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Eur J Clin Nutr. 2013 May;67(5):522-31. doi: 10.1038/ejcn.2013.27. Epub 2013 Feb 13.

Is glycaemic index (GI) a valid measure of carbohydrate quality?

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Department of Nutritional Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


Recent criticisms of the glycaemic index (GI) focus on its validity with assertions that GI methodology is not valid, GI values are inaccurate and imprecise, GI does not predict what foods are healthy and that whole grain and fibre are better markers of carbohydrate quality than GI. None of the critics provide sound reasons for rejecting GI because some of their arguments are based on flagrant errors in understanding and interpretation while others are not supported by current data or are inconsistent with other nutritional recommendations. This paper addresses current criticisms of GI and outlines reasons why GI is valid: (1) GI methodology is accurate and precise enough for practical use; (2) GI is a property of foods; and (3) GI is biologically meaningful and relevant to virtually everyone. Current dietary guidelines recommend increased consumption of whole grains and dietary fibre but do not mention GI. However, this is illogical because the evidence that GI affects health outcomes is at least as good or better than that for whole grains and fibre. GI is a novel concept from a regulatory point of view and a number of problems need to be addressed to successfully translate GI knowledge into practice. The problems are not insurmountable but no progress can be made until bias and misunderstanding about GI can be overcome and there is better agreement about what is the actual state of knowledge on GI so that the real issues can be identified and addressed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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