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Diet Rich in Whole Grains Might Extend Your Life, Study Says

Diet Rich in Whole Grains Might Extend Your Life

By Dennis Thompson

HealthDay Reporter


MONDAY, Jan. 5, 2015 (HealthDay News) — Over time, regularly eating whole wheat bread, oatmeal or other whole grains may add years to your lifespan, a new Harvard-led study concludes.

Whole grains are so healthy that a person’s risk of an early death drops with every serving added to a daily diet, according to findings published online Jan. 5 in JAMA Internal Medicine.

“We saw clear evidence that the more whole grain intake, the lower the mortality rate is,” said Dr. Qi Sun, an assistant professor of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health. “When we looked at risk of death from heart disease, there was an even stronger association.”

The researchers estimate that every one-ounce serving of whole grains reduced a person’s overall risk of an early death by 5 percent, and their risk of death from heart disease by 9 percent.

However, eating whole grains did not appear to affect a person’s risk of death from cancer, the study noted.

Sun’s team based the findings on data from two long-term health studies dating back to the mid-1980s involving more than 118,000 nurses and health professionals. In the studies, participants were required to fill out food and diet questionnaires every two to four years, which included questions about their whole grain intake.

Freshly harvested grains such as wheat, barley and oatmeal consist of three parts. An outer shell called the bran protects the seed. The germ is the small embryo inside the seed that could sprout into a new plant. And the endosperm — by far the largest part of the seed — is the potential food supply for a new plant started from the germ.

In refining grains to make processed flour, manufacturers typically strip away the bran and the germ — leaving only the calorie-rich endosperm. But whole grain foods such as oatmeal, popcorn, brown rice and whole wheat bread and cereal contain all three parts of the seed.

Over 26 years, there were about 27,000 deaths among the people participating in the two studies, the researchers said.

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