By Meri Reffetto

The information here is designed to provide you with some insight into how the glycemic load varies among popular food choices. As you can see, fruits and vegetables typically end up on the low end whereas the more starchy foods, such as potatoes, rice, and pasta, end up on the medium to high end.

Your goal is to pick low- to medium-glycemic foods most of the time.

The Glycemic Load of Popular Foods
Food Portion Size Glycemic Load Glycemic Measurement Level
Apple 1 small, 4-ounce (120 grams) 6 Low
Baked beans Around 2/3 cup (150 grams) 7 Low
Baked russet potato 1 medium, 5-ounce (150 grams) 26 High
Banana 1 medium, 4-ounce (120 grams) 12 Medium
Carrots Around 1/3 cup (80 grams) 3 Low
Cherries 1/2 cup (120 grams) 3 Low
Chickpeas Around 2/3 cup (150 grams) 8 Low
Cooked white rice Around 2/3 cup (150 grams) 20 High
Cracked-wheat bread One 1-ounce slice (30 grams) 11 Medium
Fettuccini noodles Around 3/4 cup (180 grams) 18 Medium
Full-fat ice cream Less than 1/4 cup (50 grams) 8 Low
Grapes 1/2 cup (120 grams) 8 Low
Green peas Around 1/3 cup (80 grams) 3 Low
Linguini Around 3/4 cup (180 grams) 23 High
Macaroni Around 3/4 cup (180 grams) 23 High
Oat-bran bread One 1-ounce slice (30 grams) 9 Low
Orange 1 small, 4-ounce (120 grams) 5 Low
Reduced-fat yogurt A little over 3/4 cup (200 grams) 7 Low
Spaghetti Around 3/4 cup (180 grams) 18 Medium
Steamed brown rice Around 3/4 cup (150 grams) 16 Medium
Waffles About 1 small, 1-ounce (35 grams) 10 Low
White bagel 1 small, 2-ounce (70 grams) 25 High

Notice the different portion sizes and their glycemic load measurement. Some foods are clearly a slam dunk as far as being a healthy choice, but others are a little gray. For example, if you look at spaghetti, you see that it has a medium glycemic load for a portion size of 3/4 of a cup.

Spaghetti is therefore fine to eat in that amount, or you can even lower the glycemic load a little by eating just 1/2 of a cup. But if you go over the 3/4-cup portion size, you’re entering into high-glycemic territory.

If the idea of a portion’s size effect on glycemic load still seems confusing, don’t get discouraged in your efforts to understand it. After a while you’ll get the hang of looking at the glycemic load of a food compared to just its portion size.