Low Glycemic Spanish Foods

Written by gertrude elizabeth greene
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Low Glycemic Spanish Foods
Many traditional Spanish dishes are low on the glycemic index. (paella image by Claudio Calcagno from Fotolia.com)

Spanish foods are quite varied as far as glycemic index is concerned. According to the Glycemic Index Foundation, some ingredients, such as potatoes, corn, or regular white rice or brown rice are very high on the glycemic index, while others such as pork, seafood, beef, chicken, beans, most green vegetables, and basmati rice are quite low. Generally basmati rice can be substituted for other types of rice called for in various Spanish dishes.

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Gambas al Ajillo

Known in English as garlic prawns, this delicious dish is rich in omega-3 fatty acids and low in calories. Since seafood contains no carbohydrates or sugars, the prawns make an excellent part of a low glycemic meal.


Spanish meatballs are a dish frequently served in tapas bars. They make an excellent appetizer. Recipes for these meatballs call for various meats as the primary ingredient, with some vegetables, spices, and breadcrumbs mixed in. Vegetables are very low on the glycemic index, and although breadcrumbs are high glycemic foods the amount used in this dish is low enough that they do not adversely affect the meal.


This dish consists primarily of rice. According to the Glycemic Index Foundation, white or brown rice can be very high on the glycemic index--generally over 80--but basmati rice scores a moderate 57. If basmati rice is substituted in this food you will have a much lower glycemic index dish. Traditionally it is prepared with garlic, tomatoes, artichokes, olive oil and several seasonings.

Red Bean, Chorizo and Bacon Stew

Red beans (also called kidney beans) form the basis of this dish. These beans are fairly low on the glycemic index and contain only 23 to 25 carbohydrates per serving. This dish also contains bacon, chorizo sausage and various vegetables and seasonings. It makes a deliciously warming winter dish.

Pisto Manchego

Also known as Spanish ratatouille, this dish is excellent as an accompaniment to a main course. It can also be used in sandwiches, on pasta or in pastry pies. This dish consists primarily of vegetables, particularly tomatoes, zucchini, onions, peppers and garlic, all of which are low on the glycemic index. This recipe freezes well and can be made in large batches as desired. It originated from the Castilla La Mancha.

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