British Journal of Nutrition

Metabolism and Metabolic Studies

Whole grain consumption has a modest effect on the development of diabetes in the Goto–Kakisaki rat

Moonyeon Youna1, A. Saari Csallanya1 and Daniel D. Gallahera1 c1

a1 Department of Food Science and Nutrition, University of Minnesota, 1334 Eckles Avenue, St Paul, MN 55108, USA


Epidemiological evidence suggests that whole grain intake is associated with reduced risk of type 2 diabetes. However, studies of individual whole grains on the prevention of type 2 diabetes are lacking. The objective of the present study was to examine the effect of different whole grains on type 2 diabetes in an animal model of type 2 diabetes, the Goto–Kakisaki (GK) rat. GK rats were fed either a basal diet or a whole grain-containing diet for 5 months. Whole grain diets contained 65 % whole grain flours of wheat, barley, oats or maize. After 2 months of feeding, fasting plasma glucose concentrations were lower in the wheat, barley and oats groups, compared with the basal group, whereas glycated Hb was significantly greater in the wheat group compared with other groups. Feeding of whole barley and maize increased plasma C-peptide concentrations compared with whole wheat at 2 months. There was a trend in the improvement of insulin resistance with a consumption of barley and oats diets at 2 months (P = 0·06) compared with the basal diet. Oxidative stress markers, urinary thiobarbituric acid-reactive substances and 8-isoprostane, did not improve with whole grain intake at 2 months. At 5 months, whole grain diets did not differ from the basal diet in glycaemic control, insulin secretion, oxidative stress and preservation of pancreatic β-cell mass. These results suggest that the consumption of whole grains may offer modest benefit early in the development of type 2 diabetes, but this benefit is lost with further development of the disease.

(Received October 15 2010)

(Revised April 05 2011)

(Accepted April 05 2011)

(Online publication June 30 2011)


c1 Corresponding author: Dr D. D. Gallaher, fax +1 612 625 5272, email

Abbreviations: CCr, creatinine clearance; GHb, glycated Hb; GK, Goto–Kakisaki; HOMA, homoeostasis model assessment; TBARS, thiobarbituric acid-reactive substances