Health Medical

Refined grains do not increase risk of heart disease; study

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HQ Team

October 19,2022: A new study, Trends in Cardiovascular Medicine, reveals that a high intake of refined grain does not increase one’s risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD), coronary heart disease, heart attack, heart failure, or stroke. 

Till date, all heart diseases and cardio problems have been attributed to the high consumption of refined grains and foods. A meta analyses of Pubmed and Scopus databases for relevant cohort studies from inception to June 2022 was done by the study authors.

The study focused on the consumption of refined grains as a distinct category and not part of a dietary pattern. Staple grain foods (e.g., bread, cereal, pasta, white rice) as well as studies that included both staple and indulgent grain foods (e.g., cakes, cookies, doughnuts, brownies, muffins, pastries) were analysed.

The results suggest that refined grains do not contribute to the higher CVD risk associated with this unhealthy dietary pattern.

Refined grains are grains that have been milled to remove the bran and germ to extend the grain’s shelf life. This process removes some of the original fibre and B vitamins from the food.

Dr. Glenn Gaesser, Professor, College of Health Solutions, Arizona University and study author, said, “These new results call into question the widely held view that refined grain foods are associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Refined grains are typically included in the Western dietary pattern that also includes red and processed meat, sugar-sweetened beverages, French fries, and high fat dairy products. Research shows that it is these foods, especially red and processed meat and sugar-sweetened beverages, that are the real culprits in this dietary pattern. Meta-analyses in the new study indicate that the higher CVD risk associated with this dietary pattern is not from refined grain foods.”

This study follows a recent commentary from Gaesser published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings that examined data from existing published studies to reveal no link between type 2 diabetes and consumption of refined grains.

“It is my hope that these new results will be considered in formulating future dietary guidelines for Americans,” added Gaesser. “I think it’s important that the nutrition community acknowledges these results, and while still promoting, rightfully so, increased consumption of whole grain foods, it doesn’t have to come at the expense of refined grain foods. Refined grain foods can fit in a healthy diet.”

Studies on benefits of whole grains for cardio health

A long line of studies recommends cutting down on refined grains in your diet. The most recent research being at the American College of Cardiology Middle East, which involved about 2,000 people, found that higher consumption of refined grains was associated with a higher likelihood of poor heart health.

The 2019 ACC/American Heart Association Guideline on the Primary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease recommends a diet that emphasizes eating vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains and fish to decrease heart disease risk factors.


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