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Refined grains may lead to increased mortality

A new study in the British Medical Journal from a group of researchers spread across the globe has found that consumption of refined grain products such as white bread, breakfast cereals, pasta and baked goods is associated with increased mortality, major cardiovascular disease, stroke and other health conditions.

The global intake of refined grains has risen over recent decades, and higher carbohydrate intake has previously been shown to raise the risk of death and cardiovascular disease.

Cereal grains make up around half of all calories consumed globally. In lower income countries in Africa and Asia this figure rises to 70%. Previous studies have mostly been carried out in the USA and Europe, so the researchers in this case sought to include diverse populations in low, middle and high income regions across the globe.

The researchers looked at almost 150,000 people from 21 countries and analysed their intake of refined grains, whole grains and white rice. The study took place between 2003 and 2019.

Study participants who had experienced a cardiovascular disease event in the two years prior to the trial were excluded. Including the intake of sodium and saturated fat did not change the result for any type of grain.

The results showed that a higher intake of refined grains was associated with a higher risk of death and a higher risk of major cardiovascular events.

Critically, the study found no association between these health risk levels and the intake of whole grains and white rice.

The researchers say the results suggest the need to reduce the quantity and improve the quality of our carbohydrate intake for better health.

At PIM we have a particular interest in the role of diet and nutrition in our health and wellbeing. Contact us to find out more.


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