Skip to main content
ARS Home » Northeast Area » Boston, Massachusetts » Jean Mayer Human Nutrition Research Center On Aging » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #363298

Title: Whole grains and cardiovascular health

item SAWICKI, CALEIGH - Jean Mayer Human Nutrition Research Center On Aging At Tufts University
item LIVINGSTON, KARA - Jean Mayer Human Nutrition Research Center On Aging At Tufts University
item MCKEOWN, NICOLA - Jean Mayer Human Nutrition Research Center On Aging At Tufts University

Submitted to: Cereal Foods World
Publication Type: Review Article
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/1/2019
Publication Date: 6/3/2019
Citation: Sawicki, C., Livingston, K.A., McKeown, N.M. 2019. Whole grains and cardiovascular health. Cereal Foods World. 64(3):0031.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Whole grains are part of a healthy dietary pattern, and increasing intake of whole-grain foods is one modifiable dietary risk factor that may contribute to lower cardiovascular disease risk. Evidence from meta-analyses of both observational studies and randomized controlled trials support the recommendation to increase whole-grain intake to three or more servings per day. Several mechanisms exist whereby the substitution of refined grains with whole grains will lead to a decrease in cardiovascular disease risk, such as contributing to weight loss or weight maintenance, improving blood lipids, and lowering blood pressure. This review highlights some of the emerging research linking higher whole-grain intake to improved health. Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death and disability in the world (1). The public health consequences of CVD are enormous, with the World Health Organization (WHO) attributing 17.6 million deaths annually to this disease, expected to increase to 23.3 million annual deaths by 2030 (2). Overweight and obesity are leading causes of both CVD and type 2 diabetes (T2DM) (3,4), and, currently, more than one third of the US population is considered obese (5), and one third is considered overweight. T2DM is increasing in parallel with obesity and currently affects an estimated 415 million people globally, with an expected increase to 642 million by 2040 (6). While there are a host of modifiable risk factors contributing to the development of chronic disease, such as smoking, excess alcohol consumption, lack of physical activity, poor sleep, and stress, diet is recognized as a key modifiable risk factor. Whole-grain intake is low in most populations and, therefore, increasing intake is one potentially modifiable behavior that could improve health on a global scale. While this review focuses primarily on CVD and related cardiometabolic risk factors, it would be remiss not to mention that higher whole-grain intake has also been associated with a lower risk of metabolic syndrome (7,8), type 2 diabetes (9-11), and colorectal cancer (12).