The Glycemic Index is a classification system that indicates how fast a food raises blood sugar levels. A number between zero and 100 is assigned to each food on the index. The higher the number, the more radical the change in blood sugar.
Diabetics and those with insulin resistance and hypoglycemia typically use the G.I. to cook food that won't change blood sugar dramatically. But the index is useful for dieters, athletes and anyone wanting to eat healthier. Keeping your glucose response low will improve health, because you will need to produce less insulin. G.I. cooking can reduce cholesterol, high blood pressure, maintain or boost energy and stave off hunger longer. Athletes can use the index to eat foods that will provide energy and keep them going longer without having to eat a large amount of carbohydrates. Dieters find the G.I. useful, because reducing the glucose release and insulin response can facilitate weight loss.
The worst foods from the standpoint of the G.I. have an index number of 70 to 100. These foods include white rice, dates, corn flakes, parsnips, rice crackers, jelly beans, pretzels, French bread, white and red potatoes, doughnuts and candy. The foods aren't necessarily bad. They are useful when you require quick energy. These are just the foods to avoid eating on a regular basis. Diabetics, and those with insulin resistance, should try to reduce or eliminate as many of these foods as possible.
The best foods for maintaining a steady blood sugar level and reducing insulin production include chickpeas, cherries, bran cereals, broccoli, cabbage, mushrooms, lettuce, onions, egg noodles, pearled barley, whole milk, hummus, yams and tomato soup. There are too many more to list. These foods should be the cornerstone of a diabetic's meal plan.
The G.I. can be arbitrary, because each person's nutritional needs and physical response varies. How you cook the food, its fiber content and the addition of fats, vinegar and other acids can all affect the actual glycemic number. For that reason, some prefer to use glycemic loading as the way to calculate which foods to eat. The glycemic load index is a rank of how much a predetermined serving of a food will raise blood sugar. With glycemic load, the numbers assigned range from zero to 20+. The higher the number, the faster the food serving will trigger a rapid rise in blood sugar. Glycemic load is dependent on the G.I., because the load is calculated by multiplying the grams of carbohydrate in a serving by the food's G.I. ranking and dividing that number by 100. For example, if there are 20 grams of carbs in a serving of food, and that food has a G.I. rank of 20, the glycemic load would be 4. That would mean it has a low glycemic load, so it should keep glucose release low and maintain stable blood sugar levels.