Glycemic index chart of Indian foods

As a diabetic, planning what to eat and when is incredibly important – What you eat will have a direct impact on your blood sugar level, and keeping this under control is vital if you want to manage your diabetes successfully.

Thankfully, there are plenty of tools and resources available to help you plan your diet effectively.

One tool that’s particularly useful is the “glycemic index”. Here’s what you need to know about it, and how to get started:

What is the glycemic index?

The glycemic index (GI) is a measure used to describe how quickly a food raises your blood sugar level after you eat it. It’s a scale from 0 to 100.

High GI foods are foods that you digest and absorb quickly, causing a rapid spike in blood sugar level – White bread, sugary drinks and candy are examples of high GI foods.

Low GI foods are foods that you digest and absorb more slowly, resulting in a slower and more gradual increase in blood sugar level – Whole grains, fruits, vegetables and legumes are examples of low GI foods.

A variety of factors affect a food’s GI rating. These include:

  • what type of carbohydrate they are
  • the amount of fibre they contain
  • the amount of fat they contain
  • how they’re cooked.

For example, foods that are high in fibre usually have a lower GI because the fibre slows down the digestion and absorption of the carbohydrates.

What counts as high, medium and low GI?

High GI foods:

  • Have a GI value of 70 or higher
  • Cause a rapid spike in blood sugar level after consumption

Medium GI foods:

  • Have a GI value between 56 and 69
  • Cause a moderate increase in blood sugar level after consumption

Low GI foods:

  • Have a GI value of 55 or lower
  • Cause a slow and gradual increase in blood sugar levels after consumption

How is GI measured?

To measure the glycemic index (GI) of a food, a specific amount of that food (containing 50 grams of carbohydrates) is fed to a group of people and their blood sugar levels are monitored for the next 2 hours – This is done in a clinical setting (e.g. a hospital or research facility) under controlled conditions.

At a different time, the same group of people are also fed a ‘reference’ food (such as glucose or white bread).

The effect of the reference food and the test food are then compared. The reference food is assigned a GI value of 100. The GI value of the test food is then calculated as a percentage of the reference food’s GI value – This is done by taking the area under the curve of the blood sugar response to the test food and dividing it by the area under the curve of the reference food's blood sugar response. This gives a value between 0 and 100.

Why is knowing a food’s glycemic index important for diabetics?

As a diabetic, knowing a food’s glycemic index (GI) lets you make more informed decisions about what you eat, and how much of it you eat. This is because a food’s GI value gives you an idea of how quickly it can raise blood glucose levels.

Foods with a high GI can cause your blood sugar level to spike rapidly. This is a problem, because over time high blood sugar levels can damage blood vessels and nerves, leading to serious complications (such as heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, and neuropathy).

Foods with a low GI are broken down more slowly, so your blood sugar level increases more gradually. This gives you more time to address it, and take medication (e.g. insulin) to lower it again if needed. And by managing your blood sugar level better, avoiding spikes and high blood sugar levels, you reduce your risk of complications.

Glycemic index chart for Indian foods

Here are some common Indian foods which have a high GI value (70 or over):

Food Glycemic index (GI) value
Amaranth 97
Appam 73
Bread (White) 100
Breadfruit 65
Chikku 73
Cornflakes 93
Donuts 76
Dosa 56-78
Green tea 79
Idli 60-70
Jaggery (Gur) 84
Naan 71
Pongal 87-93
Potato (Baked) 87
Potato (Boiled) 78
Potato (Mashed) 92
Potato (French fries) 75
Puffed rice 90
Pumpkin 75
Rice milk 86
Shredded wheat 70
Sorghum (Jowar) 70
Tapioca 70
Watermelon 76
White rice 79
Whole wheat bread 74

Here are some common Indian foods which have a medium GI value (between 56 and 69):

Food Glycemic index (GI) value
Banana (Overripe) 57
Burfi 38-45
Chapatti (Bajra) 67
Chapatti (Corn) 64
Chapatti (Wheat) 66
Coca-cola 63
Couscous 65
Cranberry juice 68
Finger millet (Ragi) 54-68
Honey 58
Instant oats 66
Jackfruit 50-60
Papaya 60
Poha 38-64
Puri (Wholewheat) 57
Raisins 64
Rice cakes 82
Sabudana 67
Semolina (Rawa) 66
Sugar (Brown) 64
Sugar (White) 65
Upma 68
Whole wheat roti 62

Here are some common Indian foods which have a low GI value (between 40 and 55):

Food Glycemic index (GI) value
Apple juice (Unsweetened) 44
Banana chips 44
Banana (Ripe) 47-53
Basmati rice 55
Black gram (Urad dal) 43
Black rice 42
Black-eyed peas (Chawli/Raungi) 42
Blueberries 53
Brown rice 55
Buckwheat (Kuttu) 45-51
Buckwheat flour (Kuttu ka   atta) 49
Carrots (Boiled) 32-49
Cheela (Bengal) 42
Coconut 42
Coconut water 54
Corn 52
Custard apple 55
Custard (Plain) 52
Dates 44-53
Elephant foot yam (Suran) 51
Grapes 53
Grapefruit 53
Kiwi 50
Mango 51-55
Multigrain bread 41
Oats 55
Orange 43
Orange juice (Unsweetened) 50
Peach 42
Pearl millet (Bajra) 54
Pomegranate 53
Quinoa 53
Strawberries 40
Sweet lime 40-50
Sweet potato   (Shakarkandi) 54
Whole wheat pasta 40
Yam 54

Here are some common Indian foods which have a very low GI value (between 25 and 39):

Food Glycemic index (GI) value
Apple 36
Barley flour (Jau ka   sattu) 25
Barnyard millet (Khichdi) 35
Black chickpeas (Kala   channa) 28
Buttermilk 35
Chapatti (Barley) 37
Chapatti (Besan) 27
Cumin seeds (Jeera) 36
Dhokla 35
Dried apricots 32
Flaxseed 35
Green beans 32
Ice cream (Vanilla) 27-37
Laddu 24-29
Milk 34-38
Mung beans (Moong dal) 38
Paneer 27
Pears 38
Plum 39
Prunes 29
Pumpkin seeds 25
Red lentils (Whole   masoor) 32-37
Sago 27
Sesame seeds 35
Soy milk 30
Split pigeon peas (Arhar   dal) 29
Sunflower seeds 35
Tomato juice 38

Here are some common Indian foods which have an extremely low GI value (less than 25):

Food Glycemic index (GI) value
Almonds 0
Bitter gourd (Karela) 18
Black tea 0
Bottle gourd   (Doodhi/Lauki) 15
Broccoli 15
Butter 0
Cabbage 10-15
Capsicum 15
Carrots (Raw) 16
Cashew nuts (Kaju) 22
Cauliflower 10
Cheese 0-10
Cherries 20
Chia seeds 4
Chickpeas (Channa) 6
Coffee (Black) 0
Cucumber (Vellarikka) 15
Eggplant   (Baingan/Brinjal) 15
Fenugreek 0
Gooseberry 15
Gram flour (Besan) 10
Green peas 22
Guava 12-24
Kidney beans (Rajma) 24
Lemon 20
Okra 20
Onion 10
Peanuts 13
Pineapple 19
Pistachio 15
Raita 15
Red gram dal (Tur dal) 18
Roasted gram flour (Sattu) 28
Soya beans 15-20
Spinach (Palak) 15
Tamarind 23
Walnuts 15
Yoghurt (Plain) 14
Zucchini 10-15

Are there any problems with using glycemic index?

Knowing a food’s glycemic index (GI) can be useful for managing diabetes. However, there are some drawbacks to relying only on foods’ GI values when planning a diabetic-friendly diet.

Here are some of the limitations and drawbacks of the glycemic index:

  • Subjective – A food’s GI value provides an idea of how quickly it can raise blood glucose levels. However, the actual impact of a food on your blood sugar can vary depending on a number of factors, such as your insulin sensitivity, level of physical activity, and what other foods you ate at the same time.
  • Limited nutrition – If you only eat foods with a low GI value, you limit the range of your diet and may not get enough nutrition from your food. For example, certain fruits and vegetables may have high GI values, but provide other nutritional benefits. If you avoid them, you may have nutrient deficiencies. Sweet potatoes for instance have a high GI value (70), but are also a rich source of vitamin A, vitamin C, and manganese.
  • Glycemic load – A food’s GI value gives an idea of how quickly a food can raise your blood glucose level, but doesn’t take into account how much of it you’re eating or how many carbohydrates it contains. A food’s glycemic load value, which takes into account the food’s GI value, serving size and amount of carbohydrates, can provide a more useful measurement (though is more time-consuming and complicated to calculate).

Is glycemic index right for you?

When making dietary decisions as a diabetic, understanding foods’ glycemic index (GI) value can be useful – Low GI foods are better for diabetics, giving you a greater chance of successfully managing your blood sugar levels and reducing the risk of complications.

However, it's important to keep in mind that the GI values of foods can vary depending on a number of factors (including the preparation method). And bear in mind, everyone’s different and the impact of your diet is subjective – How a food affects your blood sugar level can vary, and will depend on things like your insulin sensitivity, level of physical activity, and other foods you ate at the same time.

When planning a healthy diet, you also shouldn’t focus solely on your foods’ GI. You need to consider additional factors as well, like how much fibre, fat, and protein they contain, as well as vitamins and nutrients.

If you’re keen to prepare a healthy diet plan it’s a good idea to talk to a specialised healthcare professional, like a diabetes educator or a nutritionist. They can help you develop a customised diet and diabetes management plan, tailored to your unique needs and goals.

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