Glycemic Index Can Be Good News for Glucose Levels

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By: Sharon Kellaher

The glycemic index of foods you eat could be the reason that one day you find your sugars out of control, but you’re shocked, because you haven’t strayed from your diabetes nutrition guidelines.

Following the food guide pyramid, you will eat at least 40 percent carbohydrates, and all carbohydrates raise your blood sugars. But the days when you eat mashed potatoes (glycemic index 72) could be much different from the ones when you’re dining on an apple (glycemic index 38).

The glycemic index ranks carbohydrate-rich foods according to how much they raise blood sugars. It gives a 50-gram serving of a particular food a number, with glucose being the standard, at a GI of 100.

White bread, with a glycemic index of 72, will send your sugars skyrocketing more than ice cream, with a GI of only 38.

Proponents of using the glycemic index believe that eating a low-GI diet helps prevent obesity and, in people with diabetes, helps keep glucose levels down.

This chart of foods with their glycemic indices comes from the book “Stop the Rollercoaster” by John Walsh, PA, CDE, Ruth Roberts, MA, and Lois Jovanovic-Peterson, MD (Torrey Pines Press, 1996). “Stop the Rollercoaster” addresses the glycemic index and many other topics on blood sugar control.

—May 1999


Glucose 100
Russett potato 93
Honey 91
Instant brown rice 88
Instant mashed potatoes 86
Corn flakes cereal 83
Whole-wheat or white bread 72
Mashed potato 72
Corn chips 72
Swiss Muesli cereal 70
Shredded Wheat cereal 70
Table sugar 64
Rye bread 64
Banana 61
Brown rice 59
Sweet corn 58
New potato, boiled 58
Oatmeal cookies 57
Potato chips 56
All Bran cereal 54
Oatmeal 53
Sweet potato 50
Pumpernickel bread 49
Orange juice 49
Frozen green peas 47
Macaroni 46
Spaghetti, boiled 15 min. 44
Baked beans 43
Orange 43
Ice cream 38
Apple 38
Chick peas 36
Milk 34
Kidney beans 33
Spaghetti, boiled 5 min. 33
Protein-enriched spaghetti 28
Fructose 22
Peanuts 10

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