The role of glycemic index and glycemic load in cardiovascular disease and its risk factors: a review of the recent literature

Curr Atheroscler Rep. 2014 Jan;16(1):381. doi: 10.1007/s11883-013-0381-1.


A number of meta-analyses of cohort studies have assessed the impact of glycemic load (GL) and glycemic index (GI) on cardiovascular outcomes. The picture that emerges is that for women, a significant association appears to exist between the consumption of high GL/GI diets and increased cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk. This association appears to be stronger in those with greater adiposity and possibly in those with diabetes, although these findings are not uniform. There is also an indication that raised CRP levels may be reduced, which has special implications for women whose CRP levels, as an emerging CVD risk factor, may be higher than men. For men, the situation is not as clear-cut. Although some studies show association, the meta-analyses have not demonstrated a significant direct association with CVD, despite current evidence that risk factors, including LDL-C, may be reduced on low-GI diets. Moreover, in a recent meta-analysis, increases in dietary GL have been associated with increased risk of diabetes, another CVD risk factor, in both men and women. Studies in men expressing relative risk of CVD in relation to GL and GI, with corresponding confidence intervals, are needed to provide the necessary power for future meta-analyses on this topic.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood Glucose / physiology*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / metabolism*
  • Glycemic Index / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors


  • Blood Glucose