When eating refined grains, less is more

When eating refined grains, less is more

Croissants and white bread taste good, but too much of a good thing can be bad for your heart.

A recent study found eating high amounts of refined grains increases the risk of heart attack, major cardiovascular events and death.

Researchers at Canada’s Simon Fraser University analyzed 16 years of health and medical data from more than 130,000 people in 21 countries. They found the consumption of added sugars and refined grains had increased substantially among those studied during that time.

The researchers divided common grains into three categories: refined grains, white rice and whole grains. Refined grains include breakfast cereal, white bread, pasta, crackers and baked goods containing white flour.

They found those eating more than seven servings of refined grains a day raised their risk of heart disease by 33%. The risk of stroke and early death jumped by 47% and 27% respectively.

Eating whole grains and white rice was not associated with major adverse health effects.

Limiting highly refined and processed foods has long been touted as key to having a healthy diet. So, what does that mean in practical terms? More brown rice, barley and other whole grains. Less white flour and pasta.

It’s also good to remember that some carb-heavy foods are more likely to cause a spike in blood-sugar levels. So-called lower glycemic index foods that are good alternatives to refined grains and higher-carb foods include peas or leafy greens instead of corn, and steel-cut oats rather than instant oatmeal. Bran flakes are a healthier choice instead of corn flakes.

There’s also an easy strategy: Take the phrase “pass the bread” out of your dinner table vocabulary.

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