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De-coding the Glycemic Index

Posted by Heather J.

We’ve heard that eating foods low on the Glycemic Index helps keep blood sugar stable and our diet healthy. But what does that mean, really? Low GI foods are slowly digested, releasing sugar (glucose) into the bloodstream gradually, resulting in a slow and steady increase in blood sugar that helps keep your body functioning well for longer than high GI foods. High GI foods are quickly digested and metabolized, producing a rapid rise in blood sugar. It's best to avoid these high GI foods because they may cause your body to crash or feel hungry very soon after you eat.

Foods low on the GI scale include: vegetables such as asparagus, broccoli, spinach, kale, carrots, cauliflower, green beans, peas, celery, red cabbage, cucumber, lettuce, mushrooms, peppers, yams; fruits such as apples, apricots, grapes, blueberries, cherries, raspberries, strawberries, grapefruit, oranges, peaches, pears, plums, prunes; grapefruit and tomato juice; black, navy, pinto, and kidney beans, chickpeas, lentils, and black-eyed peas; brown rice, barley, quinoa, bulgur, whole wheat pastas, wheat bran and germ; All Bran, Fiber One, Kashi cereals; most dairy products (sans artificial sweeteners); nuts and nut butters; and sweeteners such as agave cactus nectar and stevia. Medium GI foods include potatoes, corn, bananas, tropical fruits, kiwi, raisins, figs, fruit cocktail, orange and cranberry juice, white rice and couscous, Cream of Wheat, oat bran, most oatmeals, Raisin Bran, and honey. High GI foods include watermelon, dates, popcorn, rice cakes, most crackers, cakes, doughnuts, white bread, bagels, just about anything made with white flour, Cornflakes, cream of wheat, puffed wheat and rice cereals, Special K, and pretty much any sweets, soft drinks, and sports drinks. Following a diet comprised mostly from the low GI groups reduces the risk of diabetes, hypoglycemia, and weight gain, and promotes optimum nutrition.

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