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J Nutr. 2012 Jul;142(7):1304-13. doi: 10.3945/jn.111.155325. Epub 2012 May 30.

Greater whole-grain intake is associated with lower risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and weight gain.

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Program on Genomics and Nutrition, School of Public Health, University of California, Los Angeles, CA, USA.

Erratum in

  • J Nutr. 2013 Sep;143(9):1524.


Whole-grain and high fiber intakes are routinely recommended for prevention of vascular diseases; however, there are no comprehensive and quantitative assessments of available data in humans. The aim of this study was to systematically examine longitudinal studies investigating whole-grain and fiber intake in relation to risk of type 2 diabetes (T2D), cardiovascular disease (CVD), weight gain, and metabolic risk factors. We identified 45 prospective cohort studies and 21 randomized-controlled trials (RCT) between 1966 and February 2012 by searching the Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature, Cochrane, Elsevier Medical Database, and PubMed. Study characteristics, whole-grain and dietary fiber intakes, and risk estimates were extracted using a standardized protocol. Using random effects models, we found that compared with never/rare consumers of whole grains, those consuming 48-80 g whole grain/d (3-5 serving/d) had an ~26% lower risk of T2D [RR = 0.74 (95% CI: 0.69, 0.80)], ~21% lower risk of CVD [RR = 0.79 (95% CI: 0.74, 0.85)], and consistently less weight gain during 8-13 y (1.27 vs 1.64 kg; P = 0.001). Among RCT, weighted mean differences in post-intervention circulating concentrations of fasting glucose and total and LDL-cholesterol comparing whole-grain intervention groups with controls indicated significantly lower concentrations after whole-grain interventions [differences in fasting glucose: -0.93 mmol/L (95% CI: -1.65, -0.21), total cholesterol: -0.83 mmol/L (-1.23, -0.42); and LDL-cholesterol: -0.82 mmol/L (-1.31, -0.33)]. [corrected] Findings from this meta-analysis provide evidence to support beneficial effects of whole-grain intake on vascular disease prevention. Potential mechanisms responsible for whole grains' effects on metabolic intermediates require further investigation in large intervention trials.

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