Eating more whole grains appears to be associated with reduced mortality, especially deaths due to cardiovascular disease (CVD), but not cancer deaths, according to a report published online by JAMA Internal Medicine.
Whole grains are widely recommended in many dietary guidelines as healthful food. However, data regarding how much whole grains people eat and mortality were not entirely consistent.
Hongyu Wu, Ph.D., of the Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, and coauthors examined the association between eating whole grains and the risk of death using data from two large studies: 74,341 women from the Nurses' Health Study (1984-2010) and 43,744 men from the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study (1986-2010). All the participants were free of cancer and CVD when the studies began.
The authors documented 26,920 deaths. After the data were adjusted for potential confounding factors including age, smoking and body mass index, the study found that eating more whole grains was associated with lower total mortality and lower CVD mortality but not cancer deaths. The authors further estimated that every serving (28 grams/per day) of whole grains was associated with 5 percent lower total mortality or 9 percent lower CVD mortality.
"These findings further support current dietary guidelines that recommend increasing whole grain consumption to facilitate primary and secondary prevention of chronic disease and also provide promising evidence that suggests a diet enriched with whole grains may confer benefits toward extended life expectancy," the study concludes.
JAMA Intern Med. Published online January 5, 2014. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2014.6283.
Editor's Note: This work was supported by research grants from the National Institutes of Health and Career Development Award from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. Please see the article for additional information, including other authors, author contributions and affiliations, financial disclosures, funding and support, etc.