Glycemic index of carbohydrates (GI): Refers to an average value measured based on the capacity of a carbohydrate, to produce a certain concentration of sugar in the blood.
Carbohydrates are classified as high-GI (bad carbohydrates) and low-GI (good carbohydrates) depending on the speed at which each carbohydrate of a given food ingested releases glucose into the bloodstream, which is used by the body to obtain energy.
In the treatments for the control of obesity, carbohydrates with lower immediate availability of sugars (good carbohydrates) are recommended, since the organism must resort to the use of the stored fat to turn it into glucose and obtain energy. In addition, some studies suggest that the use of low GI carbohydrates improve the values of cholesterol and triglycerides, as well as the levels of the hormone insulin in the blood.
Classification of foods according to their Glycemic Index:
The scale of the glycemic index goes from 0 to 100. There is no GI for meats, fats, cheeses, eggs and salads because these foods contain very few carbohydrates or do not contain at all. According to Maughan (2000), foods rich in carbohydrates can be classified into:
- High glycemic index: when it is greater than or equal to 70.
- Moderate glycemic index: when it is between 55 and 70.
- Low glycemic index: when it is less than 55
A diet with low-index glycemic foods:
- It helps diabetics to better control their glycemia.
- Decreases blood levels of total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol or “bad cholesterol”.
- It facilitates the control of the weight, since it gives a feeling of satiety for more time.
- “Carbohydrates with a high glycemic index can cause important problems in the control of diabetes and in the formation of fats.”