‘This study provides additional support of a Mediterranean diet, which includes daily consumption of whole grains.’
People who eat oatmeal for breakfast instead of eggs and white toast may be lowering their risk of stroke, a Danish study suggests.
Consuming breakfast every day, and oatmeal in particular, has long been linked to reduced stroke risk. But research to date hasn’t offered a clear picture of how substituting oatmeal for common breakfast foods like eggs, toast and yogurt might impact stroke risk, the study team notes in the journal Stroke.
Researchers examined dietary data on about 55,000 adults in Denmark who were 56 years old, on average, with no history of stroke. At the start, each week, participants consumed an average of 2.1 servings of eggs, 3 servings of white bread, 1 serving of yogurt, and only 0.1 serving of oatmeal.
Researchers followed half of the participants for at least 13.4 years. During the follow-up, 2,260 people had a stroke.
Using a statistical model, the researchers calculated that a person who replaced one serving of eggs or white bread with oatmeal would have a 4 per cent lower risk of stroke compared to someone who stayed with eggs or bread for breakfast. Eating oatmeal instead of yogurt didn’t appear to impact stroke risk.
“Our results indicate that shifting more people to choose oatmeal instead of white bread or eggs might be wise for population-level prevention of stroke, but the modest association means that for individuals, it is quite possible that other factors might be more important,” said senior study author Christina Dahm of Aarhus University in Denmark.
While the study wasn’t designed to prove whether or how oatmeal might lower stroke risk, oats may do this by helping to lower cholesterol, Dahm said by email.
“Cholesterol is a risk factor for ischemic strokes, and our results were stronger for ischemic stroke, which could indicate that the cholesterol-lowering effect of eating oats may have long-term impact on risk of ischemic stroke,” Dahm added.
Most ischemic strokes occur when a clot blocks an artery carrying blood to the brain.
To minimize that risk, the American Heart Association (AHA) recommends not smoking, getting regular exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, keeping blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar in check, and eating a diet rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables and lean protein with limited sweets and fats.
Replacing one weekly serving of eggs or white bread with oatmeal was specifically associated with a 5 per cent lower risk of ischemic stroke from blockages in small arteries, the researchers note.
Overall, study participants who ate more eggs and white bread tended to have less healthy eating habits than people who ate more oatmeal.
“Perhaps patients who eat oatmeal take better care of themselves in other ways, and this accounts for the observed effect,” said Dr. Michael D. Hill, a researcher at the University of Calgary, in Alberta, Canada, who wasn’t involved in the study.
“If true, this would mean that eating oatmeal just identifies a population of people who are healthy, rather than having a direct effect on the pathological processes leading to stroke,” Hill said by email.
Portion sizes and diet quality are also important for stroke prevention, said Dr. Amytis Towfighi of the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California, in Los Angeles.
The AHA recommends the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet or a Mediterranean-style diet to help prevent cardiovascular disease. Both diets emphasize cooking with vegetable oils with unsaturated fats, eating nuts, fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy products, whole grains, fish and poultry, and limiting red meat and added sugars and salt.
“This study provides additional support of a Mediterranean diet, which includes daily consumption of whole grains,” Towfighi, who wasn’t involved in the study, said by email.
Trying to control your waistline? Add whole grains to your diet – The Globe and Mail
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If you don’t eat whole grain foods on a daily basis, consider rethinking your menu.
According to researchers from Tufts University in Boston, doing so can help you manage your waist size, blood sugar (glucose) and blood pressure as you age. And it doesn’t take a lot. The sweet spot, it seems, is three whole grain servings each day.
Repeated studies have linked higher whole grain intakes to protection against heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and obesity.
The latest findings, published earlier this month in the Journal of Nutrition, suggest that whole grains guard against chronic disease by reducing increases in risk factors that occur over time.
What are whole grains?
All grains – such as wheat, rye, barley, spelt, oats – start out as whole grain kernels made up of three layers: The outer bran layer, which contains nearly all the fibre; the inner germ layer, which is rich in nutrients, antioxidants and healthy fats; and the starchy endosperm.
Eating whole grains and 100-per-cent whole grain foods means that you’re getting all parts of the grain kernel.
When whole grains are processed into refined flour, the bran and germ layers are removed, resulting in a loss of most of the fibre, one-quarter of the grain’s protein and a substantial amount of at least 17 nutrients.
About the new study
The researchers compared how whole grain and refined grain intake affected changes in five risk factors for heart disease and stroke: waist circumference, fasting blood glucose, blood pressure, blood triglycerides (fats) and HDL (“good”) blood cholesterol.
They did so by assessing the diets and health of 3,121 middle-aged and older adults, every four years, over a span of 18 years. Participants were, on average, 55 years old at the start of data collection.
People who ate at least three daily servings of whole grains (versus one-half or less) experienced smaller increases in waist circumference. Over each four-year period, waist circumference increased one inch among those who ate few whole grains compared to one-half inch among those who ate more whole grains. The protective effect of whole grains on waist size was strongest in women.
Whole grain eaters also had smaller increases in fasting blood glucose and blood pressure over time.
With respect to refined grains (such as white bread, white pasta and white rice), the results revealed that people who ate four or more servings per day (versus fewer than two) experienced greater increases in waist circumference and smaller declines in blood triglycerides over the study period.
Benefits of whole grains
Eating fibre-rich whole grains can help you feel satiated and prevent overeating. The soluble fibre in whole grains can also help prevent spikes in blood sugar and insulin after eating. This may, in turn, favour fat-burning rather than fat storage.
Whole grains are also good sources of magnesium and potassium, minerals used to regulate blood sugar and blood pressure. And many whole grains contain prebiotic carbohydrates, which fuel beneficial gut microbes.
How to increase your whole-grain intake
One serving of whole grain is equivalent to one slice of 100-per-cent whole grain bread or one-half cup of cooked whole grain pasta or cooked whole grain (including oats, brown rice, farro, millet and hulled barley).
Read labels on packages of whole grain breads, crackers and breakfast cereals. If you don’t see “100-per-cent whole grain” listed, scan the ingredient list to make sure the product doesn’t contain refined grains (for example, wheat flour).
When buying rye bread look for ingredients that indicate whole grain such as whole rye flour, rye meal, rye kernels and rye flakes.
Don’t be fooled by claims of added fibre. Wonder White + Fibre bread, for example, isn’t a whole grain bread. Nor is Catelli’s Smart Pasta. Both are refined grain products with added oat hull fibre (and inulin in the pasta).
If you avoid wheat, rye and barley because they contain gluten, include gluten-free whole grains in your daily diet such as brown rice, quinoa, millet, teff, sorghum, buckwheat, amaranth and gluten-free oats.
Batch cook whole grains so that you have them ready to add to meals. Toss cooked quinoa, bulgur or farro into green salads; add barley, red rice or spelt berries to soups, stews and chilis; or make whole grain bowls with freekeh or brown rice.
Leslie Beck, a Toronto-based private practice dietitian, is director of food and nutrition at Medcan. Follow her on Twitter @LeslieBeckRD
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What to know about COVID in Durham on July 25: 61 active cases in home isolation – Toronto Star
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– The Durham Region Health Department reported seven new COVID-19 cases on Sunday. There are 61 active cases in home isolation and zero people in Durham hospitalized with the virus. Durham continues to have no active outbreaks in institutions or workplaces and one active outbreak in a childcare setting.
– Ontario reported 172 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday and two deaths. There are 88 people in the province hospitalized with the virus including 81 patients in an intensive care unit on a ventilator due to COVID-related critical illness. The new cases reported on Sunday include 48 in Toronto, 23 in Peel and 11 in Hamilton.
– International passengers arriving at Pearson airport in Toronto may now be split into different customs lines based on their vaccination status.
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