People who eat a diet high in fibre-rich whole grains are
less likely to develop diabetes or heart disease, according to a review of past
studies. The analysis was conducted for the American Society for Nutrition.
In a position statement, the group said evidence suggests that
foods with cereal fibre or mixtures of whole grains and bran are "modestly
associated" with a reduced disease risk. The strongest evidence for
benefit came from cereal fibre, researchers said. That would include breakfast
cereals as well as breads and brown rice with a high fibre content listed on
the label, according to Teresa Fung, a nutrition researcher at Simmons College
"Cereal fibre may be one of the protective ingredients of
whole grains that contribute to lower disease risk," Lu Qi, one of the
study's authors from the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, told
Reuters Health in an email. His team's review included 28 studies that looked
at the risk of developing diabetes among people who ate different amounts of whole
grain and bran, 33 studies on the risk of cardiovascular disease and 19 on
Lower risk for diabetes
Qi and his colleagues
found that overall, people who ate the most cereal fibre or whole grains and
bran had an 18 to 40 percent lower risk of diabetes than those who ate the
least. Likewise, people with diets high in cereal fibre had a 22 to 43 percent
lower risk of stroke across the studies and were 14 to 26 percent less likely
to die of cardiovascular disease.
were also tied to a lower body weight, but the effect was small. Two studies
found people who ate the most of those grains lost about one more pound than
other participants, the researchers wrote in the American Journal of Clinical
Nutrition. The benefits of whole grains in general – without bran and outside
of cereal fibre – were less clear, they said. The analysis was funded by grants
from the Kellogg Company as well as other food and nutrition companies.
Because none of the studies randomly assigned people to eat
different amounts of whole grains, including cereal fibre, they can't prove it
was the fibre, itself, that prevented diabetes and heart disease. But a large
enough long-term study to prove cause and effect would be difficult, the study
"It may simply be that people (who eat cereal fibre) are
full for longer, and therefore don't eat so much, and end up being leaner,"
Fung, who wasn't involved in the new study, told Reuters Health."Another
possibility is that people who eat a lot of cereal fibre are also more healthy in other ways, she said.