Eating wholegrain cereals can reduce likelihood of death from heart disease, say researchers, but they stress that refined grain cereals had no effect on heart health.
Researchers from the Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, write that previous studies have suggested that substituting wholegrain products for refined-grain products lowers the risks of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease in women.
They assessed the association between whole- and refined-grain breakfast cereal intakes and both overall mortality and death from heart disease in a cohort of men.
They examined more than 86 000 healthy male doctors aged 40-84 years old. Over a period of five and a half years, there were 3,114 deaths from all causes, including 1,381 due to heart disease (488 heart attacks and 146 strokes).
Wholegrain breakfast cereal intake was inversely associated with total and heart disease-related mortality, report the team, independent of risk factors including age, body mass index, smoking, alcohol intake and high cholesterol.
Compared with men who rarely or never consumed whole-grain cereal, men in the highest category of whole-grain cereal intake (one daily serving) were 20 per cent less likely to die from heart disease. In contrast, total and refined-grain breakfast cereal intakes were not significantly associated with cause of death.
The researchers conclude that the results "highlight the importance of distinguishing wholegrain from refined-grain cereals in the prevention of chronic diseases".