Glycemic Stuff ... based in part upon the info at (with permission)

Yesterday I went to the doctor. He said my blood sugar was high and I could become a diabetic if I didn't do something about my sugar intake and he talked about some glycemic stuff and he said that I need to do more exercise and lose weight, so I surfed the web ...
>That was your exercise?
Pay attention! I needed to learn more about that glycemic stuff:

  • When you eat bread or fruit or pasta, the food is broken down and produces energy for your body in the form of glucose.
  • The Glycemic Index measures how quickly the body converts carbohydrates in foods to glucose (thereby elevating blood sugar).
  • The Glycemic Index was conceived in 1981 by David Jenkins and fellow researchers at the University of Toronto.
  • The GI is given on a scale of 0 to 100 (with glucose = 100 because it's ... uh, already glucose, eh?).
  • But GI may be misleading.
    For example, suppose that a "normal" serving of food X is 100 grams, and the carbohydrates in that food have a huge GI (like 90), should you be worried? Not if 100 grams of that food contain just 0.1 grams of those high GI carbohydrates
  • Such foods (such as watermelon) would have a high GI because of the type of carbs they contain.
    But a "normal" serving should not be considered as a high glycemic food ... hence the notion of Glycemic Load which measures
    not only the Glycemic Index of the carbs, but also the amount of carbs in a normal serving  
  • The GL is the product of the GI multiplied by the grams of carbohydrates in a "normal serving" (whatever normal means).
    For the above example, GL = 90 (0.1) = 9 and that ain't bad, eh?
    So that, even with a high GI, if the amount of carbs is low, the product GL may be small (see watermelon, below).
  • I guess one should be more concerned with the Glycemic Load than with the Glycemic Index.
    (For example, ice cream has a Glycemic Index of 37 but (for "normal" serving) a Glycemic Load of only 4.)
  • Finally ... Mamma mia! It's not fair that pasta is a high Glycemic Load food %#$@!^&?!
>Yeah, I've seen how you sock that away!

One other thing: High Glycemic foods increase blood sucrose.
The body's response to this is to secrete more insulin (via the pancreas which attempts to control blood glucose).

Anyway, here's the table that Rick Mendosa has:

Numbers shown are
(Glycemic Load, Glycemic Index)
LOW Glycemic Index
1 - 55
MED Glycemic Index
56 - 69
HI Glycemic Index
70 - 100
LOW Glycemic Load
1 - 10

All-bran cereal (8,42)
Apples (6,38)
Carrots (3,47)
Chick peas (8,28)
Grapes (8,46)
Green peas (3, 48)
Kidney beans (7,28)
Oranges (5,42)
Peaches (5,42)
Peanuts (1,14)
Pears (4,38)
Pinto beans (10,39)
Red lentils (5,26)
Strawberries (1,40)
Sweet corn (9,54)

Beets (5,64)
Cantaloupe (4,65)
Pineapple (7,59)
Sucrose (table sugar) (7,68)

Popcorn (8,72)
Watermelon (4,72)
Whole wheat flour bread (9,71)
MED Glycemic Load
11 - 19

Apple juice (11,40)
Bananas (12,52)
Buckwheat (16,54)
Fettucine (18,40)
Navy beans (12,38)
Orange juice (12,50)
Parboiled rice (17,47)
Pearled barley (11,25)
Sourdough wheat bread (15,54)

Life cereal (16,66)
New potatoes (12,57)
Wild rice (18,57)

Cheerios (15,74)
Shredded wheat (15,75)
White wheat flour bread (11,70)
HI Glycemic Load
20 and over

Linguine (23,52)
Macaroni (23,47)
Spaghetti (20,42)

Couscous (23,65)
Sweet potatoes (27,61)
White rice (23,64)

Baked Russet potatoes (26,85)
Cornflakes (21,81)
>A picture is worth a thousand ...
Here's a picture:

>Peanuts, eh?

See also:

>So how do you measure this Glycemic Index?
  1. You line up a bunch of people, feed them a measured weight of carbohydrates* (10-50 grams)
    from, say, food X which may be potatoes or peanuts ... and requires 1 pounds of carrots to get 50 grams!
  2. Then you measure the blood sucrose concentration** every 15-30 minutes, giving something like Fig. 1
  3. After two hours you stop and calculate the area under the curve: B
  4. Then, the next day, you feed them the same amount of carbohydrate from pure glucose and do the same thing, calculating the area under the curve as A.
  5. Then you calculate 100 B/A to get a percentage.
* Fibre and sugar alcohols have little impact on blood glucose. They're subtracted, giving so-called "Net Carbs".
For example, a cup of pasta might have 17 grams of carbohydrates but only 9 grams of Net Carbs, the other 8 grams being fibre. And sugar alcohol? They're sweeteners/sugar substitutes and have neither sugar nor alcohol.
** Usually measured in milligrams per deciliter (mg/dl).

Figure 1
>That's the Glycemic Index?
That's the way I understand it.
>That glucose is like regular sugar, eh?
Regular table sugar is sucrose. It's more complicated.
Glucose is a simple carbohydrate, like Figure 2:   C6H12O6 = (CH2O)6    
Sugar alcohols, by the way, contain molecules which look like sugars and alcohol ... hence the name.

If your body can't find enough carbohydrates in your food, it uses up body fat.
Remember, glucose is a major source of energy for your body.
>Energy? What energy? Anyway, what're you having for dinner?

Figure 2

Hydrogenated Oils and Trans Fatty Acids
>So if you should cut back on all that pasta, what can you eat?
Let me mention what you should not eat. Well, at least you should reduce your consumption of these items ...
>Reduce? Why not eliminate?
Eliminate hamburgers and fries?
>Uh ... let's just reduce, okay?

>How does that hydrogenation work, and why use it at all?
In hydrogenation, oil is heated to very high temperatures, small particles of nickel or copper are added and hydrogen bubbles are passed through it (making it more dense). This destroys the essential fatty acids in the oil and replaces them with deformed trans fatty acids - and the human body is not well-equipped to deal with them! Besides, you can turn a vegetable oil into margarine by hydrogenation ... and it has a long shelf life.
Fully hydrogenated, the oil becomes a solid fat. If you stop part way, you get a semi-solid partially hydrogenated oil that has the consistency of butter - but it's a lot cheaper than butter!
>Are we talking fats or oils?
They're essentially the same, except that fats are solid at room temperature while oils are ...
>Liquid, eh? Okay. I gather that they're bad, eh?
Yes. Here are a few of the effects of hydrogenated oil / trans fatty acids:
  1. Lowers the "good" HDL cholesterol.
  2. Correlates to low birth weight in human infants.
  3. Increases blood insulin levels in humans, increasing risk for diabetes;
  4. Decreases levels of testosterone in males, increases level of abnormal sperm, and interferes with gestation in females.
  5. Decreases the response of the red blood cell to insulin ... a potentially undesirable effect in diabetics.
  6. Inhibits the function of membrane-related enzymes.
  7. Adversely interacts with conversion of plant omega-3 fatty acids.
  8. Increased breast cancer in women
  9. Increased heart disease in men and women
  10. Increases non-insulin dependent type diabetes disease

>Decreases testosterone in males? That does sound bad.
Yes, and ...
>What about that Cholesterol and HDL and Omega-3 fatty stuff?

Cholesterol, HDL and Omega-3

  • Cholesterol is a soft, fat-like, waxy substance found in the bloodstream and in all your body's cells.
    It's normal and an important part of a healthy body. It's made by the liver.
    It's found in all animal products: meat, poultry, seafood, eggs and dairy products.
    (Vegetable products do not contain cholesterol, but they may be loaded with fat.)
    It's used for producing cell membranes, some hormones, and other needed bodily functions.
    But too high a level of cholesterol in the blood is a major risk for coronary heart disease and a risk factor for stroke.
  • About 30% to 40% of blood cholesterol is carried by high-density lipoprotein (HDL).
    HDL cholesterol is the "good" cholesterol because it seems to protect against heart attack.
    Low levels of HDL cholesterol, less than 40 mg/dL, increase the risk for heart disease.
    Medical experts think that HDL tends to carry cholesterol away from the arteries and back to the liver, where it's passed from the body.
    They also believe that HDL removes excess cholesterol from plaque in arteries, thus slowing the buildup.
  • On the other hand, LDL cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein) can slowly build up in the inner walls of the arteries that feed the heart and brain. Together with other substances it can form plaque, a thick, hard deposit that can clog those arteries.
  • A high LDL level (130 - 160 mg/dL ?) reflects an increased risk of heart disease.

>You forgot that omega thing.
Omega-3 fatty acid? That's one of those good Essential Fatty Acids. These fatty acids seem to make blood platelets less likely to clot, thus decreasing risk of artery blockage and heart attacks. Fish with high amounts of Omega-3 include salmon, albacore, tuna, mackerel, sardines, herring and rainbow trout.
>Huh? Polyunsaturated?
Yes. I forgot to mention that saturated/unsaturated refers to hydrogenated/non-hydrogenated oils (or fats). If you "hydrogenate" a fatty acid you "saturate" it.

Unsaturated fats are usually oils, at room temperature. They're found in vegetable oils such as corn oil, safflower oil, soybean oil, sunflower oil ... and are present in fish and fish oils. They can be mono-unsaturated or poly-unsaturated, depending upon the molecular stucture and single or double carbon bonds

Saturated fats are usually solid at room temperature. They're the bad fats! All animal fats, such as those in meat, poultry, and dairy products are saturated. Processed and fast foods are saturated. Vegetable oils also can be saturated. Palm, palm kernel and coconut oils are saturated vegetable oils. (Fats containing mostly unsaturated fat are made more saturated through that "hydrogenation" process mentioned above.)

Here are some examples of fats in common oils (where g/T means grams per Tablespoon and mg is milligrams).
The ones with high saturated or high cholesterol are ...
Yes and too much Transfat is bad, too.
Note: The Transfat table (on the right) gives some average trans fatty acid content. It may vary wildly depending upon, for example, the type of cheese, brand of margarine or cookies, what oil the french fries are cooked in, who makes the doughnuts, etc.
For example, the trans fatty acid content for doughnuts may vary from 0.3 to 3.8 so I've taken an average, 2.05, so that ...
>That's pretty poor, if you ask me.
I'm not asking you! Besides, I wanted to order them in decreasing transfat content ... so I took an average.
Besides, you should take these numbers with a grain of salt.
>I thought salt wasn't that good for you.
Fats / OilsSaturated
Coconut Oil11.
Palm Kernel Oil11.
Palm Oil6.
Beef Tallow6.45.30.514.0
Chicken Fat3.85.72.711.0
Vegetable Shortening3.
Peanut Oil2.
Soybean Oil2.
Sesame Oil1.
Olive Oil1.
Sunflower Oil1.
Safflower Oil1.21.610.10.0
Corn Oil1.
Canola Oil1.
Pound cake4.30
Apple pie (frozen)3.00
Vegetable shortening2.80
Margarine (stick)2.65
Popcorn (microwave)2.20
French fries (fast food)2.15
Chocolate chip cookies1.50
Waffles (frozen)1.50
Chocolate candies1.42
Margarine (tub, regular)1.00
Breakfast cereal0.78
Tortilla chips0.50
White bread0.35
Whole milk0.27
Granola bar0.25
Vegetable oils0.04
Peanut butter0.00
>Whooee! Pound cake looks pretty bad!
With all that transfatty acid stuff? Yeah, it seems so.
I found a recipe for pound cake. It starts out like so
The original pound cake recipe had one pound
each of flour, sugar, butter and eggs !
      1/2 c. butter, softened
      1/2 c. shortening
      2 c. sugar

>Canola looks good, eh?
Yes. In the late 1970s, using a technique of genetic manipulation involving seed splitting, Canadian plant breeders came up with a variety of rapeseed that produced a monounsaturated oil. They called it LEAR oil, for Low Erucic Acid Rapeseed.
It couldn't exactly be marketed as RAPE oil or LEAR oil ... so it was called canola.

>CAN oil? Why CAN?

Margarine vs Butter

Apparently, the following began circulating in 2003 (and was brought to my attention by kathyet):

The difference between butter and margarine?

Both have the same amount of calories, butter is slightly higher in saturated fats at 8 grams compared to 5 grams. Eating margarine can increase heart disease in women by 53% over eating the same amount of butter according to a recent Harvard Medical Study.

Eating butter increases the absorption of many other nutrients in other foods, butter has many nutritional benefits where margarine has a few only because they are added! Butter tastes much better than margarine and it can enhance the flavours of other foods. Butter has been around for centuries where margarine has been around for less than 100 years.

Now for Margarine, very high in trans fatty acids triple risk of Coronary Heart Disease, Increases total and LDL ( This is the bad Cholesterol), Lowers HDL cholesterol and this is the good one, Increases the risk of cancers by up to five fold, lowers quality of breast milk, decreases immune response, and decreases insulin response.

And here is the most disturbing fact......

Margarine is but one molecule from being PLASTIC..... (This fact alone was enough to have me avoiding margarine for life and anything else that is hydrogenated, this means hydrogen is added changing the molecular structure of the food.)

You can try this for yourself, purchase a tub of margarine and leave it in your garage or shaded area, within a couple of days you will note a couple of things, no flies, not even those pesky fruit flies will go near it, (that should tell you something) it does not rot, smell differently... Because it has no nutritional value, nothing will grow on it, even those teeny weeny microorganisms will not find a home to grow... Why?

Because it is nearly plastic. Would you melt your Tupperware and spread that on your toast?

>One of those myths?!
Not entirely. Check out
Urban Legends.

>But you knew all that, right?
Well, I knew from one of the above tables that margarine was high transfat stuff and butter was low, but ...

>But now you give up margarine.
Uh ... yeah, I guess. Note that hydrogenation turns oils into solids ... generating trans fats.
Tub margarine is soft, stick margarine is hard. Guess which has more transfat?

Remember, there are four types of fats: polyunsaturated, monounsaturated, saturated and trans. The last two ain't good.

Margarine was invented by a French food chemist, in 1869 ... at the request of Napoleon III
Anti-margarine laws started appearing in the 1880s
Until 1948, it was illegal to sell margarine in Canada.
Quebec regulations force margarine producers to make their margarine colourless.
(Quebec is currently the only jurisdiction in North America to regulate the colour of margarine.)

See: History of Margarine

>Okay, so margarine has that bad transfat stuff, because it's hydrogenated, so ...
Actually, there are some margarines which are not hydrogenated, hence no transfatty acids.
For example, Becel margarine has always been made without hydrogenation, so has no trans fat.

Recently, governments are requiring food manufacturers to list the amount of saturated and transfat.
This is mandatory in Canada, starting in Dec, 2005.
(Canada was the first country in the world to introduce mandatory labeling of trans fat.)

The U.S. labelling of transfat starts in Jan, 2006.

New (typical) Transfat Label
DV less than 5% is low, greater than 20% is high.

See also:

... always in progress