June 20, 2016
4 min read
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Higher intake of whole grains may reduce risk for CVD mortality

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Whole grain consumption is associated with reduced risk for all-cause mortality, death from CVD and death from cancer, according to study data published in Circulation.

Researchers found each daily serving (16 g) of whole grains was associated with a 9% decreased risk for CVD death, 7% decreased risk for all-cause mortality and 5% decreased risk for cancer-related death.

Daily consumption of three servings (48 g) per day of whole grains was associated with a 25% decreased risk for CVD death, 20% decreased risk for all-cause mortality and 14% risk for cancer-related death, according to the researchers.

“Based on the solid evidence from this meta-analysis ... health care providers should unanimously recommend whole grain consumption to the general population as well as to patients with certain diseases to help achieve better health and, perhaps, reduce death,” Qi Sun, MD, ScD, assistant professor at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, said in a press release.

Qi Sun

Researchers analyzed 12 studies published through February 2016 that reported association between whole grain intake and mortality rates due to all causes, from CVD and due to cancer, as well as unpublished results from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey III ((1988-1994)) and NHANES 1999-2004.

In all, 786,076 men and women were studied, of whom 97,867 died. Of those, 23,957 deaths were from CVD and 37,492 from cancer. Ten of the studies were conducted in U.S. populations, with three in Scandinavian countries and one in the United Kingdom.

The researchers found that for an increase of one serving of whole grains per day, the RR was 0.93 (95% CI, 0.92-0.94) for all-cause mortality, 0.91 (95% CI, 0.9-0.93) for CVD mortality and 0.95 (95% CI, 0.94-0.96) for cancer mortality.

Sun and colleagues also calculated pooled RRs that compared extreme whole grain intake categories (high vs. low) for total mortality (RR = 0.84; 95% CI, 0.8-0.88; P for heterogeneity < .001), deaths from CVD (RR = 0.82; 95% CI, 0.79-0.85; P for heterogeneity = .53) and deaths due to cancer (RR = 0.88; 95% CI, 0.83-0.94; P for heterogeneity = .02).

Dietary fiber, which may improve blood cholesterol levels and reduce the risk for CVD, stroke, obesity and type 2 diabetes, is present in whole grains such as whole wheat, oats and brown rice, according to the researchers.

“These findings lend further support to the U.S. government’s current Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which suggest higher consumption of whole grains to facilitate disease prevention,” Sun said in the release. – by James Clark

Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.