There are many diet plans today which advise you to avoid High GI (Glycemic Index) foods. I was shocked to find out that one of my favourite vegetables, the parsnip was in this High GI category. Should I stop eating parsnips because of it’s Glycemic Index?
Carbohydrates are converted to glucose after they enter the body. The speed at which the carbohydrates are converted to glucose is known as the Glycemic response. Foods with a higher Glycemic Response cause a more rapid increase in blood sugar levels.
The Glycemic Index is a ranking system for foods containing carbohydrates to give an indication of how rapidly blood sugar will rise after consumption. The Glycemic index runs from 0-100, with zero representing foods with no carbohydrates, i.e. yielding no rise in blood sugar and 100 representing pure glucose.
Foods with a Glycemic index less than 55 are known as Low GI foods, foods with a GI of 56-69 are Medium GI foods and foods with a GI 70 or higher are High GI foods.
By avoiding High GI foods, you will be in a better position to maintain a relatively constant blood sugar level, which will reduce the likelihood of increasing body fat and, particularly in the case of people with diabetes, prevent medical complications. Parsnips have a Glycemic index of 97; it has a very high GI. If we are avoiding high GI foods, parsnips would not make it to the dinner table.
The bodies Glycemic Response is based upon 2 factors; The Glycemic Index and the amount of carbohydrates consumed. If a small amount of carbohydrates with a high Glycemic index were consumed, there would be a relatively low rise in blood sugar.
This is the case for parsnips; an 80 gram portion of parsnips contains 12 grams of carbohydrate. Although parsnips have a high GI value, they contain a relatively small amount of carbohydrates and the Glycemic response will not be as large, as say, the same portion of glucose.
The Glycemic Load takes account of both the Glycemic Index and the net carbohydrates to determine how the carbohydrate and the amount consumed will affect your blood sugar. The Glycemic load is determined by taking the GI value as a percentage and multiplying by the amount of net carbohydrates. Parsnips have a Glycemic Load of 12.
A Glycemic Load of 10 or less is low, between 11 and 20 is medium and greater than 20 is considered high. Parsnips may fall victim to the GI system; however taking account the relative amount of carbohydrates in the food, parsnips are a great, filling food that can be incorporated into a healthy diet.