Health Benefits of Foods with Low Glycemic Index (GI)

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Carbohydrate-rich foods with low glycemic index (GI) have health benefits than those with high GI. Learn what they are and start selecting the ideal foods.

Carbohydrates are the body’s preferred source of energy. Eating carbohydrate-rich foods helps improve one’s alertness and maintain concentration levels throughout the day, in addition to being capable of satisfying one’s hunger for a longer time. However, not all carbohydrate-containing foods are adequately healthy.

Carbohydrates can increase the sugar or glucose level in the blood, which in the end will generate the release of insulin from the pancreas. Insulin pushes the glucose out from the bloodstream toward the muscle cells and other tissues inside the body. In said places, glucose can be combined with oxygen, either to produce energy or to save the excess as fat.

Carbohydrates and Glycemic Index (GI)

Today, carbohydrates are categorized based on the glycaemic index (glycemic index or GI). GI reflects the effect of the food on the blood sugar level. There are three categories of carbohydrate-containing foods in regards to the glycemic index:

  1. carbohydrate-containing foods with low GI;
  2. carbohydrate-containing foods with moderate GI;
  3. carbohydrate-containing foods with high GI.

Simple carbohydrate-contained foods with high GI, that are known to be absorbed too fast, can cause an instant, great increase of blood sugar. Moreover, they will increase the risk of coronary heart disease. To the contrary, foods with low GI has significant health benefits as explained below.

Health Benefits of Low-GI Foods

New research reveals that consuming carbohydrate-rich foods with low GI will produce lower glucose level. As humans need a sufficient amount of insulin to sustain a normal glucose level in the blood, eating low-GI foods brings about a normal sensitivity to insulin that leads to a normal glucose level. When one has a normal glucose level, body fat is easier to burn and energy can be more stimulated.

A diet containing low-GI foods that are rich in fiber can also get rid of the dangerous effects on the blood plasma, glucose, insulin, and blood fat from the result of high-carbohydrate diet.

Ultimately, foods with low GI have another valuable effect, that is to lower the total cholesterol level and “bad” cholesterol (LDL) level, while at the same time raising the “good” cholesterol (HDL) level.

Healthy Foods with Low GI

Below are some instances of foods with low, moderate, and high GI, as compiled by English nutritionist Dr. Caroline M. Shreeve.

Foods with low GI:

  • breads: wheat breads (white and brown), heavy-fruit bread
  • grains and breakfast cereals: red rice, ground rice, wheat pasta, oatmeal, fiber-rich wheat cereal
  • vegetables: sweet potato, okra, legumes (pea, green bean), mushroom, broccoli, artichoke, eggplant
  • fruits: apple, pear, orange, grapefruit, banana
  • other foods: honey, jams, soy milk and its produce

Foods with moderate GI:

  • breads: sourdough bread, pitta bread, rye bread
  • grains and cereals: long-grain rice, white pasta, wheat cereal biscuit
  • vegetable: potato
  • fruits: plum, strawberry, red/black/white raisin

Foods with high GI:

  • bread: white bread
  • grains and cereals: short-grain rice, toasted rice cereal
  • vegetables: instant potato, tomato, lettuce, red cabbage
  • fruits: watermelon, dried date
  • other foods: soda water, most of sweets and candy

Recognizing the downside of high-GI foods and the health benefits of low-GI foods allows consumers to choose healthier carbohydrate-containing foods with a low GI and also to reduce their intake of foods with a high GI.

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