For people with diabetes or who are trying to lose weight, paying attention to the glycemic index of carbohydrates is key. The glycemic index is a scale that ranks foods based on how quickly and how much they raise blood sugar levels after eating. Understanding the glycemic index can guide you to healthier carb choices.
What is the Glycemic Index?
The glycemic index (GI) measures how eating a carbohydrate-containing food impacts blood glucose. Foods are ranked on a scale of 0 to 100:
- Low GI: 55 or less
- Medium GI: 56-69
- High GI: 70 or more
Low GI foods cause a gradual rise in blood sugar. High GI foods lead to quick spikes. Eating mainly low GI foods is ideal for blood sugar control.
Factors that Influence Glycemic Index Values
- Fiber content – Foods higher in fiber like beans, fruits, and whole grains digest more slowly.
- Ripeness – Unripe fruits like bananas have lower GI values. Food processing also raises GI.
- Fat, protein and acid – Eating carbs with fat, protein, or acidic foods like vinegar slows digestion.
Making Smart Low GI Carb Choices
Focus on nutrient-dense, high fiber carb sources with a low GI. Some excellent choices are:
- Whole fruits like apples, citrus fruits, cherries
- Non-starchy veggies like leafy greens, broccoli, tomatoes
- Whole grains like oats, quinoa, bran cereals
- Legumes including lentils, peas, beans, chickpeas
- Nuts like almonds, walnuts and peanuts
Be mindful of portion sizes as well. Checking a food’s glycemic index and the meal’s glycemic load (the total GI of all the foods in the meal) and combining carbs with protein or fat at meals can steady your blood sugar for better energy, craving control and weight management.
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