The Glycemic Index (GI) is a measure of the rise in blood sugar (glucose) that occurs following the consumption of a carbohydrate. The theory is that rapidly digested, high GI carbohydrates cause fluctuations in blood sugar and insulin levels, contributing to hunger and preventing the breakdown of body fat.
As reported in the July 24 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, a diet high in carbohydrates that are low on the GI may help promote weight loss, decrease body fat (particularly in women), and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
You can make simple changes to eat lower on the GI. For example, eating breakfast cereals that have whole grains listed as their first ingredients, adding most types of fruits and vegetables to meals and snacks, and eating legumes instead of potatoes.
You can see where different foods rank on the GI at glycemicindex.com. Click on the GI Database link and search for the food in question. You'll find milk, grainy breads and legumes low on the index, and potatoes, white bread and rice high.
Just be careful you don't get distracted by the GI of a food and think that if it's low on the index you can eat all you want. Portion size and calories always count.
Megan Porter, RD