The Importance of Knowing the Glycemic Load of Food

The Importance of Knowing the Glycemic Load of Food

There’s a current controversy as to the role of carbohydrates when speaking about diet. What people should actually understand is the concept behind the glycemic load of different foods and how this impacts a person’s blood sugar and energy levels. This is especially important to people who have diabetes and need to monitor their blood glucose levels.

What is the Glycemic Load?

The glycemic load classifies food by measuring the impact of its carbohydrate content on a person’s blood sugar levels. It is dependent on the glycemic index, which is a system of ranking foods based on how fast the carbohydrate is digested and how fast glucose enters the bloodstream. Every food has a different glycemic load because of its varying components.

A particular food may have a high glycemic index but a low glycemic load.

The Impact of Glycemic Load

A food that has a low glycemic load is good for the health because it can help keep a person’s blood sugar levels constant. It does not promote the candy bar effect, which is characterized by a quick jump to a very high blood sugar level and a quick drop to a low blood sugar level.

Knowing the glycemic load of foods and including foods with low glycemic index in your diet can provide you with many health benefits. You can:

lose weight easily and overcome the so-called plateau in weight loss
have a consistent blood sugar level
burn off calories effectively
avoid having insulin resistance or diabetes
avert the risk of heart disease

So, when planning your diet, it makes a lot of sense to consider the glyemic load of food in your decision regarding the type of foods to include in the diet. That way, you can better picture the overall impact of the foods you eat on your health.

The Glycemic Load of Foods

You can never determine the glycemic load of foods on your own. You need to refer to published guidelines to find out which foods have low or high glycemic load. But, in general, a food that is rich in fiber is a better choice. Check out below a list of common foods grouped according to low, medium or high glycemic load.

Low glycemic load foods with glycemic load values of 10 and below

Fruits and veggies that are rich in fiber, such as green peas, carrots, apples, watermelon and grapefruit
Beans including kidney beans, black beans, soybeans and pinto beans
Cereals made with bran
Peanuts and cashews
Whole-grain products, including breads and tortillas
Tomato juice

Medium glycemic load foods with glycemic load values of 11 to 19

Pasta and bread made with whole wheat
Rice cakes
Bulgur and barley
Sweet potato
Brown rice
Fruit juice with no added sugar
Graham crackers

High glycemic load foods with glycemic load values of 20 and above

Sweetened beverages and fruit juices
White pasta and white rice
Baked potatoes and French fries
Cereals that are low in fiber and high in sugar
Macaroni and cheese
Dates and raisins

Diabetics need to consider the glycemic load of foods in order to keep their blood sugar levels steady. But understanding the glycemic load concept and implementing it in the diet can benefit all people as well.

Photo credits: “Blood Glucose Testing” by David-i98 (talk) (Uploads) – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikipedia

Categories: Nutrition

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