ask the nutritionist: low glycemic food

Low-glycemic foods. We see it all the time – in diet plans, on protein bars, breads, etc. but what does it mean?

The glycemic index describes how a carbohydrate affects your blood sugar.  A high glycemic food increases your blood sugar much faster than a low glycemic food.

The glycemic load describes the glycemic index and the quantity of carbohydrate – for example, the glycemic index of watermelon is: 72 (considered high) but the glycemic load for one serving of watermelon is: 1.5 (considered low) because it takes into account serving size.


Why do we care?

People who have diabetes need to be aware of their blood sugar because their bodies aren’t able to regulate it on their own and so they have to take insulin to regulate blood sugar levels. But it is not just those with diabetes who should care. When we eat a high-glycemic meal, it increases our blood sugar, which then increases insulin to turn the sugars into energy. If there is too much “energy” (sugar) to use, it will be stored as fat. The spike in sugar and subsequent crash also makes us feel hungry faster. Doesn’t sound good, does it?

A low glycemic meal releases the sugar into our bodies at a steadier, slower rate, which means insulin is secreted at a slower rate and we are more likely to use it right away as energy. It also keeps us full longer because there isn’t such a spike/crash.

Benefits of Low-Glycemic Foods:

  • help regulate fluctuation of insulin and blood sugar
  • help keep you full longer
  • improve diabetes control
  • can reduce the risk of heart disease
  • can reduce cholesterol levels
  • can help to control weight


Medium/Low-Glycemic Foods:

  • Whole Grains: brown rice, whole wheat pasta, rye bread
  • Fruit: oranges, pears, apples
  • Vegetables (except potatoes)
  • Dairy/milk
  • Beans: lentils, kidney beans, etc.
  • Nuts

These same foods keep showing up time and time again for a healthy diet, don’t they?



Filed under ask the nutritionist, Uncategorized, whole foods, whole grains

10 responses to “ask the nutritionist: low glycemic food

  1. Isn’t it funny how are most healthy foods are low-glycemic. 🙂

  2. You pretty much described my entire diet, down there at the bottom! Throw in the (very) occasional egg, and there you go!

  3. haha i love that the healthy foods are the low index foods 🙂 funny how that works out, no?

  4. i will be sure to pass this info onto houli (who is scared that he will develop diabetes, not sure why?).

  5. I always knew low glycemic was good, but I never was really sure why. Are sweet potatoes also high or just white potatoes? Thanks for the great info. Gotta stick with those fruits and veges!

  6. Kate

    what is that last picture of? it looks a combo of baked beans and m&ms!!!!

  7. Thanks for sharing – I love how the stuff on that list is not only healthy but delish too! 🙂 xoxo

  8. Just one more reason to indulge in fruits and veggies! Delish AND low GI. Throw some fish in the mix and you’ve got yourself a yummy Mediterranean diet. 🙂

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