A diet high in refined grains has similar risk of heart disease as eating lots of sugar, study finds

Emma Guinness

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A diet high in refined grains has similar risk of heart disease as eating lots of sugar, study finds

Featured Image Credit: Eric Anthony Johnson / Stockimo / carlo-trash / Alamy

Correction 31/10/22 - This article has been updated to reflect that the lead author of American College of Cardiology's study stated a diet containing lots of refined grains presented a similar risk of heart disease as one that contained a lot of sugar and oil, not that white rice is as bad for your heart as sweets.

It's no secret that sweet treats should be enjoyed in moderation, but it turns out that a diet involving lots of refined grains - white flour, white rice and white bread - could increase your risk of heart disease too.

Yep – a humble serving of white rice may not be as healthy for you as you thought, and all was revealed in a new study by the American College of Cardiology.

A diet of lots of refined grains could be just as bad as eating lots of sugar. Credit: Alamy / Rimma Bondarenko
A diet of lots of refined grains could be just as bad as eating lots of sugar. Credit: Alamy / Rimma Bondarenko

According to the study, a diet which contains lots of refined grains like white rice and white bread could be just as bad for your heart as eating lots of food containing sugars and oils.

The findings came from a large focus group too, consisting of 2,099 Iranian people with a history with and without coronary artery disease.

They were asked how often they ate consumed refined sugars and grains, and the findings were surprising, to say the least.

Refined grains, for those unfamiliar with the term, are classified as grains that have been processed into the likes of white rice, which reduces their nutritional value.

That's why it's better to opt for whole grain foods - brown rice, barley, and wholewheat bread and pasta - as they are naturally more nutritious.

This is reflected in the effects of each on the body too, and the study found that people who consumed more refined grains had a higher risk of premature coronary artery disease (PCAD) – a problem also faced by those who eat large amounts of sweet treats.

Rice can increase your risk of premature coronary artery disease. Credit: Elena Elisseeva / Alamy Stock Photo
Rice can increase your risk of premature coronary artery disease. Credit: Elena Elisseeva / Alamy Stock Photo

Lead author of the study, Dr Mohammad Amin Khajavi Gaskarei, said: "There are many factors involved in why people may be consuming more refined grains as opposed to whole grains … Some of the most important factors to consider include the economy and income, job, education, culture, age and other similar factors."

He asserted: "A diet that includes consuming a high amount of unhealthy and refined grains can be considered similar to consuming a diet containing a lot of unhealthy sugars and oils."

The CDC explained how this works, revealing that refined grains are processed quickly by the body, and this raises your blood sugar after consuming them.

If it's a regular occurrence, it can damage your blood vessels and heart, and lead to a build up to plaque in the walls of your arteries.

However, this isn't the first time that eating refined grains has been warned against for the sake of your heart.

Back in 2019, the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association published a report that advised people to consume vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains and fish instead.

Topics: News, Food and Drink, Science

Emma Guinness
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