What Is the Glycemic Index?
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 and mood to have a specific (not too high, not too low) level of blood glucose.
If you have diabetes, you know how important a healthy diet is for managing your blood glucose levels. A healthy diet, along with medicines and regular physical activity, can help keep your glucose levels in check. But what is a healthy diet for someone with diabetes? Could following the glycemic index be the answer?
The glycemic index is a measure of how your body responds to foods that contain carbohydrates. 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 (eg, ripe bananas have a higher glycemic index than unripe), how a food is cooked, and 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|
Last reviewedMay 2011by Dianne Scheinberg MS, RD, LDN
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.