Refined grain foods not linked to higher heart disease risk, shows study

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In a study from Arizona State University, scientists found that consuming high intakes of refined grain foods does not increase one’s risk of coronary heart disease, heart attack, heart failure, or stroke.

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a group of disorders of the heart and blood vessels. CVD is the leading cause of death globally.

According to WHO, an estimated 17.9 million people died from CVDs in 2019, representing 32% of all global deaths. Of these deaths, 85% were due to heart attack and stroke.

Refined grains include white flour, white rice, and white bread. Many bread, cereals, crackers, desserts, and pastries are made with refined grains. 

Refined grains are included as part of an unhealthy, or Western, dietary pattern, which has been shown to increase CVD risk.

But it is unclear whether refined grain intake is linked to CVD risk.

In the current study, researchers aimed to address the issue. They reviewed 17 published that examined refined grains as a distinct consumption category and not as part of a dietary pattern.

The team found that refined grain intake was not linked to the risk of CVD, stroke, or heart failure. In addition, white rice intake was also not associated with the risk of CVD or stroke.

The lack of association between refined grain intake and CVD risk was confirmed in meta-analyses of studies that restricted analyses to only staple grain foods (e.g., bread, cereal, pasta, and white rice), as well as for meta-analyses of studies that included both staple and indulgent grain foods (e.g., cakes, cookies, doughnuts, brownies, muffins, pastries).

Based on the findings, the team concludes that although refined grains are included as a component of the Western dietary pattern, the results suggest that refined grains do not contribute to the higher CVD risk linked to this unhealthy nutritional pattern.

They suggest that this information should be considered in formulating future dietary recommendations.

The study was conducted by Dr. Glenn Gaesser et al and published in Trends in Cardiovascular Medicine.

If you care about heart health, please read studies about the best time to take vitamins to prevent heart disease, and calcium supplements could harm your heart health.

For more information about nutrition, please see recent studies that blackcurrants can reduce blood sugar after meals and results showing how drinking milk affects the risks of heart disease and cancer.

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