Carbohydrates and the Glycemic Load

Researchers have developed a way to classify foods that takes into account both the amount of carbohydrate in the food and the impact of that carbohydrate on blood sugar levels. This measure is called the glycemic load. A food’s glycemic load is determined by multiplying its glycemic index by the amount of carbohydrate it contains.

Here is a listing of low, medium, and high glycemic load foods. For good health, choose foods that have a low or medium glycemic load, and limit foods that have a high glycemic load.

Low Glycemic Load (10 or under)

  • High-fiber fruits and vegetables (not including potatoes)
  • Bran cereals (1 oz)
  • Many beans and legumes, including chick peas, kidney beans, black beans, lentils, pinto beans (5 oz cooked, approx. 3/4 cup)

Medium Glycemic Load (11-19)

  • Pearled barley: 1 cup cooked
  • Brown rice: 3/4 cup cooked
  • Oatmeal: 1 cup cooked
  • Bulgur: 3/4 cup cooked
  • Rice cakes: 3 cakes
  • Whole grain breads: 1 slice
  • Whole-grain pasta: 1 1/4 cup cooked
  • No-sugar added fruit juices: 8 oz

High Glycemic Load (20+)

  • Baked potato
  • French fries
  • Refined breakfast cereal: 1 oz
  • Sugar-sweetened beverages: 12 oz
  • Jelly beans: 10 large or 30 small
  • Candy bars: 1 2-oz bar or 3 mini bars
  • Couscous: 1 cup cooked
  • Cranberry juice cocktail: 8 oz
  • White basmati rice: 1 cup cooked
  • White-flour pasta: 1 1/4 cup cooked

Glycemic load categorization adapted from Foster-Powell K, Holt SH, Brand-Miller JC. International table of glycemic index and glycemic load values: 2002. Am J Clin Nutr. 2002; 76:5-56.

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