SEATTLE Among overweight and obese adults, a diet rich in slowly digested carbohydrates, such as whole grains, legumes and other high-fiber foods, significantly reduces markers of inflammation associated with chronic disease, according to a new study by Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. Such a "low-glycemic-load" diet, which does not cause blood-glucose levels to spike, also increases a hormone that helps regulate the metabolism of fat and sugar. These findings are published online ahead of the February print issue of the Journal of Nutrition.
The controlled, randomized feeding study, which involved 80 healthy Seattle-area men and women half of normal weight and half overweight or obese found that among overweight and obese study participants, a low-glycemic-load diet reduced a biomarker of inflammation called C-reactive protein by about 22 percent.
"This finding is important and clinically useful since C-reactive protein is associated with an increased risk for many cancers as well as cardiovascular disease," said lead author Marian Neuhouser, Ph.D., R.D., a member of the Cancer Prevention Program in the Public Health Sciences Division at the Hutchinson Center. "Lowering inflammatory factors is important for reducing a broad range of health risks. Showing that a low-glycemic-load diet can improve health is important for the millions of Americans who are overweight or obese."
Neuhouser and colleagues also found that among overweight and obese study participants, a low-glycemic-load diet modestly increased by about 5 percent blood levels of a protein hormone called adiponectin. This hormone plays a key role in protecting against several cancers, including breast cancer, as well as metabolic disorders such as type-2 diabetes, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and hardening of the arteries.
"Glycemic load" refers to how the intake of carbohydrates, adjusted for total grams of carbohydrate, affects blood-sugar levels. Lentils or
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Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center