Maintaining a steady blood sugar level is a very important component of healthy eating. Your body breaks down all digestible carbohydrates into blood sugar, and some are converted into blood sugar faster than others. Thus, some carbohydrates cause a spike in your blood sugar level which causes you to feel hungry faster and to crave more sugary foods. While other carbohydrates are converted into blood sugar more slowly, leveling out you blood sugar, resulting in less hunger, and less food cravings.
For this reason, the Glycemic Index (GI) was developed to classify how
quickly your body converts carbohydrates into blood sugar as compared to
pure glucose. Glucose has a GI of 100, and all other carbohydrate based
foods are ranked against it. Foods with a score of 70 or more are
defined as having a high GI while those with a score of 55 or less are
considered as low.
Eating lots of food with a high GI causes spikes in your blood sugar
level which can lead to many health issues such as type 2 diabetes,
heart disease, and obesity. While eating low GI foods causes your blood
sugar level to stay even thus, keeping your energy level balanced, and
causing you to fill fuller longer between meals. The following are some
additional benefits of eating low GI carbohydrates.
· Helps you to lose and manage weight your weight.
· Increases your body's sensitivity to insulin.
· Decreases your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
· Reduces your risk of heart disease.
· Improves your blood cholesterol levels
· Reduces hunger and keep you fuller for longer.
· Helps you prolong physical activity.
· Helps you to re-fuel your carbohydrate stores after exercise.
The GI is very interesting because some foods that you intuitively think
would have a high rating do not. For instance, fructose which is fruit
sugar has a minimal effect on blood sugar while white bread and
French-fried potatoes are nearly converted to blood sugar as fast as
pure glucose. In other words, you can’t classify foods as having a high
or low GI according to the sweetness of taste. Many factors affect a
foods GI such as:
· Processing: Grains that have been milled and refined have a higher GI
· Type of starch: Starches come in many different
configurations. Some are easier to break into sugar molecules than
others. For example, starch in potatoes is digested and absorbed into
the bloodstream relatively quickly.
· Fiber content: The sugars in fiber are linked in a way that is
hard for your body to break down. Thus, the more fiber a food has, the
less digestible carbohydrate, and consequently the less sugar it can
deliver into your blood stream.
· Fat and acid content: The more fat or acid a food contains,
the slower its carbohydrates are converted to sugar and absorbed into
· Physical form: Finely ground grain is more rapidly digested, and so has a higher GI than more coarsely ground grain.
So, you see incorporating carbohydrates that have a low GI in your diet is very important to your overall health. You can get the GI rating of hundreds of carbohydrate based foods from
the Glycemic Index Foundation, sponsored by the University of Sydney in
Australia. They maintain a searchable database of over 1600 entries at http://www.glycemicindex.com.