Poor-quality carbohydrates in your diet are increasing the risk of heart disease and death

Have you been eating well during the lockdown? It is likely that you’ve been ordering a lot of junk food, which is not only making you overweight – it is also slowly killing you. Scientists at the University of Toronto found that consuming lots of poor-quality carbohydrates increases the risk of heart attacks, strokes and death.

Poor-quality carbohydrates increase the risk of a heart disease and death. Image credit: Famartin via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 4.0)

High glycemic diet, containing lots of poor-quality carbohydrates, does not end with burgers, hotdogs and pizzas. In fact, white bread, rice and some potatoes are also considered to be poor-quality carbohydrates, because of their high glycemic index. And they are damaging, as a new study, involving 137,851 people of 35-70 years of age, has found.

Scientists followed participants of the study for a median of 9.5 years. Participants had to tell scientists about their diets and then researchers estimated their glycemic based on the quality of carbohydrates people consumed. Scientists looked at whether carbohydrates increased blood sugars more than others and rated them accordingly. During that time there were 8,780 deaths and 8,252 major cardiovascular events recorded among the participants.

This study showed that people whose diet was in the highest 20 % on the glycemic index ranking were 20 % more likely to have a cardiovascular attack, stroke or death. This risk grew to 50 % if participants had a pre-existing heart condition. Naturally, the risk was even higher for obese people. 

David Jenkins, first author of the study, said: “Diets high in poor-quality carbohydrates are associated with reduced longevity, while diets rich in high-quality carbohydrates such as fruit, vegetables and legumes have beneficial effects”. 

Diet rich in fact is typically considered the most unhealthy. However, scientists say that this research shows that  poor quality carbohydrates are likely to be more adverse than the consumption of most fats. Furthermore, the damaging effects of poor quality carbohydrates are seen in a hugely diverse population, which makes it clear that the bad food is damaging everyone, regardless of their age, sex and lifestyle.

This study is still pushing forward. It is going to change our understanding about which foods are harmful, which are neutral and which ones are beneficial. The food pyramid you learned at school may have to be demolished and rebuilt. Remember to avoid carbohydrates, eat more fruit and exercise – we don’t need more research to know that these things are beneficial for you.


Source: University of Toronto