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Nutr Res Rev. 2011 Jun;24(1):118-31. doi: 10.1017/S0954422411000023. Epub 2011 Feb 15.

Health benefits of cereal fibre: a review of clinical trials.

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Jean Mayer US Department of Agriculture Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, Boston, MA, USA.


Cereal fibre and whole-grain intakes have been consistently associated in the epidemiological literature with reduced mortality and risk of chronic disease including obesity, CVD and type 2 diabetes. The present review focuses on intervention trials with three primary aims: (1) understanding the mechanisms through which fibre consumption improves health (for example, examination of intermediate endpoints reflecting improved lipid, glucose and energy metabolism); (2) close evaluation of qualitative factors which modify fibre's effectiveness including physiochemical properties (for example, solubility, fermentability and viscosity), fibre extract molecular weight, fibre particle size and botanical structure of the fibre source grain; and (3) identification of areas in which additional research is needed. The first two aims typify the goals of nutrition research, in that improved understanding of the specific factors which determine fibre's health benefits has critical implications for dietary recommendations as well as improving understanding of physiological mechanisms. The third aim acknowledges the substantial gap between recommended and actual fibre intakes in many developed countries including the USA and the UK. In recognition of this deficit in total fibre intake, food manufacturing processes increasingly utilise fibre extracts and concentrates as food additives. However, whether fibre extracts provide similar health benefits to the fibre supplied in the constituents of whole grain is largely unexplored. The relative benefits of fibre extracts compared with whole-grain fibre sources therefore represent a critical area in which additional research is needed.

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