Foods to eat, foods to avoid
What is the glycemic index? What kind of carbohydrates should I include?
Glycemic index and load
Carbohydrates (carbohydrates) are the main food that increases blood sugar. Glycemic index and glycemic load are scientific terms used to measure the impact of a carbohydrate on blood sugar.
- Foods with low glycemic load (index) modestly increase blood sugar and thus are better choices for people with Diabetes.
- The main factors that determine the glycemic load of a food (or meal) are the amount of fiber, fat and protein it contains.
- The difference between glycemic index and the glycemic load is that the glycemic index is a standardized measure and the glycemic load represents an actual serving size. For example, the glycemic index of a bowl of peas is 68 (per 100 grams) but its glycemic load is only 16 (the lower the better). If you were only referring to the glycemic index, you would think peas are a bad choice, but in reality you wouldn’t be eating 100 grams of peas. With a normal serving, peas have a healthy glycemic load as well as being a great source of protein.
Carbohydrates can be classified as
- complex carbohydrates, or
- simple sugars.
1. Complex carbohydrates (low glycemic load foods, or foods that are part of a low-carbohydrate diet for type 2 diabetes) are in their whole food form and contain additional nutrients such as:
These additional nutrients slow the absorption of glucose and keep blood sugar levels more stable.
Examples of complex carbohydrates or foods with a low glycemic load (index) include:
- Brown rice
- Whole wheat
- Steel cut oat flour
Cereals and starchy vegetables
Whole grains, such as brown rice, quinoa, and oatmeal are good sources of fiber and nutrients; and have a low glycemic load, which makes them good food choices. The labels of processed foods make it very difficult to understand whole grains. For example, “whole wheat bread” is made in different ways, and some are not that different from white bread in its impact on blood sugar (glycemic load). The same is true for whole grain pasta, it’s still pasta. Whole grains have less of an impact on blood sugar levels due to the lower glycemic load. Choose whole grains that are still in their cereal form like brown rice and quinoa, or look at the fiber content on the nutrition label. For example, a “good” whole grain bread that is high in fiber will contain more than 3 grams of fiber per slice.
Starchy vegetables which are good sources of nutrients like vitamin C, and which are higher in carbohydrates than green vegetables, but less rich in carbohydrates than refined grains. They can be consumed in moderation. Starchy vegetables include:
- To crush
- Other root vegetables
The starchy vegetables above are best eaten in small portions (1 cup) as part of a combined meal that includes protein and vegetable fat.
Non-starchy vegetables, like green vegetables, can be eaten in abundance. These foods have a limited impact on blood sugar and have many health benefits as well, so eat! Almost anyone can eat more vegetables – we need at least five servings per day.
Fresh vegetables are a great option, and usually the tastiest option. Studies show that frozen vegetables have as many vitamins and nutrients as they are often frozen within hours of harvest. Just check that there are no added fats or sweeteners in the sauces that are found on certain frozen vegetables. If you don’t like vegetables on their own, try preparing them with fresh or dried herbs, olive oil, or dressing. Wanting to consume a rainbow of colors through your veggies is a good way to get all of your nutrients.
2. Simple carbohydrates (foods with a high glycemic load, or foods that are not part of a type 2 diabetes diet plan because they increase blood sugar levels) are processed foods and do not contain other nutrients to slow the absorption of sugar. Many banned simple carbohydrates are easily recognized as “white foods”.
Simple carbohydrates or foods with a high glycemic index it should not be included in your diet, for example::
- White pasta
- White bread
- white potatoes
- Breakfast cereals
- Pastries and sweets
- Fruit juice
- Soft, tender drinks