Beginning each day with a bowl of cereal, especially a whole-grain variety, could shave up to 20% off your risk of developing high blood pressure, according to preliminary research presented at an American Heart Association meeting last month in Atlanta.
Although cereal alone won’t do the trick, eating it regularly may be an easy and practical way to prevent hypertension, the researchers point out.
"Cereal is something that people can easily get into their diet and that they enjoy," says lead researcher Jinesh Kochar, M.D. "And it costs a lot less than the drugs you’d have to take if you had hypertension."
Cereals made from whole grains appear to protect against hypertension slightly more than those made from refined grains, the study found.
Other factors could attribute to their findings. The nuts, raisins, or fruit often added to cereal contain fiber and potassium, both of which can help lower blood pressure. Also, milk’s effect on blood pressure should be taken into account as well.
Roughly 1 in 3 adults in the U.S. has hypertension — a major risk factor for heart attacks, strokes, and kidney problems.
But, before you run off to buy some Special K, there are some limitations to this research. First off, the researchers only studied men so the data cannot be immediately generalized beyond the male population. Also, unlike the studies published in medical journals, the research presented at the meeting has not been thoroughly cross-examined by other experts.