Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are the main cause of death globally. One of the main contributing factors to this is high blood pressure, also known as hypertension. Results from a global “burden of disease” study indicate that in 2017, three million deaths were attributable to low intakes of whole grains. The majority of these deaths were from cardiovascular disease.
At the Rowett Institute, Dr Frank Thies leads the metabolic health research theme. His research seeks to unravel the influence of various aspects of the diet on cardiovascular function and risk, with particular emphasis on the role of inflammation, and some of this work focused on dietary wholegrains in particular.
Findings from Dr Thies’ group and others showed that consumption of oats or barley (80-100g/day), which contain relatively high amount of a soluble fibre called β-glucan, can reduce blood cholesterol, an important risk marker for cardiovascular disease. Previous research also indicated that an increase in whole grain consumption could beneficially reduce blood pressure, another important risk factor for heart attack and stroke. However, more recent work at the Rowett found that whole grains might not affect blood pressure in hypertensive patients.
Whole grain fibres responsible for health effects may act via bacteria in the gut releasing potential bioactive chemicals. Further studies looking at interactions between host, gut bacteria, and fibres could shed more light on these processes.
This research was conducted by Dr Frank Thies
Research funded by the Scottish Government as part of the Strategic Research Programme