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Fam Pract. 2013 Oct;30(5):485-91. doi: 10.1093/fampra/cmt029. Epub 2013 Jun 26.

Low-glycaemic index diets in the management of blood lipids: a systematic review and meta-analysis.

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Primary Health Care Research Unit, Discipline of Family Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St John's, Canada.



Dietary glycaemic index (GI) is a measure of the postprandial glycaemic response to carbohydrates. Observational studies have found increased triglycerides and decreased high-density lipoprotein levels in patients consuming higher GI foods.


Our aim was to review and synthesize the evidence on the effect of low-glucose index diets on serum lipid levels.


We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials on the effect of low-GI diets on serum lipid levels. We searched PubMed, Embase and Cochrane Library for published, English-language, randomized controlled trials comparing low-GI and high-GI diets for the management of blood lipids in the general population with at least 4 weeks of follow-up. We conducted a meta-analysis assuming a random effects model.


Four studies met the criteria for inclusion in the systematic review and meta-analysis. The individual studies did not always show a significant effect of a low-GI diet on serum lipids; however, when combined in a meta-analysis, low-GI diets were shown to have a significant effect on decreasing total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol over a short time span (5-12 weeks). There was no significant effect on high-density lipoprotein or triglyceride levels. The forest plots for total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol did not show significant statistical heterogeneity (I (2) = 0%).


This meta-analysis suggests that a low-GI diet may help lower total and LDL cholesterol. The generalizability of these findings is likely limited by heterogeneity in individual study definitions of low- or high-GI diets.


Cardiovascular diseases; dyslipidemias; glycaemic index; hyperlipidemias; lifestyle; lipids.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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