What you need to know about Low Glycemic Vegetables (GI) Vegetables

Low GI Vegetables are those which slowly and minimally raise blood sugar. These are often lower calories options and are great for dieting (Low Carbohydrate and Low Calories Diets). When classifying a vegetable as low GI, the rule of thumb is under 40 GI units means low GI.

Depending on the list you use, some consider things like carrots as low GI (Which have nearly 50 GI Units). For the sake of dieting and maintaining low blood sugar levels for dieting, those are off the list.

The Big Three


The biggest variety of Low GI Vegetables come in the form of Beans, Greens, and Cabbage. The lowest GI would be salad greens. If you are trying to limit your GI intake (Low Carb Dieters), or monitor low blood sugar, this would be where you want to fill up.  Beans tend to be on the higher end of low GI, but still fit the bill when you consider the high fiber content.

Low GI Beans:

  • Green Beans
  • Kidney Beans
  • Garbanzo Beans
  • Pinto Beans
  • Black Beans
  • Lima Beans
  • Yellow Split Peas

Cabbage is different than lettuce. They belong to different vegetable ‘families’. Cabbage is a cruciferous vegetable, which means it is a closer relative to broccoli than lettuce.  You can enjoy cabbage cooked. Lettuce? Not so much. Cabbage also has nearly a higher amount of all nutrients, including: Magnesium, Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, Fiber and Protein.

Low GI Cabbage:

  • Cabbage
  • Chinese Cabbage
  • Bok Choy

Greens are unquestionably the lowest GI load of all vegetables and have the lowest calories count.  It would be darn hard to gain weight eating only iceberg lettuce, after all. Greens could be sub divided into two groupings. Green you cook individually and greens you put in a cold salad. Since some can be eaten both ways (Spinach, I am looking at you) I lump them all together.

Low GI Greens:

  • Arugula
  • Chicory
  • Collard Greens
  • Endive
  • Escarole
  • Iceberg Lettuce
  • Kale
  • Mustard Greens
  • Radicchio
  • Romaine
  • Spinach
  • Turnip Greens
  • Watercress

What about everything else?


Here is an alphabetical list of general low GI vegetables.

  • Artichokes
  • Artichoke hearts
  • Asparagus
  • Bamboo shoots
  • Bean sprouts
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Cucumber
  • Daikon
  • Eggplant
  • Leeks
  • Lentils
  • Beans (green, kidney, garbanzo)
  • Greens (collard, kale, mustard, turnip)
  • Mushrooms
  • Okra
  • Onions
  • Pea pods
  • Peppers
  • Radishes
  • Rutabaga
  • Squash
  • Sugar snap peas
  • Swiss chard
  • Tomato
  • Water chestnuts
  • Watercress
  • Zucchini
  • Cabbage (green, bok choy, Chinese)
  • Salad greens (chicory, endive, escarole, iceberg lettuce, romaine, spinach, arugula, radicchio, watercress)

What is this list useful for?

Universally, Low GI Vegetables are great for health and weight loss. Maintaining stable blood sugar is optimal for diabetics, and good for people trying to manage hunger that is associated with a spike in blood sugar. Low GI Vegetables help keep you full while also keeping the scale consistent.

Even on low carbohydrate diets, such as Atkins, you can have some Carbohydrates. Although those prepackaged diet plans like Atkins include Carbohydrates in the shakes, protein bars and snacks they sell, Low GI Vegetables provide the Carbohydrates you want your body to have to continue to function optimally while not being hungry.

Eat more Low GI Vegetables. They are healthy, low calories, and contain natural nutrients. You can’t go wrong eating an extra bowl of Spinach.

Find all the resources used in this article and the scientific basis of all our article at The Science Behind Fitness.

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