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Whole grains cut risk of cardiovascular disease: study

People who cut carbs out of their diet or choose products with refined grains may be undermining their heart health.

The Heart Foundation has prompted people to take a look at their food choices following the release of a study that linked consumption of whole grains with reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease.

Published in the American Heart Association journal Circulation, the study found every serving of whole grains decreased the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease by 9 per cent.

The dietary choice was also associated with a 5 per cent decline in cancer-related deaths.

Heart Foundation spokesperson for nutrition Beth Thomas said the research supports recommendations from the Heart Foundation and Australian Dietary Guidelines to choose wholegrain options of products such as bread, breakfast cereals and pasta.

"Whole grains are an important part of a heart healthy diet," Thomas said. “This research clearly demonstrates that diets that recommend avoiding or restricting whole grains are not recommended, such as very low carbohydrate diets, Atkins and paleo-style diets."

The US researchers reviewed 14 studies, including more than 780,000 participants. Dr Qi Sun, senior author of the study and assistant professor at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, Massachusetts, said healthcare providers should unanimously recommend wholegrain consumption to the general population, and to patients with certain diseases, to help achieve better health.

Thomas said: "The ways in which whole grains appear to improve health include reducing blood glucose levels and blood cholesterol levels (total cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol), lowering body fat percentage and increasing intake of minerals, antioxidants and fibre.

"Increasing fibre intake with wholegrain foods is healthy for the bowel, lowers cholesterol (total and LDL), avoids spikes in blood glucose levels and may also assist with satiety (that is, avoiding overeating)."

Thomas suggested people choose wholegrain versions of regular food choices such as bread, cereal and pasta and limit junk foods with refined grains, such as cakes, biscuits and pastries.

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