Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

Do foods with a low glycemic index improve skin?


Glycemic Index Table

Carbohydrates and Breast Cancer
A recent study compared women with high-glycemic-index diets to women with low-glycemic-index diets over a period of 17 years. Women whose diets had the highest glycemic index had a 44 percent increased risk of developing certain types of breast cancer. Researchers speculate that the increased concentrations of insulin and sex hormones caused by a high-glycemic-index diet may encourage breast cancer cells to grow [source: Reuters Health].

If you want to try a low-glycemic-index diet, you need to know what foods to eat and which ones to avoid. A glycemic index table can help you determine high- and low-glycemic foods, but reading a table can be confusing. A glycemic index table may rank some healthy foods the same as it ranks some junk food. For example, a carrot and a pound cake may have similar scores on a glycemic index table -- only their glycemic index is ranked, not their overall health value.

To help alleviate this confusion, researchers have created the glycemic load, which takes a food's carbohydrates into account. The amount of carbohydrates affects how fast and how high your blood glucose level rises after you eat. To calculate the glycemic load, you multiply the glycemic index of a food by the number of carbohydrates per grams found in a single serving of that food. Then you divide the total by 100 [source: Higdon].

The table below provides some examples of the glycemic index versus the glycemic load of certain foods.

Food Item

Description/Serving Size

Glycemic Index

Carbohydrates/ Grams/Serving

Glycemic Load

Apple juice

pure, clear, unsweetened

8.5 fluid ounces/250 ml

63

30

13

Bagel

frozen, white

70 grams

103 +/- 5

35

25

Whole grain bread

30 grams

89

14

9

Cornflakes

30 grams

130

26

24

Fruit Loops

30 grams

98 +/- 13

26

18

Apple

120 grams

57

16

6

Banana

ripe

120 grams

51

25

13

Peas

frozen, boiled

80 grams

55

7

3

Sweet corn

boiled

80 grams

86

18

11

[source: Foster-Powell]

To prevent your low-glycemic-index diet from negatively impacting your skin, you need to maintain a nutritional balance. This means you need to consider both the glycemic load and the glycemic index level of the foods you eat, and you need to make sure you're getting the necessary vitamins and minerals in your diet as well. To get the most from a low-glycemic-index diet, consult a doctor, dietician or nutritionist.

For more information on the glycemic index, see the links on the following page.


More to Explore