Here’s some spooky news for rice lovers this October: A new study has found that eating too many refined grains, like white rice, is just as bad for your heart as eating too much Halloween candy.
The report, which studied the eating habits and health histories of Iranians, says the risk of premature coronary artery disease, or PCAD, from eating white rice is similar to that of eating the kind of “unhealthy sugars and oils” found in sweet treats.
The study focused on a group of some 2,500 people, some with normal arteries and some with coronary artery disease. Each participant answered a food frequency questionnaire to determine how often they ate whole and refined grains.
Researchers found a higher intake of refined grain was associated with an increased risk of PCAD, while eating whole grains was associated with a reduced risk.
Grains are “refined” when they’re processed into flour or meal, which gives them a finer texture and longer shelf life but eliminates some key nutrients. However, whole grains, like brown rice oats and whole-wheat bread, contain the entire grain.
“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,” said Dr. Mohammad Amin Khajavi Gaskarei, the study’s lead author.
“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,” he continued.
Refined grains are quickly broken down by the body since they have been stripped of fiber, which leads to a post-meal spike in blood sugar levels, per the CDC.
Over time, high blood sugar can damage blood vessels and the nerves that control the heart and cause plaque to form in the artery walls.
A 2019 report from the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association recommends a diet that emphasizes the intake of vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains and fish to decrease heart disease risk factors.
“As more studies demonstrate an increase in refined grains consumption globally, as well as the impact on overall health, it is important that we find ways to encourage and educate people on the benefits of whole grain consumption,” Khajavi Gaskarei continued.
“Tactics to consider include teaching improved dietary choices in schools and other public places in simple language the general population can understand, as well as on television programs and by continuing to do high-level research that is presented at medical conferences and published in medical journals. Clinicians must also be having these conversations with each other and their patients,” the doctor concluded.
The study will be presented at the American College of Cardiology Middle East with the 13th Emirates Cardiac Society Congress in Dubai at a conference that starts Friday and goes through Sunday.
Source: New York Post