High blood pressure cut by whole grain diet

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EATING oats and wholemeal bread can lower dangerous high blood pressure as effectively as taking an anti-hypertension drug, according to a Scottish study published today.

Aberdeen University researchers monitored more than 200 volunteers and found that eating three portions a day of wholegrain oats or wheat - in ordinary supermarket-bought products - cut blood pressure by as much as six points a day, reducing the risk of heart attacks by 15 per cent and strokes by 25 per cent.

This study is among the first to use a well-designed clinical trial to test the theory that whole-grain food can cut the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Volunteers in the study ate three servings a day of whole-grain foods, which were either wheat, or a mixture of both wheat and oats. The whole-grain diets were compared with one that contained the same amounts of refined cereals and white bread.

Dr Frank Thies, senior lecturer at the Rowett Institute of Nutrition and Health at the University of Aberdeen, led the study. He said: "We observed a decrease in systolic blood pressure of 5-6 mm Hg (millimetre of mercury, or Torr, the unit of 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 per cent respectively."

The study used products widely available in supermarkets to ensure that it was realistic and practical for the study's subjects to follow.