Whole grains, legumes, and the subsequent meal effect: implications for blood glucose control and the role of fermentation

J Nutr Metab. 2012;2012:829238. doi: 10.1155/2012/829238. Epub 2011 Oct 30.


Whole grains and legumes are known to reduce postprandial glycemia and, in some instances, insulinemia. However, the subsequent meal effect of ingesting whole grains and legumes is less well known. That is, inclusion of whole grains or legumes at breakfast decreases postprandial glycemia at lunch and/or dinner on the same day whereas consumption of a whole grain or lentil dinner reduces glycemia at breakfast the following morning. This effect is lost upon milling, processing, and cooking at high temperatures. The subsequent meal effect has important implications for the control of day-long blood glucose, and may be partly responsible for the reduction in diabetes incidence associated with increased whole grain and legume intake. This paper describes the subsequent meal effect and explores the role of acute glycemia, presence of resistant starch, and fermentation of indigestible carbohydrate as the mechanisms responsible for this effect.