Wholegrain foods can reduce risk of cardiovascular disease, study

By Helen Glaberson

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Blood pressure, Nutrition

New research suggests that eating wholegrain foods, such as whole-meal bread or porridge could be as effective as blood pressure-lowering drugs.

Writing in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition,​ the Aberdeen university researchers decided to explore the impact that wholegrain foods could have on lowering blood pressure.

Lowered blood pressure

The scientists reported a significant decrease in systolic blood pressure of 6 and 3 mm Hg in the volunteers who ate the wholegrain foods.

“This effect is similar to that you might expect to get from usingblood pressure-lowering drugs,”​ said Dr Frank Thies, Senior Lecturer at The Rowett Institute of Nutrition and Health University of Aberdeen, who led the study.

Thies said​this drop in systolic blood pressure could potentially decrease the incidence of heart attack and stroke disease by at least 15 to 25 per cent.

However, according to NHS choices, England’s publicly funded health information service, the study did not compare the effects of wholegrains with drugs for lowering blood pressure, therefore any claims that this diet achieves the same effect as drugs is premature.

Methodology and results

To investigate the effects of whole-grain foods on health, approximately 200 middle-aged healthy individuals were randomly allocated into two groups.

One group received three servings every day of whole-grain foods, consisting of either wheat, or a mixture of both wheat and oats. The other group was given the same amounts of refined cereals and white bread.

Apart from the wholegrain and the equivalent refined cereal foods, the volunteers were encouraged to continue with their normal food choices.

The research was carried out by scientists at Aberdeen University and Rowett Institute of Nutrition and Health, and was funded by the Food Standards Agency and the Scottish Government.

The study adds to the ever-growing body of science supporting the benefits of whole-grain consumption for heart health​. Research has already led the FDA to permit foods containing at least 51 percent whole grains by weight that are also low in total fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol to carry a health claim linking them to a reduced risk of heart disease and certain cancers.

​Source: the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition ​2010

Published online ahead of print: August 4, 2010

“Effect of increased consumption of whole-grain foods on blood pressure and other cardiovascular risk markers in healthy middle-aged persons: a randomized controlled trial.”

P. Tighe, G. Duthie, N. Vaughan, J. Brittenden, W. G. Simpson. S. Duthie, W. Mutch, K. Wahle, G Horgan, F. Thies

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