Getting three servings a day of whole grains may help prolong life, based on a recent analysis of 14 studies that link whole grain consumption to reduced risk of death.
Published in the American Heart Association journal Circulation, this study looked at the impact of whole grains on mortality risk. Whole grains are packed with vitamins and minerals, making them an important part of a well-balanced diet. Whole grains are often found in items like bread, pasta, oatmeal and breakfast cereals. Current U.S. dietary guidelines recommend at least three servings of whole grains a day to promote a healthy weight and good health. But until now, findings have been mixed on the association between whole grain consumption and mortality risk.
To learn more, researchers analyzed past studies that tracked participants’ diets and health outcomes over time. A total of 14 studies were included in the analysis, which involved more than 786,000 adults from the United States, United Kingdom and Scandinavia. Studies followed participants for up to 26 years, tracking deaths and health outcomes.
After pooling data from all 14 studies, researchers found that whole grain intake was associated with decreased risk for death from heart disease, cancer and all other causes. Overall, each serving per day was associated with a 7% decrease in risk of death from all causes. The more whole grains participants consumed, the lower their risk of death.
Findings support current Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which recommend consuming at least three servings of whole grain a day. The problem is that few Americans meet these standards, with most U.S. adults getting less than one serving of whole grains a day. Rather, many adults consume refined grains like white rice, pasta and bread. These foods lack key nutrients found in whole grains.
To address this issue, experts hope to better educate Americans about the importance of choosing whole grains over refined grains. Many foods like bread, rice and pasta can be found in both whole and refined grain forms. Extensive research confirms that making the better choice helps promote health and potentially prolong life.