2021 March 25 3 min read

If you really value a healthy diet, you should familiarize yourself with the basics of the glycemic index so that you know how the given food affects your blood sugar level and, in light of this, you can decide how much and when to eat the given food from food.

As we know, carbohydrates can be divided into two categories: simple carbohydrates (honey, fructose) and complex carbohydrates (cereals, starchy vegetables, legumes). But we can also distinguish between certain carbohydrates based on how quickly our body can convert them into sugar. Which foods are absorbed slowly in the body, and which foods should be consumed if you want to avoid diabetes and other common diseases, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and cancer. The glycemic index answers these questions.

Well, the glycemic index (GI) is the ability of certain foods to raise blood sugar compared to an amount of glucose equal to their carbohydrate content, expressed as a percentage.

This may sound complicated at first, but it is not at all. The formula is as simple as this: the lower the GI, the slower and more naturally our blood sugar level rises from the given food. Below 50 percent, we can speak of a low GI, between 51 and 70 percent a medium, between 71 and 90 percent a high glycemic index, and above 91 percent a very high glycemic index.

If you have problems maintaining optimal blood sugar levels, you should choose foods with a GI of 40 or less, as they cause less fluctuations in blood sugar levels. Also, limit your consumption of refined sugar, honey, sweetened fruit juices, starchy vegetables, white flour, and foods made from these. – Here it is important to note that high GI foods are not necessarily bad, because in some cases their consumption can be very justified, for example in athletes during training or immediately after training, when the body needs carbohydrates that can be absorbed immediately to restore optimal energy levels.

One of the simplest carbohydrates, dextrose, which is 100 percent glucose, does not require digestion, is immediately absorbed by the body and causes a maximum insulin response. As a result, its glycemic index is 100, so we compare all other foods to this.

Here are some principles to better understand the relationship between healthy eating and the glycemic index:

  • Processed and refined foods usually have a high glycemic index, such as granulated sugar and white wheat flour.
  • Vegetables containing starch typically have a high glycemic index, such as potato.
  • Protein-containing foods have a low glycemic index.
  • Fats do not raise blood sugar levels, but still try to eat healthy fats and oils. e.g. extra virgin olive oil, salmon, nuts and seeds.
  • Eat foods with a high fiber content, as they take longer to digest and absorb and raise blood sugar levels less. However, it is good to know that a lot of fiber in the body of some people can lead to gas formation and bloating, so foods containing water-soluble fibers are a better choice. Such e.g. carrots, strawberries, sweet potatoes, oat bran and oatmeal.
  • THE BLOOD SUGAR LEVEL INCREASE ALSO DEPENDS ON THE FOOD CONSUMED AT THE SAME TIME.For example, if you eat high-GI foods with low-GI foods, they balance each other's effects, as long as you don't have problems with your blood sugar
  • If you regularly eat nutrient-rich and natural foods, you can be sure that your blood sugar level will not produce unpleasant fluctuations in the long term.

With this conscious diet, you can reduce your cholesterol level, prevent various heart diseases and cancers, and avoid the development of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.

Let's take a look at some low, medium and high glycemic index foods to get even more informed on this topic.

Low GI foods:

Spinach, avocado, garlic, lettuce, zucchini, asparagus, cabbage, celery, cucumber, radish, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, eggplant, onion, tomato, cauliflower, cherry, grapefruit, lemon, blueberry, pomegranate, pear, plums, strawberries, raspberries, soybeans, lentils, chickpeas, red beans, butter beans, white beans, natural yogurt, milk, cottage cheese, kefir, fruit sugar (fructose), dark chocolate, nuts, oil seeds, meat, game meat, ham, fish and shellfish, mushrooms and eggs, barley, quinoa, stevia, birch sugar, xylitol, coconut sugar...etc.

Medium GI foods:

Carrots, boiled potatoes, sweet potatoes, beets, bulgur, oatmeal, oat bran, rye bread, puffed rice, basmati rice, buckwheat, corn, couscous, blueberries, grapes, oranges, bananas, kiwi, mangoes, apricots, pineapples, papaya, fig, raisin, cantaloupe, watermelon, honey, banana, artichoke, chestnut...etc.

High GI foods:

Potatoes, fried potatoes, white rice, watermelon, dextrose (glucose), pumpkin, prunes, cane sugar, granulated sugar...etc.

In order to preserve our health and to achieve and maintain the appropriate body weight, we avoid foods with a high glycemic index. Choose foods with a medium glycemic index in limited quantities and eat foods with a low glycemic index regularly.