Glycemic Index Foods
Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD
Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD
Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.
Glycemic index definition
Every meal you eat changes your blood sugar level. Digestion releases the glucose stored in food. That glucose then drips, flows, or floods into your bloodstream, depending on the type of food you've eaten.
The glycemic index measures the effect that food has on blood sugar levels. In essence, the index is "a rating system of how fast a food item can raise your blood sugar," says Angela Ginn-Meadow, a registered dietitian in Baltimore and a spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Doctors calculate a food's glycemic index by measuring the rise in your blood sugar level two hours after eating it. The food is then ranked on a scale from zero to 100. The top measure, 100, reflects the rise in blood sugar following consumption of pure glucose.
The glycemic index of your meals can affect your health. Consistently high blood sugar levels can cause type 2 diabetes. Food with a high glycemic index also has been linked to cardiovascular disease and obesity.
What are high and low glycemic foods?
It can be tricky to estimate the glycemic index of different foods. In general, foods high in carbohydrates have a high glycemic index because they break down into glucose more quickly. Foods higher in protein or fats have a lower glycemic index.
But the amount of fiber in a food can offset the carbohydrates it contains. That's because fiber slows digestion, which causes glucose to release more slowly into the bloodstream. "Foods that are higher in fiber don't spike your blood sugar," Ginn-Meadow says. For example, vegetables are mostly carbohydrate, but they also have very high fiber content.
Examples of foods with a high glycemic index include:
Other factors also can affect a food's glycemic index. These include:
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/26/2013
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