Food With High Glycemic Index List


Food With High Glycemic Index List. Glycemic index and glycemic load are among one of the food concepts most requested by viewers of my YouTube channels and social media pages. I store in this article a table with the most important foods with high glycemic index. You can also see glycemic index chart. The Lowest Glycemic Index Foods list includes: beans, whole grains, fresh fruits, nuts and seeds.

Food With High Glycemic Index List

Focus on these when you’re at the grocery store — and remember a farmer’s market might have some great picks, too:

Produce: Look for colorful fruits and vegetables, such as berries, oranges, apples, yams, broccoli, spinach, and bell peppers. Naturally cholesterol-free and low-fat, fruits and vegetables are the foundation of a good diet.

Whole grains: Oats, quinoa, barley, and whole wheat offer up fiber, complex carbohydrates, and protein. Look for breads, pastas, and cereals made with a variety of whole grains.

You will need to avoid certain grains, though, if your doctor says you can’t eat gluten or you have celiac disease, which affects your small intestine.

Be sure to read the labels to make sure the products you buy are also low in fat, sugar, and sodium.

Meat and beans: Choose skinless cuts of chicken or turkey breasts, and lean cuts of meat such as pork tenderloin and beef round, sirloin, or tenderloin. Read labels to be sure the meat is at least 92% fat-free.

Buy protein-rich beans such as black, soy/edamame, kidney, or garbanzo beans.

Nuts and seeds: Snack on them or use as garnishes in salads and pastas. Stock up on the plain varieties. When you buy natural-style peanut butter or almond butter, look for products that contain just the nuts, or just nuts and salt.

Dairy/calcium: Look for low- or reduced-fat products (yogurt, milk, and cheese), as well as canned fish such as tuna, sardines, and salmon.

If you’re lactose-intolerant or vegan, try calcium-enriched or fortified cereals and juices, and green, leafy vegetables, to fill the calcium gap.

Vitamin D, which helps you take in more calcium, is often added to dairy products, some cereal products, and margarine. It’s also found naturally in fish and egg yolks.

Omega-3-rich foods: Most of us aren’t getting enough of this good fatty acid in our diets.

You find these fats in fish. Cold-water fish such as salmon, tuna, halibut, herring, and mackerel have higher amounts. You can also find plant omega-3 fatty acids in walnuts and ground flaxseed.

Also look for foods enriched with it. These may include eggs, dairy, soy products, breads, cereals, and pasta.

“Good” oils: Some oils can be good for you. Olive oil can help raise the level of your “good” cholesterol (HDL). Look for other vegetable-based oils: canola, soy, and sunflower.

Plant sterol-enriched foods: Plant sterols and stanols are substances that help block cholesterol from being absorbed in your small intestine.

They are found naturally in foods in only tiny amounts. You can get some plant sterols from produce, nuts, seeds, and legumes, but not nearly the 2 grams a day recommended for people with high cholesterol.

If you need more, look for sterol-enriched foods such as margarine spreads, some yogurt or low-fat milk, some fruit juices, and some cereal. Be sure to read the labels to make sure the food is not also high in fat and sugar.

Foods to Avoid

Some nutritionists recommend avoiding certain aisles in the supermarket. Bypass rows with bakery items, crackers, cookies, and other foods high in saturated fat.

In general, avoid items if any of these things appear high on the food label’s ingredient list:

Trans fats: These are bad for you and can be found in packaged snacks such as pastries, cookies, crackers, and some types of margarine. Read the nutrition facts to see all the fats in the product.

Other foods that are often filled with trans fats: biscuits, breakfast sandwiches, microwave popcorn, cream-filled candy, doughnuts, fried fast foods, and frozen pizza.

Salt: Too much sodium can help raise your blood pressure. You probably already know not to have too much canned soup and salty snack foods. Did you know it can also lurk in breads and rolls, cold cuts and cured meats, pizza, some chicken, and some fast-food sandwiches?

You might be surprised how often it’s found in frozen foods, too. When in doubt, read labels. Try not to get more than 2,300 to 2,400 milligrams per day.

Sugar: Yes, it tastes so good. But too much might cause problems with weight gain, heart disease, and diabetes as well as cholesterol. Easier said than done, but try to limit how much of this you eat and drink.

You probably know many of the “usual suspects”: soda, sweet tea, candy, cakes, cookies, and ice cream, among others.

But did you know sugar is added to things you might not even think about — from spaghetti sauce to fast food? That also includes many tomato ketchups, breakfast bars, and even tonic water.

The lesson: Read labels. And here are common added sugars to check for:

  • Brown sugar
  • Corn sweeteners and syrup
  • Dextrose and fructose
  • Fruit juice concentrates
  • Glucose
  • High fructose corn syrup
  • Lactose
  • Maltose
  • Sucrose

Foods that have one or more of those things listed high on the ingredient list may have a lot of sugar.

What are high and low glycemic index foods?

Foods with a high glycemic index (GI) raise blood sugar quickly and may cause health issues if someone eats too many of them. Eating a low GI diet may help to prevent and manage diabetes and cardiovascular disease. A person may also manage their weight with a low GI diet as part of an overall healthful eating approach.

This article explains what the GI is, and which foods are high and low GI items. It also outlines the benefits of a low GI diet and gives an example of a low GI meal plan.

What is the glycemic index?

A low GI option of gluten-free green buckwheat pancakes with fresh berries and maple syrup.
IriGri8/Getty Images

The glycemic index (GI) is a measurement that ranks foods containing carbohydrates according to how much they affect someone’s blood sugar. The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) rank foods from 1–100 and use pure glucose, with a GI of 100, as a reference.

The Glycemic Index Foundation (GIF) classify the GI of foods as either low, medium, or high:

  • low GI is 55 or less
  • medium GI is 56–69
  • high GI is 70 or greater

The American Diabetes Association provide a list of common foods and their GI. They note that some sources use white bread as a reference point instead of pure glucose.

Glycemic load (GL) is another measurement that some experts believe gives a more realistic picture of how foods affect blood sugar. GL considers the amount of carbohydrate in a portion of food, as well as its GI.

People can use the glycemic index to help them choose healthful foods and monitor how much sugar and carbohydrates they eat. This approach can help someone manage their weight or a health condition such as diabetes.

Factors that affect the glycemic index of foods

The GIF explain that several factors influence how fast a particular food raises someone’s blood sugar. These factors can include:

  • how refined the carbohydrate is
  • the physical and chemical structure of the food
  • the cooking method
  • how much fiber the food contains
  • how much protein, fat, and acid the food contains

Generally speaking, refined and processed carbohydrates metabolize into glucose more quickly. Foods with fiber, protein, and fats release glucose more slowly, so they have a lower GI. Longer cooking times can break foods down, which means that someone consuming those foods absorbs glucose quicker.

Foods high in GI to avoid 

Someone who wants to manage their weight or diabetes can find out the GI of foods from the International Tables of Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load Values. According to the table, the following foods are high in GI:

  • white and whole wheat bread
  • white rice
  • breakfast cereals and cereal bars
  • cakes, cookies, and sweet treats
  • potatoes and fries
  • chips and rice crackers
  • fruits such as watermelon and pineapple
  • sweetened dairy products such as fruit yogurts

People following a low GI diet can eat foods with a medium GI of 56–69, but less frequently than low GI foods. Food with a medium GI includes rye bread and raisin bran cereal.

Benefits of a low glycemic index diet

Besides those short-term effects, dysregulated blood glucose can have longer-term health effects such as insulin resistance and diabetes.

According to the International Carbohydrate Quality Consortium (ICQC), there is a consensus that diets low in GI and GL are relevant to the prevention and management of diabetes, coronary heart disease, cancer, and probably obesity.

Research suggests that a low GI diet may be beneficial and help prevent some health issues.

Being aware of the GI of foods may help people control their blood sugar and prevent or delay complications relating to diabetes. Research suggests that low GI diets may help people with diabetes lower their blood sugar levels.

A 2019 review notes that low GI diets can reduce long-term markers of blood sugar control, body weight, and fasting blood sugar levels in people with prediabetes or diabetes.

A low GI diet may also help with gestational diabetes. This is a condition where someone develops high blood sugar while pregnant, which usually resolves after they give birth.

A 2016 meta-analysis suggests that for people with gestational diabetes, eating a low GI diet may reduce the risk of macrosomia. This is a condition that results in larger-than-average babies, which can lead to numerous short- and long-term complications for both the person giving birth and the baby.

A 2014 studysuggests that in addition to controlling glucose and insulin metabolism, a low GI and energy-restricted diet may also help to reduce body weight.

High GI foods may also affect mood and energy. A 2016 study indicated that among healthy weight and adults with overweight, eating a high GL diet resulted in a 38% higher likelihood of depressive symptoms and a 26% higher score for fatigue and inertia.

A 2019 meta-analysis indicates a relationship between high GI and GL diets and coronary heart disease. Another 2019 meta-analysis notes an association between a high GI diet and colorectal, bladder, and kidney cancers.

Example of a low GI meal plan

The following are examples of meal options for someone following a low GI meal plan:

Breakfast options

Some low GI breakfast options may include:

  • scrambled eggs with smoked salmon
  • buckwheat pancakes with berries
  • breakfast quesadillas with black beans, spinach, and mushrooms

Lunch options

Low GI lunch options can include:

  • black bean soup
  • mango chicken and almond on rye bread
  • cauliflower and celeriac soup

Dinner options

Low GI dinner options can include:

  • lamb shanks with barley, garden peas, and mint
  • Tex-Mex tofu soft tacos
  • Indian-style spiced vegetable and cheese parcels

Snack options

Low GI snack options can include:

  • a slice of cinnamon, oat, and almond loaf
  • homemade full-of-fruit muffins
  • roasted soy nuts

When planning meals it may prove useful to count carbs. By managing carbs using the GI, people may be able to better control their blood sugar levels.

Drawbacks of a low GI diet

A person may find following a low GI diet somewhat complicated. A person needs to know the GI of all the foods on their plate, which can prove problematic when a meal has many ingredients. Following a low GI diet can limit what options someone has when eating out in restaurants.

A person also needs to consider the amount of fiber, fats, and protein in a meal to see how much the meal as a whole may affect their blood glucose.

A 2015 study advises that people need to consider low GL and GI in the context of overall healthful eating. According to a 2018 , fiber and whole grains are essential components of a healthful diet and may predict health outcomes better than GI.

Therefore it may be more important for people to be conscious of the GI of foods while maintaining a balanced and healthful diet.


A person may want to follow a low GI diet to manage their weight or health condition. To do so, they can find out the GI of foods and make a meal plan. A person should also consider other aspects of a balanced and healthful diet, such as fiber and whole grains, in that planning.

Low GI diets may be beneficial for preventing and managing insulin resistance, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Planning a low GI diet is potentially complex, however, so a person might consider enlisting the advice of a registered dietitian.

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