In an era of growing concern about the growing number of Americans who suffer from diabetes, obesity, and heart disease, it may be time to reconsider the traditional wisdom that whole foods are the answer to everything.
But are they?
New research from the American Heart Association (AHA) and Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) suggests that whole-food diets might actually increase your risk for certain types of heart disease.
While the study focused on people in the general population, the findings could apply to patients with diabetes, high blood pressure, and certain types to heart disease such as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.
What are whole-grains?
The term whole grains refers to all foods with grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes, such as beans, corn, and rice.
Whole-grain foods are also commonly referred to as refined grains or white bread.
Whole foods include whole grains such as barley, white bread, and whole wheat bread.
A high-fat, low-sugar diet is commonly recommended for healthy eating, and a low-fat diet is typically associated with a reduction in the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
While a high-carb, high-protein diet is generally associated with weight loss, it’s not known if it’s associated with lower heart disease risk.
Whole grains and whole grains alone can also contribute to weight loss.
Whole grain products contain higher amounts of soluble fiber, which can reduce the risk for constipation, diarrhea, and gas, and reduce the amount of cholesterol in the blood.
Whole and refined grains have been shown to lower blood pressure and improve heart health.
Other health benefits: A low-carb diet can help prevent type 2 diabetes and heart attacks.
Whole fruits and vegetables are rich in vitamins and minerals, and they’re also good for your heart and lungs.
Whole, whole grains are low in cholesterol and are a good source of fiber, potassium, folate, and antioxidants.
Eating a high amount of whole grains, beans, or corn can also reduce the number of heart-related deaths.
The American Heart Associations (AHEA) and HSPH released the report, “Evidence-Based Dietary Guidelines for Heart Health and the Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease,” on Tuesday.
“We believe that all Americans should have access to a nutritious, whole food diet,” said AHA president and CEO, Robert Lustig, in a press release.
“This is a clear-cut case study demonstrating that whole grains and other whole foods offer significant health benefits, including weight loss and blood pressure reduction.”
The study’s authors included experts from the National Institutes of Health, Harvard School, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the US Department of Agriculture, among others.
Their analysis focused on 7,400 individuals with type 2 or coronary artery disease in the United States.
Participants were categorized as being either overweight or obese, having heart disease or diabetes, having high blood cholesterol, or having hypertension.
Researchers compared the participants’ diets to that of the general U.S. population.
Those with diabetes were excluded from the study.
“A low-carber diet and whole foods can help lower blood cholesterol and blood pressures, reduce the chances of developing heart disease and stroke, and lower your risk of dying from heart disease,” Lustig said.
The study also examined people who had high blood glucose levels, had a family history of heart diseases, and had high cholesterol levels.
In addition to heart health, the researchers found that the low-glycemic index (LDL) diet could help people with diabetes maintain a healthy weight and improve their cholesterol levels and blood sugar levels.
“The findings highlight the potential of whole-grain-based diets for reducing cardiovascular risk, which could have a significant impact on health care costs and other health issues,” Lustige said.
“These findings have broad implications for people who are currently trying to lose weight and manage their diabetes or heart disease.”
A high glycemic index diet is a diet high in starch, which has been shown in animal studies to increase the risk and cause diabetes.
However, the study did not assess the health benefits for heart disease patients.
“Our results do not support the concept that whole food foods increase the risks of heart attack or stroke,” Lustigo said.
He added that the study is not meant to discourage people from a low glycemic diet.
“It’s important to note that the participants in our study were not taking insulin or a cholesterol medication, so these findings cannot be attributed to these drugs,” Lustigen said.
What do you need to know about: Heart disease?
Is it related to type 2, or type 1?
What are its causes?
What is the best way to prevent or treat it?
Are there dietary guidelines for heart health?
Is heart disease associated with obesity?
Are foods high in saturated fat, sugar, and cholesterol bad for heart function?
Are fruits, vegetables, and grains high in protein?
Are whole grains low in