When you eat grains – and of course they should be a regular part of your diet – you can’t do better than bran. In fact, a bowl of bran cereal has just 1/3 the glycemic levels of a bowl of cornflakes. That means your blood sugar will go up only a third as much, so it doesn’t have far to fall. (Remember, it’s those precipitous drops that cause trouble and make you hungry again.)
There’s really no better way to get one of three daily servings of whole grains. We recommend starting your day with bran cereal. Top it with berries and you have hit upon a perfect combination.
Think of bran as the heavy "overcoat" worn by kernels of whole grain oats, wheat, or rice. It contains the highest concentration of fiber of any part of the grain (12 g per ½ cup for wheat and rice bran; 7 g per ½ cup for oat bran). As you know, fiber helps you feel fuller on fewer calories, smoothing the way for weight loss.
Bran also helps tame those wild blood sugar surges after meals. When researchers gave obese children either a sugar solution or sugar solution with 15 g (about 4 tablespoons) of wheat bran, the kids’ blood sugar levels were much lower when they ate bran. If you add bran to your diet regularly, you can lower your blood sugar over the long term by as much as 22%. At least that’s what the drop experienced by people in a study who ate rice bran for two months as a part of a heart-healthy diet.
Oat bran is high in soluble fiber, which gives it extra power over blood sugar. Adding oat bran to the mix – meaning pancake, muffin, or cookie mix – can significantly change the food’s effect on your blood sugar. Researchers found that for each gram of beta glucan, the type of soluble fiber found in oat bran, added to snack bars, the glycemic index of the bar dropped by four points. A lower glycemic index translates into lower glycemic level – which means a milder blood sugar response after you gobble down the goody. It takes only 1/3 cup oat bran to provide 1.5 g of beta-gluten.
As you can tell, we are big on bran!
Health Bonus of Bran
Oat bran can bring down high cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease. In one study, men who consumed the most wheat bran (about 9 g per day) were 30% less likely to develop heart disease then those who consumed the least (not quite 2 g per day).
Rice bran can also lower cholesterol, in early research in animals suggest it may help tame high blood pressure as well. The natural oils in rice bran may be a magic ingredient. Rice bran is also gluten free, a real plus for people have a sensitivity to gluten.
Wheat bread may help reduce the risk of colon and breast cancer. And of course, bran helps keep your regular.