Anyone interested in healthy and nutritious foods has probably heard that whole grains
are far better for you than the processed variety like white bread and sugar-laden
cereals. There are several reasons for this, including the fact whole foods tend to be
richer in fiber and they also have low glycemic indexes. That means they keep blood sugar
and insulin levels steady without wide fluctuations. But a new study published in
the Journal of the American College of Cardiology concludes there's
another important reason to avoid high glycemic foods like white bread and corn flakes.
For the first time, scientists have documented how eating these foods can directly damage artery
walls and cause cardiac problems.
"It's very hard to predict heart disease," Dr. Michael Shechter of Tel Aviv University's Sackler School of Medicine and the Heart Institute of Sheba Medical Center, said in a statement to the media. "But doctors know that high glycemic foods rapidly increase blood sugar. Those who binge on these foods have a greater chance of sudden death from heart attack. Our research connects the dots, showing the link between diet and what's happening in real time in the arteries."
For his study, Dr Shechter and colleagues worked with 56 healthy volunteers who were divided into four groups. One group ate cornflake cereal mixed with milk, a second consumed a pure sugar mixture, the third group ate bran flakes and the last group took water (as a placebo control). Over the course of four weeks, Dr. Shechter applied brachial reactive testing to the research subjects in each group. This test, a clinical and research technique pioneered by Dr. Shechter's laboratory, uses a blood pressure type cuff on the arm that is able to visualize what happens inside arteries before, during and after eating various foods.
Before any of the study participants ate, the function of their arteries was essentially the same. After eating, however, all except the placebo group had reduced arterial functioning -- especially the research subjects who ate cornflakes and sugar. In fact, the testing documented that during the consumption of these foods high in sugar, there was a temporary and sudden dysfunction in the endothelium, the thin layer of cells that line the inside of arteries and reduce turbulence as blood flows throughout the entire circulatory system.
This is a critical finding because, when repeated over time, a sudden expansion of artery walls can cause a host of negative effects on healthincluding damage to endothelial cells. That can reduce elasticity in arteries, resulting in heart disease or even sudden death. In fact, according to Dr. Shechter, endothelium dysfunction can be traced back to almost every disorder and disease in the body.
"We knew high glycemic foods were bad for the heart. Now we have a mechanism that shows how," Dr. Shechter explained in the press statement. "Foods like cornflakes, white bread, French fries, and sweetened soda all put undue stress on our arteries. We've explained for the first time how high glycemic carbs can affect the progression of heart disease."
Dr. Shechter agrees with natural health advocates who have long advised staying away from highly processed, high glycemic foods and eating a diet rich in low glycemic whole foods such as oatmeal, fruits, vegetables, legumes and nuts. In addition to helping protect your heart, this style of eating has other advantages. According to the Harvard School of Public Health web site, these healthy foods are loaded with vitamins, minerals, fiber, and a host of important phytonutrients.
On the other hand, white bread, white rice, pastries, sugared sodas, and other highly processed foods tear down instead of build health -- they contribute to weight gain, interfere with weight loss, and promote diabetes and heart disease. As reported earlier in Natural News, processed foods have also been linked with an increased risk for cancer (http://www.naturalnews.com/022025.html) and recent studies indicate many processed foodstuffs, from bread to candy bars, may be contaminated with toxic mercury, too (http://www.naturalnews.com/025442_m...).(Natural News, 8.25.2009, S. L. Baker)