With Heart Week upon us, it’s timely that we consider all the different ways we can keep our hearts happy and healthy. Of course, regular exercise, a balanced diet, and avoidance of negative lifestyle habits such as smoking and the excessive consumption of alcohol can make a big difference to your heart health.
In today’s article, we dive a little deeper into ‘diet’ element of the heart health equation and take a look at the role wholegrains play in keeping your ticker in tip top shape.
The stats don’t lie.
Heart disease is Australia’s largest killer. In fact, 51 Australians die every day from heart disease. Extrapolated over a year, that’s a whopping 18,615 heart disease related deaths. 18,615 families touched by incomprehensible loss. Heart disease doesn’t discriminate either – being the leading killer of both men and women in Australia.
On the flip side of the coin, a study published in Circulation, the American Heart Association journal, a review of 17 studies that included more than 780,000 participants found a positive correlation between the increased intake of wholegrains and a decreased risk of death from heart disease and cancer.
How can wholegrains help maintain a healthy heart?
The inclusion of wholegrains in diet is a simple and effective way to help maintain your heart health. How? According to The Heart Foundation, wholegrains assist in reducing blood glucose levels and blood cholesterol levels. Importantly, this refers to both total blood cholesterol, and LDL (also known as the ‘bad’ cholesterol). The fibre that is inherent in wholegrains also assists with maintaining a healthy weight by helping to keep blood glucose levels steady, so that you’re not feeling energy peaks and troughs; but staying on a relatively even keel. The slower release of energy from wholegrains can be useful in maintaining satiety, so that you don’t have the urge to hit the office biscuit tin at 3pm.
When it comes to BARLEYmax™, the benefits that it can offer for your heart health are even more impressive. BARLEYmax™ is rich in a type form of soluble fibre known as beta-glucan. How rich you may ask? Well, BARLEYmax™ contains on average, between 40-70% more beta-glucan than oats. Beta-glucan supports a healthy heart via a couple of different mechanisms.
Firstly, beta-glucan increases the excretion of bile acids, and the body then uses its existing cholesterol to make more bild acids – thereby helping to lower cholesterol.
Secondly, beta-glucan helps to thicken the contents of the centre of the gut known as the ‘lumen’. The thickening of the contents of the lumen reduces the amount of cholesterol absorbed from the gut.
And if the benefits from beta-glucan found in BARLEYmax™ weren’t impressive enough, BARLEYmax™ is also rich in healthy, polyunsaturated fats which can also help reduce blood cholesterol.
Wholegrains for the win.
Whilst the benefits of wholegrain consumption in supporting your heart health are evident – as always, there are a few factors to consider.
Good overall health comes from a healthy, balanced diet, and healthy lifestyle. Eating wholegrains like they’re going out of fashion is not the answer when it comes to heart health for a long and happy life.
Just like life in general, balance and variety are key. Try incorporating different source of wholegrains into your meals. Making swaps that are as simple as choosing wholegrain over white when it comes to pasta and bread can make a big difference in the long run. More than anything, making changes that you’ll stick to for the long run are where your real success – and improvements to your heart health – are found.
Here’s to a happy heart!