Picture of Mary Ellen Phipps, MPH, RDN, LD

Mary Ellen Phipps, MPH, RDN, LD

Mary Ellen Phipps, MPH, RDN, LD, the founder of Milk & Honey Nutrition, is a diabetes dietitian (Registered Dietitian Nutritionist) renowned for combining her knowledge of diabetes and culinary expertise into easy-to-follow recipes and articles!

Overview

19 Low glycemic snacks for diabetes

Article Overview

19 low glycemic snacks for diabetes

Eating low glycemic snacks for diabetes throughout the day can make it easier for people living with diabetes to manage their blood sugars. 

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with diabetes, you’ve probably heard of the glycemic index chart. Keep reading for more info and for my favorite low glycemic snacks for diabetes. 

What is the glycemic index chart?

The glycemic index of a food is a numerical rating (on a scale of 0-100) that indicates how quickly or slowly the carbohydrate in that food can raise blood sugar levels. 

This article from Harvard gives a great summary of the glycemic index and gives the rankings for some more common foods. And the American Diabetes Association published this comprehensive list that you can view as well. 

Foods with a glycemic index score of 55 or below are considered low glycemic index foods. Foods with a glycemic index of 56-69 are considered medium GI foods, and foods with a glycemic index of 70+ are considered high GI.

Low glycemic index0-55
Medium glycemic index56-70
High glycemic index>70

Why are low glycemic foods helpful for diabetes?

Our bodies digest carbohydrates (and specifically simple carbohydrates) quicker than any other macronutrients. This means that simple carbs can raise blood sugar levels quickly. And thus, they have higher glycemic index rankings. But, foods that have more complex forms of carbohydrate, like fiber, are digested slower because it takes your digestive tract longer to process them. Aka, it has less of a glycemic IMPACT. Thus, blood sugar levels remain more stable and are less likely to spike when we choose low glycemic snacks for diabetes management.

What about glycemic load?

While knowing the glycemic index score of a food can be helpful. It doesn’t tell the whole story. The glycemic index score only tells us how quickly the food can raise your blood sugar. It does not offer any information about how much of the food you are eating though. Glycemic Load is a more holistic, useful metric.

Watermelon is a common example used to show the difference between glycemic index and glycemic load. The glycemic index of watermelon is 80. It is considered a high glycemic index food because the type of carbohydrate it contains can raise blood sugars very quickly. But because the actual quantity of that carbohydrate is fairly low in a normal size serving, the glycemic load of watermelon is only 5. 

Low glycemic load0 – 10
Moderate glycemic load11-19
High glycemic load20+

Glycemic load takes into account the type of carbohydrate a food contains and how much of the carbohydrate it actually contains. 

Low glycemic foods list

Now, I know this might seem a bit complex and like a lot of calculations. And it is. Do you need to go calculating the values for everything you eat? Definitely not. But it is good background information to help inform your food choices. Focusing on complex carbohydrates, protein, and better-for-you fats will usually result in a low glycemic eating pattern, without you needing to calculate or worry about these things.

Some examples of low glycemic foods include:

  • Carrots
  • Peas
  • Chickpeas
  • Apples
  • Oranges
  • Peaches
  • Milk
  • Yogurt
  • Whole grain bread
  • Hummus
  • Avocado
  • Blueberries
  • Kiwi fruit

How to make low glycemic index snacks

Making low glycemic snacks for diabetes doesn’t have to be complicated. It’s important to choose a carbohydrate source and pair it with a protein and/or plant based fat source. The possibilities are really endless! The list of low glycemic snack for diabetes at the end of this article has some great ideas!

19 Low glycemic snacks for diabetes

Some great low glycemic snacks for diabetes are:

  1. Popcorn
  2. Trail mix
  3. Peanut butter
  4. Veggies and hummus
  5. Fruit and cheese
  6. Ricotta cheese on whole grain bread
  7. Greek yogurt
  8. Avocado toast
  9. Apple slices with nut butter
  10. Hard boiled eggs
  11. Berries and plain yogurt
  12. Raw nuts
  13. Meat sticks
  14. Roasted chickpeas
  15. Cottage cheese
  16. Cheese and crackers
  17. Energy Bites
  18. Edamame
  19. Chia seed pudding

1. Popcorn

Depending on which source you look at, popcorn can be classified as either a low glycemic or medium glycemic food. It has more fiber than most chips and crackers making it a great option for people with diabetes, especially when paired with a protein source.

coconut oil popcorn in white bowl

Coconut Oil Stovetop Popcorn

Coconut oil popcorn is the perfect, easy, late-night snack that hits the spot!  
View Recipe

2. Trail mix

Make your own trail mix with some great low glycemic foods like nuts, berries, no added sugar chocolate, and popcorn!

homemade trail mix blueberries walnuts popcorn pumpkin seeds

Homemade Popcorn Trail Mix with Blueberries, Walnuts, Seeds & Chocolate

Homemade trail mix is such a quick and easy snack option and this combination of blueberries, walnuts, and popcorn is so tasty!
View Recipe

3. Peanut butter

Peanut butter has a glycemic index of only 14 making it a low glycemic food. And, it has twice the amount of protein of other nut butters. Pair it with your favorite fruit for a great snack!

is peanut butter good for diabetes

4. Veggies and hummus

Hummus can have a glycemic index anywhere from about 6-15, so it is considered a low glycemic index food. And, it makes a great snack when paired with your favorite raw veggies.

hummus low glycemic snacks for diabetes

5. Fruit and cheese

Fruit gets a bad rep sometimes in the diabetes world, but there’s actually many fruits that are associated with lower blood sugar levels and have a low glycemic index. And, fruit pairs perfectly with cheese like in these grape and pepperjack cheese skewers.

pepperjack cheese and grapes skewers with red grapes in white bowl

Pepper Jack Cheese and Grapes Skewers

Cheese and grapes might be one of the most classic and simple snack combos ever created!
View Recipe

6. Ricotta cheese on whole grain bread

Ricotta cheese has made a popularity comeback in the last couple years on social media… and for good reason! Spread some on your favorite whole grain bread (typically ~50 glycemic index score) for a delicious snack! And, try it on top of pancakes like in my Lemon Ricotta Pancake recipe.

lemon ricotta pancakes with blueberries

Easy Gluten-Free Lemon Ricotta Pancakes

These Easy Gluten-Free Lemon Ricotta Pancakes have the perfect hint of sweetness and are so easy to make ahead for an easy weekday breakfast!
View Recipe

7. Greek yogurt

Greek yogurt makes a great higher protein, low glycemic snack! Enjoy a low sugar flavored version or pair plain Greek yogurt with another carbohydrate source for a balanced snack. Want to know which types of yogurt are best for diabetes? Check out this article.

best yogurt for diabetes

8. Avocado toast

Avocado toast has been a popular snack for years for good reason! Avocados are a low glycemic index food and pair perfectly with whole grain bread.

avocado toast whole grain bread low glycemic snacks for diabetes

9. Apple slices with nut butter

You can’t get more classic than an apple and peanut butter. Apples are one of those fruits I mentioned previously that have been associated with lower blood sugar levels over time. And, we just reviewed peanut butter above as well. Pair them together as is, or try my delicious peanut butter fruit dip!

fruit tray with fruit dip

Low Sugar Peanut Butter Fruit Dip

This low sugar peanut butter fruit dip is perfect for after school snacks, and a great way to get more fruit into snack time!
View Recipe

10. Hard boiled eggs

Hard boiled eggs are an excellent source of protein and energy throughout the day! I make them in batches with my egg cooker (Amazon affiliate link).

quick protein snacks hard boiled eggs low glycemic snacks for diabetes

11. Berries and plain yogurt

Berries are some of the lowest sugar and lowest glycemic index fruits. Pair them with yogurt (which we discussed above) and you’ve got a delicious and balanced snack! (You can add some unsweetened nut butter and low sugar granola too for added flavor.)

low glycemic snacks for diabetes yogurt bowl

12. Raw nuts

Many nuts are so low in carbohydrates that do not even have a glycemic index value, and the ones that do are all considered low glycemic index foods.

low glycemic snacks for diabetes nuts

13. Beef jerky

Beef jerky is another high protein snack that has no (or very little) carbohydrate so it can’t be scored on the glycemic index.

beef jerky quick high protein snacks low glycemic snacks for diabetes

14. Roasted chickpeas

Roasted chickpeas are a high fiber and protein snack you can make right at home! I have an amazing recipe for Tangy Roasted Chickpeas in my book The Easy Diabetes Cookbook!

low glycemic index snacks for diabetes roasted chickpeas

15. Cottage cheese

Cottage cheese is a high protein low glycemic snack. You can enjoy it on its own, add some seasonings, or pair it with fruit or crackers. The possibilities are endless!

cottage cheese low glycemic snack

16. Cheese and crackers

Pair some whole grain crackers and cheese for a classic snack. A salty crunch not only satisfies your tastebuds, but it offers a blood sugar friendly option as well.

cheese and crackers snack

17. Energy bites

Energy bites can often have a higher glycemic impact than we’d like. But, many recipes utilize nuts or nut butter to reduce the glycemic impact they can have. Try my Simple Pecan Energy Bites for a blood sugar friendly option.

no bake energy bites bedtime snacks for diabetes

Simple Pecan No-Bake Energy Bites

If you’re looking for the perfect quick and easy snack, these Simple Pecan No- Bake Energy Bites are a great option with only 4 ingredients and no added sugar!
View Recipe

18. Edamame

Edamame offers protein and fiber for a delicious low glycemic snack! I love grabbing a bag of frozen edamame at the grocery store and keeping it on hand for easy snacks.

edamame in metal bowl low glycemic snacks

19. Chia seed pudding

Chia seed pudding isn’t just for breakfast! This high fiber, and low glycemic dish can make a great snack too.

chia seed oatmeal with berries banana slices

Warm Chia Seed Oatmeal

This Chia Seed Oatmeal recipe is an easy blood sugar balancing breakfast idea anyone can make!
View Recipe

This article has been updated since its original publish date in June 2020.

19 low glycemic snacks for diabetes

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7 Responses

  1. By having type 2 diabetes, it can be difficult to find good snack combo. So many good snack ideas, Thank you.

  2. This was a very helpful article. When I look up snacks for diabetics, I’m always surprised by some of the higher glycemic foods I see. I’ve ordered cookbooks for diabetics, and time and again I’ve thought to myself, “this can’t be right…” when I read the nutritional information. I learned about the glycemic index by accident, so having a list of quick snacks that I know are on the low side is very helpful! Thank you!

  3. Hi i was so glad i came across ur info and things available but not so happy to go thfu the forn to be told the stuff is not posted to the uk very disappointed indeed the choc/ berry and nutreat. The bit i dont get is on the order form it says shipping so i will use the info there is on the right foods but was hoping for something different just my luck but thank you for this bit of info. Kay

  4. Thank you for this article I have a son who is 15 autistic and his finger started tingling and I noticed him drinking a lot of water so I’m nipping this in the bud now before the bloodwork even comes back so having this list is great??

  5. One month + 1 day post hospitalization diabetic ketoacidosis. Diagnosed 10yr old type 1 the same day as hospitalization.

    Very informative guide. This is the support we need. Thank you! Definitely a resource I will frequent and share!

  6. Being Type 2 and working construction on the road makes it near impossible to find things that are healthy, easy to prepare in a hotel room and provide enough Energy for a 10 to 12 hour day but going to try some of these suggestions on the site and hope it gets me lower.

    Thanks

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