Nuts And Oats May Build A Strong Heart

DALLAS, Nov. 10 -- Heart-healthy components in oats may help lower high cholesterol levels and a nutrient in nuts may help prevent death from heart disease, according to preliminary research from two studies presented today at the American Heart Association's 71st Scientific Sessions.

In a 12-year study of 22,071 doctors participating in the Physicians Health Study, men whose diets contained high quantities of nuts had a decreased risk of dying from heart disease, says the study's lead author Christine M. Albert, M.D., an instructor at the Harvard Medical School in Boston.

Albert's team notes that nuts contain unsaturated fats including alpha-linolenic acid, which may help prevent fatal disturbances in the heart's rhythm.

In a study funded by Quaker Oats at Tufts University in Boston, another group of researchers examined 43 men and women eating a diet rich in oats. People on the diet had lower blood pressure and reduced blood levels of cholesterol at the end of the study. High blood pressure and high cholesterol are risk factors for heart attack and stroke.

The oat diet lowered total blood levels of cholesterol by 34 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL), while study participants who ate a diet that substituted wheat for oats lowered their cholesterol only 13 mg/dL. The individuals' blood levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL or "bad" cholesterol) -- which can accumulate in blood vessels, increasing risk of a heart attack or stroke -- followed the same pattern: The oat group's LDL was 23 mg/dL lower and the wheat group's LDL was 8 mg/dL lower.

Also, the people in the oat group reduced their systolic (top number) blood pressure by 7 millimeters of mercury (mm/Hg) at the end of the six-week study compared to 2 mm/Hg for the wheat group.

"Blood pressure lowering is generally a good thing for the population. The question here is: if this dietary intervention works to reduce normal blood pressure, can we also use the same method to r

Contact: Darcy Spitz
American Heart Association

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