Background: Ethnic differences in serum lipids are not explained by genetics, central adiposity, lifestyle, or diet, possibly because dietary carbohydrate has not been considered.
Objective: The aim was to evaluate the relation between carbohydrate intake and HDL and triacylglycerol concentrations in a multiethnic population.
Design: We conducted a population-based cross-sectional study of 619 Canadians of Aboriginal, South Asian, Chinese, and European origin with no previously diagnosed medical conditions. Energy-adjusted carbohydrate intake was measured by a validated food-frequency questionnaire.
Results: South Asians consumed the most carbohydrate, followed by European, Aboriginal, and Chinese persons. Mean (95% CI) HDL concentrations in the lowest and highest categories of carbohydrate intake after adjustment for age, sex, ethnicity, physical activity, smoking, the waist-to-hip ratio, body mass index, alcohol intake, and intakes of total energy, protein, and fiber were 1.21 mmol/L (1.16, 1.27 mmol/L) and 1.08 mmol/L (1.02, 1.13 mmol/L), respectively, and HDL cholesterol was significantly (P < 0.01) higher in the lowest tertile of carbohydrate intake than in the highest tertile. High carbohydrate intake was associated with higher fasting triacylglycerols (P = 0.04); the adjusted mean fasting triacylglycerol concentrations in the lowest and highest categories of carbohydrate intake were 1.43 mmol/L (1.28, 1.60 mmol/L) and 1.71 mmol/L (1.57, 1.87 mmol/L), respectively. Fewer servings of sugar-containing soft drinks, juices, and snacks were associated with higher HDL (P for trend = 0.02); the multivariate-adjusted mean HDL in the lowest and highest categories of carbohydrate intake was 1.22 mmol/L (1.17, 1.27 mmol/L) and 1.11 mmol/L (1.06, 1.26 mmol/L), respectively.
Conclusions: Differences in HDL and triacylglycerols observed in different ethnic groups may be due in part to carbohydrate intake. Reducing the frequency of intake of sugar-containing soft drinks, juices, and snacks may be beneficial.