Glycemic index is a value given to foods based on their ability to control blood sugar levels. It is expressed in numbers between 0 – 100. It gives an idea about how fast your body converts the carbohydrates in food to glucose. Some refined foods can elevate your blood sugar levels very fast. Refined flour/maida, breads, biscuits, corn flakes, raw rice, and refined sugar are low in fiber and these are foods which have a very high glycemic index. If eaten in large amounts, these carbs will elevate the blood sugar levels even with the support of insulin or diabetic drugs. This is because these are low in fiber and easily digested by your system and converted to glucose faster. Whereas, the carbs which we get from complex sources like parboiled rice, ragi, oats, wheat (whole), jowar, bajra, vegetables, some fruits, etc take more time to get digested. Two foods with the same amount of carbs can give you different glycemic index numbers. Smaller the number, the better it is for diabetic patients.
<55 – low (good)
56 – 69 – Medium
>70 – high (bad)
The high glycemic index of a food can be brought down by adding other foods that are low in glycemic index. For example, when you eat rice, include a lot of veggies in your diet. Mixing rice with lentils and vegetables lowers the glycemic index of the meal. But always remember, the glycemic index is not the only criteria you must look into while making a food choice. The nutritive value and the vitamin content of the food are also very important.
Adding fats, acids like lime juice or vinegar, etc can reduce the glycemic index of your food. Adding a spoon of ghee into your rice actually reduces the glycemic index of the meal. Portion size is also very important in glycemic index value monitoring. More of the carbs you take, more they can alter your blood sugar levels.
For low glycemic load add a variety of whole grains, nuts, legumes, green vegetables, fruits, etc in your diet. Avoid refined food mentioned above from your diet. Reduce the intake of processed foods, refined sugar, candies, cakes, and sweetened beverages. Enjoy high glycemic index foods in smaller portions when you add it in your diet.
Few examples of low glycemic foods which when included in your diet can help in regulating your blood sugar levels are given below.
- Green leafy vegetables – These are a good source of fiber, vitamin A, B, C, E, and K. Amarnath, moringa leaves, spinach, methi leaves, coriander leaves, mint etc are common greens that can be included daily in your diet.
- Cauliflower – This vegetable has a very low glycemic index between 5 – 15. It helps in reducing cholesterol and improves blood flow to the body too. This is a good source of proteins, phosphorous, manganese and potassium.
- Tomatoes – It has G.I less than 15. This is a high source of chromium which will favour in reducing blood sugar levels. It is a rich source of antioxidants like vitzmic C and A which is helpful for our skin and bones.
- Guava – This has the lowest G.I among fruits. It is one of the richest sources of Vitamin C plus high in fiber content.
- Raddish – A rich source of vitamin C and potassium and soluble fibers. It can be mixed with your roti or taken as soups or salads.
- Cabbage – The glycemic index of this vegetable ranges from 0 – 10. It is good at purifying your blood and improving skin health.
- Ladies finger – Low in G.I, it can be teamed with your rice, dal or chapathi. It is rich in antioxidants, minerals, and soluble fibers. Since it is a good source of vitamin B, it helps in slowing down the progress of diabetic neuropathy.
- Bitter gourd – This vegetable has an insulin-like compound called polypeptide –p or p insulin which will be helpful in controlling diabetes naturally. This has a compound called ‘Charantin’ which also has an anti-diabetic effect.
- Ragi – This is a cereal packed with polyphenols, calcium and essential amino acids. The high fiber content of this cereal makes it an excellent choice for diabetes.