Whole grains, bran, and germ in relation to homocysteine and markers of glycemic control, lipids, and inflammation 1

Am J Clin Nutr. 2006 Feb;83(2):275-83. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/83.2.275.


Background: Intake of whole grains is inversely associated with risk of diabetes and ischemic heart disease in observational studies. The lower risk associated with high whole-grain intakes may be mediated through improvements in glycemic control, lipid profiles, or reduced inflammation.

Objective: The aim was to examine whether the intake of whole grains, bran, and germ is related to homocysteine, plasma markers of glycemic control (fasting insulin, hemoglobin A1c, C-peptide, and leptin), lipids (total cholesterol, triacylglycerol, HDL cholesterol, and LDL cholesterol), and inflammation (C-reactive protein, fibrinogen, and interleukin 6).

Design: This was a cross-sectional study of the relations of whole grains, bran, and germ intakes with homocysteine and markers of glycemic control, lipids, and inflammation in 938 healthy men and women.

Results: Whole-grain intake was inversely associated with homocysteine and markers of glycemic control. Compared with participants in the bottom quintile of whole-grain intake, participants in the highest quintile had 17%, 14%, 14%, and 11% lower concentrations of homocysteine (P < 0.01), insulin (P = 0.12), C-peptide (P = 0.03), and leptin (P = 0.03), respectively. Inverse associations were also observed with total cholesterol (P = 0.02), HDL cholesterol (P = 0.05), and LDL cholesterol (P = 0.10). Whole-grain intake was not associated with the markers of inflammation. Whole-grain intake was most strongly inversely associated with markers of glycemic control in this population.

Conclusion: The results suggest a lower risk of diabetes and heart disease in persons who consume diets high in whole grains.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism*
  • C-Reactive Protein / metabolism
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diabetes Mellitus / epidemiology
  • Diabetes Mellitus / prevention & control*
  • Edible Grain*
  • Female
  • Fibrinogen / metabolism
  • Health Surveys
  • Heart Diseases / epidemiology
  • Heart Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Homocysteine / blood*
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / metabolism*
  • Insulin / metabolism
  • Interleukin-6 / metabolism
  • Leptin / blood
  • Lipid Metabolism*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk Factors


  • Biomarkers
  • Blood Glucose
  • Insulin
  • Interleukin-6
  • Leptin
  • Homocysteine
  • Fibrinogen
  • C-Reactive Protein