Best Guide for Choosing Low Glycemic Index Foods with Charts

The Glycemic Index (GI) for a food is based on how quickly or slowly the carbohydrate in the food is processed and absorbed and increases your blood glucose levels. The rating system essentially depends on the amount and type of carbohydrate in foods. Foods with low GI score tend to release glucose into the blood stream slowly and steadily. By contrast, foods with a high GI score tend release glucose rapidly. GI is assessed compared with pure glucose that is arbitrarily given a GI score of 100. If a food has a GI of 30, this means that its update rate into the blood stream is only 30% compared with pure glucose.

The GI value relates to how quickly the food is broken down, digested and absorbed from the stomach and intestine. If you eat teaspoon of glucose it is absorbed very quickly and enters the blood stream as pure glucose. It you eat a teaspoon of rolled oats the absorption is slower because the carbohydrate is encased in fiber. Similarly the carbohydrate in rolled oats is mostly starch, which must be broken down into glucose or other simple sugars before the body can use it to support its metabolism. Similarly proteins and fats take longer to break down and these foods have a low GI scores.

The Glycemic Index (GI) for a food is based on how quickly or slowly the carbohydrate in food enters your blood stream, compared with pure glucose
The Glycemic Index (GI) for a food is based on how quickly or slowly the carbohydrate in food enters your blood stream, compared with pure glucose

Why is the Glycemic Index Important

Foods with low GI scores are good choices for people trying to lose or control their weight through their diet and food choices. Foods with low GI tend to promote satiety, that is they maintain the feeling of 'being full' for longer. They help delay the onset of 'hunger pangs'. Low-glycemic foods take longer to digest and release sugar gradually. Eating a high GI food can cause a sudden increase in blood sugar. Often this is followed by the onset of 'hunger feelings' as the body craves for more sugar, leading to snacking and overeating.

For example eating 250 g of rolled oats in muesli or porridge for breakfast will delay the onset of 'hunger pangs' for longer that eating 250 g of 'coco pops' (a sugary processed cereal). Rolled oats has a GI of 51 compared with 77 for 'Coco Pops'. For a 100 g serve, rolled oats has 67 g of carbohydrate, 1 g of sugars and 10 g of fiber. In comparison 'Coco Pops' has 86 g of carbohydrate, 33 g of sugars and 2 g of fiber. The type of carbohydrate, as well as its relative concentration, in the food affect the rate at which it is digested and absorbed into the blood stream, and this is reflected in the GI score.

On the other hand, high-glycemic foods help with energy recovery after exercise. They also help people recover from low blood glucose levels (hypoglycemia) which can be harmful.

Glycemic Load Index

Critics of the GI system state that the index does not take into account the quantity of the food and amount of carbohydrate being eaten. To overcome the these issues, researchers developed the Glycemic Load Index (GL), which takes account of the quantity of the food, and cabohydrate being eaten as well as the calculate Glycemic Index value for the food. It is calculated by multiplying the GI by the number of carbohydrates in a standard serving of the food (in grams), and then dividing that number by 100.

The higher the GL, the greater the expected increase in blood glucose it stimulates, and in the insulinogenic effect of the food. The long-term consumption of high quantities foods in the diet with a relatively high GL is thought to be associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

An apple, for example, which is regarded a low GL food, has a GI of 40 and contains 15 grams of carbobydrate per 100 g. So the GL for an apple weight is 6 [(40 x 15)/100 = 6]. By comparison the GL for 100 g of rolled oats is 34 compared with 101 for 'Coco Pops', comparing the foods mentioned previously.

Glycemic Index Catgeories

The GL values for various foods can also be broken down into three ranges:

Low Glycemic Index foods?

Most vegetables

>Certain Fruits

Whole or Minimally Processed Grains

Dairy and Dairy-Substitute Products


Table 1. Glycemic Index for Common Foods in Low, Moderate and High Categories

Grapefruit (120g) 25
Apricots, dried (60g) 32
Apple juice (250g) 39
Apples (120g) 40
Strawberries (120g) 40
Grapes (120g) 43
Bananas (120g) 47
Oranges, raw (120g) 48
Mangoes (120g) 51
Pineapple (120g) 51
Peaches, canned in light syrup (120g) 52
Plums (120g) 53
Fruit cocktail (120g) 55
Lima beans, baby, frozen (150g) 32
Carrots, raw (80g) 35
Tomato soup (250 g) 38
Carrot juice (250g) 43
Parsnips, peeled boiled (80g) 52
Potato, white, boiled (150g) 54
Corn, sweet (80g) 55
Grains, Breads & Cereals
Barley (150g) 22
Chickpeas (150g) 36
Rye kernel bread (30 g) 41
Bran cereal (30g) 43
Oat bran bread (30g) 44
Bulgur wheat, whole, cooked (150g) 46
White rice, boiled (150g) 47
Brown rice, steamed (50g) 50
Instant oatmeal (25 g) 50
Rye flour bread, 50% rye flour, 50% wheat flour (30g) 50
Basmati rice (150g) 52
Instant noodles (180g) 52
Mixed grain bread (30g) 52
Water crackers, whole grain, sesame seeds (25g) 53
Dairy and Dairy Alternatives
Skim milk (250g) 32
Soy milk (250g) 43
Nuts and Legumes
Cashews (50g) 25
Split peas, yellow, boiled (150g) 25
Kidney beans (150g) 29
Black beans (150g) 30
Butter beans (150g) 36
Lentils, canned (150g) 42
Kidney beans, canned (150g) 52
Snacks & Sweets
Hummus (30g) 6
Cake, pound (50g) 38
Ice cream, full-fat, French vanilla (50g) 38
Corn chips (50g) 42
Snickers (60g) 43
Ice cream, low-fat, vanilla, “light” (50g) 46
Sponge cake (63g) 46
Blueberry muffin (60g) 50
Strawberry jam (30g) 51
Oatmeal cookies (25g) 54
Sushi (100g) 55
MEDIUM GLYCEMIC INDEX (between 56 and 69)
Peaches, fresh (120g) 56
Kiwifruit (120g) 58
Figs, dried 61
Dates (60g) 62
Cherries 63
Apricots, canned with light syrup (120g) 64
Raisins (60g) 64
Cantaloupe (120g) 65
Nuts and Legumes
Split pea soup (250g) 60

Black bean soup (250g)
Sweet potato, boiled, (150g) 61
Beetroot 64
Pumpkin (80g) 66
Grains, Breads & Cereals
Pumpernickel bread (30g) 56
Pita bread, white (30g) 57
Wild rice (150g) 57
Bran Buds cereal (30g) 58
Bran Chex cereal (30g) 58
All-Bran (30 g) 60
Hamburger bun (30g) 61
Linguine, fresh, boiled (180g) 61
Muesli bars, with dried apricot (30g) 61
Rye crisp-bread (25g) 63
Macaroni and cheese, boxed (180g) 64
Couscous (150g) 65
Oat kernel bread (30g) 65
Life cereal (30g) 66
Pancakes, homemade (80g) 66
Shredded Wheat cereal (30g) 67
Gnocchi (180g) 68
Taco shells (20g) 68
Bagel, white (70 g) 69
Special K cereal (30g) 69
Snacks & Sweets
Honey, pure (25g) 58
Pastry (57g) 59
Bran muffin (57g) 60
Shortbread cookies 64
Sugar, table (25g) 65
Nutri-Grain bar (30g) 66
Cake, angel food (50g) 67
Croissant (57g) 67
Stoned Wheat Thins (25g) 67
HIGH GLYCEMIC INDEX (70 and higher)
Watermelon (120g) 80
Rutabaga (15 g) 72
Potato, mashed (150g) 83
Potato, instant, mashed, (150g) 88
Potato, microwaved (150g) 93
Grains, Breads & Cereals
White bread (30g) 70
Golden Grahams cereal (30g) 71
Kaiser roll (30g) 73
Barley flour bread, 50% wheat flour, 50% course barley flour (30g) 74
Bread stuffing (30g) 74
Cheerios (30g) 74
Grape Nuts cereal (30g) 75
Total cereal (250g) 76
Waffles (35g) 76
Corn Flakes (30g) 79
Gluten-free bread, multigrain (30g) 79
French bread, fermented with leaven (30g) 80
Tapioca, boiled with milk (250g) 81
Rice cakes, white (25g) 82
Rice Krispies (30g) 82
Muesli (30g) 86
Rice, instant, cooked 6 min. (150g) 87
Rice Chex (30g) 89
French baguette (30g) 95
Dairy and Dairy Alternatives
Tofu, frozen dessert, non-dairy (50g) 115
Nuts and Legumes
Broad beans (80g) 79
Snacks & Sweets
Life Savers, peppermint (30g) 70
Graham crackers (25g) 74
French fries (150g) 75
Doughnuts, cake (47g) 76
Vanilla wafers (25g) 77
Gatorade (250g) 78
Jelly beans (30g) 80
Pizza, cheese (100g) 80
Pretzels (30g) 83
Corn syrup, dark (30g) 90
Glucose (10g) 96
Maltose (50g) 105

Table 2. Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load for 100 g servings of Common Food

FOOD Glycemic index (glucose = 100) Glycemic load for 100g serving
Banana cake, made with sugar 47 23
Banana cake, made without sugar 55 20
Sponge cake, plain 46 27
Vanilla cake made from packet mix with vanilla frosting (Betty Crocker) 42 22
Apple pie, made with sugar 44 22
Apple pie, made without sugar 48 15
Waffles, Aunt Jemima (Quaker Oats) 76 29
Bagel, white, frozen 72 36
Baguette, white, plain 95 50
Coarse barley bread, 75-80% kernels, average 34 23
Hamburger bun 61 30
Kaiser roll 73 40
Pumpernickel bread 56 23
50% cracked wheat kernel bread 58 40
White wheat flour bread 71 33
Whole wheat bread, average 71 30
100% Whole Grain bread (Natural Ovens) 51 23
Pita bread, white 68 33
Corn tortilla 52 24
Wheat tortilla 30 16
All-Bran, average 55 40
Coco Pops, average 77 67
Cornflakes, average 93 77
Cream of Wheat (Nabisco) 66 7
Cream of Wheat, Instant (Nabisco) 74 9
Grapenuts, average 75 53
Muesli, average 66 53
Oatmeal, average 55 5
Instant oatmeal, average 83 12
Puffed wheat, average 80 57
Raisin Bran (Kellogg's) 61 40
Special K (Kellogg's) 69 47
Pearled barley, average 28 8
Sweet corn on the cob, average 60 13
Couscous, average 65 6
Quinoa 53 9
White rice, average 89 29
Quick cooking white basmati 67 19
Brown rice, average 50 11
Converted, white rice (Uncle Ben's®) 38 9
Whole wheat kernels, average 30 22
Bulgur, average 48 8
Graham crackers 74 56
Vanilla wafers 77 56
Shortbread 64 40
Rice cakes, average 82 68
Rye crisps, average 64 44
Soda crackers 74 48
Ice cream, regular 57 12
Ice cream, premium 38 6
Reduced-fat yogurt with fruit, average 33 6
Apple, average 39 5
Banana, ripe 62 13
Dates, dried 42 30
Grapefruit 25 3
Grapes, average 59 9
Orange, average 40 3
Peach, average 42 4
Peach, canned in light syrup 40 4
Pear, average 38 3
Pear, canned in pear juice 43 4
Prunes, pitted 29 17
Raisins 64 47
Watermelon 72 3
Baked beans, average 40 4
Blackeye peas, average 33 7
Black beans 30 5
Chickpeas, average 10 2
Chickpeas, canned in brine 38 6
Navy beans, average 31 6
Kidney beans, average 29 5
Lentils, average 29 3
Soy beans, average 15 1
Cashews, salted 27 6
Peanuts, average 7 0
Fettucini, average 32 8
Macaroni, average 47 13
Macaroni and Cheese (Kraft) 64 18
Spaghetti, white, boiled, average 46 12
Spaghetti, white, boiled 20 min, average 58 14
Spaghetti, wholemeal, boiled, average 42 9
Corn chips, plain, salted, average 42 22
Fruit Roll-Ups 99 80
M & M's, peanut 33 20
Microwave popcorn, plain, average 55 30
Potato chips, average 51 24
Pretzels, oven-baked 83 53
Snickers Bar 51 30
Green peas, average 51 5
Carrots, average 35 3
Parsnips 52 5
Baked russet potato, average 111 22
Boiled white potato, average 82 14
Instant mashed potato, average 87 11
Sweet potato, average 70 15
Yam, average 54 13
Hummus (chickpea salad dip) 6 0
Chicken nuggets, frozen, reheated in microwave oven 5 min 46 7
Pizza, plain baked dough, served with parmesan cheese and tomato sauce 80 22
Pizza, Super Supreme (Pizza Hut) 36 9
Honey, average 61 48