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Whole grains and CVD risk

Lookup NU author(s): Emeritus Professor Chris SealORCiD



There is an increasing body of evidence, including that from prospective population studies and epidemiological observational studies, suggesting a strong inverse relationship between increased consumption of wholegrain foods and reduced risk of CVD. This evidence has translated into specific dietary recommendations in the USA to consume at least three servings of whole grain per d, and has informed the development of specific health claims for wholegrain foods both in the USA and in Europe. Wholegrain foods are rich sources of many nutrients and phytochemicals, including complex carbohydrates, dietary fibre, minerals, vitamins, antioxidants and phyto-oestrogens such as lignans. Many of these components are lost from the grain during processing and although some may be replaced (such as in the mandatory fortification of white flour), this practice ignores the possible synergistic effects of the 'natural' constituents. The notion that wholegrain foods are simply a source of dietary fibre has been dispelled, although the additional components that contribute to the health benefits have not been clearly identified. In addition, the mechanisms by which wholegrain foods may have their effect are poorly understood. At present there are few strictly-controlled intervention studies that have confirmed a beneficial effect of increased consumption of wholegrain foods, demonstrated the level of consumption required to elicit a beneficial effect or provided evidence of modes of action. Although wholegrain foods are considered amongst the healthiest food choices available, their consumption falls well below current recommendations, which have been based mainly on epidemiological evidence. Well-controlled intervention studies are needed to provide more detailed mechanistic evidence to support the health claims and findings which can be used to develop effective public health strategies to promote whole-grain consumption. © The Author 2006.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Seal CJ

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Symposium on Plant Foods and Public Health

Year: 2006

Volume: 65

Issue: 1

Pages: 24-34

ISSN (print): 0029-6651

ISSN (electronic): 1475-2719

Publisher: Proceedings of the Nutrition Society, Cambridge University Press


DOI: 10.1079/PNS2005482

PubMed id: 16441941


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