Low Glycemic Foods
The Glycemic Index
In simple terms, the glycemic index (GI) is a way of comparing carbohydrates based on their immediate effect on blood sugar levels. The highest glycemic foods will release glucose (sugar) almost instantly into the bloodstream while the lower glycemic choices will take longer to digest, and the glucose will be released more slowly into the bloodstream.
Why does the glycemic value of carbs matter?
With the rise of obesity, diabetes and heart disease, the way your body handles carbohydrates has become an important issue. It seems like a good idea for most people to include lower glycemic carbs more often than the higher glycemic ones. The reason for this is that the speed and amount of glucose entering the blood has an effect on insulin levels, and insulin levels have a lot to do with the way you feel and how much fat your body stores.
It appears that one way to keep your insulin at a healthy level is to maintain a gradual, steady release of glucose into the bloodstream, rather than the surge caused by high glycemic foods. This seems more easily accomplished by eating low glycemic foods that digest more slowly. This is of particular importance to pre-diabetics, diabetics and those trying to lose weight.
Range of values
The glycemic index has a range from 0 to 100, with 100 being pure glucose and 0 indicating a negligible effect on blood sugar. In general, foods that have a glycemic index of 55 or below are considered lower glycemic foods, foods with a value between 56 and 69 are medium glycemic foods and those with a glycemic index value of 70 or above are high glycemic.
Note - Experts cannot seem to agree on some of the exact GI values, due to different testing methods, food composition and physiology of individuals, so I have not included glycemic index number values for the foods listed.
*Fruits and vegetables are fresh and uncooked, unless otherwise indicated.*
Low Glycemic Foods List
Green Leafy Vegetables
Peanut Butter, old-fashioned
Pumpernickel Bread, whole grain only
Certain foods have no significant effect on blood sugar
Another way of saying this is that there are a number of foods in the list that would score zero on the GI scale which means that they would have little or no effect on your blood sugar. These include the following:
Almonds, Artichokes, Avocados, Beef, Bok Choy, Brazil Nuts, Broccoli, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Celery, Cheese, Crab, Cucumber, Eggs, Fish, Hazelnuts, Lamb, Leafy vegetables, Lettuce, Lobster, Macadamia Nuts, Pork, Shrimp, Tuna and Walnuts.
Ways to help make low-glycemic foods
-There are some ways you can lower the glycemic index of certain foods you eat:
-Eat vegetables raw or lightly cooked.
-Eat fruits that are just ripe but not overripe.
-Serve pasta while it is still firm, "al dente."
-Eat baked potato with skin, if possible.
-Eat whole fruit and vegetables, rather than juice versions.
Research has shown that emphasizing lower glycemic carbs in your diet is associated with less risk of disease. This is partly because many lower-glycemic foods, such as vegetables and fruits, seem to provide protection against disease, because of their high nutrient content, including vitamins, minerals, fiber and phytonutrients.