Scientists seek volunteers for crucial study

Previous studies have shown that whole grain foods such as oats and unrefined wheats can lower blood pressure and scientists from the University of Aberdeen Rowett Institute of Nutrition and Health are hoping to study this further.

Recent research suggest that breakdown of indigestible fibres by gut bacteria releases substances called ‘short chain fatty acids’ which then decrease blood pressure.

These substances, including one called propionate, are commonly found in swiss cheese or used as food additives and the team at the Rowett Institute are now seeking help from members of the public to test whether taking a propionate-containing drink will help to reduce blood vessel stiffness.

The team are looking to recruit healthy men, aged between 40 and 65 who have a BMI between 19 and 30. Participants also should not be taking antidepressant or hypotensive drugs.

Dr Frank Thies, Principal Investigator of the study, explains why this study is so important.

“Heart disease is a major problem and is a huge cause of premature death in Scotland. That’s why it is crucial that we keep investigating ways in which this problem can be combatted.

“The study will involve participants attending two morning appointments at the Rowett Institute where they will be given a breakfast drink which will either contain propionate or a placebo. Volunteers will also be asked to give small blood samples throughout the course of three hours. Blood vessel stiffness and blood pressure will also be measured during this time. Volunteers will then be asked to wear a blood pressure monitor until the next morning when they will be asked to return for a final blood sample and measurement of blood vessel stiffness.

“The findings of this study will allow us to improve knowledge of how whole grain foods might affect blood vessel stiffness and contribute to the evidence base around blood pressure management.”

For further information or to volunteer to take part in the study, please contact Karolin Muzs on 01224 43 8758 or

The research is funded by the Scottish Government.