Culinary Rx: Whole Grains as Effective as Medication for High Blood Pressure


The BMJ (British Medical Journal) published a review of 147 studies on the use of high blood pressure medication in high risk individuals. The review showed that on average, the medications resulted in a decrease in the risk of heart attack by 15% and the risk of stroke by 25%.

Reducing heart attack rates and especially reducing stroke rates are used as the justification for prescribing these medications. There are multiple side effects that these medications can cause (Blood Pressure Medications Can Cause Serious Falls).  What if it were possible to simply eat a healthy and tasty food and achieve the exact same results without the potentially serious side effects?

Blood pressure reduction after 12 weeks eating whole grains

Research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, one of the most respected journals on nutrition, looked at the impact of eating 3 daily portions of whole grains on high blood pressure. A total of 233 participants were randomized to one of 3 groups:

  1. No whole grains.
  2. Whole wheat.
  3. Whole wheat and whole oats.

The above groups ate their diets for a period of 12 weeks. At the end of the 12 weeks the 2 groups eating whole grains had a 6-point reduction is systolic blood pressure. Based on the calculations of the researchers, this 6-point reduction would result in a 15% decrease in heart attacks and a 25% decrease in strokes – exactly the same as was found would be the result of treatment with medication.

Dr. Frank Thies, the study leader, summarized the results as follows:

“We observed a decrease in systolic blood pressure of 5-6 mm Hg in the volunteers who ate the whole-grain foods, and this effect is similar to that you might expect to get from using blood pressure-lowering drugs”.

How much is one serving? 1/2 cup of cooked whole grain such as Oats, Barley, Rice etc. or 1 slice of whole grain bread.

So enjoy your whole grain foods several times a day. If you are on medication, discuss this research with your physician.


BMJ: Use of Blood pressure Lowering Drugs in the Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease

NutritionFacts. Org: Whole Grains May Work as Well as Drugs

JAm Diet Association:  Whole Grain Diets Reduce Blood Pressure

Medical News Today: Whole-Grain Foods as Effective as Medication for High Blood Pressure

Linus Pauling Institute: Whole Grains


Eliezer Greenspan
Eliezer writes on issues of public health including nutrition, exercise, and effectiveness of drugs and medical procedures. He has trained in a course as an EMT, is certified by Dr. John McDougall in the Starch Solution program, and continues to expand his medical knowledge by taking courses offered by major universities and medical schools – ranging from Epidemiology to Vaccine Safety. He is currently studying to be a Plant-Based Chef. He lectures throughout Israel and offers courses and training online. More details and articles can be found at his website "The Fountain of Youth" ( On Facebook: