As low-carb diets roll across America, dragging down sales of starchy foods, more than 100 scientists, chefs, and journalists made a strategic retreat to Rome, Italy, where pasta reigns, people are thinner, and heart disease is more rare. Might there be a connection?
Quite possibly, argued some of the world's experts on the effects of diets on blood sugar at the "Healthy Pasta Meals" conference, organized by Oldways, a Boston-based "food-issues think tank", and sponsored in part by Barilla, the Italian pasta maker.
The Highs and Lows of Blood Sugar
Meals that make blood sugar levels spike and then plummet hours later may increase the risk of several chronic diseases, reported scientists. Both high blood sugar and the high insulin levels needed to control them, have negative health effects.
The "glycemic load" of a diet, a measure of how dramatically and quickly it raises blood sugar, "predicts the risk of diabetes and heart disease," said Jennie Brand-Miller, PhD, a professor of nutrition at the University of Sydney in Australia.
"Smarter" Carb Choices = Long-Term Weight Loss
For long-term weight loss, reducing this glycemic load by making smarter carbohydrate choices is more effective in the long run than trying to cut way back on carbs, said David S. Ludwig, MD, PhD, director of the obesity program at Children's Hospital in Boston. "It's important to reduce the surge of blood sugar after a meal, but you don't have to cut out all or most carbs to do it."
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