Your favorite carbs may increase your risk of lung cancer—even if you’ve never smoked cigarettes!
The glycemic index (GI): three words tossed around the health sphere a lot as of late, and for good reason. Consistently eating foods with a high glycemic index, a classification of how quickly carbs elevate your blood sugar after you eat, can make it harder to lose weight and manage type 2 diabetes. But the bad news doesn’t stop there: Eating foods with a high glycemic load, such as white bread and bagels, can also increase your cancer risk, according to recent University of Texas research.
To come to this finding, a team of scientists asked over 1,900 patients newly diagnosed with lung cancer and 2,413 healthy individuals to fill out questionnaires outlining their dietary habits and health histories. What they discovered was alarming: “We observed a 49 percent increased risk of lung cancer among subjects with the highest daily GI compared to those with the lowest daily GI,” senior author of the study Xifeng Wu, M.D., Ph.D., said in a press release. Oddly enough, the association was more pronounced among nonsmokers.
But don’t get it twisted; carbohydrates aren’t always villains. Wu and her team say that things like waffles, bagels, white bread, soda, corn flakes, cookies, refined pasta, pretzels, pizza, and candy—all of which fall high on the index—should be eaten in moderation. (C'mon, you had to know those were the bad guys!) But healthy carbs like barley, brown rice, and whole grain bread get the green light.
Interested in putting these findings into action? These simple low GI carb swaps can help:
Eat This!: Oatmeal with milk, cinnamon, and blueberries
Not That!: Sugary cereals, muffins, and bagels
Eat This!: Ezekiel bread with hummus spinach and chicken with a side of fresh carrots
Not That!: Hamburger on a white bun with potato chips and a soda
Eat This!: Avocado roll with brown rice and a side of edamame
Not That!: Spicy shrimp tempura roll with a side of white rice