Low glycemic or "low GI" diets include foods with a low glycemic index. The glycemic index goes from 0 to 100 and refers to how eating a food will affect blood sugar. A food with a low glycemic index raises blood sugar levels relatively little. Positive effects of low GI diets include weight loss, reduced risk of heart disease and healthy management of diabetes. As a rule of thumb, proteins and vegetables are low GI, whereas many carbohydrates have high glycemic levels.
Cereals, Grains and Starches
As carbohydrates typically have high glycemic index levels, it's important to consult with a GI list regarding all cereals, grains and starches. Bakery products normally have high GI. However, multi-grain or whole grain breads have low GI's of 48 and 50, respectively. For breakfast, All-Bran cereal has a GI of 42 and non-instant porridge is 49. Many grains have low GIs, with pearl barley extremely low at 25, rye 34, wheat kernels 41, instant rice 46 and parboiled rice 48 and cracked barley 50. Pasta is relatively low, with protein enriched spaghetti at 27, fettuccine 32, vermicelli 35 and whole wheat pasta 37. Regular white spaghetti is 41, and macaroni is 45. Meat-filled ravioli has an index of 39.
Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits run the GI gamut, from cherries at 22 to dates at 103. Low GI options include cherries, grapefruit, prunes and apricots, all 30 and below. Between 30 and 45 are apples, fresh or canned peaches (in juice), fresh or canned pears (in juice), plums, strawberries, and oranges. With an index between 45 and 55, you can select from grapes, mangoes or bananas. Vegetables tend to have low glycemic indexes. Broccoli, cabbage, lettuce, mushrooms, onions and red peppers all have an index of just 10. With a GI of 15, select from artichoke, asparagus, cauliflower, celery, cucumber, eggplant, green beans, mangetout, spinach, summer squash (young), tomatoes and zucchini.
Dairy and Proteins
Dairy products have a relatively low GI, with yoghurt having an index of just 14. Milk ranges from 24 to 34, with whole milk having the lowest GI, followed by skim and then semi-skim. Good news to chocolate lovers, chocolate milk has an even lower GI than regular milk! Ice cream has a GI of 38, or 43 for low-fat ice cream. Beans and legumes have low GIs, with dried chickpeas, kidney beans and lentils all just under 30. Lima beans, yellow split peas, canned chickpeas and canned blackeyed peas fall between 30 and 45. Baked beans and canned kidney beans fall between 45 and 55. Meat, poultry and fish range in GI, with low glycemic options including sushi, with an index of 55, breaded white fish, at 38, and sausage, at 28.