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Wholegrain cereals and bread: a duet of the Mediterranean diet for the prevention of chronic diseases

  • Angel Gil (a1), Rosa M Ortega (a2) and José Maldonado (a3)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 13 December 2011

The promotion of healthy lifestyles is one of the major goals of governments and international agencies all over the world. Wholegrain cereals are rich in nutrients and many phytochemical compounds, with recognised benefits for health, including dietary fibre, a number of phenolic compounds, lignans, vitamins and minerals and other bioactive components. The aim of the present work is to review the fundamental studies that support the consumption of wholegrain cereals and bread to prevent chronic diseases.


Descriptive review considering human studies.

Setting and subjects

Subjects included in randomised intervention trials and cohort studies from different countries published up to 2010.


Several studies show consistently that subjects who ingest three or more portions of foods per day based on wholegrain cereals have a 20–30 % lower risk of CVD than subjects who ingest low quantities of cereals. This level of protection is not observed with the ingestion of refined cereals, these being even higher than with the intake of fruit and vegetables. Likewise, high intake of wholegrain cereals and their products, such as whole-wheat bread, is associated with a 20–30 % reduction in the risk of type 2 diabetes. Finally, protection against the risk of colorectal cancer and polyps, other cancers of the digestive tract, cancers related to hormones and pancreatic cancer has been associated with the regular consumption of wholegrain cereals and derived products.


The regular intake of wholegrain cereals can contribute to reduction of risk factors related to non-communicable chronic diseases.

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