Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Glycemic Index? Wasn't it already Hard Enough to Eat Healthy?

OK. Besides Calories and carbohydrates, cholesterol numbers and blood glucose levels, we now have a new set of numbers. Just what is this about anyway? 

The glycemic index (GI) is a measure of the potency of a certain food's carbohydrates -- how quickly and how forcefully they impact blood sugar levels. It compares carbohydrate foods, gram for gram, against glucose, which is given a GI of 100. What this means is, the higher the food on the index, the faster it sends your blood sugar levels into outerspace. The lower numbers show foods that give you energy slowly, for a longer, slower burn time. 

Glancing at the index yields some surprises. Some of the worst foods are foods we eat a lot of, including most breads, breakfast cereals, and even baked potatoes. In fact baked potatoes scored WORSE than pure white table sugar.

Low glycemic foods turned out to be beans, barley, pasta, oats, and some types of rice. Acidic fruits have low glycemic indexes. Likewise, vinegar and lemon juice — as in salad dressing — help reduce the glycemic load. 

So, I guess it's not so bad after all. I like it simple. The simplest takeaway my small brain can carry is this: eat lean meat and vegetables (potatoes don't count.). If you must eat carbs, keep it whole grain and limit the portion size to a quarter or less of your small dinner plate real estate.

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