Study boasts benefits of whole grain cereal intake

by Eric Schroeder
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BOSTON — Men who consume a higher intake of whole grain breakfast cereals may have a reduced risk of heart failure compared with men who never or rarely eat whole grain cereals, according to a new study published in the Oct. 22 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine.

In background information as part of the study, titled "Breakfast Cereals and Risk of Heart Failure in the Physicians Health Study I," the authors said the lifetime risk of heart failure is approximately 20% (one in five) for both men and women aged 40 years. Previous studies have shown a link between high grain consumption and a reduced risk of hypertension, coronary heart disease, high blood cholesterol and mortality.

The research, led by Luc Djousse and Michael Gaziano of the Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the Harvard Medical School, Boston, examined the association between eating whole grain breakfast cereal and new cases of heart failure among 21,376 men whose average age was 53.7 years. Cereal consumption for the men, who were part of the Physicians Health Study I, was estimated by using a food frequency questionnaire and incident heart failure was calculated during annual follow-up questionnaires for an average of 19.6 years.

Of the 21,376 participants studied, 1,018 experienced heart failure during the follow-up period. Included were 362 of 6,995 males who did not eat any cereal, 237 of 4,987 who ate one serving per week of cereal or less, 230 of 5,227 who consumed two to six cereal servings per week, and 189 of 4,167 who ate at least seven cereal servings per week.

"Our data demonstrate that a higher intake of whole grain breakfast cereals is associated with a lower risk of heart failure," the authors concluded, noting that the beneficial effects of whole grains may be the result of whole grains’ positive role in combating a range of heart failure risk factors. "If confirmed in other studies, a higher intake of whole grains along with other preventive measures could help lower the risk of heart failure."

The authors noted that additional studies are needed to confirm the findings and to determine.

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