ACT Nutrition Support Service » The Glycaemic Index

The Glycaemic Index

ACT Nutrition Support Service » The Glycaemic Index

The Glycaemic Index

The Glycaemic Index (GI) measures how fast a carbohydrate food is digested and absorbed into the blood stream.

What are carbohydrate foods?

Carbohydrates are an important source of energy for our body providing fuel to power our brain and muscles. Carbohydrate containing foods are grain foods (such as bread, rice pasta), legumes, fruits and starchy vegetables such as potatoes and corn. Milk and yogurt also contain carbohydrates.   

When we eat carbohydrate food, our digestive system breaks it down into tiny glucose molecules which are then released into our blood stream providing us with energy.

The Glycaemic Index

Different carbohydrate foods have a different impact on our blood glucose levels depending on their GI rating.

Low GI foods are digested slowly and provide a slow release of glucose into our blood stream which provides longer lasting energy. These foods also help us to stay full for longer.   

High GI foods are digested quickly and release glucose quickly into bloodstream. These foods can give us a quick hit of energy, but it doesn’t last very long making us feel hungry and tired soon after.

Choosing low GI foods can be beneficial for:

  • Preventing and/or managing heart disease, diabetes and obesity
  • Lowering cholesterol and triglycerides
  • Controlling appetite and preventing sugar cravings
  • Providing longer lasting energy throughout the day 

The Bottom Line

Choosing low GI foods is an important part of a healthy balanced diet that includes plenty of vegetables, lean sources of protein, healthy fats and limited discretionary (junk) foods.

Glycaemic Index of Common Foods

Lower GI foods Higher GI foods
Fruit

Apples
Cherries
Peaches
Grapefruit
Mandarins
Lightly ripe bananas

 

Plums
Grapes
Pears
Kiwi fruit
Oranges
Berries
Dried dates
Lychees, canned
Watermelon
Vegetables
Sweet potato
Corn
Yam
Taro                        
Parnsips
Potato, pale skin, boiled or baked.                  
Purple skin sweet potato
Grain foods
Pumpernickel bread
Sourdough bread
Multigrain bread
Basmati, Mahatma or Doongara rice
Barley
Pasta (white and wholemeal)
Rolled oats (whole oats)
Muesli
White bread
Wholemeal bread
Puffed rice breakfast cereal
Corn flakes

Jasmine and arborio rice
Rice noodles
Cous cous
Polenta

Legumes
Baked beans
Chickpeas
Lentils
Butter beans
Kidney beans
Soy beans
Broadbeans
Dairy foods and alternatives

Milk
Yoghurt
Soy milk

Rice milk
Oat milk

Look for the GI Symbol

Foods that carry the GI symbol have had their glycaemic index tested at a recommended laboratory and are low GI.

To learn more about GI and look up products visit www.gisymbol.com

Click here to download this fact sheet as a PDF.