Insulin index

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The Insulin Index is a measure used to quantify the typical insulin response to various foods. The index is similar to the Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load, but rather than relying on blood glucose levels, the Insulin Index is based upon blood insulin levels. This measure 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.


Explanation of Index

The insulin index shows how much insulin is present in people's blood as a result of a particular food, the glucose index shows how much glucose is present in the blood as a result of a particular food, and the satiety index shows how much a particular food decreases one's propensity to eat more.

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 much food was eaten by participants at a buffet after being fed a fixed number of calories of a particular food while blindfolded (to ensure food appearance was not a factor), then dividing that number by the amount eaten by participants 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.

+/- indicate uncertainty in the data. For example 60 +/- 12 means that there's a 95% chance the score is between 60-12 (48) and 60+12 (72), 60 being the highest probability assuming a bell curve. In practice this means that if two foods have large uncertainty and have values close together then you don't really know which score is the higher.


food glucose score insulin score satiety score
Breakfast Cereals
White Bread 100 +/- 0 100 +/- 0 100
All-Bran 40 +/- 7 32 +/- 4 151
Porridge 60 +/- 12 40 +/- 4 209
Muesli 43 +/- 7 46 +/- 5 100
Special K 70 +/- 9 66 +/- 5 116
Honeysmacks 60 +/- 7 67 +/- 6 132
Sustain 66 +/- 6 71 +/- 6 112
Cornflakes 76 +/- 11 75 +/- 8 118
Average: 59 +/- 3 57 +/- 3 134
Carbohydrate Rich Foods
White bread 100 +/- 0 100 +/- 0 100
White Pasta 46 +/- 10 40 +/- 5 119
Brown pasta 68 +/- 10 40 +/- 5 132
Grain bread 60 +/- 12 56 +/- 6 154
Brown rice 104 +/- 18 62 +/- 11 132
French fries 71 +/- 16 74 +/- 12 116
White rice 110 +/- 15 79 +/- 12 138
Whole-meal bread 97 +/- 17 96 +/- 12 157
Potatoes 141 +/- 35 121 +/- 11 323
Average: 88 +/- 6 74 +/- 8
Protein-rich foods
White bread 100 +/- 0 100 +/- 0 100
Eggs 42 +/- 16 31 +/- 6 150
Cheese 55 +/- 18 45 +/- 13 146
Beef 21 +/- 8 51 +/- 16 176
Lentils 62 +/- 22 58 +/- 12 133
Fish 28 +/- 13 59 +/- 18 150
Baked beans 114 +/- 18 120 +/- 19 168
Average: 54 +/- 7 61 +/- 7
Fruit
White bread 100 +/- 0 100 +/- 0 100
Apples 50 +/- 6 59 +/- 4 197
Oranges 39 +/- 7 60 +/- 3 202
Bananas 79 +/- 10 81 +/- 5 118
Grapes 74 +/- 9 82 +/- 6 162
Average: 61 +/- 5 71 +/- 3 169.75
Snacks and confectionery
White bread 100 +/- 0 100 +/- 0 100
Peanuts 12 +/- 4 20 +/- 5 84
Popcorn 62 +/- 16 54 +/- 9 154
Potato chips 52 +/- 9 61 +/- 14 not available
Ice cream 70 +/- 19 89 +/- 13 96
Yogurt 62 +/- 15 115 +/- 13 88
Mars Bars 79 +/- 13 122 +/- 15 not available
Jellybeans 118 +/- 18 160 +/- 16 118
Average: 62 +/- 6 89 +/- 7 108
Bakery products
White bread 100 +/- 0 100 +/- 0 100
Doughnuts 63 +/- 12 74 +/- 9 68
Croissants 74 +/- 9 79 +/- 14 47
Cake 56 +/- 14 82 +/- 12 65
Crackers 118 +/- 24 87 +/- 12 127
Cookies 74 +/- 11 92 +/- 15 120
Average: 77 +/- 7 83 +/- 5 85.4

Something to note: the authors of the satiety study stated that the amount of jellybeans consumed tended to make participants nauseous which may have produced an erroneous satiety score.

The research was supported by grants from The University of Sydney and Kellogg's Australia Pty Ltd.

See also

References

  • SH Holt, JC Miller, and P Petocz, An insulin index of foods: the insulin demand generated by 1000-kJ portions of common foods, Am J Clin Nutr 1997 66: 1264-1276 Am J Clin Nutr free full text PDF
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Please discuss further on the talk page.


  • Mäkeläinen, H, The effect of β-glucan on the glycemic and insulin index, European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 6 December 2006


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