Formula Medical Group
Apple Valley, CA

James Krider, MD

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Carbohydrates, either this is your Achilles heel or not very important (us meat lovers), either way this macronutrient is critical to your life. The best approach to carbs I could find is the glycemic index (GI). In a nutshell, the University of Sydney started measuring the body’s response to carbs over 20 years ago. Eight to ten healthy subjects fast overnight and then eat 50 grams of the test food. Their blood sugar is then monitored for the next two hours. On three other occasions the same subjects consume 50 grams of pure glucose and their blood glucose is again monitored. The test food is then compared to the pure glucose and this ratio is the index.

You may also hear about the glucose load (GL). This is an adjustment made by researchers at Harvard University to compare foods with little carbohydrates (watermelon) to foods with a lot of carbohydrates, such as breads or potato. The GL is the GI times the total carbohydrate in a normal serving of the food.

The two hour blood sugar response of a high-GI food vs a low-GI food
Reference food
test food
Glucose, GI score = 100
Lentils, GI score = 40





Low (best)

55 or less

10 or less

Medium (OK)



High (avoid)

70 or more

20 or more

Yes, the research does show this system works and is important to your health. A low-GI diet will help diabetes, obesity, high triglycerides, low HDL levels (good cholesterol), syndrome X (metabolic syndrome), polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), and fatty liver disease. Not a bad addition to eating Mediterranean (heart and cancer benefits) and high fiber (heart, blood pressure and diabetes) and exercise (heart, blood pressure, chronic disease).

Here are the basic Low-GI tips:

  1. Use breakfast cereals based on oats, barley and bran,
  2. Use breads with wholegrains, stone-ground flour, sour dough,
  3. Reduce the amount of potatoes you eat
  4. Enjoy all other types of fruit and vegetables,
  5. Use Basmati, Doongara or Japanese koshihikari rice (brown rice not white),
  6. Eat plenty of salad vegetables with a vinaigrette dressing

Low GI cereals for breakfast include: All-Bran; Fiber One; Oat bran, raw, unprocessed; Oatmeal, from steel-cut oats,; Muesli, natural; Muesli, toasted; Rice bran, unprocessed; Semonlina, wheat, hot cereal.

Low GI breads: multigrain bread; flaxseed and soy bread; oat bran bread; pumpernickel; sourdough rye; sourdough wheat; spelt multigrain; tortilla, wheat.

Low GI Fruit: Canned fruit if canned in its own juices or water; Dried fruit except pitted dates; all fresh fruit.

Low GI pasta: Whole wheat, spinach or corn pasta (spaghetti, macaroni, angel hair, etc.). Check the fiber content, it should be around 4 grams or more per 100 grams of dry pasta.

Low GI Potatoes: sweet potato, baked.

Low GI Soups: lentil; minestrone; tomato; black bean; green pea; pumpkin; split pea.

Low GI Spreads: Apricot fruit, reduced sugar; avocado; diet jelly; jam 100% fruit – apricot, blackberry, raspberry, or strawberry; marmalade; Nutella, hazelnut spread; Hummus.

Low GI Vegetables: all.

This article was last reviewed March 1, 2006 by Dr. James Krider.


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