Learning the glycemic index of foods is very important as it helps us make better choices with food. I have already shared the list of low glycemic foods that we should regularly include in our diet. I wanted to share the list of high glycemic index foods so you can avoid them completely especially if you are suffering from high blood sugar levels. Try to avoid these foods as much as you can and if you really want to consume them, consume them along with low glycemic foods so it reduces the overall glycemic load.
What Is Glycemic Index?
Glycemic index is the measure of how carbohydrates in the foods we consume affect our blood sugar levels. Foods that have very less effect on our blood sugar levels are called low GI foods. The carbohydrates in low glycemic index food will break down slowly during digestion resulting in gradual release of glucose into the bloodstream.
7 Top High Glycemic Foods To Avoid:
1. Sugary Drinks:
It is best to avoid high sugar energy drinks as they usually have a glycemic index of almost 100. Also try to avoid rice milk as it has a GI of 79. Soft drinks have a GI ranging between 60 to 65, though it is less compared to energy drinks and rice milk, it is very bad for our health so try to avoid it completely.
Also try to avoid juicing fruits and try to consume them whole as the fiber helps reduce the glycemic index. For example unsweetened orange juice has a GI of 53 whereas whole orange has a GI of around 30 depending on the variety.
2. Starchy Vegetables:
In vegetables, starchy vegetables like boiled potato has a GI ranging from 80 to 95 depending on the variety and how it is prepared. Boiled pumpkin has a GI of 64 and yam, cassava and boiled sweet potato are also have slightly higher GI compared to other vegetables. But you don’t have to avoid them completely as they are rich in nutrients, just make it a point to have them with low glycemic index foods.
3. Fiber Less Snacks:
In snacks, most of the processed snacks that we get in the markets like pancakes, waffles, cupcakes, muffins, cakes and doughnuts have high glycemic index ranging from 70 to 100. Even energy bars, fruit bars and oat bars also have a high glycemic index so have them in moderation. Popular snacks like popcorn and puffed rice are all high in glycemic index.
4. Sugary Cereals:
In cereals, try to avoid sugary processed ones like corn flakes, fruit loops, puffed wheat cereal, rice krispies, etc. They have a glycemic index of more than 90. Instead of sugary cereals, try to consume whole grain foods with fiber and if you are used to consuming oats, try to consume steel cut oats which has a lower glycemic index than instant oats.
5. Water Melon:
In fruits, watermelon (72) scores the highest. Some fruits which fall in the middle category are mango (50 to 55), pineapple (56) and ripe banana (51). When it comes to these fruits, try not to juice them and always consume them along with fibre intact. You can also add them to smoothies along with little bit of milk to reduce the overall glycemic load.
6. White Bread
When it comes to bread, try to avoid bread with refined flours completely. White bread has a very high glycemic index (75 to 90) so if you are a diabetic patient, try to avoid white bread completely. Even though whole grain and whole wheat bread are high in glycemic index (70 to 74), they are good for our health as they are rich in vitamins and minerals so consume them along with vegetables to decrease the overall glycemic load.
7. White Rice
Traditionally in our village, we used to consume only hand pounded rice which falls in the medium glycemic index category. But unfortunately now white rice is getting more and more common and along with it health problems are also increasing. Also try to avoid white vermicelli and white rice noodles as they have high glycemic index too. Try to consume unpolished rice, black rice or red rice along with vegetables and lentils like we traditionally do and it will not spike blood sugar levels at all.
Important factors that affect the glycemic index of a food
- How we cook our food has an impact on the glycemic index. The longer the food is cooked, the faster the sugar will be digested and absorbed thus leading to a high glycemic index.
- Generally the more refined an ingredient, higher the glycemic index will be.
- The type of starch also has an impact on the glycemic index. Starch contains two types of molecules – amylose and amylopectin. Foods with higher amylose content will have a lower glycemic index.
- The more the fiber, the lesser the glycemic index will be so always choose foods with fibre. Almost all processed foods lack fiber which is one of the main reasons they are very high in glycemic index.
- Ripeness of an ingredient also has an impact on the glycemic index. The more ripe the fruit is, higher the glycemic index will be.
- The types of sugars also will have an impact on the glycemic index for example maltose has a GI of 105 whereas lactose has a glycemic index of 46 which is one of the reasons for the low glycemic index of milk.
Sample Indian Low Glycemic Index Plan:
The diet plan that I have mentioned below is actually one of the regular daily food menus that we follow in most homes in our village. As you can see, it is very low in glycemic index thus keeping our blood sugar levels very stable throughout the day….
Ragi dosa with peanut chutney: Though ragi dosa falls almost in the middle glycemic index, when we pair it up with peanut chutney the glycemic load decreases drastically. It also keeps us full till lunch without any hunger pangs in between.
Brown rice with dal, poriyal (vegetable stir fry), rasam and a cup of curd. Like ragi dosa, brown rice falls in the upper middle glycemic index range but when we pair it up with lentils, curd and vegetables it reduces the overall glycemic load.
Broken whole wheat upma along with vegetable kurma (they taste good together): This is also a very nutritious but low glycemic index meal that will not raise blood sugar levels.