The Glycemic Index (GI) is a way of classifying carbohydrate foods that has turned widely held beliefs upside down.
Foods have been given a GI rating from 0 to 100 based on whether they have a slow, moderate or fast effect on blood glucose (blood sugar) levels. Foods have been grouped as follows:
- Low GI foods - slow acting carbohydrate - GI less than 55
- Moderate GI foods - moderate acting carbohydrate - GI between 55 and 69
- High GI foods - fast acting carbohydrate - GI more than 70.
Traditionally it was assumed that simple carbohydrate foods such as honey were broken down fast and produced a dramatic rise in blood glucose levels. It is now known that most simple carbohydrate foods do not raise blood glucose levels any more than that of most complex carbohydrate foods such as bread.
The University of Sydney have created a Glycemic Index database where consumers can research the GI values of food products. On this database the GI value of honey is rated as low to moderate depending on the honey variety (Yellow Box has a low GI value of 35 whereas Premium Blend has a moderate value of 58). For more information about GI visit www.glycemicindex.com.
The GI ratings of foods has implications for everyone, but particularly for people who:
- Have diabetes or a family history of diabetes
- Want to lose weight or keep their weight in check
- Want to maximise their sporting or everyday performance
Healthy eating for people with diabetes means focusing on eating lots of carbohydrate (particularly low GI foods) and high fibre foods, keeping fats low and enjoying moderate amounts of sugar and honey. People with diabetes can still enjoy moderate amounts of honey in their diet and it is best combined with low GI foods such as:
- Breads - multi-grain, rye, oats and fruit breads
- Breakfast cereals - porridge, natural muesli, high fibre cereals containing bran and wholegrains
- Pasta and rice - all pasta, Basmati rice and Doongara rice
- Vegetables and legumes - sweet potato, sweet corn
- Fruit - most fruits
- Dairy products - milk, yogurt, custard and low fat ice cream.