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What is Glycemic Index?

Glycemic Index (GI) is a relative ranking of carbohydrates in food and how they affect blood sugars. You want carbohydrates to break down slowly and are digested, absorbed and metabolized. This will allow you to get all of the nutrients (energy, vitamins, minerals) out of the food without the detrimental insulin spikes. Therefore, the lower the GI, the healthier the carbohydrate. GI can be classified into three levels:

  • Low = GI value of 55 or less
  • Medium = GI value of 56-69
  • High = GI value of 70 or more

Many factors affect the GI value of a food. The number one factor being the degree to which the carbohydrate is refined (processed foods have higher GI values). Other factors include; the amount of fiber (fiber lowers GI), how cooked or prepared is the food (al dente pasta has a lower GI than regularly cooked pasta), and the presence of other foods (the addition of protein or fat slows down digestive processes and lowers GI). So, try to choose foods with a low GI. Healthy foods will often have the GI symbol on the label.

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