You may have heard about the glycemic index, or GI. It’s a ranking from 1 to 100 that is assigned to foods that are rich in carbohydrates. A food’s GI number indicates how rapidly it is digested and absorbed.
If you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes or are at risk for developing it, choosing low GI foods may help control your:
- Blood glucose level — low GI foods raise blood glucose slowly
- Blood cholesterol levels
- Appetite — low GI foods are higher in fibre which helps you feel fuller
And all this can help reduce your risk of:
Get interactive with the GI
To make it easier to select foods based on their GI ranking, foods are grouped in three categories. Use this interactive tool to see how your favourite foods rank and to make smarter GI choices:
Beans, Chickpeas, Fruits (most), Lentils, Milk products, Mixed grain bread, Oats (steel cut), Pasta, Pumpernickel bread, Sweet potatoes, Vegetables (most), Whole wheat bread (100% stone ground)
Basmati rice, Brown rice, Corn (sweet), Couscous, Oats (quick), Pita, Popcorn, Potatoes (new or white), Puffed wheat cereal, Rye, Whole wheat bread
Bagels (white), Cereals (processed bran or rice or corn flakes), Crackers (white), Cream of wheat, French fries, Jam, Jelly, Oats (instant), Pancakes, Potatoes (baking or russet), Rice (white, short grain), Rice cakes, Sugar, Sweets, White bread
Low GI (55 or less)
Medium GI (56-69)
High GI (70-100)
Smart GI strategies
As a general rule of thumb, here are some smart eating strategies based on the GI principle:
- Instead of trying to remember the GI number for different foods, think of them as low, medium or high GI, or as slow, intermediate or quick acting.
- Enjoy nutritious lower-GI foods like fruits and vegetables and low-fat dairy products with your meals.
- Try to include one low or medium GI food in each meal or snack.
- At the grocery store, look for cereals based on bran, oats and barley and whole grain, stone ground or sourdough breads.
- Look for ways to substitute low-GI foods for high-GI foods you would normally eat.
- Try to choose less processed foods and eat foods as close to their whole state as possible.
- Enjoy legumes more often as a low-fat, high-fibre alternative to meat. Serve couscous or parboiled, brown or basmati rice instead of short-grain white rice.
- Test your blood glucose reading two hours after eating a low GI food versus a similar yet higher GI one (e.g. white or baking potato versus a sweet potato).
Looking for recipes? Check out our recipes for delicious and nutritious meals and snacks.