1 October 2007

Feedback—Your FAQs Answered

What’s the GI of …
Pappadums (Indian crisp bread)
A number of Indian breads (chapattis) have been GI tested, but not pappadums. They are traditionally made with a lentil and rice flour combo and then fried but you can microwave them (brush them with oil first). A single large Patak's pappadum (15 cm/6 in diameter) has 4 g carbohydrate which would not have much effect on your blood glucose on its own. However, they are very more-ish. So keep portions moderate (just eat one or two) and make sure with your Indian meal you serve a lower GI rice such as Moolgiri (which carries the GI Symbol) or basmati.


Sago hasn’t been GI tested. It’s rather granular like tapioca, and described as ‘small balls or pellets of starch’. It is made from the sago palm (not cassava like tapioca) and used in starchy milk puddings like lemon sago dessert or sago pudding (which supposedly has a soothing effect if you are feeling a bit off-colour). You can substitute tapioca which has been tested and has a high GI.


Buttercup squash
Buttercup squash is a winter squash or pumpkin. It hasn’t been tested but its popular cousin butternut squash (pumpkin) has and has a low GI (51). We wrote about it in GI News in April 2007.


Your database has blueberry muffins, blueberry juice and blueberry crunch GI values, but no entries for blueberries. I guess blueberries aren’t food until you put them into something.
Blueberries, like most berries, don’t actually contain much carbohydrate, so it’s (a) hard to test their GI and (b) they won’t have much effect on your blood glucose. What we say here at GI News is make blueberries an everyday health habit if you can. Blue is good for you! As one of today’s superfoods, they are bursting with nutrition and flavour while being very low in calories and of course they are packed with antioxidants like anthocyanins – nature’s personal bodyguards that help minimise damage to cell membranes that occurs with ageing. Most blueberries you buy in the supermarket or fresh produce store will be cultivated highbush blueberries (Vaccinium corymbosum L). In the US, it’s also possible to buy frozen wild blueberries (V. angustifolium), all year long and they have been tested (GI 53). Wild blueberries are smaller, about one-third the size of cultivated and have a more intense blueberry flavour and they retain their shape well in cooking.



Anonymous said...

is there a way to generalize and say that if a food has ____so many grams of sugar or carbs it can be considered a low GI food

gi group said...

We are often asked about estimating a food’s GI. And the simple answer is that you can’t ‘work it out’. A packaged food’s Nutrition Facts panel will tell you the carbohydrate content, but it won’t indicate the GI of that food. If it contains at least 10 grams of carbohydrates per serving, you can be sure it will have at least some effect on your blood glucose concentration – but there’s no way of telling whether it will be a little or a lot. Similarly, you can’t estimate the GI of a food by looking at its ingredient list, because it won’t tell you the final state of the starches in the food – which ultimately determine GI value.
However, you can make some generalisations about the GI of different foods that you can keep in mind when shopping. Legumes, for example, have some of the lowest GI values whether you buy them dried or canned, it doesn’t matter about the brand. Most pasta and noodle products tend to be low GI foods too as are most fresh fruits and dairy foods like milk, yogurt, ice cream, and custards. In contrast, most bread, bakery products, rice and breakfast cereals are high GI, although those that are less processed may be lower GI. Protein-rich foods—cheese, meat, eggs, and poultry – don’t have measurable GI values, because they contain little if any carbohydrates. The same is true for salad vegetables. Check out the database at www.glycemicindex.com for the most comprehensive list of GI values available. If you want something portable, you might like to pick up The New Glucose Revolution Shopper’s Guide to GI Values. It is updated each year, so look for the 2008 edition which should be published around November/December. And hound the manufacturers of your favourite foods to have them glycemic index tested ‘in vivo’ (that means what happens in real people not in a glass test tube) following the standard international procedure.

Anonymous said...

Hi, I am new to this. I have just bought the low GI shoppers guide and was going through the cereal section. I was suprised to find that Frosties (Kellog's) had a GI of 55, but Corn Flakes (Kellogs) had a GI of 77, Crunchy nut corn flakes (kellogs) had a GI of 72 and Skippy Cornflakes (sanitarium)had a GI of 93. Is the GI of Frosties correct? And if so, why is its GI so much lower than the others? I would have thought that it should have had a higher GI than ordinary cornflakes or have a GI that was between sugar (gi 60) and cornflakes (gi 77)? Can someone please explain this... Thanks

Anonymous said...

I forgot to ask, I was looking at the online GI Database as the book that i mentioned in the comment above (2007 edition) said to refer to it to find a list of the most recently tested foods by clicking on the last '6 or 12 months' buttons. However down the bottom of the web page it says that the data base has not been updated/modified since Dec 13, 2005. Is this a mistake, or has nothing been added since then? And if so, is there any plan to update the database soon? I would think that it would be pretty important to have updated the database by now, especially since all of the GI books that I have looked at refer you back to the online database as having the most up-to-date and current information... I was quite disappointed to find that it had not been updated since then - am hoping that I am wrong...

gi group said...

Many people assume that the higher the sugar content, the higher the GI. But in fact, starch in cornflakes is very rapidly digested and absorbed (it's been fully 'gelatinised' during processing), giving the product its high GI. When you incorporate sugar into the recipe, you reduce the GI for two reasons:
1) Sucrose has a lower GI than the starch in cornflakes;
2) The presence of sugar reduces the ability of the starch to gelatinise by tying up water molecules.
Both effects work together to give Frosties its lower GI.

And by there way, there is absolutely no difference in calories or nutrient content of Frosties vs Cornflakes. Processed starch is pretty empty of micronutrients, just like sugar.

As for the follow up question about the database. It's updated regularly, every time we get the latest results for a tested food (we often publish the results in GI News by the way). Unfortunately the people entering new GI data don't have access to the part of the website to update the time stamp at the bottom of the page. We know, we know, a glitch that needs sorting. It's just we have so much to do and no extra hands or a budget to buy them. But thanks for raising this and it's on the list of things to be attended to on the website asap.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for answering my questions. I was very excited to find this newsletter! I think that the low GI food of the month and the low GI recipes section are a fantastic idea and are very helpful! I am looking forward to getting next months newsletter!

Also, I will go check out the online database now, as before your answer I had stopped my search when I saw when it said that it had been last updated (thinking that to continue looking would be a waste of time!). I hope that someone will be able to get a chance to fix that glitch soon, as i think that you will loose the interest of a lot of people when they see the date that it says it was last updated. Also, knowing the dates that it has been updated would be helpful in determining if anything new has been added, instead of having to look at the whole last 6 month list to find if anything has been added or not; especially if you don't get the newsletters or realise that the new GI's are listed in the news letters. It would be handy if it was possible to be able to put in a date on the online database search so that you can pull up all the GI's from that date forward until now. I thought that I'd mention that in case you are looking for any new features/ideas for when you update your database site; as this would be a lot more convenient than only having access to the last 6 or 12 months - you would be able to search from the date you last checked.

Anyway, congratulations on creating such a great newsletter/site! It is just the kind of thing that I was looking for!

PS. I just want to get this straight... You said in your answer "there is absolutely no difference in calories or nutrient content of Frosties vs Cornflakes. Processed starch is pretty empty of micronutrients, just like sugar."
So even though Frosties has a much lower GI of 55 than Cornflakes at 77, there would be no difference/benefits in eating the one with the lower GI? Cause I thought that the lower GI was what I was supposed to look for when choosing breakfast cereals (because my 3yr old doesn't like porridge or muesli - she just likes her weetbix with a small amount of cocoa pops scattered on top with milk - i am trying to come up with a healthier alternative and was thinking to try Frosties because of the lower GI. She also didn't like it with tinned or dried fruit. If you have any suggestions they would be appreciated! Both her and her father are dreadful when it comes to eating vegetables, especially if they are green, so if you have any ideas on how to get vegetables into them without them realising they are there or forcing the issue that would be great! Those 2 would live on just rice and meat if i would let them!!!! Fortunately they both liked the basmarti rice when i changed it! But any suggestions for fussy vegetable eaters would be great!)Thanks.

gi group said...

Glad you love the newsletter. We love creating it. First of all when choosing foods the GI isn't meant to be used on its own. The nutritional benefits of foods are many and varied and that's why we suggest you base your food choices on the overall nutritional content along with the amount of saturated fat, fibre, salt and of course the GI value. So although Frosties have a lower GI, nutritionally they are much the same as cornflakes. You may like to invest in a copy of a book called Low GI Eating Made Easy by Jennie Brand-Miller and the team which will have a whole heap of tips to help you create healthy meals for your family.

As for green veggies. Well, that's pretty much par for the course. Here are some suggestions from dietitian Kaye Foster-Powell.
"Children are capable of learning to like and accept a wide variety of foods and this learning occurs rapidly during the first few years of life. So exactly how do you get your tiny tot familiar with pumpkin when it seems even the whiff of it makes her mouth clamp shut? Well, perhaps you don’t want to hear this but you probably need to let her play with it. Food has wonderful tactile properties and while she’s squeezing it through her fingers she also smells it and that’s halfway towards tasting it, so you’ve progressed up the familiarity scale. As for getting her to taste some off the spoon, you have to try, try and try again. Somewhere between 5-10 repeated exposures leads to doubling of intake of a new food, but research shows that most parents give up after only 2-3 attempts.

Of course another great tactic with some inquisitive tots is just to eat whatever you want them to eat yourself, right in front of them. At the very least they’ll probably want to handle it and there you are notching up another win on the familiarity scale. Be aware that this strategy works in reverse as well, so for foods you’d prefer they don’t have, keep them out of sight.

At virtually any age, involving kids in food preparation is going to enhance the chances of them wanting to eat whatever’s prepared. Part of this is familiarity, part of it’s the sense of achievement. Helping you choose the fruit when shopping. Watching you wash and peel it for their morning tea and being offered taste tests in a relaxed way will enhance acceptance."

And watch out for Kaye's Low GI Family Cookbook in January!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the info - I will just have to keep trying with them! I think that i am in for more of a battle with my husband than my daughter, as I think my daughter is picking up and copying his behavior with the vegetables!!! I already have 'Low GI Eating Made Easy' but have not had much of a chance to get very far through it yet. I have also invested in two of the other cookbooks that have been put out and will be sure to keep an eye out for Kaye's 'Low GI Family Cookbook' in January! Thanks again.

Anonymous said...

Was just wondering if there have been any low GI bread recipes developed by you guys? I have a bread maker, but unless i can try and discover some recipes that are low GI, it seems a bit pointless in keeping it as all the recipes it has seem to be for white bread and variations of it.

gi group said...

Sorry we don't have any bread recipes. Rather than give your breadmaker away, it may be worth checking out wholegrain bread recipes and adding some extra low GI ingredients as we have suggested above answering the question on estimating a food's GI.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the tip about getting kids involved with the food preparation - I tried it and so far it has worked with getting her to eat 3 out of 4 new foods/dishes that I have tried this week. It might have taken us a lot longer to prepare and make them, but she ate them without too much fuss and resistance! If only that tip would work on my husband!!! I have caught him pulling the green vegetables (& others) out of the wok and putting them into the bin, as well as putting them on my daughters or my plate when he thinks that we are not looking!!! If only there was a solution for him!!!!! I think that I will have to try pureeing the green veggies and hiding them in soups and stews to see if he doesn't notice and eats them.

gi group said...

Hi there, thanks for the good news update. Don't know what you can do about Daddy! But I'll bet he loves his daughter to bits ... and the best gift he can give her is to encourage her to adopt healthy eating habits so she grows up strong and healthy. Kids do as you do not as you say ... So he needs to set a good example. He doesn't have to eat lots of green beans. Just one or two. Perhaps your daughter would like to 'feed' Daddy his beans now she part of the cooking team?