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Am J Clin Nutr. 2008 Jan;87(1):237S-243S.

Glycemic impact, glycemic glucose equivalents, glycemic index, and glycemic load: definitions, distinctions, and implications.

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New Zealand Institute for Crop & Food Research Ltd, Palmerston North, New Zealand.


Glycemic impact, defined as "the weight of glucose that would induce a glycemic response equivalent to that induced by a given amount of food" (American Association of Cereal Chemists Glycemic Carbohydrate Definition Committee, 2007), expresses relative glycemic potential in grams of glycemic glucose equivalents (GGEs) per specified amount of food. Therefore, GGE behaves as a food component, and (relative) glycemic impact (RGI) is the GGE intake responsible for a glycemic response. RGI differs from glycemic index (GI) because it refers to food and depends on food intake, whereas GI refers to carbohydrate and is a unitless index value unresponsive to food intake. Glycemic load (GL) is the theoretical cumulative exposure to glycemia over a period of time and is derived from GI as GI x carbohydrate intake. Contracted to a single intake of food, GL approximates RGI but cannot be accurately expressed in terms of glucose equivalents, because GI is measured by using equal carbohydrate intakes with usually unequal responses. RGI, on the other hand, is based on relative food and reference quantities required to give equal glycemic responses and so is accurately expressed as GGE. The properties of GGE allow it to be used as a virtual food component in food labeling and in food-composition databases linked to nutrition management systems to represent the glycemic impact of foods alongside nutrient intakes. GGE can also indicate carbohydrate quality when used to compare foods in equal carbohydrate food groupings.

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