Many times I often hear different people’s perspectives on carbohydrate – mainly people expressing their hatred towards it and it being the number one public enemy. Carbohydrates are not the enemy! They are quite friendly in fact. They are one of the main macronutrients in your diet that help provide energy for our body. However, there are some carbohydrates that are better for us and this is because of something known as the glycaemic index.
What is the Glycaemic Index?
The glycaemic index (GI) is a ranking of carbohydrate foods based on their overall effect on blood sugar levels. Foods that are slowly absorbed have a low GI rating, whereas quickly absorbed foods have a higher GI rating. We should know this because low GI foods can help stabilize your blood sugar levels especially for those who have diabetes.
However, a low GI food does not necessary mean it is healthy and a high GI food does not mean it is unhealthy. A watermelon fruit has a high GI and a chocolate bar can have a low GI – so applying wisdom is essential during your food selection process when shopping and how frequently the food is being consumed. Having said this, there are many factors that can influence the GI of a food, such as the cooking preparation of the food, the processing of the food, the fat, fibre and protein content of the food too!
Below is a list of some of the low, medium and high GI foods:
Low GI Foods (55 or less) :
Long grain rice
Medium GI Foods (56-69) :
White basmati rice
High GI Foods (>70):
Having an overall healthy balanced diet is pivotal to reduce the risk of diabetes and related conditions or managing diabetes and the Eatwell Guide shown below is a perfect guide to help individuals adopt a balanced diet. As mentioned earlier in this post, it is not always wise to strictly solely focus on the GI of foods, as a chocolate bar for instance, has a low GI but a very very very HIGH fat content! However, from a starchy carbohydrate point on view, opting for low GI options can promote beneficial health effects. However, if you do like eating some of the high GI food just be sure to keep the portion size small to minimize the effect on your blood sugar levels.