Novel Whole Grain May Help Combat Growing Diabetes Epidemic

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Adding novel whole grain Salba, a variant of the grain that sprouts from the popular Chia Pet, to a healthy diet may reduce the risk of heart disease in people with Type 2 diabetes, a new study has found. Research by a St. Michael's Hospital research-scientist, renowned worldwide for developing alternative therapies for diabetes and heart disease, has shown that the whole grain Salba is effective in lowering elevated blood pressure, low grade body inflammation and blood clot formation in people with well-controlled Type 2 diabetes.

"Salba seems to possess important cardio-protective properties in Type 2 diabetes by reducing conventional and emerging heart disease risk factors that are associated with diabetes," said Dr. Vladimir Vuksan, research-scientist at the Keenan Research Centre of the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute of St. Michael's Hospital. "This comes as good news to all who want to add or increase consumption of whole grains."

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Growing scientific evidence suggests that whole-grains play an important role in the prevention of diabetes and heart disease.

"Simple addition of Salba, once used as a food and remedy by the ancient Aztec civilization, to one's diet not only helps patients reach their target treatment goal but also allows patients to take their health into their own hands to improve their diet and health outcomes," Vuksan said.

The study, published in the November 2007 edition of Diabetes Care, is one of the first interventional, long-term randomized clinical studies to directly assess the cardio-protective effects of whole grain in individuals at high risk of heart disease.

"Salba represents a new advancement in the way we approach treatment of diabetes. Now, next to conventional treatment and a healthy diet, individuals affected by diabetes may be better able to control the disease by a simple supplement having a consistent nutrient composition," Vuksan said. "It's really a lifestyle therapy that is turning bad dietary choices into good ones and propelling old medicine into forms of new treatment for chronic diseases that affect millions of Canadians."

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