CSIRO researchers say a healthy diet with the recommended intake of wholegrains could be as potent at combating heart disease as medication.
Dr David Topping said eating wholegrains, such as those found in cereal and bread, was known to reduce the risk of a range of ill health and serious disease.
Published research shows eating two to four serves of wholegrain foods a day can reduce the risk of heart disease by as much as 40 per cent - equal to the effect of cholesterol lowering drugs, Dr Topping said in a statement on Tuesday.
There's also consistent evidence that a diet rich in wholegrain foods could play a role in weight management, lowering blood pressure, reducing the risk of some cancers, and slowing or even stopping the progression of diabetes.
He said these accounted for most of the nation's major causes of death and disability and with health problems on such a scale prevention, not cure, is the preferred option.
Dr Topping is chief research scientist with CSIRO Food Futures National Research Flagship.
His comments coincide with the release of a research report, compiled by the industry body GoGrains, which also said Australians eat about half the daily recommended amount of wholegrains.