Ask the Dietitian: What do you think of low-glycemic-index diets?

Q: What do you think of low-glycemic-index diets?

A: The glycemic index (GI) ranks carbohydrates on a scale from 0 to 100 based on their effect on blood sugar levels. Low GI foods produce gradual rises in blood sugar and insulin levels, whereas high GI foods result in more immediate rises in blood sugar and insulin levels. Low GI foods can be beneficial because they can improve diabetes control, aid in weight loss and generally help keep you feeling full for a longer period of time. Low GI foods food choices are usually high in fiber and include whole-grain foods.

I am not necessarily a fan of low-glycemic “diets” because they discourage consumption of healthy high GI foods such as bananas, potatoes and oranges. The GI is a good tool to use when planning healthy meals and snacks but I would not suggest solely using the GI when making food choices. A mix of low and high GI foods can be incorporated into a healthy diet.

Examples of low GI foods (with a GI below 55):

  • Apples
  • Asparagus
  • Barley
  • Milk
  • Peanuts
  • Whole-grain pasta
  • Zucchini