Harvard Men's Health Watch

Whole grains associated with lower death rates

In the Journals

whole grains associated with lower death rates
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Eating more whole grains may reduce your risk of premature death, according to research published online June 14, 2016, by Circulation. The research included 12 studies involving a total of 786,076 participants. The results showed that people who ate 70 grams per day of whole grains (about four servings) had a 23% lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease, and a 20% lower risk of cancer death, compared with those who ate few or no whole grains.

While 70 grams is ideal, it is not a magic number, says lead researcher Dr. Qi Sun, assistant professor in the Department of Nutrition at Harvard's T.H. Chan School of Public Health. "The higher the whole-grain intake, the lower the mortality, but even 50 grams daily is still helpful," he says.

Whole grains offer multiple benefits that can help reduce rates of heart disease and cancer. "They contain many nutrients, including fiber, magnesium and other minerals, vitamins, and phytochemicals, that help to lower cholesterol and decrease inflammation and cell damage," says Dr. Sun.

It's easy to reach four daily servings. "Just one serving of 100% whole-grain food contains about 16 grams of whole-grain ingredients," says Dr. Sun. Examples of a serving include one slice of 100% whole-grain bread or a half cup of oatmeal or cooked whole-grain pasta. If you have celiac disease (in which you cannot digest gluten found in wheat) or a gluten sensitivity, opt for gluten-free whole grains, like brown rice and quinoa.