Glycemic index of foods: health benefits

Food and drink provide our body with energy in the form of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. Carbohydrates that break down quickly during digestion have a higher glycemic index. Slowly digested carbohydrates gradually release glucose into the bloodstream. They have a low glycemic index.

What is the glycemic index of foods

The glycemic index is a numerical value assigned to a carbohydrate food that indicates whether the food raises blood glucose levels and how quickly the food is digested. It’s a system that ranks foods on a scale from 1 to 100, based on how much they raise blood sugar levels.

More information! Carbohydrates are the main source of energy for our body. Their main forms are sugars, starches and fiber. The body breaks down sugars and starches into glucose, the main source of energy for cells. Fiber passes through the body undigested.

Carbohydrate foods have properties, how quickly the body digests them, and how quickly glucose enters the bloodstream.

What is a low glycemic index food?

However, not all carbohydrates are the same. So-called “low glycemic index foods” have the property of a gradual, rather than abrupt, change in blood glucose levels. They are usually high in fiber, which promotes satiety, promotes good gastrointestinal health, and better regulates blood sugar and lipid levels.

Foods with a low glycemic index should “play a leading role” in the diet of people diagnosed with diabetes or pre-diabetes in order to achieve better control of blood sugar levels on a daily basis.

Foods with a low glycemic index

Consumption of foods with low and moderate GI is important for everyone, without exception, and not just for diabetics and those who want to lose weight.

Pay attention! Eating a balanced amount of foods from all five food groups – fruits, vegetables, grains, proteins and dairy products – is still the best rule of thumb. Whole foods like whole grains, non-starchy vegetables and fruits tend to have a lower GI.

What is a high glycemic index?

Foods with a high glycemic index release glucose quickly. As a result, blood sugar spikes and then drops quickly. Processed carbs contain almost nothing but empty calories. These processed foods like flour, white sugar have a high GI.

Processed carbs

What affects the glycemic index? There are several factors that affect the glycemic index:

  • processed foods tend to have a higher GI;
  • may be affected by cooking;
  • degree of ripeness of fruits and vegetables.

The glycemic index of vegetables and fruits changes as they ripen. Unripe fruits usually have a higher starch content and a lower sugar content. As the fruit matures, the sugar content increases, contributing to a higher GI.

Two foods containing the same amount of carbohydrates can raise blood glucose levels differently. For example, grapefruit in the form of fruit takes longer to digest than the same grapefruit in juice. For this reason, although grapefruit has a low glycemic index, fruit juice is high.

What we eat along with fruits or vegetables can change the glycemic response to that meal. A balanced diet that includes protein and fat in addition to carbohydrates helps keep carbohydrates in the digestive system a little longer, resulting in a slower release of glucose into the blood.

Balanced food

When eating high GI foods, pair them with low GI foods to balance the effect on glucose levels. Some high GI foods are rich in nutrients.

The Benefits of a Low Glycemic Diet

The glycemic index should be used as a supplement, as a balancediet, portion control, and regular exercise. Research shows that a low glycemic index diet can help you lose weight. Most low glycemic foods tend to increase satiety. They are rich in fiber, which makes you feel full.

Pay attention! A low-carb diet is based on foods that don’t cause blood sugar spikes, helps you digest food more slowly, and stay full longer, which means you eat less.

It is not always necessary to choose all low GI foods. They tend to promote weight loss, while high GI foods help restore energy after a workout. Many of these foods can be important sources of nutrients.

The goal of a low glycemic diet

The goal of the glycemic index diet is to eat foods that contain carbohydrates that are less likely to cause a significant increase in blood sugar levels.

  • lose or maintain a healthy weight;
  • proper nutrition;
  • Need help with blood sugar management for diabetes.

Knowing the glycemic index of carbohydrates will help you adjust your diet to keep your blood sugar levels in the normal range. Foods with a low glycemic index can affect blood glucose levels.

Diet to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight

Diet can be a means to lose weight and prevent obesity-related chronic diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. These are products with a number of 50 or less.

Examples of foods with low and high glycemic index values:

Low GI: Peppers, broccoli, tomatoes, lettuce, eggplant, strawberries, apples, pears, raw carrots, legumes, bran cereal, whole/non-fat milk, plain yogurt, dark chocolate with more than 70% cocoa. cashew, peanut.

Foods with a high glycemic index typically number over 70 and include: processed foods, sugary drinks, fast food, baked goods, cereals other than whole grains, white rice, white bread, and potatoes.

Glycemic load, what is it?

Glycemic load – depends on both the quality and quantity of carbohydrates. This takes into account the serving size and digestibility of various carbohydrates. Calories still matter, as does the amount of carbs. You need to watch the portion size and amount of carbohydrates in the food you eat, even if it contains low GI foods. The glycemic load value is a useful tool for planning meals when the calculation takes into account both the GI of the food and its quantity.


How food specifically affects blood sugar depends on the individual. In fact, the GI of foods can vary depending on a number of factors, which in some cases can make the measurement unreliable. Proteins and fats can delay carbohydrate metabolism and therefore cause blood sugar levels to rise more slowly. The most reliable way to find out how certain foods affect the body is to measure your blood sugar two hours after eating. A link to the GI of a food can be helpful, but it should not be the only tool used to control blood sugar levels.

Although the glycemic index is not a perfect system, it can be a useful tool for identifying low glycemic foods, which are often more nutritious, as well as foods high in refined carbohydrates.

Похожие статьи