Glycemic index values of traditional Kenyan foods: the missing link in the effectiveness of dietary approach in the prevention and management of diabetes mellitus in Kenya

  • Rebecca Ebere
  • Jasper Imungi
  • Violet Kimani
Keywords: Glycemic index; glycemic load and glycemic response; Kenya.


Background: Glycemic index (GI) measures postprandial blood sugar after consumption of carbohydrate-rich foodstuff. Kenya is yet to fully embrace this concept in prevention and management of diabetes mellitus.

Objective: To review and tabulate GIs of locally consumed foods in order to improve dietary management of diabetes mellitus.

Methodology: A literature search was conducted using Google scholar and PubMed databases which identified 7 articles on glycemic index values of Kenyan foods published between 2002 and 2020. Two articles failed to meet the inclusion criteria and five proceeded for review. Key search words used included GI, glycemic load and glycemic response combined with Kenya. The data was reported depending on whether the testing involved healthy individuals or patients suffering from diabetes mellitus.

Results: Nine individual foods and 7 mixed meals were identified. Low GI foods included beans and whole maize ugali consumed alongside cowpea leaves. High GI foods included whole maize ugali eaten with beef, boiled rice, boiled cassava and cassava-sorghum ugali eaten with silver fish.

Conclusion: Proper meal mixing is important in diabetes management. Cowpea leaves and beans possess GI lowering po- tential. This information can be used to improve guidance on food choices for diabetes patients.

Keywords: Glycemic index; glycemic load and glycemic response; Kenya.


Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1680-6905