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Br J Nutr. 2013 Sep 14;110(5):918-25. doi: 10.1017/S0007114512005867. Epub 2013 Jan 23.

Carbohydrate quality is not associated with liver enzyme activity and plasma TAG and HDL concentrations over 5 years in an older population.

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IEL-Nutritional Epidemiology, DONALD Study at the Research Institute of Child Nutrition, University of Bonn, 44225 Dortmund, Germany.


Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is closely associated with insulin resistance and obesity. Hence, carbohydrate quality could be of relevance to the risk of NAFLD, but prospective data are lacking. The aim of the present study was to investigate longitudinal associations between carbohydrate quality (including dietary glycaemic index (GI) and intakes of sugar, starch and fibre) and markers of liver function in an older Australian population. The analysis was based on 866 participants ( ≥ 49 years) of the Blue Mountains Eye Study with fasting blood specimens and dietary intake data at baseline and 5-year follow-up. Multi-level mixed regression analysis was used to relate dietary GI and sugar, starch and fibre intake to the liver enzymes alanine aminotransferase (ALT) and γ-glutamyltransferase (GGT), as well as fasting TAG and HDL-cholesterol (HDL-C). After adjustment for potential confounding factors, a lower fibre intake was cross-sectionally related to higher GGT (P= 0.02) and fasting TAG (P= 0.002) levels, with fruit fibre being the most relevant fibre source (P= 0.095 for GGT; P= 0.003 for TAG). A higher dietary GI was associated with lower HDL-C (P= 0.046). Changes in carbohydrate quality during 5 years were not related to changes in ALT, GGT, TAG or HDL-C (P≥ 0.08). In conclusion, the absence of longitudinal associations between carbohydrate quality and liver enzymes and serum lipids in this older population does not support a major role of carbohydrate nutrition in liver function among the elderly.

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