The 10 Best Low-Glycemic Foods

Patient Expert
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The foods that will help you the most to manage your diabetes are the ones that will have little or no effect on your blood glucose. These are the foods that are mostly or entirely protein and fat. Carbohydrates, particularly starch and sugar, have a much greater effect. Fiber is also carbohydrate, but it actually has a small effect on your blood glucose. The term “net carbs” means carbs except for fiber.


No red or white meat or fish has any carbohydrates, so none of them will raise your blood glucose level. Unless you are a vegetarian, these foods are probably important in your diet. Cold water fish have the most heart-friendly fat called omega 3. Wild Pacific salmon is the best of the best. You should avoid farmed salmon, which aren’t as nutritious because they don’t have as much omega 3.


If you aren’t a vegetarian, sardines are another cold water fish that has no carbs and is high in omega 3. While you can sometimes get them fresh, they usually come in convenient tins. Canned sardines can taste great or terrible depending on the quality of the brand.

Cheese, Particularly Gruyere

Even if you can’t eat most dairy products because of lactose intolerance, you can eat one type of cheese, Gruyere. Lactose is the dairy sugar, and sugar is a carbohydrate. Consequently, a food that has no carbs can’t have any lactose. Fortunately, one great tasting cheese called Gruyere has no carbs.

Whole eggs

An egg has less than 1g of carbs. More than any other food, they have the optimal balance of the nine essential amino acids. Everybody knows that eggs have the high amount of cholesterol, but in fact the cholesterol we eat in eggs and other foods has little effect on the cholesterol in our blood.

Nuts are the best travel food

The most portable foods that won’t spike your blood glucose are some nuts, particularly pecans and macadamias. Pecans have only 1g net carbs per ounce; macadamias have only 2g. A problem with nuts comes when you eat salted ones and eat too many. Fortunately, many stores offer also offer unsalted pecans and macadamias. Cashews are the worst nut, because they have too many carbs, 8g net carbs per ounce.

The best bean

All beans, of course, are loaded with carbohydrates. But one type of bean stands out as having a very small effect on you blood glucose level. This is a little-known bean from India called chana dal, which fortunately has become widely available in the United States. This tasty bean has one of the lowest glycemic indexes of any food.

The best fruit

Avocados may be the best fruit for people with diabetes to eat. A typical one is only 4g of net carbs and is mostly monounsaturated fat. Some healthy fruits, like wild blueberries, are actually quite high glycemic. But avocados are one of the lowest glycemic fruits. Others are coconuts, lemons, limes, nopal, olives, and bell peppers, which we don’t think of as a fruit because it isn’t sweet.


The best vegetables are a medley of the non-starchy ones. We have such a wide choice of vegetables, particularly the greens, that it doesn’t make sense to pick just one. Salads can include raw greens like arugula, broccoli, cucumbers, kale, lettuce (except iceberg lettuce, which has little nutrition), spinach, and more. You can cook some of these and other great greens as well as veggies of other colors.

Plant-based milk

The milk of any animal isn’t low glycemic. That’s one reason why many people with diabetes turn to milk that we make from plants. Almond, hemp, and soy milks may have only 1g or 2g of carbs per 8 ounces, but only if they are unsweetened.

Beverages that won’t raise your level

More American adults still drink coffee than anything else besides water, but sweetened soda has sadly become a close second. Drinking coffee will help you to manage your diabetes better unless you add sugar or milk, it won’t budge your blood glucose level. Worldwide, tea is the most consumed beverage after water. Except for soda, all of these beverages will be safe to consume for people living with diabetes.