Get answers to your nutrition and healthy eating questions. Visit www.eatrightontario.ca or call us toll-free at 1-877-510-510-2.
Get answers to your nutrition & healthy eating questions.
Call us toll-free† at 1-877-510-510-2 to speak directly with a Registered Dietitian.
You’ve probably heard that the glycemic index can help you make healthy food choices. For people with diabetes or at risk of developing diabetes, using the glycemic index to choose foods is one way to help manage your blood sugar. Read on for more information about this scale.
The glycemic index (GI) is a scale from 1-100 that ranks carbohydrate-rich foods by how much they raise blood glucose levels. Some carbohydrate foods are digested quickly, and others more slowly. The ranking is based on how the carbohydrate food when digested compares to the standard food, which is either white bread or pure glucose.
White bread and glucose have been given the highest possible rating of 100 on the glycemic index because they raise blood glucose levels higher and quicker than most other foods.
People at risk of developing diabetes or with diabetes may find that choosing lower GI foods may be helpful. Here are some benefits of eating foods that are lower on the GI scale:
Research has shown that eating mostly high GI foods increases the risk of type 2 diabetes. To help prevent diabetes, try to make a point of choosing lower GI foods more often. See the chart below to get started.
For help with choosing low GI foods, call 1-877-510-510-2 to speak with a Registered Dietitian or send an email.
The GI ranks foods that are mostly made of carbohydrate. This includes grain products, fruit, milk, yogurt, starchy vegetables and legumes. Foods such as meat, fish, poultry, cheese, nuts, seeds and most vegetables have very little carbohydrate and are not ranked on the GI scale.
Low GI (55 or less)
Medium GI (56-70)
High GI (more than 70)
sweet potatoes, yams
baked potatoes, French fries
converted (parboiled) rice
brown rice, basmati rice
white rice, instant rice
breads made from heavy mixed grains, pumpernickel or stone-ground flours
rye bread, whole wheat bread, pita bread
white bread, bagels
all bran type cereal
shredded wheat type cereal
bran flake type cereal
steel cut oats
instant oats, cream of wheat
popcorn, rye crisp crackers
pretzels, soda crackers
chickpeas, lentils, split peas
black bean soup, green pea soup
Looking for something else? Click on the GI database at this website to find your favourite food.
The GI ranking of a food will be affected by the cooking technique, how much fat or acid is in the food and how much the food has been processed (that is why instant oats have a higher GI than steel-cut oats).
Remember, the glycemic index is just one tool that you can use to control your blood glucose levels. A healthy diabetes management plan will also include regular physical activity and frequent blood glucose monitoring. If you have questions about how the glycemic index can help you manage your diabetes, speak with your diabetes care team or call an EatRight Ontario dietitian at 1-877-510-510-2.
The Glycemic Index, Canadian Diabetes Association
Glycemic Index Database
What you need to know to prevent Type 2 diabetes
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Dietitians of Canada acknowledges the financial support of EatRight Ontario by the Ontario government. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the Province.