High GI Diet Increases Risk of Heart Problems

Our sister product Glucocil is designed for people with blood sugar concerns to help promote healthy, stable blood sugar throughout the day. Because of that, we talk about the dangers of high glycemic index (GI) foods over on that blog quite frequently. However, we mostly think of high GI foods as only being a problem for blood sugar. A new study shows that they also pose a danger to your heart.

A food’s GI rating is based on how quickly the carbohydrates it contains will impact your blood sugar when eaten alone. Foods with lower numbers affect you less. This new study has found that people who eat diets that are heavy with high GI foods have an increased risk for heart attacks, strokes and early death. People with preexisting heart conditions who ate many high GI foods were 53 percent more likely to have a cardiovascular event or die than people who didn’t eat the food. And people without a heart condition who ate a lot of high GI foods were 21 percent more likely to have a cardiovascular event or die.

This study shows that the consumption of high amounts of poor quality carbohydrates is an issue worldwide,” said Professor David Jenkins of the Univ. of Toronto. “Not all carbohydrate foods are the same. Diets high in poor quality carbohydrates are associated with reduced longevity, while diets rich in high-quality carbohydrates such as fruit, vegetables and legumes have beneficial effects. We knew that fiber and whole grains are good but by comparison, there has been little research on the glycemic index of foods.”

Many processed foods have a high GI because they lack fiber. Things like white bread, soda, white bread and potatoes are everyday foods that can cause this problem. A diet rich in fruit, vegetables, beans, whole grain foods can be very healthy and is filled with low GI foods. But, some fruits and veggies can be deceptively high in carbs.

The study spanned five continents, had 137,851 participants and followed people on average for nine and a half years. In that time, there were 8,780 deaths and 8,252 major cardiac events. That’s a massive amount of information to work with, so this isn’t fuzzy science. That people without a heart problem saw so much of an impact shows how much of a role diet plays in health. Diet doesn’t just worsen a problem; it can create one.

This calls for a fundamental shift in our thinking of what types of diet are likely to be harmful and what types neutral or beneficial,” said Salim Yusuf, senior author of the study from McMaster Univ.  

We always think a good baseline for a diet is one that is rich in fruits and veggies with protein and healthy fat. Everyone’s needs are different. If this study suggests you should change how you are eating, speak to your doctor about beneficial changes. Your doctor can talk to you about your health goals, what foods could help and any foods you should avoid because of medications you are taking. We all have different bodies, but this study underscores that simple carbs aren’t good for any of us.

Banner image: Kukuvaja Feinkost via Unsplash
March 12, 2021

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