image for breakfast article Glucose is the chemical name of the sugar molecules in your blood. All the carbohydrates, starches, and sugars that you eat are digested or changed into glucose in your body. The amount of glucose in your blood at any given time is called blood glucose. It is important for your health to keep your blood glucose within a specific range.

If you have diabetes, you know how important a healthy diet is for managing your blood glucose levels. A healthy diet, along with medication and regular physical activity, can help keep your glucose levels in check. Could following the glycemic index be the answer?

The glycemic index is an indirect measure of how much carbohydrate there is in a food. The glycemic index of a particular food is measured by how much it raises blood glucose levels compared to a reference food—usually glucose or white bread. A food with a high glycemic index raises blood glucose levels more than a food with a low glycemic index.

Determining the glycemic index of a food is not as easy as it sounds. Many factors come into play, like ripeness. For example, ripe bananas have a higher glycemic index than unripe. This is because sugar is produced as fruit ripens, making it sweeter. Other considerations include how a food is cooked or what else is eaten along with the food. Generally speaking, foods that are high in fiber have a lower glycemic index, and foods that are highly processed have a higher glycemic index.

Here is how some common foods compare:

Low Glycemic Index (55 or less) Medium Glycemic Index (56-69) High Glycemic Index (70 or higher)
100% stone-ground whole wheat bread Whole wheat or rye bread White bread or bagel
Oatmeal (rolled or steel-cut) Quick oats Short-grain white rice
Pasta, barley Brown or basmati rice Pretzels, popcorn
Sweet potato, corn, yam, legumes, lentils Couscous Pineapple