British Journal of Nutrition

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British Journal of Nutrition (2010), 104:125-134 Cambridge University Press
Copyright © The Authors 2010

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Human and Clinical Nutrition

Markers of cardiovascular risk are not changed by increased whole-grain intake: the WHOLEheart study, a randomised, controlled dietary intervention

Iain A. Brownleea1, Carmel Moorea2, Mark Chatfielda2, David P. Richardsona3, Peter Ashbya4, Sharron A. Kuznesofa1, Susan A. Jebba2 and Chris J. Seala1 c1

a1 School of Agriculture, Human Nutrition Research Centre, Food & Rural Development, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 7RU, UK
a2 Elsie Widdowson Laboratory, MRC Human Nutrition Research, Fulbourn Road, Cambridge CB1 9NL, UK
a3 DPRNutrition, 34 Grimwade Avenue, Croydon, Surrey CR0 5DG, UK
a4 Cereal Partners Worldwide, 2 Albany Place, 28 Bridge Road East, Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire AL7 1RR, UK
Article author query
brownlee ia [PubMed]  [Google Scholar]
moore c [PubMed]  [Google Scholar]
chatfield m [PubMed]  [Google Scholar]
richardson dp [PubMed]  [Google Scholar]
ashby p [PubMed]  [Google Scholar]
kuznesof sa [PubMed]  [Google Scholar]
jebb sa [PubMed]  [Google Scholar]
seal cj [PubMed]  [Google Scholar]


Recommendations for whole-grain (WG) intake are based on observational studies showing that higher WG consumption is associated with reduced CVD risk. No large-scale, randomised, controlled dietary intervention studies have investigated the effects on CVD risk markers of substituting WG in place of refined grains in the diets of non-WG consumers. A total of 316 participants (aged 18–65 years; BMI>25 kg/m2) consuming < 30 g WG/d were randomly assigned to three groups: control (no dietary change), intervention 1 (60 g WG/d for 16 weeks) and intervention 2 (60 g WG/d for 8 weeks followed by 120 g WG/d for 8 weeks). Markers of CVD risk, measured at 0 (baseline), 8 and 16 weeks, were: BMI, percentage body fat, waist circumference; fasting plasma lipid profile, glucose and insulin; and indicators of inflammatory, coagulation, and endothelial function. Differences between study groups were compared using a random intercepts model with time and WG intake as factors. Although reported WG intake was significantly increased among intervention groups, and demonstrated good participant compliance, there were no significant differences in any markers of CVD risk between groups. A period of 4 months may be insufficient to change the lifelong disease trajectory associated with CVD. The lack of impact of increasing WG consumption on CVD risk markers implies that public health messages may need to be clarified to consider the source of WG and/or other diet and lifestyle factors linked to the benefits of whole-grain consumption seen in observational studies.

(Received October 14 2009)

(Revised January 14 2010)

(Accepted January 18 2010)

(Online publication March 23 2010)

Key Words:Wholegrain foods; CVD risk; LDL-cholesterol; Dietary intervention


c1 Corresponding author: Professor Chris Seal, fax +44 191 222 6720, email