A new US study adds to recent evidence showing that eating wholegrains helps to lower the risk of heart disease.

Researchers from Wake Forest University, North Carolina, measured habitual diet in 1180 middle-aged adults using food frequency questionnaires. Risk of heart disease was then assessed by
measuring the thickness of the carotid artery wall, the main artery that supplies the heart with oxygen-rich blood, using an ultrasound technique. These measurements were repeated at follow-up
appointments 5 years later.

The results showed that subjects who ate the most wholegrain foods had the lowest risk of heart disease, as indicated by a thinner carotid artery wall. The results remained significant even
when potential confounding nutrients, such as vitamin B1, vitamin B6, fibre, and vitamin E were taken into account.

It is not known exactly how wholegrains exert their positive influence on heart health and more research is needed. However, the benefits are already recognised by national organisations in the
form of approved heart health claims for wholegrains added to food products.

For more information, see
Mellen PB et al (2007). Whole-grain intake and carotid artery atherosclerosis in a multiethnic cohort: the Insulin Resistance Atherosclerosis Study. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition,Vol
85, pg 1495-1502.

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