Relation between a diet with a high glycemic load and plasma concentrations of high-sensitivity C-reactive protein in middle-aged women

Am J Clin Nutr. 2002 Mar;75(3):492-8. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/75.3.492.


Background: Recent prospective data suggest that intake of rapidly digested and absorbed carbohydrates with a high dietary glycemic load is associated with an increased risk of ischemic heart disease.

Objective: We examined whether a high dietary glycemic load was associated with elevated hs-CRP concentrations and whether this association was modified by body mass index (BMI; in kg/m(2)).

Design: In 244 apparently healthy women, we measured plasma hs-CRP concentrations and determined average dietary glycemic loads with a validated semiquantitative food-frequency questionnaire. Using multiple regression models, we evaluated the association between dietary glycemic load and plasma hs-CRP after adjusting for age; treatment status; smoking status; BMI; physical activity level; parental history of myocardial infarction; history of hypertension, diabetes, and high cholesterol; postmenopausal hormone use; alcohol intake; and other dietary variables.

Results: We found a strong and statistically significant positive association between dietary glycemic load and plasma hs-CRP. The median hs-CRP concentration for the lowest quintile of dietary glycemic load was 1.9 mg/L and for the highest quintile was 3.7 mg/L; corresponding multivariate-adjusted geometric means were 1.4 and 3.8 mg/L, respectively (P for trend < 0.01). This association was significantly modified by BMI. Among women with a BMI greater-than-or-equal 25, the multivariate-adjusted geometric mean hs-CRP concentration in the lowest quintile was 1.6 mg/L and in the highest quintile was 5.0 mg/L; however, among women with a BMI < 25, the corresponding means were 1.1 and 3.1 mg/L, respectively (P = 0.01 for interaction).

Conclusions: Dietary glycemic load is significantly and positively associated with plasma hs-CRP in healthy middle-aged women, independent of conventional risk factors for ischemic heart disease. Exacerbation of the proinflammatory process may be a mechanism whereby a high intake of rapidly digested and absorbed carbohydrates increases the risk of ischemic heart disease, especially in overweight women prone to insulin resistance.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Body Mass Index
  • C-Reactive Protein / metabolism*
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / administration & dosage
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / metabolism*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Insulin / metabolism
  • Insulin Resistance
  • Middle Aged
  • Myocardial Ischemia / blood*
  • Myocardial Ischemia / etiology*
  • Myocardial Ischemia / metabolism
  • Nutrition Assessment
  • Obesity / immunology
  • Obesity / metabolism*
  • Placebos
  • Regression Analysis
  • Risk Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Women's Health


  • Biomarkers
  • Dietary Carbohydrates
  • Insulin
  • Placebos
  • C-Reactive Protein