What is the glycaemic index?

In the last couple of years you may have heard about the Glycaemic Index or the GI factor.  Nutritionists are now discussing the benefits of eating low GI foods.  The Glycaemic Index is a new term that applies to carbohydrate containing foods.  It is a measure of the effect that a carbohydrate containing food has on blood glucose levels.  Examples of carbohydrate foods include breads, cereals, fruit, legumes and starchy vegetables.  The GI is a ranking of carbohydrate foods from 0 – 100.

To make sense of the numbers, foods, can be categorized as low, intermediate or high GI.  Low GI foods have a GI less than 55, which cause a slower and lower rise in blood glucose levels.  Intermediate GI foods have a GI between 55 and 70.  They cause blood glucose levels to go up at a moderate rate.  High GI foods have a GI greater than 70.  They cause a rapid rise in blood glucose levels.  There are many factors that influence the GI of a food.  These include the amount and type of sugar in the food, the food’s acidity, and its fat and fibre content.    Including more low GI foods in the diet can assist with weight control, diabetes and even cholesterol lowering.  The good news is that these benefits can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.  The easiest way to eat a lower GI diet is to try and include one low GI food at each meal or three low GI foods a day.

Hints for eating the low GI way:

  • Choose multi grain or oat based breads
  • Select high fibre cereals based on psyllium, oats or bran
  • Use lower GI rice choices
  • Choose low GI carbohydrates with meals ie. Sweet potato’s, corn , pasta, noodles, cracked wheat.
  • Snack on low GI fruit eg. Cherries, grapes, applies, pears, peaches, dried apricots
  • Select low fat yoghurts, ice creams, fruit desserts and custards.
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