Whole grains are good, but ensure balanced diet too

Reader Kelly Ho is confused by food labels. She highlighted an organic breakfast cereal that contained 67 per cent brown rice flour, 4g of sugar per serving and had pear concentrate. She is concerned that this could cause a spike in the blood sugar of a pregnant woman with gestational diabetes.

She said: "This can be confusing as brown rice is beneficial, but doesn't the percentage of brown rice have an effect on blood sugar levels? What is the so-called 'safe level' to consume products with brown rice?"

Senior health correspondent Salma Khalik has the answer.

A woman with gestational diabetes should take the same precautions as someone who is diabetic.

Health Promotion Board (HPB) experts gave the assurance that foods high in whole grains, such as brown rice and millet, actually help to regulate the body's blood sugar response after a meal.


Whole-grain products can help to regulate the body's blood sugar response after a meal. However, blood sugar surges can also be controlled by consuming protein in food such as fish, chicken and soya products together with the carbohydrates. ST FILE PHOTO

Whole grains are also rich in fibre, vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals that keep people full for longer and, hence, minimise snacking.

However, while whole grains are good for health, it is important to have a balanced diet. Blood sugar surges can also be controlled by consuming protein such as fish, chicken and soya products together with the carbohydrates. Adding fibre in the form of fruit and vegetables also helps.

As for the pear juice concentrate, the HPB said the amount present is low and "does not significantly impact the sugar content of the product".

The HPB said it wants to build awareness among the public on the need to improve the carbohydrate quality of staples, by replacing refined rice and noodles with whole-grain versions.

The spokesman added: "Replacing as little as 20 per cent of a typical bowl of white rice with brown rice can reduce the risk of diabetes."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 06, 2016, with the headline 'Whole grains are good, but ensure balanced diet too'. Print Edition | Subscribe