A Harvard University publication released last week has found that whole grains such as porridge, brown rice, oats and Weetabix seem to prevent early death and lower the chance of dying from heart disease and cancer.
The study carried out a systematic review and a meta-analysis of 12 studies about wholegrain which involved a total of 786,076 participants. It found eating 70 grams of whole grain per day (the same amount as a large bowel of porridge) lowers the risk of death from all causes by 22 per cent. In particular death from cancer was found to be reduced by 20 per cent and death from cardiovascular disease by 20 per cent.
Scientists believe that whole grains help lower cholesterol and help regulate blood sugar, as well as keeping people full for longer, meaning they don’t snack on unhealthy foods. The same effect could be gained eating bran, quinoa or a mix of grains.
For those who consumed 90g of whole grain products per day, the following was observed:
- Coronary heart disease risk was reduced by 19%
- Cardiovascular disease risk was reduced by 22%
- Risk of death by stroke was reduced by 14%
- Cancer risk was reduced by 15%
- Respiratory disease risk was reduced by 22%
- Risk of infectious disease was reduced by 26%
- Diabetes risk was reduced by 51%
The greatest health benefit was seen for people who went from not eating whole grains at all, to consuming two servings per day – equivalent to 32 g/day, such as 32 g of whole grain wheat or 60 g product/day, such as 60 g of whole grain wheat bread.
Further reductions in health risks were observed in those who had up to 7.5 servings of whole grains a day, which is equivalent to 225g of whole grain products such as bread.
A large body of evidence has emerged on the health benefits of whole grain foods over the last 10-15 years.
Grains are one of the major staple foods worldwide and provide, on average, 56% of energy intake and 50% of protein intake.
Researchers said that recommendations on the daily amount and types of wholegrain foods needed to reduce risk of chronic disease and mortality have often been unclear or inconsistent.
They recommend for people to increase their intake of whole grains and to choose whole grains rather than refined grains as much as possible.
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