One of the largest lifestyle studies in the history of medical research was recently completed. It was sponsored jointly by the US National Cancer Institute (a government agency) and the Association for the Advancement of Retired Persons (commonly known as AARP). It involved over half a million Americans who completed surveys and were followed for 9 years.
The results showed that higher consumption of whole grains correlated with a lower risk of dying- from all causes- including cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, and even respiratory diseases- in both men and women. Overall, men who ate whole grains regularly had a 23% lower risk of dying than men who avoided whole grains, and women had a 20% lower risk concomitantly. But concerning cardiovascular disease by itself, men saw a risk reduction of up to 56%, while women saw up to 59% less risk.
The authors attributed the results mainly to whole grain fiber, and they even found that whole grain fiber was more protective against colon cancer than other kinds of fiber, including fruit and vegetable fiber.
They also made note of the high antioxidant content of whole grains, particularly their sky-high polyphenol content. Polyphenols are protective compounds found in plant foods. They contribute much more antioxidant activity than the more familiar vitamins, such as C and E.
The researchers said that their study offered superior statistical integrity, noting that previous studies suffered from small sample sizes, narrow ranges of dietary fiber intakes, and inadequate controls for confounding factors.