The glycemic index gives us an idea of which foods raise our blood glucose fastest and highest.
Why Is This Important?
Many people have problems processing large increases in blood glucose and do better in many ways when our blood sugar is fairly stable. This is especially important for people with diabetes, prediabetes, insulin resistance, and metabolic syndrome.
What Do the Numbers Mean?
Eating pure glucose is given a ranking of 100. All other foods are given a ranking in relation to glucose.
A food with a glycemic index of 95 raises blood sugar almost as much as pure glucose, but a food with a glycemic index of 20 doesn’t raise blood sugar much at all.
It’s important to keep in mind, though, that the glycemic index does not take portion size into account. The actual amount any food raises blood sugar has to do both with how glycemic it is, and how much of you eat. The glycemic load attempts to combine these concepts, and some diets are using the glycemic load for this reason.
Why Is There Such a Large Range of Numbers on Some Foods?
Many factors influence how food tests, including differences between the people tested, the recipes, the laboratory techniques, and the fact that no two carrots are exactly alike.
When there is a single number after a food, that means that only one study was done with that food (it could have been a study from anywhere in the world). That number is an average of all of the individuals in the study, and so you have to think of that number as an estimate. For example, there was a study of Fruit Loops cereal, and the range of the people tested was between 60 and 78, although the result reported was a single number, 69.
When there is a range of numbers after a food, that is the highest and lowest value from different studies. In some cases, averages have been done of several studies, which are also included. But the number for each of those studies was an average of the people in the study.
Because there is so much variation between foods and between individuals, there is essentially no difference between foods that have a difference of less than at least 5 or 10 points on the glycemic scale.
Although the concept of the glycemic index is very useful, it’s important to educate people about the actual reality of the index if they are going to base their eating around it. And the reality is that no one number tells the tale of any one food in any given body. The only way to truly tell how food affects you is to check your own blood glucose. That said, the glycemic index can give us some general information about carbohydrates.
Glycemic Index List
- Fructose 12-25, average 19, but please read this before using fructose
- Glucose 85-111, average 100
- Glucose consumed with 15-20 grams of fiber 57-85
- Glucose consumed with protein and fat 56
- Honey 32-87, average 55
- Lactose 46
- Sucrose (granulated table sugar) most 58-65, 2 studies higher, bringing the average to 68 (sucrose is half glucose and half fructose)
- For the glycemic index of sugar alcohols such as maltitol, see the chart.
- Milk, regular (full fat) 11-40, average 27
- Milk, skim – 32
- Yogurt without added sugar – 14-23
- White bread 64-87 – averages 70 and 73
- Whole wheat bread made with 100% whole wheat flour – 52-87 average 71
- Wheat bread made with 50% cracked wheat kernels 58
- Wheat bread made with 75% cracked wheat kernels 48
- Muffins, cakes, pancakes, waffles, etc. vary widely (38-102), but most between 55 and 80
- Rice Cakes – 61-91, average 78
- High-fiber rye crispbread – 59-69, average 64
- Stoned Wheat Thins – 67
- All-Bran – 30-51, average 42
- Bran Buds – 58
- Bran Buds with Psyllium – 47
- Cornflakes 72-92, average 81 (USA cornflakes were the 92)
- Corn Chex 83
- Crispix 87
- Fruit Loops – 69
- Golden Grahams – 71
- Grape Nuts 67-85 average 71
- Life – 66
- Puffed Wheat – 67-80
- Rice Krispie type cereals – 81-95
- Rice Chex – 89
- Shredded Wheat – 67-83 average 75
- Special K – 54-84
- Total – 76
- Weetabix and similar – 61-74 – average 70
- Cream of Wheat – 66
- Instant Cream of Wheat – 74
- Oatmeal from rolled oats (not instant) 42-75, again highest was US oatmeal average 58
- Quick cooking oats – 66
Boiled whole unless stated otherwise
- Barley – 22-48
- Barley, cracked – 50
- Barley, rolled – 66
- Buckwheat – 49-63
- Cornmeal boiled in water – 69
- Couscous (processed wheat) – 61-69
- Millet – 71
- Rice, long-grained white – 50-64, average 56
- Rice, short and medium grained white – 83-93
- Rice, brown – 66-87
- Wheat, whole kernels – 30-48
- Wheat, bulgar (cracked wheat) – 46-53, average 48
The glycemic index of pasta made from wheat (most pasta) depends on the shape of the pasta (the thicker, the lower the GI), and the way it is cooked.
When cooked as the Italians do, “al dente” (somewhat firm) it has the lowest glycemic index. The longer you cook it, the softer it is, and the higher the GI.
With variation depending on these factors, these are the results:
- Wheat pasta: most studies show GIs in the 40’s to low 60’s, with a few dipping into the 30’s.
- Rice pasta (including brown) 40-92
- Mung bean noodles (bean thread) 26-39
Individual fruits are linked to carbohydrate counts and other nutritional information. For more information about the sugar/carbohydrate content of fruit see the low-carb fruit list.
- Apples – 28-44, average 38
- Apricots, raw – 57
- Apricots, canned in light syrup – 64
- Apricots, dried 31
- Apricot fruit spread (reduced sugar) – 55
- Banana, underripe – 30
- Banana, overripe – 52
- Banana, not specified 46-70
- Cantaloupe 65
- Cherries 22
- Dates 103
- Grapefruit 25
- Grapes 46-49
- Kiwi Fruit 47-58
- Mangoes 41-60, average 51
- Oranges 31-51, average 42
- Papayas 56-60, average 59
- Peaches 28-56
- Pears 33-42
- Pineapple 51-66
- Plums 24-53
- Raisins 64
- Strawberries 40
- Watermelon 72
- Carrot Juice – 43
- Cranberry Juice Cocktail – 52-68
- Grapefruit Juice 48
- Orange Juice 46-53
- Pineapple Juice – 46
- Tomato Juice – 38
Most non-starchy vegetables aren’t tested because a person would have to eat so much to get 50 grams of carbohydrate for the test (for example, 20 cups of broccoli). And, in fact, for many of these vegetables, there is so little carbohydrate encased in so much cellulose that they probably cause little or no rise in blood sugar. For this reason, some low-carb diets call these “free” foods. On the other hand, some non-starchy vegetables have more sugar than others, and some, like tomatoes, are actually fruits that will definitely cause a blood sugar rise.
- Beets 64
- Carrots 16-92 average 47
- Corn 37-62, average 53
- Parsnips 97
- Peas, green, fresh or frozen 39-54, average 48
- Potato 56-111 – most averages usually given in high 80s
- Potato, instant – 74-97, average 80
- Rutabaga 72
- Sweet potato – 44-78, average 61*
*Sweet potatoes and yams cover a wide variety of species that are called different things in different places in the world. For example, garnet yams in the U.S. are a type of sweet potato. Species are seldom given in the tables.
Unless otherwise noted, this refers to dried beans or peas which are boiled. When canned beans are tested they tend to have a higher glycemic index.
- Blackeyed peas 33-50
- Butter beans 28-36, average 31
- Chickpeas (garbanzo beans) 31-36
- Chickpeas, canned 42
- Kidney beans 13-46, average 34
- Kidney beans, canned 52
- Lentils 18-37
- Lentils, canned 52
- Navy beans (white beans, haricot) 30-39
- Navy beans, pressure cooked 29-59
- Peas, dried, split 32
- Pinto beans 39
- Pinto beans, canned 45
- Soybeans 15-20
- Soybeans, canned 14
Nuts and Snack Foods
- Cashews 22
- Corn chips 72
- Ice Cream – 37-80
- Peanuts 7-23, average 14
- Popcorn 55-89
- Pop Tarts 70
- Potato chips 51-57
- Jelly Beans 76-80
- Kudos Chocolate Chip Snack Bar 62
- Life Savers 70
- Mars Bar 62-68
- Skittles 70
- Snickers average 55
- Coca Cola – 53-63 average 58
- Gatorade – 78
- Orange Soda – 68