High whole-grain consumption is related to better health outcomes. The specific physiological effect of these compounds is still unrevealed, partly because the accurate estimation of the intake of whole grains from dietary assessments is difficult and prone to bias, due to the complexity of the estimation of the intake by the consumer. A biomarker of whole-grain intake and type of whole-grain intake would be useful for quantifying the exposure to whole-grain intake. In this review, we aim to review the evidence on the potential biomarkers for whole-grain intake in the literature. We conducted a systematic search in Medline, Embase, Web of Science, and the Cochrane database. In total, 39 papers met the inclusion criteria following the PRISMA guidelines and were included. The relative validity, responsiveness, and reproducibility of these markers were assessed for short-, medium-, and long-term exposure as important criteria for the potential use of these biomarkers from a clinical and research perspective. We found three major groups of biomarkers: (1) alkylresorcinol, as well as its homologs and metabolites, assessed in plasma, adipose tissue biopsies, erythrocyte membranes, and urine; (2) avenacosides, assessed in urine samples; and (3) benzoxazinoid-derived phenylacetamide sulfates, assessed in blood and urine samples. The reviewed biomarkers may be used for improved assessment of associations between whole-grain intake and health outcomes.
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