A high-carb diet increases heart disease risk in women
A high-carbohydrate diet is associated with the increase in risks of heart disease in women, finds a new study that appeared in the April 12 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.
The researchers from Fondazione IRCCS Istituto Nazionale dei Tumori, Milan, Italy found an increased prevalence of coronary heart disease (CHD) in women than in men. Their diet was found to be rich with a “high glycemic index” that includes white bread, sweets and sugar-laden breakfast cereals.
Though carbohydrates form an important part in our diet, excessive intake of them can result in increasing blood glucose levels and harmful fats such as triglyceride and LDL cholesterol in the body. This increases the risk of heart disease. It should also noted that not all carbohydrate have the same effect on blood glucose levels.
Glycemic index (GI) is a numerical scale that indicates how fast and high a particular food raises the level of sugar in the body. Having a low GI diet helps in breaking down of sugar and releasing glucose slowly and induces only moderate rise in blood sugar.In a range of 1-100, high glycemic index foods (GI 70 or above) induce an immediate rise in blood sugar, intermediate glycemic index foods (GI 55 – 69) induce an average rise in blood sugar and low glycemic index foods (GI 55 or below), that cause a relatively gradual rise in blood sugar.
Glycemic load (GL), another related measure is calculated based on the GI of a given food and also to find the total amount of carbohydrates it contains.
The researchers, in this study, examined 47,749 Italian adults (15,171 adult men and 32, 578 adult women) who were asked to fill up dietary questionnaires. The respondents’ over all carbohydrate consumption and the average GI of the foods they ate and the GL of their diets were calculated on the basis of their responses.
During a median (midpoint) of 7.9 years of follow up, 463 participants (158 women and 305 men) were found to be suffering from coronary heart disease.
The study reports showed that one-fourth women who ate high-carbohydrate diet had approximately twice the risk of heart disease as the one-fourth who consumed the least. The one-fourth women respondents who had high GL had 2.24 times the risk of developing heart disease in comparison to the one-fourth of women with the lowest GL.
When the carbohydrate foods were categorized into high and low GI, increased intake of high GI foods was significantly associated with greater risk of CHD compared to low GI carbohydrates.
According to the authors of the study, “A high consumption of carbohydrates from high GI foods, rather than the overall quantity of carbohydrates consumed, appears to influence the risk of developing coronary heart disease.”