A daily helping of porridge and two other servings of whole-grain foods can dramatically lower the risk of heart disease, researchers in Aberdeen have discovered.

A clinical trial, involving 200 volunteers, has shown those eating three portions of whole-grains daily had lower blood pressure than those on conventional diets.

Research from around the world which looked at the health and diets of different populations has regularly shown whole-grain foods might have significant health benefits, but the study, led by Aberdeen University, is the first to test the theory using an actual clinical trial.

Volunteers received three servings daily of whole-grain foods. These were either wheat-based or a mixture of both wheat and oats. The whole-grains were all in products which could be easily obtained from supermarkets, such as oatcakes, oatflakes, porridge oats and other cereals, including Weetabix, Shreddies and Cheerios.

The whole-grain diets were compared with one with the same amounts of refined cereals and white bread.

Rowett senior lecturer Frank Thies said, "We observed a decrease in systolic blood pressure in the volunteers who ate the whole-grain foods, and this effect is similar to that you might expect to get from using blood pressure-lowering drugs. This drop in systolic blood pressure could potentially decrease the incidence of heart attack and stroke disease by at least 15% and 25% respectively."

Thies said the results were good news for the food industry, especially for Scottish food producers.

Oatmeal of Alford brand development executive Alice Stebbings welcomed the findings, saying they were brilliant news. She said the early winter had already prompted increased sales of oatmeal at the Laurencekirk-based business, which also produces mueslis, and runs the centuries-old oat mill at Montgarrie, near Alford.

She added, "Sales of oatmeal are up this year because of the cold weather. We've had pallet loads of it flowing out the doors in recent weeks. Everyone seems to be jumping on the bandwagon and having porridge."

The study was done by scientists working at the Aberdeen University's medical school and its Rowett Institute of Nutrition and Health. It was funded by the Food Standards Agency and by the Scottish government.

The findings have just been published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.  

From the December 14, 2010, Prepared Foods' Daily News
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