Importance of glycemic index in diabetes

Am J Clin Nutr. 1994 Mar;59(3 Suppl):747S-752S. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/59.3.747S.


To date there are 11 medium to long-term studies that have specifically used the glycemic index (GI) approach to determine the clinical gains in diabetes or lipid management. All but one study produced positive findings. On average, low-GI diets reduced glycosylated hemoglobin by 9%, fructosamine by 8%, urinary C-peptide by 20%, and day-long blood glucose by 16%. Cholesterol was reduced by an average of 6% and triglycerides by 9%. These are modest improvements but so too were the changes to the diet. Unlike high-fiber diets, low-GI diets are "user friendly." As part of studies on the GI of foods, we determined the glycemic and insulin responses to 44 foods containing simple sugars. Their mean (+/- SE) GI was 62 +/- 14, which compares favorably with bread (GI = 73, glucose = 100). There was often no difference in the GI between the sweetened and unsweetened product. The time has come to reassess the value of GI in planning meals for diabetics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Blood Glucose / drug effects
  • Blood Glucose / physiology*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / diet therapy
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / metabolism*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / diet therapy
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / metabolism*
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / pharmacology
  • Humans


  • Blood Glucose
  • Dietary Carbohydrates