What foods can lead to heart disease in women?

Published April 27, 2010 @ 6 a.m.

Women who have a diet made up of foods that are heavy in certain carbohydrates may have a greater risk of coronary heart disease based on study published in the April 12 issue of the "Archives of Internal Medicine." The researchers found that 25 percent of the women who ate the most amounts of carbs had about twice the risk of heart disease as the 25 percent who ate the least amount of carbs. Dr. Holly Novak provides the answers on what foods are heart healthy for women following the results of this study.

What foods increase heart disease risks for women?

These are foods, such as, white bread, white potatoes, pasta, white rice and pizza that have simple carbohydrates with a high glycemic number on the glycemic index, which ranks carbohydrates according to their effect on blood glucose levels. The problem with these foods is that simple carbohydrates rapidly metabolize in the body and this can create wide fluctuations in the blood sugar level, which can lead to an increase in the death rate when women have this diet.

Explain the glycemic index scale?

The glycemic index goes from 0 to 100. White bread is high at 100. Anything less than 55 is considered healthy. Foods above 70 are considered high and can cause a sudden increase in blood sugar.

What foods should you eat instead?

The more unprocessed the grains and the more unprocessed the food the better. This includes whole wheat or whole grain breads, whole grain pastas, brown rice and sweet potatoes.

Vegetables are not high in carbohydrates. They are made up complex carbohydrates, high in fiber and have little effect on the blood sugar level.

Are men differently affected from these carbohydrates that have a high glycemic index?

In the study it was found that men are less affected by this diet because it raises their triglycerides less.

What are other reasons to choose food that has a low glycemic index rank?

These types of food help to stem appetite and control weight gain.

Where to go for more information?

The American Heart Association and the American Diabetic Association are some sources to turn to.

Dr. Holly Novak is the medical director of cardiac rehabilitation at Prairie Heart Institute. She is a graduate of Southern Illinois University School of Medicine. She is board certified in internal medicine and cardiovascular disease.

On the Net:

CNN: White bread, rice, and other carbs boost heart disease in women

SCIENCE DAILY: Women who eat foods with high glycemic index may be at greater risk for heart disease

STUDY: Dietary glycemic load and risk of coronary heart disease

WIKIPEDIA: Glycemic index

HARVARD SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH: Good carbs guide the way

EARLIER COLUMN: Why it's important to manage your cholesterol levels


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