What is GI?
The Glycemic Index (GI) is a measurement system that ranks foods according to their effect on your blood sugar levels. It was created in the early 1980s by Dr. David Jenkins, a Canadian professor. Pure glucose is used as a reference food and has a GI value of 100. Various foods are given GI value for the relative increase in blood sugar levels with respect to pure glucose. The three GI ratings are:
- Low: 55 or fewer
- Medium: 56–69
- High: 70 or more
The table below provides examples of foods with low, medium, or high GI scores.
Below are six of the best low-GI foods
Foods with a low GI value are the preferred choice for consumption. They are slowly digested and absorbed and cause a slower and smaller rise in blood sugar levels. On the other hand, foods with a high GI value should be consumed in limited amounts. They are quickly digested and absorbed, and result in a rapid rise and fall of blood sugar level
1. Oats – 55
With a GI score of 55, rolled porridge oats are low-GI breakfast cereal option. Oats contain beta-glucan, a type of fiber with several health benefits. Steel-cut and rolled oats have the best health benefits and the most favorable GI score. Quick and instant oats are more processed than steel-cut or rolled oats, and they have a higher GI score. Muesli that contains steel-cut or rolled oats can be a good option for people following a low-GI diet.
2. Milk – 37 to 39
A healthful addition to morning porridge, milk is a low-GI dairy product. The GI score for skimmed milk is 37, while full-fat milk has a score of 39.Milk is rich in calcium, which is important for bone health. Research suggests that drinking milk regularly may reduce the progression of knee osteoarthritis in women. Reduced-fat soy milk can have a GI score of between 17 and 44, and full-fat soy milk may score 44. The specific GI score will vary among brands.
3. Chickpeas – 28
Chickpeas, or garbanzo beans, are a low-GI legume, with a score of 28 on the scale. Chickpeas are a good source of protein and fiber, with 11.8 grams (g) and 10.6 g per cup, respectively. They also contain key nutrients, such as calcium, potassium, and vitamin B-9, which is sometimes called folate. People can use chickpeas as a substitute for potatoes or white rice, which have high GI scores. Roasted chickpeas make a quick and easy snack.
4. Carrots – 39
With a GI score of 39, carrots are a healthful alternative to bread for dipping into hummus. Carrots contain beta-carotene, which is good for eye health. They are also a great source of antioxidants, which help protect the body’s cells from damage. People can enjoy carrots boiled or steamed as a side vegetable with any dish.
5. Kidney beans – 24
With a GI score of 24, kidney beans are a versatile low-GI food. These beans are rich in protein and fiber, with 13.36 g and 11 g per cup, respectively. They also contain potassium and are very low in fat. Kidney beans make a great addition to meat-based or vegetarian chili.
6. Lentils – 32
Scoring 32 on the GI scale, lentils are a great low-GI addition to lunches and dinners. Lentils are rich in protein, with 17.86 g per cup, and fiber, with 15.6 g per cup. They are also a good source of phosphorus and potassium. An Indian dish called Dal is a wholesome and tasty way to enjoy lentils. Dal is also easy to make at home.
Many factors influence a food’s GI score, including:
- Level of processing: More processed carbohydrates tend to have higher GI scores.
- Ripeness: The sugar in fruit breaks down as the fruit ripens, increasing the GI score.
- Preparation: The cooking process can break down carbohydrates, increasing the meal’s GI score.
- Dressing: Using an acidic seasoning, such as lemon, lowers a meal’s GI score.
- Type of starch: Amylose has a lower GI score than amylopectin.
People on a low-GI diet can also enjoy foods that do not contain carbohydrates, such as the following:
- olive oil
Our body has an obligatory requirement for glucose dependent on metabolic demands of our body. It is usually 200 gm/day. Our brain completely depends upon oxygen and glucose. Maintaining a constant blood glucose level is important for our health and well-being. The scoring between 0 to 100 with glucose being the reference food with a GI food value fixed at 100. It is a new system of classifying carbohydrate containing foods, according to how quickly they raise the blood sugar levels in the body.
- 8 principles of low-glycemic eating – Harvard Health
- Metabolic effects of low glycemic index diets (nih.gov)
- Sugars and Health Workshop: summary and conclusions | The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition | Oxford Academic (oup.com)
- The concept of low glycemic index and glycemic load foods as panacea for type 2 diabetes mellitus; prospects, challenges and solutions (nih.gov)