Whole Grain Cereal May Help Control Blood
TUESDAY, March 22 (HealthDay News) -- Eating breakfast cereal --
especially whole grain cereal -- may reduce the risk of developing
high blood pressure, a new study suggests.
"We found about a 20 percent decreased risk of developing hypertension in those who consumed whole grain breakfasts cereals at least seven times a week," said lead researcher Dr. Jinesh Kochar, of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston and the VA Boston Healthcare System.
"Along with other healthy lifestyles, such as low sodium intake and physical activity, getting whole grain from this readily available source can cut down the risk of developing chronic hypertension," he added.
Findings from the study, which received no private industry
funding, were scheduled for presentation Tuesday at an American
Heart Association conference in Atlanta.
For the study, Kochar's team collected data on 13,368 male
doctors who took part in the Physicians Health Study I, a landmark
trial begun in 1982.
None of the men had high blood pressure at the start of the
study, but during more than 16 years of follow-up, 7,267 men
developed hypertension, the researchers found.
High blood pressure, which puts people at risk for heart disease
and stroke, is a leading cause of death in the United States.
The men were separated into four groups based on their cereal
When researchers adjusted only for age, they found that the men
who ate cereal at least once a week reduced their risk of high
blood pressure 8 percent compared with men who ate no cereal.
Consuming cereal two to six times a week lowered the risk 16
percent, and eating it seven or more times a week dropped the risk
When Kochar's group adjusted their findings to take into account
smoking history, weight, alcohol intake, fruit and vegetable
consumption, physical activity and history of diabetes in addition
to age, the difference was still significant but smaller -- 12
percent for those eating two to six servings a week and 19 percent
for men eating seven or more bowls.
The association with lower blood pressure was stronger for whole
grain cereals than refined grain cereals, the researchers
Kochar speculates the effect is partly because of whole grain
cereal's high fiber content. Whole grains are also a good source of
micronutrients, and they increase insulin sensitivity and reduce
inflammation, he said.
Commenting on the study, Dr. David L. Katz, director of the
Prevention Research Center at Yale University School of Medicine,
said that "there has long been evidence that whole grain intake can
lower blood pressure fairly acutely, and it is associated with
lower blood pressure over time."
A number of mechanisms may produce this beneficial effect, he
said. "They contain vitamins and minerals, such as potassium, that
may directly relax blood vessels," Katz said. Another contributing
factor is soluble fiber, "which helps lower blood sugar, lipid and
insulin levels, and, in turn, lowers blood pressure," he added.
There's another obvious, but often overlooked explanation, Katz
said: "Eating more whole grains means eating less of something
"When one considers the many high-sodium fast-food breakfast options, it may be as much what a bowl of cereal knocks out of one's diet, as what it puts in, that helps lower blood pressure and enhance health," Katz said.
More cereal might mean fewer scones and donuts, for example.
Experts note that research presented at meetings has not been
subjected to the same type of rigorous scrutiny given to research
published in peer-reviewed medical journals.
For more information on hypertension, visit the
American Heart Association.
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