Increased consumption of whole grains may help to lower cardiovascular risk factors

whole grain consumption
A new study investigates the relationship between whole grain eating and the development of early warning signals of cardiovascular disease.
  • It has been demonstrated by researchers that persons who consume more whole grains have a lower chance of developing cardiovascular disease (CVD).
  • Although there has been some research into the effect of whole grain diet on the early warning signals of CVD, there has been little investigation into this.
  • According to the findings of the current study, persons who consume more whole grains had better measures of these early warning indications.
  • Researchers also discovered a link between persons who consume more refined grains and worsening measurements of the early warning signals of cardiovascular disease (CVD).

Researchers have discovered a link between consuming more whole grains and improved assessments of risk factors for cardiovascular disease (CVD) in humans.

Additionally, according to the findings of the study, which was published in the Journal of Nutrition, researchers discovered a relationship between consuming more refined grains and having worse assessments of some of these risk factors

The findings add to the growing body of data indicating increasing consumption of whole grains is beneficial to one’s health.

Cardiovascular disease

Heart disease and stroke are the most common causes of death worldwide, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). In 2019, nearly 18 million people died as a result of CVDs, with the vast majority dying from a stroke or heart attack.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a person dies from cardiovascular disease (CVD) every 36 seconds in the United States, accounting for one death in every four.

To reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, the CDC recommends that people avoid smoking, avoid being overweight or obese, and maintain a physically active lifestyle. In addition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that people consume as nutritious a diet as possible.

According to a 2015 assessment, adopting a healthy diet that includes more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, fish, vegetable oil, and chicken can reduce a person’s risk of cardiovascular disease by a third compared to a standard diet.

More specifically, experts have discovered compelling evidence that consuming more whole grains has health-promoting impacts. This lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD), cancer, respiratory disease, infectious disease, and all-cause mortality, among other things.

It is worth noting that there has been little research into the relationship between whole grain diet and the early warning signals of cardiovascular disease (CVD).

The waist circumference, blood pressure, fasting plasma high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or “good” cholesterol, plasma triglyceride, and blood glucose levels of a person are all indicators of early diabetes.

More than 3,000 people

The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship between the consumption of whole grains and the early warning signals of cardiovascular disease (CVD).

They drew on data collected as part of the Framingham Heart Study, a long-term study undertaken by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) that began in 1948 and has since continued to this day. This study’s Offspring Cohort, which began in 1971 and ended in 2014, provided the data that was used by the researchers.

The participants in the Offspring Cohort provided the researchers with their medical history on a four-year cycle and underwent a regular physical exam. Participants in the fifth examination cycle, which began in 1991 and ended in 1993, were also asked to provide information on their food.

Participants who had diabetes at the start of the study were omitted, as were those who did not give dietary information on two or more consecutive assessments, according to the researchers. This resulted in a sample size of 3,121 individuals.

The individuals completed a food frequency questionnaire, which enabled the researchers to calculate the amount of whole grains they ingested on a daily basis.

Reduced risk factors

After four years of observation, the researchers discovered that those who consumed the least amount of whole grains had an average waist circumference increase of one inch (in) between the two examinations.

Participants who consumed the most whole grains, on the other hand, experienced only a 0.5-inch rise in their waist circumference on average.

Independent of waist circumference, the participants who ingested the least amount of whole grains saw more significant increases in systolic blood pressure and blood sugar levels than the participants who consumed the most amount of whole grains.

Doctor Nicola McKeown, senior and corresponding author of the study at Tufts University in Massachusetts and a scientist on the Nutritional Epidemiology Team at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging, says that the findings suggest that eating whole grain foods as part of a healthy diet provides health benefits that go well beyond simply helping us lose or maintain weight as we age.

“In fact, these data suggest that people who eat more whole grains are better able to maintain their blood sugar and blood pressure over time. Managing these risk factors as we age may help to protect against heart disease.”

As Dr. Caleigh Sawicki, a Tufts University doctorate candidate who contributed to the study as part of her PhD dissertation, points out, there are numerous reasons why whole grains may be helpful to a person’s cardiovascular health.

In addition to the fact that whole grains contain dietary fibre, the inclusion of magnesium, potassium, and antioxidants may aid in the reduction of blood pressure levels. Dr. Sawicki believes that soluble fibre, in particular, may have a favourable influence on post-meal blood sugar surges.

Dr. Sawicki believes that additional research is needed to determine exactly why whole grains are helpful – and how to encourage people to consume more of them.

The large amount of observational data demonstrating that a higher intake of whole grains is associated with enhanced health is being augmented by our research. But, as Dr. Sawicki points out, “we still don’t know much about the mechanisms that underpin how whole grains may benefit health.”

“It could be the fibre in whole grain, or it could be one of many other nutrients or polyphenols — or it could be a combination of all of them!”

“Of course, convincing individuals to move from refined to whole grain diets is another significant difficulty. More research is needed to understand the factors that prevent people from consuming more whole grain diets.

According to Dr. McKeown, increasing the consumption of whole grains while decreasing the consumption of refined grains is particularly significant for a certain demographic in the United States.

“The average American consumes about five servings of refined grains daily, much more than is recommended, so it is important to think about ways to replace refined grains with whole grains throughout your day.”

“For example, you might consider having a bowl of whole grain cereal with breakfast instead of a white flour bagel, and substituting whole grain snacks, entrées, and side dishes for refined grain alternatives.”

According to Dr. McKeown, even little incremental adjustments in your diet, such as increasing your intake of whole grains, will make a difference over time.

Education of the general public

Continuing to promote the benefits of ingesting more whole grains in one’s diet, according to Dr. McKeown, is an important part of official health advice.

The current U.S. advice is to consume half of your grain diet as whole grain (that is, three or more servings per day), and in fact, there has been a food-based recommendation for whole grains in place since 2005.

When developing dietary guidelines, Dr. McKeown suggests that an increased emphasis be placed on replacing refined grains with whole grains, as well as greater communication about the unique nutritional properties of different types of whole grains. “Perhaps, as dietary guidance is developed, an increased emphasis should be placed on the substitution of refined grains with whole grains, and greater communication on the unique nutritional properties” of whole grains, Dr. McKeown says.

According to Dr. McKeown, people also need to be educated about the diversity of whole grains that are accessible.

“If you ask a layperson to list all of the different types of fruits and vegetables that are available for them to eat, I’m confident that you’ll get more than a dozen different types of fruits and vegetables listed — regardless of whether the person eats them or not!”

“However, I am rather certain that it would be difficult for individuals to identify whole grain items other than bread, pasta, and morning cereals. As a result, there is still a significant amount of consumer education that needs to take place regarding whole grains,” Dr. McKeown stated.

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