British Journal of Nutrition

Full Papers

Human and Clinical Nutrition

Evaluation of the effect of wheat aleurone-rich foods on markers of antioxidant status, inflammation and endothelial function in apparently healthy men and women

Ruth K. Pricea1, Julie M. W. Wallacea1, Lesley L. Hamilla1, Edel M. Keaveneya1, J. J. Straina1, Michael J. Parkera2 and Robert W. Welcha1 c1

a1 Northern Ireland Centre for Food and Health, University of Ulster, Coleraine BT52 1SA, UK

a2 Northern Ireland Clinical Research Support Centre, Royal Group of Hospitals Trust, Belfast, UK


Observational data show an inverse association between the consumption of wholegrain foods, and inflammation and related diseases. Although the underlying mechanisms are unclear, wholegrains, and in particular the aleurone layer, contain a wide range of components with putative antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. We evaluated the effects of a diet high in wheat aleurone on plasma antioxidants status, markers of inflammation and endothelial function. In this parallel, participant-blinded intervention, seventy-nine healthy, older, overweight participants (45–65 years, BMI>25 kg/m2) incorporated either aleurone-rich cereal products (27 g aleurone/d), or control products balanced for fibre and macronutrients, into their habitual diets for 4 weeks. Fasting blood samples were taken at baseline and on day 29. Results showed that, compared to control, consumption of aleurone-rich products provided substantial amounts of micronutrients and phytochemicals which may function as antioxidants. Additionally, incorporating these products into a habitual diet resulted in significantly lower plasma concentrations of the inflammatory marker, C-reactive protein (P = 0·035), which is an independent risk factor for CVD. However, no changes were observed in other markers of inflammation, antioxidant status or endothelial function. These results provide a possible mechanism underlying the beneficial effects of longer-term wholegrain intake. However, it is unclear whether this effect is owing to a specific component, or a combination of components in wheat aleurone.

(Received April 11 2011)

(Revised November 23 2011)

(Accepted November 28 2011)

(Online publication January 16 2012)

Key Words:

  • Aleurone;
  • C-reactive protein;
  • Inflammation;
  • Wheat;
  • Wholegrains


c1 Corresponding author: R. W. Welch, fax +44 28 7032 3023, email


  Abbreviations: CRP, C-reactive protein; FRAP, ferric-reducing antioxidant potential; RTE, ready-to-eat