What is Glycemic Index?

The glycemic index (GI) is a measure of how quickly the carbohydrate (sugar) from a food item is absorbed. The higher the number, the faster it is absorbed. The faster it is absorbed, the greater the rise in your blood sugar. The lower the number, the slower it will be absorbed, therefore causing less of a rise in your blood sugar.

The glycemic index can only be given to food items that have reasonable carbohydrate content. Also, the glycemic effect is affected by various factors such as type of starch, fibre, fat and protein content of the food item, as well as ripeness, storage time and how it is cooked.

Choosing lower glycemic index foods can help the following:

  • Control your blood sugars
  • Reduce your risk of developing diabetes
  • Control your appetite
  • Improve your cholesterol level
  • Reduce your risk of heart disease

Foods are categorized into low, medium and high glycemic index. It is encouraged that you choose more low and medium GI foods and fewer high GI foods.

Low GI foods (GI: 55 or less): Choose most often

Breads 100% stone ground whole wheat, mixed grain,whole grain, oat bran, pumpernickel, sourdough
Cereals All Bran™
Old fashioned oatmeal
Special K™
Museli
Bran Buds with Psyllium™
Oat Bran™
Red River Cereal
Grains/Pasta Parboiled/converted rice, barley, bulgar, soybeans,lentils, split peas, pasta/noodles
Fruits Apples, apricots, bananas, cherries, grapefruit, grapes, kiwi, oranges, peaches, pears, plums, prunes
Legumes Baked beans, chickpeas, kidney beans, soybeans, lentils, split peas
Vegetables Corn, peas, sweet potato, yams
Milk Products Milk, yogurt, soy beverages

Medium GI Foods (GI: 56 69): Choose more often

Breads Whole wheat, rye, hamburger bun, pita bread
Cereals Cream of Wheat™
Quick oats
Shredded Wheat™
Just Right™
Grapenuts™
Grains Cornmeal, popcorn, bran muffin, basmati rice, brown rice, couscous
Fruits Cantaloupe, mango, papaya, pineapple, raisins
Legumes Black bean soup, green pea soup
Vegetables Beets, new potatoes, white potatoes, sweet corn
Cookies/Crackers Oatmeal cookies, social tea biscuits, arrowroot cookies, Breton crackers™, Ryvita™ crackers, Stoned Wheat Thins™, melba toast

High GI foods (GI: 70 or more): Choose less often

Breads Bagels, baguette, white bread
Cereals Branflakes
Cherrios™
Corn Flakes
Corn Chex
Puffed Wheat
Raisin Bran
Rice Krispies™
Instant Cream of Wheat
Grains White rice, glutinous rice, jasmine rice, instant (minute) rice
Fruits Dates, lychees, watermelon
Vegetables Russett potatoes, carrots, parsnips, pumpkin, rutabaga, French Fries
Cookies/Crackers Vanilla wafers, graham crackers, saltines, rice cakes, water crackers, pretzels

Reference: Brand-Miller J. International tables of glycemic index. Am J Clin Nutr 62: 871S-93S.