Low Glycemic Foods Every Diabetic Should Try

Low Glycemic Foods Every Diabetic Should Try

The glycemic index categorizes foods containing carbohydrates based on how much they increase glucose levels in the blood after consumption. The greater the glucose spike, the higher the glycemic index score. These scores are often referred to simply as a food’s GI rating.

In order to keep blood glucose levels steady, the American Diabetes Association suggests consuming foods with lower GI scores.1 When high-GI foods are consumed, it’s best to balance them with foods with lower scores. When low-GI foods are consumed at most meals, it’s easier to keep blood sugar levels under control so that diabetes is less of a concern.

Type II diabetes is often the result of consistently high blood sugar levels, which is typically the result of a diet rich in simple carbohydrates. Creating meals that are low on the glycemic index is an easy way to prevent complications like gout and amputation. Since low-GI foods are generally low in calories and fat, eating these foods can also help with weight loss. In turn, weight loss often helps diabetics reduce their reliance on medication for diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and other medical conditions.

Low-Glycemic Vegetables

Most healthy eating plans recommend filling up on vegetables, especially those that fall low on the glycemic index. These foods are rich in vitamins and minerals that help diabetics feel light and energetic, and they’re loaded with fiber to keep the digestive track healthy. For those who need to lose weight in order to prevent or control diabetes, these low-fat, low-calorie vegetables will fill the stomach without interfering with weight loss goals.

Here are 10 of the healthiest vegetables and their GI scores:2

  1. Asparagus – 15
  2. Broccoli – 15
  3. Brussel sprouts – 15
  4. Cauliflower – 15
  5. Celery – 15
  6. Cucumber – 15
  7. Eggplant – 15
  8. Green beans – 15
  9. Kale – 15
  10. Lettuce – 15

Low-Glycemic Fruits

Anyone with a sweet tooth should consider stocking up on low-GI fruits because they contain natural sugar without the fat and added chemicals found in candy bars, cupcakes, and other sweet treats. Look over this list of 10 low-glycemic fruits that are suitable for a diabetic diet:3

  1. Apples – 36
  2. Banana – 51
  3. Blueberries – 25
  4. Cherries – 22
  5. Dates – 42
  6. Grapefruit – 25
  7. Mango – 51
  8. Orange – 43
  9. Peaches (canned) – 43
  10. Pineapple – 59

Most fruits do have GI scores that are noticeably higher than the vegetables listed above. This is why vegetables typically make up the core of a diabetic diet. Foods with a GI score below 55 are generally considered the healthiest, so many fruits are still acceptable. Some people do find that any type of fruit causes a significant spike in blood sugar, in which case combining fruit with other low-GI food selections may help.

Low-Glycemic Legumes

Legumes are a great source of protein for vegetarians, but they’re also rich in fiber and can help reduce hunger between meals. Diabetics can combine them with low-glycemic grains or consume them alone as a snack or meal. It’s important to keep in mind that seasoning, sauces, and cooking practices can easily raise the overall GI score. Canned beans may also have higher GI scores than dry beans.

Take a look at this list of the healthiest legumes in terms of the glycemic index:4

  1. Black-eyed peas – 50
  2. Butter beans – 36
  3. Chickpeas – 28 to 42
  4. Kidney beans – 24 to 52
  5. Lentils – 21 to 32
  6. Navy beans – 31
  7. Pinto beans – 45
  8. Soy beans – 16
  9. Yellow split peas – 32

Low-Glycemic Grains and Cereals

Where do bread, rice, and other grains fall on the low-GI diet? Many people assume that they have to give these foods up after receiving a diabetes diagnosis, but this isn’t true. Diabetics can consume some grains and cereals without spiking their glucose levels too much, and it’s unnecessary to eliminate all grains when trying to prevent diabetes or lose weight.

This list of some low-GI grain and cereal options will help all diabetics make healthy choices:5

  1. All bran – 30 to 50
  2. Barley – 28
  3. Couscous – 65
  4. Muesli – 40 to 57
  5. Rice noodles – 53
  6. Rolled oats – 51
  7. Spaghetti noodles – 50
  8. Udon noodles – 55

Low-Glycemic Dairy

It doesn’t hurt to add a little cheese to an omelet or enjoy a cup of cold milk as a diabetic or someone trying to prevent diabetes. Many dairy products fall into the category of protein rather than carbohydrates, and they can have a GI score as low as zero. Here is a sneak peek at some of the healthiest options and their GI scores:6

  1. Full-fat milk – 39
  2. Ice cream – 51
  3. Provolone cheese – 0
  4. Sharp cheddar cheese – 0
  5. Skim milk – 37
  6. Swiss cheese – 50
  7. Yogurt (fruit) – 41
  8. Yogurt (plain) – 36

Final Note on GI Scores

The glycemic index scores listed here are close estimates. The exact score for any food will depend on whether it’s fresh or canned and how it’s prepared. Knowing where a food falls on the list in general will help diabetics determine how it might impact blood glucose levels.

It may seem like a time-consuming process to determine the GI score for every food consumed, especially when making meals with a long list of ingredients. The good news is that most people quickly learn the GI scores for foods that are consumed regularly. The longer the GI diet is followed, the faster meal planning and preparation becomes for most diabetics.