Research: Processed carbohydrates have negative effect on cholesterol

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Study confirms the deleterious effect of processed carbohydrates on cholesterol and blood lipids.



High cholesterol, particularly low-density lipoproteins (LDL), has been established as a major risk factor for coronary artery disease (CAD). LDL and the risk for CAD worsen with increasing central obesity.  It has also been suspected to worsen with certain dietary influences to include saturated fats and processed carbohydrates such as sugar. The role of processed dietary carbohydrate is quite controversial but is garnering increasing attention in research.   

A study from 2006 looked at this very topic.  The researchers evaluated the association between carbohydrate intake and serum lipids.  To evaluate this, researchers looked at blood samples, and 24-hour dietary and physical activity recall at quarterly intervals for five consecutive quarters in 574 healthy adults.  Relationships between serum lipids and dietary carbohydrate factors were assessed. 

An analysis of this study suggests that higher total carbohydrate intake, percentage of calories from carbohydrate, and glycemic index were related to lower high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (healthy cholesterol). Higher processed carbohydrate intake was directly associated with higher total LDL levels and inversely association between high HDL levels.  This finding is consistent with lower CAD risk in a patient who eats less processed carbohydrates.  

The bottom line: Results of this study suggest that there is a complex and unfavorable effect of increased intake of highly processed carbohydrate on lipid profile and coronary artery disease risk.  This finding likely includes coronary risks such as coronary artery disease, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and obesity.  Further studies appear to back up these findings.  It is controversial because many believe saturated fats and not processed carbs are the cause.  I suspect this is likely and chicken or the egg conversation.  I recommend reducing your sugar and processed carbohydrate intake.

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About the Author

I am a family physician who has served in the US Army. In 2016, I found myself overweight, out of shape, and unhealthy, so I made a change to improve my health. This blog is the chronology of my path to better health and what I have learned along the way.

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