The fiber in whole-grain foods is associated with
less progression of atherosclerosisa condition caused by plaques that
stick to, and narrow, arterial passageways. Photo shows grain products rich in
fiber: bran muffins, brown rice, whole-grain cereal, and whole-wheat bread,
bagels and flour. Click the image for more information about it.
For a Healthier Heart, Don't Go Against the Grain
By Rosalie Marion
July 27, 2005
Women with a history of heart disease
who participated in a research study and reported having eaten six or more
servings of whole grains per week had slower progression of atherosclerosis, a
condition in which built-up plaque narrows the passageways through which blood
flows. Researchers funded by the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and other granting agencies reported
the findings in the July issue of the American Heart Journal.
The study was led by
H. Lichtenstein, director of the
Nutrition Laboratory at the Jean Mayer USDA
Human Nutrition Research Center on
Aging at Tufts
University in Boston, Mass. She and colleagues studied 229 postmenopausal
women who had participated in the Estrogen Replacement and Atherosclerosis
Plaque forms when fatty substances in blood plasma build up in artery walls.
The researchers studied dietary intake data taken from questionnaires and
performed angiograms to assess changes in the volunteers' coronary artery
diameter over a 3-year period. The frequency of dietary intake of fats,
cholesterol, essential nutrients and alcohol was also taken into account.
The researchers found that the progression of stenosis--narrowing of the
diameter of arterial passageways--was less in women who reported higher intakes
of cereal fiber from whole-grain foods than those reporting lower intakes.
The data suggest that following current dietary recommendations can slow the
rate of heart disease progression. The
2005 Dietary Guidelines
for Americans urges people to consume at least three servings of
whole-grain foods per day. But experts say currently most Americans consume
less than a single serving of whole grains daily.
Whole grains can be found in breakfast cereal made with whole grains,
oatmeal, brown rice, barley, popcorn, whole-wheat bread and cereal, bran
muffins, whole-wheat bagels and whole-wheat flour.
ARS is the U.S. Department of
Agriculture's chief scientific research agency.