Nutrition Carbohydrates

Glycemic index and glycemic load of foods

Glycemic index and glycemic load of foods

by in Nutrition - Carbohydrates

last updated: June 14, 2016

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How important is the glycemic index of foods? What is the difference between glycemic index and glycemic load? What are the foods with low, medium or high glycemic index?

Glycemic index

Glycemic index refers to the increase in blood glucose levels after ingestion of specific foods. This numerical value is compared with the glucose IG, set equal to a value of 100.

Eating foods with a low glycemic value is recommended to obese individuals or those suffering from diabetes and insulin resistance problems.

For example, Coca-Cola has a glycemic index of 63, while a portion of red beans has a value of 23.

  • A glycemic index of 70 or higher is considered high.
  • A glycemic index between 56 and 69 is considered medium.
  • A glycemic index below 55 is considered low.

Low glycemic index 20-40

Skimmed yoghurt 20
Canned soybeans 21
Nuts 25
Soyabeans 27
Rice bran 27
Red beans 32
Cherries 32
Fructose 32
Dried peas 34
Brown beans 36
Barley 36
Grapefruit 38
Red lentils 38
Whole milk 40

Medium glycemic index 40-80

Dried beans 41
Sausages 42
Common lentils 42
Beans 43
Green lentils 43
Black beans 44
Soya milk 45
Apricot 46
Boiled peas 46
Skimmed milk 47
Fettuccine 47
Rye 49
Milk chocolate without sugar 50
Vermicelli 51
Whole yoghurt 53
Fresh pears 54
Spaghetti 54
Apple 54
Tomato pulp 55
Barley bread 56
Ravioli 56
Spaghetti cooked for 5 min. 58
Apple juice 60
All Bran cereal 63
Fresh peach 63
Tinned pears 64
Lentil soup, canned 64
Cappellini 65
Macaroni 65
Linguini 65
Instant rice boiled for 1 min 66
Lactose 66
Sponge cake 66
Grapes 67
Pineapple juice 68
Canned peaches 68
Parboiled rice 69
Green peas 69
Grapefruit juice 71
Chocolate 71
Rye bread 71
Orange juice 75
Tortellini with cheese 75
Kiwi 77
Common pie 77
Sweet potato 77
Kellogg's Special K 78
Banana 78
Buckwheat 78
Sweet cereal 78
Spaghetti 79
Brown rice 79
Oats flour 79
Tea biscuits 79
Popcorn 79
Muesli 80
Mango 80
Sultana egg 80
Boiled white potatoes 80

High glycemic index 80-100

Brown Rice 81
White rice 83
Meat pie 84
Cheese pizza 86
Pea soup 86
Hamburger bun 87
Flour porridge 87
Ice cream 87
Muesli bars 87
Packaged potatoes 87
McDonals's muffins 88
Shortbread cookie 91
Raisins 91
Rye bread 92
Macaroni and Cheese 92
Sucrose, brown sugar 92
Timbale 93
Cous cous 93
Watermelon 93
Steamed potatoes 93
Pineapple 94
Semolina 94
Gnocchi 95
Croissants 96
Hazelnut 96
Fanta 97
Mars bars 97
Wholewheat bread 97
Pancake 98
Wheat biscuits 100
Mashed potatoes 100
Carrots 100
Common white bread 100

Very high glycemic index over 100

Crackers 102
Melon 103
Sandwich 104
Honey 104
Mashed boiled potatoes 104
Corn chips 105
Sandwich 106
French fries 107
Pumpkin 107
Wafer 109
Vanilla Wafers 110
rice cakes 110
Galletta type breakfast 113
Salty donut 116
Microwaved potatoes 117
Corn flakes 119
Baked potatoes 121
Crispy fries 124
Parboiled, low-starch rice 124
White, low-starch rice 126
Puffed black rice 128
Instant rice boiled for 1 min 128
Gluten-free wheat bread 129
Glucose 137
Maltodextrin 137
Glucose tablets 146
Maltose 150
Frozen tofu desserts 164

Glycemic load

Recently, doctors and researchers have placed greater emphasis on the glycemic load value (CG) of foods.

The glycemic load takes into account the amount of carbohydrate present in a portion of a specific food. The glycemic index, in fact, indicates how rapidly a carbohydrate turns into glucose in the blood but it does not take into account the amount of carbohydrates contained in a portion, which is an equally important factor.

The higher the glycemic load value, the higher is the rate of increase of blood sugar and the consequent impact on insulin levels. This value is calculated by multiplying the amount of carbohydrates contained in a specific portion for the food with its glycemic index, then dividing the product by 100.

For example, an apple has a glycemic index of 40, compared to glucose rating of 100, and the amount of carbohydrate available in a medium sized apple is equal to 16 grams.

The glycemic load is then calculated by multiplying 16 grams of carbohydrates with 40 and dividing the product by 100, getting 6 as a result of rounding the decimal digits.

If you try to compare a portion of puffed rice for breakfast, which has a glycemic index of 82 and a carbohydrate content of 26 to a final glycemic load of 21, or a portion of baked pasta having a glycemic load equal to 32, the results are self-explanatory.

  • A glycemic load of 20 or higher is considered high.
  • A glycemic load between 11 and 19 is considered average.
  • A glycemic load of 10 or less is considered low.

Complex carbohydrates should represent the dominant type of carbohydrates in the diet. They provide a long-term energy source, contribute to the feeling of satiety, maintain the glycemic balance, contain fiber that promotes intestinal evacuation and contain more vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients compared to simple carbohydrates.

Examples of complex carbohydrates are whole grains (whole wheat pasta, whole wheat bread with cereal and porridge), beans, brown rice, peas and most root vegetables.

The intake of carbohydrates along with protein, fiber and fat (healthy ones) helps to dampen the effects on blood glucose levels, and this is another reason why a balanced intake of all nutrients is so important.

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