A low glycemic diet decreases blood sugar, insulin response, and inflammation which in turn can help with managing diabetes and lowering the risk of high cholesterol and heart disease. It also keeps you full longer which can help in weight management. So, if you have diabetes or are at risk of developing one, or simply want to control weight, then this low GI food list is for you. To learn more about the health benefits of a low glycemic diet, see our post here.
There are known health benefits of a low glycemic diet and going for food with low GI is a good place to start when working on a diet that suits your needs. But, take note that you still have to make certain considerations – like the portion sizes for instance, or the other variables that affect the glycemic index. You see, as the food ripens or if it’s paired with protein or fat, its GI ranking changes. So, you have to watch out for that. Low GI living is very doable, it does take planning and dedication but it’s achievable.
It’s very important that you listen to your body to see if a particular diet is working for you. You have to be observant of your body’s reaction to the foods that you eat. Keep in mind, too, that you should still keep your diet balanced even when on a low glycemic diet. These low GI foods list serves only as a guide on which foods can you healthily include or substitute to make your diet more suitable to your needs.
Here’s a low GI foods list to get you started on reworking that meal plan. See if you can easily incorporate these foods into your diet.
Types of Low GI Foods List
Getting to the artichoke heart can take a bit of work, but it sure is worth it because it’s one of the vegetables with the most antioxidants content. It’s also an excellent source of fiber. it’s good not just in helping with blood sugar levels but in promoting heart health as well.
Black beans, also called turtle beans, are classified as legumes. They’re rich in protein and fiber. Black beans have a soft and creamy texture with a mild flavor that is perfect for use in many dishes because it takes flavor so well. It offers a variety of phytonutrients with antioxidant properties like anthocyanins, kaempferol, quercetin, and saponins.
Blueberries are referred to as a superfood because it’s packed with antioxidants, phytoflavonoids, fiber, vitamins, and other healthy nutrients. Even its intense blue color is brought about by anthocyanins which is also a type of antioxidant. Blueberries are very versatile, you can have them in your breakfast, lunch, dinner, and even for snacks and desserts.
Bok choy has a mild and cabbage-like flavor with a slightly bitter note. It’s a great addition to soups, stir-fries, and salads. Bok choy also makes for a great filling for spring rolls, steamed buns, dumplings, or potstickers. It’s particularly high in calcium, iron, phosphorus, magnesium, and vitamin K.
Aside from the fact that broccolis are available all year round, they also come in a variety of colors – from deep sage to dark green to purplish-green. In addition to its many nutrients including fiber, potassium, and vitamins C and K, it also contains more protein than most other vegetables.
These mini-cabbages-looking veggies are members of the cruciferous vegetable family. It’s particularly rich in vitamin K and vitamin C, about 250% and 150% recommended daily intake of the two vitamins respectively. Aside from its anti-inflammatory properties it also acts as a natural detoxifier.
Although we are more familiar with green cabbage, napa cabbage, savoy cabbage, and red cabbage, there are actually over 400 varieties out there. It’s one of the oldest veggies in existence. It contains fiber, vitamin C, folate, vitamin K, potassium, manganese, thiamin, vitamin A, vitamin B6, calcium, and iron.
Cauliflower is actually one of the most popular vegetables for keto dieters. It only contains 4% carbs and is a good flavor absorber. It’s great for cauliflower pizza, cauliflower rice, and even cauliflower bread. It’s naturally high in fiber and B vitamins. It’s also a great source of vitamin C, folate, vitamin K, and vitamin E. It’s also rich in phytochemicals and antioxidants.
Unlike other veggies, celery retains most of its nutrients even after it’s steamed. It also has a fairly long shelf life of about two weeks in the refrigerator. Celery is a good source of vitamin K. It also contains folate, potassium, fiber, molybdenum, and small amounts of vitamins C, A, and B vitamins. It’s also rich in phytonutrients which may have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Cherries come in sweet, sour, and dukes varieties. The sweet ones are juicy with a low acid content, the sour cherries have a tart flavor due to their higher acid content, while the dukes are a mix of the two with the sweetness slightly more pronounced. They’re particularly rich in vitamin C which is vital to iron absorption, collagen formation, and aiding other functions in the body.
Coconut in spite of its name is not a nut but rather it’s a drupe like plums, almonds, olives, and cherries. They are high in manganese which boosts bone health and metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins, and cholesterol. It also contains copper, iron, and selenium. Coconut water, in particular, is a good source of potassium.
Cottage cheese being a fermented food is rich in probiotics (if it didn’t go under the pasteurization process). Small curd cottage cheese has a noticeable tartness while large curd tends to taste sweeter. It’s fairly easy to make cottage cheese so you can really try making one at home. Cottage cheese is an excellent source of protein and also contains B vitamins, calcium, selenium, and phosphorus.
Cranberries have a very tart taste because of their low sugar and high acid content. However, it’s full of powerful phytochemicals that protect against illnesses. You can snack on them like you would blueberries. You can also toss them into a salad, blend them into a smoothie, or add them to oatmeal. Cranberries contain natural flavonoids that boost dental hygiene by preventing the growth of bacteria, plaques, and gum disease.
Dried apricots have a rather intense sweet and sour flavor. They are an excellent source of vitamin A, in fact, just a cup will give you 94% of the daily recommended amount. It’s also rich in vitamin E, potassium, and iron. It’s also high in fiber and polyphenol antioxidants called flavonoids which protect against certain illnesses like diabetes and heart disease.
Eggplants are one of the vegetables that originated in India. It’s a great source of vitamins C, K, and B6, thiamine, niacin, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, copper, folic acid, potassium, and fiber. It also contains phytonutrients that help in improving mental health and boosting memory.
Green peas are actually the seeds of a legume plant and the most frequently consumed ones among peas. It contains fiber and protein as well as polyphenol antioxidants which are responsible for its many health benefits.
Hummus is a popular Middle Eastern dip and spread basically made from chickpeas, tahini, olive oil, garlic, and lemon juice. Not only is it delicious but it’s packed with nutrients as well. It’s a great source of plant-based protein and fiber. It also contains anti-inflammatory properties and is naturally gluten, dairy, and nut-free.
Lettuce is one of the most popular vegetables in the US and comes in four varieties – head lettuce, leaf lettuce, Romaine lettuce, and celtuce lettuce. The darker the leaves, the better, for they contain more nutrients. Depending on the variety, the amount of vitamin A, vitamin C, and iron varies.
Lima beans, also called butter beans because of their buttery taste, are particularly a good source of protein, iron, and soluble fiber. It also contains manganese, molybdenum, copper, folate, phosphorus, and thiamine. Aside from being rich in nutrients, lima beans are also budget-friendly and are quite easy to prepare.
Mushrooms generally have an earthy and savory flavor which makes them a great meat substitute. It contains fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Depending on the type of mushrooms, their antioxidants, beta-glucan, B vitamins, copper, and potassium content vary. Mushrooms can be sauteed, grilled, broiled, roasted, or steamed. It’s quite popular among vegans and vegetarians because of its meaty taste and texture.
Onions are a staple in every kitchen. Most dishes benefit from their sweet, savory, and pungent flavor. It’s particularly rich in vitamin C and prebiotics. It also contains folate and pyridoxine. The red ones are also rich in anthocyanins. Onions are also a good source of potassium which helps in normal cellular function, nerve transmission, kidney function, muscle contraction, and fluid balance.
Pears are one of the oldest known fruits that date as far back as 1000 BC. They come in over 100 varieties that are grown worldwide. The United States is one of the largest pear producers. It contains fiber, copper, vitamin C, vitamin K, and potassium. Pears are also excellent sources of polyphenol antioxidants which are vital in protecting against oxidative damage. It also contains flavonoids which may help in reducing inflammation.
Peppers, including bird's eye, jalapenos, serrano, and others, are known for their bright colors, bold flavors, and heat. One of the top chile producing states in the US is New Mexico, not surprisingly so because some peppers like jalapenos and poblano peppers are known as Mexican vegetables. Peppers are rich in vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, and polyphenols including lutein, quercetin, and capsanthin.
Ricotta cheese is made from whey, the leftover portion of another cheese-making process, that is reheated to produce moist and fine grains. It’s a great source of calcium and also contains vitamin A, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B12, vitamin K, phosphorus, iodine, selenium, and zinc.
Snow peas are a variety of pea that is eaten whole – meaning the peas are still in the pod. They are more tender and crunchier when harvested while still unripe. Its pods are more palatable, unlike other peas' that contain inedible fiber. Snow peas are packed with vitamins A and C, iron, potassium, magnesium, folic acid, and dietary fiber.
Tofu is made when soy milk separates into curds and whey. Silken tofu with a custardy texture is the most popular among tofu, it’s not pressed or drained. Other kinds include extra soft, medium, firm, and extra firm. Tofu is high in protein. It also contains all the essential amino acids, manganese, calcium, selenium, phosphorus, copper, magnesium, iron, and zinc.
There are over ten thousand varieties of tomatoes. And although we’re used to seeing red tomatoes, they actually come in a variety of colors as well – yellow, purple, black, pink, and white. Tomatoes are rich sources of folate, vitamin C, and potassium. It’s particularly known for its lycopene content but it also contains beta-carotene, gamma-carotene, and phytoene.
Under-ripe bananas are a great source of prebiotics which are good for gut health. It’s also FODMAP-friendly. Green bananas are full of resistant starch which makes your digestive system work a little harder. However, it’s not as sweet as older bananas because it contains less sugar and can taste a little bitter.
Wheat tortillas are low fat and low sodium. It also contains iron, B vitamins, potassium, manganese, complex carbohydrates, and fiber. When stored in the fridge in a tightly sealed container, it can last for up to 2 weeks. Pop them into the freezer if you’re planning to store them for several months.
Zucchini is not just for zoodles, they’re quite versatile and pairs well with many recipes because of their mild flavor. It’s particularly rich in vitamin A. It also contains manganese, vitamin C, potassium, magnesium, vitamin K, folate, copper, phosphorus, vitamin B6, and thiamine. Fun fact, the highest level of its antioxidants content is found in its skin.