Most people living with diabetes are advised to eat low glycemic index foods because foods high in GI may cause a quick spike in blood sugar levels which could thus result in various other health problems. Therefore, it is important that people who are susceptible to diabetes or already living with the condition stay away from high glycemic index foods as much as possible.
What Exactly Is Glycemic Index?
Glycemic index is a value often assigned to carbohydrate foods based on how quickly or slowly they digest and affect the blood sugar. Carbohydrates with a low GI – usually less 55 or less – are digested and absorbed more slowly, therefore causing a slow rise in blood sugar levels. Foods with high glycemic index (more than 70), on the other hand, digest faster and thus causes the blood sugar and insulin levels to spike fast. This could not only be dangerous for diabetics but could also cause some other health problems like heart diseases and obesity.
However, it has also been observed that eating a food along with fat, protein, or other carbohydrates with lower GI effectively causes the GI value of such food to reduce. There could also be some other factors that could affect the GI of a food, including the method of preparation, foods that are consumed with it, and ripeness of fruits (unripe fruits tend to have a lower glycemic index). See a Glycemic Index chart and read about the effects of high and low GI foods here.
High GI Foods To Avoid
#1: Processed Foods
Highly processed carbohydrate-rich foods do have the highest glycemic index value, such as grains that have been stripped off of their fiber content. Fiber is effective in helping to slow down digestion and thus lowers the effect of glycemic. But highly processed foods like white bread, donuts, bagels, and many processed breakfast cereal lack fiber.
#2: High GI Fruits and Vegetables
Even though most vegetables are low in glycemic index, there are still a few of them like parsnips and pumpkins having a glycemic index topping 70. Most veggies are rich in fiber which helps slow down digestion and thus preventing sugar spikes in the blood. However, all vegetables are high in GI value when they ripen.
#3: Starchy Foods
Starchy foods such as boiled white potatoes, French fries, and white rice are high in glycemic index. The blood sugar level is being affected in different ways by the 3 kinds of carbohydrate, which include the sugars, starch, and fiber. Therefore, eating high GI foods alongside foods rich in fiber is a great way to lower the GI of such food.
#4: Sugary Drinks
Beverages and drinks sweetened with sugar and syrup are very high in GI. They cause fluctuations in blood sugar levels and in long run may result in insulin resistance – a type 2 diabetes precursor. Juices made from only ripe vegetables and fruits do have a high GI, but using fruit pulp in such juice could, however, help in lowering the glycemic index.
List of foods high on the glycemic index to avoid:
- Watermelon (72)
- Honey (73)
- Doughnuts (75)
- French fries (76)
- White Rice (89)
- Cereals (76)
- Millet (71)
- White bread (71)
- Cheerios (74)
- Pumpkin (75)
- Instant oatmeal (83)
- Rice pasta (78)
- Parsnips (97)
- Corn syrup (73)
- Table sugar (75)
- Soda (74)
- Puffed rice (78)
Even as much as high glycemic index foods are dangerous for people with diabetes, health experts also do not suggest you completely eliminate all high GI foods from your diet. You can only work towards eating more of low and medium glycemic index alternatives of such foods.
Even though some foods may be high in glycemic index, they are also low in calories and highly nutritious at the same time. Therefore, you must not completely give up on such foods. Watermelon is a good example. Learn more about whether you should follow a low glycemic index diet here.
1. Frank, M., Sacks, Vincent, J., Carey, Cheryl, A. M. Anderson, Edgar, R., Miller, Trisha, C. Jeanne, C. Benjamin, J., Harshfield, Nancy, L. (2014, Dec 17). Effects of High vs Low Glycemic Index of Dietary Carbohydrate on Cardiovascular Disease Risk Factors and Insulin Sensitivity; The OmniCarb Randomized Clinical Trial. Health and Human Services. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4370345/
2. Janette, C. B., Susanna, H. H., Dorota, B. P., Joanna, M. (2002, July 1). Glycemic Index And Obesity. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 76, Issue 1, 1 July 2002, Pages 281S–285S, Retrieved from https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/76/1/281S/4824165
3. Marc, J. M., Leon, L., Edward, H. M. (2015, March 8). How Do High Glycemic Load Diets Influence Coronary Heart Disease? The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. V 12; 2015. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4359552/