Whole Grains Linked To Lower Cardiac and Overall Mortality

Qi Sun, MD ScD Assistant Professor of Medicine Channing Division of Network Medicine Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School Assistant Professor Department of Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health 665 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA 02115MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Qi Sun, MD ScD
Assistant Professor of Medicine
Channing Division of Network Medicine
Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Assistant Professor, Department of Nutrition
Harvard School of Public Health Boston, MA 02115

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Sun: While we know whole grains are beneficial for reducing the risk of some major chronic diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes, evidence regarding whether whole grains are also able to lower mortality is sparse. We therefore want to answer this important research question in the current analysis. Using data collected from two prospective cohort studies consisted of more than 100 thousand US men and women, we found that whole grain intake was significantly associated with lower total mortality and lower cardiovascular mortality, but not cancer mortality. For every serving (28 grams) of whole grain intake per day, the total mortality is reduced by 5% and cardiovascular mortality by 9%.

Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Sun: Whole grains should be recommended to replace refined carbohydrate, such as white bread, white rice, and sugar-sweetened beverages, to help lower the risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, and premature death.

Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Sun: Future research may focus on understanding the mechanisms, especially the active ingredients in whole grains, that account for the beneficial effects of whole grains. In addition, we need to understand whether whole grain consumption can especially benefit people with certain characteristics, including genetic susceptibility and other risk profiles.


Wu H, Flint AJ, Qi Q, et al. Association Between Dietary Whole Grain Intake and Risk of Mortality: Two Large Prospective Studies in US Men and Women. JAMA Intern Med. Published online January 05, 2015. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2014.6283.

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