In order to be healthy and stay healthy, we should know the meaning of certain terminologies that is related to the food we eat and how our body reacts to and interacts with this food.
Most of us know about calories, calorie intake and burning, carbs, sugar and blood sugar, and of course the fats – transfats, saturated and unsaturated fats.
Here is another term that you should know about: glycemic index.
Glycemic index or GI for short is “a numerical scale used to indicate how fast and how high a particular food can raise our blood glucose (blood sugar) level. A food with a low GI will typically prompt a moderate rise in blood glucose, while a food with a high GI may cause our blood glucose level to increase above the optimal level.” GI is also known as glycemic load.
Contrary to popular belief, GI is not something that only those with diabetes should know. Knowing the GI of the food we eat helps maintain a normal healthy weight, good cardiovascular health and favorable lipid profiles and thus lowers the risk for type 2 diabetes.
Here is why GI of our foods matter. Foods with high GI are rich in carbs that are eventually converted into glucose (simple sugar). The presence of glucose in the blood triggers the production of insulin that converts glucose into energy and excess glucose into stored fat. However, when the body is constantly forced to produce excess too much insulin, the results is not very healthy. Insulin resistance is a major adverse effect, followed by high levels of blood lipids (cholesterol and triglycerides), increased weight and cardiovascular problems.
That is why paying attention to the GI of the food we eat is important to our health. GIs may be high, medium or low.
High GI is 70 and above. Glucose has GI ranging from 85 to 111. A can of coke has 77.
Medium GI is from 56 to 69. An example of foodstuffs with medium GI is the table sugar, with 58 to 65 (source: glycemic edge). A regular hamburger has 66 and 1 cup of cheerios has 74.
Low GI is from 0 to 54 and most of the fruit and vegetables and unsweetened dairy products fall under this category. Examples are
- Fresh apples – 28 to 44
- Fresh bananas – 30 to 52
- Fresh kidney beans – 13 to 46
- Fresh carrots – 16 to 92
Foods with high and medium GIs should be avoided, maybe eaten once in a while Below I give some links as to where to check the GIs of the food stuffs. But when looking through the Glycemic edge database, I found some surprisingly high GIs, as follows:
- French baguette – 95
- 1 cup of corn flakes – 84
- Graham crackers – 74
- Tofu frozen dessert, low fat, 1/2 cup – 115
- Gatorade – 78
Sources of GI values of the food you eat:
- Glycemic Index searchable database, certified by the Glycemic Index Foundation
- Glycemic Edge
- The GI diet guide