Glycemic Index of 51 Foods: Good and ‘Bad’ Choices

Awareness of the glycemic index of foods can help stabilize your blood sugar. Stable blood sugar doesn’t just apply to people with diabetes. Avoiding foods with a high glycemic index can also help stabilize your appetite, energy levels, help maintain a healthy body weight, support clearer skin if you struggle with acne, and avoid the dreaded ‘hanger’. This may help you avoid making more hasty and indulgent food choices you may regret later. If your blood sugar is low, it is much more likely that you will reach for junky ultra-processed foods for a quick fix.

What is Glycemic Index?

The glycemic index (GI) is a numerical scale that measures how quickly and to what extent a carbohydrate-containing food raises blood glucose (blood sugar) levels when consumed. This index was developed to help individuals, particularly those with diabetes, make informed dietary choices that can help regulate their blood sugar levels more effectively.

The GI scale typically ranges from 0 to 100, with higher values indicating foods that cause a more rapid and significant increase in blood sugar levels. Foods with a high GI are quickly digested and absorbed into the bloodstream, leading to a sharp spike in blood glucose levels, followed by a rapid drop, often leaving individuals feeling hungry and fatigued shortly after consumption. In contrast, foods with a low GI are digested and absorbed more slowly, resulting in a gradual and steady increase in blood sugar levels and providing longer-lasting energy.

Understanding the glycemic index can be particularly valuable for people with diabetes, as it can help them make informed choices about their carbohydrate intake and meal planning. However, it’s important to note that the GI of a food is just one aspect of overall nutrition, and other factors such as portion size and the combination of different foods in a meal also play a crucial role in managing blood sugar levels and promoting overall health.

The GI of a food is influenced by various factors, including the type of carbohydrate it contains, its fiber content, the degree of processing, and the presence of fats or acids. Generally, carbohydrates that are more complex and contain more fiber tend to have a lower GI, while simple sugars and highly processed foods tend to have a higher GI.

Combining carbohydrate foods with protein foods, choosing higher fiber foods, having some healthy fats with your foods, and watching your portions size are all important factors to consider when aiming for stable blood sugar levels.

Glycemic Index of 51 Foods

#FoodServing SizeGlycemic Index
1Apple1 medium36
2Banana1 medium51
3Orange1 medium43
4Grapes1 cup46
5Watermelon1 cup72
6Pear1 medium38
7Pineapple1 cup66
8Kiwi1 medium53
9Mango1 medium51
10Strawberry1 cup41
11Blueberries1 cup53
12Raspberry1 cup40
13Blackberries1 cup25
14Avocado1 medium10
15Sweet Potato1 medium70
16Carrot1 medium47
17Broccoli1 cup10
18Spinach1 cup0
19Cauliflower1 cup15
20Tomato1 medium15
21Cucumber1 medium15
22Onion1 medium10
23Garlic1 clove0
24White Rice1 cup73
25Brown Rice1 cup68
26Quinoa1 cup53
27Oats1 cup55
28Whole Wheat Bread1 slice53
29White Bread1 slice73
30Whole Wheat Pasta1 cup42
31White Pasta1 cup47
32Lentils1 cup32
33Chickpeas1 cup33
34Black Beans1 cup30
35Kidney Beans1 cup29
36Peanuts1 ounce13
37Almonds1 ounce0
38Walnuts1 ounce15
39Cashews1 ounce25
40Greek Yogurt1 cup11
41Cottage Cheese1 cup0
42Cheddar Cheese1 ounce0
43Milk1 cup27
44Soy Milk1 cup34
45Dark Chocolate1 ounce23
46White Chocolate1 ounce43
47Honey1 tablespoon58
48Maple Syrup1 tablespoon54
49Pumpkin1/2 cup75
50Artificial Sweetener or Stevia1 packet0
51Sugar1 teaspoon65

Whether you have diabetes or are just wanting to avoid the blood sugar roller coaster and all the highs and lows that come with it, thinking about the glycemic index of foods can help keep your blood sugar levels more stable.

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Anne Marie Berggren RDN, MS, CDN, CNSC is a Registered Dietitian with a Master's Degree in Nutrition, training in integrative and functional nutrition, nutrition for mental health, obesity and weight management, is a board certified nutrition support clinician, and an adjunct professor for the Stony Brook Graduate Nutrition Program teaching advanced clinical nutrition.

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