What is the Glycemic index and how does it work?


There is a lot of talk related to GI, many diets claim low GI is best, some take it to the extreme, ( like atkins) but what actually is GI? I have this question asked a lot, and have written a blog on this topic before, summarising snack foods and their GI. Basically the simplified version is that it related to how fast your body processes the carbohydrates. The longer it takes, the fuller you feel for longer, slow release energy. Higher GI is quick release energy. All well and good for an athlete, but not so good if you aren’t. Eating lots of high GI foods if you are relatively sedentary will mean that there is a lot of quick release energy available which you may not use. This is then converted to fat.

How do you know which is which?

What Is the Glycemic Index (GI)?

Glycemic Index (GI) is a measurement carried out on carbohydrate-containing foods and their impact on our blood sugar. GI is a relatively new way of analyzing foods. Previously, most meal plans designed to improve blood sugar analyzed the total amount of carbohydrates (including sugars and starches) in the foods themselves. GI goes beyond this approach, looking at the impact of foods on our actual blood sugar. In other words, instead of counting the total amount of carbohydrates in foods in their unconsumed state, GI measures the actual impact of these foods on our blood sugar. Food is ranked as being very low, low, medium, or high in their GI value.

Why Is GI Important?

Over the past 15 years, low-GI diets have been associated with decreased risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, stroke, depression, chronic kidney disease, formation of gall stones, neural tube defects, formation of uterine fibroids, and cancers of the breast, colon, prostate, and pancreas. Taking advantage of these potential health benefits can be as simple as sticking with whole, natural foods that are either low or very low in their GI value. Here is a ranking all the most popular fruit and vegetables as being either high GI, medium GI, low GI, or very low GI to make it easier for you to focus on foods whose GI values fall into the low or very low range.

Low GI – 0 – 55
medium GI – 56 – 69
High GI – 70+

Very low GI vegetables

avocados
beet greens
bell peppers
bok choy
broccoli
Brussels sprouts
cabbage
cauliflower
celery
collard greens
cucumbers
fennel (bulb)
green beans
kale
mushrooms, crimini
mustard greens
olives
olive oil
Romaine and other lettuce
spinach
summer squash
Swiss chard
tomatoes
turnip greens

Low GI vegetables

Carrots
eggplant
garlic
Green peas
sea vegetables
onions
winter squash

Medium GI vegetables

beets
Corn
Leeks
Kumara

High GI vegetables

Potatoes

Low GI fruits

apples
bananas
blueberries
cranberries
grapefruit
grapes
lemons/limes
oranges
pears
plums
prunes
raspberries
strawberries

Medium GI fruits

Apricots
Cantataloupe
Figs
Kiwi fruit
Papaya
Raisins
Pineapples

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