Did you know the international glycemic index tables were last updated in 2021 and they reclassified many foods?
The information in this article reflects the most up-to-date data available, and new glycemic load data in the glycemic index fruit chart.
You'll see the lowest glycemic fruits and the best fruits for diabetics.
- What is Glycemic Index?
- What Affects the Glycemic Index of a Food?
- Lowering Glycemic Index
- What Fruit Can a Diabetic Eat?
- Glycemic Load: How does it factor in?
- Glycemic Index Fruit Chart
- 5 Best Fruits for Diabetics
- Low Glycemic Fruits
- More Low Glycemic Info
- Low Glycemic Index Fruits FAQ
- Low Glycemic Vegetables
- More to See
- Reader Reviews
What is Glycemic Index?
Glycemic index (GI) is a scale from 1 to 100 that shows how quickly, or how slowly, a food raises your blood sugar. Foods are assigned a value based on the food eaten by itself, without the influence of other foods.
Be aware that the serving size changes for each food.
Low glycemic foods have a smaller effect on blood sugar than medium or high glycemic foods.
Here's how the scale is broken into low, medium and high.
Glycemic Index Scale
0 to 55 = Low Glycemic
56 to 69 = Medium Glycemic
70 to 100 = High Glycemic
What Affects the Glycemic Index of a Food?
Glycemic index is determined by the food's nutritional information, such as:
- the number of carbohydrates
- the type of carbs (whether simple or complex)
- the amount of fiber
- the amount of fat
- the amount of protein
Additionally, the food's ripeness, processing, form (liquid or solid; long or short grain), cooking method, and more affect its glycemic value.
Simple Carbs vs Complex Carbs - Know Your Carbs
Simple carbohydrates, chemically speaking, are sugar molecules that stand alone, or are paired with one other sugar molecule. They are already in their simplest form, so they enter the blood stream quickly when eaten. If a food has a significant amount of simple carbs, it is likely high glycemic.
Simple carbs are found in fruits, table sugar, dairy, refined grains (white flour), and many common foods that fill the grocery store aisles.
Complex carbohydrates, on the other hand, are long chains of sugar molecules that need to be broken down into simple carbs. This takes time, so complex carbs enter the blood stream at a slower rate.
Complex carbs include beans, whole wheat, brown rice, vegetables, and more.
Lowering Glycemic Index
A food's glycemic value can be raised by removing the the nutrients that help slow carb digestion; like in white flour.
A food's glycemic index cannot be lowered on its own, normally.
An exception to this rule is starchy foods. Check out the GI of potatoes and sweet potato GI.
However, you can lower a food's glycemic effect by eating other foods with it that have significant protein, fat, or fiber. Foods with these nutrients will slow the carbs entering your blood stream.
This fruit pairing chart has a few examples:
What Fruit Can a Diabetic Eat?
A diabetic can eat any fruit!
Fruits are abundant in nutrients and should not be avoided just because they have simple sugars.
No fruit should be ruled out of your diet until you've tested it by portioning and pairing with adequate amounts of protein, fat, and/or fiber. Unfortunately, there is no perfect ratio. It's a trial and error journey.
Glycemic index alone should NOT be the deciding factor as to whether or not you can eat a certain fruit
Glycemic Load: How does it factor in?
Sugars in fruits can spike blood sugar which is why glycemic index is a helpful tool to estimate how quickly it will happen, but it doesn't paint the whole picture.
Glycemic Load uses a food's glycemic index value and factors in portion size to better determine how the food will effect blood glucose. Glycemic load is already calculated in the chart below, but here's the simple equation:
Glycemic Index (x) Carbohydrate (/) 100 = Glycemic Load
To determine the glycemic load of a banana we take the index value (49) and multiply it by the carbs in the serving size (34), then divide by 100.
49 x 34 / 100 = 17 ~ 1 cup of sliced banana has a medium glycemic load.
To demonstrate the usefulness of glycemic load, compare banana to watermelon.
Banana has a GI of 49, and watermelon is 50, but in one cup banana has 34 carbs and watermelon has 12. Banana's glycemic load is medium at 17, but watermelon's load is low at 6.
Glycemic Index Fruit Chart
This chart is (best viewed on desktop). If the 2021 tables lacked data, the tables from 2008 or 2002 were used.
In addition to glycemic index and load, serving size and basic nutrition information are included from the USDA. The table includes common fresh and dried fruits. Any information left blank was unavailable.
Screenshot or Download!
5 Best Fruits for Diabetics
These fresh fruits are high in fiber and/or very low on the glycemic index, making them great for diabetes.
- Citrus - Oranges, Grapefruit
- Berries - Raspberries, Blackberries, Strawberries, Blueberries
Low Glycemic Fruits
This chart graphic is of the best low glycemic and low carb fruits, but remember that a fruit can be eaten with another food to slow your glucose response.
More Low Glycemic Info
Low Glycemic Index Fruits FAQ
Yes; all strawberries and blueberries are low glycemic. Blackberries and raspberries do not have an official glycemic index value but they extremely high in fiber and low sugar.
Apple - 44
Apricot - 42
Banana - 49
Blueberry - 53
Cherry - 22
Coconut - 59
Date, dried, pitted, medjool - 55
Date, pitted, deglet noor - 52
Figs, dried, uncooked - 54
Grape, green, seedless - 54
Grape, red, seedless - 50
Grapefruit - 47
Guava - 29
Jackfruit, fresh - 37
Jujubes, dried - 55
Mango - 48
Nectarine - 43
Orange, navel - 45
Papaya - 38
Pear - 33
Plum - 39
Prunes, pitted - 40
Raisins - 55
Strawberry - 40
Tangerine - 52
Watermelon - 50
Yes; grapes are low glycemic, but almost all of their carbohydrates are sugar.
Low Glycemic Vegetables
Starchy vegetables tend to be root veggies (potatoes, cassava, parsnips) and winter squashes (acorn & butternut), but they also include green peas and corn. They are higher on the glycemic index.
Here's a plethora of non-starchy vegetables diabetics can enjoy without worry of spiking blood sugar.
More to See
Share with us which fruits and pairings work for you in the comments below.
Can you send me the fruit and veggies that can eat for diabetics low glycemic
Hi Lyn! I'm working on a one-sheet that has portion sizes and nutrition info, but that takes time. Everyone has a different tolerance, which is why it's encouraged to experiment with foods. Portioning goes a LONG way, and so does pairing carbs with protein. To give you an idea, even the ADA lists potatoes on their myth-busting sheet even thought they're known to spike blood sugar. Potatoes are nutrient rich, and though some can't tolerate them even when portioned, you may want to try a small portion alongside chicken. I hope this helps, and I will definitely get you a sheet of some "safe" choices.
Beets and turnips listed both as non starchy and starchy vegetables..... which one is it??
Apologies! They are root veggies and they are NON starchy and fairly low carb! I'll get that updated. - Traci
Found this information very halpful.
So glad to hear that. Thank you!
That question mark was not my intention. oops. thank you
Thank You for the information and that download.? much appreciated.