30 foods with a Low Glycemic Index
The glycemic index measures the speed at which food causes your blood glucose level to rise. It's measured on a scale of 0 to 100, where 50 represents the average response. High-glycemic foods include white bread, pasta, potatoes, rice, and sugary drinks. They all contain lots of simple sugars, which break down into glucose rapidly. This rapid release of energy spikes your blood sugar, causing a sharp increase in hunger.
It's really important to understand two things about low GI foods:
- You cannot change the glycemic index of a food— meaning you can not lower a high GI food. You can, however, eat a high GI food with other food groups to lower the overall impact on blood sugar levels. At the end of the day, GI of foods is fixed.
- How foods are cooked and combined are important when following a low GI diet. Just because is a food has a low glycemic index, does not mean it can be cooked any way and not change the impact on blood sugar. For example, if a sweet potato is boiled, the impact to blood sugar levels is less than if the sweet potato was baked. Knowing how to prepare low glycemic meals will ensure they're balanced and actually support your health and weight goals. (Download our free Starter Kit to help you with this!)
In this article, we’ll focus on all the colorful foods with a low Glycemic Index.
Beans, lentils, peas, and other legumes are some of the lowest-glycemic foods available. They also contain fiber, protein, iron, folate, magnesium, potassium, zinc, and B vitamins.
Beans are a great option for people who want to eat healthier and lose weight. They are high in protein and fiber, and they have a low glycemic index. They are also rich in iron, zinc, folate, and B vitamins. You can find them at any grocery store.
Lentils are a good choice if you’re looking for something different than beans. They are higher in protein than beans, and they are lower in fat and calories. They are also rich with fiber, iron, zinc, and B vitamins.
Peas are a great addition to salads and soups. They are high in fiber, protein, and vitamin C. They are also low in fat and calories.
- Black-eyed peas
Black-eyed peas are a traditional food eaten in many parts of the world. They are high in iron, protein, and fiber. They are also low calorie and low in fat.
- Kidney beans
Kidney beans are a staple in Mexican cuisine. They are high in dietary fiber, protein, and iron. They are also low fat and low in calories.
Chickpeas are a popular ingredient in Middle Eastern dishes. They are high in both protein and fiber. They are low in fat and calories, and they are rich in iron, zinc and B vitamins.
- Adzuki beans
Adzuki beans are a type of bean native to Japan. They are high in antioxidants and fiber. They are relatively low in fat and calories and are rich in protein, iron, and zinc.
Eating nuts and seeds has become popular among dieters because they are high in healthy fats and protein. However, these foods are often overlooked when it comes to weight loss.
Almonds are rich in protein, fiber, vitamin E, and monounsaturated fats. These nuts have been shown to lower cholesterol levels and reduce risk of heart disease. Almond oil contains omega-3 fatty acids, which help maintain brain function and improve memory.
- Brazil Nuts
Brazil nuts are high in selenium, copper, zinc, manganese, iron, and vitamins B6 and E. Selenium helps protect cells from damage caused by free radicals. Copper is necessary for proper blood flow and nerve transmission. Zinc aids in the production of hormones and enzymes. Manganese promotes bone formation and assists in the breakdown of food. Iron is involved in oxygen transport and red blood cell production. Vitamin B6 is essential for normal nervous system function. Vitamin E supports immune system function and may prevent cancer.
Cashews are high in protein, fiber, and vitamin E. They are also a good source of magnesium, copper, and zinc. Cashews are often eaten raw and ground into cashew butter.
Hazelnuts are high in protein, vitamin E, and antioxidants. They are also a great source of dietary fiber and magnesium.
- Macadamia Nuts
Macadamias are high in protein, fat, and vitamin E. Macadamias are also a good source for copper, zinc, and manganese.
Pecans are high in protein, vitamins A and C, and folate. They are also a rich source of copper, zinc, and magnesium.
Pistachios are high in protein, magnesium, and vitamin E.
Related reading: The Low Glycemic Eating 30-Day Diet Plan
Whole grains contain more fiber than refined grains, which means they take longer to digest. This makes them easier to absorb and helps keep blood sugar levels steady throughout the day. They also provide more nutrients per calorie than refined grains.
Quinoa is a grain native to South America and Central America. It is gluten-free and high in protein. It contains all nine essential amino acids and is rich in fiber. It is often referred to as a superfood due to its nutritional value.
- Brown Rice
Brown rice is a whole grain that is packed full of nutrition. It is a great source of vitamins and minerals, including iron, zinc, manganese, copper, thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, vitamin B6, folate, pantothenic acid, biotin, and vitamin E. It is also a good source of dietary fiber.
Oats are a nutritious food that is high in fiber and protein. They have a mild flavor and make a delicious breakfast cereal. Oatmeal is a great way to start your day off right.
- Wild Rice
Wild rice is a type of grass native to North America. It is a complete protein and is loaded with antioxidants. It is a great alternative to brown rice.
- Wheat Germ
Wheat germ is wheat’s seed coat. It is high in protein and fat and is a great addition to breads and muffins.
Amaranth is a leafy green plant that is related to spinach and beets. It is high in fiber and is a good source of protein.
Millet is a small, round grain that is gluten free. It is high in iron and protein and makes a great side dish.
Vegetables are a good source of foods with a Low Glycemic Index.
Broccoli is a cruciferous veggie that contains high amounts of fiber, vitamin C, folate, and antioxidants. It's also low in calories and fat. Broccoli is a great addition to any diet due to its many health benefits.
- Brussels Sprouts
Brussels sprouts are a member of the cabbage family and have been shown to lower cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of cancer. They're also rich in vitamins A and K, manganese, copper, and iron.
Carrots are packed full of beta-carotene, fiber, and vitamin A. They're also a good source of potassium, vitamin B6, and vitamin C.
Cauliflower is a member of the brassica family and is loaded with vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, and dietary fiber. It's also low calorie and low in saturated fats.
- Green Beans
Green beans are a member of the legume family and are a good source of protein, fiber, and vitamin K. They're also low in sodium and calories.
Onions are members of the lily family and are a good way to get your daily dose of vitamin C. They're also a great source of fiber, thiamin, niacin, and pantothenic acid.
- Sweet Potato
Sweet potatoes are a root vegetable that is a good source of vitamin A, vitamin C, and fiber. They're also low calorie and low fat.
Related reading: Naturally lower blood sugar with food
Frequently asked questions about foods with a low glycemic index
What is the lowest glycemic food?
Whole grains like brown rice, oats, quinoa, barley, millet, buckwheat, amaranth, teff, cornmeal, wheat bran, oatmeal, rye flour, spelt flour, and wild rice.
What foods don’t spike the glycemic index?
Foods with a lower glycemic index tend to cause blood sugar levels to rise slowly over time. This means they don't cause a sharp increase in insulin levels, which can lead to weight gain. Some examples include beans, lentils, chickpeas, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, spinach, kale, collard greens, turnip greens, mustard greens, bok choy, rutabaga, parsnips, carrots, sweet potatoes, yams, squash, winter melon, cucumber, celery, onions, garlic, leeks, mushrooms, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, zucchini, summer squash, pumpkin, corn, peas, green beans, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, cranberries, apples, pears, peaches, apricots, plums, nectarines, cherries, oranges, grapefruit, pineapple, mangoes, papayas, bananas, dates, figs, prunes, raisins, dried apricots, and almonds.
Are eggs a low glycemic food?
Eggs contain no carbohydrates, so they don't raise blood sugar levels like other high carbohydrate foods do. This means that if you eat eggs regularly, you won't experience any insulin spikes.
What are the best low glycemic carbs?
Whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, oats, barley, millet, buckwheat, amaranth, teff, sorghum, wild rice, and beans such as black beans, lentils, chickpeas, adzuki beans, navy beans, pinto beans, kidney beans, lima beans, soybeans, mung beans, and fava beans.
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