Glycemic index

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle through the holidays

The holidays are rapidly approaching and with them the opportunity to consume lots of delicious food and drink at family gatherings and other social events. One way to help maintain a healthy lifestyle during the holidays is to eat foods with a “low-glycemic index”.

The glycemic index was first developed in 1981 (Medical Reference 1) as a new method of classifying foods based on the measurement of how dietary carbohydrates effect blood sugar responses after eating. “High-glycemic index” products, like white bread, have carbohydrates that are rapidly digested and absorbed, thus causing sharp increases in blood sugar levels. “Low-glycemic index” products, like soy protein, have carbohydrates that are slowly digested and absorbed, thus producing minimal rises in blood sugar and insulin levels. The glycemic index was later expanded to include the concept of “glycemic load”, which accounts for the amount of carbohydrates in a serving in order to better understand the impact of a meal or snack on blood sugars (Medical References 2, 3) and thus improve diet planning.

Why is the glycemic index or load of foods important? Scientific research suggests that high glycemic diets may increase the risk for cardiovascular disease (Medical References 4, 5) and type 2 diabetes (Medical References 6, 7). In contrast, low glycemic diets have been shown to improve blood sugar control (Medical References 8, 9), aid in weight loss (Medical References 10, 11), and reduce some cardiovascular disease risk factors (Medical References 12-14).

Soy foods generally have a low to moderate glycemic index or glycemic load (Medical Reference 15). The low glycemic quality of soy foods appears to be an additional benefit of soy for human health and suggests that soy foods are an appropriate part of diet plans intended to improve control over blood sugar and insulin levels. Recent research (Medical Reference 16) demonstrates that Soy products have a low glycemic index. Delicious bars, shakes, savoury soy nuts and soy pasta provide an easy way to add low glycemic foods to your holiday festivities while providing the soy protein and isoflavones beneficial for your health and nutrition.

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1. Jenkins DJ, Wolever TM, Taylor RH, Barker H, Fielden H, Baldwin JM, Bowling AC, Newman HC, Jenkins AL. Glycemic index of foods: a physiological basis for carbohydrate exchange. Am J Clin Nutr. 1981;34:362-366.
2. Salmeron J, Ascherio A, Rimm EB, Colditz GA, Spiegelman D, Jenkins DJ, Stampfer MJ, Wing AL, Willett WC. Dietary fi ber, glycemic load, and risk of NIDDM in men. Diabetes Care. 1997a;20:545-50.
3. Salmeron J, Manson JE, Stampfer MJ, Colditz GA, Wing AL, Willett WC. Dietary fi ber, glycemic load, and risk of non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus in women. JAMA. 1997b;277:472-477.
4. Liu S, Willett WC, Stampfer MJ, Hu FB, Franz M, Sampson L, Hennekens CH, Manson JE. A prospective study of dietary glycemic load, carbohydrate intake, and risk of coronary heart disease in US women. Am J Clin Nutr. 2000;71:1455-1461.
5. Amano Y, Kawakubo K, Lee JS, Tang AC, Sugiyama M, Mori K. Correlation between dietary glycemic index and cardiovascular disease risk factors among Japanese women. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2004;58:1472-1478.
6. Hodge AM, English DR, O’Dea K, Giles GG. Glycemic index and dietary fi ber and the risk of type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Care. 2004;27:2701-2706.
7. Wolever TMS, Jenkins DJA, Vuksan V, Jenkins AL, Buckley GC, Wong GS, Josse RG. Benefi cial effect of a low-glycemic index diet in type 2 diabetes. Diabet Med. 1992b;9:451-458.
8. Jarvi AE, Karlstrom BE, Granfeldt YE, Bjorck IE, Asp NG, Vessby BO. Improved glycemic control and lipid profi le and normalized fibrinolytic activity on a low-glycemic index diet in type 2 diabetic patients. Diabetes Care. 1999;22:10-18.
9. Jenkins DJ, Wolever TM, Collier GR, Ocana A, Rao AV, Buckley G, Lam Y, Mayer A, Thompson LU. Metabolic effects of a low-glycemic-index diet. Am J Clin Nutr. 1987a;46:968-975.
10. Slabber M, Barnard HC, Kuyl JM, Dannhauser A, Schall R. Effects of a low-insulin-response, energy-restricted diet on weight loss and plasma insulin concentrations in hyperinsulinemic obese females. Am J Clin Nutr. 1994;60:48-53.
11. Spieth LE, Harnish JD, Lenders CM, Raezer LB, Pereira MA, Hangen SJ, Ludwig DS. A low-glycemic index diet in the treatment of pediatric obesity. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2000;154;947-951.
12. Ford ES, Liu S. Glycemic index and serum high-density lipoprotein cholesterol concentration among US adults. Arch Intern Med. 2001;26:572-576.
13. Liu S, Manson JE, Stampfer MJ, Holmes MD, Hu FB, Hankinson SE, Willett WC. Dietary glycemic load assessed by food-frequency questionnaire in relation to plasma high-density-lipoprotein cholesterol and fasting plasma triacylglycerols in postmenopausal women. Am J Clin Nutr. 2001;73:560-566.
14. Liu S, Manson JE, Buring JE, Stampfer MJ, Willett WC, Ridker PM. Relation between a diet with a high glycemic load and plasm concentrations of high-sensitivity C-reactive protein in middle-aged women. Am J Clin Nutr. 2002;75:492-498.
15. Foster-Powell K, Holt SHA, Brand-Miller JC. International table of glycemic index and glycemic load values: 2002. Am J Clin Nutr. 2002;76:5-56.
16. Blair RM, Tabor A, Henley EC. The glycemic index and insulin index of selected soy foods. 6th International Symposium on the Role of Soy in Preventing and Treating Chronic Disease. October 30 - November 2, 2005, Chicago, IL.

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