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The Glycemic Index Explained – How to Make Smart Carb Choices

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.

Need help choosing the right foods to keep your blood sugar stable? I’m happy to help.

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  1. Melissa on January 16, 2024 at 8:24 am

    I needed this post. I don’t always make the best choices when it come to carbs.

    • Karen Admin on January 16, 2024 at 7:38 pm

      I hope it helps you to choose wisely.

  2. Vidya on January 18, 2024 at 2:04 am

    with my DH working on keeping his blood sugar under control, we have learned to figure out what works best for him and for us as a family too.. and we have learned that genetics plays a big role as well in what foods our body can process better than others..

    • Karen Admin on January 18, 2024 at 9:54 pm

      Genetics can influence what works for you but ultimately, choosing whole, unprocessed or minimally processed foods, will benefit everyone.

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