Toss out that mistaken belief that carbs are bad for you. If they are 100% whole grain, they could save (and extend) your life. From the mid-1990s to 2009, researchers at Harvard Medical School in Boston tracked dietary intakes and health status of almost 370,000 healthy adults between the ages of 50- and 71-years-old at the start of the study. Results showed that those who ate the most fiber-rich whole grains were 17% less likely to die during the study period compared to those who ate the least amount of fiber-rich foods. The whole-grain eaters were less likely to be obese and more likely to follow healthy habits, such as not smoking and eating less red meat. But the benefits persisted when these variables were accounted for. Whole grain intake also lowered the risk of premature death from lung disease, diabetes, and cancer, and reduced total and cause-specific mortality. How much whole grain intake was needed to show improvement in health and life expectancy? For someone eating a 2,500-calorie diet, optimal whole grain intake was equivalent to 5 slices of bread. The researchers suspect whole grains are healthy because they lower overall food intake, reduce blood cholesterol levels, and are anti-inflammatory foods.
Huang T, Xu M, Lee A, et al: Consumption of whole grains and cereal fiber and total and cause-specific mortality. BMC Medicine 2015;13:59.