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Whole grains for longevity is the new mantra, found a new study

Posted:  Friday, January 09, 2015

Whole grains commonly feature as part of healthy diets touted to help with weight loss or reduce the risk of many lifestyle conditions. However, in their own right, whole grains are pretty healthy too. A new American study has found that each serving of whole grains (28 g) was linked to a 5% reduced total mortality risk or a 9% lower risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) mortality.

Grains are made up of three parts, the bran layers, germ and endosperm. Refined grains lack the bran layers and germ, whereas whole grains have all the 3 elements intact. In the study, the team of researchers from Harvard School of Public Health set out investigate the effect of whole grain intake on risk of death. They published their findings in the JAMA Internal Medicine journal.

The researchers used data from two large studies. They were the Nurses' Health Study, from which 74,341 women were assessed between 1984 and 2010, and the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study, from which 43,744 men were analysed between 1986 and 2010. Every 2-4 years, participants were asked to complete food frequency questionnaires. The whole grain intakes were estimated based on the dry weight of whole grain ingredients in all grain-containing foods consumed, such as bread, rice, breakfast cereals and pasta.

At the baseline, all the participants were free of cancer and CVD. Over the span of the 2 studies, the researchers identified 26,920 deaths. The results revealed that a higher intake of whole grain was associated with reduced risk of overall mortality and lower risk of CVD mortality. These results remained even after confounding factors affecting mortality such as smoking, age, body mass index and physical activity were taken into account.

They however did not note any association between whole grain intake and risk of mortality due to cancer. Talking about the study findings, the researchers said, “These findings further support the current dietary guidelines that recommend increasing whole grain consumption to facilitate primary and secondary prevention of chronic diseases and also provide promising evidence that suggests that a diet enriched with whole grain may confer benefits towards extended life expectancy.”

The researchers attribute this protective effect to the beneficial nutrients and phytochemicals that are present in the outer layers of the grains. In addition, numerous studies have identified whole grain consumption to be linked to reduced blood cholesterol and better weight maintenance. Thus, whole grains act as nature’s very own health package for ensuring a long, fruitful and healthy life.

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