Wholegrain Intake and Risk of Type 2 Diabetes: Evidence from Epidemiological and Intervention Studies

Nutrients. 2018 Sep 12;10(9):1288. doi: 10.3390/nu10091288.


Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) is one of the most common metabolic diseases and represents a leading cause of morbidity and mortality because of its related complications. The alarming rise in T2DM prevalence worldwide poses enormous challenges in relation to its social, economic, and a clinical burden requiring appropriate preventive strategies. Currently, lifestyle modifications-including approaches to promote a moderate body weight reduction and to increase regular physical exercise-are the first crucial intervention for T2DM prevention. In the light of the difficulty in reducing body weight and in long-term maintenance of weight loss, quality changes in dietary patterns-in terms of macro and micronutrient composition-can also strongly affect the development of T2DM. This may provide a more practical and suitable preventative approach than simply implementing caloric restriction. Along this line, there is increasing evidence that wholegrain consumption in substitution of refined grains is associated with a reduction of the incidence of several non-communicable chronic diseases. The aim of the present review is to summarize the current evidence from observational and randomized controlled clinical trials on the benefits of wholegrain on T2DM prevention and treatment. Plausible mechanisms by which wholegrain could act on glucose homeostasis and T2DM prevention are also evaluated. Altogether, the totality of the available evidence supports present dietary recommendations promoting wholegrain foods for the prevention and treatment of T2DM.

Keywords: diabetes diet; diabetes prevention; plasma glucose; plasma insulin; type 2 diabetes mellitus; wholegrain.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / blood
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / diagnosis
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / epidemiology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / prevention & control*
  • Diet, Healthy*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Nutritive Value*
  • Protective Factors
  • Recommended Dietary Allowances*
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Risk Reduction Behavior*
  • Whole Grains*


  • Biomarkers
  • Blood Glucose