Look After Your Heart Health with The Right Types of Carbs

Posted May 2023
Seaweed salad, Salmon sashimi, pickled ginger & sesame seeds on Corn Thins slices

Are you one of the many people who are led to believe that all carbohydrates are doing your body a disservice? For the carb lovers out there the good news is that this is not true. New research supports the inclusion of carbohydrates which are a part of a whole food which include other properties such as fiber. This type of carbohydrate can be found in foods such as whole grains.

This new research reported that the type of carbohydrate matters. While added sugar did increase the risk of heart disease, when this was replaced with added fiber and whole grains the risk of heart disease decreased.

The researchers selected 110,497 participants for the study. These participants were aged between 37 to 73 years. These participants did not have heart disease or diabetes at the beginning of the study. The participants recorded their food intake in two to five 24-hour dietary assessment. The median follow up for the study was 9.4 years.

Researchers concluded that carbohydrate as a macronutrient was not associated with heart disease or stroke risk. The greater the fiber intake of a participant, the less risk of heart disease was found. When 5% of the energy or calories from a diet was swapped from refined grains to wholegrains this was linked to a decreased risk of heart disease. Furthermore, when free sugars like honey and added table sugar was substituted for sugar found within a wholefood matrix like dairy, fruit, and whole grains, this was linked to a reduced risk of heart disease and stroke. The more free sugar a participant had in their diet was linked to an increase in triglycerides, a type of fat found within your blood, which in excess can increase your risk of heart disease.

There are many types of whole grains, or whole grain containing foods which you can add into your diet to support your health including the health of your heart. This includes quinoa, oats, red, black, or brown rice, whole grain pasta, whole grain couscous, whole grain bread, and whole grain containing crackers, or crispbreads like CORN THINS slices. To create a balanced meal try structuring your meal to include ¼ of the plate whole grains, ¼ lean meat or alternative and ½ vegetables.

An example of a breakfast could be 2 slices of whole grain toast with 2 poached eggs and 1-2 cups of sauteed vegetables or one cup of no added sugar baked beans. For the cereal lovers this could be ½ cup of cooked oats made using a cup of low-fat milk, topped with sliced banana and apple with a sprinkle of cinnamon.

For lunch this could be 6 CORN THINS slices topped with 100g of tinned salmon in spring water, ¼-1/2 of an avocado and sliced vegetables on top like cucumber, capsicum, celery, lettuce, tinned corn, or mushrooms. A balanced dinner could be ½ cup of cooked whole grain pasta with a tomato sauce made from 80g of chicken breast, 1-2 cups of mixed cooked vegetables and an option of 40g of low-fat cheese on top.

Take home message: Not all carbohydrates are created equal. Aim to select the types which come from whole foods which contain fiber as well like wholegrains.



Kelly, R.K., Tong, T.Y.N., Watling, C.Z. et al. Associations between types and sources of dietary carbohydrates and cardiovascular disease risk: a prospective cohort study of UK Biobank participants. BMC Med 21, 34 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12916-022-02712-7

Ashleigh Felth…
Accredited Practising Dietitian
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