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Whole grains trump refined grains for heart health, but more research is needed

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New Australian research collating evidence from 25 individual studies of 2,295 participants worldwide has found that increasing whole grain consumption may improve some risk factors for cardiovascular disease (CVD).

Published in the world’s most read scientific nutrition journal, the Journal of the American Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics1, the findings suggest that although whole grain choices are recommended, there’s a place for all grain foods in the diet. Dr Skye Marshall from Nutrition Research Australia explains:

“According to our research, provided the majority of your grain intake comes from whole grain sources like wholemeal bread, oats, whole grain breakfast cereals, brown rice or wholemeal pasta, consuming refined grains like white rice or pasta will not be detrimental to heart health on its own”.

Although overall there was insufficient evidence to support increasing whole grain intake for reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, when researchers analysed by the different types of whole grains, there were significant benefits for certain varieties.

“We found that whole grain oats significantly decreased total and LDL cholesterol – the type of cholesterol that plays a role in the development of heart disease. We also found beneficial outcomes for brown rice on triglycerides, a type of blood fat also linked to elevated heart disease risk”.

Extensive observational research undeniably supports regular consumption of whole grain foods and reduced risk of heart disease, with researchers suggesting more clinical trials are needed over longer periods of time and different population groups.

“More research is required to better understand the preventive and treatment potential of whole grain intake for those with existing cardiovascular disease” added Dr Marshall.

The Grains & Legumes Nutrition Council continues to advocate for whole grains, calling for a greater emphasis of whole grain foods in the upcoming revision of the Australian Dietary Guidelines and in light of the extensive body of research in this area.

View the full paper here.

Source – Grains & Legumes Nutrition Council

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