Dr Alan Barclay
Finding a low GI bread
For many of us, bread is the number one source of glycemic carbohydrate in our diet. This is partly because it is such a versatile product – we can eat it for breakfast with our favourite spread, use it to make sandwiches for lunch, and serve it with dinner.
Bread is naturally very high in starch (carbohydrate), and typically it has a high GI so its overall glycemic load can be relatively high. But because bread is such an important part of life, we do not recommend cutting it out – low carbohydrate diets are generally unsustainable, and arguably not ideal for long-term health. Choosing a lower GI bread is a much easier way of lowering the overall glycemic impact of your diet.
There are a number of factors that potentially affect the GI of breads including:
This is why you cannot simply look at a breads nutrition information panel or ingredient list and guess its GI value. It’s absolutely essential that the bread has its GI tested at an Accredited Laboratory using the standard method.
- The type of flour (wheat, rye, barley, etc)
- The amount of each type of starch in the flour (i.e., ratio of amylose to amylopectin)
- The method of milling the flour (i.e., steel vs stone)
- The addition of other ingredients (seeds, kibbled grains, dried fruit, sugar, fibre, water, etc)
- The fermentation process (yeast and proofing time)
- How the bread is cooked
In Australia and New Zealand, it is easy to find breads that have had their GI tested correctly – simply look for those that carry the GI Symbol:
- Bürgen® Soy-Lin GI 52
- Bürgen® Grains with Barley for Men's Wellbeing GI50
- Bürgen® Pumpkin Seeds bread GI51
- Bürgen® Rye bread GI53
- Bürgen® Fruit & Muesli bread GI53
- Bürgen® Wholemeal & Seeds bread GI39
- Bürgen® Oatbran & Honey bread GI53
- Tip Top original 9 grain bread GI53
- Tip Top 9 grain Wholemeal GI53
- Cripps 9 grain sandwich loaf GI53
- Tip Top Up EnerGi white bread sandwich GI58
- Country Life Low GI gluten free GI53
If you live in a country that does not yet have the GI Symbol Program, you need to do a little more detective work. If the bread is making a low GI claim, call up the manufacturer and ask who conducted the GI test. A list of Accredited Labs can be found here – if it was done by one of these, you can trust the claim. While you’re at it, why not ask the manufacturer to consider putting the GI Symbol on their breads – most are genuinely customer-focused and if enough people ask, you may be surprised with the results.
For more information about the GI Symbol Program
Dr Alan W Barclay, PhD
Chief Scientific Officer
Glycemic Index Foundation (Ltd)
Phone: +61 (0)2 9785 1037
Mob: +61 (0)416 111 046
Fax: +61 (0)2 9785 1037