15 Low Glycemic Foods for Diabetics

low glycemic index foods indian

India is a country that’s in love with its food. And not just spicy, tangy or exotic items. But also, some of the most flavorful and mouth-watering sweet dishes. But unfortunately, not every Indian can enjoy these preparations. Medical surveys have found that one person in every six Diabetes patients around the world is from India. Since these statistics show no sign of receding today, it could probably be time for Indians to upgrade their diet. Glycemic Index is a world renowned measure used by dieticians to plan a healthy nutrition plan for Diabetics. Here’s how it can be a good addition to your Indian kitchen! 

What is the Glycemic Index?

The first thing your dietician might suggest you to do is watch out for your daily glycemic load. Ever wondered what that is? Glycemic meaning glucose is a simpler form of carbohydrate which is created after breakdown of food in the stomach. Of all the kinds of sugars present in food, glucose retains in the blood for the longest period of time. Therefore, glycemic content of a food is an essential factor to be considered while planning your Diabetes diet.

But does this mean you have to calculate the carb content of every food item? Definitely not! This is where you need the Glycemic Index (GI) table. G.I. is an international scale which depicts the rate at which a food item is converted into glucose molecules after consumption. Food items with values closer to 100 are called high GI foods, while those with values closer to 0 are called low glycemic foods.  

Glycemic Index Range:

  • High GI index: More than 70 units as per the scale.
  • Medium GI index: Between 55 to 69 units.
  • Low GI index: 55 or less value in the GI scale.

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Why Should Glycemic Index Matter to Me?

Knowing about the carbohydrate content of your food can be a new step in your journey to good health. More than curing Diabetes, a GI based diet helps you to make your meals matter, in terms of their nutritive quality. In case strength building is one of your future health goals, this might be your time to switch to a low GI diet!
  • Helps to Manage Daily Diet: Popping pills is a tough job for all Diabetics. But it's tougher to resist the urge to indulge in sumptuous meals. Fortunately, a low GI diet can resolve that problem for you! You can mix and match different GI foods to make one healthy meal for yourself.
  • Speeds Up Weight Loss: For a Diabetic, taking natural fibre and following a strict exercise regime cannot help with the stubborn belly fat. What’s needed is a fat-burning diet. And that’s where the G.I. scale can help you! Keep this scale as your handy companion while you walk your road to fitness.
  • Controls Cholesterol Levels: Wondering why your cholesterol levels are shooting up even without fried food? Well, sugar could be your culprit. Excess glucose can easily convert into bad cholesterol. So it is time to nip the problem in the bud!

List of Low & High Glycemic Food Items

Do you think just because your favorite vegetable mix has many vitamins, it is free of carbs? Well, dieticians would say otherwise! Seemingly guilt-free food items like Oats and strawberry can shoot up your blood sugar within minutes. So, what you need isn’t just conscious eating, but a careful eating plan. And your first step to careful eating is the glycemic index food chart. This simple table of high and low GI foods can help you make your meals high in nutrients and low in sugars. Use the list below to make your own charts, and keep adding food items as you try new recipes! diabetes kit

List of Low & High Glycemic Food Items:

Glycemic Index of Fruits Chart:

Fruits Glycemic Index

Banana

51 

Mango

51

Papaya

 60

Watermelon 

 76 

Guava 

12 ±11.3

Apples

36 

Muskmelon 

65 

Pomegranate

18 

Grapes

 59

Orange

 43

Dates

42 

Pineapple

 59 ± 8

Pear

 30

Kiwi

39 

Strawberry

 49

Glycemic Index of Vegetables Chart:

Vegetables Glycemic Index

Pumpkin

75

Onion

10 

Potato

78 

Broccoli

 10

Cabbage

 0-10

Green Peas

 22

Radish

 8

Carrots

 16

Jackfruit

 50–60

Tomatoes

 very low GI, less than 15

Beetroot

 61

Brinjal 

 15

Ladyfinger

 20

Cucumber

15 

Peppers

 15

Glycemic Index of Grains Chart:

Grains Glycemic Index

Rice

73 

Basmati rice (wholegrain)

Less than 55

White rice (boiled)

73 ± 4

Parboiled rice

67±5

Black rice

42

Wild rice

57

Red rice

55

Wheat

74 ± 2

Oats

55 

Barley

28 

Jowar

77 

Foxtail Millet

 54 - 68

Corn

 52

Poha

 Low GI

Peanuts

 13

Quinoa

 53

Chickpeas

28 ± 9

Couscous

65 ± 4

Muesli

57 

Spaghetti

46 

Glycemic Index Food Chart of Other Items:

Food Item Glycemic Index

Noodles

53 

Bread

 75

Milk

 39

Barley

 28

Cheese

Very low GI

Fish

0

Mutton

0

Chicken

0

Beef

0

Egg

0

Low Glycemic Fruits

Fruits are the go-to snacks for all Diabetics. Naturally, your diet plan should start with the right choice of fruits. So, here is something to make your snacking healthy!

  • Guava (G.I. 11.3-12): If it isn’t the color that attracts you, the benefits of Guava for Diabetics is sure to raise your eyebrows. Their antioxidants make them a yummy choice to beat stress, infections and eye problems. Not to forget that it also keeps your heart happy. So, do you need an excuse to plunge into Guavas today?
  • Pomegranate (G.I. 18): Antioxidant, anti-tumor, antiviral and rejuvenator - there is nothing that this fruit can’t do! It can support your weight loss diet, while keeping a check on your blood sugars. Did we mention that it clears your complexion too?
  • Pear (G.I. 30): The only fruit that doesn’t differentiate between any Diabetic is the pear. And let us tell you why! It not only lowers blood sugars, but also prevents aggravation of Diabetes from early stages. In case weight loss is the prime aim of your low GI diet, this should be on the top of your diet!
  • Apples (G.I. 36): There are many reasons to eat this fruit every day and we are here to add one more! This low sugar fruit is safe for all kinds of Diabetics. It supports gut function to improve sugar metabolism. If your Diabetes is leading to heart troubles, this can be the fruit of choice for you!
  • Kiwi (G.I. 39): Here’s your share of tang for your Diabetes-friendly fruit salad! Kiwis are a rich source of Vitamin C, the dynamic nutrient that can single handedly boost your heart, gut and skin health. And the best news - they come under low GI foods!

Low Glycemic Vegetables

All vegetables are essential for a nutritious diet. But some veggies are more essential than others. This is a list of top 5 vegetables that are must-have for every Diabetic.

  • Onion (G.I. 10): The Glycemic Index of onion is only one aspect of its goodness. You may be surprised to know that it also carries some rare minerals and vitamins for overall health. Its benefits for bones, muscles and heart are equally acclaimed by science. So, next time chopping onions makes you cry, think about this!
  • Broccoli (G.I. 10): The benefits of green vegetables have been repeated to the point of redundancy – but we have come up with a better reason this time! Green veggies, especially Broccoli, are highly beneficial to keep your blood sugars in check. Its high fiber content nullifies the carbs you consume throughout the day, giving you a healthy gut and healthier body!
  • Tomatoes (G.I. Less than 15): Add colour to your curries with this antioxidant rich food! Other than its tangy flavour, it is also beneficial as a heart tonic. Tomatoes speed up your digestion and strengthen the muscles. In the long run, it can enhance your eyesight as well!
  • Radish and Carrot (G.I. 8-16): Both of these veggies are low in sugars and high in natural fiber. Most importantly, they protect eyesight from degradation by blood sugars. Your diet is sure to be incomplete without carrots and radish!
  • Brinjal (G.I. 15): If Diabetes has hollowed your bones, then Brinjal is Ayurveda’s recommendation for you! It works on your digestive system and brain to keep you at the best of your health. Don’t forget to check out its benefits for the skin, before you procrastinate on this one!

Low Glycemic Grains:

No more gorging on bowls of rice! With a little insight about the Glycemic Index of grains, you can make your meals shed those invisible carbs. Here’s a list to get you going!

  • Poha (Low G.I.): Most versatile grain of all Indian kitchens is Diabetes friendly too! Poha contains an assortment of vitamins and antioxidants that can keep away your blood sugar anxieties for once, and for all. The plus point is that it's open to versatile combinations!
  • Peanuts (G.I. 13): Not much a fan of nuts? Well, there is great news for you! Peanuts can be a healthy alternative if you are aiming to eat less, but get more in every bite. From proteins to minerals, there isn’t anything you can’t find in a handful of peanuts every day.
  • Chickpeas (G.I. 28 ± 9): If you get bored with the regular taste of food, chickpeas are here to save the day! These nutritious grains can supplement your needs for meat or eggs. They easily blend with Indian spices, giving you a happy meal on every plate. So, keep them as your regular garnish for curries, salads and mix vegetable dishes.
  • Spaghetti (G.I. 46): Add the panache of Italy to your plate with Spaghetti! It’s a Sodium and cholesterol free preparation that easily gels with all kinds of sauces, curries and vegetable mixes. Not to mention the goodness of folic acid wrapped in every forkful!
  • Corn (G.I. 52): A close competitor to other whole grains, corn has many health benefits for Indian Diabetics. It helps you to fulfil your vitamin and mineral requirements without compromising on your taste. And the biggest advantage is that one corn meal is enough to keep you energetic all day!
     

Other Low Glycemic Food Items:

Does following a GI diet mean goodbye to all yummier foods? Not really! In fact, using the Glycemic Index can help you plan your taste escapades without risks of implications.

Barley (G.I. 28): Here is another doctors’ favourite to brighten up your platter! Barley is the preferred grain of every Indian kitchen owing to its traditional roots. It is a great means to improve your intestinal health. Being low in the glycemic index, it can effectively cut down cholesterol, triglyceride and gallstones as well.
Cheese (G.I. Very Low): Surprised to find your favourite on this list? Use it as a garnish or grate and bake, the choice is yours! Cheese is a healthy alternative to other fat filled dairy products like Mayonnaise. Use it to make your boring lunches into appetizing!
Animal Proteins (G.I. 0): There is nothing wrong in being a meat lover, especially if you are a Diabetic. In addition to being a source of digestible proteins, animal products, like fish, eggs etc. add a new variety of fatty acids to your diet. These molecules can help you burn up excess blood sugars, while keeping your digestion in its prime. Word of advice – don’t go overboard with your oil and spices while you cook animal proteins. Remember, more oil means more GI index!

Noodles: There are a lot of noodle options available that have a low GI and are gluten-free: buckwheat (soba) noodles; cellophane noodles, also known as Lungkow bean thread noodles or green bean vermicelli, are made of mung bean flour. Rice noodles made of ground or pounded rice flour are also low GI.

Milk: Milk is very low on the glycemic index chart (15 to 30) but it is very high on the insulin index (90 to 98). Milk contains sugars in the form of lactose. However, various research shows that pure lactose has little to no effect on either glycemic or insulin indexes.

Eggs: Eggs have a very low glycemic index and hence do not affect blood glucose levels. Eggs are satiating food and hence can decrease caloric intake, which may also help to improve glycemic control.

Beans (kidney beans, black beans, white beans): Much like drumsticks, these are also a healthy source of plant proteins and minerals. They strengthen the heart muscles and cut down blood sugar molecules. If you are a Diabetic with preference for taste, Beans can be a good additive to every meal!

Whole Grain Bread: When going to the market for buying bread read the ingredients label carefully and carry only that loaf that has ‘wholegrain’ mentioned in it. It was found that simply switching to whole grain from white bread improves sensitivity to insulin. More coarse the bread, better it is as it will slower digestion.

Cranberries: Owing to the presence of abundant phytonutrients like anthocyanins in them, cranberries are especially beneficial in a diabetic meal plan. You can eat half a bowl of fresh cranberries or have it as a juice. You could also consider adding them to you fruit salads or smoothies.

Fish: Baked, broiled or steamed fish is a good meal for diabetics and it reduces the risk of developing heart problems linked to diabetes.

Dalia / Cracked Wheat / Porridge: You might have heard that dietary fibre is essential for health. But thanks to cracked wheat your fibrous breakfast doesn’t have to be tasteless. This power packed whole grain is good for every part of your body. It cleanses the gut and helps to prevent complicated diseases like cardiovascular disorders.

Ragi or Nachni: Rich in natural proteins, Ragi is a great dietary supplement for everyone. It increases the cellular regeneration rate to improve your skin, hair and muscle quality. Better yet, it helps to shed excess body weight by improving your digestive fire.

Bitter Gourd (karela): Opposites always cancel out each other and that’s why this bitter vegetable has made it to our list. Bitter Gourd helps to digest sugar molecules consumed through food. It provides essential dietary fibre to keep your gut in an optimum state. So, if you have digestive issues, go ahead and make yourself a bitter gourd juice!

Fenugreek (methi) seeds: Fenugreek is a classic spice all around the world, mainly for its flavour. But latest research has shown that it can be an equally good choice for people suffering from Diabetes. It not only reduces blood sugars, but also helps to lower cholesterol, control cravings and boost metabolism. All in all – a complete health package!

Drumsticks: Don’t mistake these as a simple salad ingredient. Drumsticks are as beneficial as tasty for a Diabetic’s gut. They contain some rare vitamins and minerals that help to detoxify the blood. To top it up, they can strengthen your bones and regulate blood sugar levels day in and day out.

Conclusion

The goodness of food reflects in your health, but if you are a Diabetic it can reflect in your blood sugar level too. So, mind your diet and choose wisely before you relish!

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5 comments

  • I am keen to know if this suggested dosage should be taken in addition to my allopathic prescribed medication or should it be taken as replacement?

    I am Diabetic Type 2 over past 9 years with good control. My Hb1ac is 7.5

    Satyen H Parikh
  • Makes sesnse
    Good information
    Thank you

    Prathap Singh
  • Informative.

    Ambika
  • Nice Info. Never realized about the benefits of Barley

    Asha
  • Really Very good Information.

    MC Kumara

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