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|
Potato, pale skin, boiled or baked.
Purple skin sweet potato
Basmati, Mahatma or Doongara rice
Pasta (white and wholemeal)
Rolled oats (whole oats)
Puffed rice breakfast cereal
Jasmine and arborio rice
|Dairy foods and alternatives|
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.