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Newly discovered compounds help explain whole grain health benefits

Scientists from the University of Eastern Finland have discovered new compounds that may help explain the benefits from a whole grain rich diet.

The researchers investigated effects in mice fed bran-rich fodder, and in humans following a diet rich in whole grain products during 12 weeks. A whole grain-rich diet increased the levels of betaine compounds in both mice and humans - the first time many of these betaine compounds were observed in the human body in the first place. At the end of the 12-week follow-up, the researchers also observed a correlation between improved glucose metabolism and increased presence of betaine compounds in the body.

Whole grains are one of the healthiest foods there is and a high intake protects against type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. However, up until now we haven’t understood the cellular mechanisms through which a whole grain-rich diet impacts our body,” says Dr Kati Hanhineva, Principal Investigator of the study at the University of Eastern Finland.

Further studies in cell models showed that one of the betaine compounds discovered reduces the use of fatty acids as a source of energy by heart cells, an effect similar to that of certain drugs used for cardiovascular diseases. Further research are needed to verify the effect in the human body.

Read the full research articles here:

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