What is the Glycemic Index?

The glycemic index is a means of measuring the impact of carbohydrates on blood sugar levels. Where, previously, the total carbohydrate count of foodstuffs was analysed prior to consumption, the glycemic index looks at how these carbohydrates are metabolised and the result of this metabolism on blood sugar levels. As blood sugar levels determine energy levels, this information is crucial to athletes and individuals who require a steady and controlled release of energy. The GI value of foodstuffs is generally found in the profile of the particular product printed on the packaging. They will be rated as having very low GI, low GI, medium GI or high GI values.

Why is the Glycemic Index important?

A rise in blood sugar levels causes the pancreas to produce insulin in order for cells to absorb enough blood sugar to maintain energy levels. When cells have absorbed what they need and some energy reserves have been stored, blood sugar runs low and the pancreas begins to produce glucagon, which stimulates the release of stored sugar. This process ensures that cells throughout the body and, in particular, the brain have a constant supply of this sugar. A glycemic spike occurs when high GI foods are consumed that raise blood sugar to levels that require further insulin secretion, which will then prompt cells to respond quickly in absorbing this glucose. Far from being filled with energy, such rapid absorption causes individuals to feel sluggish, irritable or depressed. The implication for diabetics is obvious, and very low GI foodstuffs are an essential part of their diet. However, new evidence is also emerging of a link between carbohydrates with a high glycemic index and a greater risk of coronary heart disease.

At the heart of it

Recent studies have suggested that the glycemic index is a very useful weapon in the fight against coronary heart disease. Though in no way conclusive, studies involving a significant number of both men and women have found what seems to be a direct correlation between high glycemic index diets and a related risk of heart disease. Researchers calculated the total carbohydrate intake, the glycemic index of those carbs and the glycemic loads of the diets of individuals. A follow-up after a number of years showed that, of those on a high glycemic diet, a significant number of women had developed coronary heart disease. Men, however, did not seem to be as affected, which researchers tentatively put down to the difference in how lipoproteins and glucose are metabolised by the different sexes.

Sweet success

Happily, and thanks to the producers of AMMA chocolate, chocolate doesn’t have to be on the ‘no go’ list. This innovative and earth-friendly company produces a delicious chocolate bar (Gula Merah) using coconut sugar, which has a glycemic index value of only 35, as opposed to the 60 to 75 measure of regular sugar. Added to this is the fact that in 2014 coconut palm sugar was named as the most sustainable sweetener by the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation. This chocolate producer realises the role that a healthy environment plays in human wellbeing and is equally committed to both. It not only practices organic soil management, but also relies on the use of solar panels in its factories, biodegradable packaging and vegetable ink for printing.

Nature or Nurture

When this question is applied to AMMA chocolate products, it can safely be said that the rich and unique flavours of AMMA chocolate relies on both. Always mindful of preserving the coastal rain forest of north-eastern Brazil, the company’s cacao trees are, sustainably, allowed to flourish, while in the shade of the Atlantic Forest in southern Bahia, almond trees are encouraged to produce the finest nuts. Their fruits are then harvested at precisely the right time. Careful selection, natural drying and a long fermentation process ensures that the antioxidant power of the chocolate will be at its peak.

Natural Selection

Whether restricted by diet or simply wanting to follow a healthier lifestyle, both men and women will find an AMMA chocolate to delight their palate. Fruity nuances along with a variety of flavour combinations such as coffee or almonds add further delicious taste to that for which the cacao bean is so loved. From the intense chocolate explosion of AMMA’s Gulah Merah bar to the sweet saltiness of Flor do Mar, chocolate can be enjoyed without experiencing that dreaded glycemic spike. For the undecided, there are also mini samples available, which contain a tantalising mix of the ultimate tastes in a healthy chocolate experience.