The glycemic index load is a numerical value given to food that indicates the effect it has on blood glucose levels in the body. It is based on a mathematical formula that accounts for both the type and amount of carbohydrates eaten. Choosing carbohydrates that have a lower glycemic index load on the body, and thus do not cause insulin and blood glucose levels to fluctuate, is the key to maintaining good health, an appropriate weight, reducing hunger, improving cholesterol levels and reducing the risk of developing diabetes, according to the Glycemic Index Foundation.
Foods with a high glycemic index will cause a spike in blood sugar followed by a quick spike in insulin levels within an hour after eating the food. All bran cereals will have a lower glycemic index and glycemic load, which means they will be digested and absorbed more slowly, according to David Mendosa, who regularly writes for the American Diabetes Association. Those cereals with the lowest glycemic index are Muesli and rolled oats.
According to the American Diabetes Association, the more cooked or processed a food, the higher the glycemic index and glycemic load. Other factors that affect fruits include the ripeness and storage of the food; the more ripe the fruit the higher the glycemic index. Fruits with the lowest glycemic index are apples, oranges, dates, canned peaches and apple juice, according to David Mendosa.
Most legumes naturally have a low glycemic index and glycemic load, according to David Mendosa. These legumes include chickpeas, kidney beans, lentils, peanuts and navy beans and soya beans. By incorporating legumes into your diet, you can help to reduce the glycemic load of the foods you eat. Chickpeas can be added to salad to help you feel full longer, natural peanut butter makes a good snack on sourdough wheat bread and lentils and brown rice make a complete protein meal.
Most snack foods contain high amounts of carbohydrates. This may limit the number of good snack food choices you can make when looking for something other than fruit. Air-popped popcorn without additional butter or salt makes a healthy snack that is high in fiber and has a low glycemic index, according to the Glycemic Index Foundation. If something sweet is what you want, then Dove dark chocolates and a single serving of Betty Crocker chocolate cake with frosting will help to reduce your craving for something sweet without spiking your glycemic index or glycemic load. However, it is important to remember that these numbers are based on a single serving size. Portion control remains important when you are determining your snack choices.