Whole-grains breakfasts cut heart failure risks - study

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Cereal

Consuming at least one serving of whole grains cereal a day could
reduce a man's risk of heart failure by 30 per cent, says a new
study from the US.

Over 20,000 men were followed for almost 20 years, and those with a consumption of seven or more servings of whole-grain cereal, but not refined cereals, a week were found to at significantly lower risk of heart failure than those who didn't consume the cereal, says the study published in the Archives of Intern Medicine​. "To our knowledge, this is the first study to prospectively examine the relation between breakfast cereal consumption and the risk of HF in a large cohort,"​ wrote Luc Djoussé and Michael Gaziano from the Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School. Whole grains have received considerable attention in the last year, especially in the US where the FDA permits foods containing at least 51 per cent whole grains by weight and are low in total fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol to carry a health claim, which links them to a reduced risk of heart disease and certain cancers. The term whole grain is considered to be more consumer-friendly than the term fibre, which leads some manufacturers to favour it on product packaging since it is likely to strike more of a chord of recognition for its healthy benefits. The link between breakfast cereal intake and new cases of heart failure among 21,376 men (average age 53.7) participating in the Physician's Health Study I, was studied using a food frequency questionnaire (FFQ) and the incident of heart failure. Over the course of 19.6 years of follow-up, the researchers document 1018 incident cases of heart failure. After accounting for potential confounding factors such as age, smoking, alcohol consumption, vegetable consumption, use of multivitamins, exercise, and history of heart health, the researcher report that an average weekly cereal consumption of two to six servings was associated with a 21 per cent reduction in heart failure risk, while seven or more servings was associated with a 29 per cent reduction, compared to those who had a zero average consumption. The apparent benefits were only observed for whole grain cereals, but not refined cereals, stated Djoussé and Gaziano. The researchers suggest several mechanisms to account for the benefits. These included the potassium content of whole grain which could lower blood pressure, while other constituents like phytoestrogens could improve blood lipid levels. Moreover, the slower digestion or absorption of starch in the whole grains could promote satiety, they said, which has knock-on effects for weight management. "Our data demonstrate that a higher intake of whole grain breakfast cereals is associated with a lower risk of heart failure,"​ concluded the authors. "If confirmed in other studies, a higher intake of whole grains along with other preventive measures could help lower the risk of heart failure." ​ Sales of whole grains products in the US have increased following recommendations of the health benefits in the USDA's new Dietary Guidelines for Americans. In Europe, the € 16 million Healthgrain Integrated Project was recently launched to the effects of bioactive compounds in wheat and rye, identify new sources of nutritionally enhanced grain, as well as to develop methods to make cereal products more appealing to consumers. Source: Archives of Intern Medicine​ Volume 167, Number 19, Pages 2080-2085 "Breakfast Cereals and Risk of Heart Failure in the Physicians' Health Study I" ​Authors: L. Djousse, J.M. Gaziano

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