People who eat a wholegrain breakfast cereal at least seven times a week have a reduced risk of heart failure, suggest findings from the Physicians’ Health Study.
The results showed that physicians who ate this much wholegrain cereal had a 28% lower relative risk of developing heart failure than those who never ate wholegrain cereal.
The study authors say that, if confirmed in further studies, eating wholegrain breakfast cereals may form an important part of heart failure prevention strategies.
Dr Luc Djoussé, of Harvard Medical School, in Boston, Massachusetts, USA, and colleagues prospectively analysed data from 21,410 US male physicians, with an average age of 54 years.
At baseline, they asked participants how often they ate wholegrain cereal – defined as containing at least 51% wholegrain ingredients by weight. They then determined incident heart failure using annual follow-up questionnaires.
Of the 10,649 participants who reported eating cereal at baseline, 8,266 (79%) ate wholegrain cereals while 2,203 (21%) ate refined cereals.
Over a mean follow-up of 18.4 years, there were 898 cases of heart failure.
Compared with participants who never ate wholegrain cereal, those who ate one serving per week had a relative risk (RR) for heart failure of 0.86. Meanwhile, those who ate wholegrain cereal two to six times a week had a RR of 0.78, and those who ate a serving seven times or more each week had a RR of 0.72.
The findings remained the same when possible changes in cereal consumption over time were taken into account, as recorded on questionnaires at 18 weeks, and at two, four, six, eight and ten years.
“The Physicians’ Health Study shows that even in a population with overall healthy behaviour, it is possible to see less heart failure in those who eat a wholegrain cereal breakfast,” Dr Djoussé said.
The results were reported at the 47th American Heart Association Annual Conference on Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology and Prevention 2007, held in Orlando, Florida between 28 February and 3 March.