Glycemic Index is the value that shows the impact of a food on your blood glucose levels. It assists in understanding how your glucose levels would respond to a particular food. It can be crucial for controlling many diseases, such as diabetes and maintaining optimal health. Therefore, Glycemic Index can be a helpful tool for comprehending the physiological impacts of various foods on your blood glucose levels. The GI offers you a general idea of what you can expect, but individual deviations are still conceivable.
Different foods have a different impact on your blood glucose levels. However, with innovations in healthcare technology, you can easily monitor the effects of foods on your glucose levels. With the HealthifyMe Pro’s wearable device BIOS, which sticks to your body part (particularly arms), it is possible to monitor your blood glucose in real time. It shows the fluctuations in your blood glucose levels after you eat or drink. That helps you plan your meals and prevent the onset of health issues like obesity and diabetes. Understanding the glycemic index value of fruits and vegetables and using modern-day technology like the Continuous Glucose Monitor by HealthifyPro can be an excellent way to stay healthy.
Let us understand more about the Glycemic Index of fruits and vegetables and their impact on your health.
Glycemic Index: Overview
The Glycemic Index chart rates foods between 1 to 100 according to how much they spike glucose levels. So, whole foods like unprocessed grains, non-starchy vegetables, and fruits generally have a lower GI than processed meals like candies, bread, cake, and cookies. Experts believe that low Glycemic Index foods get digested, absorbed and metabolised more slowly than high Glycemic Index fruits and vegetables. As a result, they lead to a slower and minimal rise in blood glucose and insulin levels.
Depending on their carbohydrate’s impact on blood glucose levels, foods get a score on the glycemic chart. High GI foods get digested and metabolised quickly, causing a sudden spike in blood glucose values. Since these sharp surges in blood glucose might increase insulin synthesis, it hampers your glucose management. Good blood glucose management is crucial for improving general health as it impacts our health in various ways. For example, a constant surge in blood glucose levels may lead to obesity and diabetes. In addition, our pancreas may sustain damage over time from postprandial surges that prevent it from producing insulin, resulting in type 2 diabetes and other issues. Knowing the glycemic index can be a way to aid you in choosing foods that will support better glucose regulation. Also, some people believe that eating foods with a lower GI can help them feel fuller for longer.
Although there are several limits when using GI to make better eating choices, it can be a powerful tool for understanding the physiological effects of various foods on our glucose readings. The most common issue is that different people can act very differently to the same serving of carbohydrates. Furthermore, the Glycemic Index does not consider other nutritional data of food. Instead, it merely examines how a particular diet affects your glycemic response.
It’s true that foods with a higher glycemic response increase the chances of diabetes and heart disease, cause weight gain, or make it difficult to lose weight. However, it isn’t always the case. For example, although soybean oil has a very low glycemic index, that doesn’t imply you should consume it all day long.
The HealthifyMe Note
The Glycemic Index (GI) aims to assess the impact of carbohydrate-containing foods on your blood sugar levels. Eating foods with a low Glycemic Index value can help lose weight and prevent chronic diseases related to obesity, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Using a Glycemic Index Chart
Select foods with a lower value more frequently and restrict those with a higher value to use a GI chart to your benefit. For example, the GI might be an excellent place to start when looking for fruits and vegetables that suit you if you undertake a ketogenic diet. To establish whether a fruit or vegetable is low, medium, or high on the GI, utilise the following ranges:
- A low Glycemic Index value is 55 or less
- Medium: 56 to 69
- High: 70 or higher
You can also use the Glycemic Load chart to understand better how a specific food portion may impact your sugar level. Glycemic Load, a measure formed from Glycemic Index, employs a realistic portion size to understand the glycemic response better. First, you should multiply the GI of a product by the number of carbohydrates in a serving size. Then, you should divide it by 100 to obtain that result. When determining GL, use these ranges:
- Low Glycemic Load: 1-10
- Medium: 11 to 19
- High: 20+
Glycemic Index can serve as a springboard for experimentation ideas. To begin, see how you react to low GI foods first. After that, experiment with the medium and high GI foods to identify your tolerance. You can also experiment with various meal timing, incorporating exercise, or mixing your food with some healthy fat or protein to check if that affects the reaction to anything that makes you have a glucose surge.
Factors Impacting GI Rating of Fruit or Vegetables
Processed and Unprocessed Food
In general, all forms of processing, such as grinding, mashing, and boiling, increase the Glycemic Index of a fruit or vegetable by making it more digestible. However, the Glycemic Index will be less for fruits and vegetables in their raw natural state (such as a whole apple instead of applesauce).
Another type of processing that might alter a fruit or vegetable’s GI is fermentation. On fermentation, the digestive properties slow down, and the carbohydrates go into the bloodstream more slowly, leading to slower absorption and low Glycemic Index. To understand it better, consider the example of apple cider vinegar. It is a fermented form of apple and helps avoid a blood sugar increase because the GI values are low.
According to research, fibre influences each item’s Glycemic Index. Oats, peas, and beans are prominent sources of soluble fibre, which can lower cholesterol and balance blood sugar. A lower GI is the result of it thickening our meals and prolonging the time it takes for food to go through the digestive system. Compare that to the substantial amounts of insoluble fibre in several vegetables, such as potatoes. Although the fibre in potatoes promotes regular bowel movements, it doesn’t thicken your dietary intake. Thus it won’t have much of an impact on lowering GI values.
Phytates, lectins, and polyphenols, frequently referred to as “anti-nutrients,” are present in several fruits and vegetables such as beans, rhubarb, and spinach and slow down digestion. These are also responsible for lowering GI.
The Ripeness of the Fruits or Vegetables
As fruits and vegetables mature, their sugar-to-starch ratio changes. That is why unripe fruits often have less sugar and more carbohydrate. According to research, the sugar content of fruits rises as they mature, which increases their GI value. However, a person with diabetes can still consume these fruits without significant issues, but they should consume such foods in moderation. For someone with diabetes, eating greater servings of fruits with lower GI scores may be preferable.
Other Components of the Meal
The accompanying foods you consume with your main meal can alter the glycemic response of a fruit or vegetable. For example, a balanced meal generally includes protein, fat, and carbohydrates. Here, protein and fat keep carbohydrates in your digestive tract for a little longer, resulting in a delayed release of glucose into your bloodstream. Protein can also promote increased insulin production, lowering blood glucose levels.
Pickles and other highly acidic foods have a lower Glycemic Index value than other foods. It explains why lactic acid-based foods, like sourdough bread, have a lower GI than white bread. However, it is best to exercise caution when eating pickles, especially people at risk for heart disease who should avoid the extra sodium that can affect their health. For example, too much salt in a diabetic’s diet puts them at risk of developing high blood pressure and heart disease.
The HealthifyMe Note
How you make your food, the amount of processing, and other items you eat with it impact its Glycemic Index. Also, perhaps most concerningly, Glycemic Index doesn’t always accurately reflect the amount of food you would regularly eat in a real-life situation. Conversely, GI always considers how you react to 50 grams of carbohydrates from that specific food. So, for example, to consume 50 grams of carbohydrates in one go, you would need to consume over 7 cups of sliced carrots.
Obesity is a significant global health issue linked to highly prevalent diseases such as atherosclerosis, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, hyperinsulinemia, dyslipidemia, and different types of cancer. In contrast to successful weight loss, which focuses on attaining a negative calorie balance, weight gain results from increased calorie intake disproportionate to calorie expenditure. Therefore, the micronutrient concentration and particular dietary components are also significant in addition to the various macronutrient compositions.
The glycemic index of foods has an impact on body weight management. Compared to meals with a high glycemic index, consuming carbohydrates and fibre with a low glycaemic index can delay hunger and reduce subsequent energy intake. High GI foods cause a significant, quick increase in blood glucose levels, a significant insulin response, and a robust inhibition of glucagon release after intake. Because low-GI foods take longer to digest, they may also prolong hunger.
According to studies, many foods with low glycemic index are high in fibre, which increases the distension of the gastrointestinal tract and enhances and prolongs the production of the gut peptides cholecystokinin, ghrelin, and glucagons, glucagon-like-peptide-1, and glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide. All of these are potential satiety factors.
Based on your body’s metabolic needs, glucose is necessary for your body to get the energy to function. In addition, glucose and oxygen are vital for your brain. Therefore, maintaining a steady blood glucose level is crucial for healthy living. However, both low and high glucose intakes can be harmful and, in extreme instances, fatal. For example, after a long day of hard work, low glucose levels in your body can lead to adverse effects.
Hypoglycemia, or blood glucose levels below 40 mg/dl, can result in coma, stupor, and even death. In contrast, long-term complications of diabetes mellitus result from blood sugar levels greater than 180 mg/dl, or “hyperglycemia” in medical parlance. Levels beyond 300 to 500 mg/dl can result in acidosis and put a person in a coma.
The most common storage form of extra glucose is fat. When you first eat something with a high GI, you feel incredibly energised, but when the fat content rises over time, it harms your health.
Low and High Glycemic Foods
Most of the foods in a wholesome, low-glycemic diet should have a low Glycemic Index, such as:
- Apples, berries, oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruit, and other fruits
- Broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, spinach, and tomatoes are non-starchy veggies.
- Whole grains include barley, buckwheat, farro, couscous, quinoa, and oats.
- Legumes: kidney beans, black beans, lentils, and black beans
A well-balanced low glycemic diet includes foods with minimal or no Glycemic Index value. They consist of:
- Meat: lamb, bison, and beef
- Seafood: sardines, mackerel, anchovies, shrimp, mackerel, and tuna
- Poultry includes chicken, turkey, duck, and goose
- Oils: Coconut and olive oil
- Nuts: pistachios, walnuts, macadamia nuts, and almonds
- Chia, sesame, hemp, and flax seeds are examples of seeds.
- Turmeric, black pepper, cumin, dill, basil, rosemary, and cinnamon are among the herbs and spices.
You must avoid foods with a high GI value even if your diet permits them.
Among the foods with a high GI are:
- Bread: bagels, naan, pita bread, white bread.
- Rice varieties include arborio, white, and jasmine.
- Breakfast cereals and quick oats are cereals.
- Pasta dishes include ravioli, macaroni, lasagna, spaghetti, and fettuccine.
- French fries, potatoes, and other starchy veggies
- Cake, doughnuts, cookies, croissants, muffins, and other baked items
- Snacks include chocolate, pretzels, microwave popcorn, crackers, and chips.
- Beverages with added sugar: soda, fruit juice, and sports drinks
Try substituting these items with ones with a lower GI whenever you can.
Glycemic Index of Fruits and Vegetables
- Apples: 36
- Strawberries: 41
- Dates: 42
- Oranges: 43
- Banana: 51
- Mango: 51
- Blueberries: 53
- Pineapple: 59
- Watermelon: 76
- Carrots (boiled): 39
- Plantains (boiled): 66
- Sweet potatoes (boiled): 63
- Pumpkin (boiled): 74
- Potatoes (boiled): 78
The glycemic index is a scale that quantifies how much a portion of food can raise or lower blood glucose levels. However, several factors impact a food’s Glycemic Index. These factors are nutrient makeup, level of ripeness, mode of preparation, and degree of processing.
A low-glycemic diet can improve your health by balancing your blood sugar levels, lowering your cholesterol, and speeding up your ability to lose weight quickly. Knowing the Glycemic Index of foods can be helpful, but it shouldn’t be your primary tool for managing blood sugar levels. Instead, you should use the glycemic index with carb counting and lifestyle modifications, including eating a balanced diet, exercising frequently, and using good portion management. For further help and assistance, you can seek help from the Pro Coaches at HealthifyMe.