What Are Low Glycemic Foods?

Medically Reviewed by Christine Mikstas, RD, LD on July 12, 2023
2 min read

Low glycemic foods are those that have a low value on the glycemic index. Studies show that these foods can be good for you in many ways. Low glycemic foods help with weight loss and blood sugar. This may help lower the risk of conditions like type 2 diabetes and heart diseases.

The glycemic index is a ranking system of carbohydrates that affect your blood sugar levels such as breads, cereals, dairy products, fruits, and vegetables.

Experts use the glycemic index to measure, rank, and assign foods a glycemic value. This tells you how each one affects blood sugar levels.

After you eat carbohydrates, your digestive system breaks them down into simple sugars, and they pass into the bloodstream. Certain carbs can cause your blood sugar levels to spike. High blood sugar levels may lead to conditions like obesity and type 2 diabetes.

Foods on the glycemic index are classified into:

  • High-GI foods
  • Medium-GI foods
  • Low-GI foods

Low glycemic foods control the rise of blood sugar levels because you digest and absorb them more slowly. This makes them the best choice for anyone interested in a low glycemic diet.

Foods with a higher glycemic index value should be eaten in moderation. They’re digested and absorbed faster, leading to a sharp rise and fall in blood sugar levels.

Low glycemic foods include:

  • Green vegetables
  • Chickpeas
  • Raw carrots
  • Kidney beans
  • Bran breakfast cereals
  • Avocado
  • Broccoli
  • Spinach
  • Lentils

Medium glycemic foods include:

  • Sweet corn 
  • Raw pineapples 
  • Bananas 
  • Raisins 
  • Oat breakfast cereals 
  • Rye
  • Oat bread

High glycemic foods include:

  • White rice
  • Potatoes
  • Plantains
  • White bread
  • Sports drinks
  • Watermelon

Foods with a high glycemic index value lead to high blood sugar levels, which boosts the production of insulin. This hormone removes sugar from your blood and transfers it to the cells to make energy.

Studies show that eating a lot of low glycemic foods may be good for your health. Some benefits of low glycemic foods include:

  • Because low glycemic foods result in less insulin production, they lower the risk of type 2 diabetes.
  • Low glycemic foods may be beneficial to people with type 2 diabetes by reducing blood sugar levels.
  • Low glycemic foods such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables are rich in fiber, which helps lower the density of bad cholesterol (lipoproteins).
  • Some studies suggest that low glycemic foods promote weight loss and may help you control weight gain. Foods low on the glycemic index have a lot of fiber. If you’re on a diet, they may help you feel full so you can lose weight without as much hunger.