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Whole Grains Do a Heart Good
Date:10/22/2007

Cereal cuts cardiovascular risk, as do fruits, veggies, research shows

MONDAY, Oct. 22 (HealthDay News) -- Diets rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables and even a little alcohol may help ward off heart woes, new studies show.

In one study, regular consumption of whole-grain breakfast cereal cut the risk of heart failure for male American physicians.

Another study, this time from Sweden, touted the benefits of fruits, veggies and the occasional drink in helping women beat heart attack.

The American study analyzed the association between breakfast cereal intake and new cases of heart failure, in which the heart progressively loses its ability to pump blood.

The study included data on more than 21,000 participants in the Physicians' Health Study who were followed for almost 20 years.

Compared to those who ate no whole-grain cereal, men who consumed 2 to 6 servings per week saw their risk of heart failure fall by 21 percent, while those who ate 7 or more servings per week reaped a 29 percent reduction in risk, the researchers reported in the Oct. 22 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

That effect is due, in part, to the high levels of magnesium, potassium and fiber in those breakfast cereals, said study co-author Dr. Luc Djousse, an associate in epidemiology at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.

"Our recommendation is that a lay person consuming breakfast cereal should look at fiber," Djousse said. "At least four grams of fiber [per serving], that should be sufficient."

Fiber increases cells' sensitivity to insulin, thus reducing the risk of diabetes, while potassium and magnesium lower blood pressure, he explained.

Breakfast cereal is best taken with skim milk, Djousse said, "and if you want to add to it, a piece or half-piece of fruit would be good."

While the study included only men, there is "no reason at all" why the resul
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