Low GI, Medium GI and High GI Foods Guide
For a healthy body, we require proper nutrition in the form of the right amount of carbohydrates, fat, protein, etc. Carbohydrate is the main food for our brain and nervous system. The ups and downs in our blood sugar levels are directly related to the carbohydrate metabolism. Keeping the sugar level constant is essential for the efficient functioning of our body and planning meals taking into account the glycemic index of carbohydrate-containing foods gets the desired result.
What is the Glycemic Index?
Glycemic index (GI) is a number which rates the carbohydrate content in food according to how they affect the blood glucose levels in our body. It rates the foods on a scale of 0-100 based on how quickly they raise the blood sugar levels (usually in two hours).
The foods with higher GI rating are known to increase the blood sugar levels as compared to foods with lower GI rating. Carbohydrates with lower GI values are digested, metabolised, and absorbed slowly and hence they cause a slower rise in the blood glucose levels.
GI values in foods can be classified into three categories:
- Low GI (55 or less): Fruit, non-starchy vegetables, soybeans, whole grains, low-fat dairy.
- Medium GI (56-69): Basmati or brown rice, wholemeal bread, etc., fall into this category.
- High GI (70 or more): Processed foods such as white bread, cakes, cornflakes, doughnuts, etc.
You can also find the GI value of food by using many online calculators and can also find this information on some food packages. You need to keep in mind that following a GI diet alone cannot control diabetes or weight.
Effects of Glycemic Index on Health
Let us look at how the GI diet has a bearing on our health:
- With a high GI diet, there is an increase in blood glucose triggering a rapid insulin response. It’s vital to keep in mind that low GI diet only helps in maintaining weight, to lose weight, it should be combined with an appropriate exercise regime.
- A low GI diet also helps in keeping the blood sugar and insulin levels low after a meal, although this could also be due to the high-fibre and low-calorie content in the diet.
- Some clinical trials report that a low GI diet helps in lowering the LDL (bad cholesterol), especially if it is combined with increased fibre intake.
- A high GI diet is said to increase the risk of heart disease.
- A high GI diet is also associated with an increased risk for certain cancers like breast, colorectal cancers.
Factors affecting GI of foods
There are various factors, which affect food’s glycemic index:
- Cooking and processing can affect the GI value. Whole grains have low GI value as compared to the grains, which are refined by removing the germ and bran. Foods that are broken down into fine or smaller particles are easily absorbed and hence have a high GI.
- Finely powdered grain is absorbed faster and thus has high GI value as compared to the coarsely ground one.
- Fibre, protein, lactose, fat, etc., in the food, can lower the rate of digestion resulting in low GI value.
- Ripe fruits and vegetables have higher GI values than un-ripe ones.
- The glycemic response also depends on the type of carbohydrate these foods contain, nutrient composition and the amount you eat.
You cannot entirely depend on the GI alone for a healthy diet; our body needs other nutrients too which should be accounted as well. The portion size of the meal you consume plays a vital role in blood sugar control and weight management.Tags: blood sugars glycaemic index glycemic index
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