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Tipping the Scales: Eat the Right Carbs with the GI Diet

Dr E Suneetha


All foods with a lower GI value may not always be good to include in your diet. Sometimes foods with a lower GI value could lack many of the nutrients you need to stay healthy. For instance:
  • Chocolate has a low GI value but is high in fat and contains fewer vitamins and minerals
  • Whole milk which is packed with protein and fat has a low GI
  • Processed instant oatmeal has a higher GI than traditional rolled oats
  • A combination of rice and dal has a low GI
  • Roasted rice flakes has a low GI
  • Cooked vegetable has a higher GI in comparison to raw vegetable
  • A ripe banana (74) has higher GI in comparison to un-ripe banana (43)
  • Sometimes, foods with a low GI value can be loaded with fat and/or salt, and contain ew nutrients. A 50gm pack of salted peanuts contains around 5gm of salt - that’s almost the maximum amount recommended by nutrition experts for good health!
GI for some common Indian foods
Food Item Glycemic Index
Cereals & Millets
Rice, white 83
Rice, parboiled 68
Rice, brown 79
Bajra 82
Ragi 123
Jowar 110
Semolina 94
Maize chapatti 89
Barley chapatti 61
Cornflakes 119
Varagu 97
Kelloggs’ All Bran Fruit ‘n Oats 55
Bread, white 100
Muesli 80
Vermicelli 50
Instant noodles 67
Sweet corn 78
Legumes & Pulses
Bengal gram dal (chana dal) 16
Besan (chick pea flour) 39
Rajma (red kidney bean) 27
Green gram (mung dal) 54
Black gram 61
Soya beans 25
Horse gram 73
Whole green gram 81
Peas, green 68
Peanuts 21
Fruits & Vegetables
Apple 58
Cherries 32
Grapefruit 36
Orange 63
Mango 80
Banana 74
Pineapple 94
Watermelon 103
Sweet potato 77
Carrots 101
Potato, new 81
Yam 73
Pumpkin 107
Milk, full fat 39
Ice cream 87
Honey 83
Are There Any Cons to the GI Diet?
In general, most nutritionists and dieticians are supportive of the basic principles of the GI diet. They do, however, believe that you shouldn’t get too hung up about avoiding all high GI foods because when foods are eaten together in a meal, that meal can have a very different GI value to the individual foods it contains.

GI index charts indicate the impact of different foods on blood sugar when eaten alone. Indian diet is more complicated with combinations of foods and GI of individual foods may be misleading. As a guideline though, the more low GI foods you include in a meal, the lower the overall GI value of that meal will be.
GI index in various regional meals and South-Indian snacks
Food item Glycemic Index
Pongal with sambar 53.6
bisibelle bhaat 58.0
Uthapam with chutney 63.0
South Indian meal 63.3
Curd Rice with curry leaves chutney 65.4
Punjabi meal 68.0
Adai with chutney 69.6
Bengali meal 69.9
Rasam rice with papad 77.5
Gujarati meal 83.0
Sambar rice 83.1
Dosai with podi 91.3
Idli with chutney 101.5
Source: Mani et al., University of Baroda
  Dr E Suneetha is a Research Officer with Lifetime WellnessRx International Limited.
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