Glycemic Index of Foods (Carbohydrates)
Complex vs. Simple Carbs - The Old Glycemic Foods Classification
Carbohydrates used to be classified as simple carbs or complex carbs, depending on the number of simple sugars in the molecule. For example, carbs containing one or two simple sugars like fructose or sucrose were termed simple carbs, while starchy foods were categorised as complex carbs because starch is made up of long chains of the simple sugar, glucose.
Glycemic Index - The New Glycemic Foods Classification
Complex carbs were thought to trigger smaller increases in blood glucose than sugary foods. But the blood glucose (glycemic) response to complex carbs has been found by researchers to vary considerably.
Now, the basic indicator of the relative glycemic response to dietary carbs is the Glycemic Index (GI). For example, a baked potato has a glycemic index value of 85, while cooked brown rice has a glycemic index value of 55. According to the traditional system of classifying carbohydrates, both brown rice and the baked potato are complex carbohydrates despite the difference in their effects on blood glucose levels. See also, Glycemic Load
High GI Foods vs. Low GI Foods
Foods with GIs below 55 are regarded as low glycemic index foods. GI values above 70 indicate a high glycemic index, and foods with GI values between 55 and 70 are intermediate.
Response to High Glycemic Index and Low Glycemic Index Foods
The consumption of high-glycemic index foods results in higher and more rapid increases in blood glucose levels than the consumption of low-glycemic index foods. Rapid increases in blood glucose trigger larger insulin secretions from the beta-cells of the pancreas. Unfortunately, the high insulin levels triggered by high-glycemic index foods typically (within hours) cause a sharp decrease in blood glucose levels (hypoglycemia). By comparison, low-glycemic index foods result in more gradual, sustained increases in blood glucose and consequent lower insulin secretions from the pancreas.
Benefits of Choosing Low Glycemic Index Foods
Related Glycemic Index Links
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