Silvia Turin (Corriere della Sera)

Updated Thursday, February 22, 2024-11:23

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A diet with

a high glycemic index (GI)

of foods or meals (glycemic load or GL) increases the risk of developing diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer.

This is confirmed by a study published in the journal Lancet Diabetes Endocrinology by the team of scientists led by David Jenkins, professor of Nutritional Sciences at the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Toronto (Canada).

The research consisted of

a meta-analysis of a total of 48


studies that evaluated the associations between GI (glycemic index), CG (glycemic load), type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes-related cancers and mortality for any reason.

Scientists found that high-glycemic diets are

associated with type 2 diabetes,

cardiovascular disease,

diabetes-related cancers, and all-cause mortality.

Furthermore, consumption of whole grains and fiber shows a similar reduction for the disease risks investigated as those observed with low glycemic index diets.

But what are the glycemic index and glycemic load?


"glycemic index"


the speed at which the concentration of sugar

in the blood (called glycemia, ed.) increases after eating a certain food containing carbohydrates, compared to that caused by eating a specific food. reference (usually white bread or glucose).

The "glycemic load" takes into account not only the glycemic index, but also the amount of carbohydrates contained in the food consumed.

These indices are



they indicate what impact a specific food has

on blood glucose.

Foods with a high glycemic index cause an increase in blood sugar concentration called a "glycemic spike."

Sudden swings in blood sugar are harmful to everyone, especially those who suffer from

diabetes or weight problems.

"This study was carried out in response to the meta-analysis of the

World Health Organization

(WHO) published in The Lancet in 2019, which concluded indicating a low significance of GI and CG in the incidence of chronic diseases or mortality," explains the first signatory of the investigation, David Jenkins.

The importance of the study for everyday dietary patterns is to pay attention to the

quality of carbohydrates,

preferring whole grains and enriching them with fiber intake.

The general advice is, instead of measuring the glycemic index of foods at home, not to only consume foods with a high glycemic index.

The rule is to introduce

fiber and other macronutrients along with carbohydrates,

especially good fats: olive oil, avocados, oilseeds and nuts.

It is better to choose whole grains, eat them cold and avoid foods that contain added sugar.

The glycemic index is also affected by the cooking method: cooked pasta has a higher GI than al dente pasta;

If it is then dressed with vegetables and fish instead of oil and Parmesan cheese, the glycemic load of that meal is reduced even further.