There is a new published study that sheds additional light on carbohydrates and heart disease in men and women. At least in Italian men and women. It’s entitled “Dietary Glycemic Load and Index and Risk of Coronary Heart Disease in a Large Italian Cohort.” The study was published in the 4/12/2010 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine. Dr. Sabina Sieri was the study leader, and she made the following statement:
“High consumption of carbohydrate from high-glycemic foods, rather than overall quantity of carbohydrate consumed, appears to influence the risk of developing heart disease in women.”
If you click on the study title you can read the full text but here is a quick overview of this study.
Women who ate the most “high-glycemic” carbohydrates had twice the risk of heart disease then those who ate the least.
The type of carbohydrate consumed showed no significant differences for cardiovascular disease in men.
Men are most likely cheering.
Women are most likely cursing.
But before you get too far in your celebration or disgust, we need to take a closer look at this study. Why? Because it is not all good news for men and not all bad news for women.
Let’s start with the men first because they’re ready to go watch TV, eat some corn chips, and wash it down with a sports drink. This study looked at the effects of Glycemic Load and Glycemic Index on increasing the risk for heart disease.
Basically, Glycemic Load and Index look at how quickly the food that you eat is converted to sugar to cause spikes in your blood sugar levels. Increased blood sugar levels cause oxidative stress or damage to the endothelial cells that line all of your cardiovascular system. This leads to a host of cardiovascular health issues like high blood pressure, diabetes, hardening of the arteries, and erectile dysfunction to name just a few.
While this study showed no additional increase in risk for cardiovascular disease for men it does not mean that they were not already at risk. Your food choices play a significant role in your overall health and do, in fact, affect your cardiovascular system. As Dr. Sieri points out,
“It’s a good idea for people to choose foods with a lower glycemic index over higher ones.”
This was true for women. It wasn’t the total carbohydrates consumed that was a problem for women. It was the type of carbohydrate they consumed that doubled their risk for heart disease. As women have adopted more of a lifestyle, in both eating and work habits, associated with men, they have also seen an increase in cardiovascular disease. An increase that has now allowed heart disease to become an even greater risk to the health of women than breast cancer and all other cancers combined.
So, the good news for women is to watch the type of carbohydrate that you eat. Choose “good” or “low-glycemic” carbohydrates that do not cause spikes in your blood sugar levels.
To help you better understand the Glycemic Index, please click on the article “A Glycemic Index Chart Can Improve Your Health!” This article will help you better understand this whole issue and how to make better food choices. Food choices that can have a significant impact on reducing your risk for heart disease as well as diabetes and a host of other blood sugar related illnesses that can damage your body.
Together we can work to save a million lives!
Dan Hammer has a background in biology, chemistry and exercise physiology. He used to run one of the largest health club operations in the Chicagoland area and has been helping people with their wellness issues for more than 25 years.