A diet high in carbohydrates increases the risk of diabetes type 2, the metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease

In November 2018 researchers from India published their review of the evidence that links dietary carbohydrates to the incidence of diabetes type 2 and the metabolic syndrome together with their role in the control and complications of diabetes. Studies have shown that diets high in carbohydrates are linked to a higher incidence of diabetes type 2. However, the association seems to be stronger in Asian-Indians consuming diets high in carbohydrates and more marked when the individual is obese. There is also evidence that links a diet high in carbohydrates with the risk for metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease. However, the quality of carbohydrates is also equally important. Complex carbohydrates such as brown rice, whole wheat bread, legumes, pulses and green leafy vegetables are ‘good’ carbohydrates whereas highly polished rice or refined wheat, sugar, glucose, highly processed foods such as cookies and pastries, fruit juice and sweetened beverages and fried potatoes or French fries are considered ‘bad’ carbohydrates. At the end of the day, it is all a matter of balance and dietary moderation. For Indians who currently consume about 65-75 per cent of calories from carbohydrates, reducing this to 50-55 per cent and adding enough protein (20-25%) especially from vegetable sources and the rest from fat (20-30%) by including monounsaturated fats (e.g. groundnut or mustard oil, nuts and seeds) along with a plenty of green leafy vegetables, would be the best diet prescription for the prevention and management of medical conditions such as diabetes type 2 and cardiovascular disease.

Mohan V et al. Are excess carbohydrates the main link to diabetes & its complications in Asians? Indian J Med Res. 2018 Nov;148(5):531-538.

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