In new research, which appeared in the Journal of Nutrition, the researchers demonstrated an association between consuming more whole grains and improved measures of risk factors for CVD.
The researchers drew on data from the Framingham Heart Study, a long-term study conducted by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), which began in 1948. The data provided information on the participants’ diet, physical health and other health indicators, which left a sample size of 3,121 people.
The research found that the participants who consumed the least amount of whole grains had more significant increases in systolic blood pressure and blood sugar levels than the participants who consumed the greatest amount of whole grains.
Dr Caleigh Sawicki, who contributed to the study as part of her doctoral dissertation at Tufts, said that there are many reasons why whole grains may be beneficial to a person’s cardiovascular health. She highlighted the need for more research to understand precisely why whole grains are beneficial. “The presence of dietary fibre in whole grains can have a satiating effect, and the magnesium, potassium, and antioxidants may contribute to lowering blood pressure. Soluble fibre, in particular, may have a beneficial effect on post-meal blood sugar spikes.”
The researchers also found that participants who consumed the least amount of whole grains averaged a 1-inch increase in their waist circumference in 4 years. In contrast, participants who consumed the most whole grains only averaged a 0.5-in increase in their waist circumference.
According to Dr Nicola McKeown, senior and corresponding author of the study, “our findings suggest that eating whole grain foods as part of a healthy diet delivers health benefits beyond just helping us lose or maintain weight as we age.”