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Ask Dr. Art

The Glycemic Index

Q:     What is the glycemic index?
A:     The glycemic index (GI) is a measure of how much a foodraises blood sugar levels when compared against the effects ofpure glucose.The index was initially created as a tool tohelp diabetics manage their blood sugar levels.
These days you hear a lot about avoiding high-glycemic foods because of the “sugar blast” they cause in the blood stream. Diets with an excessively high glycemic content damage the metabolism and dramatically increase the risk of diabetes.
Of course you would expect that refined, sugary foods would rank high on the glycemic index, but you might be very surprised by some of the otherwise nutritious foods that do as well.
The GI ranks foods on a scale from 0 to 100. Glucose has a GI of 100. You should also be aware that the GI for white bread is also 100.
  • Low GI:55 or less
  • Medium GI: 56-69
  • High GI: 70 and above
    Foods with a high GI are rapidly digested and absorbed,causingsignificant fluctuations in blood sugar levels. Low-GI foods are slowly digested and absorbed, producing gradual and smaller increases in blood sugar and insulin levels and a longer-lasting supply of energy.
    Where do your favorite foods rankin the GI table?
    Low GI
    Eat most often
    Medium GI
    Choose occasionally
    High GI
    Eat least often
    • Frozen green peas
    • Raw/boiled carrots
    • Eggplant
    • Broccoli
    • Cauliflower
    • Green Beans
    • Cabbage
    • Mushrooms
    • Tomatoes
    • Lettuce
    • Red peppers
    • Onions
    • Beetroot
    • Pumpkin
    • Parsnips
    • Cherries
    • Plums
    • Grapefruit
    • Peaches
    • Peach, canned, natural juice
    • Apples
    • Dried Apricots
    • Grapes
    • Kiwi Fruit
    • Oranges
    • Strawberries
    • Prunes
    • Pears
    • Mango
    • Sultanas
    • Bananas
    • Raisins
    • Papaya
    • Figs
    • Pineapple
    • Watermelon
    • Dates
    • Soya and Linseed
    • Wholegrain pumpernickel
    • Heavy mixed grain
    • Whole Wheat
    • Sourdough rye
    • Sourdough wheat
    • Croissant
    • Hamburger bun
    • Pita, white
    • Wholemeal rye
    • White bread
    • Bagels
    • French baguette
    • Kidney beans
    • Butter Beans
    • Chick Peas
    • Haricot/Navy Beans
    • Lentils
    • Red Lentils
    • Green pinto beans
    • Black-eyed beans
    • Yellow split peas
    • Beans in tomato sauce
    • Whole milk
    • Skimmed milk
    • Yoghurt
    • Chocolate milk
    • Ice cream
    • All-bran
    • Oat bran
    • Rolled Oats
    • Special K
    • Natural Muesli
    • Bran Buds
    • Mini Wheats
    • Nutrigrain
    • Shredded wheat
    • Special K
    • Cornflakes
    • Coco Pops
    • Puffed wheat
    • Cheerios
    • Rice Krispies
    • Slim-Fast meal replacement
    • Snickers Bar (high fat)
    • Nut & Seed Muesli Bar
    • Sponge Cake
    • Peanuts
    • Walnuts
    • Cashew Nuts
    • Corn chips
    • Oatmeal crackers
    • Hummus
    • Nutella milk chocolate
    • Digestives
    • Blueberry muffin
    • Honey
    • Pretzels
    • Water Crackers
    • Rice cakes
    • Puffed crispbread
    • Donuts
    • Scones
    • Maple flavoured syrup
    Pasta/rice and
    other foods
    • Wheat pasta
    • Ravioli
    • Spaghetti
    • Tortellini (cheese)
    • Egg fettuccini
    • Brown rice
    • Buckwheat
    • White long grain rice
    • Pearled barley
    • Yam
    • Sweet potatoes
    • Wheat tortilla
    • Basmati rice
    • Couscous
    • Cornmeal taco shells
    • Gnocchi
    • Canned potatoes
    • Chinese (rice) vermicelli
    • Baked Potatoes
    • Wild Rice
    • Instant white rice
    • Glutinous Rice
    • Short Grain White Rice Tapioca
    • Fresh mashed potatoes
    • French Fries
    • Instant mashed potatoes
  • How can you use the glycemic index to your advantage?
  • The GI is a source of one very important piece of information: the health of your metabolism. But it’s not a perfect gauge of healthy and unhealthy foods. It’s also influenced by a number of factors, including the amount of food you consume, how the food is cooked and the type of starch in the food.You’ll find that the GI databases still only list a limited number of foods because the process to measure GI is expensive and complicated.
    When thinking about your own diet try to work with these guidelines:
    • Make certain you include a good proportion of low glycemic food in each meal. The benefits include more effective weight control, reduced risk of diabetes and heart disease and, if you’re already diabetic, improved control of your blood glucose and cholesterol;
    • Medium glycemic foods are fine in moderation. Some, such as bananas, have valuable nutrients (potassium) but, if you’re overweight, you should realize that a regular diet with bananas will definitely not help you to lose weight;
    • High glycemic foods should be relegated to occasional treats and to when you’ve been engaged in long, intense physical activity;
    • Remember, we’re measuring the impact of sugars and refined carbs in various foods. You do not have to worry about sudden spurt in blood sugar levels when you eat protein of good fats.
    The good news is that you can use your knowledge of the GI to make healthier food choices.
    Copyright Scienta Health Business Services 2012