GI Foods – High Or Low?
The Glycaemic Index (GI) is a ranking of carbohydrate-containing foods based on the overall effect on blood glucose levels.
Slowly absorbed foods have a low GI rating, while foods that are more quickly absorbed have a higher rating. This is important because choosing slowly absorbed carbohydrates, instead of quickly absorbed carbohydrates, can help even out blood glucose levels if you have diabetes.
The GI index was originally designed for people with diabetes to help keep their blood sugar levels under control. It is also a useful tool for non-diabetics in planning healthy meals and choosing foods.
What Are High GI Foods?
Carbohydrate foods that are broken down quickly by your body and cause a rapid increase in blood glucose have a high GI rating. Find out more about carbohydrates here
High GI foods include:
- sugar and sugary foods
- sugary soft drinks
- white bread
- white rice
What Are Low and Medium GI Foods?
Low or medium GI foods are broken down more slowly and cause a gradual rise in blood sugar levels over time. They include:
- some fruit and vegetables (but not dried fruit)
- wholegrain foods, such as porridge oats
Are low GI foods healthier?
Some low GI foods, such as wholegrain foods, fruit, vegetables, beans and lentils, are foods we should eat as part of a healthy balanced diet.
However, using the glycaemic index to decide whether foods or combinations of foods are healthy can be misleading.
Foods with a high GI are not necessarily unhealthy and not all foods with a low GI are healthy. For example, watermelon and parsnips are high GI foods, while chocolate cake has a lower GI value.
Can low GI foods help me lose weight?
Low GI foods, which cause your blood sugar levels to rise and fall slowly may help you feel fuller for longer. This could help control your appetite and may be useful if you’re trying to lose weight.
However, as mentioned above, not all foods with a low GI are healthy. Therefore, relying on GI alone is not a reliable way to decide whether foods or combinations of foods are healthy.
Also, foods that contain or are cooked with fat and protein slow down the absorption of carbohydrate, lowering their GI. For example, crisps have a lower GI than potatoes cooked without fat. However, crisps are high in fat and should be eaten in moderation.
If you only eat foods with a low GI, your diet may be unbalanced and high in fat.