Can Whole Grain Intake Reduce Mortality Rate?

According to 2015 research, consuming a high amount of whole grain is linked to a lower risk of premature death. This is because whole grain lowers the risk of diseases like type 2 diabetes (Mellitus), major chronic diseases, and cardiovascular disease. This in turn reduces the number of people who pass away due to these illnesses. 

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.


Female lab technician in protective glasses, gloves and face mask sits next to a microscope in laboratory.
Female lab technician in protective glasses, gloves and face mask sits next to a microscope in laboratory.

The study conducted to determine whether or not whole-grain intake reduces mortality was based on two substantial cohort surveys. These included 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, the researchers found some interesting results. They saw that every 16-gram whole grain serving resulted in lowering the risk of total deaths by around 7 percent. Deaths related to cardiovascular diseases were seen to be reduced by 9 percent, and deaths related to various kinds of cancer were lowered by 5 percent.

Conclusions that can be drawn

We can assume that the whole grain consumption by the population and the overall mortality rate is inversely proportional to each other

A higher intake of whole grain lowers the death rate. In numbers, we can say that around 48 grams of serving of whole grain consumed daily can result in a decrease of total deaths by 20 percent, cardiovascular mortality by 25 percent, and mortalities related to cancer by 14 percent.

Limitations of this research 

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.

What we understand from this study

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 the 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.

Other Researches Conducted

Multi ethnic, female team studying DNA mutations. Using microscope in protective workwear
Scientists examines DNA models in modern Genetic Research Laboratory. Computer monitors with data in foreground

Here are a few other pieces of research that were conducted to figure out whether or not a reduction in whole grain products can reduce the overall mortality rate. 

1. Eating Whole Grains Can Reduce Disease and Mortality Risks: A 2016 Research by American Journal of Nursing

In a 2016 study, the authors found that high whole grain consumption (90 grams/day) was linked to lower levels of 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 causes, respiratory disease, and non-cancer causes were 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 servings) of whole grain per day can significantly lower the chances of premature mortality.

2. Whole-grain consumption is associated with a reduced risk of noncardiovascular, noncancer death attributed to inflammatory diseases in the Iowa Women’s Health Study: A 2007 research by The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

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.

3. Association Between Dietary Whole Grain Intake and Risk of Mortality: A 2015 research conducted by JAMA Internal Medicine

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.

What researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health believe

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.

FAQs: Can Whole Grain Intake Reduce Mortality Rate

composition of different breads and ears of corn on the wooden background

1. Does whole grain lower the risk of heart disease?

Yes, whole grain products are extremely helpful in helping lower the risk of heart disease. 

Heart disease is a prevalent issue in our society but it can be managed if one takes precautionary measures. One of these precautionary measures includes consuming more whole grain products. 

Whole grain products have varying nutrient compositions because of the different kinds of whole grains used. Each of these grains has the ability to affect Cardiovascular Heart Disease risk using different mechanisms.

Whole grains contain a naturally high amount of viscous fiber. This kind of fiber helps in decreasing cholesterol and blood pressure. It also helps improve glucose and insulin responses. Hence, it helps lower the risk of heart disease. 

2. How many servings of whole-grain should one consume in a day to be considered healthy?

It is estimated that around three servings are ideal for anyone. 

This is in accordance with the new guidelines that the USDA and the American Dietetic Association have suggested.

Three servings of whole-grain foods are set as the minimum amount that should be consumed.

3. Can someone consume too many whole grains?

Yes, it is possible to consume too many whole grains and thus, we should be wary and not do so.

One can end up consuming too many whole grains because of the nature of these foods. It was found that individuals also absorb the sugars that processed whole grains contain. This sugar is processed way more quickly as compared to the sugar that is found in natural whole grains.

This sugar can cause a blood sugar spike. This spike can lead to increased hunger that may result in overeating.

Overeating is also harmful and can increase the risk of diseases such as insulin resistance, diabetes, and heart diseases. 

4. Does whole grain increase life span?

Yes, the consumption of whole grains can help increase your life span if consumed in the correct amount. There are around 45 studies that have concluded that whole grains can help reduce the risk of diseases such as cancer, diabetes, respiratory diseases, and heart diseases. 

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.