Eating whole grain foods may reduce the risk of stroke for women.

THE STUDY AND RESULTS

Researchers associated with Harvard University studied the diets of 75,521 predominantly white women between the ages of 38 to 63 and divided them into five groups based on their whole grain consumption. During the 12-year period of the study, 352 of these women had an ischemic stroke (one that is due to obstruction of blood vessels). The researchers found that the number of strokes decreased as the amount of whole grain consumption increased: Those women who consumed the largest amount of whole grain--an average of 2.7 servings a day--had a 43 percent lower risk of stroke compared to those who did not consume any whole grain.

WHAT'S NEW While the benefits of whole grain products in preventing heart disease have been studied, this is one of the few studies to investigate the possible benefits of whole grain foods in preventing stroke, particularly among women.

CAVEATS The results may not be the same for men and other ethnic groups. In addition, some errors are possible because the study relies on self-report of diet through questionnaires. Finally, those who consumed more whole grain foods also had a healthier lifestyle, which could have affected the results.

BOTTOM LINE Women may be able to reduce their risk of having a stroke by including whole grain foods such as dark bread, whole grain breakfast cereal, popcorn, cooked oatmeal, wheat germ, brown rice and bran in their diet. The recommended daily amount is three servings, but the average amount consumed by Americans is one-half of a serving.

FIND THIS STUDY Sept. 27 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association; abstract online at http://jama.ama-assn.org/

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