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University of Colorado Health and Colorado State University pilot new study to decrease risk of cardiovascular disease in kids


For immediate release: Aug. 22, 2013                                   


University of Colorado Health - Nicole Caputo, 970.237.7112,

University of Colorado Health and Colorado State University pilot new study to decrease risk of cardiovascular disease in kids

Researchers from University of Colorado Health's (UCHealth) Research Institute and Colorado State University (CSU) are investigating effects rice bran and navy bean powder have on lowering cholesterol in adolescents.

Dr. Elizabeth Ryan, assistant professor of Environmental and Radiological Health Sciences, has been studying the effects of rice bran and dry beans on chronic diseases for many years.

The positive impact of rice bran and dry beans on cholesterol levels in adults has been supported by over a decade of research. However, it has been unknown whether these positive effects will occur in pre-adolescence or children.

University of Colorado Health's Healthy Hearts Club has been studying the cardiovascular disease risk factors (including cholesterol) of fourth and fifth graders for over 20 years. Data shows trends of kids at risk for cardiovascular disease.

Healthy Hearts Club has pulled potential participants from a list of students who participated in Healthy Hearts Club screenings during the 2011-12 or 2012-13 school years. The students are from Galeton, Eaton, Johnstown, Loveland and Fort Collins.

Kids invited to participate do not have cardiovascular disease, but based on their cholesterol numbers at the time of the screening (total cholesterol greater than or equal to 180), they are at an increased risk for developing the disease.

During the month-long study, participants will receive snacks with either cooked navy bean powder, dietary rice bran, navy bean powder and rice bran combined or placebo (no navy bean powder or rice bran included). These snacks

include a banana walnut muffin and a strawberry-pineapple smoothie.

Each participant will eat one snack per day for 28 consecutive days. Cholesterol levels will be checked before and after the study. Participants will also need to keep a dietary food and activity log.

"Our goal, first, is to intervene early before the risk has caused the disease. And second, if this study proves to be successful, it could be used as an alternative to medication for children that do have high enough cholesterol levels that would warrant they be put on medication," said Laura Dvorak, Healthy Hearts Club program coordinator.

If this study and subsequent follow up studies are successful, it is possible that physicians could start treatment by prescribing a diet with bean and rice bran powder in lieu of medications.

This pilot study may establish important new information on rice bran and bean consumption in children and could have a high impact potential for cardiovascular disease prevention, said Ryan.

"It gives us an exciting opportunity to educate families about consuming whole grains and beans for enhancing nutritional status and for overall chronic disease prevention," said Ryan.

We know what the cardiovascular health of children in northern Colorado looks like, it is now time to take the program to the next level and begin studying potential interventions for those children and their families who are at risk for developing cardiovascular disease, said Dvorak.

Both Dvorak and Ryan are excited to have two local, leading health organizations (UCHealth and CSU) working together toward these goals.

"I am very excited about these UCHealth community-CSU academic collaborations that will promote public health of our young people locally and that have promising implications for families nationally and globally," said Ryan.

For more information, please call 970.624.5297.

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