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High GI Foods to Avoid: Living with Diabetes in Singapore

High GI Foods to Avoid Living with Diabetes in Singapore
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75 percent diet, 25 percent exercise.

That has always been the rule of thumb to knowing that having a good exercise regime isn’t enough. Since Singapore is usually dubbed the foodie’s paradise, it is also a place filled with foods you must avoid if you have diabetes or pre-diabetic.

Here’s a quick crash course on what foods to avoid in Singapore for peak health!

* Click here to jump right to the glycemic index table for Singapore and other Asian foods.

What is Glycemic Index (GI)?

Glycemic index (GI) shows how quickly each food affects your blood sugar (glucose) level when that food is eaten on its own. It is rated from a scale of 1 to 100.

Simply put, high GI foods generally cause a rapid increase in blood glucose aka not so good for diabetic people, while low GI foods are broken down slowly and cause only a gradual rise in glucose levels.

That means people with Type 2 Diabetes can benefit from eating foods with a low Glycemic index, since these foods will help greatly with controlling blood glucose levels.

Of course, reducing the overall carbohydrate count of the diet, rather than consuming low GI foods, will have the biggest influence on blood glucose levels after each meal.

Not All High GI Foods are Bad, Not All Low GI Foods are Good

For example, watermelons are high GI foods, while chocolate cake are low GI foods, and we all know which food is the healthier choice.

Some foods that are cooked with fats and proteins can also have their GI artificially lowered, as the carbohydrates are absorbed more slowly.

Always use GI as a soft indicator for whether a food can be consumed as part of a regular diet. It would be too tiring to keep track of every single food anyways. Also, as you might already know, too much of anything is bad. Always consume in moderation and maintain a balanced diet.

Here are a few common swaps or alternatives for popular high GI foods:

Instead of this:Eat this:
White riceConverted rice or brown rice
Instant noodlesEgg noodles, rice noodles, udon
CornflakesOat cereals
White breadWhole-grain bread
Fruit JuiceCut your own fruits
Cake, Cookies, SweetsLightly sweetened yoghurts
CornPeas or leafy green

High GI Foods to Avoid in Singapore

So, here are the food you should avoid purchasing from the supermarkets or coffee shops in Singapore:

  • Mee goreng
  • Mee siam
  • Loi mai kai
  • Red bean pau
  • Chicken Curry Puff
  • Cheese bun
  • White rice (Add fibre blends to make it healthier!)
  • Jasmine rice
  • Ice lemon tea
  • Carrot cake
  • Yam cake
  • Chee cheong fun
  • Lo mai gai
  • Pink rice cake
  • Rice idli
  • Rice dosa
  • Upma
  • White bread

Data For the Enthusiasts

Courtesy of A*STAR and Universitat Rovira i Virgili, a recent 2021 study has been conducted to review the GI values in non-Asian foods, given that vast majority of published GI data are of European, Australian and North America origin.

Here are their results:

* Data consists of Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines, Japan, Korea, China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, West India. As data was extracted from PDF, it is done on a best-effort basis, and we cannot guarantee perfect conversion (rows that contained funny characters, merged cells, dirty data etc. are removed).

High Glycemic Index (GI) Foods to Avoid!

Defined as having a GI of at least 70. Foods that are high in processed carbohydrates and sugar are the usual suspects.

CountryFood itemGI (glucose=100)
SingaporeNasi lemak100
SingaporeMee goreng91
SingaporeMee siam88
SingaporeLoi mai kai94
SingaporeRed bean pau91
SingaporeChicken Curry Puff92
SingaporeCheese bun95
SingaporeWhite rice96
SingaporeWhite rice served with chicken breast without skin73
SingaporeWhite rice served with leaf vegetables82
SingaporeJasmine rice91.2
SingaporeIce lemon tea74
SingaporeChinese carrot cake77
SingaporeChinese yam cake86
SingaporeChee cheong fun81
SingaporeLo mai gai106
SingaporePink rice cake97
SingaporeRice idli85
SingaporeRice dosa76
SingaporeWhite bread100
MalaysiaWholemeal bread85
MalaysiaWhite bread83
MalaysiaPolished brown rice86
MalaysiaWhite rice79
MalaysiaLacy pancake with chicken curry81
MalaysiaAdan halus72.1
MalaysiaFragrant white rice124.2
PhilippinesWhite bread93.3
PhilippinesJaponica rice87.5
JapanWhite rice and curry82
JapanButter rice96
JapanWhite rice75.9
KoreaRice gruel92.5
KoreaPuffed rice grains72.4
KoreaRice cakes80.7
KoreaSteamed glutinous rice75.7
KoreaRice balls96.9
KoreaRice bread73.4
KoreaAcorn jelly71.7
KoreaBaked sweet potatoes90.9
KoreaSteamed maize73.4
ChinaCooked rice83.2
ChinaWheat pancake79.6
ChinaWhite rice cooked for 30 min83
ChinaWaxy black rice cooked for 30 min100
ChinaWaxy black rice cooked for 60 min109
ChinaFoxtail millet cooked for 30 min93
ChinaFoxtail millet cooked for 60 min89
ChinaAdlay cooked for 30 min91
ChinaAdlay cooked for 60 min100
ChinaDried lily bulb cooked for 30 min83
ChinaDried lily bulb cooked for 60 min85
TaiwanBrown rice82
TaiwanSteamed white rice91.1
TaiwanRice porridge98.4
TaiwanReheated overnight rice90.6
Hong KongFried rice in Yangzhou style80
Hong KongSticky rice wrapped in lotus leaf83
Hong KongSteamed glutinous rice roll89
Hong KongJam and peanut butter toast72
Hong KongPlain steamed vermicelli roll90
Hong KongRed bean dessert75
Hong KongFrozen sweet milky bun72
Hong KongSalted meat rice dumpling81
Hong KongDoll fried noodles88
Hong KongGarden milk bar bun73
Hong KongLinola seed bread90

Medium GI Foods

Foods with a GI of 56 to 69 are considered medium GI.

CountryFood itemGI (glucose=100)
SingaporeWhite rice cooked with oil68
SingaporeBarley drink62
SingaporeNasi lemak66
SingaporeChinese steamed white bun58
MalaysiaWholemeal bread with oatmeal67
MalaysiaFlatbread with dhal curry69
MalaysiaChiffon cake60
MalaysiaBario celum rice60.9
MalaysiaBario tuan rice62.2
MalaysiaSorghum sugar60
MalaysiaBuri sugar57
MalaysiaNipa sugar58
MalaysiaSugarcane granules68
MalaysiaMuscovado sugar69
PhilippinesYacon juice61
JapanWhite rice with curry and cheese67
JapanBrown rice61.5
JapanLong grain rice60
JapanNoodles made from unshelled yellow pea68.8
KoreaBuckwheat noodles59.6
KoreaSweet potato starch vermicelli60.0
KoreaRye bread64.9
KoreaSoft roll56.2
KoreaWheat pancakes57.0
KoreaBuckwheat jelly65.7
KoreaSteamed chestnuts57.8
ChinaCorn powder porridge68.0
Hong KongFried fritter69
Hong KongFried rice noodles with sliced beef66
Hong KongBarbecue pork bun69
Hong KongMoon cakes56
Hong KongGlutinous rice ball61
Hong KongInstant sweet milky bun67
Hong KongFried rice vermicelli in Singapore style69
Hong KongSalted meat rice dumpling58
Hong KongJianxi rice vermicelli56
Hong KongSau tao Bejing noodles61
Hong KongTaiwan vermicelli68

Low GI Foods

Glycemic index of 55 and below. While it is beneficial to consume low GI foods if you are diabetic, do note that your diet may become unbalanced or high in fat if you consume solely low GI foods.

CountryFood itemGI (glucose=100)
SingaporeIce green tea50
SingaporeCurry puff41
SingaporeKaya butter toast49
SingaporeGuava bites28
SingaporeGuava puree45
SingaporePapaya bites38
SingaporePapaya puree40
MalaysiaBrown rice51
MalaysiaLacy panckaes49
MalaysiaCoconut milk rice49
MalaysiaFried noodles with chicken and prawns55
MalaysiaThai red55
MalaysiaCoconut sap sugar42
MalaysiaCoconut sap syrup39
MalaysiaKaong sugar43
PhilippinesCashew nuts36
PhilippinesLima beans16
JapanCake made from whole soy22
JapanBoiled Barleymax24.3
JapanNoodles made from dehulled yellow pea40.3
KoreaOriental melon51.2
KoreaFine noodles49.0
KoreaFresh wheat noodles48.2
KoreaBuckwheat pancakes49.9
KoreaPotato starch steamed53.3
KoreaBaked chestnuts54.3
KoreaRed bean gruel38.5
KoreaSteamed sweet pumpkin52.1
ChinaCorn granule51.8
ChinaOat biscuit55.0
ChinaLotus seed cooked for 30 min45
ChinaLotus seed cooked for 60 min51
ChinaAdzuki bean cooked for 40 min21
ChinaAdzuki bean cooked for 70 min29
TaiwanMung bean noodles28
Hong KongBaked barbecued pork puff55
Hong KongEgg tart45
Hong KongGreen bean dessert54
Hong KongChinese herbal jelly47
Hong KongFried rice vermicelli in Singapore style54
Hong KongSpring roll50

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