The Glycemic Index (GI) is a scale that ranks carbohydrate-rich foods by how much they raise blood glucose (sugar) levels compared to a standard food.

The standard food is glucose or white bread.

Why should I eat foods with a low Glycemic Index?

Eating foods with a low Glycemic Index may help you to:

  • Control your blood glucose (sugar) level
  • Control your cholesterol level
  • Control your appetite
  • Lower your risk of developing heart disease
  • Lower your risk of developing type 2 diabetes

Meal planning ideas

Use these meal planning ideas to include the Glycemic Index as part of healthy eating.

  • Enjoy vegetables, most fruits and low-fat milk products with your meals. These are carbohydrate-rich foods that, in general, have low glycemic index.
  • Plan your meals with foods in the low and medium Glycemic Index starch choices on the list that follows.
  • Try foods such as barley, bulgar, or lentils, which have a low Glycemic Index.
  • Consult a registered dietitian for help with choosing low GI foods, adapting recipes, and other ways to incorporate low GI foods in your meal plan.

If I eat foods with a low Glycemic Index can I eat as much as I want?

No. Using the Glycemic Index to choose foods is only one part of healthy eating.

Healthy eating also means:

  • Eating at regular times
  • Choosing a variety of foods from all food groups
  • Limiting sugars and sweets
  • Reducing the amount of fat you eat
  • Including foods high in fibre
  • Limiting salt

Remember that checking your blood glucose (sugar) before and two hours after a meal is the best way to know how your body handles the meal.

A lot of starchy foods have a high Glycemic Index (GI). Choose medium and low GI foods more often.

LOW GI (55 or less)*†
Choose most often
MEDIUM GI (56-69)*†
Choose more often
HIGH GI (70 or more)*†
Choose less often
  • 100% stone ground whole
  • wheat
  • Heavy mixed grain
  • Pumpernickel
  • Whole wheat
  • Rye
  • Pita
  • White bread
  • Kaiser roll
  • Bagel, white
  • All Bran™
  • Bran Buds with Psyllium™
  • Oat Bran™
  • Grapenuts™
  • Puffed wheat
  • Oatmeal
  • Quick oats
  • Bran flakes
  • Corn flakes
  • Rice Krispies™
  • Barley
  • Bulgar
  • Pasta/noodles
  • Parboiled or converted rice
  • Basmati rice
  • Brown rice
  • Couscous
  • Short-grain rice
  • Sweet potato
  • Yam
  • Legumes (lentils, chickpeas, kidney beans, split peas, soy beans, baked beans)
  • Potato, new/white
  • Sweet corn
  • Popcorn
  • Stoned Wheat Thins™
  • Ryvita™ (rye crisps)
  • Black bean soup
  • Green pea soup
  • Potato, baking (Russet)
  • French fries
  • Pretzels
  • Rice cakes
  • Soda crackers

*expressed as a percentage of the value for glucose
† Canadian values where available

Adapted with permission from: Foster-Powell K, Holt SHA, Brand-Miller JC. International table of glycemic index and glycemic load values Am J Clin Nutr. 2002;76:5-56

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