Consuming whole grain rye products can benefit your health greater than refined wheat products, according to new research.

The new study from Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, examined how people lost more body fat and weight when eating a diet with high-fibre products containing whole grain rye, compared to those who ate refined wheat products.

This study is the biggest to look at the consequences of consuming specific grains on body weight and body fat, and the first to examine rye specifically.

Researchers analysed 242 overweight men and women aged from 30 to 70 for 12 weeks. Their weight, body composition, blood samples, and appetite was examined at the start, halfway through, and end of the study. The participants were given a specific daily quantity of either whole grain rye or refined wheat, both with the same energy value, and were given the same guidance from a dietician on how to eat healthy.

Lead author of the study, Kia Nøhr Iversen, researcher at the Division of Food and Nutrition Science at Chalmers University of Technology, said: “The results were clear – the participants who received rye products lost more weight overall, and their levels of body fat decreased compared to those who received wheat products.”

Despite both groups losing weight, the participants who were given rye-based products lost around a kilogram more of body fat than the participants who ate refined wheat.

Further research is taking place at the Division of Food and Nutrition Science at Chalmers University of Technology into how diets can be altered to best suit the individual. People can react differently to the same foods, for example due to the bacteria in their gut and the way they can break the food down. New studies can further research in this area by providing unique statistics.

Rikard Landberg, Professor of Food and Health at Chalmers University of Technology, said: “Although we saw an overall difference in weight loss between the rye and the wheat group, there was also very large variation within those groups.

“Increasing our understanding of why different people respond differently to the same foods can pave the way for more specifically tailored diets based on individual needs.”

He added: “We are currently investigating whether certain specific bacteria in the intestine might be the explanation behind why some people lost more weight than others who were also on the rye diet.”

Research has previously shown that people who eat rye feel full quicker than people who eat the same energy quantity worth of refined wheat. This study is used, amongst other reasons, to look at the possible connection between eating rye and losing weight.

Kia Nøhr Iversen said: “But surprisingly, in this study, we actually never observed any difference in appetite.

“We think this may be simply because the method we used to measure appetite was not good enough. Therefore, we are working on evaluating and developing the method further.”

Before a food product can make any particular health claim, it must undergo studies to prove the claim. The studies are expensive and symbolise a barrier to gaining the evidence for having the claim on packaging. Therefore, food producers are less likely to create and promote products that can help people lose weight and decrease obesity.

 Kia Nøhr Iversen explained: “A particularly positive aspect of our study is that the rye products we used are easily attainable in normal supermarkets in Scandinavia and most of Europe. Consumers can therefore act on the new results immediately.

“It does not require particular effort or dedication to have a diet rich in whole grain rye.”

The research was published in the journal Clinical Nutrition.

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