- A 1998 study of 34,000 women showed that those who ate at least one serving of whole grains per day had between a 30% and a 36% lower risk of heart disease. (“Whole-Grain Intake May Reduce the Risk of Ischemic Heart Disease Death in Postmenopausal Women: the Iowa Women’s Health Study,” American Journal of Clininical Nutrition 1998 68:248-257).
- Results of the Nurses’ Health Study, which followed 75,000 subjects for up to twelve years, showed that those who ate about three servings of whole grains each day had a 25% lower risk of heart disease and a 36% lower risk of stroke than those who did not make whole grains part of their diet. (“Whole-Grain Consumption and Risk of Coronary Heart Disease: Results from the Nurses’ Health Study,” American Journal of Clininical Nutrition 1999, 70:412-419).
- Another study published in a 2000 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association found similarly strong connections between whole grain intake and health – including up to 50% reduction of risk of ischemic stroke. (“Whole Grain Consumption and Risk of Ischemic Stroke in Women: A Prospective Study”, JAMA, 2000; 284:1534-1540).
- Of the 44,000 men in the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study, those who consumed about 3 servings per day of whole grains enjoyed an 18% reduction risk of heart attack. (“Intakes of Whole Grains, Bran and Germ and the Risk of Coronary Heart Disease in Men,” American Journal of Clininical Nutrition, 2004, 80: 1492-1499.)
When whole grain wheat is refined to make flour, most of its nutritional value goes down the drain. For example, thirteen key nutrients, including vitamin E, are reduced by as much as 93%. To compensate for this incredible loss, the flour is enriched – but with only five nutrients, creating what many scientists and researchers see as negative nutrition.
What gives whole grains their heart-health power is no doubt a combination of factors. Including lipids, sterols, fibre, vitamins, minerals, and other phytonutrients. What’s known for sure is that processed grains don’t do the job.
So, what does all this tell you to do? Well, to keep your heart healthy you need to find and eat more whole grain foods – every day. Be cautious though. Foods labelled “whole grain” are often devoid of lipids, sterols, and fibre.