Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Sugar: The Glycemic Index

“To understand sugars and carbohydrates and the insulin response to them, it’s also extremely helpful to know about the Glycemic Index of foods. The Glycemic Index is a listing based upon real-life blood-sugar levels after the ingestion of various foods. Low-glycemic foods rank between 0 and 40 on the scale and raise the blood sugar slowly and gradually. They are the least likely to cause blood-sugar fluctuations, followed, of course by moderate-glycemic foods. High-glycemic foods, however, cause an alarmingly fast rise in blood sugar, followed by an equally severe blood-sugar crash. In other words, they are high inducers of insulin.” (Get the Sugar Out by Gittleman)

Here are some foods and how they rate on the Glycemic Index of Foods:

Index of 80 to 100- corn flakes, French baguette, instant white rice, rice krispies, white bread, whole-wheat bread, carrots, apricots, corn chips, rolled oats, honey, white rice, brown rice, corn, ripe banana, white potato

Index of 40 to 70- raisins, mars candy bar, white and whole-wheat spaghetti, beets, apple juice, applesauce, potato chips, lactose, frozen peas, sucrose, sweet potato, navy and lima beans, steal cut oatmeal, grapes, oranges, orange juice

Index of 10 to 40- apples, pears, tomato soup, ice cream, chickpeas, skim and whole milk, yogurt, fructose, plums, peaches, grapefruit, cherries, soybeans, peanuts

Keep in mind:

1. Foods that rank lower on the index help maintain weight, balance blood sugar, and give better, longer-term energy than higher-index foods, which give quick bursts of energy.

2. Eating some protein or fat with moderate- or high-glycemic foods helps to slow down the body’s insulin response and keep blood sugar more steady.

3. Even when they rank equal to whole-grain products on the Glycemic Index, processed carbohydrates such as white pasta are still less desirable than whole-grain products because they lack vitamins, minerals and fiber.

Click here for a glycemic index chart.

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