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High-glycemic carbs – “the white foods” – can break your heart. Literally.

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Take note: If you eat a lot of simple carbs, you are hurting your heart. Plain and simple.

A new study published in today’s Archives of Internal Medicine studied 47,000 Italian adults and found that women who eat more white bread, white rice and pizza had double the risk of heart disease.

Those foods all have a high glycemic index, which means that they raise the levels of blood sugar quickly. The “white foods” – white flour and sugar and many foods made with them – are all high on the glycemic index.

The researchers studied 15,171 men and 32,578 women who have completed dietary questionnaires for many years. The same effect was not found in the men, though the men had more heart problems overall.

From BBC News:

The researchers found that the women whose diet had the highest glycemic load had more than double the risk of heart disease compared with those women with the lowest glycemic load. (Those with diabetes were excluded from the study.)

The authors concluded: "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 coronary heart disease."

The researchers believe that a high-glycemic diet may dampen 'good' cholesterol levels in women more than in men.

From CNN Health:

Only carbohydrates with a high glycemic index appear to hurt the heart. Carbs with a low glycemic index – such as fruit and pasta – were not associated with an increased risk of heart disease, which suggests that the increased risk is caused "not by a diet high in carbohydrates, but by a diet rich in rapidly absorbed carbohydrates," says the lead author of the study, Sabina Sieri, of the Fondazione IRCCS Istituto Nazionale dei Tumori, a national institute for cancer research in Milan, Italy.

The glycemic index ranks on a scale from 1 to 100 how quickly (or slowly) carbohydrates affect your blood-sugar levels.

Add a Comment2 Comments

Hi Marty - I am inspired by your post as I have just begun researching high glycemic carbs and chronic inflammation. I have been dealing with this over the last 5 years and finally made a huge discovery in my own health after completing a food detox/fast and slowly reintroducing food groups into my diet. I never would have imagined that my constant sinus, lung and swollen/goopy eyes were all derived from what I was putting into my mouth! Especially since most of the foods, I had been putting into my mouth all of my life. Do you have any additional resources you can point me to as I search for more answers and research this topic? Thanks so much for any help!

June 26, 2010 - 3:37am

Very smart post. This is at the crux of many problems we r facing in the US. Is it safe to say that high glycemic foods are 'pro-inflammatory?' I found the following: "The higher the glycemic the diet, the more insulin is released leading to a pro-inflammatory state and higher levels of CRP. By elevating your blood sugar, high glycemic foods also promote oxygen free radical processes. Free radicals are highly reactive molecules which can damage DNA, cause cancer growth and incite more inflammation. Americans are gorging themselves on high glycemic, pro-inflammatory sugars and refined carbohydrates; yeast bread comprises 15% of total carbohydrates, soft drinks/soda 9%, cakes/cookies/quick breads/doughnuts 7%, sugar/syrup/jams 6%, white potatoes 5% and ready-to-eat cereal 5%. (buddyslim.com). I personally am avoiding gluten and this new way of living has been a big help to me in many ways. The glycemic load is important to consider in regards to a healthy diet. Avoiding chronic inflammation is also important to me. And I am also learning more about avoiding fungus and excessive yeast in my system. Thanks 4 posting this valuable info! Marty

May 11, 2010 - 8:36pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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