Foods With Low Glycemic Index Make Good Diabetic Snacks

by Cindy

Healthy Diabetic Snacks

Many people living with diabetes are familiar with the term glycemic index.  Glycemic index refers to a food concept that assigns points to a carbohydrate containing food based on how the food affects the blood sugar levels of a patient.  Using this system, foods are ranked on a scale of 1 to 100. The scale was developed by comparing how much foods raise blood sugar as compared to glucose, with fifty grams of pure glucose receiving the highest ranking of 100.  Diabetic patients who follow these glycemic index guidelines may find an overall improvement in their blood sugars and a reduction in common complications of diabetes, such as nerve damage and vision loss.  Diabetic patients should notice improvements in their blood sugar levels when they select diabetic snacks with a low glycemic index! 

8 Simple, Healthy Diabetic Snack Ideas

If you are looking for healthy diabetic snack ideas, try some of these ideas to get you started!

  • 1 cup of raw celery, carrots or broccoli with 1 serving of fat free vegetable dip
  • 1 six inch whole wheat tortilla, cut into wedges and baked to create chips paired with 1/4 cup of salsa
  • 4-6 whole wheat crackers with 2 teaspoons of peanut butter
  • 1 small fresh fruit
  • 1 serving low fat yogurt with a few fresh berries
  • 1/4 cup dried fruit
  • 1/2 cup low fat frozen yogurt
  • 1 six inch pita bread with hummus for dipping

Diabetic Snacks List by Glycemic Index

Need more diabetic snack ideas? Try substituting foods with a high glycemic index for ones with a low to moderate glycemic index to help lower hemoglobin a1c.  Foods that are classified as low glycemic index as among some of the best diabetic snacks and should be included in the diabetic diet where it is appropriate.  For more information about glycemic index, check out my article “Diabetic Diets That Work!”  But first check out this diabetic snacks list of food substitutions!


Foods You Want But Should Avoid

Better Choice Best Choice


Danish Banana Bread
Corn Chips or Pretzels Popcorn Peanuts or Nuts
Watermelon Pineapple, Cantaloupe or Bananas Most Fruits
Mashed Potatoes Sweet Potatoes Non-starchy vegetables
Doughnuts Bran Muffin Apple Cinnamon Muffin
French Fries Potato Chips Tomato Soup
White Bread Pumpernickel Bread Oat Bran Bread
Cheerios Special K All-Bran
Baked Potato Brown Rice Baked Beans
Rice Cakes Shortbread Cookies Homemade Pound Cake or Sponge Cake
Dates Raisins Dried Apples
French Baguette Pita Bread Sourdough Bread
Gatorade Coca-Cola Fruit Juice
Jelly Beans Mars Bar Chocolate Bar 1 oz.

HIGH Glycemic Index  (>70)

MODERATE  Glycemic Index (56-69)

LOW Glycemic Index   (<55)

The Facts About Glycemic Index

Understanding what the numbers mean:

  • Low Glycemic Index: Foods with low glycemic indexes contain carbohydrates that are slowly broken down into glucose, resulting in a slower rise in blood sugar levels and less stress on the glucose storing hormone, insulin.  These foods are assigned a rank of less than 55.  Many food choices with low glycemic index make healthy diabetic snacks.
  • Moderate Glycemic Index: Foods with moderate glycemic indexes contain carbohydrates that are broken down at a faster rate than low glycemic index foods but not so fast as to cause a rapid rise in blood glucose readings. These foods are assigned a rank 55 to 70 and make good diabetic snack ideas.
  • High Glycemic Index:  These foods are broken down into sugars rapidly and require higher levels of insulin for glucose storage. These foods are more difficult on the diabetic patient and can cause rapid shifts in finger stick readings.  These foods are assigned a rank of greater than 70.  Avoid choosing these foods as they make terrible diabetic snacks!

If you are one of the many patients with diabetes that are confused about what types of diabetic snacks will have the least negative effects on your blood sugar, use this list of diabetic snack ideas as a guide to get started.  Write down any additional questions that you may have and bring them with you to your next visit with the doctor or nutritionist. If you can make just a few simple substitutions to your diabetic diets every day, you will reduce cholesterol naturally and you will notice a significant improvement in your blood sugar readings and a1c blood test.

Chop salad
Creative Commons License photo credit: ejorpin

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