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No study has yet investigated the intake of different types of whole grain (WG) in relation to all-cause and cause-specific mortality in a healthy population. The aim of the present study was to investigate the intake of WG products and WG types in relation to all-cause and cause-specific mortality in a large Scandinavian HELGA cohort that, in 1992–8, included 120 010 cohort members aged 30–64 years from the Norwegian Women and Cancer Study, the Northern Sweden Health and Disease Study, and the Danish Diet Cancer and Health Study. Participants filled in a FFQ from which data on the intake of WG products were extracted. The estimation of daily intake of WG cereal types was based on country-specific products and recipes. Mortality rate ratios (MRR) and 95 % CI were estimated using the Cox proportional hazards model. A total of 3658 women and 4181 men died during the follow-up (end of follow-up was 15 April 2008 in the Danish sub-cohort, 15 December 2009 in the Norwegian sub-cohort and 15 February 2009 in the Swedish sub-cohort). In the analyses of continuous WG variables, we found lower all-cause mortality with higher intake of total WG products (women: MRR 0·89 (95 % CI 0·86, 0·91); men: MRR 0·89 (95 % CI 0·86, 0·91) for a doubling of intake). In particular, intake of breakfast cereals and non-white bread was associated with lower mortality. We also found lower all-cause mortality with total intake of different WG types (women: MRR 0·88 (95 % CI 0·86, 0·92); men: MRR 0·88 (95 % CI 0·86, 0·91) for a doubling of intake). In particular, WG oat, rye and wheat were associated with lower mortality. The associations were found in both women and men and for different causes of deaths. In the analyses of quartiles of WG intake in relation to all-cause mortality, we found lower mortality in the highest quartile compared with the lowest for breakfast cereals, non-white bread, total WG products, oat, rye (only men), wheat and total WG types. The MRR for highest v. lowest quartile of intake of total WG products was 0·68 (95 % CI 0·62, 0·75, Ptrend over quartiles< 0·0001) for women and 0·75 (95 % CI 0·68, 0·81, Ptrend over quartiles< 0·0001) for men. The MRR for highest v. lowest quartile of intake of total WG types was 0·74 (95 % CI 0·67, 0·81, Ptrend over quartiles< 0·0001) for women and 0·75 (95 % CI 0·68, 0·82, Ptrend over quartiles< 0·0001) for men. Despite lower statistical power, the analyses of cause-specific mortality according to quartiles of WG intake supported these results. In conclusion, higher intake of WG products and WG types was associated with lower mortality among participants in the HELGA cohort. The study indicates that intake of WG is an important aspect of diet in preventing early death in Scandinavia.
To identify dietary patterns with whole grains as a main focus to see if there is a similar whole grain pattern in the three Scandinavian countries; Denmark, Sweden and Norway. Another objective is to see if items suggested for a Nordic Food Index will form a typical Nordic pattern when using factor analysis.
The HELGA study population is based on samples of existing cohorts: the Norwegian Women and Cancer Study, the Swedish Västerbotten cohort and the Danish Diet, Cancer and Health study. The HELGA study aims to generate knowledge about the health effects of whole grain foods.
The study included a total of 119 913 participants.
The associations among food variables from FFQ were investigated by principal component analysis. Only food groups common for all three cohorts were included. High factor loading of a food item shows high correlation of the item to the specific diet pattern.
The main whole grain for Denmark and Sweden was rye, while Norway had highest consumption of wheat. Three similar patterns were found: a cereal pattern, a meat pattern and a bread pattern. However, even if the patterns look similar, the food items belonging to the patterns differ between countries.
High loadings on breakfast cereals and whole grain oat were common in the cereal patterns for all three countries. Thus, the cereal pattern may be considered a common Scandinavian whole grain pattern. Food items belonging to a Nordic Food Index were distributed between different patterns.
Health-beneficial effects of adhering to a healthy Nordic diet index have been suggested. However, it has not been examined to what extent the included dietary components are exclusively related to the Nordic countries or if they are part of other European diets as well, suggesting a broader preventive potential. The present study describes the intake of seven a priori defined healthy food items (apples/pears, berries, cabbages, dark bread, shellfish, fish and root vegetables) across ten countries participating in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) and examines their consumption across Europe.
Cross-sectional study. A 24 h dietary recall was administered through a software program containing country-specific recipes. Sex-specific mean food intake was calculated for each centre/country, as well as percentage of overall food groups consumed as healthy Nordic food items. All analyses were weighted by day and season of data collection.
Multi-centre, European study.
Persons (n 36 970) aged 35–74 years, constituting a random sample of 519 978 EPIC participants.
The highest intakes of the included diet components were: cabbages and berries in Central Europe; apples/pears in Southern Europe; dark bread in Norway, Denmark and Greece; fish in Southern and Northern countries; shellfish in Spain; and root vegetables in Northern and Central Europe. Large inter-centre variation, however, existed in some countries.
Dark bread, root vegetables and fish are strongly related to a Nordic dietary tradition. Apples/pears, berries, cabbages, fish, shellfish and root vegetables are broadly consumed in Europe, and may thus be included in regional public health campaigns.
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