January 18, 2012
Slowly Digested Carbohydrates Lower Inflammation Markers

At least among the overweight eating carbs that digestly slowly lowers markers for inflammation. Choose your carbohydrates for lower glycemic index.

SEATTLE – Among overweight and obese adults, a diet rich in slowly digested carbohydrates, such as whole grains, legumes and other high-fiber foods, significantly reduces markers of inflammation associated with chronic disease, according to a new study by Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. Such a "low-glycemic-load" diet, which does not cause blood-glucose levels to spike, also increases a hormone that helps regulate the metabolism of fat and sugar. These findings are published online ahead of the February print issue of the Journal of Nutrition.

The controlled, randomized feeding study, which involved 80 healthy Seattle-area men and women – half of normal weight and half overweight or obese – found that among overweight and obese study participants, a low-glycemic-load diet reduced a biomarker of inflammation called C-reactive protein by about 22 percent.

"This finding is important and clinically useful since C-reactive protein is associated with an increased risk for many cancers as well as cardiovascular disease," said lead author Marian Neuhouser, Ph.D., R.D., a member of the Cancer Prevention Program in the Public Health Sciences Division at the Hutchinson Center. "Lowering inflammatory factors is important for reducing a broad range of health risks. Showing that a low-glycemic-load diet can improve health is important for the millions of Americans who are overweight or obese."

The diets had the same amounts of total carbohydrates.

Study participants completed two 28-day feeding periods in random order – one featuring high-glycemic-load carbohydrates, which typically are low-fiber, highly processed carbs such as white sugar, fruit in canned syrup and white flour; and the other featuring low-glycemic-load carbohydrates, which are typically higher in fiber, such as whole-grain breads and cereals. The diets were identical in carbohydrate content, calories and macronutrients. All food was provided by the Hutchinson Center's Human Nutrition Laboratory, and study participants maintained weight and physical activity throughout.

Check out Rick Mendosa's tables on glycemic index and glycemic load. Become familiar with higher glycemic index foods and avoid them.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2012 January 18 11:22 PM  Aging Diet Metabolism

Mthson said at January 19, 2012 2:36 AM:

It seems like good advice for everybody, so it seems surprising that they didn't observe the effect in skinny people.

Lou Pagnucco said at January 19, 2012 9:18 AM:

One mildly surprising finding was that adiponectin levels rose a bit.

- maybe good, since low adiponectin is associated with vascular disease:
"Reduced Adiponectin Level Is Associated With Severity of Coronary Artery Disease"

- maybe bad, because high levels correlate with dementia
"Adiponectin associated with dementia, Alzheimer’s disease risk in women"

It's hard to determine cause and effect relationships, but a low G-L diet seems prudent.

August Ruthenberg said at January 23, 2012 11:31 AM:

It would have been nice if they had also tested Adkins and other low carb diets which do not ban fats.

gringojay said at January 23, 2012 12:10 PM:

Adiponectin measured in circulation can be high molecular weight or low molecular weight. If it there is aberrant endoplasmic reticulum processing a truncated version
might be disproportionately spun out.
In that context the adiponectin is not causing the cognitive dysfunction, but a correlate symptom of endoplasmic reticulum dysfunction in adipose cells generating adiponectin &/or how the individual can't degrade certain molecular weight adiponectin normally.

Ellie said at January 23, 2012 6:05 PM:

Am I misunderstanding something, or does the table you link to state that (by this particular standard) pasta is significantly healthier than brown rice?!

Randall Parker said at January 23, 2012 11:05 PM:


First off, rices come at many different glycemic index levels. So, for example, brown jasmine rice will have higher glycemic index than brown basmati rice. Brown rice is generally lower in glycemic index than white rice of the same type. But Uncle Ben's Converted Rice has a very low glycemic index and the really sticky rice has a very high glycemic index than just about any other rice. Higher amylose rices have lower glycemic index than lower amylose rices because the intestines can't break down amylose polymers very rapidly.

Second, pasta has a much lower glycemic index than bread. The higher glycemic index of the wheat used for bread (there are different kinds of wheat) enables bread to rise. Pasta doesn't need to feed yeast. So it can be (and almost always is) made from a lower glycemic index wheat.

There's quite a lot of subtle stuff going on with glycemic index.

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