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The health benefits of whole grains and fibre

Carrie Ruxton (Freelance Dietitian, Nutrition Communications, Cupar, UK)
Emma Derbyshire (Department of Human Nutrition, Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester, UK)

Nutrition & Food Science

ISSN: 0034-6659

Article publication date: 10 November 2014




The purpose of this paper is to evaluate the latest mounting evidence reporting associations between the important role of whole grains and fibre in lowering the risk of chronic diseases and health.


A general systematic review was conducted to locate and summarise up-to-date published studies within the field. A Medline search identified human-controlled trials and observational studies published in the past five years.


A total of 49 studies were identified. In observational studies, higher intakes of whole grain and dietary fibre were associated with a significantly lower risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, abdominal adiposity and certain cancers. This was further supported by human intervention trials, which reported benefits for appetite control, blood lipid levels, glycaemic control, digestive health and secondary cancer prevention. Mechanisms may relate to the micronutrients and phytonutrients present in high fibre foods.

Practical implications

Practical advice is needed to help people identify foods rich in whole grains, e.g. breakfast cereals. UK fibre recommendations should be aligned with European guidelines and food labelling regulations, and a whole grain dietary recommendation, e.g. similar to the US guideline of three portions a day, could be introduced. Government and industry should play a role in communicating dietary fibre guidelines and the health benefits associated with whole grain and fibre, particularly insoluble fibre.


This paper develops knowledge about whole grains, health and the importance of establishing whole-grain dietary recommendations.



This review was funded by the Breakfast Cereal Information Service (, an independent information body set up to provide balanced information on breakfast cereals, which is supported by a restricted educational grant from the Association of Cereal Manufacturers (ACFM). The content reflects the opinions of the authors and the employees from ACFM and BCIS played no role in the research or writing of this paper.


Ruxton, C. and Derbyshire, E. (2014), "The health benefits of whole grains and fibre", Nutrition & Food Science, Vol. 44 No. 6, pp. 492-519.



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Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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