Purpose of review: In recent years, many of the concerns surrounding the glycemic index have been addressed by methodological studies and clinical trials comparing diets carefully matched for other nutrients. These findings are reviewed together with new observational evidence for the role of the dietary glycemic index in the etiology of cardiovascular disease.
Recent findings: The determination and classification of the glycemic index of a food product is now standardized by the International Standards Organization. Systematic studies using isoenergetic single and mixed meals have shown that glycemic index and/or glycemic load are stronger predictors of postprandial glycemia and insulinemia than carbohydrate content alone. In overweight individuals, a diet that combined modestly higher protein and lower glycemic index carbohydrates was the most effective diet for prevention of weight regain. New observational studies have reported increased risks of coronary heart disease associated with higher intakes of carbohydrates from high glycemic index foods. Epidemiological evidence has emerged linking dietary glycemic index to visceral fat and inflammatory disease mortality.
Summary: There is growing recognition that replacing saturated fat with refined, high glycemic index carbohydrates increases postprandial glycemia and may be detrimental for weight control and predisposition to cardiovascular and inflammatory disease. In contrast, low glycemic index carbohydrates reduce risk.