You may have heard that eating a lot of food with a high glycemic index (GI) causes acne breakouts. An example of a food with a high GI is rice, our dining table staple. But more than causing blemishes on your skin, the amount of high GI foods you eat can has an impact on your health, particularly on your weight.
According to Harvard Health Publications, “the glycemic index is a value assigned to foods based on how slowly or how quickly those foods cause increases in blood glucose levels.” High glucose levels increases your likelihood for kidney failure, obesity and the diseases that can come with it like diabetes and cardiovascular problems.
There are advantages and disadvantages to eating low or high GI foods. Those looking to lose weight often go for low GI foods and those looking for quick energy boosts, like marathon runners or individuals who have just finished a workout, go for high GI foods.
But, what GI doesn’t tell you is how high your blood sugar can actually go, which is dictated by how much carbohydrates is in the food you’re eating. Think of it this way: GI tells you how fast a food will release sugar into your blood while the amount of carbs in the food will tell you how much sugar will be released. Combine these two, and you get your food’s glycemic load. “A glycemic load of 10 or below is considered low; 20 or above is considered high,” says Harvard.
Foods low on the GI scale releases sugar (or glucose) more slowly into the blood, and high GI foods release sugar more rapidly.
Let’s give an example. According to a list provided by Harvard, rice has 150 grams of carbohydrates per serving (that’s high), and a GI of 72 (also high). Which in turn, gives it glycemic load of 29. Yikes. And, based on the list, it comes out as one of the foods with a very high glycemic load.
Other foods that may pop up a lot in your diet that are actually high in glycemic load include: raisins (glycemic load of 28), spaghetti (26), instant oatmeal (21) cornflakes (20) and the cereal brand Coco Pops (20).
However, all this doesn’t mean you should skip carbs altogether, and stick to a strictly low GI foods diet. “Fruits tend to have higher glycemic indices, but they’re also good for you and a great to eat for a snack,” Dr. Barbara V. Howard, senior scientist at MedStarHealth Research Institute and professor of medicine at Georgetown University School of Medicine, told the American Heart Association.
“Following the principles of low-glycemic-index eating is likely to be beneficial for people with diabetes (whose bodies cannot process sugar efficiently). But reaching and staying at a healthy weight is more important for your blood sugar and your overall health,” says Harvard.
Carbohydrates are an important part of a healthy diet. They give us the energy we need to be able to work, study or play. In fact, we need a good serving of it in every meal. The problem lies in picking poor sources of carbohydrates. Find out how much serving of carbs you need in every meal and what good sources of carbohydrates are here.