health-benefits-of-berriesThere are many ways to compare various foods in terms of protein, carbohydrate, fats, fibers, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants etc content.

One of the important ways to compare foods are their Glycemic Index (GI) and Glycemic Load (GL).

Glycemic Index is numerical value between 0 and 100 and it basically describes how eating one food will raise blood sugar levels. GI 100 is for pure glucose. Foods with GI below 55 are considered to have low glycemic index, those with GI between 55 and 70 are considered to have medium GI and those with GI above 70, are considered to have high and very high glycemic index.

GI levels of food is important for many reasons, however, it doesn't take into account amounts of food, since it is not the same if you have consumed 50g of glucose or 50g of carbohydrates from, for example, blueberries - it is required to eat around 350g of blueberries in order to consume 50g of carbs!

Glycemic Load rectifies this problem by taking into account portion sizes - to calculate GL (Glycemic Load) divide food's Glycemic Index by 100 and multiply it by the grams of digestible carbohydrates (that means excluding fibers) in a served portion. Generally, a GL of below 10 is considered low GL, 11 - 19 GL is considered average and GL above 20 is considered high GL.

For example, blueberries contain ~14.5g of total carbohydrates including 2.4g of fibers per 100g of fruits - meaning 12.1g of digestible carbohydrates. Blueberries have GI between 40 and 53 (various studies show various results since not all varieties have the same amounts of nutrients and water). Worst case scenario is to assume GI of 53. One cup of blueberries on average has 150g (little more than 5 ounces) of blueberries.

So, glycemic load (GL) of this nice portion of blueberries would be:

GL = (53 / 100) * (12.1 * 1.5) = 9.6

(Actually, parentheses are not required since there are only multiplications and a single division, but formula is more understandable this way.)

If you take just 100g of blueberries, GL of those blueberries is only 6.4.

Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load Chart - Food Comparison

Next table presents basic nutritional data of certain foods, berries included, with their Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load values for various serving portions.

Food  Glycemic Index Serving size Available Carbohydrates Glycemic Load
Apple 38 120g 15g 5.7
Apple Juice (no added sugar) 40 0.25l 30g 12
 Apricots 57 120g 9g 5.1
Banana, ripe 55 150g 31g 17
Beans, black-eyed, boiled 42 150g 30g 12.6
Beans, kidney, soaked, boiled 28 150g 25g 7
Blueberries 53 150g 18g 9.6
Bread, white 72 100g 34g 24.5
Carrots 47 100g 9g 4.2
Carrot Juice 45 0.25l 24g 10.8
Cherries 22 150g 15g 3
Chickpeas, boiled 28 150g 30g 8.4
Coca-Cola 60 0.25l 26g 15.6
0.5l 52g 31
Corn, Sweet 55 150g 32g 17.6
Cornflakes 85 50g 42g 35.7
Couscous, boiled 65 150g 35g 22.7
Cranberries, dried, sweetened 62 40g 31g 19
Cranberry Juice 55 0.25l 33g 18.1
Grapefruit 25 120g 11g 2.7
Grapes 46 150g 22g 10.1
Honey 55 25g 20g 11
Kiwi fruit 53 150g 16g 8.5
Lentils 29 150g 18g 5.2
Mango, raw 51 120g 17g 8.7
Milk, full fat 27 0.25l 12g 3.2
Milk, skim 32 0.25l 13g 4.1
 Oranges 42 150g 14g 5.9
 Orange Juice 55 0.25l 26g 14.3
Peach 42 120g 11g 4.6
Peanuts 14 50g 8g 1.1
Pears 38 120g 11g 4.2
Pineapple, raw 51 120g 13g 6.6
 Pineapple Juice 46 0.25l 33g 15.1
Plums 39 150g 15g 5.8
Popcorn 72 30g 16g 11.5
Potato, baked 85 100g 37g 31.5
Potato, sweet 62 150g 28g 17.4
Raspberries 32 150g 8g 2.6
 Rice, brown, boiled 55 150g 33g 18.1
Rice, white, boiled 65 150g 35g 22.7
Strawberries 40 150g 9g 3.6
 Yogurt, low fat 15 200g 9g 1.3
Watermelon 72 300g 21g 15.1

 It really must be emphasized that portion control plays very important role in balanced nutrition. For example, watermelons have high GI (72) and if you eat half a kilo (500g) of watermelon (35g of digestible carbs), GL of such meal is around 25 - rather high. But if you eat only 150g of watermelon (rather small portion), GL of that snack is around 7.6. And that is a big difference. That is one of the reasons why it is better to eat smaller meals, more often.

Low Gylcemic Index Foods

grapes-various-1Berries generally have low GI - 40 or less. Since their digestible carbohydrate content (total carbohydrates - fibers = digestible carbohydrate) is rather low, their GL is almost always low, since it depends on the portions, too.

Unfortunately, GI of many berries is not yet verified and many studies have to be done in order to obtain accurate values. Even then, values can have certain offset - this is normal, since the values depend on varieties, growing conditions, ripeness of the fruit etc.

Green and leafy vegetables have GI below 15 and their GL is also very low - that is why fresh salads are so important for balanced nutrition. And when you combine such salads with berries, it is nutrition heaven :)

Long story short - even if you are on some kind of calorie restricted diet, be sure to include fresh fruits in your daily nutrition and stay away from sweetened and processed foods as much as possible.

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