What Are the Glycemic Index and the Glycemic Load?

Molly Kimball, RD, CSSD wrote . . . . . .

The glycemic index, simply put, is a measure of how quickly a food causes our blood sugar levels to rise.

The measure ranks food on a scale of 0 to 100. Foods with a high glycemic index, or GI, are quickly digested and absorbed, causing a rapid rise in blood sugar. These foods that rank high on the GI scale are often — but not always — high in processed carbohydrates and sugars. Pretzels, for example, have a glycemic index of 83; and a baked potato without the skin clocks in at 98.

Meanwhile, foods with a low GI are digested and absorbed at a slower rate, and, subsequently, cause a slower rise in blood sugar levels. These are typically rich in fiber, protein and/or fat. Examples of these include apples with a glycemic index of 28, Greek-style yogurt at 11, and peanuts at 7. Keep in mind that a low GI doesn’t mean a food is high in nutrients. You still need to choose healthy foods from all five food groups.

Diets centered on mostly low-GI foods can make it easier to achieve and maintain a healthy weight, since these foods keep us feeling fuller, longer. Low-GI diets also have been shown to improve insulin resistance, and lower glucose, cholesterol and triglyceride levels in people with type 2 diabetes.

One exception to the recommendation of a mostly low-GI diet is after intense or prolonged exercise. Consuming high glycemic foods can actually be more beneficial for muscle recovery, since they’re rapidly digested.

Glycemic Index: An Imperfect System, but Useful Tool

A food’s GI ranking only applies when a food is consumed on an empty stomach without any other type of food. As anyone who’s ever eaten food knows, this isn’t always how we eat. Sure, a bag of pretzels may be a stand-alone snack, but how often do we eat just a plain potato with nothing else?

Add a lean steak or a piece of salmon, a side of broccoli and a salad with vinaigrette, and the protein, fiber and fat all will serve to lower the glycemic index of the meal.

In addition, the glycemic index doesn’t take into account how much we’re actually consuming. The GI value of a food is determined by giving people a serving of the food that contains 50 grams of carbohydrate minus the fiber, then measuring the effect on their blood glucose levels over the next two hours.

A serving of 50 grams of carbohydrate in one sitting is reasonable for a food such as rice, which has 53 grams of carbs per cup. But for beets, a GI ranking of 64 is a little misleading. Since beets have just 13 grams of carbs per cup, we would need to consume nearly 4 cups of beets in order to cause that spike in blood sugar levels.

Glycemic Load

Glycemic load, or GL, is a formula that corrects for potentially misleading GI by combining portion size and GI into one number. The carbohydrate content of the actual serving is multiplied by the food’s GI, then that number is divided by 100. So for a cup of beets, the GL would be: 13 times 64 = 832 divided by 100 = a GL of 8.3.

As a frame of reference, a GL higher than 20 is considered high, between 11 and 19 is considered moderate, and 10 or less is considered low.

The bottom line: Even though the glycemic index isn’t a perfect system, it can be a useful tool to identify lower-glycemic foods that often are more nutrient-dense, as well as what foods are higher in refined carbohydrates.

Source: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

Moroccan-style Beef and Sweet Potatoes Casserole


1-1/2 to 2 lb braising or stewing beef
2 tbsp sunflower oil
good pinch of ground turmeric
1 large onion, chopped
1 red or green chilli, seeded and chopped
1-1/2 tsp paprika
good pinch of cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 lb sweet potatoes
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
1 tbsp butter
salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. Cut the meat into 3/4-inch cubes.
  2. Heat the oil in a flameproof casserole and fry the meat with the turmeric and seasoning over a medium heat for 3-4 minutes, until evenly brown, stirring frequently.
  3. Cover the casserole tightly with a lid or foil and cook the meat for 15 minutes over a fairly gentle heat, without uncovering.
  4. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F.
  5. Add the chopped onion and chilli, along with the paprika, cayenne pepper and cumin to the casserole together with just enough water to cover the meat. Cover the casserole tightly and cook in the oven for 1 to 1-1/2 hours, until the meat is very tender, adding a little extra water as necessary to keep the consistency of the stew fairly moist.
  6. Meanwhile, peel the sweet potatoes and slice them straight into a bowl of salted water. Transfer to a pan along with the water, bring to the boil and simmer for 2-3 minutes, until just tender. Drain well.
  7. Stir the fresh parsley and coriander into the meat mixture, arrange the sweet potato slices over the top and dot with the butter. Cover the casserole and cook in the oven for a further 10 minutes, or until the potatoes feel very tender.
  8. Increase the oven temperature to 200°C/400°F. Remove the lid of the casserole and allow to cook for a further 5-10 minutes, until the layer of sweet potatoes is golden. Serve the tagme at once, whilst it is still piping hot.

Makes 4 servings.

Source: Best of Morocco

In Pictures: Burgers in America

White Truffle Prices Double to US$3,200 a Pound Because of Weather Conditions in Italy

Sara Clemence wrote . . . . . .

During a bumper year for Italian white truffles, one of fine dining’s most precious (read: expensive) ingredients, San Francisco chef Michael Tusk can get practically profligate with the aromatic mushrooms. He’ll even use them to top pizza.

“This is probably not a year for that,” says the chef and co-owner of Cotogna and the three-Michelin-starred Quince.

“Prices have doubled,” says Vittorio Giordano, vice president of Urbani Truffles, a major importer.

Each fall, truffle aficionados around the globe pay dearly to have the lumpen tubers shaved atop risotto, scattered on pasta, and draped onto sushi. But white truffles are finicky. Resistant to farming and highly perishable, they grow wild in forests, are hand-hunted by men with trained dogs or pigs, and are available fresh only from September into December. In 2016, there was an abundance of truffles, and prices plunged, but a hot summer followed by a dry fall this year have made for a dramatically smaller harvest this season.

Fortunato Nicotra, executive chef at New York’s Felidia, came by “great truffles” at around $1,300 a pound in 2016, he told Bloomberg. This year, he is paying $2,800 to $3,200 a pound for golf ball-sized tubers. (“I can’t go with a little chickpea to shave in the dining room,” he says of the smaller, less-expensive pickings.) Larger sizes are rarer, and anything weightier than 40 grams can cost several hundred dollars more per pound, he says.

“Let’s say it is a big problem,” Nicotra says. “I cannot double my prices. But I cannot be without truffles.”

Foodies who like to dose their dishes with truffle products needn’t worry—Giordano says the shortage hasn’t yet hit flavored oils and butters. But diners may see slightly higher prices for the fresh, musky shavings on menus. Nicotra says he may have to increase the price of truffle dishes by $10; at the moment Felidia charges a $75 supplement for a dose of shavings.

Instead, to allow diners the pleasure of eating tuber magnatum (often translated as “noble tuber”) restaurants will be eating much of the cost increase, which will cut into already slim margins. On average, food makes up around 28 percent of the price of a dish, Nicotra says. When you’re dealing with truffles, the food cost rises to 33 percent—this year, more.

Beyond simply reducing the number of white truffle offerings, or cutting them entirely, some restaurants will respond by serving up recipes whose base ingredients not only cost less, but also allow for a lighter hand with the truffles.

“Simple preparations that work well—dairy dishes, eggs, those types of things—are kind of like canvases for the truffles and can cut down on the cost of the overall dish,” says Tusk. In the past, he has offered diners a whole truffle and a scale and let them decide how much or how little they want.

Giordano, the truffle importer, says Urbani is suggesting that chefs shrink portions slightly to offset the high prices. “Maybe you support it with a little bit of truffle butter to help,” he says.

Nicotra, meanwhile, is not just worried about prices but availability. The appetite for white truffles tends to peak in October and early November. “The first month, we sell a lot because people wait for a year to have it,” he said. “They’re saying now if the weather keeps going, it’s going to be a problem in November to find any.”

Truffle hunters interviewed in the Telegraph say that in some regions of Italy, supplies could be reduced by 90 percent.

Now, Nicotra is looking to Croatia as a potential source. “They taste slightly different—the soil, the trees, everything is important for the truffle,” he says. “I have to say, they are pretty good, though.”

Source: BloomBerg

Women Undergo Cataract Surgery May Live Longer

That’s the finding from a new study of more than 74,000 U.S. women aged 65 or older, including nearly 42,000 who’d had the eye procedure.

According to the study, having had cataract surgery was associated with a 60 percent reduced risk of early death from all causes, and a 37 to 69 percent reduced risk of death due to accidents, lung and heart diseases, cancer, infectious diseases and neurological disorders.

The study couldn’t prove cause-and-effect — maybe women who opt for cataract surgery simply take better care of themselves, although the researchers did factor in lifestyle issues such as obesity and exercise.

And prior research has suggested that a lower risk of premature death after cataract surgery may be due to improvements in overall health and in day-to-day functioning, the study authors said.

The investigators also said it’s not clear if the same finding would apply to men.

Further study looking at how cataract surgery affects chronic illness or death from specific causes might help clarify “the benefits of cataract surgery beyond vision improvement,” said the team led by Dr. Anne Coleman, of the University of California, Los Angeles.

Two experts in eye health agreed that the significance of the new findings isn’t totally clear.

Even though the findings appear to make sense “from the fact that those with good vision are better able to function and maintain independence, this is not what this study elucidates,” said Dr. Amilia Schrier, an ophthalmologist who specializes in cataract surgery at the Manhattan Eye, Ear & Throat Hospital in New York City.

She pointed out that the women who were enrolled in the databases behind the study may be more health-conscious and “apt to seek medical care and receive such care as opposed to those who do not have surgery.”

Dr. Matthew Gorski is an ophthalmologist at Northwell Health in Great Neck, N.Y. He agreed that “the study does not indicate the exact role that cataract surgery had on decreasing the risk of death,” but added that the findings “reiterate the importance of seeing your eye doctor for screening eye exams.”

According to Schrier, cataracts are a “leading cause of curable blindness and visual impairment.”

She described cataract surgery as “a procedure that involves replacing the opaque lens with a clear intraocular lens implant made of a plastic which provides a marked improvement of vision.”

The study was published in the journal JAMA Ophthalmology.

Source: The JAMA Network

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