Low Glycemic Foods

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Low Glycemic Fruits

Low glycemic fruits - both fresh and dried - are among the best food choices one can make to help fulfill carbohydrate and other nutritional needs.

Some fruits - particularly tropical varieties - tend towards the higher range of the glycemic index, with GI values well in excess of 55.

Nonetheless, normal portion sizes of many of these - including wateremlon (GI=70) - have a perfectly acceptable glycemic impact when eaten in "normal" portion sizes. Do NOT be put off by the glycemic index alone - it is the glycemic load of what you actually eats that really matters.

Low Glycemic Fruits List

For your convenience, we have created separate tables (see below) for such "fresh" and "dried" low glycemic fruits. As with all carbohydrate foods, the glycemic load (last column) of your usual portion size should be the focus of the "real world" glycemic impact of these fruits.

Table 1. List of Low Glycemic Fresh Fruits
Food Gly. Index Carbs Gly. Load
Most common berries* (1 cup) 40 8 g 3
Plums (2 whole) 24 14 g 3
Peaches (1 lg.) 28 14 g 4
Cantaloupe (1 slice of lg melon) 70 5 g 4
Nectarines (1 medium) 43 13 g 5
Apricots (5 whole) 34 15 g 5
Oranges (1 med.) 40 13 g 5
Grapefruit (1 avg.) 25 22 g 5
Pears (1 small) 37 18 g 7
Papaya (1 cup chunks) 55 13 g 7
Apples (1 med.) 37 21 g 8
Mango (1/3 lg fruit) 51 15 g 8
Watermelon (1" wedge/240g) 72 12 g 8
Blueberries (1 cup) 50 18 g 9
Pineapple (3/4 cup chunks) 65 14 g 9
Bananas** (1 med.) 42 24 g 10
Copyright © 2012-2013. William Alevizon Ph.D., All Rights reserved.

NOTES: *"Most common berries" include strawberries, blackberries, raspberries. **"Banana" data applies to "just ripe" stage (some green showing, but sweet to taste)

Table 2. List of Low Glycemic Dried Fruits
Food Gly. Index Carbs Gly. Load
Apples (5 slices) 29 15 g 4
Plums (Prunes) (3 pieces) 29 15 g 4
Apricots (7 pieces) 31 16 g 5
Peaches (2 pieces) 35 14 g 5
Pears (2 halves) 29 24 g 7
Copyright © 2012-2013. William Alevizon Ph.D., All Rights reserved.

NOTE: For all tables (above) "Carbs" refers to "Available Carbohydrates" (i.e., total carbohydrate content minus dietary fiber).

Beware: Dried Fruits To Avoid. Because of very high sugar concentrations, two common types of dried fuits are best avoided by those pursuing a low glycemic diet. These are raisins and dates, both of which - when eaten in any but the smallest amounts - deliver an unacceptable glycemic load or amount of fructose.

Low GI Fruit Tips

The following simple tips will help you get the greatest benefit of including healthy fresh fruits in your low glycemic diet.

1. Go Easy on Tropical Fruits

Apples, pears, peaches, plums and other fruits from cooler, temperate climates (e.g., Europe, USA) generally have substantially lower glycemic indices than fruits from the lower latitudes.

Even so, when eaten in small portion sizes many tropical fruits like melons, papaya, mango, and pineapple with comparatively high glycemic index still have an acceptable glycemic load since they are mostly water, with little actual carbohydrate content.

2. Eat Fruits When “Just Ripe”

It makes sense to eat fruits at the minimum stage of ripeness that makes for good taste and easy digestibility if your goal is to minimize glycemic impact while still obtaining the carbs your body needs for fuel.

green bananas
"Just ripe" bananas. © Fotolia.com

Why? Because glycemic index values of fruits change - often dramatically - at different stages of the ripening process, as carbohydrate composition changes from complex starches to simple sugars.

A laboratory test of this phenomenon revealed that the GI of bananas, for example, changes from around 30 when still green to more than 50 when the skin is all yellow flecked with brown.

You may need to experiment a bit with your favorite fruits to find out just where that “sweet spot” is for you for each fruit variety.

3. Beware of "Magical" Diet Fruit Scams

In the never-ending quest of interenet scammers to separate you from your money, few scams have been as widespread (or successful) as the "miracle jungle fruit" series.

beware of scams
Beware the "magical" jungle fruit discovery scam

Typically, these ads pop up all over the web for a year or so and promise to remove pounds and "belly fat" like magic, and cure everything from cancer to pimples.

The poster child for this breed of scams was the notorious (and totally discredited) claims for the wonders of acai berries. The latest (as of 2014) reincarnations of this ongoing snake oil sales scheme are:

Don't be taken in by the fake tesitimonials and pseudo-science that are the trademarks of this line of pure baloney. If any of these claims had valid scientific backing, they would be all over the real news and legitimate academic sites Like Harvard Health, Mayo Clinic, Web MD, etc.), and your doctor would let you know about them.

4. Choose Organic Fruits

We suggest that you strive to choose organically grown fruits.

Organic fruits have been shown to contain more vitamins and less pesticides than their non-organic equivalents.

Even though non-organic forms often contain only trace amounts of pesticides or unhealthy growth-enhancing chemicals, these toxic substances can bio-accumulate. This means that they are retained in the body long after the foods that got them into your system are digested and gone. The long-term cumulative effects of such bio-accumulated toxins that can interfere with your goal of achieving optimal health.

Choosing organic fruits helps avoid such problems. As an added bonus, organic fruits just plain seem to taste better as well.

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