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Insulin Index of Foods

Food Insulin Index

What is the food insulin index?

The food insulin index is used by diabetics worldwide as a means of designing their diets in such a way that blood glucose can be adequately regulated. However, it can be a difficult to understand what it is and how to use it. The food insulin index allows the diabetic to compare the extent to which different foods elevate the concentration of insulin in their blood during the two-hour period after the food is ingested.

How do you use the food insulin index?

The food insulin index gives diabetics the ability to choose foods that will cause a secretion of physiological levels of insulin. This helps to control hyperinsulinemia. While using the index, it will become clear that there are three macronutrients (carbs, proteins and fats) that cause greater insulin secretion:

  • Carb rich foods are the most insulinogenic (i.e. bananas, potatoes)
  • Protein rich foods are the second most insulinogenic (i.e. chicken, fish)
  • Fatty foods are the least insulinogenic (i.e. butter, bacon)

How is it calculated?

The food insulin index is measured as the amount of insulin in the blood of test subjects during the two hours after consuming 1000 kJ (239 kCal) of food. The result is then divided by the same amount of insulin in the blood of test subjects during the two hours after consuming the same amount of white bread. This gives a value to each food between 1 and 100.

What does the +/- mean in the score?

The +/- value refers to the uncertainty in the data following the recording of insulin levels.

Why was the food insulin index introduced?

The Glycemic Index (GI) index has been used for some time in dietary choices. The GI index simply reports the carbohydrate content of foods. This is useful for diabetics as a means to finding out how quickly each food will be assimilated and absorbed by the body. However, it does not indicate specifically the pancreas insulin response. The food insulin index fills this gap and is a more accurate means of deciding what to eat and when.

Which foods are included?

A host of different foods are included, from cereals such as porridge and breads through to commonly consumed fruits. The index also includes a list of confectionary products such as cookies, doughnuts and jellybeans.[2]

What is the difference between the insulin index and Glycemic Index?

The insulin index is a better measure than the glycemic index because it catches foods that raise both insulin and blood sugar. The glycemic index tends to miss foods that do not raise blood sugars and can raise insulin excessively, as insulin takes sugar out of the blood stream.


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Disclaimer: Please note that the contents of this community article are strictly for informational purposes and should not be considered as medical advice. This article, and other community articles, are not written or reviewed for medical validity by Canadian Insulin or its staff. All views and opinions expressed by the contributing authors are not endorsed by Canadian Insulin. Always consult a medical professional for medical advice, diagnosis, and treatment.
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