The Glycemic Index (GI)
The Glycemic Index (GI) was devised about 20 years ago when researchers looked closer at the dietary recommendations for diabetics; which was to eat more complex carbohydrates (starch) because they took longer to process and digest than simple carbohydrates (sugar). What the researchers discovered was that the effect of a carbohydrate on blood-glucose levels was not determined by the sugar or starch. We now know that the effect chocolate has on blood-glucose is actually lower than potatoes ( this doesn’t mean chocolate is healthy). The Glycemic Index (GI) is a ranking (from 1 to 100) which measures the effect of a food on your blood-glucose level over the two hours after the food is eaten. You get a bell-shaped curve when you eat food containing carbohydrates; the blood-glucose rises and as your body produces insulin it pushes the glucose out of the blood and into tissues, and then you see the blood-glucose level falling. When eating high The Glycemic Index (GI) foods, you get a very high bell curve response with a dramatic drop. With a Low- Glycemic Index GI Food, there is a slower and steadier rise in the Blood-Glucose Level.
Effects of Low – Glycemic Index (GI) Foods
Very high glucose levels after meals, called glucose spikes, are damaging to our arteries and various blood vessels, and they promote far too much insulin to be around. Eating Low– Glycemic Index (GI) foods means you avoid those spikes and dramatic falls in Blood-Glucose so you get a much steadier stream of energy. You, therefore, reduce your risk of Heart Disease and other chronic diseases that are implicated by those Blood-Glucose fluctuations.
Low – Glycemic Index (GI) Foods and Weight Loss
High GI Foods are bad for weight control for two reasons:-
- The Glucose Spikes stimulate hunger because you are getting that dramatic drop in glucose, 90 minutes to two hours after eating.
- Insulin is a storage hormone that stockpiles Nutrients for later use by the body. A High- Glycemic Index (GI)diet causes a lot of insulin to be produced and when you have too much insulin in your body too much of the time, it makes it easier to store fat and harder to burn it.
Using The Glycemic Index (GI) in diet plans is based on the concept that low-glycemic foods are more satisfying than High-Glycemic Foods. Low-GI Foodstake longer to absorb and help dieters feel full longer, so they are less likely to overeat. High-GI foods break down faster, leaving you hungry and less satisfied.
Most, but not all, foods on the lower end of the GI scale tend to be healthier, nutrient-rich, less processed, and higher in fiber — such as whole fruits, vegetables, grains, and beans. Foods high in fiber can be very filling, especially when paired with Protein. “When you focus on choosing Low-GI Carbs along with lean protein and healthy fats, you will naturally crowd out many of the less nutritious, High GI Foods and Lose Weight,”
Advantages of Low – Glycemic Index (GI) Diet
- Lower blood sugar levels.
- Lower HbA1c.
- Reduce “highs” and “lows”.
- Help to lose weight.
- Reduce your risk of Heart Disease.
Ranking of food as per Glycemic Index
ranked by the Glycemic Index are given scores:
- High: 70 and up. Examples include instant white rice, brown rice, plain white bread, white skinless baked potato, boiled red potatoes with skin and watermelon.
- Medium: 56 to 69. Examples include sweet corn, bananas, raw pineapple, raisins and certain types of ice cream.
Low: 55 and under. Examples include raw carrots, peanuts, raw apple, grapefruit, peas, skim milk, kidney beans and lentils
Low – Glycemic Index (GI) Foods
Yogurt low-fat (sweetened) 14 Pears 38
Peanuts 15 Tomato soup, tinned 38
Artichoke 15 Haricot beans, boiled 38
Asparagus 15 Plums 39
Broccoli 15 Ravioli, meat filled 39
Cauliflower 15 Carrots, cooked 39
Celery 15 *Snickers bar 40
Cucumber 15 Apple juice 41
Eggplant 15 Wheat kernels 41
Green beans 15 Spaghetti, white 41
Lettuce, all varieties 15 Black-eyed beans 41
Low-fat yogurt, artificially sweetened 15 All-Bran 42
Peppers, all varieties 15 Peaches 42
Snow peas 15 Chickpeas, tinned 42
Spinach 15 Oranges 44
Young summer squash 15 Lentil soup, tinned 44
Tomatoes 15 Carrot juice 45
Zucchini 15 Macaroni 45
Soya beans, boiled 16 Pineapple juice 46
Cherries 22 Rice, instant 46
Peas, dried 22 Grapes 46
Milk, chocolate 24 Grapefruit juice 48
Pearl barley 25 Multi grain bread 48
Grapefruit 25 Rice, parboiled 48
Milk, whole 27 Baked beans, tinned 48
Spaghetti, protein enriched 27 Porridge, non-instant 49
Kidney beans, boiled 29 *Chocolate bar; 30g 49
Lentils green, boiled 29 Jams and marmalades 49
Soya milk 30 Whole grain 50
Apricots (dried) 31 Barley, cracked 50
Milk, Fat-free 32 *Ice-cream (low- fat) 50
Milk ,skimmed 32 Yam 51
Fettuccine 32 Orange juice 52
*M&Ms (peanut) 32 Kidney beans, tinned 52
Chickpeas 33 Lentils green, tinned 52
Rye 34 Kiwi fruit 53
Milk, semi-skimmed 34 *Pound cake 54
Vermicelli 35 Bananas 54
whole wheat 37 Sweet potato 54
Apples 38 *Crisps 54
*high in empty calories **low-calorie and nutritious foods
- Use and Abuse of the Glycemic Index (health.usnews.com)
- Beans Help Diabetics Manage Blood Glucose Levels, Improve Blood Pressure (medicaldaily.com)
- Legumes Help Improve Glycemic Control And Lower Heart Disease Risk (medicalnewstoday.com)
- High glycemic load diet linked to higher breast cancer risk (foodconsumer.org)