More Whole Grains Linked with Lower Mortality!
Healthy Living

More Whole Grains Linked with Lower Mortality!

Mehvish Hamdare profile Authored by Mehvish Hamdare on 12 Jan 2015 - 12:28.

What if you could eat your way to a longer life? Sounds unreal? You can achieve a longer life, reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension and also contribute to body weight management and gastrointestinal health just by mixing in more whole grains into your diet. Eating more whole grains is associated with up to 15% lower mortality particularly cardiovascular disease (CVD) related mortality, according to a large new long-term study from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Whole grains are made up of three parts: the bran layers, germ and endosperm, which provide fiber and nutrients such as magnesium, zinc and vitamin E, while refined grains are devoid of bran layers and germ due to processing. Oats, whole-wheat flour, oatmeal, cornmeal, bulgur, brown rice, barley, quinoa, rye, wild rice and buckwheat are examples of good whole-grain options.

The healthiest kinds of grains are whole grains which have been the staple of human diet for more than 10,000 years. Grains are the most important food source of Indians, which means the consumption of carbohydrates constitutes approx. 60-70% of total food intake. These are a good source of fiber, minerals, lignans (chemical compounds found in plants), beta-glucan, several phytochemicals, phytosterols, phytin, and antioxidants. All of this makes grains a healthy option.

The explored and health benefits of whole grain consumption include the following:

Whole grains and cardiovascular disease

Epidemiological studies from North American and European cohorts have consistently shown that consumption of whole grains is associated with reduced risk of CVD. Whole-grain consumption lowers your risk for heart disease, according to a review published in the July 2012 edition of the "Journal of Nutrition." Bran intake was linked with up to 6% lower overall mortality and up to 20% lower CVD-related mortality according to a study published in a journal.

Whole grains and weight management

Several factors explain the influence of whole grains on body-weight regulation. The high volume, low-energy density and relatively lower palatability of whole grain foods promote satiation for several hours following a meal. Grains rich in viscous soluble fibre (for example, oats and barley) tend to increase intraluminal viscosity, prolong gastric emptying time, and slow nutrient absorption in the small intestine. Epidemiological studies indicate that consuming whole grains is associated with reduced risk of obesity and weight gain.

Whole grains and diabetes

A team of German researchers followed over 16,000 adults for a period of seven years and found that those who ate cereal fibre the most, had a 27% lower risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus (T2DM) than those who ate the least. Components of whole grains, including magnesium, fibre, vitamin E, phytic acids, lectins, and phenolic compounds are believed to contribute reduced risk of T2DM as well as low blood glucose and blood insulin levels. Whole grain foods tend to have a low GI (glycaemic index, a measurement carried out on carbohydrate-containing foods and their impact on our blood sugar). Consuming foods containing large amounts of dietary fibre like whole grains lower blood sugar levels. Whole grain especially oats lower the blood glucose levels in diabetics.

Whole grains and hypertension

Higher whole grain intake has been associated with reduced risk of hypertension. The Health Professionals’ Study observed a 23% less likelihood of having hypertension among men who reported consuming at least 4 daily servings of whole grain foods as compared to those who consumed less than one-half serving per day. 

Whole grains and cancer

Phytochemicals (antioxidants and phytoestrogens) and trace minerals (such as selenium) found in whole grains are found to inhibit the development or progression of various types of cancer. Insoluble fibre (found in large amounts in whole wheat and brown rice) increases faecal bulk and speeds up transit in the colon. Cancer-causing agents thus have less time in contact with cells lining the large intestine. Antioxidants help protect against oxidative damage, which may play a role in cancer development. Other bioactive components in whole grains may affect hormone levels and possibly lower the risk of hormone dependent cancers. A 2011 meta-analysis of prospective studies published in BMJ confirmed that a high intake of whole grains was associated with a reduced risk of colorectal cancer.

Whole grains and gastrointestinal Health

Whole grains play an important role in digestive health and this is attributed to not only the fibre component but also the other nutrients and phytonutrients present in the whole grains. Increased intake of whole grains with higher contents of insoluble fibre (such as whole wheat or brown rice) can prevent or treat constipation. Both the soluble and insoluble fibres found in a variety of whole grains promote overall bowel health, including a reduction in the risk of colon cancer.

Whole grain fibre and gallstones

Eating foods high in insoluble fibre like whole wheat can help women avoid gallstones due to cholesterol lowering effect.

How do you enjoy more whole grains in your diet?

Try these tips to add more whole grains to your meals and snacks:

  • Enjoy breakfasts that include whole-grain cereals, such as whole-wheat bran flakes, oatmeal and muesli.
  • Use multi grain atta.
  • Make sandwiches using whole-grain breads or rolls.
  • Replace white rice with, brown rice, wild rice or bulgur.
  • Feature wild rice or barley in soups, stews, casseroles and salads.
  • Choose whole grain crackers or popcorn for snacking.







*Disclaimer: This is not medical advice. The content is for educational purposes only. Please contact your doctor for any health care issues.