Ross et al Adv Nutr 2023.pdf (679.64 kB)

The relationship between whole-grain intake and measures of cognitive decline, mood, and anxiety: A systematic review

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posted on 2023-07-11, 03:51 authored by Alastair RossAlastair Ross, Shruti P. Shertukde, Kara Livingston Staffier, Mei Chung, Paul F. Jacques, Nicola M. McKeown

Greater intake of whole grains, compared to refined grains, is consistently associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes, both of which are associated with cognitive decline. To better understand the relationship between whole-grain intake, cognition, mood, and anxiety, a systematic review was conducted to synthesize available evidence linking whole grains to these outcomes. Four electronic databases were searched from inception to August 2021 for potentially relevant observational and interventional studies. Risk of bias (RoB) assessments were performed using the newly developed Nutrition Quality Evaluation Strengthening Tools, and the Grades of Recommendation, Assessment, Development, and Evaluation approach was used to determine the strength of evidence for each outcome. In total, 23 studies [4 randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and 19 observational studies] met the predefined eligibility criteria. Of these,12 studies included analysis of whole-grain intake and cognitive decline, 9 included mood outcomes, and 2 included both cognition and mood outcomes. The overall evidence for an association between whole-grain intake and cognition is inconclusive. With respect to mood outcomes, evidence from RCTs prospective cohort and case-control studies suggest that higher intake is linked to improved outcomes for mood and depression although the evidence is mixed for cross-sectional studies. Reporting of whole-grain intake fell short of suggested standards, and the strength of available evidence was low or very low for all outcomes. A high RoB toward studies reporting results was also noted, complicating both the interpretation of some studies and the combined evidence. Of note, few well-designed RCTs assessing the effect of whole-grain intake on measures of cognition, mood, and anxiety were identified, highlighting the need for more studies in this area. The available, although limited, evidence suggests that greater whole-grain intake is associated with better mood and anxiety-related scores and is inconclusive regarding cognitive outcomes.  PROSPERO registration: CRD42021266355 


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© 2023 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Inc. on behalf of American Society for Nutrition. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (

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  • PRJ0376219


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Advances in Nutrition



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