Love your heart, opt for wholegrain wheat

NEWYORK: Patients with heart disease who eat whole grains and legumes in place of refined grains may experience certain heart-healthy changes, including a drop in blood sugar, findings of a new Korean study suggest.

According to Dr. Yangsoo Jang from Yonsei University, Seoul, Korea, and colleagues, refined grains contain less fibre, minerals, vitamins and other nutrients than whole grains.

Furthermore, they note, studies have shown that whole-grain intake may protect against cardiovascular disease.

Jang and colleagues wanted to determine whether patients who ate a powder containing whole grains and plant products, rather than refined rice, would reduce their heart disease risk factors.

They selected 76 male patients with heart disease and assigned them to either eat a meal of the whole-grain powder daily or consume their regular refined-rice diet for 16 weeks.

The investigators then took several measurements, including tests of blood glucose, insulin, homocysteine and vitamin E levels. High levels of homocysteine indicate increased heart disease risk.

They also measured markers of a body process called plasma lipid peroxidation which, when increased, can contribute to heart-disease risk.

In patients eating the whole grains, blood glucose decreased by 24 per cent and insulin levels decreased 14 per cent. Their daily fibre intake increased by 25 per cent and their vitamin E intake rose by 41 per cent.

The 55 patients in the whole grain group who did not have diabetes had decreased fasting levels of glucose and insulin, while the 21 diabetic patients in the whole-grain group also reduced their fasting glucose levels.

Patients both with and without diabetes in the whole-grain group also showed improved ability to process glucose.