Effects of Low Glycemic Index Diets

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Studies using the NHANES III database and also a British study have demonstrated a negative relationship between the glycemic index and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol suggesting low glycemic index diets may preserve high-density lipoprotein cholesterol and have a positive effect in reducing CHD risk [21, 22]. In this respect both the Nurses Study and the Health Professionals Study have shown potential benefits in relation to diabetes incidence and CHD risk dependent on the dietary glycemic index [21, 23]. Of particular interest in terms of CHD was the observation that below a body mass index of 23 kg/m2 there was no association of the dietary glycemic index with CHD, suggesting that the effect of the dietary glycemic index may be increasingly important in those with a greater degree of insulin resistance.

Situations where insulin resistance and insulin-like growth factors have been implicated are the so-called diet-related cancers - colon, breast and prostate [21]. It has been hypothesized that the risk of these cancers may be increased by insulin resistance [21]. Recently an Italian case-control study reported that the dietary glycemic index was related to colon cancer risk: the higher the glycemic index the greater the risk. Of particular interest was the finding that the association was only significant for white bread (high glycemic index food) which contrasted with pasta (low glycemic index food) where no association existed [21].

The epidemiological literature therefore provides further support for the role of low glycemic index diets in chronic disease prevention.

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