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The Importance of Glycemic Index

Saturday, July 17, 2010
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Glycemic Index or GI as it's popularly known is an index that ranks carbohydrate foods.

This ranking is done based on the food's effect on blood sugar compared with a standard reference food's effect on blood sugar.  A food that surges the blood sugar quickly is called a high GI food, and that which increases the blood sugar slowly and steadily is referred to as a low GI food. The presence of fiber normally reduces the rate of absorption of glucose into the bloodstream.

Foods are given a rating from 0 to 100 on the GI.
A food with a GI of 55 or less is considered to be of low GI.

Here's a short list of GI of some common foods -
Glucose - 100
White rice - 98
Baguette - 95
Jacket potato - 85
Cornflakes - 84
French fries - 75
Bagel - 72
White bread - 70
Croissant - 67
Raisins - 64
Ice cream - 61
Honey - 58
Muesli - 56
Banana - 55
Stone ground wholemeal bread - 53
Peas - 48
Lentil soup - 44
Apples - 38
Skimmed milk - 32
Grapefruit - 25

Low GI foods help in controlling diabetes and increase the body's sensitivity to insulin. Such foods increase the sugar levels in the body to sustain energy levels for longer periods of time. This means an individual will feel less inclined to eat because energy is being slowly released into the bloodstream. Low GI foods are also believed to reduce the risk of heart disease and help in sustaining weight loss. Though it's good to identify and choose foods with low GI, other nutrients will also play an important role in health-building. More recently, Glycemic Load has been in discussion as a better option for diabetics than Glycemic Index. Glycemic Load (GL) tells us the density of carbohydrates in the foods. A food item having a high GI might have a low GL. The GL of a food is calculated by multiplying the GI by the amount of carbohydrate in grams provided by a food and dividing the total by 100.
For example, cornflakes, which has a GI of 84 has a GL of 22. Increasing the intake of whole grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables will ensure that the GI and GL are well controlled. Finally, it's important to ensure a healthy well-balanced food intake rather than counting the GI and GL of individual foods.

Work with your dietitian to find out what's best for you.

 

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User Comments

03 December, 2010 | Vijayalakshmi Iyengar | Reply

Vijayalakshmi Iyengar A recent study brought out the fact that increasing protein levels and choosing foods with a low glycemic index will also help maintain weight when a person has lost a good amount of weight and is finding it difficult to maintain the same.

Now this will also help a diabetic keep tabs on blood sugar levels and not gain weight too.

21 September, 2010 | Vijayalakshmi Iyengar | Reply

Vijayalakshmi Iyengar Dear Shipla
I can give you a couple of sites where a few Indian foods have been listed for Glycemic index (GI) & Glycemic load (GL).
1. http://www.indiacurry.com/obesity/glycemic.htm
2. http://optimalhealth.cia.com.au/gi17.html

I am giving you a third site where you can put in the food of your choice and it will give you the GI and if you put in more information you can get the GL of that food too
3. http://www.glycemicindex.com/
A word of caution: there may be variations from site to site due to different varieties of the food and soil influence. So you take a call on what you would like to consider.
I am sure you will find it easier to buy things from the supermarket or let your husband eat out, now .
I recommend you register your husband on our site for making your life easier and his healthier.

20 September, 2010 | Vijayalakshmi | Reply

Vijayalakshmi Don`t you think it would be good if all processed foods carry information on GI of that food, along with ingredient list and amount of each nutrient, so that Diabetics can take a call to eat or avoid it.

21 September, 2010 | Shilpa | Reply

Shilpa Dear Ms.Vijayalakshmi,

Mu husband is a diabetic and am always on a look our for foods with low glycemic index. As you have mentioned it would of great help if manufacturers mention the GI of foods on their Nutrition label. Also, I find no information on the GI of indian foods either on the net or on any nutrition related website as yours. Can you please give me links or info about the same. It will be of great help.

Thanks in advance!

02 September, 2010 | KP | Reply

KP An easy way of keeping your diet low in GI is by just eating a combination of foods. Choose a carb - rice/wheat bread/roti/whole grain crackers/oatmeal/Potatoes etc (preferably complex carb ) + protein or fat (eggs/peanut butter/low fat milk products/low fat cheese/paneer/nuts/seeds/oils etc) or fiber (fruits & veggies) combination...this way your sugar levels may not spike or plummet and will stay balanced through out the day. The foods rich in protein and fat are usually low in GI and when they are coupled with foods rich in carbs having a medium to high GI, they lower the GI of the overall dish/meal. It's also important to remember that the method of preparation can also influence the GI...the more the food is overcooked/mushy etc the higher is the GI of that food.

26 July, 2010 | Mary Regi | Reply

Mary Regi I agree about GI and GL taken into consideration when planning diets.But please educate on what happens in a mixed meal when all the five food groups are included.

27 July, 2010 | Sangeetha Narayana Swamy | Reply

Sangeetha Narayana Swamy The meal should be planned with whole and fresh foods, especially for diabetics and weight watchers. In the mixed meal, include brown rice, whole wheat flour or products, sprouts , whole legumes, along with fresh vegetables, greens and low fat or skimmed dairy products. The GI of these foods are comparatively low than the refined ones. If this kind of a meal plan is followed on a regular routine it helps in maintaining weight and also keeps a tab on sugars and cholesterol.

20 July, 2010 | Geetanjali Kelkar | Reply

Geetanjali Kelkar Glycemic index has been used to plan diets for diabetics and for those who want to lose weight. Recently, GI is a new tool used to plan diets for athletes. The pre-game, during game and post game meals should be planned using this tool to achieve better sports performance.

06 July, 2010 | Vijayalakshmi Iyengar | Reply

Vijayalakshmi Iyengar A low glycemic food plan is beneficial for:
• helping balance blood glucose and insulin levels for Diabetics
• reducing excess body fat levels for overweight people
• increasing sports performance or athletes
Its important for most of us to keep low GI foods in mind while planning a days meal.

06 July, 2010 | Geetanjali Kelkar | Reply

Geetanjali Kelkar Glycemic index value indicates how rapidly a particular food appears as blood glucose in circulation but does not take into account the amount of food consumed. Individuals consume two or more different carbohydrate containing foods at the same time, the actual carbohydrate load from a normal portion size varies greatly between food products. To address this issue, the concept of glycemic load (GL) is introduced.

Glycemic load is a ranking system for carbohydrate content of food portions based on their glycemic index and the portion size. GL combines both the quality and quantity of carbohydrate.
Geetanjali Kelkar,PhD
Dietitan
Nutritionvista

06 July, 2010 | Sangeetha Narayana Swamy | Reply

Sangeetha Narayana Swamy Eating a balanced meal with prescribed portion sizes will ensure good control of diabetes, hypertension, cholesterol and weight. Balanced diet is generally consuming whole grains and pulses, low fat meat and diary products, good amount of veggies and fruits, limiting the intake of fat, sugar and calorie laden foods. Last but not the least exercise plays an important role too in leading a healthy and active life.

11 June, 2010 | Kanika Jain | Reply

Kanika Jain I agree, counting GI and GL are secondary to ensuring healthy balanced diet with controlled portion size.

Regards,
Kanika Jain
Dietitian
NutritionVista

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