Sunday, May 1, 2016

The Importance of the Glycemic Index



You might have heard the words “glycemic index” being thrown around, but weren't sure what the whole thing was about. The glycemic index (GI) is a number that is associated with different foods and shows their effect on the glucose levels in the blood (also known as “blood sugar level”). The number represents the total rise in glucose level after eating that food. 

How the GI is determined:
The level of “sweetness” of a food doesn’t necessarily give it a low or high GI value- Foods with simple carbohydrates break down faster in the stomach, releasing glucose into the blood more rapidly and therefore have a higher GI value. Foods with complex carbohydrates, which break down slower, will have a lower GI value.
Other factors that affect GI levels:
Dietary fiber, fat, protein, vinegar and amylose starch will lower the GI levels in food. Research shows that consuming a small amount of alcohol shortly before a meal will reduce the GI level of the meal by 15%.
GI classification:
ClassificationGI rangeExamples
Low GI55 or lessbeans (white, black, pink, kidney, lentil, soy, almond, peanut, walnut, chickpea); small seeds (sunflower, flax, pumpkin, poppy, sesame); most whole intact grains (durum/spelt/kamut wheat, millet, oat, rye, rice, barley); most vegetables, most sweet fruits (peaches, strawberries, mangos); fructose; mushrooms; chili peppers
Medium GI56-69Whole wheat or enriched wheat (not-intact), pita bread, basmati rice, unpeeled boiled potato, grape juice, raisins, prunes, pumpernickel bread, cranberry juice, regular ice cream, sucrose, banana
High GI70 or higherwhite bread (only wheat endosperm), most white rice (only rice endosperm), corn flakes, extruded breakfast cereals, glucose, maltose, maltodextrins, potato, pretzels, bagels
Source: Wikipedia.org
Why do we need to know the GI of food?
Diabetics need to know what their glucose levels are, as changes in these levels can have serious effects on their physical and mental state and may even be detrimental to their health. Non-diabetics can use the GI to better regulate their energy levels and improve results when working out. Some people with a thyroid condition need to control their blood sugar levels in order to lose or maintain weight.
High glycemic foods break down fast, providing a quick energy boost, especially after a workout. Low glycemic foods take more time to break down, making them great fuel to have before a workout, as they release energy into the body in a steady rate. These factors can help you prevent hypoglycemia symptoms.
A 1999 research discovered that people who follow a low GI diet over a prolonged period of time reduce the risk of developing coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes and even age-related muscular degeneration.
Things to be aware of:
The GI index is not perfect – there are many foods that are low-glycemic which are unhealthy (Chocolate cake – GI 31, ice cream – GI 37) and ones that are high-glycemic that are good for you (Potato/rice – 100 GI). Remember to practice moderation.

The amount of carbohydrates in food can have more of an impact than GI on the glucose levels in your blood. Losing weight and consuming less carbs will also lower blood glucose levels.
The Rise of Blood Sugar Levels After a Meal


Source: Wikipedia.org
The Harvard Medical School recently published a glycemic index of common foods:
FOOD
GI(glucose = 100)
Serving size (grams)Glycemic load per serving
BAKERY PRODUCTS AND BREADS
Banana cake, made with sugar476014
Banana cake, made without sugar556012
Sponge cake, plain466317
Vanilla cake made from packet mix with vanilla frosting (Betty Crocker)4211124
Apple, made with sugar446013
Apple, made without sugar48609
Waffles, Aunt Jemima (Quaker Oats)763510
Bagel, white, frozen727025
Baguette, white, plain953015
Coarse barley bread, 75-80% kernels34307
Hamburger bun61309
Kaiser roll733012
Pumpernickel bread56307
50% cracked wheat kernel bread583012
White wheat flour bread713010
Wonder™ bread733010
Whole wheat bread71309
100% Whole Grain™ bread (Natural Ovens)51307
Pita bread, white683010
Corn tortilla525012
Wheat tortilla30508
BEVERAGES
Coca Cola®63250 mL16
Fanta®, orange soft drink68250 mL23
Lucozade®, original (sparkling glucose drink)95±10250 mL40
Apple juice, unsweetened44250 mL30
Cranberry juice cocktail (Ocean Spray®)68250 mL24
Gatorade78250 mL12
Orange juice, unsweetened50250 mL12
Tomato juice, canned38250 mL4
BREAKFAST CEREALS AND RELATED PRODUCTS
All-Bran™553012
Coco Pops™773020
Cornflakes™933023
Cream of Wheat™ (Nabisco)6625017
Cream of Wheat™, Instant (Nabisco)7425022
Grapenuts™753016
Muesli663016
Oatmeal5525013
Instant oatmeal8325030
Puffed wheat803017
Raisin Bran™ (Kellogg's)613012
Special K™ (Kellogg's)693014
GRAINS
Pearled barley2815012
Sweet corn on the cob6015020
Couscous651509
Quinoa5315013
White rice8915043
Quick cooking white basmati6715028
Brown rice5015016
Converted, white rice (Uncle Ben's®)3815014
Whole wheat kernels305011
Bulgur4815012
COOKIES AND CRACKERS
Graham crackers742514
Vanilla wafers772514
Shortbread642510
Rice cakes822517
Rye crisps642511
Soda crackers742512
DAIRY PRODUCTS AND ALTERNATIVES
Ice cream, regular57506
Ice cream, premium38503
Milk, full fat41250mL5
Milk, skim32250 mL4
Reduced-fat yogurt with fruit3320011
FRUITS
Apple391206
Banana, ripe6212016
Dates, dried426018
Grapefruit251203
Grapes5912011
Orange401204
Peach421205
Peach, canned in light syrup401205
Pear381204
Pear, canned in pear juice431205
Prunes, pitted296010
Raisins646028
Watermelon721204
BEANS AND NUTS
Baked beans401506
Blackeye peas3315010
Black beans301507
Chickpeas101503
Chickpeas, canned in brine381509
Navy beans311509
Kidney beans291507
Lentils291505
Soy beans151501
Cashews, salted27503
Peanuts7500
PASTA and NOODLES
Fettucini3218015
Macaroni4718023
Macaroni and Cheese (Kraft)6418032
Spaghetti, white, boiled4618022
Spaghetti, white, boiled 20 min5818026
Spaghetti, wholemeal, boiled4218017
SNACK FOODS
Corn chips, plain, salted425011
Fruit Roll-Ups®993024
M & M's®, peanut33306
Microwave popcorn, plain55206
Potato chips515012
Pretzels, oven-baked833016
Snickers Bar®516018
VEGETABLES
Green peas51804
Carrots35802
Parsnips52804
Baked russet potato11115033
Boiled white potato8215021
Instant mashed potato8715017
Sweet potato7015022
Yam5415020
MISCELLANEOUS
Hummus (chickpea salad dip)6300
Chicken nuggets (frozen)461007
Pizza (plain baked dough, parmesan cheese and tomato sauce)8010022
Pizza, Super Supreme (Pizza Hut)361009
Honey612512