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What are the Benefits of the Glycemic Index?

The glycemic index (GI) is a tool that ranks the order of carbohydrates from 0-100, depending on how the food affects blood sugar levels. Foods that rank high on the GI are ones that are rapidly absorbed and digested, making blood sugar levels spike quickly. The lower the glycemic index ranking, the less are the fluctuations in glucose and insulin levels because the food is digested more slowly. According to the University of Sydney School of Molecular and Microbial Biosciences who developed the glycemic index, those with diabetes do better to choose a low glycemic diet. Their studies have shown that such a diet helps control weight and keep sugar levels steady.

The glycemic index works by rating foods according to blood sugar levels after consuming. A GI list of food is available here Glycemic Index Food Chart. The idea is to prevent obesity by keeping the energy levels balanced, and making better food choices in order to stay full longer in between meals.

According to the glycemic index, foods that rank 70 and above are high glycemic, therefore are a less healthy choice; medium GI foods are from 56-69, while low glycemic are foods that rank 55 and under. Some of the benefits from using the glycemic index before choosing foods include helping people lose or control their weight, increasing the body's sensitivity to insulin, controlling diabetes better, lowering the risk of heart attack and blood cholesterol levels, reducing hunger and keeping that full feeling of satiety.

Some things to remember, say researchers of the Linus Pauling Micronutrient Information Center at Oregon State University, in addition to using the glycemic index, are to increase consumption of nuts, fruits, legumes, whole grains and non-starchy vegetables, decrease high glycemic foods such as white bread, rice or potatoes, and decrease consumption of sugary foods such as cookies, sodas, cakes. Their studies found that use of the glycemic index also decreased risk of gallbladder disease, diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease.

The benefits of the glycemic index are proven to show how to choose the right foods in order to eat healthy and stay nourished.