High Carb Diet = Heart Attack

IHOPs Butterscotch Rocks Pancake....mmmmmm distended brachial arteries
IHOPs Butterscotch Rocks Pancake....mmmmmm distended brachial arteries

For the first time in medical history, researchers have been able to visualize what happens inside our arteries before, during and after eating high carb foods.

And it ain’t a pretty sight.

Looking inside the arteries of students eating a variety of foods, Dr. Michael Shechter ( Tel Aviv University visualized exactly what happens inside the body when the wrong foods for a healthy heart are eaten.

He found that foods with a high glycemic index resulted in distended brachial arteries for several hours.

Dr. Shechter continues:

Elasticity of arteries anywhere in the body can be a measure of heart health.

But when aggravated over time, a sudden expansion of the artery wall can cause a number of negative health effects, including reduced elasticity, which can cause heart disease or sudden death.

So, let’s recap:

High GI foods (bread, sugar, desserts, pop, pizza, cereal, 99% of the food sold at any fast food restaurant…) leads to distended brachial arteries which can lead to heart attacks which can lead to death.

The Science

Using 56 healthy volunteers, the researchers looked at four groups.

  1. Group One ate a cornflake mush mixed with milk,
  2. Group Two ate a pure sugar mixture,
  3. Group Three ate bran flakes,
  4. Group Four was given a placebo (water).

Over four weeks, Dr. Shechter applied his method of “brachial reactive testing” to each group. The test uses a cuff on the arm, like those used to measure blood pressure, which can visualize arterial function in real time.

The results were dramatic. Before any of the patients ate, arterial function was essentially the same. After eating, except for the placebo group, all had reduced functioning.

Enormous peaks indicating arterial stress were found in the high glycemic index groups: the cornflakes and sugar group.

“We knew high glycemic foods were bad for the heart. Now we have a mechanism that shows how,” says Dr. Shechter. “Foods like cornflakes, white bread, french fries, and sweetened soda all put undue stress on our arteries.

We’ve explained for the first time how high glycemic carbs can affect the progression of heart disease.”

During the consumption of foods high in sugar, there appears to be a temporary and sudden dysfunction in the endothelial walls of the arteries.

Endothelial health can be traced back to almost every disorder and disease in the body.

It is “the riskiest of the risk factors,” says Dr. Shechter.


So how come my doctor tells me to eat cereal for breakfast?


Sadly, Mikey never made it past his 25th birthday.

Damn you Life brand cereal, damn you.

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  1. I don’t understand, though — they compared three high-carb options to water, rather than something low-carb or protein-based. So who’s to say that the reaction isn’t simply to food in general, rather than high-carb foods specifically?

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m on your side and believe high-carb is absolutely no good for us at all, but I’m just confused about why they didn’t include low-carb foods as comparison.

  2. Emily, I agree, it seems like a huge flaw in the experimental design of this. All this REALLY proves is that food in general causes reduced arterial functioning. It doesn’t prove what “kind” of food, or the long-term affects of eating these (or any) food.
    If they had simply made another group and/or the control group consume bacon and eggs (nom nom nom), then this study would hold a lot more water (no pun intended).

  3. I see all this, and I know it’s Important Medical Stuff, but I don’t see myself abandoning carbs anytime soon. I’d have to completely change the way I eat, because sandwiches, roasted potatoes, veggies over pasta, and Thai curries and Indian food over rice (things I eat regularly) would all have to go.

    But probably most importantly, I just don’t have the willpower. Bread, pasta, rice, and potatoes are some of my favorite foods, and I don’t think I could ever give them up.

    I’m trying to eat less sugar, I’ve drastically cut back on how much soda I drink, and I usually buy whole wheat bread and pasta. Will that help a little, at least?

  4. Emily & James,

    I am trying to get my hands on a copy of the complete study. At that time, we will know the exact make-up of the test foods.

    Like you guys, I would have liked to have seen a broader selection of test foods. Alas, this is the nature of science. Test one specific hypothesis & then another & another. Hopefully, in the near future, we see more studies using this technology with a wider variety of foods.

    As well, the use of water as a control food didn’t exactly jibe with the conclusion that low carb foods are better for your heart than high GI carbs. True, water is low GI, but perhaps they could have used an animal protein as a control, or a fat source or a low gi carb, etc…

    However, I disagree with James’ contention that: All this REALLY proves is that food in general causes reduced arterial functioning

    All this study really shows us is that ingestion of the 3 test meals damaged the endothelial walls of the arteries of the test subjects.

    Based on this observation, we can make a variety of conclusions – high gi foods are bad for our arteries, water isn’t, cornflakes are, cornflakes & milk are, milk is, bran flakes are, grains are, breakfast cereals are, sugar is, and perhaps all solid foods also damage our arteries.

    Obviously, more research is needed.

    Thanks for the comments and the time you spent thinking about the study. It’s nic to know there are other health/fitness geeks out there.

  5. The ratio of proteins to fats and carbohydrates that is optimal will be different for each person.

    Consider the eskimo that eats 90% protein and fat compared to the South American Indian that eats 90% carbohydrates. Each is satisfying their genetic potential and geographical needs at the same time. If you tried to switch them over, wherever they lived in the world, they would both suffer!

    The key is to find out whether you are an eskimo or an Indian!

    So in essence I do agree that you should try all the diets. I certainly have. My family heritage is British through and through and considering we get extremely cold winters I thrive much more on a high protein and high fat diet, especially in the colder months. When I tried a high carb/vegetarian diet I really struggled.

    Just try them all and monitor your well-being!

    Some people will do just fine on a high GI diet. Depends what their genetic needs are!

  6. Hey Brett,

    I love the fact that you are willing to try different diets / ways of eating to see what works best for you.

    I never understood how people could blindly follow some diet guru’s pet theory while their own body is screaming at them to stop!!! I have made this point before in the blog and have actually had one guy reply by saying “that’s why we pay scientists, so I don’t have to think” …I had no idea how to respond to that without calling him an idiot. But then, I realized he probably was an idiot, so there was little point in enlightening him. But I digress…

    BTW – I just added your blog feed to my reader and am now following your tweets (gawd, I hate that term…tweets)

  7. I had to read up, again, on flow-mediated dilation. I think the news release from the University got it wrong. The high-glycemic index meals reduced (NOT increased) flow-mediated dilation. Dilation usually improves blood flow, which is usually a good thing.

    For a review of flow-mediated dilation, see :

    [This article is NOT light reading.]

    The original study authors wanted to compare high-GI meals (glucose and cornflakes) with lower-GI “meals” (high-fiber cereal and water).

    The high-GI meals reduced flow-mediated dilation. The low-GI meals did not.

    Flow-mediated dilation has been compared between Atkins, Ornish, and South Beach diets. For the boring details, see my blog post or elsewhere:


  8. I think the best thing you can do in a situation like that is simply model the behaviour you would like to see in the other person. Hopefully that person is then “awake” enough to see the benefits of the way you are living. After all, we do all need role models whoever we are!

    Ahh, thanks. I will follow back. (Don’t you think ‘Tweets’ is better than ‘Twits’ though? 🙂

  9. Aren’t carrots considered a high GI food? I’m not giving up carrots for anything. Nor fruit, nor starchy vegetables. I seem to do best on moderate fat, moderate protein, high plant diet, with occasional pizza and ice cream. I can’t for the life of me understand why I would want to cut out carbs, though I think heavily processed carbs, including most bread is junk food.

  10. Julie, don’t change a thing.

    No one ever got fat eating carrots. The GI may be high, but the GL is verrrrryyyyyy low. Here is a synopsis that explains the diff between GI & GL

    There is a big difference between a diet based mainly on fruits/veg/moderate protein with occasional treats like pizza/ice cream/bbq/beer/etc and a diet where every day involves a trip to McDonalds.

    Your diet seems like a great balance between health & pleasure.

  11. Heart attack could be prevented with exercise, diet and some food supplements like CoQ10.”;-

  12. […] Health Habits […]

  13. heart attack is the number 1 killer of middle-aged and old-aged people these days;;:

  14. I have just recently been made aware of this site. Interesting posts! I’ll be making it a point to try and frequent it more often.

    I’m a certified Sports Nutritionist, and particularly have decided to specialize myself with ketogenic diets in particular. I have also done some work / study in endocrinology. So, if you do not mind, I’d like to lend a hand and supply my own insight and theories on what is happening within the human body, with respect to serum blood sugar levels, versus arterial elasticity and function.

    The elasticity (and hence dilation ability) of arterial lining is also HIGHLY influenced by reactive species (certain “free radical” molecules) circulating within the blood, as well as various inflammatory messenger / signal molecules and enzymes.

    High concentrations of serum glucose (high “blood sugar”) has been observed to exacerbate the rate of these key inflammatory mechanisms.

    When arterial linings are are perceived as “inflamed”, they experience a feedback response, via the PSNS (parasympathetic nervous system), to reduce dilation ability as a mode of “self defense”, in order to minimize the chance of arterial RUPTURE (which would be almost always fatal).

    It is known that inflamed endothelium tissue (“lining of blood vessels”) dilates with less efficacy, because inflammation also caused “brittleness” and “rigidity” of endothelial cells. Again, this rigidity … although certainly unfavorable because it effects blood volume and oxygen / nutrient delivery … is also a DEFENSIVE position by the body, telling the arteries to “take it easy”, or they may rupture.

    And once again, for emphasis, particularly HIGH concentrations of serum glocose (“high / elevated blood sugar) are KNOWN to exacerbate and intensify this response.

    Therefor, we may INFER that diets which are particularly high in starches / sugars (high “carb” diets) are a POOR choice for heart health.

    Blood pressure tests conducted on various cultures, with respect to diets varying in the ratio of calories from carbohydrate, have demonstrated STRONG EVIDENCE for this … because absent of any metabolic diseases or illnesses, low-carb-eating cultural populations typically exhibit the most IDEAL blood pressure readings. In some hunter-gatherer societies that still exist today, hypertension / heart disease is virtually UNHEARD of (and even the elderly among these populations typically have exhibited average BP readings of 102 / 64). Compare these average BP readings of low-carb-consuming cultures in stark contract to “Westernized” diets that recommend that the population derive in excess of 60% of their calories from starches / grains / breads, who now exhibit an average BP reading of 138 / 81.

    More studying on this, of course, should continue.

    But I thought I’d just put this out there for everyone to read, and shed light on the HEIGHTENED INFLAMMATORY CONDITIONS which appear to correlate with high starch / high sugar diets invented in the 20th century, with the inception of the Food Pyramid (by the United States Department of Agriculture, which is NOT a scientific body, but an organization made up of business interests).

  15. LMAO, all these high carb foods that they compared are junk food, they are high in fat. Its the fat thats bad not the carbs. Carbohydrates leading to heart attacks? Please. Its the fat in the pancakes and icecream. Pleople need to use their brains and discard these kinds of poorly worded studies.

  16. @Jordon

    Using 56 healthy volunteers, the researchers looked at four groups.

    Group One ate a cornflake mush mixed with milk,
    Group Two ate a pure sugar mixture,
    Group Three ate bran flakes,
    Group Four was given a placebo (water).

  17. @Jordon Do research before you spout off. You’re just coming off as ignorant and just as dumb as the the majority of our overweight population

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