Have you ever heard that it is better for your health to choose foods that have a low glycemic index? Here are some explanations to help shed some light on the matter!
The glycemic index is used to classify foods according to their effects on blood sugar. The more a food has a high glycemic index, the more it increases the blood sugar levels quickly. In contrast, a low glycemic index food is digested and absorbed more slowly, and thus causes a slower rise in blood sugar. A number of factors influence the glycemic index of foods, such as the types of sugars that they contain, their protein and fat content, and even the way they are cooked.
The glycemic index does not take into account the amount of carbohydrates that are consumed, which also has an effect on blood sugar levels. This is why the concept of glycemic load was developed to measure the total potential of the food consumed to increase the blood glucose levels. Indeed, while the glycemic index compares the potential for different foods to increase blood glucose for a same amount of carbohydrates, the rise in blood sugar following food consumption also depends on the amount of carbohydrates that are actually ingested. For example, watermelon has a high glycemic index. However, watermelon contains only 5 g of carbohydrates per 100 g of food and, therefore, has a minimal effect on blood glucose, which is why its glycemic load is low. The following table lists the values associated with foods that have a low, medium and high glycemic index or load.
Values Associated to a Low, Moderate and High Glycemic Index (GI) and Glycemic Load (GL)