The glycemic index of foods helps determine the suitability of a food for people with diabetes. Diabetes manifests itself when insulin produced in the body cannot adequately metabolize the sugar in the blood, causing blood sugar levels to spike. Insulin plays a blood sugar regulatory role. It prevents blood sugar levels from either rising too high.
Blood sugar levels, when these stay high, cause harm.
While evaluating food for suitability for people with diabetes, it is essential to look at the food’s Glycemic Index. Foods with a high glycemic index would mean that the carbohydrate present is more readily available than those lower on the index. High GI foods can cause carbohydrate spikes, which in diabetic individuals can be a health hazard.
Foods with a low GI help in glycemic control in diabetes and lipid management. Such foods are energy-dense and contain high amounts of sugars or undesirable fats that will reduce glycemic response. Most fruits and vegetables, beans, dairy, and some grains are low-glycemic foods with a 55 or lower glycemic load.
Bananas, sweet potatoes, and raisins have a glycemic index of 56 to 69. These are medium glycemic foods, while high-glycemic foods like sugar, ice cream, heavily processed food rich in calories and fat, and watermelon have a value ranging from 70 and above. Watermelon is 70 on the glycemic index putting the fruit in the high-glycemic category.
On the other hand, bananas, apples, grapes, and oranges (raw) are all in the medium Glycemic Index category, with values of 47, 40, 43, and 48, respectively.
According to the American Diabetes Association, nutrient-dense foods are the best for individuals who have diabetes. These foods are rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals but low in added sugars, sodium, and unhealthy fats.
These nutrients are available in non-starchy vegetables like broccoli, tomatoes, beans, lettuce, cucumbers, and the like. These should be consumed as far as a possible whole and minimally processed.
Apple, cantaloupe, strawberries, blueberries, brown rice, whole wheat bread, whole grain pasta, and oatmeal are other food recommendations.
A diabetic diet can include starchy vegetables like corn, green peas, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, plantain, black beans, kidney beans, chickpeas, and green lentils.
People with diabetes should avoid consuming watermelons and muskmelons. There are many alternatives available.
References for additional reading:
Natural Solutions for Diabetes
Nutrition Facts – a guide to good health