Whole-grain foods and chronic disease: Evidence from epidemiological and intervention studies

Chris J. Seal*, Iain A. Brownlee

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

75 Citations (Scopus)
5 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Cereal-based foods are key components of the diet and they dominate most food-based dietary recommendations in order to achieve targets for intake of carbohydrate, protein and dietary fibre. Processing (milling) of grains to produce refined grain products removes key nutrients and phytochemicals from the flour and although in some countries nutrients may be replaced with mandatory fortification, overall this refinement reduces their potential nutritional quality. There is increasing evidence from both observational and intervention studies that increased intake of less-refined, whole-grain (WG) foods has positive health benefits. The highest WG consumers are consistently shown to have lower risk of developing CVD, type 2 diabetes and some cancers. WG consumers may also have better digestive health and are likely to have lower BMI and gain less weight over time. The bulk of the evidence for the benefits of WG comes from observational studies, but evidence of benefit in intervention studies and potential mechanisms of action is increasing. Overall this evidence supports the promotion of WG foods over refined grain foods in the diet, but this would require adoption of standard definitions of 'whole grain' and 'whole-grain foods' which will enable innovation by food manufacturers, provide clarity for the consumer and encourage the implementation of food-based dietary recommendations and public health strategies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)313-319
Number of pages7
JournalProceedings of the Nutrition Society
Volume74
Issue number3
Early online date11 Jun 2015
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 21 Aug 2015
Externally publishedYes

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