Purpose of review: This article aims at reviewing the recent findings that have been made concerning the crosstalk of carbohydrate metabolism with the generation of small, dense low-density lipoprotein (LDL) particles, which are known to be associated with an adverse cardiovascular risk profile.
Recent findings: Studies conducted during the past few years have quite unanimously shown that the quantity of carbohydrates ingested is associated with a decrease of LDL particle size and an increase in its density. Conversely, diets that aim at a reduction of carbohydrate intake are able to improve LDL quality. Furthermore, a reduction of the glycaemic index without changing the amount of carbohydrates ingested has similar effects. Diseases with altered carbohydrate metabolism, for example, type 2 diabetes, are associated with small, dense LDL particles. Finally, even the kind of monosaccharide the carbohydrate intake consists of is important concerning LDL particle size: fructose has been shown to alter the LDL particle subclass profile more adversely than glucose in many recent studies.
Summary: LDL particle quality, rather than its quantity, is affected by carbohydrate metabolism, which is of clinical importance, in particular, in the light of increased carbohydrate consumption in today's world.
Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Clinical Nutrition, University Hospital Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland
Correspondence to Professor Dr Kaspar Berneis, MD, Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Clinical Nutrition, University Hospital Zurich, Ramistrasse 100, 8091 Zurich, Switzerland. Tel: +41 44 255 3585; fax: +41 44 255 4447; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org