8 Surprisingly High GI Foods for PCOS

Numerous studies have shown that people with PCOS who follow a low GI diet are able to improve their fertility, lower their insulin levels and improve other metabolic markers.

The glycemic index (GI), a numeric ranking of carbohydrates based on its influence to raise blood sugar after eating, is important for people with PCOS. Foods with a high GI break down quickly during digestion, causing a quick release of glucose into the bloodstream. This fast response results in excessive insulin production, contributing to weight gain and increasing diabetes risk.

In contrast, low GI foods contain carbohydrates that break down more slowly, resulting in a more gradual release of glucose into the bloodstream. The concept is for individuals to choose foods that have the lowest GI values in order to have less of a rise in glucose after eating, thus requiring less insulin to regulate blood sugar.

In general, minimally processed foods (ie, intact whole grains) that are high in fiber, contain protein, and low in sugar, have a lower GI. Adding protein or fat to a high GI food will lower the GI.
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The GI ranges are:
Low GI = less than 55
Medium GI = 56-69
High GI = over 70

When using the glycemic index, be sure to consider the quantity of the food or “glycemic load (GL),” which takes account of how many grams of carbohydrate a portion contains (to calculate, take the GI value and multiply by the amount of carbohydrates in a portion, then divide by 100).

For example, pumpkin and parsnips (listed below) are high in GI but contains few carbohydrates resulting in a low GL. Unless you eat huge portions don’t avoid these vegetables (or other nutrient-packed foods) based on just their GI rankings.

To find the GI value of your favorite foods see this table , publication or visit www.glycemicindex.com.

The following are some foods that you may think are low GI but their high GI values may surprise you.

Whole Wheat Bread


Don’t let the whole wheat flour fool you: whole wheat bread has a similar GI value as white bread. The reason? Whole wheat flour is still processed to produce a fine texture. The changes in bread making that favor quick production may also have an effect on increasing the GI. Look for stone ground whole grain or sprouted bread for a lower GI.


Cheerios. GI=74

Yes, they are low in sugar and made from whole grains but are processed so they can enter the blood stream quickly. Cheerios have little fiber and have a GI and GL.




A gluten-free whole grain, millet actually has a high GI and high GL when boiled.




The GI value of nutrient-packed pumpkin is high but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t eat it. Pumpkin is actually very low in carbohydrates (about four-fifths of a cup of pumpkin contains only 4 g of carbohydrates). This means pumpkin has a low GL. When eaten in small amounts, pumpkin won’t cause a dramatic increase in your blood sugar.


Instant oatmeal


Even though they’re oats, instant oats are processed down resulting in a high GI. Slow cooked or steel cut oats on the other hand, are low GI.


Gluten-free corn or rice pasta


Just because a food is gluten-free doesn’t automatically mean it’s healthy and good for women with PCOS. Gluten-free corn or rice pasta contains no fiber and has a high GI and GL value. It may surprise you to learn that regular pasta actually has a medium GI value (cook it alla dente and you lower it more).




While parsnips are a root vegetable and offer many nutrients, it’s starchy vegetable. Like pumpkin, the carb content of parsnips isn’t high so it won’t give you a big glycemic response.




Don’t let the name fool you, water doesn’t dilute the juice in this fruit. Generally fruits eaten without their skin (pineapple, melon) have a higher GI than fruits eaten with the skin on them (apples, berries). Watermelon doesn’t have many carbs though and as a result, has a low GL.


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