What is the Glycemic Index?
Originally devised to help diabetics manage their blood-glucose levels, the glycemic index (GI) is a ranking of carbohydrates on a scale from 0 to 100 according to the rate at which they raise blood sugar levels after eating. (See also Glycemic Load for a related glycemic ranking system). GI replaces the older classification of carbohydrates into "simple" and "complex" carbs.
High Glycemic Index Foods
Foods with a high GI (70+) are those which are rapidly digested and absorbed and result in marked fluctuations in blood sugar levels. [Medium GI foods rank 56-69 on the glycemic index.] Foods with high glycemic index values are useful for dietary variety and for replenishing muscle fuel stores after strenuous exercise. For people with diabetes who have low blood glucose levels - hypoglycemia - high glycemic index foods can quickly bring blood glucose levels back to normal.
Low Glycemic Index Foods
Low-GI foods (55 or less), by virtue of their slow digestion and absorption, produce gradual rises in blood sugar and insulin levels, and have proven benefits for health. Low GI diets have been shown to improve both glucose and lipid levels in people with diabetes (type 1 and type 2). They have benefits for weight control because they help control appetite and delay hunger. Low GI diets also reduce insulin levels and insulin resistance. Foods with low glycemic index values are useful to include in each meal to lower the overall GI-effect of the diet. Having an eating pattern that is lower in glycemic index is associated with better long term health.
GI Dietary Values For Other Foods
Beans - Low-GI Beans - Bread Rolls - Bread Snacks - Breads - Bread - Low-GI Bread - Cereal - Breakfast Cereal - Low-GI Cereals - Cake - Candy - Cookies - Crackers - Dried Fruit - Fruit Juice - Fruit - Low-GI Fruit - Grains - Low-GI Grains - Ice Cream - Jam/Jelly - Lentils - Milk - Muffins - Noodles - Low-GI Noodles - Nuts - Oats - Pancakes/Waffles - Pasta - Low-GI Pasta - Pastry - Pizza - Potatoes - Low-GI Potatoes - Rice - Low-GI Rice - Snacks - Soft Drinks - Soy Foods - Spaghetti - Sugar - Vegetables - Vegetable Foods - Low-GI Vegetables - Yogurt
Studies into Diet and Glycemic Index
Recent studies from Harvard School of Public Health indicate that the risks of diseases such as type 2 diabetes and coronary heart disease are strongly related to the GI of the overall diet. In 1999, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) recommended that people in industrialised countries base their diets on low-GI foods in order to prevent the most common diseases of affluence, such as coronary heart disease, diabetes and obesity.
Low Glycemic Index Diet Plan
To have a low glycemic index diet, there is no need to eat only low-GI carbohydrate foods - simply substitute one high GI food that you would normally eat (eg. potatoes, white bread) with a low GI food (eg. pasta, whole grain bread) at each meal.
Related Glycemic Index Resources
Low GI Diet
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