Carbohydrates & Heart Disease in Women

A new study gives women a good reason to watch their glycemic index. According to the Italian National Cancer Institute, diets rich in carbohydrates with high-glycemic indexes (such as corn flakes and white bread) increase “the risk of heart disease for women” as opposed to lower glycemic carbohydrates (such as those found in “whole wheat products and sweet potatoes.”)

The Italian study followed “15,171 men and 32,578 women” for 8 years. Women who consumed the most carbohydrates experienced twice the “incidence of heart disease” compared with women who ate the least. Upon further analysis, the risk was found to be “associated with higher intake of high-glycemic foods.” No effect was seen in the men studied. These findings corroborate prior studies on both genders by the Nurses Health Study (in the US) and a study in the Netherlands.

The reason behind the difference in gender response has only been speculated on. Dr. Victoria Drake, “director of the Micronutrient Information Center…of Oregon State University” believes the difference might relate to sex hormonal differences. Dr. Drake explains, that while male androgens “appear to slow the transformation of carbohydrates into blood sugar”, female estrogen “speeds the process”. Additionally, Dr. Drake explains that the high glycemic index “is known to increase the concentration of triglycerides and lower the concentration of HDL cholesterol, the good kind” making these type of sugars “a stronger risk factor for heart disease.”

Ref: Health Day (2010)

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