Rice consumption and risk of cardiovascular disease: results from a pooled analysis of 3 U.S. cohorts1-4

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Health concerns have been raised about rice consumption, which may significantly contribute to arsenic exposure. However, little is known regarding whether habitual rice consumption is associated with cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk.


We examined prospectively the association of white rice and brown rice consumption with CVD risk.


We followed a total of 207,556 women and men [73,228 women from the Nurses' Health Study (1984-2010), 92,158 women from the Nurses' Health Study II (1991-2011), and 42,170 men from the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study (1986-2010)] who were free of CVD and cancer at baseline. Validated semiquantitative food-frequency questionnaires were used to assess consumption of white rice, brown rice, and other food items. Fatal and nonfatal CVD (coronary artery disease and stroke) was confirmed by medical records or self-reports.


During 4,393,130 person-years of follow-up, 12,391 cases of CVD were identified. After adjustment for major CVD risk factors, including demographics, lifestyle, and other dietary intakes, rice consumption was not associated with CVD risk. The multivariable-adjuted HR of developing CVD comparing ≥5 servings/wk with <1 serving/wk was 0.98 (95% CI: 0.84, 1.14) for white rice, 1.01 (0.79, 1.28) for brown rice, and 0.99 (0.90, 1.08) for total rice. To minimize the potential impact of racial difference in rice consumption, we restricted the analyses to whites only and obtained similar results: the HRs of CVD for ≥5 servings/wk compared with <1 serving/wk were 1.04 (95% CI: 0.88, 1.22) for white rice and 1.01 (0.78, 1.31) for brown rice.


Greater habitual consumption of white rice or brown rice is not associated with CVD risk. These findings suggest that rice consumption may not pose a significant CVD risk among the U.S. population when consumed at current amounts. More prospective studies are needed to explore these associations in other populations. Am J Clin Nutr 2015;101:164-72.

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