• Anjali Gupta

Get Savvy on Glycemic Index

What is the Glycemic Index?

The glycemic Index (GI) is a rating given to foods that are rich in carbohydrate. Examples of carbohydrate containing foods are cereals, grains, starchy vegetables (potato, sweet potato and corn), beans and lentils, bread, fruit, milk and yogurt. Glycemic Index tells us whether a food will raise blood glucose levels very quickly, moderately, or just a little. Foods are scored on a scale of 0 to 100. A food with a high GI raises blood glucose quickly than a food with a medium or low GI.

Why is Glycemic Index (GI) important?

GI is useful tool for people who are diabetic or are at risk of developing diabetes. Low GI foods are digested and absorbed slowly. The low GI foods can help:

  • Raise blood glucose level slowly after a meal. v control appetite because they contain more fibre which may help you feel full.

  • Improve blood cholesterol levels.

  • Lower your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Examples of foods with a low GI include dried beans and legumes (like kidney beans and lentils), all non-starchy vegetables, some starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes, some fruits, and many whole grain breads and cereals e.g. all-bran cereal. Some foods such as meats, fish, poultry, nuts & seeds, cheese, most vegetables and fats are not ranked for GI because they contain minimal or no carbohydrate.

Plan your meals with low Glycemic Index foods!

You can use Glycemic Index as a tool to plan your delicious healthy meals!

  1. Choose foods that have low or medium GI at every meal or snack.

  2. If you are eating a food with a high GI, you can combine it with low GI foods to help balance the meal. For example adding a high protein food or cooking it in healthy fats. This will lower the total GI of your meal.

  3. Eat vegetarian protein foods regularly! Examples include lentils, chickpeas, kidney beans and navy beans. These foods are a low GI, high in protein & fibre and are low in fat.

  4. Enjoy a variety of vegetables, most fruits and low-fat milk products with your meals. These foods generally have low GI.

Manage your blood glucose level

  • Low glycemic foods can be very high in total carbohydrate. Therefore you have to limit the amount you can eat in a meal. You cannot eat that food as much as you want just because it is low GI food.

  • The glycemic index of a food can change by the cooking method and how much fat or acid is added during cooking and how long the food is cooked for. For example overcooked pasta has a high GI while “al dente” pasta is low GI.

  • Check your blood sugar levels before and 2 hours after meal as directed by your doctor or nurse.

A Registered Dietitian can help you with carbohydrate counting, choose low GI foods and suggest creative ways to modify recipes to include low GI foods in your meals. To learn more about glycemic index: - The Glycemic Index, Canadian Diabetes Association - Glycemic Index Database

____________________________________________________________________________________The information presented in the article is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. It is intended to provide an ongoing support of your healthy living practices. Remember that research on nutrition and health matters continues daily and is subject to change. By Anjali Gupta - May 2016.

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