Why this daily food can help prevent high blood pressure, heart disease

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A recent study from Tufts University, drawing on data from the Framingham Heart Study Offspring Cohort, has highlighted the health benefits of whole grains, especially for middle-aged adults and older.

The research underscores the importance of including at least three servings of whole grains in daily diets to significantly slow the increase in waist size, blood pressure, and blood sugar levels over time—key factors in combating heart disease.

Initiated in the 1970s, the Framingham Heart Study Offspring Cohort was designed to explore long-term risk factors for heart disease.

Focusing on the effects of whole grains compared to refined grains (like those found in white bread and pasta), the Tufts researchers analyzed their impact on five crucial heart health indicators: waist size, blood pressure, blood sugar, triglycerides (a type of blood fat), and HDL cholesterol (the good kind).

The study followed over 3,100 participants, predominantly white and averaging in their mid-50s at the start, for about 18 years.

The findings not only support but reinforce the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which recommend three daily servings of whole grains. A serving can be a slice of whole-grain bread, a half-cup of rolled oats, or a half-cup of brown rice.

The results clearly showed the benefits of whole grains. Those who consumed fewer whole grains had an average waist size increase of more than an inch, compared to about a half-inch increase in those who included more whole grains in their diet.

Additionally, a higher intake of whole grains was associated with smaller increases in blood sugar and blood pressure levels.

Interestingly, the study also found that eating fewer refined grains was connected to smaller gains in waist size and larger reductions in triglyceride levels every four years.

This suggests that whole grains contribute to more than just weight management; they also help maintain healthy blood sugar and blood pressure levels, which are vital for preventing heart disease.

Published in the Journal of Nutrition, with Caleigh M. Sawicki among the authors, the study provides valuable insights into how dietary choices influence long-term heart health.

It serves as a potent reminder of the impact that simple dietary changes, such as opting for whole grains over refined grains, can have on our health as we age.

These findings underscore the significant role that diet plays in our health, particularly the benefits that integrating whole grains into our diet can have beyond weight control, helping to keep critical health markers like blood sugar and blood pressure in check.

If you care about nutrition, please read studies about how Mediterranean diet could protect your brain health, and the best time to take vitamins to prevent heart disease.

For more information about health, please see recent studies about plant nutrients that could help reduce high blood pressure, and these antioxidants could help reduce dementia risk.

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