Heart Disease :: Whole grains may reduce heart risk in elderly

Older adults who regularly eat whole grains like high-fiber cereals and cooked oatmeal may be less likely to develop a cluster of conditions that raise the risk of heart attack and stroke, a new study suggests.

Researchers found that among 535 adults between 60 and 98 years old, those who ate more whole-grain foods were less likely to develop a group of risk factors known as metabolic syndrome or to die of cardiovascular disease over the next 12 to 15 years.

The findings, say the study authors, suggest that young and old alike should follow experts’ advice to bump up their whole-grain intake to at least three servings a day.

Metabolic syndrome refers to a cluster of conditions, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol and high blood sugar levels, and abdominal obesity, which raise a person’s risk of heart disease, stroke and kidney damage.

Some research has suggested that middle-age adults can lower their risk of metabolic syndrome by favoring whole grains such as bran, oats and brown rice over highly processed grain products like white bread.

But until now, no studies had looked specifically at an elderly population, Dr. Nadine R. Sahyoun, the lead author of the new study, told.

Yet, any effects of diet on metabolic risk factors may be even more evident in older adults, because with aging comes a greater susceptibility to abnormal blood sugar control, according to Sahyoun, an assistant professor of nutrition and food science at the University of Maryland in College Park.

She and her colleagues report their findings in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

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