What is Glycemic index (GI)?
GI is a value assigned to carbohydrate-containing foods based on how quickly they are digested and increase your blood sugar levels. Lower GI food (e.g. oatmeal, most fruits, corn) are digested and the sugars are absorbed slower, allowing a lower and slower increase in blood sugar. On the other hand, high GI food such as sugary drinks and sweets cause your blood sugar to increase sharply and quickly.
- Eating large amounts of low GI food is healthy.
MYTH – Low GI food does not cause your blood sugar to shoot up, but the total amount of calories taken in is still important. It is necessary to monitor how much carbohydrates you are taking, such as porridge, rice, noodles and bread. GI measures the impact carbohydrate foods have on your blood sugar. However, it does not represent the amount of nutrients in the food. foods with high GI are not always unhealthy. Similarly, not all foods with a low GI are healthy. It is still important to eat in moderation and have a well-balanced diet.
- Quinoa comes in many colours and is a good choice compared to rice.
FACT – Quinoa comes in many colours, mostly in white, red, or black and they all have similar nutrients. Quinoa is a grain that is grown for its seeds that can eaten. The seeds are high in fibre, protein and iron, and low in calories. Quinoa can be seen as a better choice compared to white rice, which consists of mainly carbohydrates with a high GI food. However, it is important to eat a variety of food to maintain a healthy, balanced diet.
- I should go on a gluten-free diet to feel healthier.
MYTH – Gluten is a group of proteins found in grains such as wheat and barley. For people who have gluten intolerance, where their bodies cannot break down gluten, a gluten-free diet can be beneficial. If you do not have gluten intolerance, it is not necessary to start a gluten-free diet as there are no extra benefits for your health.
- Legumes are good for people with diabetes.
FACT – Lentils, peas and beans are common examples of legumes. Legumes are good sources of carbohydrate and have low glycemic index (GI). This means that the carbohydrate is slowly digested and absorbed. They are also high in both soluble and insoluble fibre. Soluble fibre helps to lower bad cholesterol and blood sugar levels after eating. Insoluble fibre helps us to keep our bowel movements regular and healthy.
- Legumes are considered a great source of protein.
FACT – Legumes such as lentils, peas and beans are a good source of protein and fibre. They are a healthier substitute for meat, as meat contains higher levels of fat and cholesterol.
- I should not consume nuts as they are high in fat.
MYTH – There are 4 major dietary fats in the foods we eat - saturated fats, trans fats, monosaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats. Saturated fats and trans fats are known as "bad fats. On the other hand, monosaturated fats and poly unsaturated fats are known as "good" fats. Bad fats raise the level of bad cholesterol (known as LDL cholesterol) in our body. which increases the risk of heart disease. On the other hand, good fats can help to protect our body against heart disease by lowering LDL cholesterol levels.
Nuts, such as almonds, walnuts and pecans, are a source of healthy fats, protein, vitamins and minerals. Hence, they can be a good replacement for unhealthy snacks such as potato chips and cookies. However, do take note to eat nuts in moderation as they are generally high in calories.
- Brown, white and red rice have different nutritional value.
FACT – White rice is a type of rice that has its outer layers (the hull, bran and germ layers) removed. In contrast, whole grains such as brown or red rice, still have their outer layers which contain fibre, vitamins and minerals. This means that brown or red rice is more nutritious compared to white rice. Due to the higher fibre content, whole grains can help with weight control as well.
- Diabetes is caused by eating too much sweet food.
MYTH – Diabetes is not directly caused by eating too much sweet food. It is a long-term medical condition where the body cannot produce insulin or respond to insulin well. You are more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes if you are overweight, not physically active or have a family history of Type 2 diabetes. A diet that is high in sugar can lead to obesity, which increases the chance of developing Type 2 diabetes.
- People with diabetes should not eat carbohydrates as this can raise their blood sugar levels.
MYTH - Carbohydrates raise blood sugar levels as they are digested by the body into smaller sugar particles called glucose. Glucose is an important source of fuel to provide energy for the body, especially the brain. Hence, carbohydrates are essential in our diet. Carbohydrates can be found in a variety of food, including fruits and vegetables. As these are important sources of vitamins and nutrients, it is not practical to avoid carbohydrates completely. Talk to a dietitian to learn more about healthy eating and managing the amount of carbohydrates in your diet.