In the conclusion to their study examining the links between cardiovascular disease (CVD) and food consumption across 42 European countries, Pavel Grasgruber et al. make this bang-on-the-money statement about the propaganda surrounding so-called “heart healthy whole grains”:
A very important case is that of cereals because whole grain cereals are often propagated as CVD prevention. It is true that whole grain cereals are usually characterised by lower glycaemic index and insulin index values than refined cereals, and their benefits have been documented in numerous observational studies, but their consumption is also tied with a healthy lifestyle. All the available clinical trials have been of short duration and have produced inconsistent results indicating that the possible benefits are related to the substitution of refined cereals for whole grain cereals, and not because of whole grain cereals per se.
To use an analogy with smoking, a switch from unfiltered to filtered cigarettes can reduce health risks, but this fact does not mean that filtered cigarettes should be propagated as part of a healthy lifestyle.
In fact, even some unrefined cereals [such as the ‘whole-meal bread’ tested by Bao et al.] have high glycaemic and insulin indices, and the values are often unpredictable. Therefore, in the light of the growing evidence pointing to the negative role of carbohydrates, and considering the lack of any association between saturated fat and CVDs, we are convinced that the current recommendations regarding diet and CVDs should be seriously reconsidered
Source: Grasgruber et al.,Food consumption and the actual statistics of cardiovascular diseases: an epidemiological comparison of 42 European countries, Food and Nutrition Research, Sep 2016