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Are High Glycemic Index Foods Worse Than Saturated Fats?

Many people realize the benefits of cutting saturated fatty acids from your diet. However, according to a recent analysis of 21 separate studies, replacing those fats with the wrong foods can be even more detrimental to your health.

Researchers from Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark conducted the analysis which included over 50,000 men and women who had never experienced heart attacks. Their findings were published in the April 2010 edition of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Over the course of a twelve year follow-up approximately 2000 heart attacks were recorded.

The researchers found a significant increase in heart attack risk among participants that replaced foods containing saturated fats with foods that have a high glycemic index (GI). Specifically they found that every additional 5% of a person's total caloric intake that came from foods with a high GI resulted in a staggering 33% increase in heart disease risk.

The researchers also found that replacing foods containing saturated fats with foods that have a medium GI had no effect on heart disease risk. Replacing foods high in saturated fats with foods with a low GI value was associated with a lower heart disease risk.

The GI value of a food is calculated by measuring how fast the carbohydrates it contains raise blood sugar levels. Foods such as artichokes, avocados and peanuts are low GI foods and therefore have little impact on blood sugar fluctuations. High GI foods include white bread, pretzels, potatoes and pasta.

The easiest way to reduce your intake of high glycemic foods is by eating foods that are high in fiber and less refined.

This study shows that although cutting your saturated fat intake has clear benefits, those benefits can quickly diminish if you don't replace those fats with the right foods.

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