THURSDAY, Feb. 4, 2021 (HealthDay News) — A high intake of refined grains is associated with an increased risk for mortality and major cardiovascular disease events, according to a study published online Feb. 3 in The BMJ.

Sumathi Saminathan, Ph.D., from St. John’s Research Institute in Bangalore, India, and colleagues conducted a prospective cohort study in 21 countries involving 148,858 participants with a median follow-up of 9.5 years. Intakes of refined grains, whole grains, and white rice were examined, and the association with mortality, major cardiovascular disease events, and their composite was estimated. Analyses were based on data from 137,130 participants without baseline cardiovascular disease.

The researchers found that 9.2 percent of participants had a composite outcome event during follow-up. Compared with the lowest category of intake (<50 g/day), the highest category of intake of refined grains (≥350 g/day or about seven servings) was associated with an elevated risk for total mortality, major cardiovascular disease events, and their composite (hazard ratios, 1.27, 1.33, and 1.28, respectively). There were associations seen for higher intakes of refined grains with higher systolic blood pressure. Intakes of whole grains or white rice were not significantly associated with health outcomes.

“Intakes of a combination of cereal grains with a lower intake of refined wheat products should be encouraged while promoting a higher intake of whole grains,” the authors write. “Reduction in quantity and improvement in quality of carbohydrate is essential for better health outcomes.”

Several authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

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