The glycemic index (GI) is a ranking of carbohydrates on a scale from 0 to 100 according to the extent to which they raise blood sugar levels after eating. Foods with a high GI are those which are rapidly digested and absorbed and result in significant elevations in blood sugar levels. Low-GI foods, because they typically contain more fiber, are more slowly digested and produce gradual rises in blood sugar and insulin levels. Low GI foods have many health benefits; most important to know is low GI diets have been shown to improve both glucose and lipid levels in people with diabetes (type 1 and type 2).
Benefits include: Less cravings, less spikes in blood sugar; Reduced insulin levels and insulin resistance; Controls appetite and delays hunger; Less fat storage and improved weight management.
Meat and poultry do not contain carbohydrates and therefore don’t have a GI score. Certain high-fat foods, such as chocolate, have a low-GI ranking; however high-fat and saturated-fat foods still need to be limited as they would in any healthy diet.
Low GI (55 or less): 100% stone-ground whole wheat or pumpernickel bread, bulgur, sweet potatoes, legumes and lentils, non-starchy vegetables, cherries
Medium GI (56-69): Whole wheat, rye and pita bread; brown, wild or basmati rice; couscous
High GI (70 or more): Most white breads, pumpkin, pretzels, popcorn, melons, pineapple, bananas
There is no one diet or meal plan that works for everyone. Meal planning with the GI involves a balanced intake that is tailored to personal preferences and lifestyle and helps achieve your unique goals for blood glucose, cholesterol and triglycerides levels, blood pressure, and weight management.
Kimberly Young, M.S. is a practicing Nutritionist in Dallas, Texas. Learn about her integrative and functional approach to diet and nutrition at kyoungnutrition.com