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Gear-Up Your Glycemic Index

28 June 2010 One Comment


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Idlies are not a right choice for breakfast” my statement startled many of my friends for whom Idlies and breakfast go hand in hand. I found the answer in Glycemic Index !

Studies from Harvard school of Public Health indicate that risks of diabetes and coronary heart diseases are strongly related to Glycemic Index of the overall diet.”

What is Glycemic Index: Glycemic Index (GI) is a measure of the effect individual foods have on blood sugar level. It is an index to rank carbohydrates (present in food) on a scale from 0 to 100 according to which they raise blood sugar level after eating.
According to this scale sugars don’t make your blood glucose rise any more rapidly than some complex carbohydrates do. Compare the GI of certain food categories:



Table sugar


Soya Beans






High GI food: are those foods which get absorbed very fast thus bringing a sharp rise in the blood sugar level. Food prepared using refined flour or Maida, white rice and all the junk fried food fall under this category.

Low GI food: below 55 on the glycemic index get absorbed slowly and bring moderate and slow changes in blood sugar level. Food prepared using whole-grains, legumes, milk, and yogurt (curd) fall in this category.

A few exceptions:

  • Though raw vegetables are low on GI and are loaded with fibers, cooking changes the quality (breaks down the cell walls) of the fibers. Thus making it easily available for absorption and raising their GI.
  • Similarly fats have low GI, but that doesn’t help either as eating excess of fats is not always healthy. Olive oil and flax seed oil are a better choice.

So how does it affect our health: Foods rich in GI can cause elevated blood sugar and free fatty acid concentrations accelerating the risk of obesity, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

Healthy multi grain Idlies


For example Idlies (steamed rice cake) are among the healthiest food one can have as breakfast, but has very high GI and gets digested very fast thereby raising the blood sugar levels. The wise option would be to include it in the dinner when the metabolic rate is at the lowest. Or add wholegrain in the preparation of idlies such as broken wheat (Bulgar),  Ragi and the like, to lower its GI and make it a healthy breakfast option.

In simple words supper should be of light and easily digested foods (high GI). And breakfast should be a mix of protein, carbohydrates and some fats to keep the GI at low.

A Prudent diet: Make use of Glycemic Index in planning your daily meal for long term health benefits. Incorporate food which have low GI and produce small fluctuation in blood sugar and insulin level.

healthy wholegrain breakfast porridge


A few worthwhile options are:

  • Choose a combination of foods, meals that include protein and some fat to reduce the total GI.
  • Switch to whole-grains and avoid refined flour or maida.
  • Brown rice and basmati rice with low GI are better option than white rice.
  • Soybean with 18 GI tops the list. Mix soya flour with whole wheat flour to make bread, chapattis or any baked dishes. Since idlies (steamed rice cake) are high in GI add soya flour to reduce the glycemic number.
  • Use lot of legumes (beans, lentils), barley and bran in daily diet.
  • Make oatmeal with nuts, yogurt and milk a regular on the breakfast table.
  • To maintain a low to moderate GI, concentrate on fiber rich food as they take longer to digest and slower to release sugar in blood. Raw vegetables and fruits are great option.

Time to gear-up your glycemic index and stay healthy & fit.
Happy healthy cooking!


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One Comment »

  • swathi said:

    Nice info to control glycemic index

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