Women who eat foods with high glycemic index may be at greater risk for heart disease

Apr 12, 2010

an indicator of how quickly a food affects blood glucose levels—appears to be associated with the risk of coronary heart disease in women but not men, according to a report in the April 12 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine.

High-carbohydrate diets increase the levels of blood glucose and of harmful blood fats known as triglycerides while reducing levels of protective HDL or "good" cholesterol, thereby increasing heart disease risk, according to background information in the article. However, not all carbohydrates have the same effect on blood glucose levels. The glycemic index is a measure of how much a food raises blood glucose levels compared with the same amount of glucose or white bread. A related measure, the glycemic load, is calculated based on the glycemic index of a given food and also on the total amount of carbohydrates it contains.

Sabina Sieri, Ph.D., of Fondazione IRCCS Istituto Nazionale dei Tumori, Milan, Italy, and colleagues studied 47,749 Italian adults—15,171 men and 32,578 —who completed dietary questionnaires. Based on their responses, the researchers calculated their overall carbohydrate intakes as well as the average glycemic index of the foods they consumed and the glycemic loads of their diets. During a median (midpoint) of 7.9 years of follow-up, 463 participants (158 women and 305 men) developed coronary heart disease.

The one-fourth of women who consumed the most carbohydrates overall had approximately twice the risk of heart disease as the one-fourth who consumed the least. When these carbohydrates were separated into high- and low-glycemic index categories, increased intake from high-glycemic index foods was significantly associated with greater risk of coronary heart disease, whereas low-glycemic index carbohydrates were not. "Thus, a high consumption of carbohydrates from high-glycemic index foods, rather than the overall quantity of carbohydrates consumed, appears to influence the risk of developing ," the authors write.

The one-fourth of women whose diet had the highest glycemic load had 2.24 times the risk of heart disease compared with the one-fourth of women with the lowest glycemic load.

Overall carbohydrate intake, glycemic index and glycemic load were not associated with heart disease risk in men. This could be because the adverse changes associated with intake, including triglyceride levels, are stronger risk factors for in women than in men, the authors note.

"We tentatively suggest that the adverse effects of a high glycemic diet in women are mediated by sex-related differences in lipoprotein and glucose metabolism, but further prospective studies are required to verify a lack of association of a high dietary glycemic load with cardiovascular disease in men," they conclude.

Explore further: Oil-swishing craze: Snake oil or all-purpose remedy?

More information: Arch Intern Med. 2010;170[7]:640-647

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Low-carb diets prove better at controlling type 2 diabetes

Jan 05, 2009

In a six-month comparison of low-carb diets, one that encourages eating carbohydrates with the lowest-possible rating on the glycemic index leads to greater improvement in blood sugar control, according to Duke University ...

Recommended for you

Suddenly health insurance is not for sale

17 hours ago

(HealthDay)— Darlene Tucker, an independent insurance broker in Scotts Hill, Tenn., says health insurers in her area aren't selling policies year-round anymore.

Study: Half of jailed NYC youths have brain injury (Update)

17 hours ago

About half of all 16- to 18-year-olds coming into New York City's jails say they had a traumatic brain injury before being incarcerated, most caused by assaults, according to a new study that's the latest in a growing body ...

Autonomy and relationships among 'good life' goals

Apr 18, 2014

Young adults with Down syndrome have a strong desire to be self-sufficient by living independently and having a job, according to a study into the meaning of wellbeing among young people affected by the disorder.

User comments : 0

More news stories

Treating depression in Parkinson's patients

A group of scientists from the University of Kentucky College of Medicine and the Sanders-Brown Center on Aging has found interesting new information in a study on depression and neuropsychological function in Parkinson's ...

Health care site flagged in Heartbleed review

People with accounts on the enrollment website for President Barack Obama's signature health care law are being told to change their passwords following an administration-wide review of the government's vulnerability to the ...

Airbnb rental site raises $450 mn

Online lodging listings website Airbnb inked a $450 million funding deal with investors led by TPG, a source close to the matter said Friday.