Day 20 of our 30-day nutrition challenge is to swap one item you eat most days for a similar item which has a lower glycaemic index rating. Would you like:
- More sustainable energy & concentration
- Reduce the risk of Diabetes type 2 and heart disease
- Stop craving sweet foods
- Lose some body fat from reduced snacking
- Increased dietary variety
The glycaemic index is a ranking (0-100) of how carbohydrates affect blood glucose levels. A low GI rating means the food releases it’s glucose more slowly causing a slower rise in blood glucose and therefore insulin levels which is hugely beneficial for Diabetics, and if you’d like to reduce your risk of Diabetes type 2 and heart disease.
You might like to switch:
- White potato to sweet potato
- White rice to white basmati rice
- Banana for an apple
- White for wholemeal roti
- White bread for granary/seeded bread
However, not all low GI foods are healthy – chocolate is low GI but that’s because the fat content slows the absorption of glucose, but combining foods in a meal can positively effect the GI balance of a meal.
It’s also worth knowing that although it is a good guide to improve energy and reduce risk of Diabetes type 2 and heart disease it isn’t perfect – the calculations are based on 50g of the food item but in real life we don’t eat 50g we eat varying amounts. So a more appropriate rating would be Glycaemic Load.
You can have cake!
Obviously, life is about living and enjoying food. So yes cakes, biscuits etc are going to be enjoyed. If you’d like to lower the glycaemic effect of sweet foods it’s best to eat them with either fibre, fat or protein.
Food which contain fibre e.g. whole grains, fruit/vegetables with skin slows down the absorption of glucose e.g. new potatoes are better then mash potato, an orange is better than squeezed orange juice.
Fat lowers the GI of food e.g. chocolate example given above. Crisps are also lower GI than potatoes because they have been cooked in fat, but again doesn’t make them healthier – it just reduces the affect on blood glucose. The crisps will still have more calories.
Protein also lowers the GI rating, and protein is an easy addition to a meal or snack to positively affect blood glucose balance e.g. glass of milk with biscuit.
How much is OK?
It’s not just about the GI rating, the amount of carbohydrate also matters. Pasta is lower GI than watermelon yet it has more carbohydrates so checking portion size is also important.
If you’d like to find out more tips to improve your health check out our webinars and our Bitesize Nutrition podcasts. If you’re not into podcasts (yet!) listen free without registration on your phone or PC by clicking on the podcast link in this paragraph, or you can find Bitesize Nutrition on iTunes and Spotify.
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- The information in this article is for educational purposes and should not replace medical advice.
- The information is not intended to diagnose or treat any medical condition.
- If you have a diagnosed medical condition, you should consult a doctor before making any major changes to your diet, and;
- Some supplements may interact with medications and you should check with your GP before commencing any supplement programme.