1 October 2007

Making the Most of GI News

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Dave Patrick said...

Hi, I find what works for me in my weight loss program is a balanced diet with lots of protein and green veg to fill up on, also I limit the carbs as much as possible. Any carbs I do intake, I try to keep in the low glycemic index definitely

Zilla said...

I'm wondering how to approximate the GI value of foods we make for ourselves. For example, I tired of trying to find a truly whole-grain bread with no additives or preservatives, so I make my own now, with all whole grains, raw honey and coconut oil. How can I estimate the GI value of my own bread? I also make my own baked goods, with whole grain flour and xylitol. How does it compare with products in a store that are labelled "whole grain"? Thank you.

gi group said...

Hi Zilla - it is very hard to estimate the GI of baked products. Even we find it hard when developing recipes. This is because baked products contain flour which is a finely milled product even if you opt for a wholewheat/wholegrain flour. What we aim to do is lower the overall GI of baked products like pancakes, muffins and doughs for bread by incorporating lower GI ingredients such as oat bran, whole grains, milk, juices and dried fruit. We are often asked this question and have covered it a couple of times in GI News. To save you hunting through back issues, here's what we have said before.

Q: I love to bake, but want to reduce the GI of the products? Here are my questions – all seven of them!

1. Can I estimate the GI/GL for baked goods?

Estimating the GI of baked goods is not an accurate science by any means. There are too many variables that can affect the resultant GI and GL. It is always best to test baked goods. However we can make general assumptions – such as replacing flour with lower GI ingredients such as oats, dried fruit, oat bran and so on. Estimating a final GI would only ever be a rough estimate however.

2. Since spelt flour hasn’t been GI tested, can I estimate its GI value?

No we can’t estimate it and given the reported health properties of this grain (it is a variety of wheat) it would be nice to have it tested. It does have a higher protein content than plain or all-purpose wheat flour and this may make a difference, although not necessarily. With the present information we could only play conservatively and give it the same GI as plain or all-purpose wheat flour – but emphasise the other nutritional qualities of spelt.

3. Flax seed and oat bran are said to lower GI, what proportion is necessary to get a lowering effect?

To get a GI lowering effect the flaxseed or oat bran would need to replace some of the flour – the extra soluble fibre is what really has an effect on the GI. It’s difficult to put an absolute value on how much but we would estimate as least 10% in order to have a realistic effect on the GI. You need to weigh up how much can be added without negatively affecting the taste of the end product.

4. Ingredients like almonds, sunflower seeds, soy protein, eggs, butter – are they just ‘bulk’ that will ‘dilute’ the GI/GL per gram of finished product? Or will they have actual effect on GI?

None of these ingredients contain an appreciable amount of carbohydrate and so do not have a GI themselves and neither will they affect the GI of the end product. They will however affect the GL since they alter the gram weight of the finished cookie…in other words more fat and protein will reduce the amount of carbohydrate per gram of cookie.

5. Is brown sugar the same as regular sucrose?

Yes – although marginally less carbohydrate per 100 grams than white sugar any effect on GL will be minimal. Brown sugar is just sucrose with some of the molasses still present.

6. Is there a GI value for molasses?

No – but it is unlikely to be very different from sucrose since it is predominantly sucrose, with some fructose and glucose also present. It does however contain less carbohydrate per 100g than brown or white sugar and so the contribution to the overall GI and GL of the product will be affected if molasses replaces some of the sugar in the original recipe. There are of course a few extra minerals found in molasses too.

7. I use fructose in my baking when it’s doable, but right now there is a lot of debate about fructose and it’s being described as the really bad guy.

Fructose is a refined carbohydrate, and as such we recommend using it in moderation – 1–2 teaspoons in a cup of tea or coffee, and up to about a ½ cup as a sweetening substitute for sugar in recipes. After this we would start recommending you opt for a non-nutritive sweetener, especially if you had diabetes.

Q: I would like to make some low GI bran muffins, but I don't know what type of flour to use (that I can buy at the grocery store). Any suggestions?

To date there are no GI ratings for refined flour whether it’s made from wheat, soy or other grains. What we do know, however, is that bakery products such as scones, cakes, biscuits, donuts and pastries made from highly refined flour whether it’s white or wholemeal are quickly digested and absorbed. What should you do with your own baking? Try to increase the soluble fibre content by partially substituting flour with oat bran, rice bran or rolled oats and increase the bulkiness of the product with dried fruit, nuts, muesli, All-Bran or unprocessed bran.