What Is Glycemic Index ?

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The glycemic index is a way to tell how quickly foods that contain carbohydrates may raise your blood sugar.

It is one of the helpful tools for people who need to take a low glycemic diet. A low glycemic diet raises the blood sugar slowly and the high glycemic diet quickly because that the low glycemic foods break down slowly in your body and release sugar into the blood gradually, and the high glycemic foods break down very fast and make blood sugar rise fast too.

So what is glycemic index exactly? It is an index on which foods are given a number from 0 to 100. The higher the number, the higher the glycemic index. These numbers are compared to glucose (sugar). It has a rank of 100.

When you read a glycemic index, you may interpret the numbers using the following rules:

  • Foods that raise blood sugar quickly are high. They are rated 70 or more.
  • Foods that raise blood sugar moderately are medium. They are rated 56 to 69.
  • Foods that raise blood sugar slowly are low. They are rated 55 or less.

If you are on a low glycemic diet, most of the carbohydrate-rich foods that you eat should be low or medium on the index.

Low glycemic foods include:

  • Dried beans and legumes like lentils.
  • Some starchy vegetables, such as yams.
  • Nonstarchy vegetables, such as broccoli and peppers.
  • Many fruits, such as apples, berries, dried apricots, and cherries.
  • Some whole grains and cereals, such as oatmeal and whole wheat bread.

Moderate glycemic foods include:

  • Apricots (fresh)
  • Spaghetti
  • Shredded wheat cereal
  • Pineapple

High glycemic foods include:

  • Sticky rice
  • White bread
  • Some fruits, such as watermelon and dates
  • A few vegetables, such as some types of potatoes.

Since people respond differently to the glycemic content of foods, the only way to know for sure how a food affects your blood sugar is to check your blood sugar before and after you eat that food.

Please note that eating mixed foods can change their glycemic index.

Here is the glycemic index chart for common foods.


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