Blood Sugar Bows to New Bread By
May 11, 2000
An experimental bread made of ultra-fine-ground whole wheat flour
could help Americans up their fiber intake--now considerably below the
recommended 25 grams daily--and reduce risk of diabetes in the process. The
flour, developed by ConAgra, gives the
bread a taste and texture very similar to white bread. But it has six times
Nutrition researchers Kay Behall and Judith Hallfrisch at the
Beltsville, Md., Human Nutrition
Research Center of the USDA's
Agricultural Research Service evaluated
the bread to see if the particle size would result in a slower increase in
blood sugar compared to the sugar syrup given in a glucose tolerance test. A
glucose tolerance test indicates a person's potential for diabetes.
The experimental bread improved blood glucose and insulin levels
in the 26 volunteers about the same as regular whole wheat bread. Levels stayed
lower than when the volunteers ate white bread or consumed a glucose drink.
Particle size of the whole-grain flours apparently doesn't make a difference
for glucose tolerance, the researchers concluded.
Thats good news because nearly 16 million Americans have
diabetes--mostly type 2 diabetes, the kind that usually begins in midlife.
Another 13.4 million have elevated fasting blood glucose, putting them at risk
for developing diabetes.
Behall and Hallfrisch also compared how much carbohydrate was
fermented in the colon instead of being digested in the small intestine.
Fermented carbohydrates may reduce risk of colon cancer, some research
suggests, but they can also produce gas. Neither particle size nor fiber
content affected the amount of fermented carbohydrate. And there was no
difference in gastrointestinal distress among the three breads.
According to Conagras Glen Weaver in Omaha, Neb., the
ultra-fine-ground whole wheat flour has been used in some commercial breads,
waffles and other products for about 4 years. But the market is limited because
the flour is made from white wheat, rather than the more plentiful red wheat.
Weaver is working to gear up U.S. production of white wheat so ConAgra can
market the flour more broadly.
Scientific contacts: Kay M. Behall or Judith G. Hallfrisch,
Diet and Human
Performance Laboratory, ARS Beltsville Human Nutrition Research
Center, Beltsville, Md., phone (301) 504-9014, fax (301) 504-9098,