Ruby Prosser Scully

Eating a diet rich in wholegrains is associated with a lower risk of dying from heart, stroke and blood vessel (cardiovascular) disease and dying overall, but does not reduce cancer risk, 2 studies show.

In the research conducted over 25 years, Harvard School of Public Health researchers adjusted the results for lifestyle and dietary factors like age, smoking, physical activity, BMI (body mass index) and overall diet (excluding wholegrains), but they still found those with a greater wholegrain intake had reduced risk of dying from cardiovascular disease.

Each serving (28g/day) of wholegrains was associated with a 9 per cent drop in risk of death from cardiovascular disease and a 5 per cent reduction in risk of death overall.

Replacing one serving of refined grains with wholegrains instead was linked to an 8 per cent lower risk of cardiovascular death and a 20 per cent drop if the wholegrains replaced a serving of red meat. Bran intake showed similar benefits.

Wholegrains did not, however, have much effect on cancer outcomes. 

The data came from  more than 74,000 women in the Nurses’ Health Study and  more than 43,000 men in the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study.

The Australian Nutrient Reference Values set adequate intake (AI) levels of 30 g fibre/day for men and 25 g fibre/day for women. They also set a higher level of intake for reducing chronic disease, which is 38 g fibre/day for men, and 28 g fibre per day for women.

Last Reviewed: 03/07/2015



1. JAMA Int Med 2015; online 5 Jan
2. Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing and NHMRC. Nutrient Reference Values for Australia and New Zealand, including Recommended Dietary Intakes, 2006. Endorsed 9 September 2005.