Increased consumption of whole grain foods associated with decreased risk of stroke

Findings suggest replacing refined grains with whole grains may have significant benefits

CHICAGO - Higher intakes of whole grain foods are associated with a lower risk of ischemic stroke in women, independent of known cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors, according to an article in the September 27 issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

Simin Liu, M.D., ScD, from Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston and colleagues examined the hypothesis that higher whole grain intake reduces the risk of ischemic stroke in women. The study included 75,521 U.S. women aged 38 to 63 years without previous diagnosis of diabetes mellitus, coronary heart disease, stroke, or other CVD in 1984, who completed detailed food frequency questionnaires in 1984, 1986, 1990, and 1994, and were followed up for 12 years as part of the Nurses' Health Study.

The researchers found that compared with women in the lowest quintile of whole grain intake, women in the highest quintile of whole grain intake (2.7 servings per day) had a 43 percent lower risk of ischemic stroke. Adjustment for smoking modestly attenuated this association. This inverse association remained essentially unchanged with further adjustment for known CVD risk factors, including saturated fat and transfatty acids intake. The inverse relation was also consistently observed among subgroups of women who never smoked, did not drink alcohol, did not exercise regularly, or who did not use postmenopausal hormones.

According to background information in the study, although increased intake of grain products has been recommended to prevent cardiovascular disease, prospective data examining the relation of whole grain intake to risk of ischemic stroke are sparse, especially among women. Stroke remains a leading cause of serious disability and death in women. In the United States, approximately 600,000 cases of stroke accounted for 160,000 deaths in 19

Contact: Christine Baratta
Center for the Advancement of Health

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