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Cereals and chronic disease risk



Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Centre and Harvard Medical School
Division of Geriatrics, Department of Medicine, Boston, MA, USA


Cereal grains and their products are important source of energy. They have various health benefits as well. Multiple studies have suggested that they may decrease the risk of various chronic diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, and heart failure. The purpose of this brief review is to highlight some of the epidemiological evidence supporting the beneficial effects of cereals, chiefly whole grain cereals prevention of various chronic diseases. Possible biological mechanisms are also discussed.


Across cultures, cereal is an important source of energy as well as other nutrients. There is extensive evidence that cereal, especially whole grain cereal and whole grain cereal products may confer a decreased risk of developing various chronic diseases such as hypertension (HTN), diabetes mellitus (DM) and heart failure (HF). Despite this, data suggest that the consumption of whole grains may not be adequate. For example, less than 5 percent of Americans consume the recommended amount of whole grains; an average daily consumption of less than 1 ounce of whole grain has been estimated (1). This review highlights some of the epidemiological evidence supporting the role of whole grain cereal consumption in hronic disease prevention.

HTN remains an important public health problem (2). In the United States (US) alone, the estimated annual direct and indirect cost of HTN exceeds $50 billion (2). Prevention, rather than treatment of this problem and its associated complications is thus of paramount importance. Whole grain breakfast cereal has been shown to decrease the risk of d ...

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