Whole Grains Add Years to Life

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Anatomy of a Grain GraphicIncluding 100% whole grains in the daily diet extends life expectancy, according to a study from Harvard School of Public Health. Dietary intakes and mortality rates of 74,341 women from the Nurses’ Health Study and 43,744 men from the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study were compared. After 26 years, the researchers documented 26,920 deaths. After adjusting for age, smoking, body mass index (BMI), and physical activity, frequent whole grain intake was associated with a lower death rate. As the number of daily servings of whole grains increased, the death rate decreased. One-third fewer people died among the group that ate the most whole grains every day compared to those who ate the fewest servings of whole grains.

In Perspective: Why might whole grains be so healthful? First, they are rich in fiber, which slows digestion, prevents blood sugar spikes, and provides a high level of satiety. Second, the bran and germ are rich in vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin E and magnesium, as well as antioxidants. Without the bran and germ, about 25% of the grain’s protein is lost, along with at least 17 nutrients and most, if not all,  of the phytonutrients.

Wu H, Flint A, Qi Q, et al: Association between dietary whole grain intake and risk of mortality. JAMA Internal Medicine 2015; January 5th.

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