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Refined grains tied to higher risk of stroke, heart disease and early death: study

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Vancouver, British Columbia — Eating more than seven daily servings of white bread, pasta and other foods made with refined grains can raise your risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke and early death, according to a team of researchers from around the globe.

The researchers used 2003-2019 data from the Prospective Urban Rural Epidemiology Study to examine the diets of more than 137,000 participants from 21 low- to high-income countries. The participants ranged in age from 35 to 70, and each had a follow-up every three years throughout the study period.

Participants who ate a lot of products made with refined grains such as white flour – including white bread, pasta or noodles, crackers, baked goods, and breakfast cereals – had a 47% greater risk of stroke, a 33% higher risk of heart disease and a 27% increased risk of early death. Consumption of whole grains showed no significant adverse health effects.

“This study reaffirms previous work indicating a healthy diet includes limiting overly processed and refined foods,” study co-author Scott Lear, a health sciences professor at Simon Fraser University, said in a press release.

The researchers recommend eating more whole grain foods such as barley and brown rice, which provide better quality carbohydrates.

The study was published online Feb. 3 in the British Journal of Medicine.

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