Don’t give up those carbs if they contain lots of fibre.
Eating whole grain bread can cut the risk of dying from cancer, heart disease and diabetes by a third, according to an important new report this week in the prestigious British medical journal, The Lancet.
A wide-ranging study published by New Zealand researchers collected evidence from 243 studies and trials involving more than a million people.
They found that overall death rates were 15 per cent lower in those eating the highest amount of fibre. These people were 31 per cent less likely to die of heart disease, 22 per cent less likely to have a stroke and 16 per cent less likely to get bowel cancer.
Fibre is found in unprocessed grains, fruits, vegetables and legumes like beans, lentils and chickpeas.
But the results were best for people who ate whole grains.
People eating the most whole grains were 34 per cent less likely to die of heart disease and 16 per cent less likely to die of cancer during the studies.
An adequate daily intake of total fibre in foods is generally considered to be 21 to 25 grams for women, and 30 to 38 grams for men. Another way to assess it is to figure on 14 g. of fibre for every 1,000 calories you eat.
“Most Canadians are only getting about half that much,” reports Health Canada.
A new whole grain category is planned as part of the new Canada Food Guide, expected early this year. It will likely include wild rice, brown bread, brown pita and whole-wheat pasta.
As well, the protein category will emphasize non-meat, high-fibre sources such as beans.
But consumers will have to read labels very carefully.
Not all brown bread is whole grain.
It may simply be unbleached wheat or dyed with food colouring, caramel or added molasses. And many breads or other products labelled whole grain or whole wheat may contain only a small amount of whole wheat.
The first ingredient on the label should read “100 per cent whole wheat” or “100 per cent whole grain.”
One slice of 100 per cent whole wheat or whole grain bread contains about 4 to 5 g. of fibre.