Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load


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You have probably heard of the glycemic index, which is a measure of the rate at which ingested food causes blood sugar to rise.  The reason we hear about this is that high blood sugars levels are linked to many diseases such as Candida, chronic fatigue, hyperglycemia, hypoglycemia, diabetes and even cancer.

Here is the glycemic index (GI) rating scale:

  • Low 55 or less
  • Medium 56-69
  • High 70 or higher

Food ranked low on the scale would cause a small rise in blood sugar while a food ranked high would cause a dramatic rise in blood sugar.

People have been told to avoid some fruits because they are ranked high on the glycemic index (GI) scale.

But isn’t fruit a health food?

Yes it is!  There is more to the GI story and that is glycemic load (GL).

What is glycemic load, I am sure you are asking yourself.

Glycemic load is a relatively new way to assess the impact of eating carbohydrate foods.  The GI value tells you only how rapidly a carbohydrate turns into sugar and it doesn’t tell you how much of the carbohydrate is in a serving of a food.

To understand the effect a particular food has on your blood sugar you need to know both, the glycemic index and the glycemic load.

Here is the glycemic load (GL) rating scale:

  • Low 10 or less
  • Medium 11 to 19
  • High 20 or more

For example, Watermelon has a glycemic index of 72 but its glycemic load is only 4.

How is GL calculated?

The formula is GL = (GI x the amount of available carbohydrate in a 100g serving) divided by 100.

To use our watermelon example: The GI is 72; the carbohydrate in 100g serving is 5g.

(72 x 5g)  / 100 = 3.6 rounded to 4.

From this example you can see that at first glance you might want to avoid eating watermelon based on its high glycemic index but after determining the glycemic load is only 4 you will probably change your mind…that is if you like watermelon.

The reason the glycemic load is so low for watermelon is that it contains a lot of water.  Fruits and vegetables rank as low or medium on the GL scale because they contain water.

Here is a listing of foods and their GL and GI taken from The 80/10/10 Diet by Dr. Douglas N. Graham and from my own calculations.

Fruits – listed in

order of GL

Glycemic Index (GI)

Low   Medium High

1-55   56-69    70+

Glycemic Load (GL)

Low   Medium  High

1-10    11-19      20+

Strawberries 40 1
Grapefruit 25 3
Blackberries 32 3
Pears 38 4
Watermelon 72 4
Cantaloupe 65 4
Cherries 22 4
Raspberries 32 4
Plums 39 4
Peaches 42 5
Oranges 42 5
Apples 38 6
Blueberries 40 6
Apricots 57 6
Pineapple 59 7
Grapes 46 8
Kiwifruit, green 53 8
Mango 56 8
Bananas 52 12
Raisins 64 73
Dates 103 77

 

Starchy vegetables, grains  and other complex carbohydrates – listed in order of GL

Glycemic Index (GI)

Low   Medium High

1-55   56-69    70+

Glycemic Load (GL)

Low   Medium  High

1-10    11-19      20+

Carrots 47 3
Beets 64 5
Bran cereal 42 8
Popcorn 72 8
Corn, sweet 54 9
Whole wheat bread 71 9
Wild rice 57 18
Spaghetti 42 20
White rice 64 23
Cous cous 65 23
Baked potatoes 85 26
Sweet potatoes 61 27

 

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