What Is Glycemic Index?
The Glycemic index, as alien as it sounds, is a tool that is used to promote and ensure healthy blood sugar management. It helps keep you aware of the composition of the food you have on your plate. Confused? A Glycemic index is a mechanism that helps measure the nutritional composition of the food you eat. It makes you aware of how much sugar, vitamins, and minerals are present in your diet.
In addition, a number of factors influence foods’ glycemic index, some of which are; the degree of processing the food underwent, the degree of ripeness of the food before it was harvested and processed, the food’s nutritional composition, and its cooking method.
According to experts, glycemic index does not only make you aware of the nutritional composition and other basic things you need to know about the food on your table, but it can also help in the regulation of weight, that is, it enhances weight loss, manages and regulates your blood sugar and lowers your cholesterol levels.
This article elaborates on the proper usage of the glycemic index as well as the health benefits it provides.
A More Professional Description of Glycemic Index
Experts claim that the value used to measure how much certain kinds of foods increase blood sugar is known as glycemic index. Using this tool comes with a parameter for measuring glycemic foods, ranging from high, medium, and low, on a measure of 0 to 100. According to research, the higher the glycemic index value of your food is, the higher your risk of having an unhealthy blood sugar level.
Based on research, the following are glycemic index ratings;
- Low: less than 55 or 55
- Medium: between 56 and 69
- High; 70 and above
Since carbs and sugar are always digested more quickly thus, they have more glycemic index value than protein and fat-rich foods, which have a lower glycemic index value compared to carbs and sugar-rich foods.
Some other characteristics of glycemic index value include;
- Cooking methods
- The find of sugar the food contains
- The degree of processing the food has undergone
It is important to note that glycemic index and glycemic loads are two different phenomena. Glycemic load focuses more on the amount of food you eat and the number of carbs contained in the portion you ate in order to determine how it may impact your blood sugar levels. Thus, it is important to regard both the glycemic load and glycemic index of your food while selecting them in order to strike a balance and achieve a healthy blood sugar level.
Low Glycemic Index Diet
A low glycemic diet is characterized by the swapping of high glycemic foods for low glycemic ones.
Benefits of Low Glycemic Index Diet
The health advantages of a low glycemic diet include;
- Healthy regulation and maintenance of blood sugar levels. According to studies, a low glycemic diet can reduce your blood sugar levels, as well as promote blood sugar management, especially in people with type 2 diabetes.
- Encourages weight loss. A low glycemic diet can help promote short-term weight loss, and studies are still ongoing as to whether it also promotes long-term weight management.
- Lowers cholesterol levels. The greatest enemy of the heart is bad cholesterol. When the cholesterol level in the blood is high, the heart becomes at risk of developing certain chronic issues. Following a low glycemic diet would help lower your cholesterol-related heart diseases.
Dieticians have successfully compiled a list of low glycemic foods and fruits, and according to them, a low glycemic diet should include the following classes of food;
- Legumes; black beans, kidney beans, chickpeas, and lentils
- Calciferous vegetables; cauliflower, spinach, and broccoli
- Fruits; grapes, limes, berries, apples, and lemons
- Whole grains; couscous, buckwheat, faro, oats, barley
In addition, there are certain foods that exist without any glycemic index value. These foods, coupled with other low glycemic foods, can be added to your low glycemic diet. Some of the foods without glycemic index value include;
- Poultry; goose, chicken, duck, and turkey
- Meat; pork, beef, lamb, and bison
- Seafood; sardine, salmon, mackerel, shrimps, and tuna
- Oils; vegetable oil, coconut oil, olive oil, and avocado oil
- Seeds; chia seeds, flax seeds, hemp seeds, and sesame seeds
- Nuts; almonds, pistachios, walnuts, and macadamia seeds
- Spices and herbs; cumin, basil, turmeric, black pepper, dill, cinnamon, and rosemary
Limited high glycemic diets can also be included in your low glycemic diet. The following foods contain high glycemic index values. Though they should be added in minute amounts. These foods include;
- Cereal; breakfast cereals and instant oats
- Starchy vegetables; potatoes, mashed potatoes, and french-fries
- Rice; arborio rice, jasmine, and white rice
- Bread; naan, white bread, pita bread, and bagels
- Noodles and pasta; macaroni, spaghetti, lasagna, ravioli and fettuccine
- Liquid beverages; sports drinks, soda, and fruit juice
- Baked foods; muffins, croissants, cake, doughnut, and cookies
Try as much as you really can to take these foods in little amounts and replace them whenever you feel the need to.
Incorporating these foods into your diet would help you reduce diabetes risks. They are known not only for their blood sugar regulation and management functions but also for their delicious and nice tastes.
Glycemic Foods and their Index Values
- Oranges; 45
- Apples; 35
- Mangoes; 50
- Pineapple; 58
- Watermelon; 75
- Dates; 40
- Strawberries; 42
- Blueberries; 54
- Popcorn; 64
- Rolled oats; 54
- Barley; 29
- Brown rice; 65
- White bread; 75
- White rice 73
- Couscous; 65
- Whole wheat bread; 75
- Boiled pumpkin; 75
- Boiled potatoes; 79
- Boiled carrots;38
- Boiled sweet potatoes; 65
- Boiled plantain; 66
- Honey; 61
- Maple syrup; 65
- Table sugar; 64
- Coconut sugar; 55
- Fructose; 17
- Chickpeas; 29
- Kidney beans; 25
- Lentils; 35
- Soybeans; 15
- Whole milk; 37
- Skim milk; 35
- Rice milk; 85
- Ice cream; 50
- Soy milk; 35
Glycemic Foods and Their Glycemic Loads
- Cherries; 6. Cherries are packed with antioxidants and potassium, which are perfect immune system boosters.
- Grapefruits; 3. As beneficial as grapes are to your health, it is important to talk to your doctor first before taking them if you are on a particular medication.
- Dried apricots; 9. Dried apricots can be added to salads. They are quite tasty and healthy.
- Pears; 4. Pears, to an extent, contain fiber, enough for the easing of your bowels, depending on how much you eat them.
- Apples; 5. Asides from the crunchy nature of apples, they are tasty and healthy.
- Oranges; 5. Orange contains vitamin c and fiber, which are healthy components for your general wellbeing.
- Plums; 2. Fresh plums have more carbohydrates than dried ones, so pick whichsoever suits your diet.
- Prunes; 9
- Strawberries; 3. Strawberry contains antioxidant properties and vitamin c, both of which are great remedies for injuries of all kinds.
- Peaches; 5. Packed with several kinds of vitamins and minerals, peaches are an amazing addition to smoothies.
- Grapes; 5. Eat grapes with their skin, as they can supply you with healthy fiber.
How Ripening and Cooking of Foods Affect the Glycemic Index Value of Foods
The cooking methods of a particular kind of food can affect the glycemic index value of that food. For instance, fried foods contain a high degree of fat, which is capable of slowing down digestion and absorption processes of sugar in the blood. When this occurs, the glycemic index reduces.
On the other hand, baking and roasting can breakdown starch, especially resistant starch that is popular for its digestion-resisting abilities. Resistant starch is usually common in foods like potatoes, oats, and legumes. Roasting and baking increase the glycemic index value of foods.
Compared to other cooking methods, boiling foods retain more resistant starch in foods, thereby increasing their glycemic index values. In other words, the more you cook starchy foods like pasta, rice, or potatoes, the higher the digestibility of their starch, which automatically increases their glycemic index value. Thus, it is best to cook these foods to a point where they still seem a little bit hard when you bite into them in order to prevent the glycemic index value from skyrocketing.
Asides from the cooking methods of foods, the degree of ripeness of foods also determines their glycemic index. For instance, the glycemic index value of ripened bananas is 52, while the glycemic index value of under-ripe ones is 32.
In conclusion, the glycemic index is the measurement of food composition, as well as their nutritional values and how they can affect your blood sugar levels. Certain factors like; degree of processing of such foods, ripeness of the food, and the cooking method of the foods are factors that are also discovered while measuring the glycemic index values of foods. Adopting a low glycemic diet can supply you with numerous health benefits, some of which include; balancing of blood sugar, lowering of cholesterol levels, and promotion of short-term weight loss.