Glycemic index (GI) has to do with how quickly the foods you eat are broken down into glucose. Fast is bad and slow is good. Foods that have a high Glycemic Index break down into glucose quickly and cause a sudden surge in your blood glucose- blood sugar level. This causes a big insulin surge or spike which then leads to a drop in your blood sugar and causes you to feel hungry for more sweet foods. This, then becomes a vicious cycle, which causes diabetes and metabolic syndrome, the leading cause of illness and death in this country.
What, then, are the High GI foods we should avoid?
- Snacks and drinks made with sugar and flour
- Most cereals
- Fruit juice
These should be avoided. Instead, the type of foods that break down into glucose slowly and steadily should be chosen. These are the LOW GLYCEMIC INDEX foods. By eating more of these foods you have a slow and steady rise in your blood sugar level and stay full longer and eat less.
This keeps your insulin level in check and your cholesterol also tends to improves. The reason that sugar levels are related with high cholesterol is because excess sugar and extra calories are stored as LDL cholesterol which is the type that is related to atherosclerosis, with the increased risk pf heart disease and stroke.
So, which are the LOW GI foods we should prefer?
Here is a brief list:
- Vegetables ( avoid root vegetables)
- Green leafy vegetables are best
- Fruits (avoid dried fruit because of their high sugar content)
- Lean proteins (lean chicken, turkey, fish, low fat yogurt and cheese)
- Monounsaturated oil (olive oil)
- Seeds especially flaxseed
THE ISSUE OF FISH
The reason salmon is singled out is due to the fact that cold water fish contain OMEGA-3 EFA’s (essential fatty acids) and in a 20 year study of 20,000 male physicians who ate fish once a week their risk of dangerous arrythmias and heart attack was cut by 50%.