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Glycemic index

The Glycemic Index is a measurement of how quickly carbohydrate in particular foods turns to glucose.

Lower Glycemic Index Carbohydrates are foods that are more slowly digested and absorbed. Eating these foods in place of foods that are quickly digested may help improve blood sugar level. Examples of low GI foods are:

  • Soybeans
  • Lentils and dried beans
  • Milk and yogurt
  • Certain fresh fruit such as peaches, apples, grapefruit and pears
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Bran cereals and oatmeal
  • Vegetables

Higher Glycemic Index Carbohydrates are foods that raise blood sugar levels more rapidly. Examples are:

  • White potatoes
  • White bread and bagels
  • Short grain rice
  • Watermelon, ripe bananas and pineapple

Studies of the effect of using the glycemic index to help control type 2 diabetes have been inconsistent. Some have shown that low glycemic index foods reduce blood sugar levels and hemoglobin A1c levels. Others have found that the glycemic index of a meal does not predict the blood sugar response. More research will clarify whether or not the glycemic index is a useful tool.

Currently, the American Diabetes Association recommends focusing on total carbohydrate instead of the glycemic index of specific foods or an entire meal. With that said, lower glycemic index foods are often healthier choices because they are made from whole grains and are high in fiber.


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Review Date: 7/8/2012
Reviewed By: Nancy J. Rennert, MD, Chief of Endocrinology & Diabetes, Norwalk Hospital, Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Previoulsy reviewed by Ari S. Eckman, MD, Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. (5/13/2010)
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