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Nutr Rev. 2012 Jul;70(7):387-96. doi: 10.1111/j.1753-4887.2012.00487.x. Epub 2012 May 22.

Effect of whole grains on markers of subclinical inflammation.

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1
Department of Nutrition, Dietetics and Food Science, Utah State University, 9815 Old Main Hill, Logan, Utah, USA. michael.lefevre@usu.edu

Abstract

The reduction of subclinical inflammation has been suggested as a potential mechanism to explain the favorable association between whole-grain consumption and reduced risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and certain cancers. This review examines evidence for the effects of whole-grain consumption on markers of subclinical inflammation derived from 13 epidemiological and 5 interventional studies retrieved from a search of the PubMed database. Epidemiological studies provide reasonable support for an association between diets high in whole grains and lower C-reactive protein (CRP) concentrations. After adjusting for other dietary factors, each serving of whole grains is estimated to reduce CRP concentrations by approximately 7%. In contrast to epidemiological studies, interventional studies do not demonstrate a clear effect of increased whole-grain consumption on CRP or other markers of inflammation. Issues related to insufficient length of intervention, extent of dietary control, population selection, types of whole grains, and lack of a direct anti-inflammatory effect may underlie these discrepant findings. Additional carefully controlled interventional studies are needed to clarify the effects of whole grains on subclinical inflammation.

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