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Insulin index


The Insulin Index of a food represents how much it elevates the concentration of insulin in the blood during the two-hour period after the food is ingested. The index is similar to the Glycemic Index (GI) and Glycemic Load (GL), but rather than relying on blood glucose levels, the Insulin Index is based upon blood insulin levels. The Insulin Index represents a comparison of food portions with equal overall caloric content (250 kcal or 1000 kJ), while GI represents a comparison of portions with equal digestible carbohydrate content (typically 50 g) and the GL represents portions of a typical serving size for various foods. The Insulin Index can be more useful than either the Glycemic Index or the Glycemic Load because certain foods (e.g., lean meats and proteins) cause an insulin response despite there being no carbohydrates present, and some foods cause a disproportionate insulin response relative to their carbohydrate load.

Holt et al. have noted that the glucose and insulin scores of most foods are highly correlated, but high-protein foods and bakery products that are rich in fat and refined carbohydrates "elicit insulin responses that were disproportionately higher than their glycemic responses." They also conclude that insulin indices may be useful for dietary management and avoidance of non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus and hyperlipidemia.

The Insulin Index is not the same as a glycemic index (GI), which is based exclusively on the digestible carbohydrate content of a food, and represents a comparison of foods in amounts with equal digestible carbohydrate content (typically 50 g). The insulin index compares foods in amounts with equal overall caloric content (250 kcal or 1000 kJ). Insulin indexes are scaled relative to white bread, while glycemic index scores nowadays are usually scaled with respect to pure glucose, although in the past white bread has been a reference point for GI measurements as well. In the chart below, glycemic and insulin scores show the increase in the blood concentration of each. A higher satiety score indicates how much less was eaten from a buffet after participants ate the listed food.


Glucose (glycemic) and insulin scores were determined by feeding 1000 kilojoules (239 kilocalories) of the food to the participants and recording the area under the glucose/insulin curve for 120 minutes then dividing by the area under the glucose/insulin curve for white bread. The result being that all scores are relative to white bread. The satiety score was determined by comparing how satiated participants felt within two hours after being fed a fixed number of calories (240 kilocalories) of a particular food while blindfolded (to ensure food appearance was not a factor), then dividing that number by how satiated the participants felt after eating white bread. White bread serves as the baseline of 100. In other words, foods scoring higher than 100 are more satisfying than white bread and those under 100 are less satisfying. The satiety score was negatively correlated to the amount eaten by participants at a subsequent buffet.


Mean average glucose, insulin and satiety scores
Food Food Type Glucose score Insulin score Satiety score
All-Bran Breakfast Cereal 40 ± 7 32 ± 4 151
Porridge Breakfast Cereal 60 ± 12 40 ± 4 209
Muesli Breakfast Cereal 43 ± 7 46 ± 5 100
Special K Breakfast Cereal 70 ± 9 66 ± 5 116
Honeysmacks Breakfast Cereal 60 ± 7 67 ± 6 132
Sustain Breakfast Cereal 66 ± 6 71 ± 6 112
Cornflakes Breakfast Cereal 76 ± 11 75 ± 8 118
Average: Breakfast Cereal 59 ± 3 57 ± 3 134
White bread(baseline) Carbohydrate-rich 100 ± 0 100 ± 0 100
White Pasta Carbohydrate-rich 46 ± 10 40 ± 5 119
Brown pasta Carbohydrate-rich 68 ± 10 40 ± 5 188
Grain bread Carbohydrate-rich 60 ± 12 56 ± 6 154
Brown rice Carbohydrate-rich 104 ± 18 62 ± 11 132
French fries Carbohydrate-rich 71 ± 16 74 ± 12 116
White rice Carbohydrate-rich 110 ± 15 79 ± 12 138
Whole-meal bread Carbohydrate-rich 97 ± 17 96 ± 12 157
Potatoes Carbohydrate-rich 141 ± 35 121 ± 11 323
Average: Carbohydrate-rich 88 ± 6 74 ± 8 158.6
Eggs Protein-rich 42 ± 16 31 ± 6 150
Cheese Protein-rich 55 ± 18 45 ± 13 146
Beef Protein-rich 21 ± 8 51 ± 16 176
Lentils Protein-rich 62 ± 22 58 ± 12 133
Fish Protein-rich 28 ± 13 59 ± 18 225
Baked beans Protein-rich 114 ± 18 120 ± 19 168
Average: Protein-rich 54 ± 7 61 ± 7 166.3
Apples Fruit 50 ± 6 59 ± 4 197
Oranges Fruit 39 ± 7 60 ± 3 202
Bananas Fruit 79 ± 10 81 ± 5 118
Grapes Fruit 74 ± 9 82 ± 6 162
Average: Fruit 61 ± 5 71 ± 3 169.75
Peanuts Snack/confectionery 12 ± 4 20 ± 5 84
Popcorn Snack/confectionery 62 ± 16 54 ± 9 154
Potato chips Snack/confectionery 52 ± 9 61 ± 14 91
Ice cream Snack/confectionery 70 ± 19 89 ± 13 96
Yogurt Snack/confectionery 62 ± 15 115 ± 13 88
Mars Bars Snack/confectionery 79 ± 13 122 ± 15 70
Jellybeans Snack/confectionery 118 ± 18 160 ± 16 118
Average: Snack/confectionery 65 ± 6 89 ± 7 100.1
Doughnuts Bakery product 63 ± 12 74 ± 9 68
Croissants Bakery product 74 ± 9 79 ± 14 47
Cake Bakery product 56 ± 14 82 ± 12 65
Crackers Bakery product 118 ± 24 87 ± 12 127
Cookies Bakery product 74 ± 11 92 ± 15 120
Average: Bakery product 77 ± 7 83 ± 5 85.4
Average: Average 67.333 ± 5.7 72.5 ± 6 135.7
Average: ALL 68.8 ± 12.7105 72 ± 9.5 136
Food Food Type Glycemic Index score Insulin Index score Satiety score

  • Mäkeläinen H, Anttila H, Sihvonen J, et al. (June 2007). "The effect of β-glucan on the glycemic and insulin index". Eur J Clin Nutr. 61 (6): 779–85. doi:10.1038/sj.ejcn.1602561. PMID 17151593. 
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Wikipedia

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