Here's some eye-opening news. Eating plenty of whole grains brings a reduced risk of high blood pressure, and getting enough dietary fiber is associated with lower risks of heart disease in adults (not seniors) according to a pair of new studies. Eating cereals are an easy way of ensuring you're getting enough of both these vital nutrients.
One of the studies examined cereal consumption for just over 13,350 men. None of the subjects had high blood pressure at the start of the study, but during 16 years of follow up 7,267 of them were diagnosed with it.
Those who had whole grain cereals at least 7 times per week experienced a 20% lower chance of having hypertension compared to participants who did not have cereal. A bowl of cereal also helped, reducing the risk of hypertensive by a respectable 11%.
High blood pressure is a leading cause of death in the United States today. It puts patients at risk for other serious heart problems and stroke.
The second project included over 11,000 Americans and focused on dietary fiber.
Those who had the highest intakes (22-23g daily) were far more likely to have reduced risk of heart disease in comparison to the subjects who ate only 9g of dietary fiber each day. While this was true for most adults, those over age 60 saw no benefit. It may simply be too little, too late, or eating this way may only be able to slow problems down, not stop them.
The dietary guidelines the government supports suggest we eat from 25 to 38g of dietary fiber and 48g of whole grains each day. Few of us get anywhere near those numbers; estimates suggest that most Americans get 15 grams a day. Other studies have found only 5% of us are getting to that top level: 48g of whole grains a day. Considering who many benefits whole grains bring to the body, a number like this is pretty significant.
Eating enough whole grains has been shown to decrease the harmful effects of bad fats that you eat on the lining of your blood vessels. It also lowers the risk of diabetes, about 40% less risk in those who get the recommended daily intake of whole grains. By substituting whole grains for the refined type as often as you can, you'll be giving you body a more natural source of important nutrients.
Fiber is a part of whole grains, fruits, veggies and legumes and has also been shown to bring down blood pressure, cholesterol numbers and lower BMIs, all good for your heart. Fiber also helps to keep your digestive system moving and is also known to help with blood glucose and cholesterol. Even in the study, only 17% of participants got the recommended daily amount of dietary fiber.
When it comes to choosing cereal be sure to check the box for exactly what's inside … things like sugar and sodium are no-no's. Products labeled healthy may not be, you should know that cereal is a processed food and these items are often high in sugar and salt.
Eating cereals of the wholegrain variety (in place of donuts, breakfast sandwiches and the like) along with moderation in salt and calories, getting regular exercise and other lifestyle choices are things you can do, today, to help keep your heart healthy, your blood pressure under control and your risks of heart disease reduced.