Can Whole Grain Intake Reduce Mortality Rate?

According to 2015 research, consuming a high amount of whole grain is linked to the lower risk of premature death since it lowers the causes of early death like type 2 diabetes (Mellitus), major chronic diseases, and cardiovascular disease. The study was based on two substantial cohort surveys, including 43,744 males from the Health Professional Follow-Up Study (1986-2010) and 74,341 females from the Nurses’ Health Study (1984-2010).

In the first meta-analysis review, researchers noted that every 16-gram whole grain serving results in lower risk in total deaths by 7 percent, deaths related to cardiovascular diseases reduced by 9 percent, and deaths related to cancer lowered by 5 percent.

You can say that whole grain consumption and mortality rate are inversely proportional to each other. Higher intake of whole grain, lower the death rate. 48 grams of serving of whole-grain consumed daily results in a decrease in total deaths by 20 percent, cardiovascular mortality by 25 percent, and mortalities related to cancer by 14 percent.

A more compatible definition of whole grain was not available when the studies included in the research were carried out, which is one of the limitations of the meta-analysis. Thus, among individual studies, the list of whole-grain products varied significantly. Furthermore, these results cannot be generalized to other populations since the majority of the studies were from Scandinavia and U.S.

Compared to the people who consume small amounts or no whole grain, the individuals who consume four servings of whole grain daily (70 grams/day), had a lower risk of death. According to the assistant professor in the Department of Nutrition, Qi Sun, the current dietary guidelines recommend consumption of 48 grams (at least three daily servings) of whole grain. This amount of whole-grain intake enhances long-term health and prevents premature death.

Whole grains like oats, brown rice, and whole wheat are rich sources of dietary fiber, which helps in reducing the risk of heart disease, obesity, diabetes, stroke, and improves blood cholesterol levels. Dietary fiber also makes you feel full and satisfied, which prevents you from over-eating and results in fewer calorie intake.

In a 2016 study, the authors found that high whole grain consumption (90 grams/day) was linked to the lower total cancer, cardiovascular disease, coronary heart disease, and all-cause mortality. When the results of high and small amounts of whole-grain consumers were compared, the chances of deaths from diabetes, all non-cardiovascular cause, respiratory disease, and non-cancer causes also minimized.

Despite several health benefits linked with the intake of whole grains, very few people eat three or more servings per day. But including just 60 grams (two serving) of whole grain per day can significantly lower the chances of premature mortality.

A health study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2007, investigated the relationship between whole grain consumption and mortality connected to non-cancer and non-cardiovascular inflammatory disease. The study was conducted on 41,836 postmenopausal females aged 55-69. It was a longitudinal study, and the data for it was collected for 17 years.

The findings of this study were, whole grain consumption and inflammation-related mortality were inversely associated. Whole grains contain a variety of phytochemicals that directly or indirectly prevent oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is an unavoidable result of inflammation. For protective effect and reduction of oxidative stress, whole grain consumption is recommended.

The study – published in JAMA Internal Medicine – looked at data from over 74,000 females in the Nurse’s Health Study and 43,000 males from the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study. Participants filled out diet questionnaires every 2-4 years for 25 years. Findings were adjusted for age, smoking, BMI, physical activity, and other dietary components.

The researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health found that whole-grain intake is linked to:

  • A 9% lower overall mortality rate
  • A 15% lower cardiovascular disease-related mortality rate
  • Overall mortality drop of 9% and CVD mortality cut of 15% for every serving of whole grains you add per day
  • 6% lower total mortality and 20% lower CVD related mortality when the benefits of bran foods were taken into consideration

Self-reported dietary data is always an inherent drawback to studies of these sorts – but the large sample size and impressive length-of-follow are two inspiring components of this publication.

Final Words

Whole grain is very beneficial as it contains essential vitamins (folate, niacin, riboflavin, and thiamin), dietary fiber, and minerals (iron, magnesium, selenium). These nutrients help in improving and maintaining good heart health and healthy digestion. Moreover, it also helps in reducing the risk of obesity, stroke, cancer, type 2 diabetes, which are the leading causes of death.

So, increasing the intake of whole grains into your diet can do wonders for your health. You can add them into your meals, soup, and salad, and get both delicious taste as well as nutrition.