10 Low GI Indian Vegetarian Foods For Diabetes

Last Updated on June 12, 2023 by Dr Sharon Baisil MD

Do you know that over 70 million people in India suffer from diabetes? This chronic metabolic disorder is caused by the body’s inability to produce or use insulin effectively, leading to high blood sugar levels. The good news is that a healthy diet can help control diabetes and its complications.

As a doctor, it is my pleasure to share with you ten low glycemic index (GI) Indian vegetarian foods for diabetes management. The glycemic index measures how quickly carbohydrates in food raise blood sugar levels. Foods with a low GI value of less than 55 are digested slowly, releasing glucose into the bloodstream gradually, which helps prevent spikes in blood sugar levels.


Millets are an excellent addition to Indian vegetarian cuisine, especially for those with diabetes. These ancient grains have a low glycemic index, which means they do not cause sudden spikes in blood sugar levels and can help manage blood glucose levels.

Millets are also rich in fiber, which slows down the absorption of carbohydrates and promotes satiety. In addition, they contain essential vitamins and minerals such as magnesium and iron that support overall health.

Veggie causing Diabetes

Some popular millet-based recipes include upma, khichdi, dosa, and idli. By substituting refined grains with millet in traditional dishes, individuals with diabetes can enjoy flavorful meals while maintaining stable blood sugar levels.

Incorporating millet into one’s diet is simple and highly beneficial for managing diabetes.


Okra, also known as lady’s finger or bhindi in India, is a vegetable that has been traditionally used for its medicinal properties.

Its high fiber content makes it an ideal food for people with diabetes since it slows down the absorption of glucose into the bloodstream and helps regulate blood sugar levels.


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Okra is also low on the glycemic index (GI), meaning that it does not cause a sudden spike in blood sugar levels after consumption.

Moreover, okra contains various essential nutrients like vitamin C, folate, and magnesium which can help improve insulin sensitivity and reduce inflammation associated with diabetes.

There are many delicious ways to incorporate okra into your diet such as stir-fries, curries, soups, salads, or baked chips making it a versatile addition to any meal plan focused on managing diabetes.


The eggplant, also known as aubergine, is a versatile vegetable that can be used in various Indian vegetarian dishes for individuals with diabetes.

Its deep purple color and unique shape make it an aesthetically pleasing addition to any plate.

Eggplants are low in calories but high in fiber which aids digestion and promotes satiety.

They contain vitamins B6 and K along with minerals such as potassium, copper, and manganese.

Additionally, they possess phytonutrients like nasunin which have antioxidant properties that help protect the body against cell damage caused by free radicals.

Some recipe ideas include roasted eggplant dip or bhartha made from fire-roasted eggplant mashed together with onions, tomatoes, ginger, garlic, and spices.

Overall, incorporating eggplants into a diabetic individual’s diet can provide numerous health benefits due to their nutritional value.


Eggplants are a great low-GI vegetable option for diabetic patients, but there are other veggies that can provide similar benefits.

Cucumbers, for example, have a low glycemic index and can help regulate blood sugar levels in individuals with diabetes.

In addition to being diabetic-friendly, cucumbers also offer several health benefits such as hydrating the body and providing important nutrients like vitamin K and potassium.

Incorporating cucumber into Indian dishes is easy – it can be sliced or diced and added to salads, raita (yogurt-based dip), or even blended into a refreshing smoothie.

However, some potential side effects of consuming cucumbers should be considered by diabetics such as lowering of blood pressure which may cause dizziness if their medication needs adjustment according to their doctor’s advice before they add this veggie into their diet regime.

Overall, adding cucumber to your meals provides an array of health benefits including better glycemic control for diabetics while enhancing taste and variety in your diet.

Bitter Gourd

Bitter gourd, also known as bitter melon or karela in India, is a vegetable that has been traditionally used for its medicinal properties. It is a low-GI food, which means it does not cause rapid spikes in blood sugar levels and can be beneficial for individuals with diabetes. Bitter gourd contains compounds such as charantin and momordicin that have been shown to improve insulin sensitivity and lower blood glucose levels.

In addition to its anti-diabetic effects, bitter gourd is rich in vitamins A and C, iron, calcium, and dietary fiber. To make this vegetable more appealing for diabetic patients, there are several ways to cook it including stir-frying with spices and onions, adding it to soups or stews, or even incorporating it into smoothies.

Here are 5 delicious recipes using bitter gourd for diabetes:

  • Karela chips: thinly slice the bitter gourd, season with salt and spices of your choice (such as cumin powder), then bake until crispy.
  • Bitter gourd curry: sauté onions and garlic in oil until golden brown; add chopped tomatoes and diced bitter gourd; simmer until tender; finish with fresh cilantro.
  • Stuffed karela: stuff the hollowed-out bitter gourds with spiced mashed potatoes or paneer cheese mixture; steam until cooked through.
  • Karela chutney: blend roasted or boiled bitter gourds with tamarind paste, jaggery (a natural sweetener), chili peppers, and ginger-garlic paste; adjust seasoning according to taste.
  • Bittermelon soup: boil chunks of peeled bitter melon along with carrots, celery, and onion till vegetables are soft; puree the mixture until smooth.

As a doctor who cares about helping others achieve optimal health outcomes despite having a diabetes mellitus diagnosis – I encourage my patients to consider incorporating bitter gourd into their meal plans regularly. It is important to note that while bitter gourd can be a valuable addition to the diet of diabetic patients, it should not replace other diabetes medications or interventions prescribed by healthcare professionals. Experimenting with different cooking methods and recipes can make bitter gourd more palatable and enjoyable for those who are hesitant to try this vegetable.


Building on the topic of low GI Indian vegetarian foods for diabetes, let us now focus on lentils.

Lentils are a great source of plant-based protein and fiber, making them an excellent choice for those with diabetes looking to manage their blood sugar levels.

In addition to being low in GI, lentils also have several other health benefits such as promoting heart health by reducing cholesterol levels and improving digestion due to their high fiber content.

When it comes to incorporating lentils into your diet, there are many delicious recipes you can try.

One popular option is dal – a flavorful dish made from split lentils that are frequently served alongside rice or bread.

Another idea is to use cooked lentils as a base for salads or veggie burgers.

To prepare lentils, rinse them thoroughly before cooking and add them to boiling water along with any desired seasonings (such as garlic or turmeric).

Cook until they become tender but not mushy – this usually takes around 20-30 minutes depending on the type of lentil.

By incorporating these nutritious legumes into your meals, you can create satisfying dishes that will help keep your blood sugar levels stable and support overall good health.

Kidney Beans

Kidney beans, also known as rajma in India, are a great low-GI option for vegetarians with diabetes. These legumes are packed with nutrients such as fiber, protein, and iron that can help regulate blood sugar levels while providing various health benefits.

Kidney beans have been shown to improve heart health by reducing LDL cholesterol levels and decreasing the risk of coronary artery disease. When it comes to cooking methods, kidney beans can be boiled or pressure-cooked before being added to soups, stews, or salads.

They can also be mashed into patties and used as a vegetarian alternative to meatballs or burgers. Some recipe ideas include making an Indian-style curry with tomatoes and spices or adding them to a Mexican-inspired chili dish with peppers and corn.

Overall, incorporating kidney beans into your diet is a delicious way to manage diabetes while reaping numerous health benefits from these nutrient-packed legumes.


Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, are a nutritious and low glycemic index legume that can be incorporated into the diets of individuals with diabetes.

The high fiber content in chickpeas slows down digestion and absorption of carbohydrates, leading to more stable blood sugar levels.

Additionally, research has shown that consuming chickpeas may improve insulin sensitivity and reduce HbA1c levels in individuals with type 2 diabetes.

Chickpeas are also a good source of plant-based protein, which is important for maintaining muscle mass and managing blood glucose levels.

There are various recipe ideas for incorporating chickpeas into meals such as roasted chickpea snacks, hummus dips, or adding them to salads or curries.

Overall, including chickpeas in the diet can provide numerous health benefits and contribute towards better management of diabetes.

Soya Beans

Just like chickpeas, soya beans are an excellent source of protein and fiber for individuals with diabetes. They have a low glycemic index which means they do not cause a spike in blood sugar levels as compared to high GI foods.

Soya beans contain bioactive compounds such as isoflavones that help improve insulin sensitivity and prevent the development of type 2 diabetes. Additionally, studies have shown that incorporating soy products into one’s diet can reduce LDL cholesterol levels and decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease, which is crucial for individuals with diabetes who are at higher risk for heart conditions.

There are various ways to cook soya beans – from boiling them to adding them to salads or soups, making it easy to incorporate them into any meal plan. A popular way of consuming soya beans is by using tofu, tempeh, or edamame beans in dishes such as stir-fries or curries.

It’s important to note that portion control is key when consuming soy products as they can be high in calories if eaten excessively. Registered dietitians suggest including half a cup of cooked soybeans two to three times per week in a diabetic diet plan while monitoring overall caloric intake.

By incorporating soya beans into meals, people with diabetes can reap numerous health benefits while enjoying delicious and nutritious food options without compromising their dietary restrictions.


What makes quinoa a great addition to an Indian vegetarian diet for individuals with diabetes?

Quinoa is a nutrient-dense grain that has a low glycemic index, meaning it won’t spike blood sugar levels like other grains. It’s also high in fiber and protein, helping to slow down digestion and stabilize blood glucose levels.

Incorporating quinoa into traditional Indian meals can be done easily by substituting rice or wheat flour with quinoa flour or using cooked quinoa as a base for dishes such as biryani or pulao.

Here are three ideas for incorporating this healthy grain into your next meal:

  1. Try making vegetable-stuffed quinoa parathas for breakfast instead of the usual roti;
  2. Add cooked quinoa to dal or sambar soup to increase its nutritional value;
  3. Make a flavorful and nutritious salad by combining cooked quinoa, diced cucumber, tomato, cilantro, lemon juice, and spices.

Overall, including quinoa in an Indian vegetarian diet can provide numerous benefits for individuals living with diabetes while still enjoying delicious and familiar flavors from their cultural cuisine.


This article has outlined ten low-GI Indian vegetarian foods that are beneficial for people with diabetes. Okra, eggplant, cucumber, and bitter gourd are all vegetables that have low GI ratings and can be incorporated into meals easily. Additionally, lentils, chickpeas, soya beans, millets, and quinoa are all protein-rich options that have low GI scores.

These food items not only provide essential nutrients but also help keep blood glucose levels stable. In conclusion, incorporating these low-GI Indian vegetarian foods into one’s daily diet can be immensely helpful when managing diabetes. A well-balanced meal plan consisting of these healthy ingredients will ensure improved metabolic control while providing the necessary nourishment to the body.

Like a painter using vivid shades to capture their subject on canvas, choosing these nutritious foods is like painting a vibrant picture of health for diabetic patients. As a doctor, I recommend consulting your healthcare provider before making any significant changes to your dietary habits as they may require adjustments to medication or insulin dosage based on your individual needs.

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