Dietary recommendations emphasize increased consumption of fruit, vegetables, and whole grain cereals for prevention of chronic disease.
The domestication and transmission of cereals is one of the most fundamental components of early farming, but direct evidence of their use in early culinary practices and economies has remained frustratingly elusive. Using analysis of a well-preserved Early Bronze Age wooden container from Switzerland, we propose novel criteria for the identification of cereal residues. Using gas chromatography mass spectrometry (GC-MS), we identified compounds typically associated with plant products, including a series of phenolic lipids (alkylresorcinols) found only at appreciable concentration in wheat and rye bran. The value of these lipids as cereal grain biomarkers were independently corroborated by the presence of macrobotanical remains embedded in the deposit, and wheat and rye endosperm peptides extracted from residue. These findings demonstrate the utility of a lipid-based biomarker for wheat and rye bran and offer a methodological template for future investigations of wider range of archaeological contexts. Alkylresorcinols provide a new tool for residue analysis which can help explore the spread and exploitation of cereal grains, a fundamental component of the advent and spread of farming.
Inflorescence architecture is a key determinant of yield potential in many crops and is patterned by the organization and developmental fate of axillary meristems. In cereals, flowers and grain are borne from spikelets, which differentiate in the final iteration of axillary meristem branching. In Setaria spp., inflorescence branches terminate in either a spikelet or a sterile bristle, and these structures appear to be paired. In this work, we leverage Setaria viridis to investigate a role for the phytohormones brassinosteroids (BRs) in specifying bristle identity and maintaining spikelet meristem determinacy. We report the molecular identification and characterization of the Bristleless 1 (Bsl1) locus in S. viridis, which encodes a rate-limiting enzyme in BR biosynthesis. Loss-of-function bsl1 mutants fail to initiate a bristle identity program, resulting in homeotic conversion of bristles to spikelets. In addition, spikelet meristem determinacy is altered in the mutants, which produce two florets per spikelet instead of one. Both of these phenotypes provide avenues for enhanced grain production in cereal crops. Our results indicate that the spatiotemporal restriction of BR biosynthesis at boundary domains influences meristem fate decisions during inflorescence development. The bsl1 mutants provide insight into the molecular basis underlying morphological variation in inflorescence architecture.
Several studies have suggested a protective effect of intake of whole grains, but not refined grains on type 2 diabetes risk, but the dose-response relationship between different types of grains and type 2 diabetes has not been established. We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of prospective studies of grain intake and type 2 diabetes. We searched the PubMed database for studies of grain intake and risk of type 2 diabetes, up to June 5th, 2013. Summary relative risks were calculated using a random effects model. Sixteen cohort studies were included in the analyses. The summary relative risk per 3 servings per day was 0.68 (95 % CI 0.58-0.81, I(2) = 82 %, n = 10) for whole grains and 0.95 (95 % CI 0.88-1.04, I(2) = 53 %, n = 6) for refined grains. A nonlinear association was observed for whole grains, p nonlinearity < 0.0001, but not for refined grains, p nonlinearity = 0.10. Inverse associations were observed for subtypes of whole grains including whole grain bread, whole grain cereals, wheat bran and brown rice, but these results were based on few studies, while white rice was associated with increased risk. Our meta-analysis suggests that a high whole grain intake, but not refined grains, is associated with reduced type 2 diabetes risk. However, a positive association with intake of white rice and inverse associations between several specific types of whole grains and type 2 diabetes warrant further investigations. Our results support public health recommendations to replace refined grains with whole grains and suggest that at least two servings of whole grains per day should be consumed to reduce type 2 diabetes risk.
The potential role of whole grain in preventing various mortality outcomes has been inconsistently reported in a wealth of prospective observational studies.
We studied the combined effects of wholegrain, fish and bilberries on serum metabolic profile and lipid transfer protein activities in subjects with the metabolic syndrome.
Studies of whole grain and chronic disease have often included bran-enriched foods and other ingredients that do not meet the current definition of whole grains. Therefore, we assessed the literature to test whether whole grains alone had benefits on these diseases.
OBJECTIVE: Eating whole grains (WG) is recommended for health, but multiple conflicting definitions exist for identifying whole grain (WG) products, limiting the ability of consumers and organizations to select such products. We investigated how five recommended WG criteria relate to healthfulness and price of grain products. DESIGN: We categorized grain products by different WG criteria including: the industry-sponsored Whole Grain stamp (WG-Stamp); WG as the first ingredient (WG-first); WG as the first ingredient without added sugars (WG-first-no-added-sugars); the word ‘whole’ before any grain in the ingredients (‘whole’-anywhere); and a content of total carbohydrate to fibre of ≤10:1 (10:1-ratio). We investigated associations of each criterion with health-related characteristics including fibre, sugars, sodium, energy, trans-fats and price. SETTING: Two major grocery store chains. SUBJECTS: Five hundred and forty-five grain products. RESULTS: Each WG criterion identified products with higher fibre than products considered non-WG; the 10:1-ratio exhibited the largest differences (+3·15 g/serving, P < 0·0001). Products achieving the 10:1-ratio also contained lower sugar (-1·28 g/serving, P = 0·01), sodium (-15·4 mg/serving, P = 0·04) and likelihood of trans-fats (OR = 0·14, P < 0·0001), without energy differences. WG-first-no-added-sugars performed similarly, but identified many fewer products as WG and also not a lower likelihood of containing trans-fats. The WG-Stamp, WG-first and 'whole'-anywhere criteria identified products with a lower likelihood of trans-fats, but also significantly more sugars and energy (P < 0·05 each). Products meeting the WG-Stamp or 10:1-ratio criterion were more expensive than products that did not (+$US 0·04/serving, P = 0·009 and +$US 0·05/serving, P = 0·003, respectively). CONCLUSIONS: Among proposed WG criteria, the 10:1-ratio identified the most healthful WG products. Other criteria performed less well, including the industry-supported WG-Stamp which identified products with higher fibre and lower trans-fats, but also higher sugars and energy. These findings inform efforts by consumers, organizations and policy makers to identify healthful WG products.
High intake of whole grains has been associated with lower risk of coronary heart disease; however, the research that has been used to evaluate different effects of different whole-grain cereals (e.g., wheat, rye, and oats) has been sparse.
Whole grains are a key component of a healthy diet, and enabling consumers to easily choose foods with a high whole-grain content is an important step for better prevention of chronic disease. Several definitions exist for whole-grain foods, yet these do not account for the diversity of food products that contain cereals. With the goal of creating a relatively simple whole-grain food definition that aligns with whole-grain intake recommendations and can be applied across all product categories, the Healthgrain Forum, a not-for-profit consortium of academics and industry working with cereal foods, established a working group to gather input from academics and industry to develop guidance on labeling the whole-grain content of foods. The Healthgrain Forum recommends that a food may be labeled as “whole grain” if it contains ≥30% whole-grain ingredients in the overall product and contains more whole grain than refined grain ingredients, both on a dry-weight basis. For the purposes of calculation, added bran and germ are not considered refined-grain ingredients. Additional recommendations are also made on labeling whole-grain content in mixed-cereal foods, such as pizza and ready meals, and a need to meet healthy nutrition criteria. This definition allows easy comparison across product categories because it is based on dry weight and strongly encourages a move from generic whole-grain labels to reporting the actual percentage of whole grain in a product. Although this definition is for guidance only, we hope that it will encourage more countries to adopt regulation around the labeling of whole grains and stimulate greater awareness and consumption of whole grains in the general population.