At one time, breast cancer was the leading cause of death for women in the world. Today, that is no longer the case. We now know that Heart Disease is the number one killer of women worldwide, and recent research has found some interesting links between carbs, heart disease, and disease for women in particular.
The Link between Carbs & Heart Disease in Women
Several studies have been done concerning the link between heart disease and carbohydrates, but amazingly, all of those studies come to one conclusion. When all other factors are removed from the equation, such as smoking, being overweight, being older, and so on, men are not at greater risk of heart disease due to the intake of excessive carbohydrates, and women are.
In fact, the risk of heart disease for women who consume excessive amounts of carbohydrates more than doubled. It is believed that the reason why these carbs affect the female heart more than the male heart is because men process carbohydrates differently than women do. Men naturally absorb carbohydrates more slowly than women do, regardless of how high the Glycemic index is for the carbs in question.
The carbohydrates that appear to raise the risk of heart disease are those that have a high Glycemic index. The foods that are carbohydrates, but have a low Glycemic index had no effect on the risk of heart disease one way or the other. The Glycemic index determines how quickly or slowly the human body is affected by carbohydrates, in terms of the blood sugar level. Any food that has a Glycemic index below 55 is considered to be a low Glycemic index food, and any above 70 is considered to be a high Glycemic index food.
The most recent study of this nature was published in the Archives of Internal Medicine in April of 2010. It is important to note that while there were 48,000 participants in the study, the study was conducted in Italy, and those participants were all of Italian descent. There is no indication as to whether or not ethnicity played a role since people of other ethnic groups were not included in the study. The study was conducted over an eight year period. Researchers hope to do a similar study, using more than half a million subjects in the near future.
Which Carbs Increase the Risk of Heart Disease for Women?
Any food that is above 70 on the Glycemic index should be avoided completely by women. Foods that are between 55 and 70 on the Glycemic index should be limited, and ideally, women should stick with carbohydrates that rank below 55 on the Glycemic index.
If you follow this rule, you will be eliminating many potential favorites, such as white bread, white rice, and potatoes. After eliminating or limiting these foods in the diet, you might want to consider eating more barley products, whole grain breads, chickpeas, beans, sweet potatoes, fruits, and dairy products that are low in fat.
You also need to be vastly aware of how foods are processed and prepared, as carbohydrates that are high on the Glycemic index are often added in for taste and such. The good news is that there is a great deal of food choices that are low on the Glycemic index, so finding foods that you can eat and enjoy – without fear – shouldn’t be too difficult.
The Glycemic Index
Additional studies, which had nothing to do with these recent studies, have found that people who use low Glycemic index diet plans tend to take weight off easier and keep it off. They find that their appetites are naturally decreased – but not so much as to become unhealthy. They also find that they have greater stores of energy, and that their mood is greatly improved and stabilized. Additionally, the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers are also greatly reduced.
Carbohydrates that are low on the Glycemic index are not absorbed as quickly as those that are high on the index, and it seems to be the speed of the absorption that makes a difference in the risk of heart disease. You can be healthy and eat a diet full of carbs – as long as they are low Glycemic index carbs. Low Glycemic index carbs won’t hurt your heart at all.
The Glycemic index is available for free on the Internet, and can be located at http://www.glycemicindex.com/. You can also purchase books and guides that have the same information, which enables you to always have the information with you. Use the Glycemic index wisely to find carbohydrates that won’t lead to any heart problems – especially if you are a woman. Make sure that you are reading packaging labels as well, with the understanding that Glycemic index numbers are not included on those labels at this time.