The results published in the open access journal BMC Medicine also showed cereal fibres to be associated with reduced risk of deaths in varying degrees for chronic diseases including cancer, heart disease, respiratory disease and diabetes.

"Our study indicates that intake of whole grains and cereal fiber may reduce the risk of all-cause mortality and death from chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and respiratory disease," said lead researcher Lu Qi from Harvard Public School of Health.

The study included 367,442 people above age 50. They were followed for an average of 14 years. The researchers found that consumption of an average 34 grams of whole grains per 1000 kilocalories (kcal) per day was associated with a 17 percent reduced risk of premature death compared to those consuming an average of 3.98 grams per 1000 kcal per day.

Even when they accounted for factors such as health status, physical activity and obesity status the reduction remained the same. They found that consuming an average of 10.22 grams per 1000 kcal of cereal fibers a day was associated with a 19 percent reduced overall risk of death compared to those consuming an average 2.02 grams per 1000 kcal per day.When broken down for individual chronic diseases the research reveals surprising information.

High whole grains consumption was associated with an 11 percent and 48 percent reduced risk of death from respiratory disease and diabetes, respectively. Whereas a high consumption of cereal fibers had a 15 percent and 34 percent reduced risk of mortality from cancer and diabetes, respectively.

Whole grains are the entire seed of a plant that is used for food and contains the germ, bran and endospore, such as wheat, oat and quinoa. They are rich sources of dietary fiber and other nutrients such as minerals and antioxidants.

 

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