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J Chiropr Med. 2017 Mar;16(1):10-18. doi: 10.1016/j.jcm.2016.08.008. Epub 2016 Nov 18.

Health Benefits of Dietary Whole Grains: An Umbrella Review of Meta-analyses.

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Department of Basic Sciences, National University of Health Sciences, Lombard, IL.



The purpose of this study is to review the effectiveness of the role of whole grain as a therapeutic agent in type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and obesity.


An umbrella review of all published meta-analyses was performed. A PubMed search from January 1, 1980, to May 31, 2016, was conducted using the following search strategy: (whole grain OR whole grains) AND (meta-analysis OR systematic review). Only English language publications that provided quantitative statistical analysis on type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and weight loss were retrieved.


Twenty-one meta-analyses were retrieved for inclusion in this umbrella review, and all the meta-analyses reported statistically significant positive benefits for reducing the incidence of type 2 diabetes (relative risk [RR] = 0.68-0.80), cardiovascular disease (RR = 0.63-0.79), and colorectal, pancreatic, and gastric cancers (RR = 0.57-0.94) and a modest effect on body weight, waist circumference, and body fat mass. Significant reductions in cardiovascular and cancer mortality were also observed (RR = 0.82 and 0.89, respectively). Some problems of heterogeneity, publication bias, and quality assessment were found among the studies.


This review suggests that there is some evidence for dietary whole grain intake to be beneficial in the prevention of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and colorectal, pancreatic, and gastric cancers. The potential benefits of these findings suggest that the consumption of 2 to 3 servings per day (~45 g) of whole grains may be a justifiable public health goal.


Whole Grains, Meta-analysis, Diabetes Mellitus, Cardiovascular Diseases, Neoplasms, Obesity

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