Glycemic index

Measures how fast and how far blood sugar rises after you eat a food that contains carbohydrates.

Describes a particular type of food and indicates the effect of that specific food on blood sugar after ingestion.

The concept of the glycemic index accounts for variances in speed of digestion of different types of carbohydrates.

This concept classifies foods according to the rapidity of their effect on blood sugar levels – with fast-digesting simple carbohydrates causing a sharper increase and slower-digesting complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains, a slower one.

A rating system for food based on the extent the food raised glucose levels 2 hours after consumption.

The glycemic index (GI) of a food basically relates how quickly the blood sugar will rise after eating the carbohydrate contained in that food, as compared with eating pure sugar.

Foods with a high GI are easily digested and cause a quick rise in blood sugar.

High-glycemic foods, reduce appetite more than a low glycemic index food.

Foods with a lower GI get digested more slowly.

Fruits like watermelon and cantaloupe both have a high GI even though both are healthy foods.

Glycemic load is the product of the glycemic index of a food and the available carbohydrate of the food.

Diets filled with high-glycemic-index foods linked to an increased risk for both diabetes and heart disease.

Low glycemic load diets reduce risk factors for cardiovascular disease and can lower risk facotrs in healthy individuals (Liu S, Beulens JW).

The glycemic index measures and ranks various foods by how much they cause blood sugar levels to rise.

Research shows that following a low glycemic index diet decreases fasting blood sugar levels.

Low glycemic index foods are those that score below 55 on the glycemic index. Examples of low glycemic foods include:

sweet potatoes



low-fat milk

leafy greens are

non-starchy vegetables

nuts and seeds



Nurses’ Health Study indicated that high glycemic index and glycemic load foods associated with coronary artery disease (Liu S).

Dutch women with high glycemic index and glycemic load diets had an increased risk of cardiovascular disease(Beulens JW).

High glycemic index and high glycemic load diet has greater risks for obese women, as noted in the above two studies.

In studies of Swedish and Dutch men dietary glycemic index and dietary load was not associated with cardiovascular risk (van Dam RM, Levitan EB).

EPICOR (European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition study) study investigated the association of glycemic index and glycemic load in a large group of Italian men and women indicated that high dietary glycemic load and carbohydrate intake from high glycemic index foods increased the risk of coronary artery disease in women but not in men (Sieri S).

EPICOR study of 47,749 volunteers in a prospective study found dietary glycemic index had little influence on coronary artery disease for either sex.

An increase association in women for coronary artery disease exists for carbohydrate intake from high glycemic foods but no association for carbohydrate intake from low glycemic foods.

Postprandial glycemia is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease in diabetic and non-diabetic persons.

Glycemic index-low index foods help control type 2 diabetes.

Low glycemic index foods improve glycemic control in patients with type II diabetes.

Legumes , also known as pulses, improve glycemic control, are good sources of slowly digested starch, and have relatively high-fiber and vegetable protein content.-Accounted for by the processing of carbohydrates which involves removing fiber-rich outer bran and the inner germ rich with vitamin and minerals, leaving the starchy endosperm.

Ripeness of fruits and vegetable increases sugar content and glycemic index.

Finely ground grain is more easily digested than coarse grain and is reflected in its higher glycemic index.

FOOD Glycemic index (glucose = 100)


White wheat bread* 75 ± 2

Whole wheat/whole meal bread 74 ± 2

Specialty grain bread 53 ± 2

Unleavened wheat bread 70 ± 5

Wheat roti 62 ± 3

Chapatti 52 ± 4

Corn tortilla 46 ± 4

White rice, boiled* 73 ± 4

Brown rice, boiled 68 ± 4

Barley 28 ± 2

Sweet corn 52 ± 5

Spaghetti, white 49 ± 2

Spaghetti, whole meal 48 ± 5

Rice noodles 53 ± 7

Udon noodles 55 ±

Couscous 65 ± 4


Cornflakes 81 ± 6

Wheat flake biscuits 69 ± 2

Porridge, rolled oats 55 ± 2

Instant oat porridge 79 ± 3

Rice porridge/congee 78 ± 9

Millet porridge 67 ± 5

Muesli 57 ± 2


Apple, raw† 36 ± 2

Orange, raw† 43 ± 3

Banana, raw† 51 ± 3

Pineapple, raw 59 ± 8

Mango, raw 51 ± 5

Watermelon, raw 76 ± 4

Dates, raw 42 ± 4

Peaches, canned† 43 ± 5

Strawberry jam/jelly 49 ± 3

Apple juice 41 ± 2

Orange juice 50 ± 2


Potato, boiled 78 ± 4

Potato, instant mash 87 ± 3

Potato, french fries 63 ± 5

Carrots, boiled 39 ± 4

Sweet potato, boiled 63 ± 6

Pumpkin, boiled 64 ± 7

Plantain/green banana 55 ± 6

Taro, boiled 53 ± 2

Vegetable soup 48 ± 5


Milk, full fat 39 ± 3

Milk, skim 37 ± 4

Ice cream 51 ± 3

Yogurt, fruit 41 ± 2

Soy milk 34 ± 4

Rice milk 86 ± 7


Chickpeas 28 ± 9

Kidney beans 24 ± 4

Lentils 32 ± 5

Soya beans 16 ± 1


Chocolate 40 ± 3

Popcorn 65 ± 5

Potato crisps 56 ± 3

Soft drink/soda 59 ± 3

Rice crackers/crisps 87 ± 2


Fructose 15 ± 4

Sucrose 65 ± 4

Glucose 103 ± 3

Honey 61 ± 3

Glycemic Index Linked to Increased Risk of Major Cardiovascular Events, Mortality


March 2, 2021


Patrick Campbell




PURE study suggests an increased intake of poor quality carbohydrates was linked to an increased risk of major cardiovascular events and death in patients from 20 different countries.



Diets high in poor quality carbohydrates was linked to a greater risk of heart attack, stroke, and death.



PURE study analysis that included more than 135,000 participants from 5 continents suggests a diet with a high glycemic index was associated with a 21% increase in risk of a major cardiovascular event or death among those with no history of cardiovascular disease and this risk became greater among those with preexisting cardiovascular disease.



PURE study, investigators obtained data related to a cohort of 137,851 participants between the ages of 35-70 years from 20 countries on 5 continents. 



The study had a median follow-up of 9.5 years and data from country-specific food-frequency questionnaires. 



8780 deaths and 8252 major cardiovascular events occurred within the study cohort.



Those with a high glycemic index were at an increased risk of a major cardiovascular event or death: increased in risk was present among those with preexisting cardiovascular disease 


and among those without preexisting cardiovascular disease .



Investigators noted similar associations were seen when examining individual aspects of the composite endpoint.



Not all carbohydrates foods are the same: Diets high in poor quality carbohydrates are associated with reduced longevity, while diets rich in high quality carbohydrates such as fruit, vegetables and legumes have beneficial effects.






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