The glycemic index (GI) is a measure used to classify carbohydrate-containing foods based on their ability to cause the blood sugar level to rise. The glycemic index is the rate at which such foods are digested and broken down into simple sugars (glucose) and then absorbed into the bloodstream.
While the rate at which this happens with high GI foods is faster, low GI foods tend to raise the blood sugar level more slowly. According to the American Diabetes Association, one of the most effective ways of managing diabetes is the through the consumption of low GI foods.
Eating diets rich in low glycemic foods is a great way to ensure your blood sugar is regularly maintained at a healthy level. However, there could also be some factors that can affect the GI of a food, including:
- Processing: grains already milled and refined, that is their bran and germ have been removed tend to have a higher GI that grains that were minimally processed.
- Fiber content: foods high in fiber don’t contain many digestible carbs, therefore tend to slow down digestion rate and cause the blood sugar to rise more gradually.
- The physical form of food: A more rapid digestion is associated with finely ground grains compared to the rough and coarsely grounded ones. This is the reason whole grains in their whole form like oats and brown rice can be healthier when consumed that highly processed whole grain bread.
- Acid content and fat content: meats with acid or fat are converted to sugar in a more slower manner.
- The ripeness of the food: such foods as ripe fruits and vegetables tend to be higher in glycemic index than the ones yet to be ripe.
Below is a list of low in GI which is safe for you if you have diabetes. Notwithstanding, you may need to also see which of them is better for you than others based on some other factors. Your personal judgment may be required to make a choice because even if some may have a low glycemic index, they may not necessarily be the healthiest choice for you.
List of Foods Low in Glycemic Index
Glycemic index rank: 52
For long, oats have been considered as a food good for managing and preventing diabetes. This is because it helps keep the blood sugar levels steady for several hours. It’s high fiber content also makes it a good choice for maintaining blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
Glycemic Index rank: 39
Peas are not only low in glycemic index, they also have some other essential nutrients that will help you have good overall health. They are low in calories, rich in vitamin C, fiber content, and considerably high in protein. Since your goal is overall good health, peas are a great food to consider.
#3: Whole Wheat Bread
Glycemic Index: 49
As white bread has been registered as pretty unhealthy in the recent years, it hence boosts the popularity of whole wheat bread. Unlike white bread which ranked 71 in GI, whole wheat bread ranks just 49, making it a great alternative for diabetics. It also packed some additional nutrients to help you maintain your health.
Glycemic Index: 10
Broccoli is found on all healthy food lists. Some people refer to it as a “superfood.” It is an anti-inflammatory food, helping to prevent cancer. It provides your body with plenty of fiber, vitamins, proteins, and minerals. And the low GI of broccoli, which is around 10, makes it a great food to eat without spiking your blood sugar level.
Glycemic Index: 10
Mushrooms do not only add lots of flavor to your meal, they also bring with them their own unique array of nutritional benefits. For instance, studies have found the mushroom shiitake to have specific anti-cancer property, and portabella mushrooms can be used as a meat replacement for vegetarians. With all these benefits, it is also ranked low on the glycemic index table.
Glycemic Index: 13
Sometimes when you feel like snacking, peanut is a great snack to turn to; even for a person with diabetes. This legume is actually very low in GI and could be a good way to hold you up till your next meal. In as much, you are not allergic to peanuts.
Glycemic Index: 53
Considered a staple for a grain-free and gluten-free diet, quinoa has increased in popularity. It also manages to find its way into the low glycemic index foods though it is still pushing against the upper limit of what is thought of as low. It is also rich in protein, vitamins, minerals, and also high in fiber.
#8: Green Beans
Glycemic Index: 15
One of the most popular foods used as a side dish is the green beans. They are very low in GI which means they don’t harm your blood sugar. They are a decent source of Vitamin C and fiber. It is just a great way to ensure your daily nutritional needs are met. The vitamin C present in green beans can help keep your immune system up and the antioxidant resident in the food is the type you can trust to help you against inflammation and free radicals.
Glycemic Index: 40
Having its GI to be 40 on the scale, orange becomes one of the fruits with the highest GI but still low enough for people with diabetes. The vitamin C content of oranges is well-known and could be an excellent fruit choice if you need to help fight symptoms of a cold by boosting your immune system. Prepare them by squeezing them into fresh juice, or eat them on the go. Enjoy the vitamins and minerals loaded up in the fruit.
Glycemic Index: 33
Yogurt has been in the news for several years trending for its ability to help resolve various digestive issues by supplying the body with enough beneficial bacteria. Even though most of these yogurts use artificial sweeteners, there are still some of them devoid of sweeteners you can always opt for.
This is just a short list of 10 foods out of the several low glycemic index foods that you consume without jeopardizing your health. Read about whether you should follow a diet low in the glycemic index here. Read all about high glycemic index foods here.
- Jennie, B., Susan, H., Peter, P. Stephen, C. (2003, Aug 26). Low–Glycemic Index Diets in the Management of Diabetes; A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. American Diabetes Association. 26(8): 2261-2267. Retrieved from http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/26/8/2261
- Fiona, S., Atkinson, Kaye, F., Jennie, C., Brand-Miller. (2008 Dec). International tables of glycemic index and glycemic load values: Diabetes Care, 31; 12, pages 2281-2283. Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/glycemic-index-and-glycemic-load-for-100-foods
- AlEssa, H., Bupathiraju, S., Malik, V., Wedick, N., Campos, H., Rosner, B., Willett, W., Hu, F. B. (2015). Carbohydrate Quality Measured Using Multiple Quality Metrics is Negatively Associated with Type 2 Diabetes. Circulation. 2015; 1-31:A:20. Retrieved from http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/131/Suppl_1/A20.short