According to the National Diabetes Education Program, 8.3 percent of the U.S. population has diabetes. Whether you have this disease or not, limiting your high glycemic index -- GI -- carbs is a good habit to establish. The GI and glucose load -- GL -- indicate how foods affect your blood sugar and insulin levels. The lower the GI and GL, the better.
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Glucose Index and Glucose Load
When you eat a meal, your blood sugar rises and falls. The quality and the quantity of the carbs you eat determine how high your blood sugar rises and how long it remains that way. The GI value defines the quality of the carbs. This value can be from 0 to 100, with 55 and below considered low on the index scale and 70 and above considered high. The GL value defines both the quality and the quantity of carbohydrate in one value, making it the best way to determine how a particular food will affect your blood sugar and insulin levels.
The formula is: GL = (GI x the amount of carbohydrate) divided by 100.
For example, if an average apple has a GI of 40 and it contains 15 grams of carbohydrate, the GL value is 6: GL = 40 x 15/100 = 6 g.
According to the Harvard Medical School, good whole fruits to consider for a low-GI carb include apples, prunes and grapefruit. A medium-sized apple has a GI value of 39 and a GL value of 6. Three medium-sized prunes have a GI value of 29 and a GL value of 10. An average grapefruit has a GI value of 25 and a GL value of 3.
Most vegetables are low on the GI and GL scale, such as dark leafy greens, broccoli, squash and other low-starch veggies. Carrots have a GI value of 35 for 80 grams, and a GL value of 2. An average yam has a GI value of 54 and a GL value of 20, making it a better option than your typical russet potato.
Believe it or not, you can enjoy grains on a low-GI diet. The one grain that packs the most nutrition is quinoa. In a 150-gram serving, its GI value is 53 and its GL value is 13. It may be slightly high on the GL scale, but the nutrition it offers is well worth the cost. Barley offers a lower cost with its GI at 28 and its GL at 12 for a 150-gram serving. Brown rice and whole-wheat kernels are also good choices.
Beans and Nuts
Not only are beans and nuts high in protein and fiber, they weigh in with an impressive low GI value. Fifty grams of peanuts have a GI of 7 and a 0 GL. A 150-gram serving of soybeans has a GI of 15 with a 1 GL. Lentils and chickpeas also offer a low GI/GL index.