What is Glycemic Index?

Have you ever wondered why you have different reactions to different foods? Your blood sugar starts rising after you have consumed carrots but it remains normal after you have eaten pulses. The blood sugar is raised to variable extent by different carbohydrates. Therefore before deciding on what to eat it is very important to know the effect of various foods on the blood sugar levels.

What is Glycemic Index?

You need to be aware of which foods enter the blood stream rapidly and which foods enter at a slower pace. The reason is that the faster the carbohydrates enter the blood stream; the more blood sugar is raised. The Glycemic index is a precise measure of this. It tells you how a given food affects blood sugar. The Glycemic index is the extent of rise in blood sugar in response to a food in comparison with the response to the equivalent amount of glucose.

Diabetics need to stabilize blood sugar. As a result of this, insulin is released at a steady rate in to the blood. This helps further to control the blood sugar rise. In a diabetic condition sugar needs to be absorbed more slowly and in a steady manner in the blood stream. Eating the foods that enter the blood stream at a slower pace compared to foods that enter blood stream rapidly can do this. This is the role of the Glycemic index as it measures how fast a food enters the blood stream.

Carbohydrates and Glycemic Index

The concept of the Glycemic index is only about the foods rich in carbohydrates. Foods rich in fats or protein do not cause a rise in your blood sugar. You still think that being a diabetic you should take precaution to avoid table sugar but the Glycemic index shows that even some of the complex carbohydrates like baked potato should be avoided as they can be worse. Commonly consumed channa dal is another surprise. This dal has an extremely low Glycemic index. Scientists have measured the Glycemic index of about 300 carbohydrate foods. The key to control your blood sugar is to eat those foods with high Glycemic index in controlled amounts.

However, the Glycemic index should not be the only criterion to decide what to eat. It is a measure of quality and not quantity. Factors such as variety, cooking and processing may affect a food’s Glycemic index. This is particularly so for foods like banana, rice and potatoes. Research has shown that the Glycemic index of a raw banana is lower than that of ripe banana.

So the next time you eat some starchy food, remember to use the Glycemic Index.


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