Tree Nuts and the Glycemic Index
Posted on July 31 2023
In 1981, Dr. David J. Jenkins and his colleagues at the University of Toronto introduced the Glycemic Index as a way of determining how different foods affect glucose levels in the body. The Glycemic Index (GI) ranks food items from 0 to 100. The higher the rank, the faster glucose is released into the bloodstream.
- Low GI: 0-55
- Medium GI: 56-69
- High GI: 70+
Carbohydrates are the main factor in determining a Glycemic Index. The body divides carbohydrates into starches, sugars, and fiber. The starches and sugars become glucose (blood sugar) and the fiber passes through the body undigested.
Two hormones from the pancreas called Insulin and glucagon work to control the glucose as it passes through the bloodstream. As blood sugar rises, insulin prompts cells to absorb the sugar. As blood sugar falls, glucagon prompts the liver to release stored sugar. This synergy helps to ensure that blood sugar levels remain balanced.
Because of their relatively small amounts of carbohydrates, nuts dominate the lower range of the glycemic index (along with beans, yogurt, and green vegetables). Below is list of the average Glycemic Index levels for 4 popular nuts.
In general, all tree nuts are in the Low GIycemic Index category.
Studies show that foods with a Low GI may be helpful for:
- Weight management
- Keeping blood sugar low
- Diabetes management
- Lowering the risk of diabetes
- Heart/blood vessel issues
- Preventing insulin resistance