Individuals who frequently consume whole grains are less likely to suffer with heart disease, new research reveals.

American-based academics investigated whether whole grains lowered the risk of heart disease by analysing how they impact the associated risk factors, such as a larger waist size, high blood pressure, elevated blood sugars, triglyceride and rising cholesterol levels.

The findings reveal that reduced blood sugars, lowered blood pressure and a smaller waist size was more evident in mature adults who regularly eat whole grains compared to those who do not.

The scientists examined the risk factors in more than 3,000 middle-aged to elderly participants who either consume three or more portions of whole grains per day or less than half a portion per day. A singular slice of whole-grain bread or a cup full of wholegrain cereal are just some examples of a whole grain portion.

As part of the study, participants had to complete a diet questionnaire every four years.

From these, the researchers found that the average waist size of individuals who do not regularly eat whole grains increased more than an inch whereas only half an inch of waist growth was recorded for people who eat whole grains daily.

Additionally, blood sugar rates and blood pressure levels were much lower in people who frequently eat whole grains compared to those who do not.

Lead author Dr Nicola McKeown, from the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, said: “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.

“In fact, this data suggests 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.”

Top researcher Caleigh Sawicki said: “There are several reasons that whole grains may work to help people maintain waist size and reduce increases in the other risk factors.

“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 full research study is now available in the Journal of Nutrition.

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