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.