White rice is a pretty common staple food around the world. But according to a recent study, refined grains, like white rice, act in the same way in the body as sugar does.
Refined grains are processed very quickly, causing your blood sugar to rise quickly after eating them, too. If you do this often, it can damage your heart and blood vessels. This leads to a buildup of plaque in your arteries, which will eventually cause a heart attack if not monitored and taken care of.
Researchers in Iran studied the eating habits and health histories of Iranians, and compared the risk of heart disease among people whose diets were high in refined grains compared to whole grains, according to the American College of Cardiology.
“A diet that includes consuming a high amount of unhealthy and refined grains can be considered similar to consuming a diet containing a lot of unhealthy sugars and oils,” said Mohammad Amin Khajavi Gaskarei, MD, of the Isfahan Cardiovascular Research Center and Cardiovascular Research Institute at Isfahan University of Medical Sciences in Isfahan, Iran.
They discovered that those who ate refined grains, as which white rice is classified, were more likely to develop PCAD (premature coronary artery disease).
Premature coronary artery disease is a condition that occurs in younger adults before 45 years for males or 55 years for females.
The study looked at a group of 2,500 people in Iran both with and without a history of coronary artery disease, aka heart disease. The researchers asked the participants how often they ate refined sugars and grains. Refined grains are those that have been processed to a point where they lose the nutritious parts of the grain and are left over only with the starchy part, such as white rice. They found that those who ate more refined grains, like white rice, had a higher risk of premature coronary artery disease (PCAD). Interestingly enough, this is the same problem that people who eat large amounts of sweets face.
The refined grain here means that the grains are processed into a simpler flour and meal – but they lose important nutrients along the way (this includes white rice). Meanwhile, whole grains (brown rice) are the ones containing the entire grain, with all of the nutrients still intact.