Unhealthy carbs, that is.
If you love those bad-for-you carbs—and especially if you’re a woman—they might be disrupting your health at the heart level. A recent study says women who eat a diet heavy in high-glycemic carbs like white bread are putting themselves at greater risk for an unhealthy heart.
The Italian study was published in the Archives of Internal Medicine and followed nearly 48,000 adults—including 32,500 women—for nearly eight years to see which diets were most likely to lead to heart unhealth.
While the researchers looked at the total amount of carbs consumed, they discovered that only the high-glycemic carbohydrates were the ones likely to cause heart trouble. High-glycemic carbs, by the way, are the ones that can quickly (and adversely) affect blood glucose levels.
Suzanne Steinbaum, M.D., Director of Women and Heart Disease at the Heart and Vascular Institute at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City and an American Heart Association spokeswoman, says, “One of the reasons this study is interesting is that we're focusing on the high-glycemic carbohydrates or the simple sugars. In the past we've heard that all carbs are bad, and that's not true. It's only certain ones."
According to the researchers’ findings, one-fourth of the female participants who consumed the most carbs had about twice the risk of an unhealthy heart as those who ate the least carbs. When the carbs were categorized by the glycemic index, participants who ate a diet of high-glycemic foods were the most likely to have heart unhealth.
Interestingly, neither overall carb intake nor glycemic carb intake caused notable heart unhealth in men. Researchers attribute this to the idea that men and women metabolize simple sugars differently.
Generally, a high-carb diet increases blood glucose levels and triglycerides and reduces levels of HDL or “good” cholesterol. For women wanting to reduce their risk of heart unhealth, they should select foods low in simple sugars like vegetables, fruits and whole grain foods.
"In the past, we've recommended low-glycemic carbohydrates for weight loss," Steinbaum said. "Now we're recommending that diet to prevent heart disease. We're not saying that all carbs are bad; we're saying that candy, sweets, donuts—all of those foods—are going to lead to heart disease in women."
The bottom line? Do your heart a favor. Stay away from those unhealthy carbs.