Scientists from Tufts University found that people who ate at least three servings of whole grains daily had smaller increases in waist size, blood pressure, and blood sugar levels.
Several health conditions, your lifestyle, and your age and family history can increase your risk for heart disease. These are called risk factors.
About half of all Americans (47%) have at least 1 of 3 key risk factors for heart disease: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking.
Whole grains consist of the entire grain, and, unlike refined grains, they still contain bran, and germ, which are rich in dietary fiber and micronutrients.
Eating more whole grains has been found linked to a reduced risk of heart disease. However, few studies have examined whole grain or refined grain intake and risk factors for heart disease.
In the study, researchers aimed to examine the long-term link between whole grain or refined grain intake on changes in waist circumference, HDL cholesterol, triglyceride, blood sugar, and blood pressure.
They used data from the Framingham Offspring cohort study that from more than 3000 people.
During an 18-year follow-up, the team found greater whole grain intake was linked to smaller increases in waist circumference, blood sugar, and systolic blood pressure.
They also found a stronger link with waist circumference was found in women than men.
Higher intake of whole grains was linked to greater increases in HDL cholesterol and declines in triglyceride levels.
Conversely, greater refined grain intake was linked to greater increases in waist circumference and less decline in triglyceride level.
Based on the findings, the researchers concluded that in middle- to older-age people, replacing refined grain with whole grain may be an effective way to reduce body fat, dyslipidemia, and high blood sugar over time, thereby reducing the risk of heart disease.
Dyslipidemia is the imbalance of lipids such as cholesterol, LDL-C, triglycerides, and HDL-C. This condition can result from diet, tobacco exposure, or genetics and can lead to heart disease with severe complications.
The research is published in in the Journal of Nutrition and was conducted by Nicola McKeown et al.
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