6th August 2015: Switching to whole grain breakfast cereal could help you live longer, with new research linking diets higher in whole grains with a reduced risk of death from all causes, cancer and heart disease.1

Published online in July in the British Journal of Nutrition, the research revealed eating more whole grains in general was associated with a reduction in mortality rates of up to 17%.

It also showed people who ate the most whole grain breakfast cereal had a 25-26% reduced risk from premature death from all-causes, 15-25% reduced risk of death from cancer and 25-47% reduced risk of death from coronary heart disease (CHD), compared to people who ate the least.

People who ate the most non-white bread, such as dark rye and mixed grain, had a 22-28% reduced risk from premature death from all-causes compared to people who ate the least, however associations with cancer and CHD were not statistically significant.

The large Scandinavian study of almost 120,000 people (80,101 women and 39,417 men), included participants from the Norwegian Woman and Cancer Study, the Northern Sweden Health and Disease Study, and the Danish Diet Cancer and Health Study. Researchers analysed participants’ dietary data, looking at whole grain consumption, including the whole grain content of food products consumed.

The researchers concluded:

  • In particular, intake of breakfast cereals and non-white bread was associated with lower mortality.
  • The associations were found in both women and men and for different causes of deaths.

Breakfast cereals are a leading source of whole grains for Australians contributing 43% to our daily intakes, with bread products providing 42%.2 There are plenty of whole grain breakfast cereals to choose from, with over 60% of breakfast cereals on supermarket shelves providing a source of whole grains.3

Advanced Accredited Practising Dietitian and Director of the Australian Breakfast Cereal Manufacturers Forum, Ms Leigh Reeve, said: “This study builds on the growing evidence supporting the role of whole grains in promoting longevity and provides another reason to embrace grains. We need to be eating core grain foods three to four times each day, choosing at least half as whole grain or high fibre, yet most Australians aren’t doing this.

“We know that fad diets eliminating whole food groups like grains actually undermine our health and wellbeing. This new research again reinforces the importance of eating grains every day, especially whole grains, and it really only takes simple food swaps to high fibre or whole grain options.”


  1. Johnsen,N.et al. Whole-grain products and whole-grain types are associated with lower all-cause and cause-specific mortality in the Scandinavian HELGA cohort. British Journal of Nutrition 2015; DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0007114515001701. Published online ahead of print 23 July 2015.
  2. Grains & Legumes Nutrition Council. 2014 Grains & Legumes Consumption & Attitudinal Study. Accessed 5 August 2015: http://www.glnc.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Australians-at-Risk-2014-Grains-Legumes-Consumption-Attitudinal-Study.pdf.
  3. Grains & Legumes Nutrition Council. 2014 Grains and Legumes Product Audit. Unpublished: 2014.
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