If you are, like us, and eat a lot of fruit, should you be concerned about its rank on the glycemic index or its glycemic load?
The glycemic index (GI) measures the rise in blood sugar levels in a person over the two to three hours following the eating of an amount of food that contains 50g of carbohydrate.
Expressed as a percentage, the GI of pure glucose sugar is 100% while that of for instance of an apple is 39%.
Many mainstream nutritionists will tell you to eat foods that are low on the Glycemic Index for a more stable blood sugar level and to help heal health conditions, such as Candida and hypoglycemia.
But there is one big problem with the GI: it does not take into account the amount of carbohydrate in any particular meal.
So to make the GI more relevant to daily eating, the idea of the glycemic load or (GL) was introduced.
The GL figure is found by multiplying the GI of the food times the available carbohydrate content of a serving of that particular food and then dividing by 100.
So for example, a watermelon ranks as 72 on the glycemic index, which is classed as being high.
Taking a 100g serving size of watermelon, which has just 5g of available carbohydrates in it, its glycemic load or GL would be as follows: 72 x 5/ 100 = 3.6. So the GL is just 3.6 for a 100g serving of water melon.
So should eating certain foods with regards to them having a higher GI or GL values be of any concern to you and your health?
Do you need to limit how much fruit you consume at any one sitting and will the type of fruit you eat potentially, adversely affect your blood sugar level?
I think the fundamental question that needs to be asked here is; are the GI and GL ways of categorizing foods actually relevant to healthy eating?
Well, my answer is no! Let me explain why.
How quickly sugar enters the bloodstream is not actually the most important factor here and should not be something to be concerned about when eating healthy, natural, whole foods.
Another great aspect about the consumption of fruit is that it promotes the satisfaction of the appetite. This is because the natural elevation of the blood sugar level after eating them is one of the key mechanisms that the human body uses to satisfy appetite and reduce food intake.
When you consume whole foods like fruits for example, they contain not only the carbohydrates that your body needs to be healthy, but also all the other nutrients essential to your health, including fiber.
Fiber slows down the absorption of sugar from the foods (whole fruits and vegetables for example) that you eat, into the bloodstream, which allows for the controlled and healthy release of the hormone insulin, that transports the sugar from your blood into your body’s cells.
Eating a healthy level of fat in your diet, which should be ideally around 10% of total daily calories or less is also very important in this equation as it will allow for a healthy level of blood sugar to always be maintained. Too much fat in the diet can cause blood sugar issues.
It should be noted that dehydrated/dried fruits will contain concentrated sugars, which could cause blood sugar issues for some people, and the same goes with the drinking of fruit juices, which contain no fiber and so very quickly enter the bloodstream.
But for the average healthy person eating a healthy plant foods diet with a healthy level of fat in it, this should not be an issue and the using of dried fruits instead in, for example smoothies together with other whole fruits (i.e. banana-date smoothie) is perfectly healthy and should not cause blood sugar problems.
For fruit juices, try to have them with the pulp (fiber) or make them an occasional meal and not a regular one.
There are unfortunately many people who follow low carb diets, such as the Paleo and Zone diets and actively seek to avoid high GI and GL foods.
The mistake they are making is thinking that the GI and GL ways of categorizing foods are actually relevant to a healthy way of eating.
At best the GI and GL are a nutritional curiosity and at worst a misleading and potentially health damaging way of looking at what foods we should or should not be eating.
If you want to live healthily and eat the best foods to support your body, then it is best to forget both the GI and GL and instead focus on eating healthy, natural whole plant foods together with a healthy level of fat in your diet. This will naturally help bring you the health you deserve, including normal blood sugar levels.
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