Evidence has been found that people with a higher intake of whole grains tend to live longer and healthier lives. Increase your whole grain intake to three servings a day, and you can help protect yourself from developing life-limiting diseases such as cardiovascular diseases and cancers.

Previously, many studies have claimed that including whole grain in a person’s daily diet can help them lead a healthier life. Eating healthy has been linked to a person’s reduced likelihood of developing serious diseases. Although the findings of these studies showed a positive correlation between increased whole grain consumption and improved health, the results have not been consistent for whole grain uptake in connection with mortality rate. However, with the surfacing of a new study, findings from previous studies have been refined and become more definitive.

These findings were the result of a study conducted by scientists from the Harvard T H Chan School of Public Health in Boston, Massachusetts, and were published in the American Heart Association’s (AHA) journal, Circulation.

The findings of this study comprised of a meta-analysis of 12 elaborated studies, stretching from 1988 to February 2016. Amongst these 12 studies, 10 studies were conducted in the US, three in Scandinavian countries and one in the UK. Collectively, these studies included a total of 786,076 men and women participants. By the end of these studies, 97, 867 deaths were reported; out of which 23,597 were resulted by cardiovascular diseases while cancer caused 37,492 deaths.

The eating routine and overall consumption of whole grains of the study participants were recorded through questionnaires. The respondents were asked to fill in the questionnaires which were later used by the researchers to measure the respondents’ whole grain intake.  For better accuracy of data, the questionnaire results were validated by diet records of the respondents.

Striking results were observed after the data from all 12 studies was critically analyzed by experts. It was found that for one serving of whole grains, which is equivalent to 16 grams, the risk rate of total number of deaths was reduced by a significant 7%. The decline in cardiovascular disease-related deaths was 9% while the decline was found to be 5% among cancer-related deaths. As more and more servings of whole grain were consumed, a corresponding decline in death rate was observed.

Dr. Qi Sun, senior author of the study and assistant professor at Harvard University said; “There’s a pretty linear association between whole grain intake and mortality,”

In this context, the researchers of the study further said that if three servings of whole grains, which is equivalent to 48 grams, are consumed daily, a 20% decline in total death rate is observed. Out of this figure, a 25% decline in cardiovascular disease-related deaths and a 14% decline in cancer-related deaths are seen.

Therefore, AHA has recommended that half of the grains Americans consume should be whole grains. As unappetizing as it might sound, whole grains are not as bad of an option when we have a variety of items to choose from that not only satisfy the cravings of our taste buds but also help us live a healthier and longer life.

People can choose from oatmeal, rye, barley, wild rice, whole wheat, whole wheat bulgar, corn, popcorn and brown rice.  While buying your groceries, you can identify whole grain products by checking for labelled ingredient lists. Food labels may also include certification from AHA and the Heart-Check mark, both of which are suggestive of healthy food choices.

To make these measurements easier to grasp, it is estimated that a half cup of cooked brown rice, cooked oatmeal, whole grain pasta or for that matter, any other 100% whole grain product is equivalent to about 16 grams. If the amount of these “half cup” of products is added thrice, 48 grams of whole grains (up to three serving of whole grains) can be consumed daily.

With these crucial findings, the study has brought forward sufficient evidence supporting the hypothesis that links eating at least three servings of whole grain a day with lower risk of death from cardiovascular diseases and cancer.

Furthermore, these research findings moved on to support the current Dietary Guidelines for Americans, from the US government that also recommended at least three servings of whole grains on a daily basis.

Adding whole grains to the diet has found to  affect many biological pathways that help the body in staying healthy. Foods rich in whole grains are said to be released slowly in the digestive tract as compared to refined grain-containing diets.

As whole grain-containing diets are chewed for longer, more satiety hormones are stimulated which help in appetite regulation. With an increased fiber content, foods rich in whole grains help reduce unhealthy lipid accumulation is blood vessels, which in turn prevents the cholesterol level from reaching dangerous levels.

With lower cholesterol levels, the underlying risks of obesity, stroke and heart diseases are also prevented. Low cholesterol levels also contribute in optimizing blood-sugar levels, controlling sugar metabolism and reducing the risk of type2 diabetes by increasing insulin sensitivity in the system.

The researchers also pointed out that consumptions of diets with low-carbohydrate content with no or little attention to whole grain intake can also increase a person’s likelihood towards higher cardiovascular disease. Therefore, such diet plans also need to be adopted with caution.

The researchers are confident about their findings and they are hopeful that these study recommendations can be of great benefit to the population, if adopted on a larger scale on a routine basis.

According to Dr. Qi Sun, “Based on the solid evidence from this meta-analysis and numerous previous studies that collectively document beneficial effects of whole grains, I think healthcare providers should unanimously recommend whole grain consumption to the general population as well as to patients with certain diseases to help achieve better health and perhaps reduce death,”

 Little modifications in eating habits can help us against severe ailments, all that is required of us it to identify where the problem lies. If we manage to change the way, we eat our food; we will be healthier and happier beings. So, what are you waiting for? Increase your whole grain intake today!