Eating more whole grains could reduce risk of death from heart disease
We know that eating a good healthy breakfast can give us a supposed new lease of life each morning to start our day, but the latest research proves whole grain cereal may actually reduce risk of death, especially from heart disease. According to a long-term study from Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) in Boston, the US, eating more whole grain foods may decrease people’s risk of death by up to 15% – particularly risk from heart disease. The study also found that bran, a component of whole grain foods, was associated with similar beneficial effects. Bran intake was linked with up to 6% lower overall death risk and up to 20% lower cardiovascular disease (CVD)-related risk. The study appears online in JAMA Internal Medicine.
Qi Sun, assistant professor in the HSPH Department of Nutrition and senior author of the study, says: “This study further endorses the current dietary guidelines that promote whole grains as one of the major healthful foods for prevention of major chronic diseases.”
The HSPH says although eating more whole grains has been previously associated with a lower risk of major chronic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes and CVD, until now there had been limited evidence regarding whole grains’ link with mortality. Types of whole grains include barley, buckwheat, corn, oats, rye and wild rice.
HSPH researchers and colleagues looked at data from more than 74,000 women from the Nurses’ Health Study (1984 to 2010) and more than 43,000 men from the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study (1986 to 2010). All participants were free of CVD when the study started and filled out questionnaires about their diet every two or four years from the mid-1980s to 2010. Adjusting for a variety of factors, such as age, smoking, body mass index, physical activity, and overall diet excluding whole grains, the researchers compared the participants’ whole grain intake with mortality data over an approximately 25-year period.
They found that whole grain intake was associated with up to 9% decreased risk of overall mortality and up to 15% decreased risk of CVD-related mortality. For each serving of whole grains (28g/day), the overall death risk dropped by 5%, and by 9% for CVD-related death.
In contrast, the researchers found no association between eating whole grains and lowered cancer-related mortality risk. They also didn’t find any decreased risk from eating germ, another essential component of whole grains.
Replacing refined grains and red meats with whole grains is also likely to lower mortality risk, according to the study. Swapping just one serving of refined grains or red meat per day with one serving of whole grains was linked with lower CVD-related mortality risk: 8% lowered risk for swapping out refined grains and 20% lowered risk for swapping out red meat.