Wholegrains and cancer risk

New research has discovered even more reasons to love wholegrains.

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The World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) has just released the latest update to its Second Expert Report, compiling and reviewing the most up-to-date evidence around nutrition, lifestyle and colorectal cancer. The original report was the most comprehensive book ever published on the links between food, nutrition, physical activity and cancer prevention. But science is an ever evolving area and so to ensure health professionals and the public continued to get the most accurate and up-to-date advice following its publication, the WCRF started the Continuous Update Project (CUP), which periodically revisits the science around different types of cancer.

Many findings remain the same in their latest colorectal cancer update, but one food group in particular makes a new appearance, with the latest report now finding strong evidence that consuming wholegrains decreases the risk of colon cancer. Evidence showed that eating 90g of wholegrains a day reduces bowel cancer risk by 17 per cent. Wholegrains are grain foods that still contain all three original parts of the grain—the bran, the germ and endosperm—and the nutrients naturally found in them.

Good sources of wholegrains include brown rice, barley, rye, traditional rolled oats, bulgur, sorghum, buckwheat, millet, quinoa, corn on the cob, corn kernels, semolina, polenta, wholegrain breads, wholegrain pasta and wholegrain breakfast cereals. If you want to know if your packaged food—like a bread or cereal—is wholegrain, look at the ingredient list. Some foods declare a percentage of wholegrains in the ingredients, so aim for products that contain more than 51 per cent.

Look for whole instead of refined grains when choosing between grain foods. It’s a simple change that research suggests can make a significant difference to your health.

How easy is it to reach 90g of wholegrains a day?

Breakfast: One-third of a cup of rolled oats gives you 30g of wholegrains to start off the day—great as a porridge or bircher muesli. Add your favourite in-season fruits and a sprinkling of chia seeds for an extra fibre boost.

Lunch: A sandwich made with 2 slices of wholemeal bread containing at least 51 per cent wholemeal flour can give you anywhere from 30-40g of wholegrains at lunch.

Dinner: A veggie stir fry with ½ a cup of cooked brown rice will give you another 30g of wholegrains, taking you to your daily 90g!

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