The Glycemic index (GI) is a measure of how quickly a food can make your blood sugar (glucose) rise. Only foods that contain carbohydrates have a GI. Foods such as oils, fats, and meats do not have a GI, though in people with diabetes, they can affect the blood sugar. An international scientific consortium has recognized that the GI can help people with prediabetes and type 2 diabetes (T2DM) make better choices about foods to eat. Understanding how carbohydrates effect the body is key!

In general, low GI foods increase glucose slowly in your body. Foods with a high GI increase blood glucose quickly. If you have diabetes, high GI foods can make it harder to control diabetes. MedlinePlus has a short page on the topic. It is recommended that when you eat carbohydrates, that you eat foods that have a low GI as they are less likely to raise your blood sugar level quickly or for as long a period of time.

A Comparison of Blood Glucose Over Time for High and Low GI Foods. Source:

Low, medium, high GI

Eating carbohydrates is required by our bodies. However, once we understand how they effect our bodies we can select foods that have a lower GI to help us manage blood sugar spikes after a meal. Some example foods are below:

Low GI 55 or less

  • Oatmeal (rolled or steel cut), muesli
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Most fruits and non-starchy vegetables

Medium GI 56-69

  • Whole wheat, rye and pita bread
  • Quick oats
  • Brown, wild or basmati rice, couscous

High GI 70 or more

  • White bread
  • Potatoes
  • Pretzels, popcorn, rice cakes

Searching the glycemic index

The University of Sydney has developed a searchable database of foods and their measured GI.

More Resources

Search Halebee’s recipe page for more healthy recipes that incorporate low GI foods.