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Men's Health: Whole-grain cereals prevent heart failure

A healthier breakfast may help lower blood pressure and reduce weight

Here’s another reason why breakfast is the most important meal of the day: Men who eat whole-grain cereals may cut their risk of developing heart failure.

This was the conclusion of a study of more than 21,000 male health professionals who completed questionnaires on health-related behaviours.

Men who consumed seven or more servings of cold breakfast cereal per week had a 28 per cent lower risk of heart failure than men who never ate cold breakfast cereal. Two to six servings per week was associated with a 21 per cent lower risk and up to one serving per week resulted in a 10 per cent lower risk of heart failure. One serving consisted of a one-cup portion of cold cereal.

The researchers determined the beneficial effect was almost wholly attributable to whole-grain cereals rather than refined cereals.

The lower risk of heart failure could partly be explained by a lower likelihood of diabetes or high blood pressure occurring in the cereal eaters, but even after accounting for these other risk factors, men who consumed more than seven servings of cereal a week still had a 20 per cent lower risk of heart failure. This is still a substantial reduction, according to Dr. Luc Djoussé, one of the study authors.

Given the fact that the study participants were considered to be generally in good health, the benefits of cereal could be even greater in a more diverse group of people, suggests Djoussé, an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School in Boston.

“Consumption of whole-grain products could lead to a lower rate of heart failure in the general population,” he says, noting that previous studies have demonstrated that whole grains help lower blood pressure and reduce weight, both risk factors for heart failure.