Have you ever heard the term glycemic index? Well, it is a number from 0 to 100 that assigned to any food items. Pure glucose gets a value of 100 which represents the relative rise in the blood glucose level just after two hours of its consumption.
Some foods can make your blood sugar spike rapidly while others release sugar at a slower pace. This is because some carbohydrates can be turned into glucose more easily than others. The glycemic index (GI) ranks carbohydrates according to how fast they can be digested, absorbed and metabolized. This is an important consideration while planning diets for diabetics.
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Glycemic Index Classification
GI of individual food portions can be classified into three categories i.e:
Mid: 56 – 69
Here is the list of food items categorized in the GI ranking:
Low GI foods item
Beans like black, pinto, kidney, lentil, peanut, chickpea; seeds like sunflower, flax, pumpkin, poppy, sesame, hemp and chia seeds; walnuts, cashew, wheat, millet, oat, rye, rice, barley; vegetables, sweet fruits like peaches, strawberries, guava, apple, pomegranate mushrooms.
Medium GI foods item
White sugar or sucrose, whole wheat or enriched wheat, pita bread, basmati rice, unpeeled boiled potato, grape juice, raisins, prunes, pumpernickel bread, cranberry juice, regular ice cream, banana, sweet potato.
High GI foods item
Glucose like dextrose, grape sugar, high fructose corn syrup, white bread, white rice, corn flakes, extruded, white potato.
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Can the Glycemic Index Change?
The GI of food may not necessarily stay constant. It depends on how the food is prepared, treated, its ripeness, and the other foods it is combined with while eating. Some of the examples are:
- The longer starchy foods like pasta are cooked, the higher their glycemic index.
- Similarly, treating food with vinegar or lemon juice can reduce its glycemic index.
- The juice of the fruit has a higher glycemic index than the whole fruit.
- The glycemic index of certain fruits like bananas increases as they ripen.
- Combining food that has a high GI with others that have a low GI can reduce the overall GI of your meal. For example, you may want to combine potatoes with meat instead of pasta. Since fats and meat do not contain carbohydrates, they don’t have a GI.
- It is also important to note that two individuals eating the same food may have different reactions to it. This is because age, activity levels, and other such lifestyle factors can also affect the speed at which carbohydrates are broken down and converted into glucose.
- Your health also plays an important role. For example, in the case of diabetics diagnosed with gastroparesis, food is absorbed at a very slow pace.
Benefits of a Low Glycemic Index Meal
A low GI meal can help:
- Manage weight
- Control of diabetes
- Improve heart health and mental performance
- Keep you energized through the day
It is not necessary for food with a low glycemic index to be very healthy. You also need to ensure that you are getting enough vitamins, minerals, and calories. Along with the type of food, the quantity it is consumed in is also important. This means that you need to be careful about the portion sizes.
The ideal diet is one that matches personal preferences and helps meet goals for blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol and triglycerides levels, and weight management.
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