Credit Karsten Moran for The New York Times
Two large review studies have reached the same conclusion: Eating whole grains is associated with significant reductions in the risk for premature death.
One report, in BMJ, found that whole grain consumption was associated with a reduction in the risk for death from cancer, coronary heart disease, respiratory disease, infectious disease and diabetes. Using data from 45 studies, researchers calculated that compared with eating none, eating 90 grams of whole grains a day reduced the risk for all-cause mortality by 17 percent.
The other analysis, in Circulation, used data from 14 prospective studies with 786,076 participants and found that compared with those who ate the least whole grain foods, those who ate the most had a 16 percent reduced risk for all-cause mortality and an 18 percent reduced risk for cardiovascular mortality. Each 16-gram increase in whole grain intake reduced mortality risk by 7 percent.
A slice of 100 percent whole grain bread contains about 16 grams of whole grains, and current dietary guidelines recommend 48 grams or more of whole grains daily.
The senior author of the Circulation study, Dr. Qi Sun, an assistant professor of nutrition at Harvard, cautions that eating whole grains is not a panacea.
“You shouldn’t hope that you will cure diseases with whole grain foods,” he said. “You still have to pay attention to other good dietary and behavioral practices.”