Healthy and balanced eating is a suggestion that is constantly stressed to start a healthy life. In choosing healthy foods, one of the criteria that you must pay attention to is the glycemic index value. The higher the GI value of a food, the higher your blood sugar level. Increased blood sugar levels in the long run is certainly not good for health. So, is the low glycemic index food guaranteed to be healthy?
Overview of the glycemic index of food
The glycemic index is a method of measuring how fast the carbohydrate content contained in food can be converted into sugar by the human body.
This size is a scale from 0-100. For example, pure sugar, for example, has a glycemic index number of 100. This means that carbohydrates in pure sugar are very quickly converted by the body into sugar for energy for the body. Foods with high GI produce more blood sugar than foods with low GI. The higher the glycemic index of food, the higher your risk for weight gain and diabetes and other chronic diseases.
Conversely, if you eat a low glycemic index food, your blood sugar will not increase dramatically, it is relatively stable. Food sources of carbohydrates that are classified as healthy and recommended are food groups whose IG values are not above 70. Foods with a low glycemic index can reduce the risk of heart disease and keep your weight stable, thanks to the effect that makes you feel full longer.
So, is the food of the low glycemic index always better?
Even though the food's glycemic index is a fairly effective benchmark for controlling blood sugar levels, the glycemic index is not the only determining factor to help you choose the type of food you will consume. It is not realistic if we judge the health of a food only from its glycemic index value.
You also have to pay attention to the fat content in the food. Some food sources that are high in protein and fat tend to have lower GI compared to similar foods with low fat and protein levels. For example, IG levels of potato chips are relatively low, but saturated fat levels are quite high. High fat levels in a food can also make your blood sugar high.
When you eat too much fatty foods such as fat from meat, chicken skin, or innards, which have low IG levels, the fat in the body will continue to increase. This excessive amount of fat can affect the work of insulin which is responsible for controlling blood sugar levels. In the end, eating foods high in saturated fat, even though the IG value is low, can still increase your risk of overweight and heart disease.
The glycemic index also does not take into account number of calories . For example, carrots have a higher glycemic index than candy. If the principle of selection is only seen from the high or not the glycemic index, then we will tend to choose candy whose glycemic index is low right? But, the calories in candy are much higher, and almost zero nutrition, rather than a carrot. So, it is possible for us to experience excess calories when eating only taking into account the glycemic index.
Therefore, we must still choose food carefully. Although it turns out the IG value is low, it turns out that many are high in fat and calories.
The glycemic index value of food is also influenced by the way it is processed
The glycemic index of a food may change, depending on several things, such as:
- Combination of food : Mixing carbohydrate foods with foods containing protein, and fat will reduce the glycemic index. Eating different carbohydrate sources at one and the same time will also affect the glycemic index value so that the glycemic index value that the body calls can differ from the actual value
- How to process : cooking or processing food will usually increase the glycemic index value, for example, juice has a higher glycemic index than the original fruit. In addition, corn stir-fried and burned also produces a different glycemic index, which includes the classification of a low glycemic index and a moderate glycemic index.
- Storage time and maturity level of a food will also affect the value of the glycemic index. For example, the more mature the fruit or vegetable, the higher the glycemic index value
- Information related to the glycemic index on the information label is very limited. Very rarely is the information directly visible to consumers regarding the glycemic index so it is very difficult to choose foods based on the glycemic index in each product or type of food. The glycemic index of wheat cereal products of brand A is not necessarily the same as that of brand B cornflakes.
Moreover, the glycemic index does not reflect the number of grams of food eaten. Unlike the glycemic load. Glycemic load is a way to estimate the overall effect of blood sugar in our diet based on the value of the glycemic index and the amount of carbohydrates contained in the food we eat. Foods with a high glycemic index do not necessarily have a high glycemic load.
Then how should you choose food?
According to Queensland Government Health, if indeed we want to keep choosing foods based on the glycemic index, then do the following steps:
- Choose at least 3 types of foods that contain a low glycemic index a day, these foods can be consumed when the main meal or when eating snacks
- When consuming a high glycemic index meal, combine it with foods with a low glycemic index to balance the effects of both glycemic indexes
- Keep in mind that not all types of carbohydrates that you choose need a type of low glycemic index
Note also the nutritional information label on the packaging. Some manufacturers may claim their products contain a low glycemic index, but they may contain high saturated fats and other additives. The glycemic index of one type of food with a different brand may also not necessarily be equivalent.
Considering these things is far more important than just looking at the glycemic index especially for people who really don't have diabetes.
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