Eating more refined grains increase cardiovascular disease, death risk: Study

Consuming a high number of refined grains – such as croissants and white bread – is associated with a higher risk of major cardiovascular disease, stroke and death, a new study suggests.

The study found that having more than seven servings of refined grains per day was associated with a 27 per cent greater risk for early death, 33 per cent greater risk for heart disease and 47 per cent greater risk for stroke.

“This study re-affirms previous work indicating a healthy diet includes limiting overly processed and refined foods,” said researcher Scott Lear from the Simon Fraser University in Canada.

For the study, published in The British Journal, the team examined diets from diverse populations, which involved 137,130 participants from low, middle and high-income countries for 16 years.

Grains were categorised into three groups – refined grains, whole grains and white rice. Refined grains included goods made with refined (e.g. white) flour, including white bread, pasta/noodles, breakfast cereals, crackers, and bakery products/desserts containing refined grains.

Whole grains included whole grain flours (e.g. buckwheat) and intact or cracked whole grains (e.g. steel cut oats).

No significant adverse health effects were found with consuming whole grains or white rice, the team said. The study suggests eating whole grain foods like brown rice and barley, and having fewer cereal grains and refined wheat products.

Reducing one’s overall consumption of refined grains and having better quality carbohydrates is essential for optimal health outcomes, according to the team.

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