grains have also been found to have one of the strongest associations with a reduced risk of all-cause mortality. However, the molecular mechanisms of the health benefits of whole grains are not well understood.

To determine the health benefits of whole grains on a molecular level, researchers investigated trimethylated (betainized) compounds that are usually elevated after consuming whole grains. They proposed that an increase in betainized compounds after consuming whole grains could be associated with the health benefits of whole grains. The study was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

For the study, the researchers examined the effects of whole grains on the body’s metabolites in mice and human participants. They randomly assigned mice to diets containing rye and wheat-enriched feed. After weeks of consuming the diet, they examined the mice’s blood and tissue samples.

For the 131 human participants, the researchers randomly grouped participants to one of three diets for 12 weeks: a “healthy diet”, a “whole grain-enriched diet”, or a “control diet”. The authors state that the only difference between the whole-grain and the control diets was that the whole-grain diets contained a fixed amount of whole grain whereas the control diet had refined cereal products as the main carbohydrate source. After the duration of the diets was complete, blood samples were collected. It is also important to note that these participants had impaired glucose metabolism and features of the metabolic syndrome.

They found that an increase in whole-grain foods was correlated to an increase in betainized compounds, which is associated with improved glucose metabolism in mice and humans. This study shows that an increase in whole grains helps to increase glucose metabolism by increasing the levels of betainized compounds.

Written by Laura Laroche, HBASc, Medical Writer


  1. Karkkained, Olli. et al. “Diets rich in whole grains increase betainized compounds associated with glucose metabolism.” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2018. 1-9. Online.
  2. Newly discovered compounds shed fresh light on whole grain health benefits. 2018, https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2018-10/uoef-ndc100318.php, assessed 11 Oct. 2018.


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