In search of a free Glycemic Index chart, or GI chart? GI charts are not at all hard to locate and claim for yourself. Any search of the internet or good printed material can get you one of these charts. But since they are apparently a dime a dozen, how can one tell a good one from a bad one?
In a nutshell, a good GI chart will give you not only a “complete” set of GI information, but also a set of information that is actually useful to you. It will provide you with data that is important to you if you want to be able to eat healthier but not necessarily want to limit your diet awfully much.
Firstly, a GI chart provides information regarding the Glycemic Index of food items. The Glycemic Index is a measure of how a particular item raises blood sugar, grouped into low, medium and high according to rapidity and compared to glucose, which is assigned a value of 100. So a food item that has a GI value of, for instance, 75, raises blood sugar three-fourths as rapidly as glucose does. As previously mentioned, all food items are grouped into low, medium, and high groups depending on how rapidly they raise the blood sugar of someone who eats a certain amount of each. Low-GI foods have a GI value of 55 and below; medium-GI foods, a GI value of 55-70; and high-GI foods, a GI value of 70 and above. But take note that different varieties of food can have different GI values – and that different ways of preparing different food items can also result in lowering or raising GI values. For instance, cooking in vinegar or serving with milk can help lower the GI of a particular food item, while basting it with simple sugar or some other sweet syrup can raise it. A good GI chart will have a comprehensive list not only of food items, but will also indicate the possible ways by which these items can be prepared in order to make them healthier, as well as warn the consumer of the ways by which the GI of these items can be bumped up, as mentioned.
Next, owing to the fact that there are literally a multitude of food items available in today’s markets, there are also quite a few GI charts available. Try and find a chart that contains information on food items that you actually eat. A GI chart that supplies information on items such as Japanese food items would be of little use to someone who doesn’t eat Japanese food and/or doesn’t live in Japan. So try to find a chart that can give you information on food that you eat or want to eat.
Lastly, you need to be mindful of the chart’s limitations – and that of the GI system as a whole. While it does provide excellent information that is truly useful, those who use it can be blinded by GI figures and judge food items on those points alone. But users should realize that GI figures are incomplete on their own. For instance, many fruits – which are good to eat because of their protein, vitamin and fiber content – may have high GI values, and people who refuse to eat them because of that reason will miss out on their nutritional content. So look for a chart that is comprehensive and doesn’t just fixate on GI values.