The consumption of wholegrain foods may lead to longer life, new research reveals.
Though most of us understand the potential of wholegrains to improve symptoms of metabolic disease (such as lowering cholesterol and improving and glucose metabolism) there are still inconsistent data regarding its effect on early death.
A study published in recently JAMA Internal Medicine set out to clarify things by analysing data from two large prospective studies (26-year-long and 24-year-long) involving 118,085 American men and women and who were free of CVD and cancer at the start of the studies. Participants were aged between 30 and 87 years.
Those who reported eating the most wholegrains were almost 10% less likely to die during the course of the study than those who reported eating the least, even when the authors accounted for age, smoking, body mass index, physical activity and other dietary habits.
With every additional 28 g (about 1 oz) of wholegrains per day, the risk of death went down by 5 % and the risk of heart disease death by 9%, the authors estimate. While there was a slightly larger drop in the risk of dying from heart disease with more wholegrains, there was no change in risk for cancer death.
Men and women who reported consuming more wholegrains were more likely to be physically active than the other participants, to consume less alcohol, to have healthier diets overall – and to have a history of high cholesterol. They were also less likely to be current smokers.
The findings add to the list of health benefits of whole grain by demonstrating the potential of wholegrains to extend life expectancy. They also add support to current dietary guidelines that recommend increasing consumption of whole grain for the prevention of chronic diseases.
Common types of wholegrains include whole wheat flour, brown rice, whole oats, whole cornmeal, and popcorn. One serving (half a cup) of oats contains 40 grams of beneficial wholegrains.