Research: LIU and colleagues, Di

Listed in Issue 28


LIU and colleagues, Division of Preventive Medicine and Channing Laboratory, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Womens Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston MA 02215 USA.   write that although current dietary guidelines for Americans recommend the increased intake of grain products in the prevention of coronary heart disease (CHD), epidemiological data relating whole-grain intake to the CHD risk are few. The authors conducted a study to evaluate whether high whole-grain intake reduces CHD risk in women.



75,521 women aged 38-63 years with no prior history of CHD or diabetes completed a semiquantitative food-frequency questionnaire (SFFQ) in 1984. The women were followed for 10 years, completing SFFQs in 1986 and 1990. Incidence of CHD was modelled in relation to the cumulative average diet from all 3 cycles of SFFQs using pooled logistic regression with 2-yearly intervals.


During 729,472 person-years of follow-up, the authors documented 761 cases of CHD (208 of fatal CHD and 553 of nonfatal myocardial infarction). Following adjustment for age and smoking, increased whole-grain intake was associated with decreased risk of CHD. For increasing quintiles of intake, the corresponding relative risks (RRs) were 1.0 (reference), 0.86, 0.82, 0.72 and 0.67. Following additional adjustment for body mass index, postmenopausal hormonal use, alcohol intake, multivitamin use, vitamin E supplement use, aspirin use, physical activity and types of fat intake, these RRS were 1.0, 0.92, 0.93, 0.83 and 0.75. The inverse relation between whole-grain intake and CHD risk was even stronger in the subgroup of never smokers (RR = 0.49) for extreme quintiles. The lower risk associated with higher whole-grain intake was not fully explained by its contribution to intakes of dietary fibre, folate, vitamin B-6 and vitamin E.


Increased intake of whole grains may protect against CHD.


Liu S et al. Whole-grain consumption and risk of coronary heart disease: results from the Nurses Health Study. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 70(3): 412-9. Sep 1999.


These results, from one of the most prestigious epidemiological groups in the world (Stampfer, Giovannucci, Rimm, Willett) are inarguably firm evidence that eating whole grains decreases the risk of coronary heart disease.

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