A good guide to good carbs: The glycemic index
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If you have diabetes, you know all too well that when you eat carbohydrates, your blood sugar goes up. The total amount of carbs you consume at a meal or in a snack mostly determines what your blood sugar will do. But the food itself also plays a role. A serving of white rice has almost the same effect as eating pure table sugar — a quick, high spike in blood sugar. A serving of lentils has a slower, smaller effect.
Picking good sources of carbs can help you control your blood sugar and your weight. Eating healthier carbohydrates can help prevent a host of chronic conditions, especially diabetes, but it can also ward off heart disease and various cancers.
One way to choose foods is with the glycemic index (GI). This tool measures how much a food boosts blood sugar.
The glycemic index rates the effect of a specific amount of a food on blood sugar compared with the same amount of pure glucose. A food with a glycemic index of 28 boosts blood sugar only 28% as much as pure glucose. One with a GI of 95 acts like pure glucose.
Glycemic index chart
|High glycemic foods result in a quick spike in insulin and blood sugar (also known as blood glucose). Low glycemic foods have a slower, smaller effect.|
Choose low glycemic foods
Using the glycemic index is easy: choose foods in the low GI category instead of those in the high GI category (see below), and go easy on those in between.
- Low glycemic index (GI of 55 or less): Most fruits and vegetables, beans, minimally processed grains, pasta, low-fat dairy foods, and nuts.
- Moderate glycemic index (GI 56 to 69): White and sweet potatoes, corn, white rice, couscous, breakfast cereals such as Cream of Wheat and Mini Wheats.
- High glycemic index (GI of 70 or higher): White bread, rice cakes, most crackers, bagels, cakes, doughnuts, croissants, most packaged breakfast cereals.
|SWAPS FOR LOWERING GLYCEMIC INDEX|
|Instead of this high-glycemic index food||Eat this lower-glycemic index food|
|White rice||Brown rice or converted rice|
|Instant oatmeal||Steel-cut oats|
|Baked potato||Pasta, bulgur|
|White bread||Whole-grain bread|
|Corn||Peas or leafy greens|
For more on healthy diet essentials plus information on managing (and avoiding) Type 2 diabetes, check out Healthy Eating for Type 2 Diabetes by Harvard Medical School.
Healthy Eating for Type 2 Diabetes
|•||The first-line treatment: Weight loss|
|•||The elements of a healthy diet|
|•||SPECIAL BONUS SECTION: Healthy recipes|
|•||... and more!|