The glycemic index (GI) measures how fast a food is likely to raise your blood sugar. The Glycemic Index is a numerical scale used to indicate how fast and how high a particular food can raise our blood glucose (blood sugar) level. A food with a low GI will typically prompt a moderate rise in blood glucose, while a food with a high GI may cause our blood glucose level to increase above the optimal level. High glycemic index foods generally make blood sugar levels higher. People who eat a lot of high glycemic index foods tend to have greater levels of body fat, as measured by the body mass index (BMI). High BMIs are linked to obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. The lower a food's glycemic index or glycemic load, the less it affects blood sugar and insulin levels.
"Food has become the reason for what's ailing us, but it can actually be a solution in a number of different ways."
Glycemic Index Foods at Breakfast Can Control Blood Sugar Throughout the Day.
Eating foods at breakfast that have a low glycemic index may help prevent a spike in blood sugar throughout the morning and after the next meal of the day, researchers said at the Institute of Food Technologists' Wellness 12 meeting.
These breakfast foods also can increase feelings of satiety and fullness and may make people less likely to overeat throughout the day, according to presentations Wednesday by Kantha Shelke, Ph.D., principal, Corvus Blue LLC, and Richard Mattes, M.P.H., R.D., distinguished professor of foods and nutrition at Purdue University.
The glycemic index ranks foods on the extent to which they raise blood sugar levels after eating.
Foods with a high index are rapidly digested and result in high fluctuations in blood sugar levels. Foods with a low glycemic index produce gradual rises in blood sugar and insulin levels and are considered healthier, especially for people with diabetes.
Mattes' research specifically focused on the advantages of having almonds, a low glycemic index food, with the morning meal. In his study, published last year in the Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism , participants who ate a breakfast containing whole almonds experienced longer feelings of fullness and had lower blood glucose concentrations after breakfast and lunch, compared to those who did not have a low-glycemic breakfast.
When a low glycemic food is added to the diet, people spontaneously choose to eat less at other times throughout the day. Mattes added that while the calories need to be taken into consideration as part of a person's overall diet, almonds can be incorporated in moderate amounts without an effect on body weight.
Both Mattes and Shelke stressed the importance of eating a healthy, low-glycemic breakfast in maintaining a healthy weight and blood sugar levels. A 2009 study found that about 30 percent of people skip breakfast one to three times per week. Among those who eat breakfast, cold cereal is the most popular (83 percent), followed by eggs (71 percent).
In addition to low glycemic index, Dr. Shelke said the ideal breakfast for consumers has these attributes:
"This is a very tall order for food product manufacturers," Shelke said. "It takes a lot of skill and understanding."
While it may present challenges for food manufacturers, it is well worth it to develop these products because of the prevalence of diabetes and pre-diabetes in the United States and beyond. It is estimated that by 2030, more than 16 percent of the global population will have a blood sugar problem.
"Most of the risk factors are things that can be managed and modified," Shelke said. "We can reverse pre-diabetes and prevent it from becoming diabetes. Food has become the reason for what's ailing us, but it can actually be a solution in a number of different ways."
Low and Non-Glycemic Foods that Promote Satiety:
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