Glycemic Index & Diabetes

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1 Glycemic Index & Diabetes Carbohydrates are the sugars and starches in the foods you eat. They are broken down into glucose, which your body uses for energy. Carbohydrates are found in grains & cereals, dried peas & beans, fruits & vegetables, milk & yogurt, as well as sugar & sugarcontaining foods. Carbohydrate foods vary in the way they raise your blood glucose levels. Some carbohydrate foods are broken down and absorbed quickly while others are broken down and absorbed more slowly in the body. The glycemic index (GI) is a system of grouping carbohydrate foods based on how they affect your blood glucose levels. Foods with a high GI give a quick and high rise in blood glucose levels. Foods with a low GI give a small and slow rise in blood glucose levels. Vancouver General Hospital 899 West 12th Avenue Vancouver BC V5Z 1M9 Tel:

2 Benefits of Using Low GI foods More stable blood glucose levels Low GI foods help to even out the highs & lows. Improved blood lipids (fats) levels A low GI diet can reduce triglycerides & LDL-cholesterol and may help to increase HDL-cholesterol. Increased satiety Eating low GI foods may help you feel full for a longer time & eat less at the next meal or snack. This can assist with weight control. Ways to reduce the GI of your diet Choose lower GI starchy food choices more often. Many foods in the starchy group have high GI values. Use a low GI bread & cereal. Eat breads made with whole kernels of wheat, barley, rye, oats & soy. Use cereals made with wheat bran, barley, oats & psyllium. A Few Helpful Tips: Include at least one low GI food at each meal. A high GI food & a low GI food make an intermediate GI meal. Eat a variety of foods each day. Do not exclude foods based only on their GI value. High GI foods are still good sources of energy and some provide important nutrients. Choose foods from the low GI group more often. Monitor the amount of carbohydrates eaten at each meal & snack. Eating large amounts of low GI foods can still make blood glucose levels too high. Checking your blood glucose before & after meals is the best way to see if you are eating the right amount or type of carbohydrate. Aim to keep your blood glucose between 5 & 10 one to two hours after meals. Introduce low GI foods gradually. If you are eating very few low GI foods, introduce them gradually and monitor their effects on your blood glucose levels. Drink adequate fluid as many low GI foods are high in fibre. Use intact grains & legumes. Include barley, bulgur (cracked wheat), buckwheat as well as legumes (dried peas & beans) more often. Eat foods whole & limit use of processed foods. Eat breads with larger pieces of grain rather than bread made mostly with wholemeal or white flour. Use large flake oats rather than instant oats. Use whole fruit and vegetables rather than juices 2 3

3 / Starchy Foods Low GI Menu Ideas Low GI Foods (55 or less) These give a slow rise in blood glucose levels. Use most often Heavy mixed grain 100% Stone ground whole wheat (Dempsters ) Pumpernickel Sprouted grain** (Silver Hills, Healthy Way ) All-Bran Original All-Bran Buds with psyllium Large flake oats Oat bran Red River Parboiled rice Uncle Ben s converted rice Barley Bulgar (cracked wheat) Buckwheat Pasta / Noodles Sweet potato Yams Taro Medium GI Foods (56-69) These give a medium rise in blood glucose levels Rye Whole wheat Pita Grape-nuts (original) Shredded Wheat Quick cooking oats Cream of wheat Basmati rice Brown rice Cornmeal Couscous Wild rice New potato White potato Sweet corn High GI Foods (70 or more) These give a quick rise in blood glucose levels. Use less often White bread White bagel Kaiser roll Bran flakes Corn flakes Cheerios Rice Krispies Rice Chex Instant cream of wheat White rice Jasmine rice Glutinous rice Short grain rice Instant rice Baking, Russet, Idaho potatoes Instant mashed potatoes French fries Healthy Ways To Start The Day Use a low GI bread or cereal. Add some low fat milk or yogurt and fruit to kick start the day. Old fashioned oats with low fat milk & raisins Museli with yogurt & dried apples or apricots All Bran cereal with low fat milk & sliced banana Sprouted grain bagel with peanut butter & a fresh apple French toast with fresh berries & yogurt Poached egg on multigrain toast with a fresh orange Oat bran muffin, skim milk & fresh fruit Lunch Break Soups and sandwiches offer quick lunch solutions all year round. Add a green salad or raw vegetables. Try one of the following soups with a whole grain bread or roll: Minestrone, split pea, lentil, barley with vegetable & beef Sandwich made with a sprouted grain bread. Fill with tuna, salmon, lean meat or chicken; add lettuce, sprouts, tomatoes &/or cucumber. Pasta salad with vegetables, tossed in a low fat dressing. Mix in shrimp or chicken. Fresh fruit salad with yogurt or cottage cheese & stoned wheat thins Pumpernickel bagel topped with light cream cheese & smoked salmon Baked beans on multigrain toast & salad Bean & cheese burrito with cucumber & tomato slices Legumes Chickpeas (garbanzo beans) Chana dal Kidney beans Lentils Soy beans Split peas Baked beans Black bean soup Green pea soup Arrowroot biscuits Breton crackers Oatmeal cookies Social tea biscuits Ryvita Stoned wheat thins Popcorn Vanilla wafers Graham wafers Rice cakes Rice crackers Soda crackers Pretzels GI values are expressed as a percentage of the value of glucose. GI of Glucose = 100 **Sprouted grain breads likely have a low GI due to their composition but not all varieties have been tested. 4 5

4 Savory Supper Suggestions Base your meal on a low GI starch. Add plenty of vegetables & keep protein portions moderate. Grilled fish with Basmati rice & vegetables Stir-fry chicken, shrimp or tofu, Chinese vegetables and noodles Meatloaf made with rolled oats and grated vegetables (carrots & zucchini). Serve with new potatoes. Vegetable lasagna made with low fat cheese Chili made with kidney beans & lean ground meat. Serve with green salad. Lean meat, chicken or fish kabobs with corn on the cob & grilled vegetables Roast meat or chicken with baked sweet potato & steamed vegetables Resources Jennie Brand-Miller, Marlowe & Company The New Glucose Revolution, 3rd Edition (December 2006) New Glucose Revolution Shopper s Guide to Low GI Values 2007 (December 2006) The New Glucose Revolution for Diabetes (June 2007) The Low GI Diet Cookbook (November 2005) Super Snacks To keep your energy level up between meals, try the following nutritious snacks. Low fat milk & low GI cereal Low fat yogurt and fresh fruit Low fat milk & oatmeal cookies Muffin made with oats or oat bran & fruit Grainy bread & peanut butter Stoned wheat thins or Ryvita with low fat cheese Low fat popcorn Raw vegetables with a low fat dip Whole wheat pita & hummus 6 7

5 For more copies, go online at or and quote Catalogue No. FL.860.G525 Vancouver Coastal Health, July 2007 The information in this document is intended solely for the person to whom it was given by the health care team.

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