Glycemic Load

While pasta has a low glycemic index, it has a high glycemic load

While the glycemic index (GI) serves as a good general guide for how foods affect blood sugar, it fails to take one aspect into consideration: amount.

And that’s really important because it’s BOTH quality (the GI rating) and quantity (serving size) of carbohydrate that impacts blood sugar.

Glycemic Load =  Type of Carb + Amount of Carb

While the glycemic index (GI) measures glycemic response after consuming a standard amount (50 grams) of carbohydrate from a particular food, the glycemic load (GL) ranks foods according to how much carbohydrate is in a regular serving of the food in question. And this is a really important consideration.

Let’s put this into practice.

Carrots have a high glycemic index of 68. But you would have to eat a bunch of carrots (literally!) to get to 50 grams of carbohydrate. And that’s pretty unlikely. (Glycemic Load of carrots is just 3)

Pasta, on the other hand, has a relatively low glycemic index of 38. But 50-100 grams of carbohydrate are easy to reach in a single serving of spaghetti (especially if it’s a gigantic restaurant portion). (Glycemic Load of spaghetti is 14).

Formula for Calculating Glycemic Load

Here’s the formula for calculating Glycemic Load (GL):

GL =  (GI Value x Carbohydrate Per Serving)
100

 Now you’re probably wondering – “What do these numbers mean?”… and “How can I ensure I’m eating a diet with a low glycemic load?”

Glycemic Load: High, Medium & Low

Just like the glycemic index, glycemic load is categoriezed as low, moderate and high.

Low Glycemic Load = Less than 10 (has low glycemic impact)
Moderate Glycemic Load = Between 10 and 20 (moderate effect on blood-sugar )
High Glycemic Load  = Above 20 (spikes blood sugar levels)

The Glycemic Load of Specific Foods

Now let’s take a look at the glycemic load of individual foods, by category.

DAIRY & EGGS

dairy

Choose organic, full-fat dairy – not skim or fat-free – for the best glycemic response

When it comes to dairy foods, those with added sugars (like ice cream) or those that naturally contain more lactose– or milk sugar– will be higher in carbohydrates and therefore higher on the glycemic index.

But what may really surprise you is that full fat milk products have a lower glycemic impact than low fat an fat-free milks. The reason is two-fold: first, there’s less milk sugar present and second, fat blunts the body’s response to carbs.

Choosing organic dairy foods—preferably raw and from grass-fed sources– helps to reduce your exposure to hormones (including rBGH) and also boosts your intake of a metabolism-boosting, cancer-fighting fat called conjugated linolenic acid (CLA) in your diet.

Food Glycemic Index
(White Bread)
Glycemic Index
(Glucose)
Glycemic Load
(Per Serving)
Organic Eggs 0 0 0
Organic Cheese 0 0 0
Organic Kefir 15 11
Organic Milk, Full Fat 39 27 3
Organic Skim Milk 46 32 4
Organic Yogurt 51 36 3
Ice Cream, Premium 54 38 3
Ice Cream, Low Fat 71 50 3
Ice Cream, Regular 87 61 8

 

NUTS & SEEDS

healthy nuts and seeds

Nuts aren’t just low glycemic, but they can actually reduce the glycemic impact of carb-rich meal by as much as 50%!

Once maligned as “forbidden” foods, research proves that nuts and seeds are some of the most healthful, disease-fighting foods on the planet.

In fact, countless studies show that nut noshers have trimmer waistlines and less inflammation in the body. And as you might expect, those who enjoy these parcels of protection also have a lower risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer and other lifestyle- related disease.

Due to their high ratio of health fat to carbohydrate, nuts and seeds fall low on the glycemic index or have zero glycemic impact. Cashews and peanuts—neither of which are true “nuts—are the exception having a slightly higher carbohydrate count and glycemic impact than their shelled cousins.

Food Glycemic Index
(White Bread)
Glycemic Index
(Glucose)
Glycemic Load
(Per Serving)
Almonds 0 0 0
Brazil Nut 0 0 0
Cashews 22 31 3
Chia Seeds 0 0 0
Coconut 0 0 0
Flax Seeds 0 0 0
Hazelnuts 0 0 0
Peanuts 21 15 1
Pecans 0 0 0
Pine nuts 0 0 0
Pistachios 0 0 0
Poppy Seeds 0 0 0
Pumpkin Seeds 0 0 0
Sesame Seeds 0 0 0
Sunflower Seeds 0 0 0

 

LEAFY GREENS & NON-STARCHY VEGETABLES

greens

Have a field day with greens and non-starch veggies like asparagus, mushrooms, and asparagus – they have little effect on blood sugar and provide powerful nutrients.

Unlike the foods that are primarily protein and fat (like fish, poultry, meats, oils, nuts, seeds and cheeses), leafy greens and non-starchy vegetables do contain some carbohydrate and therefore we’ve listed an approximate glycemic load score.

These low glycemic, nutrient-dense foods provide an array of anti-aging phytonutrients and should comprise the majority of your plate.

Be sure to vary your veggies to beat taste bud boredom and get more benefits – studies show that eating a variety of veggies provides more powerful DNA protection than eating the same-ole, same-ole.

Food Serving Size Estimated Glycemic Load
(Per Serving)
Alfalfa Sprouts 1 cup 0
Artichokes 1/2 cup, hearts 2
Asparagus 1 cup 2
Avocado 1 ounce 1
Arugula 1/2 cup 0
Broccoli 1 cup, chopped 3
Brussels Sprouts 1 cup, chopped 3
Bok Choy 1 cup 1
Bamboo Shoots 1 ounce 0
Cabbage 1 cup, chopped 2
Cauliflower 1 cup, florets 2
Celery 1 stalk 0
Chicory 1 cup 0
Collards 1 cup, chopped 1
Cucumber 1 cup, chopped 1
Chard 1 cup, chopped 1
Dandelion Greens 1 cup, chopped 2
Eggplant 1 cup, cubes 1
Endive 1/2 cup, chopped 0
Fennel 1 ounce 1
Ginger 1 teaspoon 0
Garlic 1 clove 0
Green Beans 1 cup 3
Hearts of Palm 1 ounce 1
Kale 1 cup, chopped 1
Kohlrabi 1 cup, chopped 3
Lettuce 1 cup 1
Leeks 1/4 cup chopped 1
Mushrooms 1/2 cup, pieces 1
Mustard Greens 1 cup, chopped 1
Onions 1 ounce 1
Peppers 1 cup, slices 2
Purslane 1 cup 1
Radishes 1/2 cup, slices 1
Radicchio 1/2 cup, chopped 1
Spinach 1 cup 0
Summer Squash 1 ounce 1
Tomatoes 1 cup, cooked 4
Water Chestnuts 1 ounce 5
Watercress 1 cup 0

 

LEGUMES

Not only are most varieties of legumes very low glycemic (thanks to their high soluble fiber, high amylose content), but they’re also packed with age-defying, disease- fighting antioxidants and rank high on the ORAC scale.

Food Glycemic Index
(White Bread)
Glycemic Index
(Glucose)
Glycemic Load
(Per Serving)
Soy beans* 25 18 1
Black beans, soaked,
cooked 45 minutes
28 20 5
Lentils, red 36 25 5
Kidney beans, boiled 39 28 7
Chickpeas 39 28 8
Lentils 41 29 5
Butter beans 44 31 6
Split peas, yellow, boiled 45 32 6
Lima beans, baby, frozen 46 32 10
Haricot/navy beans 54 38 12
Pinto beans 55 39 10
Chick peas, curry, canned 58 41 7
Black-eyed beans 59 41 13
Pinto beans, canned 64 45 10
Romano beans 65 46 8
Baked beans, canned 69 48 7
Kidney beans, canned 74 52 9
Lentils, green, canned 74 52 9

 

ROOT VEGETABLES & STARCHY VEGETABLES

carrots

Try roasted carrots for a nutrient-rich, slightly sweet treat with a low glycemic load.

While plain-old spuds get the boot in your low-glycemic kitchen, make sure sweet potatoes, beets, pumpkin, rutabagas and carrots keep a regular appearance at your table.

Why? Because despite their higher ranking on the glycemic index, they have a low glycemic load and also offer an abundance of health-promoting nutrients.

Craving mashed potatoes? Try our ultra low carb mashers made from cauliflower for a creamy treat with little glycemic impact.

Food Glycemic Index
(White Bread)
Glycemic Index
(Glucose)
Glycemic Load
(Per Serving)
Yam 53 37 13
Sweet peas 68 48 3
Sweet potato (Canada) 69 48 16
Corn 78 55 9
Potato, new 81 57 12
Beets 91 64 5
Potato, steamed, peeled 93 65 18
Carrots, cooked 68 47 3
Rutabaga 103 72 7
Potato, boiled, mashed 105 74 15
Pumpkin 107 75 3
Potato, instant 118 83 17
Potato, baked (Russet) 121 85 26
Parsnips 139 97 12

FRUITS & FRUIT JUICES

blueberries fight free radicals

Stick with organic berries – in their whole food form – to enjoy the benefits of fruit… without the blood sugar spike.

When it comes to your health, most fruit is not your friend.

When choosing fruits, opt for organic berries, citrus and stone fruits (i.e– plums, peaches, apricots). Not only are these lower on the glycemic index, but they are also the highest in antioxidants and fiber, so you get more “bang” in each bite.

Love juice? You can still enjoy it. Just make a sparkler— mix 1 ounce organic juice with 7 ounces sparkling mineral water to reduce the glycemic impact, sugars and calories.

Food Glycemic Index
(White Bread)
Glycemic Index
(Glucose)
Glycemic Load
(Per Serving)
Cherries 32 22 3
Grapefruit 36 25 3
Apricots, dried 43 30 8
Pear, fresh 53 38 4
Apple 54 38 6
Plum 55 39 5
Apple juice 57 40 12
Peach, fresh 60 42 5
Orange 63 44 5
Pear, canned 63 44 5
Grapes 66 46 8
Pineapple juice 66 46 15
Peach, canned 67 47 4
Grapefruit juice 69 48 11
Orange juice 74 52 13
Kiwi fruit 75 53 6
Banana 77 54 12
Mango 80 56 8
Apricots, fresh 82 57 5
Figs, dried 87 64 16
Raisins 91 64 28
Cantaloupe 93 65 4
Pineapple 94 66 7
Watermelon 103 72 4
Dates 147 103 42

GRAINS

Looking for the cause of the diabesity epidemic? The answer may lie at the bottom of the fatally-flawed USDA pyramid. Grains!

Cereal for breakfast, bread at lunch, rice or pasta at dinner. These quick-converting foods are not only nutrient devoid, but they also promote inflammation and encourage your body to store fat.

If that’s not reason enough, grains cooked at high temperatures (like cereals, breads, snack bars, etc) contain a cancer-causing substance called acrylamide.

Food Glycemic Index
(White Bread)
Glycemic Index
(Glucose)
Glycemic Load
(Per Serving)
Rye, whole kernels 48 34 13
Rice, long grain,
boiled 5 minutes
58 41 16
Wheat kernels 59 41 14
Bulgur 68 48 12
Rice, parboiled
(Canada)
68 48 18
Rice, parboiled, high
amylose
50 35 14
Barley, cracked 72 50 21
Rice, long grain +
wild rice (Uncle Ben’s)
77 54 20
Rice, brown 79 55 18
Rice, wild,
Saskatchewan
81 57 18
Rice, white 91 64 23
Basmati rice, white,
high amylose
83 58 22
Couscous 93 65 23
Barley, rolled 94 66 25
Taco shells 97 68 8
Cornmeal 98 69 9
Millet 101 71 25
Tapioca, boiled
with milk
115 81 14
Rice, white, low
amylose
126 88 38
Rice, instant, boiled
6 min
128 90 36
Amaranth 139 97 21

 

PASTA

Grain-based pasta is a rapidly-converting carbohydrate that should be avoided.

Opt instead for noodle alternatives like zucchini noodles, spaghetti squash or zero glycemic Miracle Noodles made from glucomannan.

Food Glycemic Index
(White Bread)
Glycemic Index
(Glucose)
Glycemic Load
(Per Serving)
Spaghetti, protein enriched 38 27 14
Fettuccine, egg 46 32 15
Mung bean noodles 47 33
Vermicelli 50 35 16
Spaghetti, wholemeal 53 37 16
Star pastina 54 38 18
Spaghetti, white, boiled
5 min
54 38 18
Ravioli, durum, meat filled 56 39 15
Spirali, durum 61 43 19
Spaghetti, white, boiled
10-15 min
64 44 21
Capellini (Angel Hair) 64 45 20
Linguine 65 46 22
Macaroni 67 47 23
Instant noodles 67 47 19
Tortellini, cheese 71 50 10
Macaroni and Cheese 92 64 32
Gnocchi 95 67 33
Rice pasta, brown 131 92 35

CEREAL

Cereal is not a “breakfast of champions”. In addition to the high glycemic impact, cereals offer little more nutrition than fortified carbs, gluten and sugar.

Want a tastier and healthier way to start your day? How about an Anti-Aging Smoothie (made with whey protein and antioxidant-packed blueberries) or Southwestern Scrambled Eggs. Not only will these breakfasts keep you full longer, but they also kick up your body’s most powerful antioxidant and detoxifier – glutathione.

Food Glycemic Index
(White Bread)
Glycemic Index
(Glucose)
Glycemic Load
(Per Serving)
Rice Bran 27 19 3
Kelloggs’ All Bran 42 60
Kelloggs’ All Bran
Fruit ‘n Oats
55 39 7
Kelloggs’ Guardian 59 41 5
Porridge (made from
rolled oats)
70 49 13
Bran Buds 75 53 7
Special K 77 54 14
Oat bran 78 55 11
Muesli 80 56 9
Kelloggs’ Mini-Wheats
(whole  wheat)
83 58 12
Bran Chex 83 58 11
Kelloggs’ Just Right 84 59 13
Quick Oats 94 66 17
Instant Oats 94 66 17
Life 94 66 15
Nutri-grain 94 66 10
Cream of Wheat 94 66 17
Puffed Wheat 105 74
Bran Flakes 106 74 13
Cheerios 106 74 15
Shredded wheat 107 75 15
Corn Bran 107 75 15
Total 109 76 17
Cocopops 110 77 20
Post Grapenut Flakes 114 80 17
Rice Krispies 117 82 22
Corn Chex 118 83 21
Cornflakes 119 83 21
Crispix 124 87 22
Rice Chex 127 89 23

 

SWEETENERS

If you think being healthy means giving up brownies, cake, cookies and ice cream, you’re in for a sweet surprise.

With the latest all-natural, low glycemic sweeteners (including erythritol, stevia and xylitol) you can have your cake and stay well too.

A note of caution: Despite fructose and agave nectar having low glycemic indexes and glycemic loads, these sweeteners are primarily fructose, which has a range of negative effects.

Food Glycemic Index
(White Bread)
Glycemic Index
(Glucose)
Glycemic Load
(Per Serving)
Erythritol 0 0 0
Stevia 0 0 0
Xylitol 11 8 1
Agave nectar, light
97% fructose
14 10 1
Fructose 32 22 2
Lactose 65 46 5
Honey 83 58 10
High fructose corn
syrup
89 62
Sucrose 92 64 7
Glucose 137 96
Maltose 150 105 11

Sweet Treats with a Low Glycemic Load

In addition to enjoying delicious healthy desserts made with the zero glycemic sweeteners, you might be surprised to learn that some of the sweetest foods have very low glycemic scores. That’s because these foods have very little starch and a healthy supply of soluble fiber. And they’re teeming with antioxidants to boot!

  • Cherries: GI=22, GL=3
  • Blueberries: Estimated GL*=6
  • Raspberries: Estimated GL*=3
  • Cocoa: Estimated GL*=4

 

 

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References 
Glycemic index website and official GI database - University of Sydney. Liu S, Willett WC. Dietary glycemic load and atherothrombotic risk. Curr Atheroscler Rep. 2002;4(6):454-461. Ludwig DS. The glycemic index: physiological mechanisms relating to obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. JAMA. 2002;287(18):2414-2423. Fernandes G, Velangi A, Wolever TM. Glycemic index of potatoes commonly consumed in North America. J Am Diet Assoc. 2005;105(4):557-562. Foster-Powell K, Holt SH, Brand-Miller JC. International table of glycemic index and glycemic load values: 2002. Am J Clin Nutr. 2002;76(1):5-56. Willett WC. Eat, Drink, and be Healthy: The Harvard Medical School Guide to Healthy Eating. New York: Simon & Schuster; 2001. Willett W, Manson J, Liu S. Glycemic index, glycemic load, and risk of type 2 diabetes. Am J Clin Nutr. 2002;76(1):274S-280S.

About The Author

Kelley Herring, founder of Healing Gourmet, is a natural nutrition enthusiast with a background in biochemistry. Her passion is educating on how foods promote health and protect against disease and creating simple and delicious recipes for vibrant health and enjoyment.

Kelley Herring – who has written posts on Healing Gourmet.


Comments

  1. Francine Perlman says:

    You seem to be putting the kibosh on white potatoes. “While plain-old spuds get the boot in your low-glycemic kitchen, make sure sweet potatoes…keep a regular appearance at your table”. But on your list,
    Yam has a G 13, Sweet potato 16, new potatoes, 12, and Potato, steamed, peeled 18, not too much higher. Also low-fat ice cream seems better than higher fat, even though you recommend against low fat dairy products.

    Please explain. Thank you.

    • Kelley Herring says:

      Hi Francine,
      Thank you for your questions.

      The glycemic index is one part of the equation when it comes to potatoes. Nutritional value is another important factor to consider. In general, most plant foods provide far more nutritional value than white potatoes. You’ll find here at Healing Gourmet we talk about eating foods that give you the most nutritional “bang per bite”. These are the foods we all should be consuming to boost levels of important nutrients that ward of disease and slow the signs of physical aging. A few of my favorite nutrient-dense foods include kale, butternut squash, berries, sauerkraut, bone both, coconut oil, and liver.

      Regarding fat, healthy fat is an essential part of a disease-fighting diet. Low fat foods aren’t just lacking in healthy fats, but they typically have more sugar, spike your blood sugar faster and contain additives.

      Please use the search tool on our site to learn more, or check out our program The Food Cure to learn about these topics in depth.

      Be Well,
      Kelley

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  1. […] So how do we know how much sugar is in our food and how our body processes it? This is really broken down into two categories. The first is glycemic index (GI), or the number associated with consuming a standard amount (50 g) of a type of food and its effect on a person’s blood sugar. The second is glycemic load (GL), or how much is associated with a normal serving of a particular food. Huh? Here’s an example: […]

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