The glycemic index is used in the field of nutrition to measure the impact of a food on the production of insulin in the blood. Problem: a food with a high glycemic index increases blood sugar and ultimately promotes the storage of sugar in the form of fat.
It was in 1981 that American researchers created the system for measuring the glycemic indexmaking it possible to measure the influence of the carbohydrates contained in a food on the organism.
What is the glycemic index (or GI)?
The glycemic index (or index) is a tool designed to classify foods containing carbohydrates (fats) according to their impact on blood sugar levels, within two hours of their consumption.
A food with a high glycemic index is a product that causes significant hyperglycemia and therefore a strong secretion of insulin, the hormone responsible for bringing sugar into the cells. This overproduction ultimately favors storage by the body of sugar in the form of fatsand consequently contributes to the appearance of cardiovascular pathologies and weight gain.
It is also bad for the health of diabetics, who must control and regulate this level of glucose on a daily basis if necessary. This is why the GI is a valuable criterion to help them compose their meals.
The measurement scale is as follows:
- High GI: over 70 (especially sweet and refined products, starches, some specific vegetables and fruits)
- Average GI: between 55 and 70 (basmati rice, honey, semolina, pineapple, for example)
- Low GI: below 55 (including fruits and green vegetables, whole grains, meat, legumes).
How to lower the glycemic index of a dish?
To lower the glycemic index of a meal or product, there are several solutions:
- the consume cold (when pasta, rice or potatoes cool, their starch “retrogrades” and becomes more difficult for digestive enzymes to attack);
- do not overcook, if possible (overcooked pasta will have a glycemic index of 65, 50 for cooked sal dente). Nevertheless, products such as potatoes and rice must be properly cooked;
- consume fiber in supplements, such as vegetables ;
- add a dash of vinegar (a little vinegar in a rice or pasta salad lowers the GI of the meal).
What are the limits of the glycemic index?
The GI remains an indication, because the body’s glycemic response to a food can vary according to its nature and its method of preparation. This variation is mainly due to:
- its structural integrity (a refined product has a higher GI than its raw version);
- the degree of maturity of the food (a ripe fruit has a higher GI);
- the cooking method (the more it is cooked, the more the GI increases);
- food consumed with this product.
The GI is not the only indicator to take into account when you want to pay attention to the products that make up your plate. Indeed, this tool is interested in the level of glucose which passes into the blood, but not in the quantity of carbohydrates contained in a given food. We must therefore consider their glycemic load.
Do not hesitate to consult a dietician if you have questions about your eating habits and the composition of your meals.
This slideshow presents 9 foods with a high glycemic index. The GI remains an interesting indicator, particularly for diabetics and people who want to control their weight, but it is not the only element to take into account in the context of a balanced diet.
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