Are Legumes Low Glycemic? [Harvard Data & Index]

Are Legumes Low Glycemic

Low glycemic foods are typically quite filling unlike lighter foods such as fruits and vegetables.

Most legumes are also high in protein – and meat is known to be a high glycemic food.

So, I was interested in whether legumes are low glycemic.

Overall, legumes are low glycemic.

Low glycemic foods are considered to be below a glycemic index of 55.

There is some variation in legumes, however, most fall below 55.

For example, peas have a glycemic index of 51, and chickpeas have a glycemic index of about 35.

Foods with a low glycemic index have been shown to be good at reducing the effects of type 2 diabetes.

Therefore, getting a good picture of what foods have a low glycemic index can be one part of developing a healthy diet.

So, below I will explain what beans have a low glycemic index, what grains have the lowest glycemic index, as well as, what some of the healthiest low glycemic foods are.

Which Beans Are Low Glycemic?

Which Beans Are Low Glycemic

Certain beans have a higher glycemic index than others.

So, I thought I’d put together a list showing the beans with the lowest glycemic index.

Of all the common beans only broad beans or fava beans are high glycemic.

All other beans such as black beans, kidney beans, and chickpeas are low glycemic, and have a glycemic index of under 50.

The 2nd and 3rd highest glycemic index beans are pinto beans and green peas.

Below is a table that shows the glycemic index of common beans.

I also included legumes such as peanuts.

Type of bean Glycemic index Low, Medium, or High
Chickpeas 30 to 40 Low
Black beans 30 Low
Green peas 51 Low
Lima beans 46 Low
Peanuts 13 Low
Kidney beans 28 Low
Navy beans 40 Low
Great Northern beans 10 Low
Black-eyed peas 40 Low
Pinto beans 55 Low
Soy beans (Soya beans) 16 Low
Cannellini beans 31 Low
Fava beans (broad beans) 80 High
Red beans unknown Low
Mung beans 31 Low
Lentils 20 to 50 Low

As you may know, low medium and high glycemic index foods are categorized as:

  • Low: 55 or less
  • Medium: 56–69
  • High: 70+

Based on the data above you can see that all of them fall below 55, except for fava beans.

What Beans Have the Lowest Glycemic Index?

What Beans Have the Lowest Glycemic Index

Beans are delicious and nutritious, and if you’re wanting to consume beans with the lowest glycemic index possible it’s important to know what the options are.

Here’s the beans that have the lowest glycemic index:

Overall, soy beans (soya beans) have the lowest glycemic index.

Other particularly low glycemic index beans are great northern beans, black beans, kidney beans, and lentils have the lowest glycemic index.

Although, virtually all legumes are low glycemic they still have a range, based on what variety of legumes they are.

For example, here’s a table that shows how their glycemic index differs for lentils based on what kind of lentils they are and where they are grown:

Type of lentils Glycemic Index
Lentil soup – canned 44
Lentils (Canada) 29
Lentils (USA) 28
Lentils green/canned in brine 52
Lentils red/split/boiled 22

Which Grain Has the Lowest Glycemic Index?

Which Grain Has the Lowest Glycemic Index

Rice and oats are popular goods because they store for a very long time, are easy to cook, taste delicious, and are high in nutrients.

But, which grain has the lowest glycemic index?

Barley is the lowest glycemic grain and has a glycemic index of around 30.

The next lowest is corn, however, it is significantly higher and has a glycemic index of around 50.

Which is close to having a medium glycemic index.

I’ve compiled a table of grains and the common ways they are prepared below.

I’ve put them in ascending order from lowest glycemic index to highest.

Type of grain That Is Legumes Bad for Arthritis Glycemic Index
Barley 28 ± 2
Corn tortilla 46 ± 4
Spaghetti, wholemeal 48 ± 5
Spaghetti, white 49 ± 2
Sweet corn 52 ± 5
Specialty grain bread 53 ± 2
Rice noodles 53 ± 7
Oats – porridge 55 ± 2
Udon noodles 55 ± 7
Wheat roti 62 ± 3
Couscous 65 ± 4
Brown rice, boiled 68 ± 4
Unleavened wheat bread 70 ± 5
White rice, boiled 73 ± 4
Whole wheat/wholemeal bread 74 ± 2
White wheat bread 75 ± 2

* Based on data from Harvard Medical School.

From the data, you can see that rice and bread made from wheat have a significantly higher glycemic index compared to barley.

Barley is kind of the odd one out and has around had the glycemic index of all other grains.

But, corn still has a fairly high glycemic index.

And could be categorized as medium to low.

Interestingly, the glycemic index is the same whether you consume white bread or brown bread.

Many people wonder whether legumes are a type of grain.

I looked at the scientific classification and how they differ and summarized what I found in an article about whether legumes are a grain.

Find it [here, link: are legumes a grain].

What Are the Best Low Glycemic Index Foods?

What Are the Best Low Glycemic Index Foods

Foods can be low glycemic but there are also superfoods, which are called that because they contain higher than average amounts of nutrients.

So, I was curious about what foods are both low glycemic and are high in nutrients.

Here’s what I found…

According to the American Diabetes Association, the following are the best low glycemic index foods:

  • Kidney beans
  • Pinto beans
  • Navy beans
  • Black beans
  • Berries
  • Dark green leafy vegetables
  • Citrus fruits
  • Fish high in omega-3
  • Nuts
  • Whole grains
  • Milk and yogurt

Each of these foods contains a high amount of nutrients.

Fruits and vegetables are also very high in fiber which is good for your digestion.

However, if you juice fruits and vegetables it removes a lot of the fiber.

And fruit and vegetable juices only contain around 5% of the fiber of the fresh fruit.

Fruits can also contain a good amount of sugar.

Many people wonder whether the fruit in sugar is bad for you.

I recently wrote an article about this topic.

Read it [here, link: is the sugar in fruit bad].

Do legumes raise blood sugar?

Do legumes raise blood sugar

Most legumes are low glycemic, but is there anything special about legumes that causes them to raise your blood sugar?

Legumes do not raise blood sugar according to the advice of medical professionals.

Legumes have a low glycemic index of below 55.

Fava beans, also called broad beans, are one of the only beans commonly consumed that have a glycemic index that isn’t high.

Fava beans have a medium glycemic index of 80.

Beans are also high in fiber but, there’s a reason for the old poem ‘beans, beans, the musical fruit, the more you eat, the more you toot’.

And most people that eat more than 1 cup of beans will experience extreme amounts of gas.

Where they can pass A LOT of really loud gas for about 24 hours.

Are legumes bad for diabetics?

Are legumes bad for diabetics

If you’re diabetic you need to monitor what nutrients you consume so that you maintain good blood sugar levels.

There are a range of different legumes that are delicious and hearty.

But, are they bad for diabetics?

Beans are perfectly fine for diabetics, except for broad beans (fava beans).

Broad beans are considered to have a medium glycemic index.

But, all other beans such as black beans, mung beans, soy beans (soya beans), kidney beans have a low glycemic index and are fine for diabetics.

Provided you calculate your glycemic load based on broad beans, and it’s still low, it’s perfectly fine to eat broad beans.

Are vegetables low glycemic?

Are vegetables low glycemic

Legumes for the most part are low glycemic so I was curious about other vegetables.

Overall, vegetables have a range of glycemic indices.

Most are low glycemic, whereas, others are medium and high.

But, the vast majority of vegetables are low glycemic. All leafy green vegetables are low glycemic.

Whereas, starchy vegetables such as potatoes, and yams have a medium to the high glycemic index.

Medium glycemic index vegetables include beets, carrots, sweet potatoes, and yams.

Some fruits are also high glycemic such as dried dates, pineapple, watermelon, and overripe bananas.

Here’s a helpful list that shows vegetables that are low glycemic from data provided by a medical center in New Hampshire (source):

Low glycemic vegetables:

  • Asparagus
  • Artichoke
  • Avocado
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Cucumber
  • Eggplant
  • Greens
  • Lettuce
  • Mushrooms
  • Peppers
  • Tomatoes
  • Okra
  • Onions
  • Spinach
  • Summer squash
  • Zucchini
  • Turnips

Medium glycemic index vegetables:

  • Beets
  • Carrots
  • Sweet potato
  • Yam
  • Corn on the cob

High glycemic index vegetables:

  • Potato – baked, broiled, fried, mashed, french fries
  • Canned or frozen corn
  • Parsnips,
  • Winter squash

As you can see there are far more low glycemic vegetables than there are medium and high glycemic vegetables.

And with the exception of carrots, beets, and corn most are starchy vegetables like parsnips, sweet potato, potato, winter squash.

Chris Watson

I'm the founder of EatForLonger.Com. I'm an enthusiast researching and sharing foodstuff and lifestyle based insights. Simple food based concepts for optimising your Healthspan, nutrition and all-round well-being. I hope it inspires you to make tiny changes and add some life to your years. Read more About Me here

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