Following a healthy diet can be tricky. With so many options available and so many conflicting diet plans, choosing the right foods isn’t easy. Fortunately, when it comes to carbohydrates, there is a tool to help separate the good from the bad.
The glycemic index ranks carbohydrates based on how fast they raise your blood glucose versus pure sugar. Using the glycemic index, we can choose carbohydrates that are better for our overall, long-term health. With this tool, we can feel good about our choices.
How does it work?
Foods like white bread and white rice cause a quick spike in blood sugar, while other foods like kidney beans, whole oats or non-starchy vegetables take longer to digest. They raise blood sugar at a slower rate and therefore have a lower glycemic index.
So why does glycemic index matter? Because consistently high blood sugar can damage your tissue and organs, and lead to chronic health issues like diabetes and heart disease. That’s why choosing foods with a low glycemic index is important — it helps take care of your health now and down the road.
Follow these tips
- Trade highly processed cereals for minimally processed whole grain products
- Replace white rice and white bread with brown rice and whole wheat bread
- Limit your intake of potatoes. Instead, choose whole grains like barley or wheat berry
- When in doubt, choose beans. Beans have a low glycemic index and are also high in protein and fiber
If you’re concerned about your long-term health, the best thing to do is pay attention to your overall diet. Eat plenty of vegetables and fruits, low-fat dairy and lean protein sources — and limit sweets. It’s common sense, but turning these healthy choices into regular habits can be difficult. And remember, even if you’re eating the right foods, it’s important to pay attention to your portion size. Eating the right portions can help keep your blood sugar and weight where they should be.