Easy To Remember Tips For Choosing Low Glycemic Foods

For those who want to shop for and consume low-glycemic foods there are apps to help with that, such as My Glycemic Index, or one called Glyndex.

However, if you live a low-tech life, or your brain prefers broad concepts to glycemic index* numbers, you can shop for and eat a lower-glycemic diet simply by following a few general guidelines:

  • Choose unprocessed, or minimally processed foods all, or most of the time. Buy true whole-grain breads—those that are speckled with visible whole grains. Include the edible peels of veggies and fruits in your dishes to boost the nutrient and fiber content. Make eating fresh or frozen green veggies a daily habit. Consume bake goods made at least partly with whole grain flours. Change your definition of convenience foods to “recipes I can make from scratch in 30 minutes or less.”
  • When possible, eat nearly-ripe, or just-ripened fruits. Under-ripe bananas, for instance, have half the glycemic index rating of fully ripe ones. Also, keep in mind that berries tend to be lower in sugar, and tropical fruits tend to be higher.
  • Avoid “instant” food products, such as instant rice, pasta, oats, and potatoes. Instant items cook quickly because they were chopped, steamed, and cooked prior to packaging, and they digest quickly as well. The longer cooking versions (e.g., brown rice, steel-cut oats), though they require us to be patient cooks, are far more fiber and nutrient rich.
  • Avoid grain products that are “puffed.” Puffed cereal grains have larger surface areas for our digestive juices work on, so they break down fast, and the glucose is absorbed rapidly.
  • Eat cold potatoes more often. When potatoes cool their glycemic rating goes down. A hot potato has an index rating of about 75, while a cold one is about 55. We can choose to become potato salad gourmets by mixing cold diced potatoes with other veggies, oil, vinegar, and a sprinkle of our favorite herbs.

Following guidelines such as these for eating low-glycemic foods may not be enough to help people with diabetes manage their glucose, and lose or maintain weight. However, choosing mostly low-glycemic foods and combining that with carb counting can be an effective strategy for stabilizing weight, and blood sugar levels.

Choosing primarily whole, low-glycemic foods, cooking from scratch often, and getting regular exercise is also a great way for people to deter the onset of pre-diabetes, and for those with pre-diabetes to slow, or avoid the progression to type 2 diabetes.

Source: Mayo Clinic; Tracey Neithercott/Diabetes Forecast
Photo credit: U.S. Dept of Agriculture

*The glycemic index (GI) ranks foods, from zero to 100, based on how they affect blood sugar levels. In the hours immediately after a snack or meal, high-GI foods generate higher blood sugar levels than low-GI foods.

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