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What factors can affect the glycemic index (GI) of food?

The glycemic index (GI) measures how a carbohydrate-containing food raises blood glucose. Fat and fiber content tend to lower the glycemic index (GI) of a food. As a general rule, the more cooked or processed a food, the higher the GI.

There are several factors that can affect the glycemic index (GI) of a food. These factors include:
  • Ripeness and storage time: The more ripe a fruit or vegetable is, the higher the GI.
  • Processing: Juice has a higher GI than whole fruit; mashed potato has a higher GI than a whole baked potato, stone ground whole wheat bread has a lower GI than whole wheat bread.
  • Cooking method: How long a food is cooked (al dente pasta has a lower GI than soft-cooked pasta).
  • Variety: Converted long-grain white rice has a lower GI than brown rice but short-grain white rice has a higher GI than brown rice.
The glycemic index (GI) value represents the type of carbohydrate in a food but says nothing about the amount of carbohydrate typically eaten. Portion sizes are still relevant for managing blood glucose and for losing or maintaining weight. The GI of a food is different when eaten alone than it is when combined with other foods. When eating a high GI food, you can combine it with other low GI foods to balance out the effect on blood glucose levels. Many nutritious foods have a higher GI than foods with little nutritional value. For example, oatmeal has a higher GI than chocolate. Use of the GI needs to be balanced with the basic nutrition principles of variety for healthful foods and moderation of foods with few nutrients.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.