To learn more about the benefits of grain-based food and healthy eating, check out these studies. 


Safety of Folic Acid

Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences - November 20, 2021

Folic acid is a vital nutrient for women in their childbearing years, as adequate intake can help prevent birth defects, including neural tube defects. Folic acid is added to wheat flour in Canada as a public health measure. However, there can also be negative effects if folic acid is taken in amounts that exceed upper tolerable levels. Can we get too much folic acid from fortification? The expert groups in this paper, including the US National Toxicology Program and the UK Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition concluded that there are not likely any adverse effects from mandatory folic acid fortification programs (based on studies to-date, but studies are ongoing), and that these fortification programs help prevent neural tube defects.

Low Carbohydrate Diets May Increase Risk of Neural Tube Defects

Birth Defects Research – January 2018

Folic acid fortification of wheat has significantly reduced the prevalence of neural tube defects (NTDs) in the United States. The popularity of "low carb" diets raises concern that women who intentionally avoid carbohydrates, thereby consuming fewer fortified foods, may not have adequate dietary intake of folic acid. This is the first study to examine the association between carbohydrate intake and NTDs among pregnancies conceived post fortification. They found that women with restricted carbohydrate intake were 30% more likely to have an infant with anencephaly or spina bifida.

Trending Cardiovascular Nutrition Controversies

Journal of the American College of Cardiology – March 2017 69(9)
Freeman, A et al.

A panel of researchers reviewed the scientific literature on nutrition to help make evidence-based recommendations for heart-healthy diets. Among the recommendations are that the optimal diet for heart health should contain fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, limited quantities of lean meat, fish, dairy products, and liquid vegetable oils. They also note that unless someone has celiac disease, gluten intolerance or wheat allergy, a gluten-free diet is unnecessary. They found that claims for heart health or weight loss benefits for gluten-free diets were unsubstantiated.

Certain Grain Foods Can Be Meaningful Contributors to Nutrient Density in the Diets of U.S. Children and Adolescents: Data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2009–2012

Nutrients – Feb 2017 9(2), 160
Papanikolaou Y and Fulgoni V

This study determines the contribution of calories, vitamins and minerals from grain-based foods in the diet of U.S. children. Results show that both whole and refined (enriched) grains are nutrient-dense foods that provide children with fibre, folate, iron, B-vitamins and vitamin A. The researchers note that ready-to-eat cereals and breads contribute more nutrients to the diets of children and adolescents than any other grain category, and that grains contribute more fibre to the diets of children than fruit or vegetables.

Carbohydrates, Grains, and Whole Grains and Disease Prevention Part IV: Cancer Risk: Lung, Prostate and Stomach

Cereal Foods World – Jan/Feb 2017 62(1), 12-22
Miller Jones J et al.

This review examines how grains and fibre affect cancer risk. It concludes that diets rich in whole grains and adequate amounts of fibre can positively impact the immune system, gut microbiome and gut transit time, which can decrease cancer risk in general. The study also provides a deep-dive into how nutrition affects cancers of the lung, prostate and stomach.

Dietary Fiber Intake is Inversely Associated with Periodontal Disease among US Adults

The Journal of Nutrition
Nielsen S et al.

Periodontal disease affects almost half of all Americans, and is linked the same inflammation that causes heart disease and high blood pressure. Studies show that adequate fibre intake may help prevent periodontal disease, but the source of fibre matters. This study show that adults who consumed the most whole grains had the lowest rates of periodontal disease. The researchers concluded that periodontal disease was associated with low whole-grain intake but not with low fruit and vegetable intake.

Association of pasta consumption with body mass index and waist-to-hip ratio: results from Moli-sani and INHES studies

Nutrition & Diabetes
Pounis G et al.

Pasta is a well-known component of the traditional Mediterranean Diet, but there have been some questions about pasta intake and body weight. This study evaluated the association of pasta intake with body mass index (BMI) and waist-to-hip ratio. Researchers found that as part of the Mediterranean diet, pasta consumption was negatively associated with BMI, waist circumference and waist-to-hip ratio and with a lower prevalence of overweight and obesity.

The Gluten-Free Diet: Recognizing Fact, Fiction, and Fad

The Journal of Pediatrics
Norelle R. Reilly MD

This article explores why gluten-free diets may be harmful when they are followed by people who have no medical reason to do so – especially children. The bulk of gluten-free foods are purchased by consumers who don’t have celiac disease, non-celiac gluten sensitivity or wheat allergy. Putting children on gluten-free diets when it’s not medically necessary can lead to excessive intake of calories, fat and sugar, as well as possible deficiencies in B-vitamins and iron.

CIMMYT Series on Carbohydrates, Wheat, Grains, and Health: Carbohydrates, Grains, and Wheat in Nutrition and Health: Their Relation to Digestion, Digestive Disorders, Blood Glucose, and Inflammation

Cereal Foods Word
Jones, JM, Peña, RJ, Korczak, R, and Braun, HJ

In part three of the series, the authors take a closer look at how different carbohydrates affect insulin levels, inflammation, the gut microbiome, and gut-related diseases such as irritable bowel syndrome. This report also covers celiac disease and food allergies.

Carbohydrates, Grains and Wheat in Nutrition & Health: An Overview. Part II: Grain Terminology and Nutritional Contributions

Cereal Foods World
Jones, JM et al.

In part two of this series, the authors cover topics regarding grain terminology, including definitions of milling, enrichment, whole grains and different processing terms. Next, nutritional composition of grains is provided in an overview, which offers specific details about the macronutrient, vitamin and mineral contributions the body gets from grain-based foods.

Prebiotic consumption and the incidence of overweight in a Mediterranean cohort: the Seguimiento Universidad de Navarra Project

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Perez-Cornago A. et al.

In this cohort study, researchers looked at consumption of prebiotics such as fructans (found in wheat) and GOS (found in beans and some vegetables) over nine years. They found that the risk of becoming overweight was 15-17% lower in participants in the highest quartile of fructan and GOS consumption. They concluded that higher prebiotic consumption was associated with lower risk of overweight in initially normal-weight, middle-aged adults.  

Carbohydrates, Grains and Wheat in Nutrition & Health: An Overview. Part I: Role of Carbohydrates in Health

September-October 2015 / Cereal Foods World
Jones, JM et al.

The first article in a series about grains in the diet, part I covers the impact of grains on health, including a review of the glycemic index, glycemic response, fibre and how grains are recommended in food guides from around the world. 

High Glycemic Index diet as a risk factor for Depression: Analyses from WOMEN'S HEALTH INITIATIVE.

August 2015 / American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Gangwisch JE et al. 

This prospective cohort study found that diets with higher glycemic index and higher sugar intake are associated with increasing odds of depression. Higher consumption of whole grains was associated with lower odds for depression incidence, while opposite was true for refined grains, with progressively higher consumption associated with higher odds for depression. 

Navigating the gluten-free boom: from essential medical treatment to ill-conceived fad diet

August 2015 / Journal of the American Academy of Physician Assistants
Gaesser G, Angadi S

Despite health claims for gluten-free eating from celebrities and the media, there is no evidence indicating the general population would be better off avoiding gluten for weight loss in individuals without celiac disease, non-celiac gluten sensitivity and wheat allergy. 


August 2015 / Proceedings of the Nutrition Society 
Seal C, Brownlee I

There is increasing evidence from both observational and intervention studies that increased intake of whole grain foods has positive health benefits, including lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and some cancers. Whole grain consumers may also have better digestive health and are likely to have lower BMI and gain less weight over time. 

Dietary fibre and incidence of type 2 diabetes in eight European countries: the EPIC-InterAct Study and a meta-analysis of prospective studies

May 2015 / Diabetologia
InterAct Consortium

Total fibre intake is inversely related to the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and cereal fibre found in grain foods, such as bread, rice and pasta, was found to be the most protective. Researchers found the protective effect of fibre intake on diabetes risk may be partially explained by impacts on body weight.


May 2015 / Cereal Chemistry
P. Hucl, C. Briggs, R.J. Graf and R.N. Chibbar

Researchers compared wheat grown from wheat seeds dating from 1860 to present day. They found that wheat grown today remains similar to wheat grown 150 years ago in terms of protein and carbohydrate quality and concentration. This refutes those who claim that modern wheat has “changed” and is the cause of modern-day diseases such as obesity and type 2 diabetes.

Cost of nutrients analyses using the national health and nutrition examination survey: a focus on grain foods

April 2015 / The FASEB Journal
Victor Fulgoni, III and Yanni Papanikolaou

The objective of the present study was to assess the cost of energy, nutrients, and related substances in the American diet and to define some of the most cost effective foods for providing these food components. The study notes that grains are low cost sources of many important nutrients. 

Consumption of certain grain food patterns is associated with improved diet quality and nutrient intakes in US adults: a NHANES 2005-2010 analysis

April 2015 / The FASEB Journal
Yanni Papanikolaou and Victor Fulgoni

The most commonly consumed grain food patterns in US adults were compared for nutrient intake, diet quality (via Healthy Eating Index), anthropometric and physiological parameters. Nearly all the food patterns with grain foods patterns were superior for the intakes of most  nutrients compared to those not  consuming grains.

Modeling changes in daily grain foods intake: an analysis to determine the impact on nutrient intakes in comparison to the USDA ideal food pattern

April 2015 / The FASEB Journal 
Yanni Papanikolaou and Victor Fulgoni

Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) encourage increased whole grains (WG) and dietary fiber intake while limiting refined grains (RG). We identified how changes in DGA recommendations for grain intake to make‘half the grains whole”( i.e. 3 of 6 one-ounce servings) could positively impact nutrient/energy intake for US adults.

Dietary fiber intake and mortality among survivors of myocardial infarction: prospective cohort study

April 2014 / BMJ
Li S, et al. 

A greater intake of dietary fiber after a heart attack, especially cereal fiber, was inversely associated with all-cause mortality. In addition, increasing consumption of fiber from before to after experiencing a heart attack was significantly associated with lower all cause and cardiovascular mortality.

Total dietary fiber intakes in the US population are related to whole grain consumption: Results for the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2009 to 2010

March 2014 / Nutrition Research
M Reicks, et al.

Whole grain foods make a substantial contribution to total dietary fiber intake and should be promoted to meet recommendations. Under 5% of Americans meet the dietary fiber requirements so this is an important recommendation in helping consumers bridge the fiber gap.

Prevention of diabetes with Mediterranean Diets: A subgroup analysis of a randomized trial

January 2014 / Annals of Internal Medicine
Jordi Salas-Salvado, MD, PhD, et al.

Those with high adherence to a Mediterranean diet rich in plant based foods and oils, like extra virgin olive oil, without energy restrictions reduces the risk of diabetes among persons with high cardiovascular risk. A Mediterranean diet has the right balance of foods including grain-based ones as part of this documented healthy pattern.  

Nutrition therapy recommendations for management of adults with diabetes

November 2013 / Diabetes Care, October 2013
Marion J. Franz, et al.

An updated evidence-based position statement from the American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends all adults living with diabetes seek nutrition counsel as a part of a managed care plan. The ADA reinforces there is no “one size fits all” approach to diabetes and the focus should be on eating balanced diet patterns that fit individuals’ needs and lifestyle, rather than set diet plans.

Does wheat make us fat and sick? 

September 2013 / Journal of Cereal Science
Fred J.P.H. Brouns, et al.

Despite suggestions wheat consumption has adverse effects on health, these arguments cannot be substantiated by science. In fact, consuming foods containing whole wheat in recommended amounts has been associated with significant reductions in risks for type 2 diabetes and heart disease as well as more favorable long-term weight management.