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Carbohydrates and the Glycemic Index

A new system for classifying carbohydrates calls into question many of the old assumptions about how carbohydrates affect health. This new system, known as the glycemic index, measures how fast and how far blood sugar rises after you eat a food that contains carbohydrates. White bread, for example, is digested almost immediately to glucose, causing blood sugar to spike rapidly. So white bread is classified as having a high glycemic index. Brown rice, in contrast, is digested more slowly, causing a lower and more gentle change in blood sugar. It has a lower glycemic index.

Why Is GI Important?

Over the past 15 years, low-GI diets have been associated with decreased risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, stroke, depression, chronic kidney disease, formation of gall stones, neural tube defects, formation of uterine fibroids, and cancers of the breast, colon, prostate, and pancreas.

Excerpts from WebMD
Some foods can make your blood sugar shoot up very fast. That's because carbohydrates like refined sugars and bread are easier for your body to change into glucose, the sugar your body uses for energy, than more slowly digested carbs like those in vegetables and whole grains. Eat a lot of those easy carbohydrates and you'll have a hard time controlling your blood sugar, even with insulin and diabetes medications.

The glycemic index gives you a way to tell slower-acting "good carbs" from the faster "bad carbs." You can use it to fine-tune your carb-counting and help keep your blood sugar more steady.

Assess Yourself: Is Your Type 2 Diabetes Under Control? (WebMD)

Glycemic index is a number. It gives you an idea about how fast your body converts the carbs in a food into glucose. Two foods with the same amount of carbohydrates can have different glycemic index numbers.

The smaller the number, the less impact the food has on your blood sugar.

55 or less = Low (good)

56- 69 = Medium

70 or higher = High (bad)

Look for the glycemic index on the labels of packaged foods. You can also find glycemic index lists for common foods on the Internet. Harvard University has one with more than 100. Or ask your dietitian or nutrition counselor.

Foods that are close to how they're found in nature tend to have a lower glycemic index than refined and processed foods.

Glycemic Index Can Change

That number is a starting point on paper. It could be different on your plate, depending on several things.

Preparation. Fat, fiber, and acid (such as lemon juice or vinegar) lower the glycemic index. The longer you cook starches like pasta, the higher their glycemic index will be.

Ripeness. The glycemic index of fruits like bananas goes up as they ripen.

Other foods eaten at the same time. Bring down the overall glycemic index of a meal by combining a high-glycemic index food with foods that have lower ones.

Your age, how active you are, and how fast you digest food also affect how your body reacts to carbs. If you have a diabetes complication called gastroparesis, which delays your stomach from emptying, your body will absorb food much more slowly.

Most beneficial: Low GI
Less beneficial: Medium GI
Avoid: High GI

Glycemic Index Tables

High GI


Corn syrup

115

Beer *

110

Glucose (dextrose)

100

Glucose syrup

100

Modified starch

100

Wheat syrup, rice syrup

100

Fried potatoes, scalloped potatoes

95

Potato flour (starch)

95

Potatoes, oven cooked

95

Rice flour

95

Gluten-free white bread

90

Potato flour

90

Sticky rice

90

Arrowroot

85

Carrots (cooked) *

85

Celeriac, knob celery, turnip rooted celery (cooked) *

85

Corn flakes

85

Hamburger buns

85

Instant/parboiled rice

85

Maizena (corn starch)

85

Parsnip *

85

Pop corn (without sugar)

85

Puffed rice

85

Rice cake/pudding

85

Rice milk

85

Tapioca

85

Turnip (coked) *

85

White sandwich bread

85

White wheat flour

85

Fava bean, broad bean, horse bean (cooked)

80

Mashed potatoes

80

Doughnuts

75

Lasagna (soft wheat)

75

Pumpkin, gourd *

75

Rice milk (with sugar)

75

Squash/marrow (various) *

75

Waffle (with sugar)

75

Watermelon*

75

Bagels

70

Baguette white bread

70

Biscuit

70

Brioche

70

Cabbage turnip, rutabaga, Swede turnip

70

Chocolate bar (with sugar added)

70

Cola drinks, soft drinks, sodas

70

Corn flour

70

Croissant

70

Dried dates

70

Gnocchi

70

Matzo bread (white flour)

70

Millet, sorghum

70

Molasses

70

Mush

70

Noodles (tender wheat)

70

Pealed boiled potatoes

70

Plantain/cooking banana/platano (cooked)

70

Polenta, cornmeal

70

Potato chips, crisps

70

Puffed amaranth

70

Ravioli (soft wheat)

70

Refined cereals (with sugar added)

70

Rice bread

70

Risotto

70

Rusk

70

Special K™

70

Standard rice

70

Tacos

70

White sugar (sucrose)

70

Whole brown sugar

70

Beet, beetroot (cooked) *

65

Chestnut flour

65

Chinese noodles/vermicelli (rice)

65

Couscous, semolina

65

Hovis, brown bread (with leaven)

65

Jam (with sugar added)

65

Maple syrup

65

Marmalade (with sugar)

65

Mars®, Sneakers®, Nuts®, etc.

65

Muesli (with sugar or honey added...)

65

Pain au chocolat

65

Panapen, breadfruit, breadnut

65

Pineapple (tin/can)

65

Quince (preserve/jelly, with sugar)

65

Raisins (red and golden)

65

Rye bread (30% of rye)

65

Sorbet (with sugar added)

65

Sweet corn, corn

65

Tamarind, Indian date (sweet)

65

Tropical yam -US-, yam

65

Unpeeled boiled/steamed potato

65

Unpeeled boiled/steamed potato

65

Whole-grain bread

65

Apricots ( tin/can with syrup)

60

Bananas (ripe)

60

Blanched barley

60

Chestnut

60

Hard/durum wheat semolina

60

Honey

60

Ice cream (regular, with sugar added)

60

Lasagna (hard wheat)

60

Long-grain rice

60

Mayonnaise (industrial, sweetened)

60

Melons (cantaloupe, honeydew, etc.) *

60

Milk loaf, milk white

60

Oatmeal, porridge

60

Ovomaltine

60

Perfumed rice (jasmine...)

60

Pizza

60

Powder chocolate (with sugar)

60

Ravioli (hard wheat)

60

Bulgur wheat (cooked)

55

Butter cookies, shortbread, spritz biscuit (flour, butter, sugar)

55

Grape juice (unsweetened)

55

Japanese plum, loquat

55

Ketchup

55

Mango juice (unsweetened)

55

Manioc, mandioca, yucca, Cassava (bitter)

55

Manioc, mandioca, yucca, cassava (sweet)

55

Mustard (sugar added)

55

Nutella®

55

Papaya (fresh fruit)

55

Peaches (tin/can, with syrup)

55

Red rice

55

Spaghetti (well cooked)

55

Sushi

55

Tagliatelle (well cooked)

55



Medium Gi


All Bran™

50

Apple juice (unsweetened)

50

Basmati rice

50

Biscuit (whole flour, no sugar added)

50

Bread with quinoa (approximately 65% of quinoa)

50

Brown rice, unpolished rice

50

Cereal bar, energetic (no sugar added)

50

Chayote, chocho, pear squash, christophine

50

Cranberry juice (unsweetened)

50

Jerusalem artichoke

50

Kiwifruit, monkey peach *

50

Litchi (fresh fruit)

50

Macaronis (durum wheat)

50

Mango (fresh fruit)

50

Muesli (no sweet)

50

Persimmon, kaki-persimmon

50

Pineapple juice (unsweetened)

50

Spelt bread

50

Sweet potatoes

50

Wasa™ light rye

50

Whole couscous/semolina

50

Whole wheat pasta

50

Bananas (unripe)

45

Barley, whole grain

45

Brown basmati rice

45

Capellini pasta

45

Coconut

45

Cranberry

45

Farro flour (integral)

45

Grapefruit juice (unsweetened)

45

Grapes, green and red (fresh fruit)

45

Green peas (tin/can)

45

Kamut bread

45

Kamut flour (integral)

45

Orange juice (fresh squeezed and unsweetened)

45

Pineapple (fresh fruit)

45

Plantain/cooking banana/platano (raw)

45

Plantain/cooking banana/platano (raw)

45

Rye (integral; flour, bread)

45

Toasted integral bread

45

Tomato sauce (with sugar)

45

Whole bulgur wheat (cooked)

45

Whole cereals (no sugar added)

45

Whole couscous, whole semolina

45

Al dente spaghetti (5 min cook)

40

Bread, 100% integral flour with pure leaven

40

Brut cider

40

Buckwheat, kasha, saracen (integral; flour or bread)

40

Carrot juice (unsweetened)

40

Coconut milk

40

Dried apricots

40

Dried fig

40

Dried plums/prunes

40

Egyptian wheat, kamut

40

Falafel (fava beans)

40

Farro

40

Fava beans, broad beans, horse beans (raw)

40

Integral wheat pasta, al dente

40

Kidney/pinto beans (tin/can)

40

Lactose

40

Matzo bread (integral flour)

40

Oat flakes (uncooked)

40

Oats

40

Peanut butter (no suger addes)

40

Pepino dulce, melon pear

40

Pumpernickel bread

40

Quince (preserve/jelly, without sugar)

40

Quinoa flour

40

Shortbread, spritz biscuit (integral flour, no sugar added)

40

Sorbet (unsweetened)

40

Spelt, einkorn (integral)

40

Tahin

40



Low GI


Adzuki/azuki bean

35

Ale strains

35

Amaranth, seeds

35

Apple (fresh fruit)

35

Apple stew, apple sauce

35

Black beans

35

Cassoulet (meat and beans French dish)

35

Celeriac, knob celery, turnip rooted celery (raw)

35

Chick pea flour

35

Chick peas, garbanzo beans (tin/can)

35

Chinese noodles/vermicelli (hard wheat), noodles

35

Cranberry bean, borlotti bean, Roman bean

35

Custard apple, cherimoya, sherbet fruit, soursop, guanabana

35

Dijon type mustard

35

Dried apples

35

Dried tomatos

35

Essene/ezekiel bread (sprouted cereals bread)

35

Falafel (chick peas)

35

Figs; Indian/barbary fig (fresh fruit)

35

Green peas (fresh)

35

Green peas (fresh)

35

Ice cream (with real fructose)

35

Indian corn

35

Kidney/pinto beans

35

Linum, sesame (seeds)

35

Nectarines (fresh fruit)

35

Oranges (fresh fruit)

35

Peaches (fresh fruit)

35

Plums, prunes (fresh fruit)

35

Pomegranate (fresh fruit)

35

Quince (fresh fruit)

35

Quinoa, hie

35

Soy yogurt (fruit flavored)

35

Sunflower seeds

35

Tomato juice

35

Tomato sauce (natural, no sugar added)

35

Wasa™ fiber (24%)

35

White almond paste/puree (unsweetened)

35

White beans, haricot beans, cannellini beans, faziola beans

35

Wild rice

35

Yeast

35

Yoghurt, yogurt **

35

Almond milk

30

Apricots (fresh fruit)

30

Beet (raw)

30

Brown lentils

30

Carrots (raw)

30

Chick peas, garbanzo beans

30

Chinese noodles/vermicelli (made from soy or mung beans)

30

French beans, string beans

30

Garlic

30

Grapefruit, pummelo, shaddock (fresh fruit)

30

Jam (no sugar added, fruit juice sweetened)

30

Marmalade (no sugar added)

30

Milk** (skimmed or not)

30

Oat milk (non cooked)

30

Passion fruit, maracuja, granadilla

30

Pears (fresh fruit)

30

Powdered/fresh milk **

30

Quark, curd cheese **

30

Scorzoneras

30

Soya milk

30

Tangerines, madarines, satsuma

30

Tomatoes

30

Turnip (raw)

30

Yellow lentils

30

Blackberry, mulberry

25

Blueberry, whortleberry, bilberry

25

Cherries

25

Dark chocolate (more than 70% of cocoa content)

25

Flageolet beans, fayot beans

25

Gooseberry

25

Green lentils

25

Hummus, homus, humus

25

Mung beans, moong dal

25

Peanut paste/puree (unsweetened)

25

Pearl barley

25

Raspberry (fresh fruit)

25

Redcurrant

25

Seeds (squash/marrow)

25

Soy flour

25

Split peas

25

Strawberries (fresh fruit)

25

Whole-almond paste/puree (unsweetened)

25

Whole-hazelnut paste/puree (unsweetened)

25

Artichoke

20

Bamboo shoot

20

Chocolate, plain (>85% of cocoa)

20

Eggplant, aubergine

20

Heart of palm, cabbage palm

20

Lemon juice (unsweetened)

20

Powder cocoa (no sugar added)

20

Ratatouille

20

Real fructose, fruit sugar

20

Soy yogurt (unflavored)

20

Soy "cream"

20

Tamari sauce (unsweetened)

20

West Indian cherry, acerola

20

Agave (syrup)

15

Almonds

15

Asparagus

15

Black currant

15

Bran (oat, wheat...)

15

Broccoli

15

Brussels sprouts

15

Cabbage

15

Carob powder

15

Cashew nut, acajou

15

Cauliflower

15

Celery

15

Cereal shoots (soy or mung bean sprouts, etc.)

15

Chicory, endive

15

Chili pepper

15

Courgettes, zucchini

15

Cucumber

15

Fennel

15

Ginger

15

Hazelnuts, filberts, Barcelona nuts

15

Leeks, scallions

15

Mushroom, fungus

15

Olives

15

Onions

15

Peanuts

15

Pesto

15

Physalis, golden gooseberry, Cape gooseberry, Chinese lantern, husk tomato

15

Pickle

15

Pine seed

15

Pistachio, green almond

15

Radish

15

Rhubarb

15

Runner beans, Italian flat beans

15

Salad, lettuce

15

Sauerkraut, sourcrout

15

Shallot, echalot, Spanish garlic

15

Sorrel dock

15

Soya

15

Spinach beet, perpetual spinach

15

Spinaches

15

Sprouted seeds

15

Sweet peppers (red, green), paprika

15

Tofu, soybean curd

15

Walnuts

15

Avocado

10

Crustaceans

5

Spices (parsley, basil, oregano, cinnamon, vanilla, etc.)

5

Vinegar

5


* These foods, even though they have high GIs, their pure sugar content (pure glucid) is quite low (approximately 5%.) Consuming these foods should not significantly affect blood sugar levels.


** There is practically no difference in the GIs of whole-milk products and non-fat milk products. It is important to keep in mind that milk products, even if their GI is low, have a high insulinic index.