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Learn about the Glycemic Index and the Rating of Common Carbohydrate Foods

What is the Glycemic Index

 

  • The glycemic index ranks foods on how they affect our blood glucose levels. This index measures how much your blood glucose increases in the two or three hours after eating.
  • The glycemic index is about foods high in carbohydrates. Foods high in fat or protein don't cause your blood glucose level to rise much.
  • The glycemic index is about the quality of the carbohydrates, not the quantity. But not all carbohydrates act the same. Some are quickly broken down in the intestine, causing the blood glucose level to rise rapidly. These carbohydrates have a high glycemic index.

How is it Used?

Before the development of the glycemic index beginning in 1981, scientists assumed that our bodies absorbed and digested simple sugars quickly, producing rapid increases in our blood glucose level. This was the basis of the advice to avoid sugar, a proscription recently relaxed by the American Diabetes Association and others.

Now we know that simple sugars don't make your blood glucose rise any more rapidly than some complex carbohydrates do. Of course, simple sugars are simply empty calories, and still should be minimized for that reason.

When you make use of the glycemic index to prepare healthy meals, it helps to keep your blood glucose levels under control. This is especially important for people with diabetes, although athletes and people who are overweight also stand to benefit from knowing about this relatively new concept in good nutrition.
Recent studies of large numbers of people with diabetes show that those who keep their blood glucose under tight control best avoid the complications that this disease can lead to.

The Numbers
Many of the glycemic index results have been surprises. For example, baked potatoes have a glycemic index considerably higher than that of table sugar.  Here are the basic breakdowns of the glycemic scale.

 

  • Low Glycemic Index food (less than 55) 
  • Foods with GI index between 55 and 70 are consider intermediate
  • High Glycemic Index food GI (more than 70)

 

GI Food Chart | Low GI Foods | Medium GI Foods | High GI Foods

Notes: *high in empty calories **low-calorie and nutritious foods 

Food List Rating Food Glycemic Index  Negative Calorie Diet eBooks

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Bakery Products

*Pound cake Low 54
Danish pastry Medium 59
Muffin (unsweetened) Medium 62
Cake , tart Medium 65
Cake, angel Medium 67
Croissant Medium 67
Waffles High 76
Doughnut High 76

Beverages

Soya milk Low 30
Apple juice Low 41
Carrot juice Low 45
Pineapple juice Low 46
Grapefruit juice Low 48
Orange juice Low 52

Biscuits

Digestives Medium 58
Shortbread Medium 64
Water biscuits Medium 65
Ryvita Medium 67
Wafer biscuits High 77
**Rice cakes High 77

Breads

Multi grain bread Low 48
Whole grain Low 50
Pita bread, white Medium 57
Pizza, cheese Medium 60
Hamburger bun Medium 61
Rye-flour bread Medium 64
Whole meal bread Medium 69
White bread High 71
White rolls High 73
Baguette High 95

Breakfast Cereals

All-Bran Low 42
Porridge, non instant Low 49
Oat bran Medium 55
Muesli Medium 56
Mini Wheats (wholemeal) Medium 57
Shredded  Wheat Medium 69
Golden Grahams High 71
Puffed wheat High 74
Weetabix High 77
Rice Krispies High 82
Cornflakes High 83

Cereal Grains

Pearl barley Low 25
Rye Low 34
Wheat kernels Low 41
Rice, instant Low 46
Rice, parboiled Low 48
Barley, cracked Low 50
Rice, brown Medium 55
Rice, wild Medium 57
Rice, white Medium 58
Barley, flakes Medium 66
Taco Shell Medium 68
Millet High 71

Dairy Foods

Yogurt low- fat (sweetened) Low 14
Milk, chocolate Low 24
Milk, whole Low 27
Milk, Fat-free Low 32
Milk ,skimmed Low 32
Milk, semi-skimmed Low 34
*Ice-cream (low- fat) Low 50
*Ice-cream Medium 61

Fruits

Cherries Low 22
Grapefruit Low 25
Apricots  (dried) Low 31
Apples Low 38
Pears Low 38
Plums Low 39
Peaches Low 42
Oranges Low 44
Grapes Low 46
Kiwi fruit Low 53
Bananas Low 54
Fruit cocktail Medium 55
Mangoes Medium 56
Apricots Medium 57
Apricots  (tinned in syrup) Medium 64
Raisins Medium 64
Pineapple Medium 66
**Watermelon High 72

Pasta

Spaghetti, protein enriched Low 27
Fettuccine Low 32
Vermicelli Low 35
Spaghetti, whole wheat Low 37
Ravioli, meat filled Low 39
Spaghetti, white Low 41
Macaroni Low 45
Spaghetti, durum wheat Medium 55
Macaroni cheese Medium 64
Rice pasta, brown High 92

Root Crop

Carrots, cooked Low 39
Yam Low 51
Sweet potato Low 54
Potato, boiled Medium 56
Potato, new Medium 57
Potato, tinned Medium 61
Beetroot Medium 64
Potato, steamed Medium 65
Potato, mashed Medium 70
Chips High 75
Potato, micro waved High 82
Potato, instant High 83
**Potato, baked High 85
Parsnips High 97

Snack Food and Sweets

Peanuts Low 15
*M&Ms (peanut) Low 32
*Snickers bar Low 40
*Chocolate bar; 30g Low 49
Jams and marmalades Low 49
*Crisps Low 54
Popcorn Medium 55
Mars bar Medium 64
*Table sugar (sucrose) Medium 65
Corn chips High 74
Jelly beans High 80
Pretzels High 81
Dates High 103

Soups

Tomato soup, tinned Low 38
Lentil soup, tinned Low 44
Black bean soup, tinned Medium 64
Green pea soup, tinned Medium 66

Vegetable and Beans

Artichoke Low 15
Asparagus Low 15
Broccoli Low 15
Cauliflower Low 15
Celery Low 15
Cucumber Low 15
Eggplant Low 15
Green beans Low 15
Lettuce, all varieties Low 15
Low-fat yogurt, artificially sweetened Low 15
Peppers, all varieties Low 15
Snow peas Low 15
Spinach Low 15
Young summer squash Low 15
Tomatoes Low 15
Zucchini Low 15
Soya beans, boiled Low 16
Peas, dried Low 22
Kidney beans, boiled Low 29
Lentils green, boiled Low 29
Chickpeas Low 33
Haricot beans, boiled Low 38
Black-eyed beans Low 41
Chickpeas, tinned Low 42
Baked beans, tinned Low 48
Kidney beans, tinned Low 52
Lentils green, tinned Low 52
Broad beans High 79

Notes:  *high in empty calories **low-calorie and nutritious foods

What is the Glycemic Load and How is it Used?


The glycemic load (GL) is a ranking system for carbohydrate content in food portions based on their glycemic index (GI) and the portion size.

The usefulness of glycemic load is based on the idea that a high glycemic index food consumed in small quantities would give the same effect as larger quantities of a low glycemic index food on blood sugar. For example, white rice is somewhat high GI, so eating 50g of white rice at one sitting would give a particular glucose curve in the blood, while 25g would give the same curve but half the height. Since the peak height is probably the most important parameter, multiplying the amount of carbohydrates in a food serving by the glycemic index gives an idea of how much effect an actual portion of food has on blood sugar level.

Glycemic load for a single serving of a food can be calculated as the quantity (in grams) of its carbohydrate content, multiplied by its GI, and divided by 100. For example, a 100g slice serving of watermelon with a GI of 72 and a carbohydrate content of 5g (it contains a lot of water) makes the calculation 5*0.72=3.6, so the GL is 3.6. A food with a GI of 100 and a carbohydrate content of 10g has a GL of 10 (10*1=10), while a food with 100g carbohydrate and a GI of just 10 also has a GL of 10 (100*0.1=10). 

 
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