Learn about Glycemic Index
Nutrition & Food
Glycemic index is a standard of measure based on scores assigned to foods that rank carbohydrates based on how quickly, and in what time span, the food is converted into a simple sugar or glucose in the blood. The rank or number a carbohydrate receives is determined by testing. Testing a food for its glycemic index value is accomplished by human trial. A person is given a standard portion of food after a 12 hour fast. Measurements are then taken at specific intervals of time to determine how rapidly the food converts to glucose in the bloodstream. Notice the carbohydrate foods illustrated in the image above, note the variety of fruits, breads, juices, and fruits. Can you identify the foods in the image that might score the highest on the glycemic index?
Foods that breakdown quickly during digestion are assigned a higher number on the glycemic index. Foods that break down slowly are assigned a lower number on the glycemic index. The standard of measure of glucose, or simple sugar, is rated at 100. Essentially, when you eat foods like bread, white potatoes, rice, pasta, candy or cookies your blood sugar will rise quickly. These foods are assigned a high number on the glycemic index because the food breaks down during digestion very quickly causing a surge of sugar in the blood. This is called high blood sugar. People who frequently eat high glycemic foods can develop insulin resistance. In insulin resistance, liver, fat, and muscle cells do not respond properly to insulin and therefore cannot absorb glucose from the bloodstream. Because of insulin resistance, the pancreas creates higher levels of insulin to help glucose leave the bloodstream to enter cells. Over time, this process of insulin resistance can play a part leading to type 2 diabetes.
Click on the + sign to evaluate the glycemic index of common foods.
Eating foods that rank on the mid to low end of the glycemic index scale can help you to keep stable blood sugar levels. Foods in this category are whole foods that contain fiber and macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates, and fat). For example, fibrous vegetables eaten along with foods that contain healthy fats and protein is better than eating high sugar foods alone. If you eat an apple, eat the whole apple because the skin of the apple contains fiber. The apple’s skin aids in lowering the glycemic index of the apple when compared to eating the apple without the skin. In addition to eating foods that contain fiber and macronutrients that are ranked lower on the glycemic index scale, getting adequate sleep nightly, daily physical exercise, and maintaining your ideal healthy weight can keep you healthy.
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