Associations of Whole-Grain, Refined-Grain, and Fruit and Vegetable Consumption With Risks of All-Cause Mortality and Incident Coronary Artery Disease and Ischemic Stroke: The Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) Study

Am J Clin Nutr. 2003 Sep;78(3):383-90. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/78.3.383.


Background: Recent epidemiologic study results showed that subjects who had high intakes of whole-grain foods had lower risks of death and heart disease than did subjects who had low intakes. However, the findings were inconsistent for fruit and vegetable intake.

Objective: The relations of whole-grain, refined-grain, and fruit and vegetable intakes with the risk of total mortality and the incidence of coronary artery disease (CAD) and ischemic stroke were studied in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) cohort (baseline: age 45-64 y, n = 15,792).

Design: Proportional hazards regression analyses were used to assess the relations of whole-grain, refined-grain, and fruit and vegetable intakes with the risk of death and the incidence of CAD and ischemic stroke, with adjustment for age, sex, ethnicity, energy intake, and cardiovascular disease risk factors. Dietary intakes were assessed by using a food-frequency questionnaire.

Results: Over an 11-y follow-up period, whole-grain intake was inversely associated with total mortality and incident CAD. The relative hazards of death for quintiles 2-5 of fruit and vegetable intake were 1.08 (95% CI: 0.88, 1.33), 0.94 (0.75, 1.17), 0.87 (0.68, 1.10), and 0.78 (0.61, 1.01), respectively; P for trend = 0.02. An inverse association between fruit and vegetable intake and CAD was observed among African Americans but not among whites (P for interaction = 0.01). The risk of ischemic stroke was not significantly related to whole-grain, refined-grain, or fruit and vegetable consumption.

Conclusion: These observational findings suggest a beneficial effect of whole-grain and fruit and vegetable consumption on the risks of total mortality and incident CAD but not on the risk of ischemic stroke.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Arteriosclerosis / epidemiology*
  • Arteriosclerosis / mortality
  • Arteriosclerosis / prevention & control
  • Cohort Studies
  • Coronary Artery Disease / epidemiology*
  • Coronary Artery Disease / mortality
  • Coronary Artery Disease / prevention & control
  • Diet*
  • Edible Grain*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Fruit*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Risk
  • Stroke / epidemiology*
  • Stroke / mortality
  • Stroke / prevention & control
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Vegetables*