Study: Whole Grains Link to Less Death From Cancer, Heart Disease

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A bowl of oatmeal for breakfast or a sandwich made with whole wheat bread can help boost your health many ways, including lowering cholesterol and maintaining a healthy gut. Now, according to new research, those foods and other whole grains may also help you live longer.

Published in the journal Circulation, the paper included 14 studies totaling over 786,000 participants, most from the US with a few from Scandinavia and the UK. All studies had gathered information on how many whole grain foods the participants ate – through questionnaires or food records.

The researchers first compared those who ate the most whole grains to the lowest whole grain eaters and found a 12 percent lower risk of dying from cancer among the highest whole grain eating group. For cardiovascular (CVD) death, risk reduced by 18 percent and for any cause of death, there was 16 percent lower risk.wholegrainsservings2

When they divided participants based on how many whole grains they ate, researchers found for a daily serving (16 grains whole grains per day), cancer death was reduced by 5 percent and for CVD, a 9 percent lower risk. For overall death, the risk reduction was 7 percent for each daily serving.

Other research shows that people who eat more whole grains have less type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. AICR’s latest report on colorectal cancer showed that foods containing fiber, like whole grains, lower risk for that cancer.

Barley, oats, whole wheat and other whole grains contain fiber, magnesium, B vitamins and a large array of other health-promoting substances.

The 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans say we should be eating at least 3 servings of whole grains per day. But studies show that most Americans eat less than one serving per day.

To help you boost your whole grain check out  Those Cancer-Fighting Whole Grains slideshow and watch our 1 minute whole grains video. 


This study was funded by the National Institutes of Health.


Author: Alice RD

Alice G. Bender, MS, RDN, is the Director of Nutrition Programs at AICR. She helps put the science of cancer prevention into action by providing tips and tools to choose nutritious and delicious foods. Alice has guided thousands of individuals to healthier lives through diet changes and choices.

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