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Low Glycemic Load and GI Diet Equally Beneficial as High Fiber & Whole Grain Diets

Low Glycemic Load Diet for Health

Low Glycemic Load Diet and Low Glycemic Index Diet are equally beneficial as a high fiber and whole grain diet for various health outcomes including diabetes, cardiac health, cancer prevention, and all-cause mortality.

Key points of the study:

  • To assess the association between the glycemic index (GI) and chronic diseases, via meta-analysis, it was assessed that glycemic index and glycemic load were linked to diabetes, cardiovascular disease, diabetes-related cancers, and mortality.


  • From the Richard Doll Consortium, ten large cohorts (>100,000 participants) were analyzed.


  • It’s concluded that high glycemic load (GL) and glycemic index (GI) foods are linked with increased risks of developing type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and mortality.


  • It is recommended that similar to increasing fiber and whole grain foods intake, lower GL and GI foods could also yield health benefits.


  • The study concluded that dietary adjustment could have a significant effect on chronic health and the prevention and management of diseases.

Concept of Glycemic index and Glycemic load:

“Glycemic index” (GI) and “glycemic load” (GL) are the terms that refer to how easily the body breaks down carbohydrates.

The blood glucose-raising capacity of carbohydrates is measured by the Glycemic index (GI). Based on GI value, the foods are divided into 3 categories:

  • Low GI (<55),
  • Medium GI (>55- <70), and
  • High GI (>70) foods.

On the other hand, glycemic load (GL) describes how many carbohydrates a diet contains in grams and how much it elevates blood glucose levels.

Based on dependence, the glycemic index has an impact on the glycemic load, which can increase or decrease. When the food has a low glycemic index, the glycemic load decreases.

As the high-fiber diet has a positive effect on the glycemic profile, it might be a useful strategy for improving glycemic profiles in chronic diseases.[ref]

low glycemic load low glycemic index diet
Low glycemic load and low glycemic index diet

Diet details according to GI (Glycemic Index)/ GL (Glycemic Load):

As low glycemic index (GI) or glycemic load (GL) diets are more beneficial to health, like a whole wheat diet or diet containing more fiber, we categorize the diet according to their GI values and their effect on health.

  • Low GI foods:

Low GI diet includes raw apples, all bran cereals, carrots, peanuts, apple juice, orange juice, bananas, and sourdough wheat bread.

Low GI foods are preferable because they take a longer time to get absorbed and digested.

  • Medium GI foods:

Medium GI food includes beets, raw pineapple, raw mango, cantaloupe, life cereal, popcorn, and white rice.

Medium GI foods are less preferable than low GI foods but more preferable than high GI foods.

  • High GI foods:

High-GI foods include sugar, soft drinks, watermelon, white bread, potatoes, and cornflakes.

High GI foods are not recommended to patients who are suffering from type 2 diabetes as they are rapidly digested and take a shorter time to get absorbed in the bloodstream.[ref]


Low Glycemic Load/ Glycemic Index Diet and Health Outcomes:

Several studies indicate that 90% of cases of diabetes are type 2 diabetes, which is defined by insulin resistance and hyperglycemia.

It appears that the initiation of hyperglycemia leads to late-life diabetes and especially cardiovascular illness.

Numerous studies have shown that while achieving good glycemic control is important for individuals with type 2 diabetes or CVD, it is the most effective treatment that increases the benefits of CVD and significantly reduces mortality.

Medical nutritional therapy is one of the evidence-based methods for managing chronic ailments, including diabetes and cardiovascular diseases, by making dietary and lifestyle changes.

Low GI foods are recommended as it has a beneficial effect on health, but they can be affected by several factors, such as the kind and amount of fiber they contain, the type of carbohydrates they include, the size of the particles, and their pH [ref]

A recent study shows that the reduced intake of the Glycemic index (GI) or glycemic load (GL) diet has comparable health effects to the higher intake of whole grains and fiber.

Findings of the study:

It is recommended to decrease GI and GL diet as it could have beneficial effects on health outcomes similar to the effect of increased intake of fiber and whole grains on health [ref].


Methodology and Analysis:

Using databases from the Richard Doll Consortium’s founding until August 42023, a meta-analysis of large cohorts (more than 100,000 participants) was conducted using search engines such as Cochrane Library, MEDLINE, PubMed, Embase, Web of Science, and Scopus.

Independently, three reviewers examined all the publications and extracted data. Type 2 diabetes incidents, overall cardiovascular disease (including mortality), malignancies associated with diabetes, and all-cause mortality were the primary outcomes.

 According to the study, 48 papers were examined, with:

  • 71% concentrating on cancer,
  • 19% on heart disease,
  • 10% on type 2 diabetes, and
  • 6% on death from all causes.

Diets high in glycemic index (GI) and glycemic load (GL) have been linked to higher risks of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, malignancies connected to diabetes, and death.

Interestingly, compared to low GI diets, diets high in fiber and whole grains showed comparable correlations with these results.


The bottom line …

The outcome of the study indicates that using a low glycemic load or glycemic index diet has numerous beneficial effects on human health.

These benefits extend to individuals with type 2 diabetes and those with other chronic illnesses such as cardiovascular diseases.

Additionally, this dietary approach can be beneficial for individuals at risk of developing these ailments later in life.

The study also concluded that a reduced glycemic index or a low glycemic load diet offers similar health benefits as a high fiber or whole grain diet.

This similarity arises because foods with lower glycemic index or glycemic load take longer to be absorbed and digested compared to those with high glycemic index or glycemic load and low fiber content.


What do you think?

Written by Dr. Ahmed

I am Dr. Ahmed (MBBS; FCPS Medicine), an Internist and a practicing physician. I am in the medical field for over fifteen years working in one of the busiest hospitals and writing medical posts for over 5 years.

I love my family, my profession, my blog, nature, hiking, and simple life. Read more about me, my family, and my qualifications

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