How to Determine a Food’s Glycemic Value
An important factor in making healthy food choices
Making appropriate food choices is a crucial component of a healthy diet. While there are many factors to consider, a food’s glycemic value is one of the most important. Why? Because research has shown that a low-glycemic diet reduces risk of serious diseases, including diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.
Glycemic Index vs. Glycemic Load
How do you determine a food’s glycemic value? There are two ways to make that assessment.
One is to look at a food’s position in the Glycemic Index (GI), which ranks foods according to how quickly your body breaks them down into glucose. The lower the ranking, the better.
Another is to look at a food’s glycemic load (GL). Glycemic load is based on the same concept as the glycemic index, but it takes into account both the quality and quantity of a food. It’s determined by the GI of a food plus the amount of net carbohydrates in a standard serving. Again, the lower the ranking, the better. (See chart below.)
55 or under
10 or under
70 or above
20 or above
Glycemic Load Is Best
Though both are helpful, I recommend that you rely primarily on glycemic load to make your choices, because some foods with a high glycemic index are actually quite acceptable when eaten in normal quantities, while others with a low glycemic index are potentially problematic.
For example, a large carrot and a cup of spaghetti have similar GIs. Yet the carrot contains only 5 g of available carbs (it’s mostly water), while the spaghetti contains 38 g—giving them GLs of 2 and 16, respectively.
Put it to Use
Here are a couple of lists with some examples of low-glycemic and high-glycemic foods.
- Vegetables (except root vegetables)
- Fruits (except dried fruits)
- Fruit juice
- Most cold cereals
- Snack foods made with flour or sugar
As you can see, simply replacing starchy foods with salads, green vegetables, beans, and legumes will quickly lighten your glycemic load.
One of my favorite meals is a hearty salad with a nice piece of salmon on top. It’s an easy way to get a tasty serving of healthy fats, plenty of protein, and lots of low-GL carbs.
More Dr. Whitaker Advice on Diet and Optimal Health
Enjoy What You've Just Read?
Get it delivered to your inbox! Signup for E-News and you'll get great content like you've just read along with other great tips and guides for Dr. Whitaker!
Meet Dr. Whitaker
For more than 30 years, Dr. Julian Whitaker has helped people regain their health with a combination of therapeutic lifestyle changes, targeted nutritional support, and other cutting-edge natural therapies. He is widely known for treating diabetes, but also routinely treats heart disease and other degenerative diseases. More About Dr. Whitaker
Dr. Julian Whitaker's Favorites
Ensure healthy blood sugar, balanced insulin levels and all-day energy.
Get a restful, recharging night's sleep -- tonight and every night.
18 powerful, clinically researched nutrients for total eye health
Item# REG (Packets)
Make GREAT HEALTH your top priority with the advanced nutritional foundation in Forward