Adding more whole grains into the daily diet can help you live longer, new research from Harvard reveals.
The study reported in JAMA Internal Medicine found that whole grains slashed the risk of dying by 15%. The results were highly significant in heart disease.
"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," senior author of the study Qi Sun, from the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH), said in a news release.
Nearly 1,17,000 people from the Nurses 'Health Study (74,000) and Health Professionals Follow-Up Study (43,000) were selected for the analysis. During the 25 years of the study, the participants completed food questionnaires in a gap of two years.
Death risk – both overall (9%) and cardiovascular (CVD) -related (15%) - came down with the more whole grains participants consumed every day. Eating at least 28g whole grains reduced death risk- overall and CVD - by 5% and 9% respectively.
Intake of bran, which is an important component of whole grain foods, decreased overall and CVD- mortality risk by 6% and 20%, respectively.
However, the study couldn't find similar benefits associated with eating whole grains on cancer-related mortality.
Whole Grains - Some Nutritional Facts
Whole grain, which refers to the whole seed mainly, consists of three parts – bran, germ and endosperm. Bran, the multi-layered outer skin of the seed, according to the Whole Grains Council, is rich in antioxidants, fibre and B vitamins. The germ or the embryo that grows into a plant can provide protein, minerals, healthy fats and B vitamins. The endosperm supplies the energy and food required to grow the plant. It is rich in carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and proteins.
Bran and germ are lost when grains are refined. Data shows that grains loss 25% of proteins and 17 important nutrients during refining.
Thiamin, riboflavin, niacin and folate are some B vitamins contained in grains, according to the United States Department of Agriculture. Magnesium, selenium and iron are some minerals found in grains.
Fibre in whole grains helps manage blood cholesterol, protects against heart disease, obesity, type 2 diabetes, constipation and diverticulosis.
B vitamins help in metabolism and keep the nervous system healthy. Folic acid helps in creating more red blood cells and protects against birth defects in babies.
The iron in whole grains can help fight anaemia caused by iron deficiency. Magnesium in whole grains helps build bones, while selenium protects cells against oxidation and improves immune system.