The glycemic index measures how quickly carbohydrate within food is released into the body. Some carbohydrates are released into the body quickly while others are released more slowly. According to the International GI Database, foods with a GI value of 55 and under contain slow-releasing carbohydrates and are classed as low GI. Medium GI foods are valued between 56 and 69 while high GI foods have a value of 70 or above.
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Benefits of Low Glycemic Foods
The carbohydrate within low glycemic foods is released into the body slowly. This helps to keep your blood sugar levels stable and you will feel fuller for longer between meals. Low glycemic foods will help you to maintain your weight, reduce your risk of heart disease, improve your cholesterol levels and prolong physical endurance.
Benefits of High-Fiber Foods
Fiber is not absorbed by the body but provides the bulk or roughage to keep your bowels healthy. Fiber is essential for the body to maintain regular bowel movements. If you do not get enough fiber in your diet, you could suffer from constipation. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a healthy adult should have 31 g of fiber each day. Fruits, vegetables, grains and beans are all natural sources of fiber. You can increase your fiber intake by swapping white bread, pasta and rice for whole-grain or brown varieties or by adding fibrous fruits and vegetables to your diet.
Most fruits, vegetables, beans and grains are natural sources of fiber. Most of these also have low glycemic index values. Fresh pears for example, contain 4.3 g of fiber when eaten with the skin on and have a GI of 42. Other high-fiber fruits with low GIs include apples, bananas, oranges, prunes and dates. Also try peas, bran cereals, whole-wheat English muffins, whole-meal spaghetti and almost any type of bean.
For high-fiber, low-glycemic breakfasts try porridge topped with fresh berries or bran flakes and milk. At lunch-time choose three bean salads or a baked potato topped with baked beans too keep you feeling full all afternoon. For dinner opt for hearty stews and casseroles full of beans and fibrous vegetables.
If you need a high-fiber snack to keep your energy levels on track, try mashed banana on whole-meal toast or fruity smoothies made with a banana and plenty of fresh berries. Keep a cereal bar in your bag for a high-fiber, low-GI snack on the go.