Best Low Glycemic Foods

Low glycemic foods are the best foods to eat if you are trying to control your blood sugar, but it also works well to eat low glycemic foods if your goal is weight loss.

Low Glycemic foods

But just what are low glycemic foods?

The Glycemic Index

The glycemic index is a listing of foods and how each of those foods increases our blood sugar. As you might imagine, eating straight sugar increases your blood sugar but here is the strange thing: other foods increase your blood sugar too (some even more than eating straight sugar).

The glycemic index came about when a scientist decided to check someone’s blood sugar and then give them a single food and then test to see what that food did to their blood sugar. It is a simple enough experiment, but it yielded some surprising results. Foods that we thought would increase blood sugar did, but some of those foods act more sugary that sugar itself. Part of this has to do with what we are measuring and part of it has to do with how readily available the sugars in foods are when we eat them.

Here is a breakdown of a typical glycemic index chart:

High Glycemic Index Foods Sugar (of course), any refined grain-based food (think: breads, chips, donuts, cereals…) and cooked potatoes (French fries…) and a few fruits (bananas, watermelon…).
Medium Glycemic Index Foods Whole grains eaten as whole grains (like rice, barley, but not whole grain breads), some beans, pasta.
Low Glycemic Index Foods Most fruits and vegetables (but not potato), proteins (like fish, chicken, beef), nuts

What you will notice about the chart is that most of high and medium glycemic index foods are grains, sugars and simple starches. These are the foods you want to avoid

Low Glycemic Foods

Here is the list of the some of the low glycemic foods (for a database, go to )


  • Pearl barley

Grain Products

  • Fettuccine, egg
  • Lasagna
  • Linguine
  • Macaroni
  • Ravioli
  • Spaghetti



  • Apple
  • Blackberries
  • Blueberries
  • Cherries
  • Dried apricots
  • Grapes
  • Kiwi fruit
  • Mango
  • Orange
  • Peach
  • Pear
  • Pineapple
  • Plums
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries



  • Avocados
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots, raw
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Chard
  • Eggplant
  • Garlic
  • Kale
  • Onions
  • Radish
  • Sprouts
  • Squash (most)
  • Tomato Juice
  • Tomato soup
  • Tomatoes
  • Yam (Canada)


Lettuce of all kinds

  • Green leaf
  • Iceberg
  • Red leaf
  • Romaine

Mixed greens

  • Arugula
  • Beet greens
  • Collard Greens
  • Dandelion greens
  • Endive
  • Escarole
  • Radicchio
  • Red mustard
  • Spinach



  • Baked Beans
  • Black eyed beans
  • Chickpeas (Garbanzo beans)
  • Hummus (chickpea salad dip)
  • Lentils, red
  • Pinto beans
  • Red Kidney Beans
  • Romano beans
  • Soya beans


  • Full-fat cows’ milk
  • Cheese (most)



  • Almonds
  • Cashews
  • Macadamia
  • Mixed nuts
  • Peanut butter (no sugar)
  • Peanuts
  • Pecans
  • Pistachio
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Walnuts


  • Beef
  • Chicken
  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Pork
  • Poultry (all)
  • Sausages
  • Wild game


  • Maitake
  • Reishi
  • Shitake


  1. Hi Dr. Scott…my Chinese wife is a Buddhist vegan…she does not eat meat, fish, seafood, eggs or onions. She does eat a lot of rice every day, which I know turns to sugar. She also has a history of ovarian cancer…she is four years out from surgery, pre and post op chemo, and immune system building treatments. She gets her CA-125 cancer marker blood tests done quarterly and they have been slowly increasing each time. She had a CT scan back in Dec. and an MRI in China this past Feb. and both were negative as far as any kind of recurrence…nonetheless, these increasing CA-125 results are causing her great anxiety even tho I’ve told her that other things can also cause those levels to go up. I have been reading about a ketogenic diet for her, but with her being a vegan and a Buddhist, I am not sure how that would work for her, as she doesn’t eat any kind of meat or fish, but she does like whole wheat bread, butter and cheese. I am not sure how she could get the protein she needs for the diet. She does not eat sweets, but some of the other things she does eat I know turns to sugar, so it will be a whole new way of eating for her, and for me as well, as I would most likely go on the diet with her as I could stand to lose a little weight, and I also like things with or that turn to sugar. I have recently discovered that the ketogenic diet would be good to prevent a recurrence of her cancer as well…any suggestions would be appreciated. Thank you…Yuxin Du’s husband Raymond.

    1. Raymond,

      It appears from your comments that you have researched the subject well. It sounds like your wife eats mostly well. Yes, I do think her diet would be better if she ate meat, but it doesn’t sound as if she is going to change. I would encourage her to eat as many vegetables as possible and avoid the foods that act like sugar as much as possible. A ketogenic diet is what I strongly believe can help with cancer, but avoiding the foods that act like sugar is the next best thing. I would suggest (as you said) that the CA-125 is not diagnostic and for her to feel good that the CT scan/MRI were positive.

      Hope that helps,

      Dr. Scott

  2. Hi Dr. Scott, I am about to embark on my 2nd 30 Day Sugar Free Challenge, and was wondering if you have any recommendations for sugar free peanut butter (specifically, the crunchy variety). I’ve tried a few but haven’t been absolutely sold on any of them. I am also having trouble finding any articles with reviews on these products. Any opinions you can share? Thanks!

    1. Hi Leslie,

      Not sure where you live, but I like Arrowhead Mills and Whole Foods brand. Just remember to mix the oil in and then keep it in the refrigerator. Another option is to make your own; some health food stores have the option to grind your own.


  3. your article by Dr Scott on Low Glycemic foods has me wondering how bread can be
    a high food yet spagetti is a low glycemic food. Can you clarify that for me.
    Thank you

    1. Hi AnnMarie,

      I wish I had a better answer for you than:” that is just the way it is.” Before we started using the glycemic index, we would just guess what foods did to our blood sugar. We thought that brown rice would keep our blood sugar low and white rice would cause our blood sugar to rise. What we found out when we did the studies was that both brown and white rice cause our blood sugar to rise about the same amount. It didn’t make sense, but is what the studies show. Scientists suggest that there is something about pasta and the way it is made and prepared that keeps our bodies from digesting it too quickly, so it releases it sugar molecules slowly.

      Hope that helps.

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