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Glycemic

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Updated May 03, 2009

Definition: adj. Literally, "causing glucose (sugar) in the blood". Blood glucose is closely related to the amount and type of carbohydrates consumed. Glycemia is the related noun meaning glucose or sugar in the blood. High glycemic food cause a larger rise in blood glucose, which can last for a longer time as well. Low glycemic foods tend to cause small blood sugar rises that don't last as long.

Obviously, foods with a lot of sugar in them tend to be very glycemic. But people are sometimes surprised to hear that the starches in foods such as potatoes, bread, and grain products are made up of long strings of glucose, so these foods can be as or more glycemic than sugary foods. Also, the more processed a food is, the more glycemic it will be. So, for example, instant oatmeal in the packets is more glycemic than quick-cooking oats, which in turn are more glycemic than steel-cut oats.

For diabetics, glycemic control is a primary goal.
Pronunciation: gly SEE mik
Also Known As: Related terms are the glycemic index and glycemic load.
Alternate Spellings: glycaemic
Common Misspellings: glyceemic
Examples:
Potatoes and cereal are more glycemic than cabbage and beans.

See the Glycemic Index Food Lists to learn more about the glycemic index of various foods.

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