White rice and pasta are just as bad for your heart as CANDY, study suggests
- Refined grains increase the amount of fat in the blood, known as triglyceride
- This can clog blood vessels and worsen the likelihood of coronary heart disease
- However, whole grains can decrease the risk, researchers from Iran found
Eating lots of white rice is just as bad for your heart in the long run as consuming lots of candy, a study suggests.
Researchers in Iran looked at the risk of heart disease among people whose diets were high in refined grains compared to whole grains.
They found those who ate refined grains – processed to give them a finer texture and longer shelf life – were more likely to develop coronary artery disease in middle-age.
Lead study author Dr Mohammad Amin Khajavi Gaskarei said the damage done by a diet high in these grains was similar to eating lots of junk food.
‘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 said.
Refined grains are broken down rapidly by the body because they have been stripped of fiber, which leads to a post-meal spike in blood-sugar levels.
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.
Refined grains can be compared to sugary foods like candy, researchers from Iran have suggested. Many cereals, crackers and pastas are made from refined grains
Whole grains, such as brown rice, oats and whole-wheat bread, contain the entire grain, whereas refined grains have been milled, meaning they have been ground into flour or meal.
This is done to extend shelf life, but means the grains lose key nutrients in the process. Many crackers, puddings and pastas are also made with refined grains.
The study looked at 1,168 healthy patients and compared them to 1,369 patients with coronary artery disease.
Participants answered a food frequency questionnaire to determine how often they ate whole and refined grains.
A higher consumption of refined grains was linked to a higher risk of PCAD, while eating more whole grains saw a reduced risk.
Dr Gaskarei said: ‘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.’
The study will be presented at the American College of Cardiology Middle East 2022 Together with the 13th Emirates Cardiac Society Congress, in Dubai on October 7-9, 2022.
One person dies every 34 seconds in the US from heart disease, and it was responsible for one in five deaths in 2020.
Coronary artery disease (CAD) is the most common kind of heart disease, affecting 20.1million US adults (more than 7 per cent) aged 20 and over.
In 2020, roughly two in 10 deaths from CAD occurred in adults who were less than 65 years old.
In the UK, one person every eight minutes dies from CAD, causing around 66,000 deaths yearly.
It kills twice as many women in the UK as breast cancer, and even kills more women before their 75th birthday.
The 2019 American College of Cardiology and American Heart Association’s guideline on the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease says that all adults should focus on eating whole grains, as well as vegetables, fruits, nuts, sources of protein and fish.
Coronary artery disease (CAD) clogs up the blood vessels and can lead to angina, strokes or heart attacks
Coronary artery disease occurs when the major blood vessels that supply the heart with oxygen and nutrients become damaged.
CAD affects more than 1.6million men and one million women in the UK, and a total of 15million adults in the US.
It is usually due to plaque and inflammation.
When plaque builds up, it narrows the arteries, which decreases blood flow to the heart.
Over time this can cause angina, while a complete blockage can result in a heart attack.
Many people have no symptoms at first but as the plaque builds up they may notice chest pains or shortness of breath when exercising or stressed.
Other causes of CAD include smoking, diabetes and an inactive lifestyle.
It can be prevented by quitting smoking, controlling conditions like diabetes or high blood pressure, staying active, eating well and managing stress.
Drugs can help to lower cholesterol, while aspirin thins the blood to reduce the risk of clots.
In severe cases, stents can be put into the arteries to open them, while coronary bypass surgery creates a graft to bypass the blocked arteries using a vessel from another part of the body.
Source: Mayo Clinic