The Glycemic Index (GI) is a measure of how fast food is converted to energy.
The Glycemic Index Foundation provides a lot of information on the GI of foods and the effects on the body. According to their website they are based in the Human Nutrition Unit, School of Molecular and Microbial Biosciences, University of Sydney. The University's GI Group includes research scientists and dietitians working in the area of glycemic index, health and nutrition including research into diet and weight loss, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and PCOS.
I will summarise a little of what their website tells us and how it relates to asparagus nutrition and eating healthy foods.
The more slowly food is converted to energy the more balanced our blood sugar levels remain. This leaves us with more balanced energy levels.
The measure itself is found by testing food on volunteers. A group of 10 or more participants eat 50g of carbohydrate in the form of the given food (so not 50g of the food itself unless it is 100% carbohydrate) adn then their blood sugar levels are monitored for 2 hours. These blood levels are compared to the same test taken by the same people eating 50g of glucose syrup. Dividing one result by the other gives the GI which ranges from 0 to 100. The higher the number the more quickly the food is converted to energy.
Because the test and index is all about energy and carbohydrates foods that do not have any carbohydrate in them (or have tiny proportions of carbohydrate) cannot be tested and effectively have a glycemic index of 0.
Asparagus falls into this category. It does not appear on the Glycemic Index Foundation data base of foods which only includes those with an index value.
So the good news is that if you are following a low GI diet then Asparagus is not a problem.
Foods with a GI of less than 55 are considered to be low GI and a study conducted by the University of Sydney found that groups following a low GI or high protein diet lost more weight (or maintained a low weight after weight loss) better than those on other diets and that combining these two factors (low GI and high protein) gave the best results of all.
Guidelines to enable you to eat a low GI diet according to the GI Foundation are:
a) Use breakfast cereals based on oats, barley and bran
b) Use breads with wholegrains, stone-ground flour, sour dough
c) Reduce the amount of potatoes you eat
d) Enjoy all other types of fruit and vegetables
e) Use Basmati or Doongara rice
f) Enjoy pasta, noodles, quinoa
g) Eat plenty of salad vegetables with a vinaigrette dressing
Other Interesting points I have picked up include:
Pasta has a lower GI than bread or potatoes both of which have quite high GI levels even in the brown forms.
Eating your pasta "al dente" will give a lower GI than if cooked until soft. Do not necessarily cook for as long as the pack suggests!
Carisma potatoes have a much lower GI than other types (these are available in Australia but I am not sure about the rest of the World. I will keep a look out.)
Cooking your potatoes and then eating them cold in a poatatoe salad or similar gives them a lower GI than eating them hot.
Adding oats barley and bran to your baked goods can reduce the GI level of these treats.