Refined Carbohydrates Linked to Increased Depression Risk Among Postmenopausal Women

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Depression Risk Among Postmenopausal WomenAccording to a new study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, a diet that is high in refined carbohydrates may cause an increased risk of depression in postmenopausal women.

For the study, researchers analyzed data from the National Institutes of Health’s Women’s Health Initiative Observational Study, 1994–1998. The study consisted of 90,000 women between the ages of 50 and 79, whose health was tracked as part of the NIH’s observational study over an average of eight years.

In addition to the levels of depression reported by the participants, researchers observed the type of carbohydrates each participant consumed and the glycemic index rank and load of the foods. Glycemic index (GI) and load are two metric tools used to measure and rank the extent to which the body’s blood sugar levels rise after eating a particular food—or, in other words, the relationship between food and its affect on blood sugar and insulin.

The researchers reported that women who consumed a high-GI diet possessed a 22% higher risk of depression. This is compared to those who consumed a diet higher in lactose, fiber, and non-juice fruits and vegetables, which researchers concluded held a lower risk of leading to depression.

The study’s authors conclude by recommending that more research be done in order to determine if a low-GI diet would be a beneficial treatment for postmenopausal women suffering from depression or an effective preventive measure for those already at a higher risk of developing depression.

Several foods that have some of the highest GI scores and should be cut from an anti-depression diet (or consumed in very limited amounts at minimum) include white bread, cornflakes, puffed rice, instant oatmeal, pretzels, rice cakes, popcorn, short-grain white rice, and rice pasta.

Sources for Today’s Article:
Gangwisch, J.E., et al., “High glycemic index diet as a risk factor for depression: analyses from the Women’s Health Initiative,” The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, published online June 24, 2015,, doi: 10.3945/ajcn.11.103846.
Lam, P. “High-GI diet may raise depression risk for postmenopausal women,” Medical News Today web site, August 6, 2015;