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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Harvard Finds More Whole Grains Linked with Lower Mortality Risk

Eating more whole grains may decrease people’s risk of death by up to 15 percent — particularly the risk from heart disease, according to a large new long-term study from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

The study also found that bran, a component of whole grain foods, was associated with similar beneficial effects. Bran intake was linked with up to 6 percent lower overall death risk and up to 20 percent lower cardiovascular disease (CVD)-related risk.

The study appears online January 5 in JAMA Internal Medicine.

“This study further endorses the current dietary guidelines that promote whole grains as one of the major healthful foods for prevention of major chronic diseases,” said Dr. Qi Sun, assistant professor in the department of nutrition and senior author of the study.

Although eating more whole grains has been previously associated with a lower risk of major chronic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes and CVD, until now there had been limited evidence regarding whole grains’ link with mortality. HSPH researchers and colleagues looked at data from more than 74,000 women from the Nurses’ Health Study and more than 43,000 men from the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study who filled out questionnaires about their diet every two or four years from the mid-1980s to 2010. Adjusting for a variety of factors, such as age, smoking, body mass index, physical activity, and overall diet excluding whole grains, the researchers compared the participants’ whole grain intake with mortality data over an approximately 25-year period. Read more