A low glycemic-index food list details foods with more complex carbohydrates than simple ones. Eating a low glycemic index food results in a gradual rise in blood sugar rather than a sudden spike and insulin crash. These lists are particularly valuable for those suffering from diabetes or insulin resistance.
The glycemic index rates foods on a scale of one to 100, with 100 indicating the fastest release of sugar into the bloodstream. High glycemic-index foods are those rated above 70, and include white bread, white rice, potatoes, pasta and instant oatmeal. Medium glycemic-index foods fall between 56 and 69, and include brown rice, whole wheat bread, nuts, beans, corn and dairy products. Low glycemic-index foods are those below 56, and include leafy green vegetables, soybeans, tofu and mushrooms. Meat and other sources of protein are considered to have a low glycemic index because they have no carbohydrates.
When the body processes simple sugar, the glucose is carried into the bloodstream, which triggers an insulin response from the pancreas. When the amount of sugar rises rapidly, the pancreas releases a large amount of insulin all at once, which carries the sugar away to the body's cells. This action results in a sudden drop in blood glucose levels. Complex carbohydrates take longer to break down and enter the bloodstream, which produces a slower release of insulin and a more gradual tailing off of blood glucose levels.