14 Low Glycemic Foods for a Healthy Diet
While growing up, every one of us was probably told to take it easy while having candy or any sweet treats because of all the sugars in them. Modern diets like ketogenic diet have declared war on the carbs because it’s believed that all the carbs are bad.
Let me assure you that it’s not the case. Carbs have been an essential part of our diet from ages and they are our body’s preferred energy source. To understand which carbs sources are good and which ones are bad, you need to understand “Glycemic Index.”
Hearing it for the first time? — Don’t worry. We have dedicated this article to help you know about glycemic index and why you should know about it.
For those of you who are looking for foods that have low glycemic values, we’ve created a list of 14 Low Glycemic foods that you can have.
What is glycemic index?
Glycemic Index is used to categorize the carbohydrates containing foods. When carbs are digested, our body absorbs it and then they flow in our bloodstream. Not all types of carbs are absorbed in the same way.
Some are absorbed pretty quickly and raise our blood sugar level immediately. While some are gradually absorbed and thus they don’t cause a spike in our blood glucose level.
GI is calculated for any food in comparison to glucose. Pure glucose has the GI value of 100 and all the other foods are given this value in reference to glucose. For a food to have a GI value of 40 means that it can boost your blood sugar levels by only 40% as compared to glucose.
When a food has a high glycemic index it means it is digested and absorbed very quickly. The lower a food is on the GI scale the slower it is digested.
Why should you care about Glycemic index?
There’s a lot to say on this but for now we’ll briefly go through the health hazards of foods with high glycemic index here.
Let’s see what Harvard has to say on this. According to a study, experts analyzed diets and eating habits of 138,000 people. Collected the data and organized in 7 groups each having a GI value. Following up after 9 years, they found that people who ate high glycemic foods faced more strokes, heart attacks and deaths. It also increases the chance of type 2 diabetes and weight gain.
The reason behind this is sudden fluctuations of sugar and insulin levels. Due to sudden rise in glucose level a spike is also observed in insulin level eventually causing blood sugar levels to fall rapidly. This sudden rise and fall of blood sugar levels can result in frequent cravings and overeating.
Why Diabetic patients care more about GI values?
There’s a clear relation between diabetes and glycemic index. Diabetic patients have to avoid sudden rises and falls in their blood sugar levels because their pancreas isn't able to process all that sugar quickly.
That’s why if you are diabetic, you should stay away from high GI foods. On the other hand low glycemic foods will help you maintain your sugar level as they’re digested gradually.
So what Glycemic index (GI) values are considered low?
GI scale starts from 0 and goes up to 100. Foods which contain no carbs aren’t given any GI value.
Below is the standard for low, medium and high GI values.
Low GI: Below 55
Medium GI: 55 to 70
High GI: Above 70
List of 14 low glycemic foods:
Here is what you are actually looking for, a list of foods that are low glycemic.
There’s a reason why we call buckwheat a superfood. It is gluten free, has all essential amino acids, high fiber content and low glycemic index.It is actually a seed but tastes and behaves like cereals and so called pseudocereal.
Roasted buckwheat groats are a snack for low glycemic dieters. Not just this but this seed is versatile. You can make many different recipes with buckwheat. Head Over to our community where we share recipes and interact with you.
You can shop our buckwheat groats here.
GI value of Buckwheat: 49 to 55
Legumes are high in protein and fiber. They contain small amounts of carbohydrates. The American Heart Association (AHA) has stated that high intake of fiber has the potential to reduce cholesterol and low density lipoprotein (LDL).
Fibers can also help you in losing weight by making you feel full.
Here are GI values of some legumes:
- Green lentils: 22
- Red lentils: 21
- Kidney beans: 24
- Soybeans: 14
- Black beans: 30
According to Healthline mushrooms are low in sugar and carbs. They also have anti-diabetic properties.
All mushrooms contain Vitamin B2, B3, phosphorus anti-oxidants like Selenium. Vitamin B has some really vital functions including improved brain performance as well.
GI value of Mushrooms: 10 to 15
4. Whole grains:
Whole grains like oats, quinoa, brown rice and barley have many nutritional benefits. They are also low on glycemic index.
Remember, not all whole grains have low glycemic value. For example wheat, one of the most popular whole grains, is on the higher side of the glycemic index.
- Barley GI: 28
- Brown rice GI: 50
- Quinoa GI: 53
- Oats GI: 50 - 55
Every other vegetable has its own nutritional benefits. They contain a number of vitamins and ions necessary for our bodies. Having enough veggies in our diet can also reduce the risk of certain diseases like cancer, heart diseases and stroke.
In addition, most of them have low glycemic values especially non starchy vegetables. Here are the GI values of some veggies.
- Carrot GI: 16
- Radish GI: 28 - 32
- Tomatoes GI: less than 15
- Eggplant GI: 10
- Peppers GI: 15
- Okra GI: 20
- Onion GI: 10
- Cucumber GI: 15
6. Green leafy vegetables:
Green leafy vegetables also have a low glycemic index. They have few calories that make them perfect for weight loss. And they are packed with essential vitamins and minerals.
There are a variety of green leafy veggies and they can be consumed in many different ways as well. Here we have mentioned some of them with their GI value.
- Cabbage GI: 10
- Broccoli GI: 15
- Kale GI: 2 - 4
- Cauliflower GI: 5 - 15
- Spinach GI: 15
- Lettuce GI: 15 - 20
Who doesn’t know the importance and benefits of fruits? They are loaded with essential vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
Also fruits can prevent many diseases like heart attack and obesity. This is because of their nutritional composition.
However, not all fruits are low on glycemic index. So here is a list of low glycemic fruits.
- Apple GI: 39
- Pear GI: 38
- Apricot GI: 28 - 35
- Peach GI: 42
- Guava GI: 12 - 20
- Grapes GI: 53
8. Citrus Fruits:
Citrus fruits, a great source of vitamin C, have low GI values. They contain high fiber content which is good for your digestive health. They are low in calories and provide you with some powerful nutrients that are necessary for our body.
Let’s have a look at their GI values.
- Oranges GI: 40
- Grapefruits GI: 25
- Pomelo GI: 30
9. Blueberries and Strawberries:
Berries are one of the most famous fruits which are used in smoothies and shakes. Do you know they are keto friendly as well? Berries have low quantities of carbs so you can also enjoy them on a keto diet.
Berries are rich in vitamin C. They contain antioxidants and fibers in high amounts. Berries are also good for your skin.
- Blueberry GI: 53
- Strawberry GI: 41
10. Nuts and Seeds:
Nuts and seeds have a very low glycemic index ranging from 0 - 30. And have some amazing nutritional benefits. They are packed with vitamins, minerals and other essential nutrients.
Dry fruits are also very healthy. The only thing that is different between a fruit and its dried version is water.
Dry fruits have little to no water content. That’s why they are called dry fruits.
Stop munching on junk food. Replace them with nuts and your body will be thankful for it.
- Almond GI: 0
- Cashew GI: 22 - 25
- Pistachio GI: 15
- Peanuts GI: 14
- Macadamia nuts GI: 10
- Walnuts GI: 0 - 5
11. Almond and coconut milk:
Almond milk is rich in Vitamin E which is an antioxidant. It also has important functions in our brain activity.
Coconut milk contains minerals like magnesium, copper and manganese. In small quantities coconut milk can help improve heart health.
- Almond milk GI: 25 - 27
- Coconut milk GI: 40 - 42
We have different types of cheese available in the market. And they contain different amounts of carbohydrates which affect its GI value.
Cheese is considered a low glycemic food. However, consuming it in large quantities can affect your health. It is high in fats and calories which makes it unsuitable for weight loss enthusiasts. So you better watch out if you are on a diet.
Cheese GI: 0 - 15
13. Peanut butter:
Who doesn’t love peanut butter? Thankfully it stays low on the glycemic index chart. Continue enjoying your peanut butter because it doesn’t cause a spike in blood glucose level.
If you’re a diabetic patient make sure you eat in moderate quantities.
Peanut Butter GI: 14 - 16
14. Foods that don’t contain carbs:
GI value: 0
Foods that don’t contain any carbohydrates have 0 glycemic index. They won’t affect your blood sugar levels. Following is a list of such foods.
In a nutshell:
Glycemic index is the measure of how fast or slow carbs are digested and absorbed by our body. High glycemic index means carbs will be digested pretty quickly. This suddenly increases the blood glucose level and the decline is pretty much the same.
Everyone should be careful while having foods with high glycemic index if you are concerned about your health. Diabetic patients should especially avoid high glycemic foods as they have to keep their sugar levels in a healthy range.
Foods that don’t contain any carbohydrates have 0 GI value.
Many green veggies, fruits and nuts are low on the glycemic index as we have discussed.
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