Healthy Diet

The Best Low Glycemic Foods for a Healthy Diet

  • The glycemic index (GI) rates food based on how their carbohydrate content affects the body’s blood glucose levels.
  • The lower the GI value, the slower your body will absorb it and the less it affects blood glucose.
  • There are many ways to prepare low glycemic foods.

Not all carbs are created equal, and the Glycemic Index (GI) shows us why. The GI is a system that ranks carbs based on how they affect your blood glucose levels. We divide it into three classifications:

  • Low, which refers to a GI value of 55 or less.
  • Moderate, or a GI value within the range of 56 to 69.
  • High, which refers to a GI value of 70 or more.

Now, what do these numbers mean? To put it simply, the lower the GI value of the food, the slower the body absorbs it and the less it affects the rise in blood glucose and insulin levels.

Incorporating low GI foods in everyday meals has shown to be an effective strategy for glycemic control and for managing body fat (1, 2). Want to give it a try? Here are the best low glycemic foods you can add to your diet — and some ideas for how you can cook with them.

3 of the Best Low Glycemic Foods (and How to Prepare Them)

Oatmeal

This breakfast staple is not only healthy, but it’s delicious too. On top of its low GI value, oatmeal is rich in antioxidants and might help reduce bad cholesterol (3). Furthermore, there are countless ways to prepare it so you’re sure never to get bored.

bowl of oatmeal with fruit and almonds

Oatmeal and Fruit

You can add your favorite fruits to your breakfast oatmeal to modify the taste and suit your preference. For instance, apple and cinnamon, when combined — like with this Healthy Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal recipe from Genius Kitchen — taste awesome. It also contains nutrients to help fuel your day, thanks to the apples’ high amount of vitamins, phytonutrients and antioxidants.

Blueberries are another type of low glycemic food that are an excellent addition to oats.

There are a wide variety of fruits to choose from. They add a wonderful taste and also some natural sweetness. Play with flavors and find the best combination for you.

Oatmeal Cookies

Great for snacks or dessert, oatmeal cookies — like these No Sugar Oatmeal Cookies from AllRecipes.com — will surely satisfy your sweet cravings.

oatmeal cookies

Oatmeal Pancakes

This breakfast favorite will brighten up your day. This Low Carb Oatmeal Pancake recipe from Genius Kitchen is a must-try. Top it with your favorite fruits, peanut butter or honey to make mornings more tasty.

Tip: Remember that oatmeal is also the base for most brands of granola! You can bake this in the oven for a simple and filling snack to eat throughout the week.

Sweet Potato

Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin D, iron, magnesium and potassium. They’re also versatile, and you can use them for creating many delicious dishes.

sliced sweet potato

Boiled or Baked

Sweet potato is one of the most popular low glycemic foods today. It tastes delicious, so preparing them the traditional way — without adding other ingredients — will help you appreciate their natural flavors. There are two ways to do this: boiling and baking.

Boiling sweet potatoes is easy. After scrubbing the sweet potatoes, put them in a pot or a saucepan with water and boil them until they’re soft.

When baking, remember to pierce the sweet potato all over and then wrap it in aluminum foil. Put it in the oven and bake for 40 to 60 minutes or until soft.

Sweet Potato Wedges and Fries

This is a healthier alternative to French fries or potato wedges. It has the crunch you want, enriched by the delicious sweet potato taste. Packed with nutrients, this delightful side dish is perfect for movie nights, snacks and parties. Try recreating this oven-roasted sweet potato wedges recipe from Health.com.

You can add a twist to your fries by adding different herbs and seasonings, such as garlic salt, cayenne pepper or rosemary.

sweet potato fries

Sweet Potato Soup

The possibilities of using sweet potatoes for different dishes are endless. You can use them for breakfast, snacks, lunch and even dinner – just like this Creamy Sweet Potato Soup recipe from Greatist.com. Hearty and filling, it’ll keep you warm and provide you with all the healthy goodness your body needs.

Cauliflower

Many low glycemic foods make great ingredient alternatives. Cauliflower, for instance, is an excellent replacement for rice or potatoes. It’s low in calories and high in vitamins like C, K and beta-carotene. It’s also anti-inflammatory and rich in antioxidants. This is why you’re seeing more pizzas in restaurants and frozen food sections of grocery stores made with cauliflower crust instead of the traditional kind.

salad with cauliflower and pomegranate

Mashed Cauliflower

Craving mashed potatoes but need to watch your carbohydrate intake? Try mashed cauliflower. First, boil water in a pot, and then cook the cauliflower for 12 to 15 minutes or until soft. Drain all the water (this is important!) and mash. Add almond milk for extra creaminess and nutrients, like vitamin E and magnesium. Check out this recipe from SteamyKitchen.com.

Side note: You can also swap out traditional rice for cauliflower rice! Minimalist Baker explains how to do it. The flavor is so subtle that you can easily combine this with your favorite meats and vegetables.

Cauliflower Soup

Easy to prepare, healthy and mouthwatering, cauliflower soup will make dinnertime more wonderful. Try this easy-to-make cauliflower soup recipe from AllRecipes.com. Make a big batch and store it, so you can eat it throughout the week.

There are plenty of delicious recipes you can try with low glycemic foods. Keep exploring and don’t be afraid to experiment with flavors. What’s your favorite low GI food recipe? Share it with us!

 

References

  1. “Low-glycemic index carbohydrates: an effective behavioral change for glycemic control and weight management in patients with type 1 and 2 diabetes”, Burani, J., et al., (2006).
  2. “The effects of 6-week low glycemic load diet based on low glycemic index foods in overweight/obese children–pilot study”, Fajcsak, Z., et al., (2008).
  3. “Cholesterol-lowering effects of oat β-glucan”, Othman, RA, et al., (2011).

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