Low-glycemic foods. We see it all the time – in diet plans, on protein bars, breads, etc. but what does it mean?
The glycemic index describes how a carbohydrate affects your blood sugar. A high glycemic food increases your blood sugar much faster than a low glycemic food.
The glycemic load describes the glycemic index and the quantity of carbohydrate – for example, the glycemic index of watermelon is: 72 (considered high) but the glycemic load for one serving of watermelon is: 1.5 (considered low) because it takes into account serving size.
Why do we care?
People who have diabetes need to be aware of their blood sugar because their bodies aren’t able to regulate it on their own and so they have to take insulin to regulate blood sugar levels. But it is not just those with diabetes who should care. When we eat a high-glycemic meal, it increases our blood sugar, which then increases insulin to turn the sugars into energy. If there is too much “energy” (sugar) to use, it will be stored as fat. The spike in sugar and subsequent crash also makes us feel hungry faster. Doesn’t sound good, does it?
A low glycemic meal releases the sugar into our bodies at a steadier, slower rate, which means insulin is secreted at a slower rate and we are more likely to use it right away as energy. It also keeps us full longer because there isn’t such a spike/crash.
Benefits of Low-Glycemic Foods:
- help regulate fluctuation of insulin and blood sugar
- help keep you full longer
- improve diabetes control
- can reduce the risk of heart disease
- can reduce cholesterol levels
- can help to control weight
- Whole Grains: brown rice, whole wheat pasta, rye bread
- Fruit: oranges, pears, apples
- Vegetables (except potatoes)
- Beans: lentils, kidney beans, etc.
These same foods keep showing up time and time again for a healthy diet, don’t they?