New Study Suggests Whole Grains May Benefit Cardiovascular Risk

When you combine those findings, it suggests that in adults, swapping out refined grains with whole grains may improve major CVD risk factors—lipids, blood glucose, and inflammation. The potential public health impact is massive, as heart disease is the #1 cause of death in Australia and the United States. Marshall elaborates on the significance of the study’s findings, sharing that “In the long term, your cardiovascular health may be improved if you regularly choose whole grain foods instead of refined (i.e., “white” bread, rice, pasta, etc.).” 

But, practicing moderation in nutrition and life is also important. Marshall shares that, “eating some refined grains is okay. You shouldn’t feel guilt while eating refined grains, especially foods important to your culture and social life.”

Marshall and I then chatted about the popularity of low-carb diets and how carbs have gotten a bad rap in recent years in the U.S. She said the same trends have occurred in Australia and warns people of “the negative psychological effect of restrictive eating.” She adds that the anti-carb camp “is being balanced by a counterculture of people really enjoying their carbs. A focus on healthy eating patterns can help, like the Mediterranean diet, which allows all food groups including those high in carbs.” In fact the Mediterranean diet, which incorporates whole grains and other carb sources like fruits, vegetables, and legumes, is impressively linked to reductions in coronary heart disease, ischemic stroke, and total CVD.

While there’s always room for more RCT research on whole grains for the prevention and treatment of CVD, this latest research supports the idea that grains can be an important part of the heart health equation. However, for anyone with CVD diagnoses, Marshall says, “overall lifestyle and diet is really important, but should not replace traditional medical treatment.”

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