Data from over 30,000 men participating in the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study indicated that increased intakes of whole grains are associated with a 19 per cent lower incidence of hypertension.
The researchers, led by Alan Flint from Harvard School of Public Health, report their findings online in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
“These findings have implications for future dietary guidelines and prevention of hypertension,” they wrote.
High blood pressure (hypertension),defined as having a systolic and diastolic blood pressure (BP) greater than 140 and 90 mmHg, is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease (CVD) - a disease that causes almost 50 per cent of deaths in Europe, and reported to cost the EU economy an estimated €169bn ($202bn) per year.
While the potential heart health benefits of whole grains have been reported before, the Harvard researchers note that no studies have reported if the total grams of whole grains are linked to the risk of hypertension.
The 31,684 male health professionals aged between 40 and 75 without known hypertension, cancer, stroke, or heart disease were followed for 18 years. During this time, 9,227 cases of incident hypertension were documented.
Comparing the highest intakes of whole grains to the lowest intakes, the researchers calculated that whole grains were associated with a 19 per cent reduction in the incidence of hypertension.
When they subsequently looked at total bran, a 15 per cent reduction in the incidence of hypertension was observed for men with the highest intakes, compared to the lowest.
“In summary, we found an independent inverse association between intake of whole grains and incident hypertension in men,” wrote the researchers. “Bran may play an important role in this association,” they concluded.
Source: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Published online ahead of print, doi:10.3945/ajcn.2009.27460
"Whole grains and incident hypertension in men"
Authors: A.J. Flint, F.B. Hu, R.J. Glynn, M.K. Jensen, M. Franz, L. Sampson, E.B. Rimm