Eating a bowl of cereal daily for breakfast, not the sugary sweet ones but those with whole grains, can reduce your high blood pressure risk by 20%. This new information was presented this week at the American Heart Association’s conference in Atlanta, Georgia. High blood pressure, which puts people at risk for heart disease and stroke, is a leading cause of death in the United States.

Dr. Jinesh Kochar, of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston and the VA Boston Healthcare System states:

“We found about a 20% decreased risk of developing hypertension in those who consumed whole grain breakfast cereals at least seven times a week. Along with other healthy lifestyles, such as low sodium intake and physical activity, getting whole grain from this readily available source can cut down the risk of developing chronic hypertension.”

For the study, Kochar’s team collected data on 13,368 male doctors who took part in the Physicians Health Study I, a landmark trial begun in 1982. None of the men had high blood pressure at the start of the study, but during more than 16 years of follow-up, 7,267 men developed hypertension, the researchers found.

Researchers found that the men who ate cereal at least once a week reduced their risk of high blood pressure by 8% compared with men who ate no cereal. Consuming cereal two to six times a week lowered the risk by 16%, and eating it seven or more times a week dropped the risk by 20%.

Kochar’s group did in fact adjust their findings to take into account smoking history, weight, alcohol intake, fruit and vegetable consumption, physical activity and history of diabetes in addition to age, the difference was still significant but smaller; about 12% for those eating two to six servings a week and 19% for men eating seven or more bowls.

Dr. David L. Katz, director of the Prevention Research Center at Yale University School of Medicine commented:

“There has long been evidence that whole grain intake can lower blood pressure fairly acutely, and it is associated with lower blood pressure over time. They contain vitamins and minerals, such as potassium, that may directly relax blood vessels. Another contributing factor is soluble fiber, which helps lower blood sugar, lipid and insulin levels, and, in turn, lowers blood pressure. Eating more whole grains means eating less of something else. When one considers the many high-sodium fast-food breakfast options, it may be as much what a bowl of cereal knocks out of one’s diet, as what it puts in, that helps lower blood pressure and enhance health.”

Here’s a list of top whole grains consumers are most familiar with:

  • Amaranth
  • Barley
  • Buckwheat
  • Corn, including whole cornmeal and popcorn
  • Millet
  • Oats, including oatmeal
  • Quinoa
  • Rice, both brown rice and colored rice
  • Rye
  • Sorghum (also called milo)
  • Teff
  • Triticale
  • Wheat, including varieties such as spelt, emmer, farro, einkorn, durum and forms such as bulgur, cracked wheat and wheat berries
  • Wild rice

Enjoy your breakfasts and start the day off right while potentially prolonging your life.

Source: The Whole Grains Council

Written by Sy Kraft, B.A.