High Glycemic Index Foods – Overview
Do you remember being told to not eat too many sweets together? Well, elders do have better knowledge of health and food. Eating too many sweets or food which have a high glycemic index (GI) can make your blood a bit too sweet, aka increase blood glucose levels. And that’s not a good thing for you. High glycemic index foods should have a regulated intake in your diet.
What is Glycemic Index (GI)?
Glycemic Index is a measurement that ranks food containing carbohydrates and their potential to raise blood sugar levels. GI is based on the fact that not all carbs react in the same manner(1). While sugar in simple carbohydrates like soda breaks down easily, sugar in complex carbs like whole wheat and vegetables takes more time to absorb.
The Glycemic Index Foundation (GIF) classifies the GI into three broad categories: low, medium, or high.
|Low||55 or less|
|High||70 or greater|
What Factors Affect the Glycemic Index of Food?
According to GIF, many factors cause a certain food to raise blood sugar levels. Some main factors are:
- DNA, aka Physical and chemical structure of the food
- Amount of fiber
- Amount of protein, fat, and acid
- If and how much the food is refined
- Method of cooking
Usually, foods that are refined and highly processed spikes blood sugar quickly, whereas foods with fats, protein, and fiber release glucose slowly. The amount of time taken to cook food also determines the release of glucose after consumption.
Benefits of low glycemic index foods
High GI food tends to increase the level of blood sugar sharply, simultaneously causing insulin levels to increase rapidly. After a while, the blood sugar levels drop quickly, leaving the person feeling low in energy and in a poor mood.
A long-term dysregulation in blood sugar levels can cause insulin resistance. A low GI diet can potentially cause some health benefits. Especially for people who are suffering from diabetes or are in a pre-diabetic state, low GI foods can help control blood sugar and minimize the risk of long-term illness.
Further studies suggest that a low GI diet has the potential to help lose weight.
Are Low-GI foods Healthier?
The purpose of a low GI diet is to choose foods that do not spike your blood sugar levels drastically. A balanced diet regularly includes some low-GI foods, including whole grains, fruit, vegetables, beans, lentils, etc.
Only using GI to decide whether a food/diet is healthy or not isn’t enough. GI values do not tell you about the nutritional values of food. Preparation of food with fiber and protein can lower GI levels too. For example, watermelon has a GI of 76, and chocolate, on the other hand, has a GI of 49 only.
The GI database currently does not rate or classify all foods. It’s just a list of foods that have been studied till now. By no means is it an endpoint?
Overall, it is good to know GI levels, but it does not necessarily mean that you are taking healthy food, and by no means should it be the only indicator of a healthy diet.
5 High Glycemic Index Foods
#1. Bread made of white flour
White flour is processed from wheat after the bran and germ layers have been removed, effectively making it less healthy. Since the amount of fiber in processed white flour is less, it ends up spiking blood sugar levels. A large piece of white bread has 71 markings on the GI list.
#2. Breakfast Cereals
Cereals are a popular choice for breakfast. Easier to prepare and make, cereals are also quite affordable but not necessarily healthy. One cup of cornflakes has a GI of 79. Instant oatmeal has a GI of 83.
Potatoes are the literal king on the GI list. A medium-sized potato has a GI level of 111. A boiled potato has slightly less GI levels of about 82.
#4. Soft Drinks
Sugary soft drinks have a GI of around 60, making them not necessarily high. But the added calories are not helpful either. Sugary soft drinks can contribute to obesity and are not healthy. Diet soft drinks with 0 GI and few carbs have no other nutritional value to offer, making them utterly useless.
Are you a rice lover? Well then, we have mixed news for you. Rice has a GI of about 73. Brown rice, on the other hand, has low GI. If you consume rice regularly, it’s best to eat it with a healthy side serving of vegetables, lentils, and beans. Also, controlling the portion of rice is a good idea.
GI levels inform us about the potential of a spike in blood sugar levels by a particular food. In no way is it an overall indicator of what a balanced diet should or should not include. High-level Index foods should be avoided in large quantities. It is one tool you can use while making food choices, especially if you are diabetic or prone to diabetes. A well-balanced diet with healthy carbs, fats, and protein is your ultimate option.