The Glycemic Index (GI) is a scale which ranks carbohydrates containing food by their glycemic response: the amount and speed at which they raise blood sugar levels, 2 hours after eating which is compared to the reference food either glucose or white bread. The lower the glycemic index, the lower the rise in blood sugar. Glycemic Index is an important tool, used in deciding which carbohydrate foods to include in an individual’s diet.
Food with low glycemic index (<55) are whole cereals (like unprocessed oats, barley, quinoa), whole pulses (like Green gram, black-eyed bean, rajma, soybean, chickpea, kidney bean), green leafy veggies, eggplant, green beans, cauliflower, carrot, cucumber, tomato, broccoli, low-fat milk and milk-products, nuts and seeds, seafood and eggs.
Some examples of food with medium glycemic index (55-69) are whole wheat, rye, muesli, brown or basmati rice, peas, yam, sweet potato etc.
Whereas, food with high glycemic index (>70) are usually refined or processed white rice or bread, puffed rice, refined flour (maida), instant oats, cornflakes, cake and cookies, pumpkin, white potato, energy drink, pizza, fast foods, sugar and sugar containing products.
One should opt for food with low glycemic index, but also take care of portion sizes for managing blood glucose and for losing or maintaining weight. The GI of a food is different when eaten alone than it is when combined with other foods. When eating a high GI food, one can combine it with other low GI foods to balance out the effect on blood glucose levels. Many nutritious foods have a higher GI than foods with little nutritional value. For example, oatmeal has a higher GI than chocolate. Use of the GI needs to be balanced with basic nutrition principles of variety for healthful foods and moderation of foods with few nutrients.