The associations between whole grain and refined grain intakes and serum C-reactive protein

Eur J Clin Nutr. 2022 Apr;76(4):544-550. doi: 10.1038/s41430-021-00996-1. Epub 2021 Aug 17.


Background/objectives: Epidemiological studies suggest that whole grain intake has inverse associations with low-grade inflammation, but findings regarding refined grains are inconclusive. Our objective was to investigate whether consumption of whole or refined grains is associated with serum high sensitivity CRP (hs-CRP).

Subjects/methods: The study included 756 generally healthy men and women aged 53-73 years from the Kuopio Ischaemic Heart Disease Risk Factory Study, examined in 1999-2001. Dietary intakes were assessed using 4-day food records. ANCOVA and linear regression were used for analyses.

Results: The mean intake of whole and refined grains was 136 g/day (SD 80) and 84 g/day (SD 46), respectively. Higher whole grain intake was associated with lower hs-CRP concentration and higher refined grain intake with higher concentration after adjustment for lifestyle and dietary factors. Each 50 g/d higher whole grain intake was associated with 0.12 mg/L (95% Cl 0.02-0.21 mg/L) lower hs-CRP concentration and each 50 g/d higher refined grain intake with 0.23 mg/L (95% Cl 0.08-0.38) higher concentration. Adjustment for fibre from grains attenuated the associations especially with whole grains. There were no statistically significant interactions according to gender or BMI (P for interactions >0.065).

Conclusions: The results of this study suggest that higher intake of whole grains is associated with lower concentrations of hs-CRP and higher intake of refined grains is associated with higher concentrations. However, especially the association with whole grain intake was attenuated after adjusting for fibre intake from grains, suggesting that cereal fibre may partly explain the association.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • C-Reactive Protein* / metabolism
  • Diet
  • Dietary Fiber
  • Edible Grain / metabolism
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Whole Grains*


  • Dietary Fiber
  • C-Reactive Protein