The glycemic index, or GI, classifies carbohydrate foods according to the extent to which they increase blood sugar levels after eating. The foods are listed on a scale of zero to 100, with zero being the foods that have are digested slowly, resulting in gradual rises in blood sugar levels, and 100 being foods that are rapidly digested, resulting in rapid spikes in blood sugar levels. People with diabetes may follow low glycemic index diets to help regulate blood sugar levels.
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How the Glycemic Index is Measured
The GI is measured by serving 10 or more people a sample of a particular carbohydrate food. In this case, the food is Cheerios. A serving of the food that contains 50 g of carbohydrate is given to the panel of testers, and then the effect on their blood sugar is measured at regular intervals with simple blood tests. These results are compared with the blood test results after the same people consume a 50-g sample of glucose.
Using Glycemic Index Results
Foods with a GI of 55 or less are considered low. Conversely, foods with a GI of 70 or more are considered high. The Glycemic Index Foundation recommends that people eat foods low on the GI more often. The proposed health benefits of doing this are more sustained energy levels, lowered insulin secretion, decreased body weight, lowered LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and improved skin.
Cheerios have a GI of 74, which puts the cereal on the higher end of the scale. Cheerios are widely recognized as being a heart healthy source of dietary fiber, but it may not be the best choice for someone looking to eat a low GI diet.
A Low Glycemic Index Alternative
If Cheerios are not a good choice for you because they are too high on the GI, try a bran cereal. A bran breakfast cereal is a whole grain cereal that rich in dietary fiber, with a GI of only 30. If you're willing to branch out even further than breakfast cereal in the morning, a banana smoothie is low on the GI, as are certain fruits.