Background: The associations of glycemic load (GL) and glycemic index (GI) with the risk of cardiovascular diseases (CVD) are not well-established, particularly in men, and may be modified by gender.
Objective: To assess whether high dietary GL and GI increase the risk of CVD in men and women.
Methods: A large prospective cohort study (EPIC-MORGEN) was conducted within the general Dutch population among 8,855 men and 10,753 women, aged 21-64 years at baseline (1993-1997) and free of diabetes and CVD. Dietary intake was assessed with a validated food-frequency questionnaire and GI and GL were calculated using Foster-Powell's international table of GI. Information on morbidity and mortality was obtained through linkage with national registries. Cox proportional hazards analysis was performed to estimate hazard ratios (HRs) for incident coronary heart disease (CHD) and stroke, while adjusting for age, CVD risk factors, and dietary factors.
Results: During a mean follow-up of 11.9 years, 581 CHD cases and 120 stroke cases occurred among men, and 300 CHD cases and 109 stroke cases occurred among women. In men, GL was associated with an increased CHD risk (adjusted HR per SD increase, 1.17 [95% CI, 1.02-1.35]), while no significant association was found in women (1.09 [0.89-1.33]). GI was not associated with CHD risk in both genders, while it was associated with increased stroke risk in men (1.27 [1.02-1.58]) but not in women (0.96 [0.75-1.22]). Similarly, total carbohydrate intake and starch intake were associated with a higher CHD risk in men (1.23 [1.04-1.46]; and 1.24 [1.07-1.45]), but not in women.
Conclusion: Among men, high GL and GI, and high carbohydrate and starch intake, were associated with increased risk of CVD.