Eating Whole Grains May be Linked to Living Longer
Saturday, March 14, 2015 01:41 PM

People who eat more whole grains live longer and are less likely to die of heart disease, according to an analysis of two large studies.  Earlier studies had linked whole grains to a decreased risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease, the researchers say.

Common types of whole grains include whole wheat flour, brown rice, whole oats, whole cornmeal, and popcorn.  Almost all dietary guidelines recommend whole grains, with the total amount varying by age. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) advises that at least half the grains consumed each day should come from whole grains.  The new findings, reported in JAMA Internal Medicine, are from women in the Nurses’ Health Study from 1984 to 2010 and men in the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study between 1986 and 2010.

Those who reported eating the most whole grains were almost 10 percent less likely to die during the course of the study than those who reported eating the least.  With every additional 28 grams (about 1 ounce) of whole grains per day, the risk of death went down by five percent and the risk of heart disease death by nine percent, the authors estimate.  One serving of old fashioned oats, or half a cup uncooked, contains 40 grams of whole grains.

Whole grains don’t lead to rapid changes in blood sugar and insulin levels, while refined grains or other carbohydrates, such as sugar, do, which may explain why whole grains are associated with lower diabetes and cardiovascular disease risk. They also contain beneficial nutrients like magnesium, vitamins and lignans, and they may jointly lead to lower risk of developing heart disease and diabetes.

While we don’t know what precise “dose” of whole grains is most beneficial, “the current evidence from our investigation and other studies suggests the more the better.”