What is the Glycemic Index?
Not all carbohydrate foods are created equal, in fact they behave quite differently in our bodies. The glycemic index or GI describes this difference by ranking carbohydrates according to their effect on our blood glucose levels. Choosing low GI carbs - the ones that produce only small fluctuations in our blood glucose and insulin levels - is the secret to long-term health reducing your risk of heart disease and diabetes and is the key to sustainable weight loss.

What are the Benefits of the Glycemic Index?
Eating a lot of high GI foods can be detrimental to your health because it pushes your body to extremes. This is especially true if you are overweight and sedentary. Switching to eating mainly low GI carbs that slowly trickle glucose into your blood stream keeps your energy levels balanced and means you will feel fuller for longer between meals.

    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
How to Switch to a Low GI Diet
The basic technique for eating the low GI way is simply a "this for that" approach - ie, swapping high GI carbs for low GI carbs. You don't need to count numbers or do any sort of mental arithmetic to make sure you are eating a healthy, low GI diet.
    Use breakfast cereals based on oats, barley and bran
    Use breads with wholegrains, stone-ground flour, sour dough
    Reduce the amount of potatoes you eat
    Enjoy all other types of fruit and vegetables
    Use Basmati or Doongara rice
    Enjoy pasta, noodles, quinoa
    Eat plenty of salad vegetables with a vinaigrette dressing
55 or less
56 - 69
70 or more
Burgen Soy-Lin®,
PerforMAX®, fruit loaf,
Vogel's honey and oat®

Breakfast Cereals
All Bran fruit'n oats®,
All Bran®, Guardian®,
porridge, Special K®,
Rice Bran

Barley, Pasta (all types),
Noodles, Bulgur,

All Beans (eg kidney,
soy, baked bean, etc…)
peas, and lentils

Starchy Vegetables
Sweet potato, taro

Cherries, grapefruit,
peach, dried apricots,
apple, pear, plums,
orange, grapes, kiwi
fruit, banana

Skim milk
Plain Yogurt
Soy beverage
Pumpernickel bread
Al dente (firm) pasta
Chick peas

Hamburger bun, rye
bread, croissant, light
rye, crumpet,
Whole wheat bread

Breakfast Cereals
Oatbran, untoasted
muesli, Just Right®,
Nutri Grain®,
Sustain®, Weet-Bix®
Shredded wheat cereal

Basmati rice, wild rice,
Sunrice Doongara®
rice, Mahatma
Premium® Classic,
couscous, cornmeal,
tapioca, Brown rice

All Beans (eg kidney,
soy, baked bean, etc…)
peas, and lentils

Starchy Vegetables
New potato

Sultanas, raw and
canned apricots, mango,
paw paw, raisins,
rockmelon, pineapple

White bread, bagel,
gluten-free bread

Breakfast Cereals
Sultana Bran®,
Bran Flakes®, Coco
Pops®, Puffed Wheat®,
Rice Bubbles®,
Rice Krispies™

Brown rice, calrose rice,
jasmine rice, Instant rice

Broad beans

Starchy Vegetables
Other potatoes, parsnip,
Instant mashed potatoes,
Baked white potato
french fries,


Dried dates

Ice cream
Digestive cookies
Table sugar (sucrose)
Soda crackers


Source Glycemic Index Listing Web Site

1. Yogurt: Buy low-fat or nonfat, no-sugar added yogurt. Organic with "live cultures" are healthiest.

2. Nuts: An ideal combination of unsaturated fat, protein and carbs, nuts are portable and nutritious. Buy dry-roasted (no oil added) unsalted nuts or peanuts in the shell, average size is a "handful," about 200 calories, depending on the variety.

3. Dips & Dippers: Avocado dip (guacamole), chickpea dip (hummus) or tomato salsa, all made without mayonnaise (use a little olive oil instead) with cut-up crunchy veggies

4. Cheese: Low-fat varieties: read the label, the first ingredient should be skim milk. Nonfat or 1-percent cottage cheese is a great snack; mix with salad herbs or black pepper for added flavor.

5. Cereal: 100-percent whole-grain cereal with a cup of nonfat milk.

6. Fruit: Whole fruit including berries, melon, apples, oranges and grapefruit have the most fiber and fewest grams of carbohydrate per serving. Eat along with some nonfat yogurt or low-fat cheese, or a handful of nuts.

7. Popcorn: Air-popped popcorn sprayed with olive oil and tossed with a tablespoon of Parmesan cheese.

8. Smoothies: Blend 1 cup of nonfat milk, 1/2 cup of nonfat sugar-free yogurt, 2 drops of vanilla extract and 1 cup of ice. Optional: add a 1/2 cup of berries.

9. Wrap-ups: Spread a small whole-grain tortilla with a teaspoon of mustard and wrap-up one ounce of any lean meat, including turkey or chicken breast, roast beef, lean ham or shrimp.

10. Mini-pita pizza: Top a 1/2 whole-wheat mini-pita with tomato sauce and a little low-fat mozzarella and oregano to taste: broil till cheese melts

Face it---Carbohydrates are confusing. There are simple carbs, complex carbs, good carbs, bad carbs, refined, unrefined, plus, something called net carbs -- whatever that means.

With the popularity of low-carb diets like Glycemic Impact and Atkins Nutritional Approach, people are hearing half-baked facts about carbs and only getting more confused. Luckily, eDiets Director of Nutrition Services Pam Ofstein slices through the uncertainty about carbohydrates to give you the freshest information available.

"What most of us are referring to as 'good carbs' are those including vegetables and whole fruits, whole grains and beans (unrefined carbohydrates). These foods include a substantial amount of fiber and can help to level blood sugar levels," Pam explains. "There are many carbohydrate foods (refined) that aren't as nutritious as we would like them to be and contain less fiber or the important vitamins and minerals we should be including daily."

For example, if you start your day with a high-fiber bran cereal, as opposed to a sugary cereal with little-to-no-fiber, it will provide you with many health benefits, as well as the providing satiety to keep you feeling full longer.

The most obvious benefit of fiber has been promoted through any number of commercials on restroom regularity, but there are so many other benefits to this crucial weight-loss component.

"The health benefits of fiber include lowering cholesterol, helping maintain insulin levels and decreasing certain risks of cancer (i.e. colon/breast)," explains Pam. "Fiber also slows down stomach emptying to allow for better digestion and helps keep you full longer -- providing satiety."

So beyond its many health benefits, fiber can keep your cravings under control and prevent overeating, which will aid in your weight-loss goals. But how much fiber do you need daily?

"Most of us don't get enough," warns Pam. "The average person takes in only about 15 grams of fiber per day. Try to up that amount to a minimum of 25 grams per day -- aim for 30 grams or more."

The breakdown on carbohydrates: You need more carbs from unrefined foods like whole grains, fruits and vegetables and less from processed foods. Whole foods have the "good carbs" loaded with health benefits and fiber, which can be your secret weight-loss weapon in the war on fat. Skipping the white bread and going for the whole grain is a good place to start.
(By By Shawn McKee, Staff Writer for eDiets.com

Copyright © 2009 Carol Stevens, Shaboom's Kitchen, All Rights Reserved