What Can Low GI Foods Do For Your Health?

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Jan 12, 2015 by Alex

For many of us, eating healthily over the long term is a constant challenge. With so much temptation, in the form of fast and processed foods, and often so little time in which to cook, it is hardly surprising that the number of overweight and obese individuals in the UK is reaching worrying levels.

Being obese does, of course, bring with it threats to health including an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and various cancers. However, many 'crash' or 'fad' diets can leave dieters missing various nutrients and feeling tired and sluggish.

That is where foods with a low glycaemic index (GI) can help. Although not all GI foods are healthy, a judicious use of GI foods in your otherwise healthy diet might be helpful if you want to lose weight or control blood sugar. Read on to find out more.

 

What is low GI?

The GI rating of a food is a score out of 100, and indicates how quickly that food is absorbed by the body and transformed into blood sugar. The higher a food's GI score, the more likely it is to lead to a speedy increase in blood sugar, which is often followed by a 'crash' that leaves you feeling lethargic and craving more food.

In contrast, foods with a low GI score tend to affect the blood sugar more gradually, leading to stable blood sugar levels and leaving you feeling fuller for longer and therefore less likely to eat more than you need to.

Only foods that contain carbohydrate are given a GI score. In general, foods with a score of 70 or more are considered high GI, those scoring 55-69 are medium GI and anything with a GI score below 55 is a low GI food.

 

Healthy?

It is important to note that not all low GI food is healthy, for example chocolate cake has a lower GI than parsnips, so a low GI diet is not necessarily a healthy diet. A healthy balanced diet means eating the amount of food that is appropriate given your level of physical activity, and eating a wide range of foods – including high GI foods that are also nutritious.

However, by replacing some high GI foods with low GI options, for at least some of the time, you can make it easier to lose weight. This is because the low GI options will leave you feeling fuller for longer, maintain your blood sugar levels and therefore make you less likely to eat extra, unnecessary, food.

You can also offset the effects of healthy GI foods by consuming them with low GI options. The foods you eat combine to affect your glycaemic response, so if you eat a low GI item, such as a baked potato, with nutritious high GI foods, you can get a wide range of nutrients while limiting the effects on your blood sugar.

So the next time you feel inclined to reach for the biscuit barrel, why not reach for a low GI food instead? Options include whole grains, sugar-free muesli, plain yoghurt, jacket potatoes, dark chocolate (70% cocoa or more), along with fresh rhubarb, apricots, applies and cherries. If you want to lose weight in the coming year, why not try low GI?