What Is The Glycemic Index?

The Glycemic Index rates foods on how quickly they increase your blood glucose levels; a high rate is 70-100, moderate (50-69) and low (49 and less).  When your blood glucose rises, your pancreas releases more insulin to balance it out.  Eating high Glycemic Index (GI) foods will result in overproduction of insulin, and may cause a hypoglycemic state (dizziness, confusion). The GI has helped dispel many food myths, such as an apple is “high in sugar” and therefore not only fattening but also bad for diabetics, when in fact its sugar (fructose) has a very low GI rate.

High Fiber Doesn’t Mean Low Index:   

  • Soluble fiber foods have a thick consistency and are harder to digest (like apples and beans which have low GI rating); therefore slow to raise your blood sugar.
  • Foods with Insoluble fiber (finely ground as in flour used to make bread and pasta) are digested more quickly and hit your bloodstream faster.  Note that overcooking your pasta increases its already high GI value.


A Sample Of Glycemic Index Values: 

  • Grapefruit (25)
  • Banana (52)
  • All Bran Cereal with Fiber (38)
  • Cheerios (74)
  • Lettuce (10)
  • Corn (60)
  • Whole Milk (31)
  • Yogurt, artificially sweetened (14)
  • Potato, baked (85)
  • Sweet Potato (44)
  • Barley (25)
  • Couscous (65)
  • Spaghetti, whole wheat (37)
  • Spaghetti, white (38)
  • Linguine (46)
  • Bran Muffin (60)
  • Doughnut (76)
  • Tomato Soup (38)
  • Lentil Soup (44)
  • Hummus (6)
  • Pizza (60)
  • Walnuts (15)
  • Popcorn (72)

The Upside Of Eating Low Glycemic Foods:   

  • It will reduce your hunger, bad cholesterol numbers, as well as the potential of developing heart problems.
  • Diabetics will increase their sensitivity to insulin and be able to more easily manage their disease.
  • It will increase your stamina and weight loss
  • The good effects from even one GI food at a meal will carry over to your next meal, even from dinner to breakfast.

Why Are Animal Protein, Wines And Spirits Excluded From The Index?  

  • Those foods have barely traceable (or zero) carbohydrates
  • The Index rates carbohydrates; and only those carbohydrates that affect your blood glucose levels.

Keeping It All In Perspective:   

  • Some high fat foods are bad for you even though their GI values are low; for example foods fried in saturated fats have a lower GI than a baked one.
  • Unsaturated fats (avocadoes, nuts) aren’t even on the scale at all and are your healthiest choices.
  • High Glycemic foods can be valuable for the recovery timeframe after exercise or athletic activities
  • Coffee contains no carbs, isn’t on the GI and works great for a migraine headache, yet it can hamper dieting results and interfere with cleansing diets.
  • Carrots have a higher GI yet they will not raise the blood sugar quickly when eaten in a normal serving; a 16 ounce glass of fresh carrot juice (about 2 pounds of carrots) is only equal to a cup of pasta.
  • Surprisingly, chocolate covered almonds have only a 21 (low GI) value; hence Diabetics usually will carry chocolate in case their levels surge.

The Glycemic Index can be highly useful to Diabetics and is already inherent in the diet of a Vegetarian or Vegan.  It has helped to expose myths (apples are high in sugar and therefore bad for you) and lower risk of heart disease and cancer.  As with any other diet regimen you must consider the whole picture and, of course, consult your physician.

Have You Used Glycemic Index?   

Glycemic index is useful in many ways. Have you ever tried using glycemic index? What have been your experiences, do share with us.

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