Dieters, diabetics and athletes are concerned with their daily intake of carbohydrates. Low-glycemic carbs aid the fat burning process and gradually increase and prolong energy levels in the body. Low-glycemic carbs are beneficial, whether the consumer is eating according to the glycemic index GI (a guide to the amount of sugar that each food releases into the blood), or the glycemic load (which uses the GI plus the amount of the item consumed).
Bread, Grains and Pasta
Only one bread, multi-grain bread, makes the list and, even then, only the coarse European style is recommended.
Grains having low glycemic carbs are barley, bulgur, buckwheat, couscous and converted rice; while pasta items include linguine, fettuccine, macaroni, and white, protein-enriched, or whole-wheat spaghetti. Meat-filled ravioli also makes the grade. (All pasta has carbohydrates that break down gradually and therefore releases glucose slowly into the blood stream. Thus, they have low-glycemic indexes)
Many fruits, especially berries, feature low-glycemic carbs. Some of these are raspberries, blackberries, strawberries and blueberries. Other fruits include bananas, kiwi, peaches, plums, apples, pears, dried apricots, apples, oranges and grapefruit.
Fruit juices that meet low-glycemic carb requirements are grapefruit juice, pineapple juice and unsweetened apple juice.
The Harvard School of Public Health suggests whole-grain cereals for breakfast. Hot cereals should include steel-cut or old-fashioned oats, and cold cereals should list whole grain such as whole oats or wheat as their first ingredient. Other alternatives are non-instant porridge and All-Bran.
A large variety of vegetables have low-glycemic carbohydrates. These include all varieties of peppers and lettuce, cauliflower, broccoli, asparagus, cucumber, spinach, zucchini, green beans, tomatoes, green peas, celery, eggplant and cooked carrots.
The only potatoes that fit this category of carbohydrates are sweet potatoes and yams.
Peanuts and soy nuts top this list, followed by chickpeas, white beans (including baked beans), butter, kidney and haricot beans and lentils.
Low-fat sweetened, unsweetened and fruit yogurt top the low-glycemic carb list. Other dairy products include semi-skimmed (milk that has some of the cream removed), chocolate, skim, fat-free, full-fat and soy milk.
Most meat has no carbohydrates and therefore has a zero rating on the GI list. However, because of its saturated fat, meals should contain only 25 percent meat, or about 3 oz. Skinless turkey or chicken breast is a good low-glycemic food choice with lean pork and lean beef steak coming in second.
Empty Calorie Items
Some unexpected additions to the low-glycemic carbs list are high in empty calories and not considered beneficial to a healthy low-glycemic diet. According to the website Herbal Vitality, these items include potato chips, crisps, pound cake, chocolate and banana cake which are low-glycemic and below the 55 index, which is the cut-off number for low-glycemic carbs. The South Beach Diet website, as well as other sites, claims that low-fat ice cream, Snickers Bars and Peanut M &M's also are low-glycemic. Here, as in all food, intake amounts must be taken into consideration.