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Less is more for heart health

Refined grains and white bread
Adults who eat more than a certain amount of white bread and other refined grains daily are more susceptible to heart disease and stroke, according to a large international dietary study. (Source: Adobe Stock)

A major international dietary study recently announced new findings related to cardiovascular health. It found that consuming over a certain amount of refined grains, which includes foods like white bread, breakfast cereals, pasta and crackers, is associated with a significantly higher risk of serious or deadly heart disease and strokes.

The Prospective Urban Rural Epidemiology (PURE) study has been examining diets from diverse populations in low-, middle- and high-income countries around the world, including the U.S., for more than 16 years. Its analysis of the dietary habits of more than 135,000 people living in 21 countries, all between the ages of 35 and 70, also found that their intake of both refined grains and added sugars has greatly increased since the study began.

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

Grains were categorized into three groups for the current study: refined grains, whole grains and white rice. No significant negative health effects were found with consuming the same amount of whole grains or white rice.

These findings suggest that eating more whole grain foods like brown rice, whole wheat, barley and oats – and fewer refined wheat and cereal products – is essential for optimal health outcomes for people around the globe, its authors said.

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