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Cereal fibre could be a potentially protective component

9 April 2015

Researchers at the Harvard Medical School have published results of a prospective analysis assessing the association of whole grains and cereal fibre intake with total and disease-specific mortality.

The study carried out by T. Huang et al   included 367,442 participants from the prospective NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study who were enrolled in 1995 and followed through 2009.   Dietary intake was assessed with a self-administered 124-item food frequency questionnaire (FFQ).  Participants were asked to report their usual frequency of intake and portion size using 10 predefined frequency categories.   Researchers were able to accurately estimated whole grain intake from all foods in the FFQ.  The sources of whole grain intake were ready-to-eat cereals, high fibre cereals, other fibre cereals, whole grain breads or dinner rolls, cooked cereals, popcorn, pancakes, waffles, french toast or crepes, rice or other cooked grains, bagels, English muffins, tortillas, pasta, crackers, chips, cookies or brownies, sweet pastries, and pies.  Over an average of 14 years of follow-up 46,067 deaths were documented.    The analysis showed that consumption of whole grains was inversely associated with risk of all-cause mortality and death from cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, respiratory disease, infections and other causes.  Those participants that had shown to have a high intake of whole grain in their diet were shown to have in general a 17% lower risk of mortality and 11 – 48% lower risk of disease specific mortality. The general risk of all-cause mortality was shown to be 19% lower and 15 – 24 % lower for disease-specific mortality for those participants with the highest cereal fibre intake.

Although compelling, the data is not entirely conclusive as a higher dietary fiber and whole grain intake was often linked to a generally healthier lifestyle, with these in general exercising more, drinking less alcohol and eating less red meat.

Nevertheless the study does support other studies which have shown the strong benefits of high fibre diets, which reduce inflammatory disease, and would give a good correlation with the fact high fibre grains are a good source of antioxidant, vitamins and minerals, all of which have shown to have significant health benefits.

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