Carbohydrate foods are categorized followinga special unit known as the glycaemic index.
The Glycemic index is a system that rates carbohydrate-rich foods. It analyses the carbohydrates that contain more or less sugar content.The content of sugarin the food consumed determines the level of blood sugar in one’s body. The glycemic index categorizes these foods into the following three main groups:
- High glycemic index foods include sugar and sugary foods,potatoes,white bread, and white rice.
- Medium glycemic foods, such as whole-grain foods.
- Low glycemic foods, such as fruits, vegetables, and beans.
Once youhave knowledge about these foods and where they lie in the index, you can observe your diet and benefit wholly from it.
This article discusses how you can benefit from low glycemic food and sources of such foods.
Factors that determine the glycemic index of a food
Nutrients they hold
The nutrients found in certain food determines their glycaemicindex. In this regard, protein-rich foodsmay have low glycemic index than carbohydrates.
Cooking involves adding other components that might interfere with the food’s glycemic index. For instance, adding salt and fat to food might raise itsglycaemic index.Furthermore, the cooking period might also interfere with the glycaemic index of food. Prolongedcooking makes foodsugarier, becoming easily digested and absorbed in the body, having a high glycaemic index. Conversely, foods cooked withina short period may take time to be digested and absorbed in the body, making them have a low glycemic index.
Ripe fruits have a high glycemic index than unripe fruits—the process of ripening a fruit break down the sugars into more complex sugar. The more the fruit ripens, the higher its glycemic index becomes. For instance, cooked bananas have a low glycemic index than the ripened banana. Therefore, consuming unripe bananas is healthier than consuming ripened ones.
The finer the food, the higher the glycaemic index. Making food more refined increases its ability to be digested and absorbed in the body. Additionally, faster digestion increases blood sugar levels compared to slow digestion and absorption. Therefore, it is healthy to eat less refined foods to lower absorption rates in the body.
The starch structure of the food involved.
Starchy foods or carbohydrates have two main structures; amylose and amylopectin. The concentration of these two molecules in a portion of food affects the glycemic index due to their differences in indigestion. Amylose is difficult to digest compared to amylopectin. The faster the digestion, the higher the glycemic index. Therefore, foods with high amylose have a low glycemic indexand vice versa.
Benefits of low glycemic index
It is necessary to be informed about foods with a low glycemic index. Youcan apply the knowledge in your daily life to prevent some lifestyle diseases.
Low glycemic index food and diabetes
Diabetes is a common disease affecting people of all ages, including newborns. This disease is more linked to diet, and people with this disease cannot process sugars effectively. However, with the knowledge of the glycemic index, people with diabetes can benefit by consuming food with a low glycemic index to minimizebloodsugar levels. Foods with a high glycemic index increase the chances of developing type 2 diabetes. Also, pregnant women who develop gestational diabetes can benefit from this knowledge. They can feed on food with a low glycemic index to improve their condition.
Low glycemic index and weight management
Food with a low glycemic index contains fewer sugars than those with a high glycemic index. Calories found in foods contribute to a rise in body weight. Therefore, feeding on food with a low glycemic index will help in maintaining healthy body weight.
Heart health and low glycemic index foods
Heart disease is a common complicationtoday, though it can be prevented by making some lifestyle changes. Healthy eating habits can help prevent this disease. Foods that contain a low glycemic index are less likely to cause obesity. In contrast, those with a high glycemic index stand a chance of causing obesity due to their high sugar concentrations. Obesity leads to heart disease by blocking blood vessels,inhibitinga healthy flow of blood to and from the heart. Therefore, consuming foods with a low glycemic index is good to prevent obesityand heart disease.
Research shows that foods with a high glycemic index increase the risk of colon, breast, endometrial, and liver cancers. Therefore, food with a low glycemic index is healthier.
Reduction of cholesterol levels in the body
Foods with high glycemic index increase cholesterol levels in the body. This is linked to the high calories contained in them, leading to obesity and later accumulation of fats. The body has a mechanism of storing excess sugars in the body in form of fat which may accumulate to very dangerous levels.
Knowledge of the glycemic index is important today as many people fail to know that carbohydrates are of different levels. However, it is good to appreciate that whether foods are of high or low glycemic index, they have different benefits. Therefore, it is healthier to consume foods ofboth indices in moderation. A low glycemic diet has only concentrated on one category of food, carbohydrates, making it not healthy for consumption. This also makes it difficult to apply it to know about other foods, such as proteins and fats.