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23 October 2007

Whole-grain good for heart

Men who start each day with a bowl of whole-grain cereal may be lowering their risk of heart failure, according to new research.

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Men who start each day with a bowl of whole-grain cereal may be lowering their risk of heart failure, according to new research.

Heart failure is a chronic condition in which the heart loses its ability to pump blood efficiently, causing symptoms like breathlessness and fatigue. It is the leading cause of hospital admission among the elderly Americans, Drs Luc Djoussé and Michael Gaziano of Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston explain.

Djoussé and Gaziano examined ties between eating breakfast cereal and new cases of heart failure in 21 376 middle-aged men who were followed for an average of 19.6 years in the Physician's Health Study. Their findings are published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

During follow-up, 1 018 men experienced heart failure. The results showed a clear association between a higher intake of whole grain cereals, but not refined breakfast cereals, and a lower risk of heart failure.

Drastically decreases risk
Men who reported eating, on average, one or more servings of whole grain breakfast cereal each week had a 14 percent lower risk of heart failure than men who did not eat cereal. Men who averaged two to six servings a week had a 22 percent lower risk of heart failure and those who averaged seven or more servings of whole grain cereal each week had a 28 percent lower risk of heart failure.

These observations, Djoussé told Reuters Health, are "in line with the dietary guidelines recommending frequent consumption of whole grain products (not just cereals) to lower the risk of cardiovascular disease."

There are a number of biological mechanisms by which whole-grain cereals could protect against heart failure, the investigators note. Nutrients in whole-grain cereals, like potassium, have been shown to lower blood pressure, while phytoestrogens and other nutrients may improve lipids and exert antioxidant effects. Whole-grain cereals may help control body weight by slowing digestion and promoting feelings of fullness. – (Megan Rauscher/Reuters Health)

SOURCE: Archives of Internal Medicine, October 22, 2007.

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