The glycemic index (GI) is a measure of how food can affect the blood sugar levels in the body. The foods on the index are compared to glucose levels ranging from 1-100.
High carbohydrate-containing foods that break down into glucose more quickly have a high GI (70 and above). Foods that have a glycemic index between 56 and 69 are medium GI foods. Foods that tend to break down slowly have a low GI (1 -55) as they increase blood sugar levels gradually.
Consumption of foods with a low GI can help keep the blood sugar levels in check and lowers the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. Most of the foods with low glycemic index are rich in fiber and help reduce the levels of Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL) or bad cholesterol in the body.
Whole grains contain soluble and insoluble fiber that help to metabolize fats and keep the digestive tract healthy.
Whole grains such as barley, buckwheat, rolled oats, quinoa, rye, and brown rice are low GI foods. It provides a steady and slow release of glucose into the bloodstream.
The glycemic scores of whole grains are barley (28), bulgur (48), buckwheat (45), brown rice (48), and quinoa (53).
Regular consumption of whole grains lowers blood cholesterol levels and keep blood sugar levels under control.
Most legumes such as chickpeas, dried beans, soybeans, pinto beans and peas have a low glycemic index score.
Legumes are good sources of fiber and protein that help lower serum cholesterol levels.
Chickpeas have a glycemic index score of 22, green beans (15), lima beans (38), pinto beans (45), and soybeans (30).
Essential minerals like potassium and magnesium in beans help reduce high blood pressure. Regular consumption of legumes improves glycemic control, reduces the chances of diabetes in pre-diabetcs and reduceds risk of coronary heart disease.
Non-starchy vegetables like carrots, mushrooms, onions, eggplant, and radish have low glycemic index scores.
Carrots contain vitamin A that helps improve vision and immune system. The fiber content in carrots helps the digestive system stay away from gastric ulcer and digestive disorders. Carrots have a glycemic score of 41.
Mushrooms not only add flavor to the food but also benefit health as it has a low glycemic score of 10.
Other non-starchy vegetables such as onion and red peppers also have a glycemic score of 10; artichoke has 15 and asparagus has 14.
Green Leafy Vegetables
Green leafy vegetables such as kale, cabbage, broccoli, and lettuce are known as superfoods as they are dense in essential nutrients.
Kale is rich is vitamin A and C, fiber, potassium and has a low glycemic score of less than 5.
Cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower are known for their anti-cancer and heart disease preventing characteristics. Cauliflower has a glycemic score of 15.
Cabbage is a rich dose of vitamin C that helps strengthen the immune system. The glycemic score of cabbage is 10.
Broccoli is rich in antioxidants that help prevent cancer, diabetes and coronary heart disease.
Broccoli has a very low score of 10 on the glycemic index scale and does not spike the blood sugar levels. It is a superfood that provides fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals in just one spread.
Citrus fruits such as oranges and grapefruit are good sources of fiber. Eating the whole fruit rather than the juice can lower the risk of diabetes.
Citrus fruits are rich in vitamins and minerals, especially vitamin C, which helps boost the immune system.
Folate and potassium in oranges may help normalize blood pressure.
Oranges have a glycemic index score of 40. Grapefruit has one of the lowest glycemic index scores of all fruits with a score 25.
Include orange and grapefruit in the diet in the form of salad to benefit overall health.
Berries such as blueberries, strawberries are low glycemic index foods packed with antioxidants, vitamins and fiber.
The American Diabetic Association has called berries as a superfood for diabetics.
Consuming berries reduce blood glucose levels in type 2 diabetics. Blueberries have a glycemic score between 40 and 53.
Blueberries can be added to low-fat yogurt to make a great dessert.
Strawberries have a low glycemic index score of 40. They pair well with a bowl of high-fiber breakfast cereal.
Apples and Pears
Pears are a great option to keep the blood sugar levels down. The glycemic index score of a pear is 38.
Pears are healthier when eaten with the peel. They provide over 30 percent of the daily recommended fiber intake.
Apples are one of the best fruits as it contains soluble fiber, vitamins and minerals. Soluble fiber in apple slows down the conversion of its carbohydrates into glucose.
The high water content of apples increases the feeling of fullness without adding on the calorie count.
Apples have an average glycemic index score of 39.
Low-Fat Dairy Products
Dairy products (except for sweetened condensed milk and ice cream) have low glycemic index and are less likely to cause spikes in blood sugar levels.
But, whole-milk products are high in saturated fat and increase the risk of heart disease in diabetics.
Low-fat dairy products such as skimmed milk and yogurt are smart choices for diabetics because they have low glycemic index scores.
Skimmed milk has a glycemic score of 32 while low-fat yogurt has a glycemic score of 33.
Intake of low-fat dairy products reduces the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 9 percent.
Dried fruits are considered to have high glycemic index due to its high sugar content.
But, some dried fruits such as apples, plums, apricots, peaches and pears have low glycemic index.
However, it is advised that dried fruits should be taken in moderation. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics suggests checking the label for no added sugars before purchasing dried fruits.
Five slices of dried apples have a glycemic score of 29, three pieces of plums (29), seven pieces of apricots (31), two halves of pears (29), two pieces of peaches (35).
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds such as walnuts, peanuts, cashews, and flaxseeds, are good sources of Omega- 3 fatty acids, fiber, magnesium, folic acid, zinc and protein.
Nuts provide healthy fats and also help keep hunger away for a longer time. Including nuts and seeds in the diet can help lower blood sugar levels as they have low glycemic index scores.
Cashews have a glycemic index score of 25, and peanuts have a score of 13.
Walnuts contain alpha-linolenic acid, an essential fatty acid that lowers cholesterol levels and boosts heart health.
Have a fist full of nuts a day to lower the risk of developing diabetes and improve High Density Lipoprotein (HDL) or good cholesterol levels
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