Adding wheat germ to food could help lower heart disease risk

Heart disease: Doctor explains how to reduce risk in 2021

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In the UK heart and circulatory diseases are the biggest cause of death. Of these coronary heart disease is the most prevalent and occurs when your blood vessels are blocked by fatty substances. Many factors that raise your risk of this happening can be prevented through diet and other lifestyle habits.

Health and wellbeing advisor and co-founder of Jrny, Jamal Ramsay, spoke with about a specific food that could help lower your risk of heart disease.

He shared the benefits of wheat germ, which is essentially the embryo of a wheat kernel.

It can be bought as a separate supplement to add to meals, with certain health bodies recommending adding wheat germ on top of bowls of cereal.

Some recipes also suggest replacing around 20 percent of flour with wheat germ to boost its nutritional value.

Mr Ramsay explained: “Wheat germ can lower the risk of cardiovascular disease due to its high content of heart-healthy nutrients such as vitamin E, folate, and fibre.

“Vitamin E is an antioxidant that can help prevent the oxidation of low-density lipoprotein (‘bad’ cholesterol) cholesterol, a type of cholesterol that is associated with the development of heart disease.

“Folate can help reduce levels of homocysteine, a substance that can damage blood vessels, while fibre can help reduce the overall cholesterol levels in the blood.

“Wheat germ also contains plant sterols, which have a structure similar to cholesterol and can compete with cholesterol for absorption in the digestive tract.

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“By reducing the amount of cholesterol absorbed, plant sterols can help lower levels of LDL cholesterol in the blood, putting you at a lower risk of developing heart disease.”

However, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has reported that a link between wheat germ and lowered cholesterol has not been established – aside from its fatty acid content.

In a study from 2010 it said: “On the basis of the data presented, the panel concludes that a cause and effect relationship has not been established between the consumption of wheat germ oil and the maintenance of normal blood cholesterol concentrations beyond the hypocholesterolaemic effects that could be expected from its fatty acid composition (for example, primarily from its content of linoleic acid and alpha-linolenic acid).

“Claims on linoleic acid and on alpha-linolenic acid and maintenance of blood cholesterol concentrations have been assessed with a favourable outcome.”

Mr Ramsay claimed wheat germ could also aid your gut health.

“Wheat germ is also great for your digestive health due to its high content of fibre which can help keep you regular, as well as prevent constipation and bloating,” he added.

Symptoms of heart disease

Mr Ramsay said: “The symptoms of cardiovascular disease vary depending on the specific condition, but some common symptoms include chest pain or discomfort, shortness of breath, and fatigue.

“If you think you may have cardiovascular disease or are at risk, it is important to speak with a healthcare professional to get a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.

“You can lower your risk of cardiovascular disease by maintaining a healthy balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables, as well as engaging in regular physical activity a few times a week.

“I recommend 30 minutes of moderate exercise, like brisk walking, three to five times a week where possible.”

The NHS lists the main symptoms of heart disease as:

  • Chest pain (angina)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Pain throughout the body
  • Feeling faint
  • Feeling sick (nausea).

If you think you have heart disease you should see your GP.

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