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May 20, 2024
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Fish, often hailed for its numerous health benefits, also holds significance in terms of glycemic index (GI). While commonly overlooked in discussions about GI, fish can play a pivotal role in managing blood sugar levels due to its protein-rich composition and minimal carbohydrates. 

Most fish varieties have a negligible glycemic impact, making them an excellent choice for individuals monitoring their glycemic response.¹ Additionally, the omega-3 fatty acids abundant in fish contribute to overall cardiovascular health, further emphasizing its importance beyond glycemic considerations. This article aims to elucidate the nuanced relationship between fish consumption and glycemic control, providing valuable insights for individuals seeking to optimize their dietary choices for metabolic health.

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Glycemic Index Table

According to the USDA, 100g of cod contains approximately 0g of carbohydrates.²  Since carbohydrates are a primary determinant of the glycemic index, cod has an exceptionally low GI. Therefore, cod's GI would likely be very low, if not negligible.

Given that cod contains no carbohydrates per serving, its glycemic load (GL) would also be negligible. The glycemic load is calculated by multiplying the glycemic index by the amount of carbohydrates in a standard serving and dividing by 100. However, since there are no carbohydrates in cod, its glycemic load would be close to zero.

This information underscores the importance of fish, particularly low-carbohydrate varieties like cod, in managing blood sugar levels and overall metabolic health.

Glycemic Index

0

Serving Size

100g

Carbohydrate* per Serving (g)

0

GL per Serving

0.00

Nutritional Facts

Fish is a nutrient-dense food, rich in high-quality protein, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals. It is particularly notable for its abundance of essential nutrients like vitamin D, iodine, selenium, and various B vitamins. For example, a 100g serving of cooked Atlantic salmon provides approximately 25g of protein, 13g of fat (including omega-3 fatty acids), and significant amounts of vitamin D and B vitamins.² This nutritional profile makes fish a valuable component of a balanced diet, offering numerous health benefits.

The nutritional information below is for 100 g of cooked Atlantic salmon.²

Calories

277 kcal

Carbs

21.7 g

Protein

11 g

Fiber

1.5 g

Cholesterol

28 mg

Vitamins

A (4 ug), B12 (0.96 ug), B6 (0.078 mg), Zinc (0.42 mg), Potassium (185 mg), Phosphorus (191 mg), Iron (0.84 mg), Calcium (16 mg)

Sodium

402 mg

Total Fat

16.2 g

Is Fish Good for Weight Loss?

Fish can be a valuable addition to a weight loss diet due to its high protein content and low-calorie profile. Protein is known to increase feelings of fullness and promote satiety, which can help reduce overall calorie intake and support weight loss efforts. Additionally, fish is generally lower in saturated fat compared to other animal protein sources, making it a heart-healthy option for individuals looking to manage their weight.² Incorporating fish into meals as a lean protein source can contribute to a balanced diet conducive to weight loss and overall health.

Is Fish Good for People Living with Diabetes?

Fish can be a safe and beneficial protein source for individuals with diabetes. Its low glycemic index and high-quality protein content make it an excellent choice for managing blood sugar levels and promoting overall health. 

Furthermore, the omega-3 fatty acids found abundantly in fatty fish varieties like salmon and mackerel have been associated with reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, a common complication of diabetes.³  Incorporating fish into a balanced diet can offer numerous health benefits for individuals with diabetes, including improved glycemic control and reduced risk of complications.

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Allergies

Allergies to fish are relatively common and can range from mild to severe reactions. Symptoms may include hives, swelling, difficulty breathing, and even anaphylaxis in severe cases. It's crucial for individuals with fish allergies to carefully read food labels and avoid consuming fish and fish products to prevent adverse reactions. Additionally, cross-contamination in food preparation areas is a concern, emphasizing the importance of awareness and communication in restaurants and food service establishments.

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FAQs

What Is Glycemic Index?

The glycemic index (GI) is a measure of how quickly a carbohydrate-containing food raises blood sugar levels compared to a reference food, usually glucose. It ranks foods on a scale from 0 to 100, with higher values indicating a faster rise in blood sugar. The glycemic index (GI) scale is typically categorized as follows: Low GI [55 or less], Medium GI [56-69], High GI [70 or higher]. Foods with a high glycemic index digest rapidly and can cause dramatic fluctuations in blood glucose or glucose spikes.

What Is Glycemic Load?

Glycemic load (GL) takes into account both the quality (glycemic index) and quantity (carbohydrate content) of carbohydrates in a specific serving of food. It is a measure of how much a particular food will raise blood sugar levels. GL is calculated by multiplying the glycemic index of a food by its carbohydrate content and dividing it by 100. It provides a more accurate representation of the overall impact of a food on blood sugar compared to the glycemic index alone.

Does Fish Spike Insulin?

No, fish does not spike insulin. Fish is a lean source of protein that contains minimal carbohydrates, which means it has a minimal impact on insulin levels. Insulin is primarily released in response to the consumption of carbohydrates, particularly those that are high in sugar or refined grains. Therefore, fish is a great option for individuals looking to manage their insulin levels or follow a low-carbohydrate diet.

Is Fish Low Glycemic?

Yes, fish is low glycemic. Glycemic index (GI) is a measure of how quickly a carbohydrate-containing food raises blood sugar levels. Since fish is a protein-rich food and does not contain carbohydrates, it does not have a glycemic index. Therefore, it does not have a significant impact on blood sugar levels.

Can People Living with Diabetes Eat Fish?

Yes, people living with diabetes can eat fish. Fish is an excellent source of lean protein and omega-3 fatty acids, which are beneficial for overall health. It is low in saturated fat and cholesterol, making it a heart-healthy choice for individuals with diabetes. Additionally, fish can help regulate blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity. However, it is important to prepare fish in a healthy way, such as grilling, baking, or steaming, and avoid deep-frying or adding high-calorie sauces. As with any food, portion control is key, and it is advisable to consult with a healthcare professional or registered dietitian for personalized dietary recommendations.

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References

  1. The University of Sydney. (2023, May 1). Glycemic Index – Glycemic Index Research and GI Newshttps://glycemicindex.com/
  2. USDA FoodData Central. (2019, April 1). Food Details - fish, salmon, Atlantic, wild, cooked, dry heat. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/171998/nutrients
  3. American Diabetes Association. (n.d.). Proteinhttps://diabetes.org/food-nutrition/reading-food-labels/protein 

About the author

It is a long established fact that a reader will be distracted by the readable content of a page when looking at its layout.

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About the author

Brittany Barry is a national board-certified health coach and NASM-certified personal trainer based in South Carolina.

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Please note: The Signos team is committed to sharing insightful and actionable health articles that are backed by scientific research, supported by expert reviews, and vetted by experienced health editors. The Signos blog is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. If you have or suspect you have a medical problem, promptly contact your professional healthcare provider. Read more about our editorial process and content philosophy here.

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