Lignans and phytoestrogens have been associated with protective effect against hormone-related diseases, for example, cancer of the breast and prostate, and potential mechanisms for this effect have been reported. Antioxidants also appear to have some protective effect against diseases associated with reactive free radicals such as coronary heart disease and cancer. Whole grains contain some of these substances particularly the mammalian lignan precursors, vitamin E, other phenolic compounds, Se, and phytic acid. These substances may in part be responsible for the reduced risk of cancer and coronary heart disease associated with intake of high-fiber diets containing whole grains. Because they are more associated with the fiber in the outer layers of the grain, the intake of whole vs. refined grain is emphasized for optimum health benefits.