Bread and pasta? Sure, but unrefined! For the first time, in fact, a study observed that a high intake of refined cereals in the form, for example, of bread, pasta, rice and brioche prepared with white flour, can increase the risk of heart attack, as well as promote the weight gain and the increase of the waistline. This is what emerges from a very recent research published in The British Medical Journal by a Canadian team (Swaminathan et al, BMJ, 2021).
The Prospective Urban Rural Epidemiology study is a large research currently underway on more than 140,000 people in 17 countries around the world. The study started in 2002 and aims to evaluate how behaviors and lifestyle choices can affect cardiovascular health. The Canadian scientists then drew on this data to study the relationship between consumption of refined and unrefined grains on the heart, taking into account an average period of ten years and 137130 people. What emerged is that those who consume more servings of refined cereals and white flours, more than seven servings per day or 350 grams, have, compared to those who consume less than 50 grams per day of refined grains, a 27% higher risk of developing heart disease. Not only that, this same group also has a 47% increased risk of developing a stroke. In general, the higher the consumption of refined grains, the higher the blood pressure. On the other hand, as regards the consumed carbohydrates in the unrefined version, no increase in cardiovascular risk was observed.
Therefore, for heart health it is a good choice to prefer whole grains and unrefined flours. Also because, as has been observed, within a healthy and varied diet inspired by the Mediterranean one, a reduction in the consumption of white bread has led to a reduction in body weight and waist circumference. In fact, refined cereals and flours increase blood sugar, in turn the body responds with an increase in circulating insulin, this leads to too low blood sugar. As a result, the body accumulates fat, increases hunger and the desire to eat other food, even if you don’t need it in fact. This increases the risk of obesity and abdominal fat, which is the most dangerous type of fat as it induces chronic inflammation, which in turn weakens the cardiovascular system.