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How to Use the Glycemic Index To Stay In Shape And Good Health

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How to Use the Glycemic Index To Stay In Shape And Good Health

Glycemic Index

The glycemic index of a food is a rank structure of foods in terms of how much your blood sugar will spike if you eat them.  Glycemic loads matter to those who have diabetes in particular, and of the 29.1 million people with diabetes in this country, more than 8 million don’t know they have it, according to the American Diabetes Association. Prediabetic numbers skyrocketed in this decade, with 79 million people in the US over 20 estimated as prediabetic in 2010, and 86 million in 2012. According to the ADA, prediabetes raises your chances of both type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.

Low glycemic foods can be a healthy alternative to their higher counterparts, whether or not you are diabetic or prediabetic.

Rules of Thumb

According to one source, the rules of thumb are:

High-GI foods include foods that contain sugar, some fruits, some vegetables, all white bread/white flour products, foods made with rice or corn, thicker/larger pasta, most cereals, most snacks and most alcohols.

Low-GI foods include foods sweetened with artificial sweeteners, meat, dairy without added sugars, some fruits and vegetables, some whole-grain bread, thin and whole wheat pasta, nuts,  and olive, red wine, eggs, and peanut butter without added sugar.

Exercise Your Judgment

Please note you must still exercise judgment in your choices and not simply rely on the GI value of any food. For instance, while French-fried potatoes have a lower glycemic index, at 63 than a boiled potato at 78, the boiled potato is a healthier alternative.

Below is a comparative list of high glycemic foods vs low glycemic foods, to help you choose. All are taken from the International Tables of Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load Values: 2008The Ingredient Store, and Harvard’s Healthy Eating site. When the lists disagree with each other, the GI number listed is taken from the 2008 Tables or the Harvard Healthy Eating tables.

The highest GI food, glucose, is given a value of 100. When going through the items on this list, the lower they are on the list in each category, the lower their glycemic index number.

Rice, Corn and Wheat-Based Foods: 

  • French bread – 96
  • Pasta, brown rice – 92
  • Puffed Rice Cereal – 90
  • Rice Chex Cereal – 89
  • Corn Chex Cereal – 83
  • Rice Krispies Cereal – 82
  • Cornflakes – 81
  • Instant oats – 79
  • Waffles – 76
  • Total Cereal – 76
  • White wheat bread – 75
  • Stuffing – 75
  • Cheerios – 75
  • Whole wheat/wholemeal bread – 74
  • Cream of Wheat Cereal, Instant – 74
  • Puffed Wheat Cereal – 74
  • White rice, boiled – 73
  • Kaiser Roll – 73
  • Bagel – 72
  • White Bread – 72
  • Whole Wheat Bread – 72
  • Melba Toast – 71
  • Cream of Wheat – 71
  • Tortilla, corn – 70
  • Shredded Wheat – 69
  • Pita bread, white – 68
  • Grapenuts – 68
  • Life – 66
  • Nutri-Grain – 66
  • Cream of Wheat Cereal – 66
  • Couscous – 65
  • Rye Bread – 64
  • Brown rice, boiled – 63
  • Raisin Bran – 61
  • Hamburger bun – 61
  • Muesli – 60
  • Bran Chex – 59
  • Pita Bread – 58
  • Rolled oats – 55
  • Oat Bran – 55
  • Special K Cereal – 54
  • Specialty grain bread – 53
  • Rye Bread, whole- 50
  • Pumpernickel Bread – 49
  • Sweet corn – 49
  • Spaghetti, white – 49
  • Spaghetti, wholemeal – 48
  • Macaroni – 47
  • Corn tortilla – 46
  • Sponge cake, plain – 46
  • Pasta, whole grain – 45
  • All Bran Cereal – 43
  • Converted white rice – 38
  • Fettucine – 32
  • Barley – 28

Fruits:

  • Watermelon, raw – 76
  • Cantaloupe, raw – 65
  • Raisins – 64
  • Bananas, ripe, raw – 60
  • Pineapple, raw – 59
  • Kiwi Fruit – 52
  • Banana, raw – 51
  • Mango, raw – 51
  • Orange juice – 50
  • Grapes – 50
  • Grapefruit Juice – 49
  • Strawberry jam/jelly – 49
  • Peaches, canned – 43
  • Orange, raw – 43
  • Dates, raw – 42
  • Apple juice – 41
  • Pear, raw – 35
  • Apricots, dried – 35
  • Apple, raw – 36
  • Strawberries – 32
  • Prunes – 29
  • Grapefruit, raw – 25
  • Plum, raw – 25
  • Cherries, raw – 23

Vegetables, Beans:

  • Potato, instant mash – 87
  • Fava beans – 80
  • Potato, boiled – 78
  • Baked beans, canned – 68
  • Pumpkin, boiled – 64
  • Beets – 64
  • Potato, french fries – 63
  • Sweet potato, boiled – 63
  • Corn – 60
  • Plantain/green banana – 55
  • Kidney beans – 52
  • Yam – 51
  • Vegetable soup – 48
  • Black-eyed peas – 42
  • Carrots, boiled – 39
  • Pinto beans – 39
  • Tomato – 38
  • Chickpeas – 33
  • Lentils, green – 32
  • Lima beans, baby – 32
  • Butter beans – 31
  • Navy beans – 31
  • Black beans – 30
  • Chickpeas – 28
  • Lentils, red – 25
  • Kidney beans – 24
  • Soybeans – 16

Dairy:

  • Ice cream – 51
  • Yogurt, fruit 41
  • Milk, full fat – 39
  • Milk, skim – 37
  • Soy milk – 34

Snacks, Drinks and Sugars:

  • Glucose – 100
  • Fruit Roll-Ups – 99
  • Rice crackers/crisps – 87
  • Pretzels – 82
  • Gatorade – 78
  • Rice cakes – 77
  • Vanilla Wafers – 77
  • Graham crackers – 74
  • Corn chips – 70
  • Cranberry juice cocktail – 68
  • Popcorn – 65
  • Shortbread – 64
  • Honey – 61
  • Soft drink/soda – 59
  • Potato chips – 56
  • Microwave popcorn – 55
  • Snickers Bar – 51
  • Chocolate – 40
  • Tomato juice, canned – 38
  • Peanut M&Ms – 32
  • Cashews, salted – 27
  • Fructose – 15
  • Peanuts – 10
  • Hummus – 6

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