Eating Whole Grains Linked to Lower Mortality Risk

According to a new study by the Harvard School of Public Health.

Eating more vegetables was recently linked to longer lifespan, and now, grain lovers can rejoice, too. A newly published, long-term Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health study found that eating more whole grains is associated with up to 15 percent lower mortality—particularly when it comes to cardiovascular disease (CVD)-related deaths.

One of the whole grains in particular, bran, was found to be a superstar of sorts, and was linked with up to 6 percent lower overall mortality and up to 20 percent lower CVD-related mortality.

The study was published online January 5 in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.

Researchers conducted the study because there has only been limited evidence regarding whole grains’ link with mortality, even though previous studies showed people who ate whole grains had a lower risk of major chronic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes and CVD.

According to the study:

HSPH researchers and colleagues looked at data from more than 74,000 women from the Nurses’ Health Study and more than 43,000 men from the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study who filled out questionnaires about their diet every two or four years from the mid-1980s to 2010. Adjusting for a variety of factors, such as age, smoking, body mass index, physical activity, and overall diet excluding whole grains, the researchers compared the participants’ whole grain intake with mortality data over an approximately 25-year period.

They found that whole grain intake was associated with up to 9% lower overall mortality and up to 15% lower CVD-related mortality. For each serving of whole grains (28g/day), overall mortality dropped by 5%, and by 9% for CVD-related mortality.

“This study further endorses the current dietary guidelines that promote whole grains as one of the major healthful foods for prevention of major chronic diseases,” said Qi Sun, assistant professor in the Department of Nutrition and senior author of the study, in a statement.

Unfortunately, there was no link found between eating whole grains and a lowered cancer risk, but the researchers did note that replacing refined grains and red meats with whole grains may also lower mortality, according to the study. In fact, replacing red meat lowered mortality risk by a whopping 20 percent, and swapping out refined grains lowered risk 8 percent.