Next time when you buy porridge for morning breakfast, try to look for one with rough and coarse particles as this can significantly lower blood sugar levels by letting the starch digest slowly in the gut, new research suggests.
Wheat is a good source of starch and also contains dietary fibre.
Milling wheat grains to produce flour damages these cell walls, allowing the starch to be digested more quickly.
The study led by King's College London found that when participants ate wheat porridge made from coarser, larger particles, this gave rise to significantly lower blood sugar levels than when they consumed a "smooth" porridge made of finer wheat flour.
Both meals were made of the same ingredients and had the same nutrient contents but starch was digested more slowly in the coarse porridge.
Within two hours of eating, the blood sugar responses were 33 percent lower and insulin responses 43 percent lower when participants ate the coarser particles.
The researchers also found that participants were less likely to experience an undesirable "sugar low" following the earlier peak in blood sugar than when they ate the smooth porridge.
"Our research has shown that there is a relatively easy way to limit the availability of starch/calories from food simply by preserving more of the natural structure of plant-based ingredients," said Cathrina Edwards, lead researcher from the division of diabetes and nutritional sciences at King's College London, in a statement.
Understanding how starch is digested and metabolised is highly relevant to weight management as well as prevention of other related conditions such as Type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
The results have a significant impact on the food production industry.
The development of new milling techniques which maintain the microstructure of wheat might in the future give consumers a greater choice of "diabetic-friendly" foods or healthier versions of wheat-based products such as white bread, breakfast cereals or