Grains and Heart Health

Two out of three Australian families are affected by heart disease, so it’s never too early or too late to start looking after your heart through the foods you eat and the lifestyle you lead. Choosing the right grain foods and eating legumes more regularly is a great way to eat smart for your heart, in fact this can help to reduce your risk of heart disease by up to 30%.

Smart choices for heart health

It’s important to make smart dietary and lifestyle choices today to keep your heart and blood vessels healthy for tomorrow. Heart disease includes several conditions that affect the heart and blood vessels around the body. Over time fatty deposits can stick to the walls of blood vessels and build up to form plaques. If the plaques break off and block the blood vessel, the flow of blood and oxygen to vital organs such as the brain may be stopped. This can lead to a heart attack or stroke. There are a number of choices you can make which help to reduce the risk of heart disease. These include regular exercise, stopping smoking, maintaining a healthy weight and eating a heart healthy diet.

Reduce the risks with grain foods

Enjoying grain foods, mostly whole grain or high fibre grain foods and legumes as part of healthy diet may help to protect your heart and blood vessels by helping to:

  • Lower cholesterol.
  • Lower blood pressure.
  • Reduce risk of weight gain.
  • Improve blood glucose control.
  • Reduce inflammation
  • Decrease saturated fat intake.

Heard of beta-glucan?

Oats and barley contain a special type of cholesterol lowering fibre called beta-glucan. This type of fibre forms a thick gel in the digestive system which clings on to cholesterol and prevents it from being absorbed back into the blood. Half a cup of cooked oats or barley, such as a small bowl of porridge gives you around half of the 3g of beta glucan required per day to get the cholesterol lowering benefits.

When it comes to heart health many grain foods are star performers and these are the foods you want working for your heart every day. An easy way to make sure you are making heart smart food choices is to enjoy grain foods 3 – 4 times each day, choosing at least half as whole grain or high fibre.

For more information on heart health, download a factsheet by clicking here.