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Glycemic index
The Glycemic Index (GI) is a classification of carbohydrate foods according to the effect they have on the level of blood sugars. Regulating blood sugars is a key strategy in preventing and controlling certain diseases particularly obesity and diabetes.

High glycemic index forms of carbohydrate produce high concentrations of blood glucose. High concentrations of blood sugars increase insulin demand thus increase hunger. Foods that have lower glycemic index release glucose slowly, so the insulin works more efficiently, thereby reducing hunger. There are many factors that influence glycemic index;
  • Foods high in fibre have a low Glycemic Index
  • Starches in seed coats or coarsely ground are lower in Glycemic Index
  • Starches cooked in moist heat and then cooled like upma are lower in Glycemic Index
  • Raw food has lower Glycemic Index than cooked food
  • Foods rich in fat and protein have a lower Glycemic Index
  • The Glycemic Index of fructose a natural sugar in fruits is much lower that sugar, glucose thus raw fruits can be consumed as a whole but not as juices.
  • Foods that are cooked for so long have a high Glycemic Index
The benefits of looking into the Glycemic index are as follows

  • Low GI diets help people lose and control weight
  • Low GI diets increase the body's sensitivity to insulin
  • Low GI carbs improve diabetes control
  • Low GI carbs reduce the risk of heart disease
  • Low GI carbs reduce blood cholesterol levels
  • Low GI carbs reduce hunger and keep you fuller for longer
  • Low GI carbs prolong physical endurance
  • High GI carbs help re-fuel carbohydrate stores after exercise
Glycemic index of some commonly consumed foods
Low GI foods Medium GI Foods High GI foods
Semolina (steamed), rava and black gram dal, rava and black gram dal, pongal (khichidi) and sambar, debra, bajra Kodri green gram whole, Kodri, rice flakes, rice and green gram dal, methi thepala, palak thepala, uttapam, South Indian meal, Punjabi meal, west Bengal meal Rice, Puffed rice, Rice and peas, Jowar, wheat bhakri, Kodri and green gram dal, Rava upma, Rava with dal, idli, dosa, gujarati meal
Suggested Modifications to reduce Glycemic index
Upma Addition of carrots, capsicum, peas.
Poha Addition of peas, shredded carrots, pomegranate seeds, coriander leaves
Plain Roti Partial substitution with soya flour
Paratha/Thepla Addition of fenugreek leaves, drumstick leaves, spinach, radish. Include soy flour in the dough
Dosa/ Idli Addition of fenugreek seed powder or flaxseed, Avoid fine batter.
Dhokla Combination of rice and various pulses, avoid fine batter, have with green chutney
Brown bread Coriander chutney, cucumber, tomatoes, beetroot, Avoid white bread
Rice Choose Khichdi/ Pongal, Vegetable Pulav, or partial substitution with Kodri
Pizza / naan Make it at home and add fibre to the base by adding psyllium (Isabgol)
Vegetable sandwich Include mushrooms
Muthia Include mushroom/ flax seed
Debra Include mushroom/ flaxseed/ spirilina/ til/ wheat grass
Plain sambar Soya sambhar
Peas pulav Include spirulina
Dal preparations Include drumstick leaves, curry leaves, coriander leaves.
Maida Rusk, biscuit, bread, soup sticks Include barley in the flour
Glycemic Load (GL)
These days people are questioning if Glycemic Index should be used as a measure to study sugar release. Food is not eaten as a single ingredient but as a whole meal. This is where the concept of Gylcemic Load comes in. it assesses the effect of carbohydrate foods on blood sugar by taking into account the Glycemic Index but giving a fuller picture. The Glycemic Index tells you about how rapidly a particular carbohydrate turns to sugar. It doesn’t tell you how much of carbohydrate is there in food. Both have an important effect on blood sugar.

For example carbohydrate in watermelon has a high Glycemic Index but the Glycemic Load is low. A Glycemic Load of 20 or more is considered high, 11 to 19 is medium, and 10 or less is low.
Food Glycemic Index (GI) Glycemic Load (GL)
Bread (White) 72 25
Bread (Whole wheat) 67 8
Rice (White) 60 24
Milk 32 4
Curd 36 3
Rajma 42 10
Lentils 22 4
Apple 39 6
Banana 46 12
Grapes 43 7
Baked Potato 60 18
Carrots 92 4
Mani UV, Parulkar J, Iyer UM, Prabhu B, Rai V, Kurian E, Mukherjee N, Mani I , Mehta NC, Patel KH and Desikachar HSR (1994)
Glycemic index of cereal-pulse mix (diabetic mix) in NIDDM subjects.
Int J Fd Sci Nutr 45: 141-145.

Mani UV, Pradhan SN, Thackur D, Mehta NC, Iyer UM and Mani I (1993)
Glycemic index of conventional carbohydrate meals.
Br J Nutr 68: 445-450.

Mani UV, Iyer UM, Rai V and Parulkar J
Study on the glycemic index of selected cereal and cereal-green leafy vegetables combination in NIDDM patients.
J Nutr Med 4: 321-325.
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