It is important to get to know the glycemic index of the foods that we regularly consume if we want to maintain healthy blood sugar levels. I have shared a list of low glycemic foods from all food groups from fruits, vegetables, cereals and grains to nuts and dairy. Use this as a guide to choose foods that are low in glycemic index.
What Is Glycemic Index?
Glycemic is the measure of the effect of carbohydrates on our blood glucose levels. Consuming high glycemic foods regularly will lead to wild fluctuations in our blood sugar levels. Paying attention to the glycemic index of the foods we regularly consume will help maintain stable blood sugar levels. If we just make it a point to include natural unprocessed high fiber foods, we will be very healthy.
What Are Low GI foods?
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.
Benefits Of Low Glycemic Index Foods
- Improves blood sugar levels so it is good for diabetic patients who suffer from high blood sugar levels.
- Low glycemic foods increase satiety and are more filling and satisfying so it is good for people who are on a weight loss diet as it keeps one fuller for long periods of time.
- Usually low glycemic index foods are high in fiber so they help reduce cholesterol levels. If you are suffering from high cholesterol levels, consider taking low glycemic index foods regularly.
- Another benefit of low glycemic index diet is it is rich in vitamins and minerals as it is basically a whole food diet that contains ingredients in its natural form.
- Regularly consuming low glycemic index foods cuts down the risk of heart disease and high cholesterol drastically.
- Since low glycemic index foods are not processed, it has a positive effect on our digestive system when we consume them regularly.
Who Will Benefit From Low Glycemic Index Diet?
- People suffering from type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Also people who are prediabetic and women suffering from gestational diabetics will also benefit consuming low glycemic index foods.
- People who are overweight and are on a weight loss diet will benefit as it keeps one fuller for long periods of time.
- Women who suffering from poly cystic ovarian syndrome also will benefit with this diet.
- People who are suffering from fatty liver disease will greatly benefit consuming low glycemic index foods.
- Finally people with high cholesterol levels also will benefit with this diet as it helps bring down the cholesterol levels very effectively.
Switching To Low Glycemic Index Diet
Switching to low glycemic index diet need not be complicated. Just get to know the glycemic index of foods and start replacing the high glycemic index foods with low glycemic index foods as much as you can. Also you don’t have to avoid high glycemic index foods altogether.
You can have it along with low glycemic index foods, this will bring down the overall glycemic value of food. Also you don’t have to calculate glycemic index precisely every single day. Once you have an idea about the approximate glycemic values of the foods you regularly consume, you can make good choices.
Some Surprising Facts About Low Glycemic Index Diet
Not all foods with high fiber have a low glycemic index value, only foods with soluble fibre like oats, apple have low index value. Though whole wheat bread is healthy than white bread, both have almost similar glycemic index value (differs very slightly) and the same is the case for whole wheat pasta and regular pasta. This is because insoluble fiber does not slow digestion like soluble fiber and when foods are ground finely, it rises blood sugar levels just like refined product does.
What Is Considered Low Glycemic Index?
Ingredients with GI value of 55 or below is considered low glycemic index. Anything above is considered moderate to high glycemic index.
Low Glycemic Food Swaps:
- If you are consuming processed cereals for breakfast, try swapping it with muesli, oats porridge or our traditional Indian breakfast.
- If you are consuming desserts like cakes and pastries regularly, try swapping them with yogurt topped with muesli and fruits. It will satisfy your sweet cravings but without rising the blood sugar levels.
- If you are consuming sweet drinks regularly, try swapping them with fruit smoothies. They are more filling and does not rise blood sugar levels drastically.
- If you are consuming snacks like french fries and potato chips, try swapping them with vegetables dipped in hummus.
- Try swapping processed grains with unpolished whole grains. Like for instance, for lunch try swapping white rice with quinoa.
List Of Low Glycemic Index Foods:
Most vegetables except potatoes and pumpkin (high GI), beetroot and carrots (moderate GI) have a low GI ranging between 6 to 55. In vegetables, asparagus, ladies finger, zucchini, turnips, celery, greens, ridge gourd, bottle gourd, cauliflower, lettuce, broccoli, cabbage, lettuce, mushrooms, spinach, capsicum, beans, tomatoes and eggplant have a very low GI.
Except dried fruits and few fruits like banana, papaya, mango, pineapple and watermelon, most of the fruits are low in glycemic index. In fruits, cherries, plums, grapefruit, peach, apricots, apples, pears, strawberries, oranges and grapes are all low in glycemic index. Their glycemic index ranges from 22 to 55.
Usually grains fall almost in medium glycemic index range. In grains, barley, rolled oats, quinoa, broken wheat are all good choices. The glycemic index of these grains fall in the range between 45 to 55. Parboiled brown rice has a GI of 64 depending on the variety of brown rice as opposed to boiled white rice which has a GI of 83. If you want to consume rice, always consume it with lentils so the overall glycemic load is less.
Almost all dairy products fall in the low glycemic index range. This includes milk (both full fat and low fat), yoghurt, smoothies made with milk and yoghurt, cheese and all drinks made with milk like hot chocoloate, milk porridge, etc. Instead of consuming fruit juice which has a high GI, you can make them into smoothies with little bit of grass fed milk or yogurt.
Generally nuts have a low glycemic index ranging approximately around 20 to 25. In nuts, peanuts have a GI of about 23, cashew nuts 22, almonds 25 and walnuts 20 so try to include nuts in moderation in your diet on a regular basis. Instead of snacking on processed foods that are high in GI, try munching on raw nuts.
6. Pulses & Lentils
Glycemic index of pulses and lentils range between 10 to 25. Chickpeas have a GI of 10, kidney beans 25, soya beans 15, pinto beans, regular lentils 18, black beans 30, red lentils, pigeon pea 22, black beans 20, butter beans 28, mung beans 25 and storebought baked beans have a GI of 40
7. Pasta & Noodles
Pasta and noodles fall in the lower to middle glycemic index category and it is best to consume pasta made with whole grains as it contains more fiber and adding vegetables to your pasta dishes will reduce the glycemic load considerably. Fresh lasagna sheets have medium glycemic index of 49, Durum wheat linguine has about 46, whole wheat spaghetti pasta has about 46, Soba noodles which is a combination of whole wheat and buckwheat has about 59.
Regarding beverages, all commercial sodas and fruit drinks that are devoid of fiber have a high GI. Juices and smoothies that retain the fiber have a low GI. Generally fruit smoothies approximately have a GI of 30 to 35. Instead of drinking fruit juices consider making them into smoothies and leave the fiber intact instead of juicing and throwing the much important fiber away.