A diet of whole grains could decrease the risk of premature death, says a study published on June 13 in the journal Circulation. The researchers from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health found that those individuals who ate 70 grams or four servings of whole grains each day were 22 percent less likely to die prematurely compared to those who did not or ate little.

“These findings further support current dietary guidelines that recommend at least three daily servings (or 48 grams) of whole grains to improve long-term health and prevent premature death,” adds the study’s senior author Qi Sun, an assistant professor in the Department of Nutrition.

The new results echo previous findings from earlier research that showed whole grains reduces the risk of developing other diseases including diabetes, poor gut health, and cardiovascular disease. The study involved analyzing data of 786,076 from 12 previous studies conducted in the US, the UK, and Scandinavian countries as well as newer data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) III and NHANES 1999-2004.

eating whole grains

Oatmeal reduces the risk of premature death. Credit: Public Domain Images

Apart from the decreased premature death risk, the study also reveals that whole grains reduced the risk of CVD death by up to 23 percent. A total of 20 percent reduction in cancer mortality was also observed.

The research team believes that the multiple bioactive compounds present in whole grains might have played a role in these positive health consequences. Moreover, the food’s high fiber continent could also contribute by increasing an individual’s feeling of fullness, lowering cholesterol production and glucose response.

They suggest that people who want to experience the same benefits to choosing foods high in whole grain content like oatmeal, quinoa, and bran. At least 16 grams of whole grains per serving is advised, as well as decreasing one’s intake of refined carbohydrates.

Nevertheless, the researchers assert that the data came from studies that might have had different definitions of whole grains because there was no definitive meaning for whole grains. Moreover, they cannot say if the same benefits can be experienced by other people around the globe apart from the aforementioned participants.