The glycemic index (GI) is a measure used to rank carbohydrates in food based on their effect on blood glucose levels. It is a relative scale that compares the rate at which different carbohydrates are broken down and absorbed into the bloodstream, leading to an increase in blood sugar levels.
The glycemic index assigns a numerical value to each food, indicating how quickly or slowly it raises blood glucose levels compared to a reference food, typically glucose or white bread, which is given a value of 100.
Classification of Glycemic Index:
Let’s see the classification of the Glycemic index.
1. High Glycemic Index Foods:
Foods with a High glycemic index (above 70) generally contain carbohydrates & sugars that are quickly digested and absorbed by the body, leading to a rapid increase in blood sugar levels. These foods are typically composed of simple carbohydrates, which consist of one or two sugar molecules. Simple carbohydrates are quickly broken down by enzymes in the body, causing a faster release of glucose into the bloodstream.
2. Medium Glycemic Index Foods:
Foods with a medium glycemic index (between 56-69) fall in the moderate range. They have a slower impact on blood sugar levels compared to high GI foods but are still digested and absorbed relatively quickly.
3. Low Glycemic Index Foods:
Foods with a low glycemic index (below 55) are digested and absorbed more slowly, resulting in a gradual and sustained rise in blood sugar levels. These foods usually contain complex carbohydrates, fiber, and sometimes fats or proteins that slow down digestion. Examples of low-glycemic-index foods include whole grains, legumes, most fruits and vegetables, and nuts.
Indian Glycemic Index Food Chart:
|GI Type||Food||GI Value|
|Fruits and Dry Fruits||LOW GI (< 55)||Fruits|
|Vegetables||LOW GI (< 55)||Carrots||16|
|Green Leafy vegetables||15|
|Medium (56-69)||Sweet potato||54-56|
|High (>70)||White boiled potato||82|
|Cereals||LOW GI (< 55)||Oat bran/ Rolled Oats||55|
|Whole wheat bread||69-72|
|High (>70)||White rice||73|
|Dairy Products||LOW GI (< 55)||Milk||37|
|Medium (56-69)||Ice cream||62|
|High (>70)||Doodh peda||67|
|Pulses||LOW GI (< 55)||Green gram||38|
|Others||LOW GI (< 55)||Eggs||0|
Disclaimer: All the above values in the table are the estimated values based on the nutritional guidelines available.
Let’s see some of the factors that affect the glycemic index.
Factors that Affect Glycemic Index:
Various factors can influence the glycemic index (GI) of a food. These include -
1. Processing of Carbohydrates:
Foods with higher levels of processed carbohydrates tend to have a higher GI score. Processing can involve refining or removing the fiber and other nutrients, resulting in a faster breakdown and absorption of carbohydrates.
2. Fruit Ripeness:
As fruits ripen, their natural sugar content rises and their GI rises as a result. The higher GI value is a result of the breakdown of sugars during the ripening process.
3. Food Preparation:
Cooking can change a food's GI value. The GI can rise as a result of a more complete carbohydrate breakdown caused by longer cooking times or higher cooking temperatures. On the other hand, preserving the structure of carbohydrates through shorter cooking durations or techniques like steaming may assist in lower GI.
4. Dressings & Ingredients:
Some ingredients, including acidic ones like vinegar or lemon, might assist reduce a meal's GI. A lower total GI is achieved by these compounds' ability to delay the digestion and absorption of carbs.
5. Amylose Content:
Amylose is a form of starch that is present in various foods. Higher amylose-containing foods typically have a lower GI. Because amylose takes longer to metabolize, glucose is gradually released into the bloodstream.
People can make educated decisions about their diet by choosing foods with a lower GI, which can help regulate blood sugar levels and overall glycemic management.
Here we have the benefits of having low-GI foods in your diet.
Low Glycemic Index Foods Benefits:
By choosing low-GI foods, you can enjoy a range of health benefits and support your overall well-being, while also managing your weight and blood sugar levels effectively.
- Insulin Management: Low GI foods require less insulin, reducing the risk of insulin resistance and related health issues.
- Weight Management: Low GI foods encourage weight loss by lowering cravings and reducing the tendency to overeat.
- Blood Pressure Control: Including low GI items in the diet helps to maintain blood pressure levels as best as possible.
- Performance Improvement: Eating low-GI foods before exercise gives you prolonged energy and enhances your athletic performance.
- Digestive Health: The fiber in low-GI foods helps with digestion and can treat digestive problems.
- Benefits for Long-Term Health: Including low GI foods in your diet can aid in the prevention of chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular diseases.
Can We Reduce the GI Index of Foods that We Consume?
Yes, combining high-carb foods with proteins or fats can help reduce a meal's overall glycemic index (GI). Including proteins or fats in a meal can slow down the digestion and absorption of carbohydrates, resulting in a slower and more gradual rise in blood sugar levels. This is because proteins and fats take longer to break down and can help balance out carbohydrates' impact on blood glucose.
Here are some examples of how you can combine carbohydrates with proteins or fats to lower the overall glycemic response:
- Pair whole grain bread or roti with lean protein sources like grilled chicken, fish, or tofu.
- Add healthy fats such as avocado, olive oil, or nuts/seeds to a salad or vegetable dish.
- Include legumes (such as lentils, beans, or chickpeas) along with rice or pasta dishes.
- Combine fruits with sources of protein like Greek yogurt or cottage cheese.
- Add a source of healthy fat, like nut butter or chia seeds, to oatmeal or smoothies.
- Include vegetables or salad with carbohydrate-rich meals to increase the fiber and nutrient content.
The most simple and effective way is to take a tablet of Moderate (Moder/ate) 10 min before the meal. Click Here to know more about Moderate tablet & how this helps to control elevated sugars.
We can improve our health by understanding the glycemic index of foods and including low GI options in our diet. By consuming low GI foods, we can improve athletic performance, assist insulin management, support weight management, aid in blood pressure maintenance, promote digestive health, and lower our chance of developing chronic diseases. Additionally, we can further lessen the glycemic reaction of our meals by pairing carbohydrates with proteins or lipids. To promote general well-being and long-term health, one should strive for a balanced diet containing various low-GI foods. Along with these, we have a better alternative option which is moder/ate helps to control blood glucose levels.