3 Types of Good Carbs for Diabetics

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Whole grains, such as whole wheat bread, whole rye, buckwheat, barley, bulgur, popcorn, oatmeal, and brown rice are high in fiber and are inversely associated with the risk of Type 2 Diabetes.

Whole grains are good carbs for diabetics. A whole grain has three parts. The germ is the reproductive part of the plant that is full of nuts, the endosperm makes up 80% of the grain and is the starchy portion, and the bran is the fibrous outer shell. In studies, the bran of the grain is better for diabetes prevention than the germ. More fiber is associated with improved digestion and improved blood sugar control. Whole grains are also packed with minerals, such as magnesium and zinc, as well as vitamins, including the B vitamins and Vitamin E.

Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load

Low glycemic index (GI) carbohydrates, such as chickpeas and carrots, help to prevent spikes in blood sugar. The GI is a relative ranking of the carbohydrate in foods according to how dramatic their effect is on blood sugar. These types of carbohydrates improve blood sugar, reduce insulin resistance, reduce the risk of vascular disease, help with weight loss, decrease LDL-C (the “bad cholesterol”), increase HDL-C (the “good cholesterol”) and decrease the risk of long-term diabetes complications. Some promising research shows a lower level of C-Reactive Protein (CRP), a marker of inflammation in the body, with the adoption of a low GI diet. An increase in insulin sensitivity and decreased hyperinsulinemia helps to preserve the beta cell function of the pancreas. Combining the GI with carbohydrate counting more accurately reflects the true impact of food on glucose. Low GI foods might bring down HbA1c foods as much as oral prescription medications.

Low GI foods are those that score <55, 56-69 is medium, and 70+ is high; these foods release carbohydrates at a slow rate and are thus unlikely to cause spikes in blood sugar. You might also hear the term Glycemic Load (GL). This is a measure that takes into account both the GI score of a food and the amount of a carbohydrate. These numbers are multiplied together and divided by 100 to arrive at the GL. A GL of <10 is low, 11-19 is medium, and >20 is high.


Food GI GL
Chickpeas 10 3
Grapefruit 25 3
Pearled Barley 28 12
Wheat Tortilla 30 8
Skim Milk 32 4
Carrots 35 2
Baked Beans 40 6
Corn Chips 42 11
Bulgur 48 12
Brown Rice 50 16
Peas 51 4
Yams 54 20
Oatmeal 55 13
Pumpernickel Bread 56 7
Regular Ice Cream 57 6
Banana 62 16
Macaroni and Cheese 64 32
White Bagel 72 25
Watermelon 72 4
Gatorade 78 12
White Rice 89 43
Vanilla Wafers 77 14
Fruit Snacks 99 24
Baked Potato (Russet) 111 33


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