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Clin Nutr. 2012 Feb;31(1):89-92. doi: 10.1016/j.clnu.2011.08.001. Epub 2011 Aug 25.

Breakfast cereals and risk of hypertension in the Physicians' Health Study I.

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Department of Medicine, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, MA, USA.



Hypertension is a major public health problem. While many dietary factors affect the risk of developing hypertension, limited data are available on the association between consumption of breakfast cereal and incident hypertension. We examined the association between breakfast cereal consumption and the risk of hypertension.


We prospectively analyzed data from 13,368 male participants of the Physicians' Health Study I. Consumption of breakfast cereals was estimated using an abbreviated food frequency questionnaire and incident hypertension was ascertained through yearly follow-up questionnaires.


The average age of study participants was 52.4 ± 8.9 years (range 39.7-85.9) during the initial assessment of cereal intake (1981-1983). During a mean follow up of 16.3 years, 7267 cases of hypertension occurred. The crude incidence rates of hypertension were 36.7, 34.0, 31.7, and 29.6 cases/1000 person-years for people reporting breakfast cereal intake of 0, ≤1, 2-6, and ≥7 servings/week, respectively. In a Cox regression model adjusting for age, smoking, body mass index, alcohol consumption, fruit and vegetable consumption, physical activity, and history of diabetes mellitus, hazard ratios (95% CI) for hypertension were 1.0 (reference), 0.93 (0.88-0.99), 0.88 (0.83-0.94), and 0.81 (0.75-0.86) from the lowest to the highest category of cereal consumption, respectively (p for trend <0.0001). This association was strongest for whole grain cereals and was observed in lean as well as overweight or obese participants.


The results of this longitudinal cohort study suggest that whole grain breakfast cereal consumption confers a lower risk of hypertension in middle-aged adult males.

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