How eating simple carbs raises heart risks for women – but not for men

Do you love a flaky croissant along with your morning coffee? A diet that’s rich in simple carbohydrates like that croissant (quickly transformed into sugar in your bloodstream) raises the risk of heart disease for women, a new Italian study has found.

The same effect, however, is not seen in men, according to the report, published April 12, 2010 in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

The study, by researchers at Italy’s National Cancer Institute, looked not only at total carbohydrate intake but also at what is known as the glycemic index of those carbohydrates — a measure of how quickly and to what extent blood sugar rises after intake of specific carbohydrates.

Dr. Victoria Drake, director of the Micronutrient Information Center at the Linus Pauling Institute of Oregon State University explains:

“A high glycemic index is known to increase the concentration of triglycerides in the blood and lower the concentration of HDL (good) cholesterol. Those adverse effects make it a stronger risk factor for heart disease.”

Surprisingly, no effect from total carbohydrate consumption or consumption of foods with a high-glycemic index was seen in men in the Italian study, a pattern also seen in other studies, Dr. Drake added.  “There is definitely a gender difference.”  Continue reading “How eating simple carbs raises heart risks for women – but not for men”