Findings from a landmark Nurses’ Health Study confirm mounting evidence that filling up on refined carbs can increase heart disease risk, especially in postmenopausal women. When Harvard researchers tested blood samples from 280 healthy female nurses ages 45 to 70, they found that those with the highest glycemic load—a measure of carbs intake and its ability to raise blood sugar and insulin—had 10% less HDL cholesterol, the kind that helps fight heart disease and keep arteries clear. What’s more, their triglyceride levels were 76% higher, which raised heart disease risk significantly.
The better way to control weight and be good to your heart? “Instead of simply replacing fat with carbohydrate, improve the quality of the carbohydrates you consume and incorporate healthy fats such as olive oil, fatty fish, and nuts,” says Simin Liu, MD, assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.
Instead of these: Graham crackers, low-fat cookies, baked chips and salsa, vanilla wafers, bagels, jelly beans
Have these: Oatmeal cookie, half a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on oat bran bread, small stone-ground whole wheat pita with hummus, canned peaches or apricots in natural juice, banana bread, 2 tablespoons peanuts