Study finds refined carbs, not saturated fat, ups risk of heart attack

May 27, 2010 in Heart Health, Nutrition Topics in the News

Study finds refined carbs, not saturated fat, ups risk of heart attack
In the first study of its kind, Danish researchers are reporting that highly processed carbohydrates may actually be worse for your heart than saturated fat.

A high intake of saturated fat has long been linked to an increased risk of heart disease, but these new study findings are shedding light on how refined carbohydrates can also impact heart health.

Researchers distinguished between types of carbohydrate by using the glycemic index (GI).  High glycemic index carbohydrates are often refined and highly processed and cause a rapid spike in blood sugar levels.  Low GI carbohydrates on the other hand, such as brown rice, legumes, nuts and oats cause a gradual rise in blood sugar levels.  

To investigate, researchers studied more than 53,000 men and women living in Denmark for 12 years and compared their intake of saturated fat, refined carbohydrates and risk of heart attack.

Researchers found that when study participants replaced some of the carbohydrates in their diet with saturated fat, it didn't increase their risk of heart attack.

However, when study participants replaced some of the saturated fat in their diet with high GI carbohydrates, their risk of having a heart attack significantly increased - by over 30 percent.   

When they replaced saturated fat with low GI foods, their risk of heart attack decreased.  

While more studies are needed on the subject, these latest findings shed light on the dangers of highly processed and refined carbohydrates, especially when it comes to heart health.  

If you'd like to know more about the glycemic index, including an extensive list of GI values of various foods, check out Leslie Beck's latest book, The Complete A-Z Nutrition Encyclopedia.

All research on this web site is the property of Leslie Beck Nutrition Consulting Inc. and is protected by copyright. Keep in mind that research on these matters continues daily and is subject to change. The information presented is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. It is intended to provide ongoing support of your healthy lifestyle practices.