The glycemic index measures how a carbohydrate-containing food raises blood glucose. Foods are ranked based on how they compare to a reference food — either glucose or white bread. A food with a high GI raises blood glucose more than a food with a medium or low GI.
The glycemic index range is as follows:
Low GI = 55 or less Medium GI = 56 - 69 High GI = 70 or more
Low GI Foods (55 or less)
- Most fruits
- Non starchy vegetables
- Pulses, peas and beans like (white, black, pink, kidney, lentil, soy, almond, peanut, walnut, chickpea)
- Most whole intact grains like wheat, millet, oat, rye, rice, barley)
- Small seeds (sunflower, flax, pumpkin, poppy, sesame, hemp)
- Nuts like walnut, almond, cashewnut , peanuts
- Oatmeal (rolled or steel-cut), oat bran
- Whole wheat Pasta products
Medium GI Foods (56-69)
- Whole wheat, rye and pita bread
- Quick oats
- Brown and basmati rice.
- White sugar or sucrose,
- Unpeeled boiled potato,
- Grape juice, cranberry juice
- Raisins, prunes,
High GI (70 or more)
- White bread or bagel
- Corn flakes, puffed rice, bran flakes, instant oatmeal
- Short grain white rice, rice pasta, macaroni and cheese from mix
- Pretzels, rice cakes, popcorn, saltine crackers
- Glucose(dextrose, grape sugar), high fructose corn syrup,
- Extruded breakfast cereals
- Maltose and malt dextrins
- White potato
Your body will digest low GI foods slowly leaving you feeling full for longer and allowing you to eat less calories without feeling hungry. Adding a low GI food to a meal will lower the glycemic index of the whole meal.
Adverse health effects of high glycemic foods
Eating foods with high glycemic index causes sudden rise in blood glucose level. Our bodies do not like extremes. In order to deal with the sudden increased levels of blood glucose, the pancreas will produce a large amount of insulin - insulin converts glucose in the blood to other forms for storage.
The high amount of insulin produced causes glucose levels in the blood to suddenly crash, and this makes one feel very hungry, even though one may have just eaten not long before. This is why eating high glycemic foods, especially refined and processed food products like soda drinks, sugary foods and beverages, as well as polished grains, often causes serious weight problems, as it feeds the cycle of eat-hunger-eat-hunger.
Frequent ingestion of high-GI foods not only reduces the body's sensitivity to insulin, it also overworks the pancreas, causing degenerative conditions in the long run, such as diabetes.
They also raise triglyceride levels in the blood. In addition, frequent sudden increases in glucose levels in the blood increases oxidative damage to the heart, contributing to the development of heart disease.
Cancer - consumption of white bread and cereals high in sugar for breakfast over a sustained period of time increases the risk of cancer; it is also well-known that cancer cells feed on sugar. All the above factors are direct causes of many serious diseases, such as obesity, heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
Reasons to have foods with low glycemic index.
Foods with low glycemic index prove to be extremely good for your health.
Appetite control - low GI foods help to keep you full for more prolonged periods of time. Thus helps with weight loss and maintenance of healthy weight.
Keeps insulin and blood sugar levels in check - low glycemic index foods decrease the need of the body for insulin and as a result, also aid in maintaining adequate blood sugar levels.
Insulin sensitivity - Low-GI foods help to maintain and even increase insulin sensitivity of tissues thus significantly lowering risk of getting type 2 diabetes; for those already suffering from diabetes, it can help control the condition.
Protect against various heart diseases - a low-glycemic diet lowers cholesterol and triglyceride levels and protect against various heart diseases.
Put you in a better mood - mood is determined by a neurotransmitter known as serotonin and different food products can either suddenly boost serotonin levels or bring them down within a few seconds. Low-glycemic foods help maintain an even level of blood sugar and stimulate a gradual increase in the level of serotonin; thus keeping your mood upbeat and balanced.
Boost energy level of the body - low-glycemic food products are digested comparatively slowly than high-glycemic foods and thus are capable of giving energy to the working muscles of the body for a prolonged time period.
A little effort taken in making right food choices will help in living healthier and happier life forever.