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A diet consisting primarily of foods high on the glycemic index (GI) can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease and death, suggests a study that looked at the eating habits of almost 138,000 people around the world.
The GI is a scale that ranks the amount of carbohydrates in food from zero to 100. The higher the number, the faster the carbohydrates are digested. Eating high-GI foods can cause blood sugar levels to rapidly rise — triggering the pancreas to release more insulin — and then quickly fall. This can promote cravings and overeating. Repeating this cycle frequently may lead to weight gain and insulin resistance, factors associated with type 2 diabetes and higher cardiovascular risk.
Researchers collected data on which foods the people in the study ate, how much, and how often. They organized the mentioned foods into seven categories and gave each category a GI score.
At a follow-up nine years later, the investigators found that people who ate high-GI diets had suffered more heart attacks, strokes, and death than those who ate lower-GI diets. This was true regardless of whether people had cardiovascular disease at the start of the study. The results were published online April 8, 2021, by The New England Journal of Medicine.
Healthier, low-GI foods have a score of 55 or lower; medium-GI foods are 56 to 69; and high-GI foods are 70 to 100. You can find the GI score of many common foods at /glycemic.
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