Glycemic Index

Learn about the Glycemic Index which is a scoring system that ranks carbohydrate foods in value from 0 to 100 based on their effect on increased concentrated blood-sugar levels.

Learn about the glycemic index of foods.

Learn about Glycemic Index

Glycemic index is a standard of measure based on scores assigned to foods that rank carbohydrates based on how quickly, and in what time span, the food is converted into a simple sugar or glucose in the blood. The rank or number a carbohydrate receives is determined by testing. Testing a food for its glycemic index value is accomplished by human trial. A person is given a standard portion of food after a 12 hour fast. Measurements are then taken at specific intervals of time to determine how rapidly the food converts to glucose in the bloodstream. Notice the carbohydrate foods illustrated in the image above, note the variety of fruits, breads, juices, and fruits. Can you identify the foods in the image that might score the highest on the glycemic index?

Foods that breakdown quickly during digestion are assigned a higher number on the glycemic index. Foods that break down slowly are assigned a lower number on the glycemic index. The standard of measure of glucose, or simple sugar, is rated at 100. Essentially, when you eat foods like bread, white potatoes, rice, pasta, candy or cookies your blood sugar will rise quickly. These foods are assigned a high number on the glycemic index because the food breaks down during digestion very quickly causing a surge of sugar in the blood. This is called high blood sugar. People who frequently eat high glycemic foods can develop insulin resistance. In insulin resistance, liver, fat, and muscle cells do not respond properly to insulin and therefore cannot absorb glucose from the bloodstream. Because of insulin resistance, the pancreas creates higher levels of insulin to help glucose leave the bloodstream to enter cells. Over time, this process of insulin resistance can play a part leading to type 2 diabetes.

Click on the + sign to evaluate the glycemic index of common foods.

FOODGlycemic index (glucose = 100)Serving size (grams)Glycemic load per serving
Banana cake, made with sugar476014
Banana cake, made without sugar556012
Sponge cake, plain466317
Vanilla cake made from packet mix with vanilla frosting (Betty Crocker)4211124
Apple, made with sugar446013
Apple, made without sugar48609
Waffles, Aunt Jemima (Quaker Oats)763510
Bagel, white, frozen727025
Baguette, white, plain953015
Coarse barley bread, 75-80% kernels, average34307
Hamburger bun61309
Kaiser roll733012
Pumpernickel bread56307
50% cracked wheat kernel bread583012
White wheat flour bread713010
Wonder™ bread, average733010
Whole wheat bread, average71309
100% Whole Grain™ bread (Natural Ovens)51307
Pita bread, white683010
Corn tortilla525012
Wheat tortilla30508
Coca Cola®, average63250 mL16
Fanta®, orange soft drink68250 mL23
Lucozade®, original (sparkling glucose drink)95±10250 mL40
Apple juice, unsweetened, average44250 mL30
Cranberry juice cocktail (Ocean Spray®)68250 mL24
Gatorade78250 mL12
Orange juice, unsweetened50250 mL12
Tomato juice, canned38250 mL4
All-Bran™, average553012
Coco Pops™, average773020
Cornflakes™, average933023
Cream of Wheat™ (Nabisco)6625017
Cream of Wheat™, Instant (Nabisco)7425022
Grapenuts™, average753016
Muesli, average663016
Oatmeal, average5525013
Instant oatmeal, average8325030
Puffed wheat, average803017
Raisin Bran™ (Kellogg’s)613012
Special K™ (Kellogg’s)693014
Pearled barley, average2815012
Sweet corn on the cob, average6015020
Couscous, average651509
White rice, average8915043
Quick cooking white basmati6715028
Brown rice, average5015016
Converted, white rice (Uncle Ben’s®)3815014
Whole wheat kernels, average305011
Bulgur, average4815012
Graham crackers742514
Vanilla wafers772514
Rice cakes, average822517
Rye crisps, average642511
Soda crackers742512
Ice cream, regular57506
Ice cream, premium38503
Milk, full fat41250mL5
Milk, skim32250 mL4
Reduced-fat yogurt with fruit, average3320011
Apple, average391206
Banana, ripe6212016
Dates, dried426018
Grapes, average5912011
Orange, average401204
Peach, average421205
Peach, canned in light syrup401205
Pear, average381204
Pear, canned in pear juice431205
Prunes, pitted296010
Baked beans, average401506
Blackeye peas, average3315010
Black beans301507
Chickpeas, average101503
Chickpeas, canned in brine381509
Navy beans, average311509
Kidney beans, average291507
Lentils, average291505
Soy beans, average151501
Cashews, salted27503
Peanuts, average7500
Fettucini, average3218015
Macaroni, average4718023
Macaroni and Cheese (Kraft)6418032
Spaghetti, white, boiled, average4618022
Spaghetti, white, boiled 20 min, average5818026
Spaghetti, wholemeal, boiled, average4218017
Corn chips, plain, salted, average425011
Fruit Roll-Ups®993024
M & M’s®, peanut33306
Microwave popcorn, plain, average55206
Potato chips, average515012
Pretzels, oven-baked833016
Snickers Bar®516018
Green peas, average51804
Carrots, average35802
Baked russet potato, average11115033
Boiled white potato, average8215021
Instant mashed potato, average8715017
Sweet potato, average7015022
Yam, average5415020
Hummus (chickpea salad dip)6300
Chicken nuggets, frozen, reheated in microwave oven 5 min461007
Pizza, plain baked dough, served with parmesan cheese and tomato sauce8010022
Pizza, Super Supreme (Pizza Hut)361009
Honey, average612512

Harvard Medical School. “Glycemic index and glycemic load for 100+ foods.” Harvard Health Publications, 28 May 2005. Web. 08 Sept. 2014.

Eating foods that rank on the mid to low end of the glycemic index scale can help you to keep stable blood sugar levels. Foods in this category are whole foods that contain fiber and macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates, and fat). For example, fibrous vegetables eaten along with foods that contain healthy fats and protein is better than eating high sugar foods alone. If you eat an apple, eat the whole apple because the skin of the apple contains fiber. The apple’s skin aids in lowering the glycemic index of the apple when compared to eating the apple without the skin. In addition to eating foods that contain fiber and macronutrients that are ranked lower on the glycemic index scale, getting adequate sleep nightly, daily physical exercise, and maintaining your ideal healthy weight can keep you healthy.

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nutrition was last modified: September 24th, 2017 by Derek Curtice