Glycemic Index (GI)

Glycemic Index (GI)

A Glycemic index is the measurement of the impact that carbohydrate-containing foods have on our blood sugar. Low glycemic index means that the food produces a low level of blood sugar when it is broken down. Conversely, a food with a high glycemic index will produce high levels of sugar, which gets dumped into the bloodstream very rapidly. There is a direct correlation to chronic spikes in blood sugar and inflammation.

Over the past 15 years, low-GI diets have been associated with decreased risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, peripheral neuropathy, stroke, depression, chronic kidney disease, formation of gall stones, neural tube defects, formation of uterine fibroids, and cancers of the breast, colon, prostate, and pancreas. Taking advantage of these potential health benefits can be as simple as sticking with whole, natural foods that are either low or very low in their GI value.

Glycemic Index (GI) Rating System

Most healthcare organizations use a “high,” medium” and “low” rating system for GI. Using this system, foods get classified in the following way:

Very Low GI Low GI Medium GI High GI
0-20 21-55 56-69 70 or greater

 

Food Group Very Low GI Low GI Medium GI High GI
Vegetables asparagus Carrots (raw) beets carrots (cooked)
avocados chilies corn parsnips
beet greens eggplant leeks potatoes, white
bok choy garlic   potatoes, sweet 
broccoli Onions    
Brussels sprouts red peppers    
cabbage sea vegetables    
cauliflower spaghetti squash  
celery winter squash    
collard greens yam    
cucumbers      
fennel      
green beans      
kale      
mushrooms      
mustard greens      
olives      
olive oil      
Romaine and other lettuce      
spinach      
summer squash      
Swiss chard      
tomatoes      
turnip greens      
Food Group Very Low GI Low GI Medium GI High GI
Fruits   apples cantaloupe banana (over-ripe) dates
  apricot figs watermelon
bananas (under-ripe) kiwi fruit
  blueberries papaya  
  cherries pineapple  
  cranberries raisins  
  grapefruit  
  grapes    
  lemons/Limes    
mango  
  oranges    
  peach    
  pears    
plums    
prunes  
raspberries  
strawberries  
Food Group Very Low GI Low GI Medium GI High GI
Nuts & Seeds
almonds cashews    
flaxseeds pumpkin seeds    
hazelnuts (filberts) walnuts    
macadamia nuts    
peanuts    
pecans    
sesame seeds
sunflower seeds
walnuts
Food Group Very Low GI Low GI Medium GI High GI
Beans & legumes
soybeans black beans    
tofu black eyed peas
tempeh dried peas    
grabanzo beans (chick peas)    
  kidney beans    
  lentils    
  lima beans    
  navy beans    
  pinto beans    
Food Group Very Low GI Low GI Medium GI High GI
Seafood
cod scallops    
salmon      
sardines      
shrimp      
tuna      
Food Group Very Low GI Low GI Medium GI High GI
Meats
(all meats rank in very low GI)
beef, grass-fed      
chicken-pasture-raised      
lamb, grass-fed      
turkey, pasture-raised      
Food Group Very Low GI Low GI Medium GI High GI
Dairy
Whole eggs cheese    
cow’s milk    
  yogurt    
Food Group Very Low GI Low GI Medium GI High GI
Grains barley basmati rice, brown Bagels
brown rice couscous Cheerios (cereal)
buckwheat cornmeal chips & pretzels
oats millet corn flakes
quinoa wild rice crackers
rye Grape nuts (cereal)
spelt instant oatmeal
whole wheat Jasmine rice
rice cakes
Rice crispies (cereal)
Total (cereal)
white rice (instant, long grain, basmati)
white bread
wheat bread
Food Group Very Low GI Low GI Medium GI High GI
Herbs & Spices black pepper      
cayenne & chili pepper      
cillantro & coriander seeds      
cinnamon      
cloves      
cumin seeds      
dill      
fenugreek      
garlic      
ginger      
mint      
mustard seeds      
oregano      
parsley      
peppermint      
rosemary      
sage      
thyme      
turmeric      

 

References

For Established Glycemic Index values, We Used the Following Databases and Publications

Atkinson FS, Foster-Powell K, Brand-Miller JC. International Tables of Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load Values: 2008. Diabetes Care 2008; 31(12).

Foster-Powell K, Holt HA, and Brand-Miller JC. International table of glycemic index and glycemic load values: 2002. Am J Clin Nutr2002;76:5—56.

Human Nutrition Unit, School of Molecular Biosciences, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia. (2013). GI Foods Advanced Search Database. Online at http://www.glycemicindex.com/foodSearch.php.

National Cancer Institute (NCI). DHQ Nutrient Database. Applied Research: Cancer Control and Populations Sciences. National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD. Available online at: http://appliedresearch.cancer.gov/DHQ/database/

In Addition We Used the Following Non-Database References

Castro-Quezada I, Sanchez-Villegas A, Diaz-Gonzalez V, et al. Relationship between dietary glycemic index, dietary glycemic load and major cardiovascular events in the PREDIMED study. European Geriatric Medicine, Volume 4, Supplement 1, September 2013, Pages S128-S129.

Frost G and Dornhorst A. Glycemic Index. Encyclopedia of Human Nutrition (Third Edition), 2013, Pages 393-398.

Kumar SB and Prabhansankar P. Low glycemic index ingredients and modified starches in wheat based food processing: A review Review. Trends in Food Science & Technology, Volume 35, Issue 1, January 2014, Pages 32-41.

Lin CS, Kimokoti RW, Brown LS, et al. Methodology for Adding Glycemic Index to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey Nutrient Database. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Volume 112, Issue 11, November 2012, Pages 1843-1851.

Ma XY, Liu JP, and Song ZY. Glycemic load, glycemic index and risk of cardiovascular diseases: Meta-analyses of prospective studies. Atherosclerosis, Volume 223, Issue 2, August 2012, Pages 491-496.

O’Reilly J, Wong SH, and Chen Y. Glycaemic index, glycaemic load and exercise performance. Sports Med. 2010 Jan 1;40(1):27-39.

Wolever TM. Is glycaemic index (GI) a valid measure of carbohydrate quality? Eur J Clin Nutr. 2013 May;67(5):522-31. doi: 10.1038/ejcn.2013.27. Epub 2013 Feb 13.