Once upon a time, a group of scientists wanted to know if eating whole grains or refined grains could impact the risk of developing cardiovascular disease (CVD) or dying from any cause.
They conducted a study where they looked at 24 articles with 68 studies and over 1.6 million participants.
The scientists found that for every 30-gram increase in daily whole grain consumption, there was a decrease in the risk of stroke, coronary heart disease (CHD), CVD, and all-cause mortality.
In fact, for CHD and all-cause mortality, the risk decreased by 6% and 8%, respectively.
This suggests that consuming whole grains, like whole wheat bread, oatmeal, and brown rice, can help protect your heart and overall health.
The relationship between whole grain consumption and CVD was nonlinear, meaning that the benefits of eating whole grains plateaued after a certain point.
This could be because there is a limit to how much whole grains a person can consume in a day or because the benefits of eating whole grains reach a maximum at a certain point.
On the other hand, the scientists found no significant impact of refined grain consumption on stroke, CHD, heart failure (HF), or CVD.
However, they did observe a positive correlation between refined grain consumption and all-cause mortality.
Refined grains, like white bread, white rice, and sugary cereals, have been stripped of their fiber and nutrients, making them less healthy than their whole-grain counterparts.
This suggests that it is important to choose whole-grain options whenever possible.
The scientists used a tool called NutriGrade to evaluate the quality of the meta-evidence or the overall quality of the studies they looked at.
They found that the quality of the evidence linking whole grain consumption to CHD and all-cause mortality was moderate to high, while the quality of the evidence linking whole grain consumption to HF and CVD was low to moderate.
This means that while there is evidence suggesting a link between whole grain consumption and certain health outcomes, there is still room for more research to be done.
The quality of the evidence linking refined grain consumption to health outcomes was low. This means that more research is needed to understand the impact of refined grain consumption on health outcomes.
In conclusion, this study suggests that eating whole grains, rather than refined grains, can help prevent CHD, CVD, and all-cause mortality.
However, the relationship between refined grain consumption and health outcomes should be interpreted cautiously due to the low quality of the meta-evidence.
So, the next time you’re choosing between whole grain or refined grain options, consider choosing whole grains to help protect your heart and overall health.
How to eat to prevent heart disease
Eating a healthy diet is one of the most important things you can do to prevent heart disease. Here are some tips to help you eat a heart-healthy diet:
Choose healthy fats: Replace saturated and trans fats with healthy fats like monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Good sources include nuts, seeds, fish, and vegetable oils.
Increase your fiber intake: Choose whole-grain foods like whole wheat bread, brown rice, and oatmeal. Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, and legumes, which are also good sources of fiber.
Limit processed foods: Try to limit your intake of processed and packaged foods, which are often high in salt, sugar, and unhealthy fats.
Choose a lean protein: Choose lean sources of protein like fish, poultry, beans, and lentils instead of red meat, which can be high in saturated fat.
Cut back on sodium: Limit your intake of sodium by choosing low-sodium options or cooking with herbs and spices instead of salt.
Watch your portions: Overeating can contribute to weight gain and increase your risk of heart disease. Use smaller plates and pay attention to your hunger and fullness cues.
Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of water and limit your intake of sugary drinks like soda and juice.
By following these tips and making healthy food choices, you can help prevent heart disease and promote overall health and well-being.
The research was published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and was conducted by Huifang Hu et al.
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