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High GI Foods and Heart Disease

You may have heard nutrition experts extol the virtue of low GI diets, and how they can benefit our health. Well, now new research is showing that a low GI diet can actually reduce our risk of heart disease. Read on to learn more.

What is the GI?

The glycaemic index (GI) of foods, is a measure of how foods affect your blood glucose levels. Foods that are low GI, or with a rating of 55 or less, contain sugars that are more slowly released into your bloodstream, keeping blood sugar levels stable and thus being healthier for you. High GI foods, with a rating of 70 or more, cause spikes in blood glucose levels, thus necessitating that insulin is released to stabilise the blood glucose. High GI foods include potatoes and white bread, while low GI foods include wholegrains and legumes.

The Link between GI and Heart Disease

A world first study by Australian researchers, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, has found that a high GI diet leads to a higher risk of developing common lifestyle diseases. Nearly two million men and women were involved in the study. Those that have a diet that contains high GI foods are more prone to developing heart disease, as these foods reduce the levels of good cholesterol in the body while raising triglyceride levels. This can lead to build up in the arteries, causing them to narrow and harden.

The 20 percent of people with the highest GI diets actually increase their risk of heart disease by 25 percent, and their overall risk of developing diseases by 14 percent.

Eating a Lower GI Diet

To lower the overall GI of your diet, there are some steps that you can take. Choose a low GI bread, either by looking for the GI symbol or by choosing a grainy or sourdough bread. Replace high GI cereals with natural muesli, traditional porridge, or a lower GI cereal. Cut back on the number of potatoes that you eat, and look for basmati rice, which is lower in GI than traditional rice. Try and get plenty of beans, lentils, and other legumes in your diet and choose low GI snacks such as fresh fruit, dried fruits and nuts, low fat milk, or yoghurt.


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