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Research: Eating Refined Grains Increases Risk of Heart Attack, Early Death

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Research: Eating Refined Grains Increases Risk of Heart Attack, Early Death

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A new study published in The British Medical Journal by researchers found that 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.

The Prospective Urban Rural Epidemiology (PURE) study has been examining diets from diverse populations in low-, middle- and high-income countries around the world. Over 16 years of analysis of 137,130 participants in 21 countries, the researchers found the intake of refined grains and added sugars have greatly increased over the years.

Grains were categorized into three groups: refined grains, whole grains and white rice. Refined grains included goods made with refined flour, including white bread, pasta/noodles, breakfast cereals, crackers, and bakery products/desserts containing refined grains. Whole grains included whole grain flours such as buckwheat and intact or cracked whole grains including steel cut oats.

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

“This study re-affirms previous work indicating a healthy diet includes limiting overly processed and refined foods,” says Simon Fraser University health sciences professor Scott Lear.

The study did not find significant adverse health effects with consuming white rice.

What Should We Eat?

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.

Other types of healthful grains include “whole wheat flour (or spelt whole wheat flour), and other whole grain products such as organic corn meal, organic brown rice and other natural grains,” the booklet God’s Principles of Healthful Living states.

In addition to grains, a balanced, wholesome diet including all food groups is necessary for good health. The booklet summarizes the role each food group contributes toward wellbeing: “fruits CLEANSE, vegetables BUILD, grains SUSTAIN and herbs help to HEAL.”

For more priceless knowledge on what we should eat—plus other practices that yield vibrant health—read the booklet here.

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