Diet High in White Bread and Pasta
Double Chance of Heart Disease
Foods which raise blood sugar levels quickly were linked to an increased risk of the potentially deadly condition.
However, only women appear to be affected.
Men were not significantly more at risk, researchers found, perhaps because they develop heart disease in different ways.
The research analysed the diets of more than 47,000 people to calculate their average glycemic index (GI) score.
GI is an indicator of how quickly a food raises blood sugar levels.
Foods with a low GI release sugar into the bloodstream more lowly than those with a high GI.
Low GI foods can also make people feel 'fuller' for longer, making them extremely popular with dieters.
High GI foods include white bread, rice and pasta as well as refined breakfast cereals such as cornflakes.
Although most fruits and vegetables have a low GI, some fall on the high end of the scale, including pumpkins, parsnips and watermelons.
Researchers found that women whose diets had the highest GI score were 2.24 times more likely to develop heart disease than those with the lowest.
The study questioned 32,578 women and 15,171 men.
The team behind the research, from the National Cancer Institute in Milan, admit that they do not know why a 'high GI' diet did not increase the risks for men.
However, they suggest that other factors could be more important in how men develop heart disease.
"We tentatively suggest that the adverse effects of a high glycemic diet in women are mediated by sex-related differences … but further prospective studies are required to verify a lack of association of a high dietary glycemic load with (heart) disease in men," they conclude in the study, which is published in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine.
Meanwhile, another newly published study provides further evidence that adhering to a Mediterranean-style diet, high in fish, fruit and vegetables and low in red meat and fat, can help protect against developing Alzheimer's.
Researchers from Columbia University in New York, who followed 2,148 over 65-year-olds for four years, found that the diet was "significantly associated" with a reduced risk of the disease.
Their findings are published in the Archives of Neurology journal.
April 13, 2010