1 December 2018

GI News - December 2018

GI News

GI News is published online every month by the University of Sydney, School of Life and Environmental Sciences and the Charles Perkins Centre, and delivered to the mailboxes of our 97,000 subscribers. Our goal is to help people choose the high-quality carbs that are digested at a rate that our bodies can comfortably accommodate and to share the latest scientific findings on food and diet with a particular focus on carbohydrates, dietary fibres, blood glucose and the glycemic index.

Publisher:
Professor Jennie Brand-Miller, AM, PhD, FAIFST, FNSA
Editor: Philippa Sandall
Scientific Editor/Managing Editor: Alan Barclay, PhD, APD, AN
Contact GI News: glycemic.index@gmail.com

Sydney University Glycemic Index Research Service
Manager: Fiona Atkinson, PhD, APD, AN
Contact: sugirs.manager@sydney.edu.au

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FOOD FOR THOUGHT

FRUIT FOR THOUGHT 
 “There is no way that taking a pill can replace eating fruits and vegetables … In theory, one could cram all the good things that plants make—essential elements, fibre, vitamins, antioxidants, plant hormones, and so on—into a pill. But it would have to be a very large pill, and no one can honestly say what should go into such a pill. Or in what proportions. Health issues aside, the biggest drawback is that a pill would always taste like a pill. It can’t give you the earthy smell and taste of a fresh ear of corn, the sweetness of a juicy tomato still warm from the afternoon sun, the crunch of an apple, the festive green of a snap pea or broccoli floret, or the smooth nutty taste of an avocado. Stick with real fruits and vegetables—they taste better and contain a bounty of phytochemicals that don’t come in capsules.”— Prof Walter Willett, Eat, Drink and Be Healthy

Fruit
It’s hard to imagine dinner time when the spotlight wasn’t on “eat your vegetables”. But it’s not that long ago—a bit over 100 years. The discovery of vitamins and minerals in the early years of the twentieth century was the wakeup call and “Dr Vitamin”—Elmer Verner McCollum (1879–1967) – was a key player in ensuring they had a bigger part of the dinner plate. They were protective foods he said, because “they were so constituted to make good the deficiencies of whatever else we liked to eat”.

It’s not just the leafy ones that matter. It’s all of them, because, as Harvard’s Prof Walter Willet says, “so far, no one has found a magic bullet that works against heart disease, cancer and a host of other chronic diseases as well as fruits and vegetables seem to do”.

We are spoiled for choice in the produce aisles. As well as the proverbial leafy greens (spinach, lettuce and cabbage), we can take our pick from veggies that technically are fruits such as avocado, cucumber, marrow (squash), tomato, capsicum (peppers), and green beans; stems or bulbs such as onion and globe artichoke; stalks such as celery and asparagus; flower stalks and buds such as broccoli and cauliflower; and roots and tubers such as carrots, potato and sweet potato. And there’s more, there are the protein-rich edible dried seeds from the legume family: beans, peas and lentils.

As for fruit, next time someone purses their lips and tells you it’s “full of sugar,” you can sweetly smile back and tell them there’s a smart evolutionary explanation for that and for our sweet tooth. First of all, hunting and gathering are hard work, so discovering ripe fruits dangling on a branch in front of us or bright berries on a bush was a no-brainer. Sweetness told our forebears they were safe to pick and eat. Bitterness, on the other hand, helped them steer clear of fruits with potentially tummy upsetting toxins.

You can then explain that the sweetness comes from natural sugars – typically fructose (fruit sugar), glucose and sucrose ranging from a mere trace in pucker-up limes to almost 60 per cent in dates. And although sugars in themselves aren’t a health food, in fruits they are also accompanied by really good stuff such as fibre, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients including eye-catching carotenes in orange-fleshed fruits like mangoes, papaya and peaches and anthocyanins in all the blue/purple berries.

Why are fruits sweet? That’s easy. They want us to eat them. Why? Well, look at it from the tree’s point of view. When you are rooted to the spot, you need something mobile to help you disperse your seeds. The sweet, ripe, juicy flesh of a fruit tree’s fruit is an inducement. It tempts us and animals, birds and insects to tuck into it and, one way or another, spread the seeds far and wide. This successful strategy has seen seeds become the original globe trotters.

However, it’s unlikely we humans would make the finals if seed dispersal was an Olympic sport. As competitors, we are outclassed. A thirsty hyena can chomp through 18 tsamma melons in a night then disperse seeds over a home range of some 400 square kilometres (150 square miles). This is impressive, but possibly pales alongside a black bear sitting around gorging up to 30,000 berries in a day, then distributing thousands of seeds over its territory.

Read more: 

WHAT’S NEW?

NOT ALL PLANT-BASED DIETS ARE CREATED EQUAL
While plant-based diets are recommended to reduce the risk of heart disease, some are associated with a higher risk of heart disease, according to a study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
Plant-based diet
The Harvard researchers created three versions of a plant-based diet: an overall plant-based diet which emphasized the consumption of all plant foods and reduced (but did not eliminate) animal food intake; a healthful plant-based diet that emphasized the intake of healthy plant foods such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables; and a less healthy plant-based diet which emphasized consumption of refined grain products, fries, white bread, sugar-sweetened beverages etc.

“When we examined the associations of the three food categories with heart disease risk, we found that healthy plant foods were associated with lower risk, whereas less healthy plant foods and animal foods were associated with higher risk,” said Ambika Satija, the study's lead author. “It's apparent that there is a wide variation in the nutritional quality of plant foods, making it crucial to take into consideration the quality of foods in a plant-based diet.”

The authors note limitations on their study: it’s observational and based on self-reported diet assessments. It’s very important to remind people that not all plant-based diets are created equal, but we have a couple of quibbles about their lists. They did not look at the overall GI/GL of diets; and their selection of “less healthy” foods which includes the usual suspects leaves out alcohol (they say they adjusted for it), and adds in foods/beverages that current dietary guidelines recommend as good choices in moderation as part of a healthy eating pattern. In particular: 

  • Traditional staples (regular durum wheat pasta and white rice) – often combined with significant portions of vegetables and eaten worldwide by millions of people in healthy meals that are part of their cuisine; and 
  • 100% fruit juices – ½ cup or 125mL is regarded as equivalent to one serving of fruit in Dietary Guidelines. 
No wonder the punters are confused about what to eat – nutrition gurus aren’t consistent with dietary guidelines they help formulate.

Read more
PLANT-BASED OR VEGAN DIETS MAY HELP KEEP TYPE 2 DIABETES IN CHECK 
While a predominantly plant-based diet-rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, and seeds with no (i.e., vegan) or few animal products has been linked to a significantly lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes, it’s not clear if it might also be linked to improved mood and wellbeing. To try and find out, researchers trawled through the available evidence. The studies involved a total of 433 people in their mid-50s, on average.
Vegan diet
A systematic critical analysis of the results showed that quality of life – both physical and emotional – improved only in those patients on a plant based/vegan diet. Similarly, depressive symptoms improved significantly only in these groups.

Nerve pain (neuropathy) eased in both the plant based and comparator diet groups, but more so in the former. And the loss of temperature control in the feet in those on the comparator diets suggests that eating predominantly plant-based foods may have slowed the progressive nerve damage associated with diabetes, say the researchers.

Average (HbA1c) and fasting blood glucose levels fell more sharply in those who cut out or ate very few animal products and these participants lost nearly twice as much weight: 5.23 kg vs 2.83 kg. The fall in blood fats (cholesterol and triglycerides) – a known risk factor for cardiovascular disease – was also greater in those on plant based/vegan diets.

In six of the studies, those following a plant based/vegan diet were able to cut down or discontinue the drugs they were taking for their diabetes and associated underlying conditions, such as high blood pressure. Overall, the results indicated that even though the plant-based diets were more difficult to follow, at least to begin with, participants stuck to them better than those in the other groups.

Read more
HIGH-CARB PLANT-BASED DIET LEADS TO WEIGHT LOSS
A plant-based diet high in carbohydrates can reduce body weight and body fat and improve insulin function in overweight individuals, according to a study published in Nutrients.
Vegetarian diet
In the 16-week randomized clinical trial, researchers with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine placed participants in either a plant-based, high-carbohydrate, low-fat diet group or asked them to maintain their current diet. The plant-based diet group avoided all animal products and added oils and limited fat intake to 20–30 grams per day. There were no limits on calories or carbohydrate intake. The control group maintained their current diets, which included meat and dairy products. Neither group altered their exercise routines. Total carbohydrate intake did not change in the control group, but increased significantly in the plant-based diet group, both as absolute intake and as a percentage of total calories. Participants in this group focused on whole, minimally-processed carbohydrates from fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes.

At the end of the trial, body mass index, body weight, fat mass, visceral fat volume (fat around the organs), and insulin resistance decreased significantly in the plant-based diet group. There were no significant changes in the control group.

“Fad diets often lead people to fear carbohydrates. But the research continues to show that healthy carbohydrates -- from fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains -- are the healthiest fuel for our bodies,” says lead study author Hana Kahleova, M.D., Ph.D., director of clinical research for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.

Read more:
NEW GI VALUES FOR GUAVAS AND PAPAYA
GI VALUES FOR GUAVAS AND PAPAYA
These GI results are from a randomized, crossover study that compared the effects of consuming bite-sized and pureed guava and papaya in 19 healthy participants (9 elderly and 10 young adults) recruited from the general public in Singapore. Glycemic index testing was carried out following the International Standard.

Read more:
DIABETES, DRIED FRUIT AND BLOOD GLUCOSE
A recent randomised crossover study conducted in China published in Nutrients demonstrated that medium or low GI dried fruit (dried apples, dried jujubes, dried apricots and raisins), did not raise blood glucose concentrations excessively when consumed as a substitute for a high GI carbohydrate-based food (rice).

Eleven healthy, young Chinese volunteers consumed the test meals in a randomised order on seventeen separate mornings with a one-week wash-out period between each test session. The test meals included: (1) dried fruits containing 50g available carbohydrates; (2) mixed meals consisting of dried fruits and rice each contributing 25 g available carbohydrates; (3) mixed meals consisting of dried fruits and rice each contributing 25 g available carbohydrates supplemented with 30g almonds. Taking the nutrient profile and antioxidants of dried fruits into account, the researchers say they may have the potential of being included into a blood-glucose-managing diet without altering the total carbohydrate intake.

Dried fruit GI values
Tip: Dried fruits generally have low GI values and are a great source of fibre, but the calorie count is much greater than for fresh fruit, so watch portion size. Dried fruit can be very more-ish!

Read more:

BEWARE FERMENTED FRUIT THIS FESTIVE SEASON 
The kererū pigeon (Hemiphaga novaeseelandiae) was named Bird of The Year in New Zealand, winning the popular vote by a clear margin. This metallic green, grey and white native wood pigeon is renowned for its spectacular aerobatics, the ‘whoosh’ of its wings and its complete lack of self-discipline. Forest and Bird, who organise the annual competition, uses terms like “drunk” and “gluttonous” to describe it because it likes to gorge itself on rotten fruit on the forest floor. Some seasons, the abundance of fermented fruit can leave the pigeons so drunk they end up falling from the trees and having to be rescued.

kererū pigeon
Not a tall story says GI News editor, Philippa Sandall. “Growing up in New Zealand we had a bumper cropping Christmas plum tree in our garden that became jars and jars of jam (great for gifts). But, the tree was such a prolific producer, my mother couldn’t keep up the preserving and plums lay fermenting on the ground. One year we rescued a tipsy thrush who had seriously overindulged. It took him several hours to sober up in a cardboard box to keep him safe from the family cat.

PERSPECTIVES WITH DR ALAN BARCLAY

CAN FRUIT BE PART OF A HEALTHY DIET TODAY?
Dietary guidelines since Day One back in the late 1970s have recommended that we eat fruit every day for our health and wellbeing. We have plenty of choice to meet that target – not only are there hundreds of different kinds of fruit but, in many cases, we can opt for fresh, frozen, canned or dried. But, in today’s “obesogenic world”, as the headlines put it, is fruit still a healthy choice, after all, it’s primarily comprised of carbohydrates – in particular (gasp!) sugars.

Fruit
Fruit nutrition With the exception of fat-rich avocadoes and olives, carbohydrate is the primary source of energy in most fruit. An average piece (150g) of fresh fruit gives us 10–20g available carbohydrate, plus a little protein (less than 2g) and even less fat (under 1g). When it comes to fibre (soluble and insoluble), an average piece (150g) of unpeeled, fresh apple or pear or stone fruit provides between 2–4g of fibre. Citrus is similar when peeled. A small handful (30g) of dried fruit provides 1.5–3g fibre per serve, and melons only 0.5–1g per average slice (75 g). Most fruits are good sources of a variety of vitamins and minerals – in particular vitamin C, potassium and magnesium.

It’s the sugars in fruit that gets people’s knickers in a knot these days. Crusading diet books in recent years have tended to encourage the belief that fruit is full of fructose and that’s simply not the case. The average fructose content of fruit eaten in Australia and other Western nations is around 50% of the total carbohydrate content, with the balance coming from glucose. Pome fruits like apples and pears have more at around 65% of the total carbohydrate content; stone fruits like apricot, cherries and plums have much less at around 35%. It’s also worth keeping in mind that most fruits are mostly water (that’s why fruit is refreshing). The carbohydrate content is typically around 10% by weight.

The GI of most apples, pears, citrus and stone fruits is low (under 55). Melons tend to be medium to high GI (GI 68–78), but most will have a low GL because melons are mostly water and have very little carbohydrate. Canning fruits in sugary syrups typically raises their GI, but fruits canned in 100% fruit juice typically have a lower GI. Drying fruits doesn’t have much of an effect on the GI of the fruit.

Fruit and health Systematic reviews of the best available scientific evidence in humans have found that regular whole fruit consumption:

How much fruit should we be eating? Dietary guidelines currently recommend that adults consume at least 2 serves (2 cups in the USA) of fruit each day. A serve of fruit is:
  • 150g (1 piece) of medium-sized fruit e.g. apple, banana, orange, pear 
  • 150g (2 pieces) of small fruit e.g. apricots, kiwi fruit, plums 
  • 150g (1 cup) diced, cooked or canned fruit 
  • 125ml (½ cup) 100% fruit juice 
  • 30g dried fruit. e.g. 4 dried apricot halves, 1½ tablespoons of sultanas 
How much fruit are we eating? In most developed nations, most people do not eat the minimum recommended number of serves of fruit each day. In the USA, adolescents consumed an average of 0.51 cups and adults 0.61 cups of fruit per day. Australians do better according to Australia’s most recent national nutrition survey:
  • Australians two years and over, consumed on average around 1.5 serves of fruit (including fruit juice and dried fruit) with fresh or canned contributing around 1 serve, and fruit juice and dried fruit 0.5 serve. 
  • Children on average consumed slightly more serves of fruit than adults (1.7 compared with 1.5). 
The take home? Fruit is a healthy food. Up your intake and get those two serves a day for optimal health and wellbeing.

Dr Alan Barclay  
Alan Barclay, PhD is a consultant dietitian and chef (Cert III). He worked for Diabetes Australia (NSW) from 1998–2014 . He is author/co-author of more than 30 scientific publications, and author/co-author of  The good Carbs Cookbook (Murdoch Books), Reversing Diabetes (Murdoch Books), The Low GI Diet: Managing Type 2 Diabetes (Hachette Australia) and The Ultimate Guide to Sugars and Sweeteners (The Experiment, New York).

Contact: You can follow him on Twitter or check out his website.

KEEPING IT GREEN – EATING FOR BODY AND PLANET

A GREENER CHRISTMAS THAT WON’T COST THE EARTH 
We associate “green” with Christmas, but many of our Christmas traditions are far from it. By the New Year, garbage bins are overflowing and unwanted gifts clutter our homes. To add insult to injury, family finances are in the red. Here are our top tips for a greener Christmas that won’t cost the earth.

GREEN CHRISTMAS TREE
Buy Greener Gifts There is nothing more wasteful than unwanted gifts. Useless stuff is just a burden that weighs us down, and does not represent the peace, love and joy of the season. Remember that products always have a higher impact than services. Try giving experiences or homemade gifts such as the cookies, jam or chutney you are renowned for; a framed family photo; time out with a massage voucher; or tickets to a concert or sports event.

Source Food Ethically Every food purchase we make has an impact, both on the environment and the people involved in producing it. We can minimise our environmental footprint by choosing more plant-based and locally produced foods. Farmers markets can be a great place to find fresh local produce that provides a better profit for the farmers. Look for local, ethical and sustainable food products, such as free-range turkey and sustainable seafood. Consumable gourmet gifts like chocolate and coffee are popular but look for Fair Trade products.

Reduce Food Waste Discarded food not only wastes the food itself but also the energy and resources required to grow, transport and store it. If it ends up in landfill it produces greenhouse gases. To avoid over-catering, plan your guest list and menu. Quickly refrigerate any leftovers in reusable containers and give them to guests take home. If any leftover food won’t be eaten within 3 days, freeze it for later. Avoid food scraps in landfill and instead compost egg shells, fruit and vegetable scraps (or put them in a worm farm). To avoid stinky garbage bins, you can bury seafood scraps in the garden and improve the soil.

Choose Reusable Tableware Disposable plastic cutlery, cups, plates and straws are convenient for us but terrible for the planet. They will remain on earth much longer than we will. Skip plastic straws altogether and choose reusable metal cutlery, crockery and glasses. If reusable tableware is not an option, choose biodegradable or compostable cutlery and plates (such as bamboo), and ideally break them into smaller pieces before disposal or composting. For gatherings, have clearly labelled tubs/bins in sight so guests can easily recyclable cans and bottles.

Use Eco-Friendly Gift Wrapping, Cards and Decorations Come Christmas morning, millions of living rooms are littered with torn and scrunched wrapping paper. Much of this paper, sadly, is not recyclable due to glitter, fabric and metallic embellishments. If the kids did the wrapping, it’s likely there’s a generous amount of sticky tape too. Reuse pre-loved gift bags and ribbons where you can. Instead of buying wrapping paper and greeting cards, make your own from old maps, comic strips, newspapers, postal delivery boxes and children’s artwork. Balloons and tinsel use a lot of finite resources and balloons can be a nightmare for aquatic life if they end up in waterways. Instead decorate your house with fresh flowers and compost them afterwards.

Buy a Real Christmas Tree In theory, artificial Christmas trees are meant to last forever but over many years they start to look ratty and the plastic pine needles fall of. While the metal trunk may be recyclable at some centres, the thousands of plastic pine needles are not and spend hundreds of years in landfill. For a more environmentally friendly alternative go to a local farm and buy a real tree that can be replanted in the New Year or sent to the chipper afterwards and made into mulch. If you have a green thumb you could choose an indoor potted conifer, enjoy it all year round and decorate it each Christmas.

Use LED Lighting LED Christmas lights are far more efficient than incandescent Christmas lights, wasting less energy and saving you money. According to Canstar Blue, LED Christmas lights will typically add only cents to your energy bill, or at most a few dollars over the entire Christmas season. To save even more energy, use a solid light setting instead of twinkling or flickering lights. Solar LED lights are a great energy-saving option for outdoor displays. Consider using a timer so lights are only left on in the evening and turned off before going to bed.

Christmas in a Nutshell: 

  • Being “green” doesn’t mean missing out on your favourite Christmas traditions. 
  • Remember happiness does not come from stuff, but from doing good things including caring for the earth.
  • In the true spirit of Christmas think about both the planet and people in your purchasing. 
  • Source plant-based, free-range, local and ethical festive fare where possible and avoid waste  
 Thanks to Rachel Ananin AKA TheSeasonalDietitian.com for her assistance with this article.

 Nicole Senior    
Nicole Senior is an Accredited Nutritionist, author, consultant, cook, food enthusiast and mother who strives to make sense of nutrition science and delights in making healthy food delicious.   Contact: You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram or check out her website.

GOOD CARBS FOOD FACTS A TO Z

DATES 
Dates
Fresh dates “are so remarkably luscious that there would be no end to eating them, were it not for fear of the dangerous consequences that would be sure to ensue” noted Pliny the Elder long ago. In moderation however, they make the perfect snack and they bring moist deliciousness to fruit breads, cakes, cookies, muffins, stuffing, crumble toppings, salads or combined with meats in tagines (try lamb and dates). And there’s more, there’s thick, sticky date syrup enjoyed as a sweetener for thousands of years in the Middle East and North Africa drizzled over tahini or yogurt.

Food skills: shopping. Fresh or soft dates such as the large plump fleshy Medjool dates with their chewy toffee-like taste are sold loose and prepacked and are delicious in salads, desserts and for a treat instead of chocolate (they tend to be pricy but worth it). They should be plump and moist with glossy skins. When buying packaged dates, check the use-by or best-before date.

Dried dates, though a little wrinkly, shouldn't look withered, and should still be plump and glossy, with an even colour. Avoid those with crystallised sugar on their skins as this means they are not quite as fresh as you might like. Unpitted dates will have better flavour than pitted as they stay moister. If using pitted dates check as you chop as there can sometimes be traces of stones (also called pits).

Food skills: storing. Fresh or dried, dates keep well for a few months in an airtight container in a cool, dry place. They also freeze very well. They will continue to dry out and their sugars will slowly come to the surface creating white sugar spots. Freezing prevents this.

Food skills: what’s in them. Dates are sweet, so it’s not surprising to learn they contain 70% sugars: a varying combination of sucrose, fructose and glucose, depending on the variety of date. They are high in fibre and also contain vitamins A, thiamine, niacin and riboflavin, and some iron, magnesium, calcium and potassium. They also contain a fair bit of sorbitol (a sugar alcohol or polyol) and that’s what makes them excellent for promoting bowel regularity, although those with an irritable bowel and sensitive to FODMAPS (certain sugars that can be poorly absorbed by the body) may want to give them a miss. The rest of us can make a date with dates over this holiday season.

Honey nutrition facts
Source: The Good Carbs Cookbook

IN THE GI NEWS KITCHEN

THE GOOD CARBS COOKBOOK  The Good Carbs Cookbook (by Alan Barclay, Kate McGhie and Philippa Sandall) published by Murdoch Books helps you choose the best fruits, vegetables, beans, peas, lentils, seeds, nuts and grains and explains how to use them in 100 refreshingly nourishing recipes to enjoy every day, for breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner and dessert. The recipes are easy to prepare, (mostly) quick to cook, long in flavour and full of sustaining goodness, so you feel fuller for longer. There is a nutritional analysis for each recipe and tips and helpful hints for the novice, nervous, curious or time-starved cook.
THE GOOD CARBS COOKBOOK
PARSNIP, YOGHURT AND DATE SALAD
Squishy dates and raw parsnip balance each other beautifully in this simple salad that does not like to be kept waiting and is best served as soon as you have tossed it. Parsnips taste better as the weather gets colder so winter is the perfect time to relish them in their unadorned state. Preparation time: 20 minutes • Serves: 6
PARSNIP, YOGHURT AND DATE SALAD
4 medium parsnips (about 600g/1lb 5oz)
10 soft dates, pitted and roughly chopped
2 tablespoons roughly chopped mint leaves
150g (5oz) natural yoghurt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons runny honey
2 tablespoons (40ml) olive oil
Salt flakes and freshly ground white pepper

Peel the parsnips and cut them in half lengthways. Remove any woody centres and discard. Coarsely grate the parsnips into a bowl. Add the dates, mint, yoghurt, lemon juice, honey and oil. Add salt and pepper to taste and then gently toss all the ingredients together.

Per serve
710kJ/170 calories; 3g protein; 7g fat (includes 1.5g saturated fat; saturated : unsaturated fat ratio 0.3); 21g available carbs (includes 16g sugars and 5g starches); 4.5g fibre; 65mg sodium; 545mg potassium; sodium : potassium ratio 0.1

TOMATO AND FIG SALAD WITH BURRATA AND DATE-MINT DRESSING 
All the tantalising tastes and colours of summer’s best with tasty beauties such as tomatoes and figs, come together in this sublime salad. The witlof (add a few small cos leaves if you wish) is the crunchy base for the tomatoes crowned with the cooling menthol taste of mint to balance the creamy cheese. Preparation time: 25 minutes • Serves: 6

TOMATO AND FIG SALAD WITH BURRATA AND DATE-MINT DRESSING
1 shallot, very finely chopped
¼ cup (60ml) date syrup
Juice 1 plump lemon
¼ cup (60ml) extra virgin olive oil
salt flakes and freshly ground pepper
1 handful mint leaves, finely shredded
1 witlof, leaves separated
6 medium heirloom tomatoes
6 large fresh figs
1 burrata
2 teaspoons finely chopped lemon thyme

To make the dressing put the chopped shallot, date syrup, lemon juice, oil with salt and pepper to taste, in a bowl. Give it a couple of whisks and then stir in the mint. • Arrange the witlof leaves on a platter. Cut the tomatoes into chunks and figs into quarters roughly the same size – and arrange casually over the witlof. Place the burrata in the centre of the platter. Give the dressing a good stir, spoon over the salad and scatter with lemon thyme.

Tips 

  • If you prefer, swap the burrata for fresh mozzarella which if large can be torn into mouthful pieces. 
  • If date syrup is not on hand, put stoned medjool dates with enough water for the consistency you want in a blender and start the processing on a low speed to allow the dates to break up, then blend on high until smooth adding lemon juice to taste. 
Per serve 
1035kJ/245 calories; 6g protein; 15g fat (includes 5g saturated fat; saturated : unsaturated fat ratio 0.5); 21g available carbs (includes 20g sugars and 1g starches); 4g fibre; 145mg sodium; 485mg potassium; sodium : potassium ratio 0.3

ANNEKA MANNING: BAKECLUB 
ANNEKA MANNING
Anneka Manning is an author, food editor, cooking teacher, home economist, mother of two and the founder of BakeClub. With over 27 years' experience, she specialises in teaching the ‘why’ behind the ‘how’ of baking, giving home cooks the know-how, understanding and skill to bake with confidence and success, every time. She has written and contributed to a number of books, including The Low GI Family Cookbook (Hachette), Mastering the Art of Baking (Murdoch Books) and BakeClass (Murdoch Books).

SPICED DATE, NUT AND POMEGRANATE LOAF 
This moist, fragrant date and nut loaf studded with dried cranberries and hazelnuts has a little crunch and is mildly spiced and is delicious freshly baked or toasted and topped with ricotta. Preparation time: 20 minutes (+ cooling time) • Baking time: 50–55 minutes • Serves 20

SPICED DATE, NUT AND POMEGRANATE LOAF
1¼ cups (300ml) freshly brewed black coffee
1 cup pitted dates, coarsely chopped
½ cup dried cranberries
½ cup currants
2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
2 tablespoons honey
Slightly heaped ⅓ cup raw sugar
⅓ cup sunflower oil or 75g (2½oz) butter
1 orange, zest finely grated
2 teaspoons mixed spice
2 eggs, lightly whisked
50g (1¾oz) walnuts, coarsely chopped, plus an extra handful, coarsely chopped, to decorate
50g (1¾oz) hazelnuts, coarsely chopped, plus an extra handful, coarsely chopped, to decorate
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
1½ cups wholemeal plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder

Glaze 
2 teaspoons pomegranate molasses
2 teaspoons honey
1 teaspoon water

Preheat the oven to 180°/C350°F. Grease a loaf tin (21 x 10cm/9 x 4in base measurement) and line the base and two long sides with non-stick baking paper. • Combine the coffee, dates, cranberries, currants, pomegranate molasses, honey, sugar, butter or oil, orange zest and mixed spice in a large saucepan. Bring to the boil over a medium heat. Remove immediately from the heat and set aside to cool. • Stir the eggs, walnuts, hazelnuts and sesame seeds into the cooled date mixture. • Sift the flour and baking powder together, returning any bran to the flour. Add to the date mixture and use a wooden spoon or spatula to stir gently until just combined. • Pour the mixture into prepared tin and use the back of a spoon to smooth the surface. Sprinkle with the extra nuts, pressing into the mixture slightly. • Bake for 50–55 minutes, or until the loaf is firm to the touch on the top and cooked when tested with a skewer. If it is browning too quickly, cover with foil after 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and stand in the tin for 10 minutes before turning out on a wire rack. • To make the glaze, combine the honey, pomegranate molasses and water in a small bowl. Brush over the top of the hot loaf. Set aside to cool before serving.

Tips 
  • Pomegranate molasses is available from specialty food stores and delicatessens.
  • If honey is firm or crystallised, heat it in the microwave for a few seconds to soften before using. 
Per serve 
785 kJ/188 calories; 3g protein; 8.5g fat (includes 1g saturated fat; saturated : unsaturated fat ratio 0.13); 24g available carbs (includes 17g sugars and 7g starch); 3g fibre; 76mg sodium; 244mg potassium; sodium : potassium ratio 0.3

MACADAMIA, DATE AND GOJI BERRY BARS 
This dense bar is halfway between a fruit cake and a slice. Studded with macadamias, dates, goji berries and cranberries it has a real festive feel and makes a wonderful gift cut into four bars, wrapped in cellophane and tied with ribbon. Makes 24 pieces • Preparation time: 10 minutes • Baking time: 30 minutes
MACADAMIA, DATE AND GOJI BERRY BARS
Macadamia oil or sunflower oil, to grease
200g (7oz) macadamia halves, toasted
150g (5oz) dried dates, coarsely chopped
100g (3½oz) dried cranberries
50g (1¾oz) goji berries
⅓ cup plain wholemeal or spelt flour
90g (3oz) raw sugar
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
⅛ teaspoon baking powder
⅛ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 egg
1 teaspoon natural vanilla extract or essence

Preheat the oven to 160°C/320°F. Lightly grease a square 18cm/7in (base measurement) cake tin and line the base and two sides with one piece of non-stick baking paper. • Combine the macadamias, dates, cranberries, goji berries, flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda in a medium bowl. Whisk together the egg and vanilla. Add to the macadamia mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until evenly combined. • Press the mixture evenly into the prepared tin with your fingers or the back of a spoon. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes or until golden and aromatic. Remove from the oven and cool in the tin. • Cut into small pieces to serve.

Per piece
510kJ/ 120 calories; 1.5g protein; 7g fat (includes 1g saturated fat; saturated : unsaturated fat ratio 0.2); 13.5g available carbs (includes 12g sugars and 1.5g starch); 2 g fibre; 11mg sodium; 87mg potassium; sodium : potassium ratio 0.1

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1 November 2018

GI News - November 2018

GI News

GI News is published online every month by the University of Sydney, School of Life and Environmental Sciences and the Charles Perkins Centre, and delivered to the mailboxes of our 97,000 subscribers. Our goal is to help people choose the high-quality carbs that are digested at a rate that our bodies can comfortably accommodate and to share the latest scientific findings on food and diet with a particular focus on carbohydrates, dietary fibres, blood glucose and the glycemic index.

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FOOD FOR THOUGHT

A TASTE OF HONEY 
To make honey, bees collect nectar from nearby flowering plants; transform it by combining it with specific substances of their own; and deposit it, dehydrate it, store it and leave it in honeycombs to ripen and mature. That’s where we come in. Ancient rock art in Spain shows our forebears braving wild bees to steal their honeycomb; Éric Valli’s photos document Nepal’s Gurung tribesmen harnessed to cliff-hugging bamboo ladders to relieve Himalayan cliff bees of their honeycomb; and on YouTube, there are numerous videos depicting Hadza men following a honeyguide bird to a hive then smoking out the stinging bees before helping themselves to the honeycomb. The take-home: honey has long been highly desirable and Homo sapiens goes to great lengths to get it.

Toasted crumpet, honey, ricotta, banana, walnuts

What’s in honey? Honey, which provided our ancestors with a tasty source of calories from carbohydrates (all sugars), also has traces of bee larvae which add some fat, protein, vitamins, and minerals to the nutritional mix. Today, we know that honey also contains antioxidants.

The sweetness comes mostly from fructose, glucose and sucrose, plus small amounts of maltose, trehalose, turanose (varies depending on nectar source). Most honeys have more fructose than glucose – typically 38 per cent fructose to 30 percent glucose – but that’s not set in stone. It all depends on where the bees have been buzzing, which is also why sweetness can vary: some are equal in sweetness to regular granulated sugar; others are up to 50 per cent sweeter. To achieve consistent sweetness and flavour, most commercial honeys are blended from a mixture of honeys derived from different hives and different floral sources.

What about GI? We are often asked whether honey is a better sweetener choice than regular sugar when it comes to blood glucose levels. Again, it depends very much on what blossom the bees were buzzing around, gathering nectar. While most commercial blended varieties have an effect greater than or equal to that of sugar, some honeys have a low glycemic index. The range of glycemic-index values from all the honeys that have been tested over the years runs from GI 32 up to GI 87 and you can check them out on the database at www.glycemicindex.com. When the University of Sydney Glycemic Index Research Service tested pure wildflower (single floral) honeys—red gum, yellow box, ironbark, and others—produced by allowing bees access only to some types of gum trees (eucalypts), they found that these honeys all have a low glycemic index (GI 35 to 53). We would like to think it’s possible that all pure wildflower honeys have only modest glycemic effects, but there hasn’t been sufficient testing around the world. We do know that Romanian locust honey appears to have the lowest glycemic index value of all the honeys tested to date (GI 32).

Why all the differences in glycemic impact from one honey to another? To maintain a consistent flavor in commercial honeys, some of the more pungent components are removed. We suspect that these removed components are physiologically active and work to slow down absorption into the small intestine. For example, Australian wildflower honeys might contain alpha-glucosidase inhibitors that bees have extracted from the eucalypt flowers. We know that these potent inhibitors exist in many plants, and, indeed, some diabetic medications (e.g., acarbose) are based on pure forms of these inhibitors.

In addition, it appears that the higher the fructose content, the lower the glycemic index is. Five German honeys with fructose content ranging from 38.5 to 43.5 per cent not only had a low glycemic index, but also had a low insulin index – this is a relative ranking of the effect of 240 calories/1000 kilojoules of food on blood insulin concentrations over a two-hour period.

Read more: 

WHAT’S NEW?

HONEY LABELLING – AND MISLEADING LABELLING 
Winnie the Pooh had no problems when he wanted a jar of honey. The jar very clearly said “HUNNY” (spelling wasn’t his strong suit), and that is exactly what was in it. These days many jars on supermarket shelves might say “honey” on the label, but what’s inside is in fact honey blended with another sweetener such as corn syrup or rice syrup. The honey has been adulterated and the product labelled in a false and misleading way.

Hunny
It’s perfectly legal for producers and food companies to market honey blended with other sweeteners, but if they do (usually to cut costs), they are required to label it as a blend – e.g., “blend of honey and corn syrup” or “blend of corn syrup and honey” depending on which ingredient is predominant. If they don’t, they can be prosecuted and fined by the appropriate food regulatory authorities. But of course, the regulatory authorities have to find the adulterated products first. Here in Australia they are on the case. Recent research by Mark Taylor and Xiaoteng Zhou at Macquarie University suggests that many commercial honey brands have been adulterated to increase honey volume and boost profits.

“Honey adulteration is nothing new,” they report in their “Honeygate” story in The Conversation. “It has been on the rise since the 1970s when cheap high-fructose corn syrup became widely available ... Some operators adulterate honey with rice sugars that enable them to circumvent the C4 test. Some rice syrup producers openly advertise the fact that their products will not cause adulterated honeys to fail the C4 test. Honey can be adulterated either during or after production. Inadvertent adulteration might happen through overfeeding of sucrose to bees during periods when food sources are limited, or at harvest time. This practice, if done occasionally, can protect colonies at times of low food availability. But if used injudiciously it can also filter through into the finished product.”

Read more: 

IS MANUKA HONEY REALLY A ‘SUPERFOOD’ FOR TREATING COLDS, ALLERGIES AND INFECTIONS? 
Manuka honey isn’t a panacea or a superfood. But it is grossly underutilised as a topical treatment for wounds, ulcers and burns, particularly in the face of the looming global superbug crisis write Nural Cokcetin (Postdoctoral Researcher, University of Technology Sydney) and Shona Blair General Manager, ithree institute, University of Technology Sydney in The Conversation. Here’s their report. 

Manuka Honey
Manuka honey is often touted as a “superfood” that treats many ailments, including allergies, colds and flus, gingivitis, sore throats, staph infections, and numerous types of wounds. Manuka can apparently also boost energy, “detox” your system, lower cholesterol, stave off diabetes, improve sleep, increase skin tone, reduce hair loss and even prevent frizz and split ends. Some of these claims are nonsense, but some have good evidence behind them.

Honey has been used therapeutically throughout history, with records of its cultural, religious and medicinal importance shown in rock paintings, carvings and sacred texts from many diverse ancient cultures. Honey was used to treat a wide range of ailments from eye and throat infections to gastroenteritis and respiratory ailments, but it was persistently popular as a treatment for numerous types of wounds and skin infections.

Medicinal honey largely fell from favour with the advent of modern antibiotics in the mid-20th century. Western medicine largely dismissed it as a “worthless but harmless substance”. But the emergence of superbugs (pathogens resistant to some, many or even all of our antibiotics) means alternative approaches to dealing with pathogens are being scientifically investigated. We now understand the traditional popularity of honey as a wound dressing is almost certainly due to its antimicrobial properties. High sugar content and low pH mean honey inhibits microbial growth, but certain honeys still retain their antimicrobial activity when these are diluted to negligible levels.

Many different types of honey also produce microbe-killing levels of hydrogen peroxide when glucose oxidase (an enzyme incorporated into honey by bees) reacts with glucose and oxygen molecules in water. So, when honey is used as a wound dressing it draws moisture from the tissues, and this reacts to produce hydrogen peroxide, clearing the wound of infection. The antimicrobial activity of different honeys varies greatly, depending on which flowers the bees visit to collect the nectar they turn into honey. While all honeys possess some level of antimicrobial activity, certain ones are up to 100 times more active than others.

How is manuka different to other honey? Manuka honey is derived from the nectar of manuka (Leptospermum scoparium) trees, and it has an additional component to its potent antimicrobial activity. This unusual activity was discovered by Professor Peter Molan, in New Zealand in the 1980s, when he realised the action of manuka honey remained even after hydrogen peroxide was removed. The cause of this activity remained elusive for many years, until two laboratories independently identified methylglyoxal (MGO) as a key active component in manuka honey in 2008. MGO is a substance that occurs naturally in many foods, plants and animal cells and it has antimicrobial activity. The activity of manuka honey has been tested against a diverse range of microbes, particularly those that cause wound infections, and it inhibits problematic bacterial pathogens, including superbugs that are resistant to multiple antibiotics. Manuka honey can also disperse and kill bacteria living in biofilms (communities of microbes notoriously resistant to antibiotics), including ones of Streptococcus (the cause of strep throat) and Staphylococcus (the cause of Golden staph infections). Crucially, there are no reported cases of bacteria developing resistance to honey, nor can manuka or other honey resistance be generated in the laboratory. It’s important to note that the amount of MGO in different manuka honeys varies, and not all manuka honeys necessarily have high levels of antimicrobial activity.

Manuka honey and wound healing Honey has ideal wound dressing properties, and there have been numerous studies looking at the efficacy of manuka as a wound dressing. Apart from its broad-spectrum antimicrobial activity, honey is also non-toxic to mammalian cells, helps to maintain a moist wound environment (which is beneficial for healing), has anti-inflammatory activity, reduces healing time and scarring, has a natural debriding action (which draws dead tissues, foreign bodies and dead immune cells from the wound) and also reduces wound odour. These properties account for many of the reports showing the effectiveness of honey as a wound dressing. Honey, and in particular manuka honey, has successfully been used to treat infected and non-infected wounds, burns, surgical incisions, leg ulcers, pressure sores, traumatic injuries, meningococcal lesions, side effects from radiotherapy and gingivitis.

What about eating manuka honey? Most of the manuka honey sold globally is eaten. Manuka may inhibit the bacteria that cause a sore (“strep”) throat or gingivitis, but the main components responsible for the antimicrobial activity won’t survive the digestion process. Nonetheless, honey consumption can have other therapeutic benefits, including anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant and prebiotic (promoting the growth of beneficial intestinal microorganisms) properties. Although, these properties are not solely linked to manuka honey and various other honeys may also work.

What doesn’t it do? There is a commonly touted belief that eating manuka (or local) honey will help with hay fever because it contains small doses of the pollens that are causing the symptoms, and eating this in small quantities will help your immune system learn not to overreact. But there’s no scientific evidence eating honey helps hay fever sufferers. Most of the pollen that causes hay fever comes from plants that are wind pollinated (so they don’t produce nectar and are not visited by bees). There is some preliminary work showing honey might protect from some side effects of radiation treatment to the head and neck that warrants further investigation. But other claims honey has anti-cancer activity are yet to be substantiated.

There isn’t any robust scientific evidence that manuka lowers cholesterol, treats diabetes or improves sleep. Although one interesting study did show honey was more effective than cough medicine for reducing night time coughs of children, improving their sleep (and their parents’). Manuka honey wasn’t used specifically, but it may well be as helpful.

Claims that anything helps to “detox” are innately ridiculous. Similarly “superfood” is more about marketing than much else, and the cosmetic and anti-ageing claims about manuka are scientifically unfounded.

Final verdict If consumers are buying manuka honey for general daily use as a food or tonic, there is no need to buy the more active and therefore more expensive types. But the right kind of honey is very effective as a wound dressing. So if manuka is to be used to treat wounds or skin infections, it should be active, sterile and appropriately packaged as a medicinal product. The best way to ensure this is to check the product has a CE mark or it’s registered with the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration (marked with an AUST L/AUST R number).

Read more: 
HOW HONEY HELPED TO MAKE US HUMAN 
Alyssa Crittenden is an anthropologist who studies the evolution of human behavior as it relates to nutrition and reproduction. She has worked with the Hadza who live in northern Tanzania near Lake Eyasi – one of the world’s last remaining hunting and gathering populations — since 2004. In this issue of GI News, we reprint a piece she contributed to GI News in January 2013 on the evolution of the human diet.
Alyssa Crittenden
The ethnographic cross-cultural evidence of honey consumption, combined with depictions of honey hunting portrayed in rock art around the world, suggest that honey has long been a part of human history. Early humans, and their expanding brains, would have greatly benefited from consuming honey and bee larvae because the human brain needs glucose to fuel the high metabolic demands of neural development and function. The Paleolithic diet likely included meat, plant foods, and honeycomb – one of the sweet secrets to human evolution.

Honey and bee larvae are important foods consumed by many populations of hunters and gatherers worldwide. Foragers in Latin America, Asia, Australia, and Africa include honey and bee larvae as major components of their diet. The Hadza hunter-gatherers, an ethnic group that has traditionally subsisted from hunting and gathering, even list honey as their number one preferred food item!

The Hadza consume honey and larvae of both stingless bees and stinging bees, including the African killer bee. The Hadza locate the hives with the assistance of a wild African bird, the aptly named honey guide (Indicator indicator). The honey guide bird and the Hadza honey hunter communicate back and forth through a series of whistles and the bird guides the honey hunter, tree by tree, to the bee hive. Once the honey hunter has located the hive, he pounds wooden pegs into the trunk of the tree, climbs to the top where the hive is located, chops into the tree to expose the hive, and smokes it out by placing burning brush into the opening. Smoking the hive acts to pacify the bees by dulling the senses of the guard bees who protect the opening of the hive. The bees see the smoke as a habitat threat and focus on collecting enough honey to rebuild their hive elsewhere. This allows the hunter to collect the honeycomb without being stung by the killer bees. The honey guide bird patiently waits outside of the hive and as the honey hunter obtains his honeycomb prize, the honey guide bird is rewarded with its delicious prize – wax from the comb and bees.

Read more: 
HONEY HUNTING WITH HONEYGUIDES 
Writing in Evolution and Human Behaviour, Yale anthropologist Brian Wood and his co-researchers describe the evolution of the mutually beneficial relationship between the honeyguide bird and the hunter-gatherer in Africa investigate the origin of this special relationship. “We propose that in a first, commensal phase, honeyguides preyed upon the bee nests and discarded honeycomb that hominins made available through their honey hunting,” he writes. “In a second, mutualistic phase, honeyguides evolved the habit of actively leading hominins to bee nests. Finally, in a third phase of manipulative mutualism, hominins began to actively change the payoffs received by honeyguides – either by actively ‘rewarding’ them or by reducing their immediate payoff. The Hadza we observed did not actively reward honeyguides, but such may occur in other contexts ... Based on within-species mtDNA variation scientists conservatively estimate that I. indicator is at least 3 million years old. We think it is reasonable to assume that an initial commensal association between hominins (Ardipithecus ramidus or an Australopithicine) and honeyguides arose in the Pliocene.”

Honeyguide bird
[ The Pliocene Epoch is the epoch in the geologic timescale that extends from 5.333 million to 2.58 million years BP. It is the second and youngest epoch of the Neogene Period in the Cenozoic Era. The Pliocene follows the Miocene Epoch and is followed by the Pleistocene Epoch. Wikipedia ]

Read more: 

PERSPECTIVES WITH DR ALAN BARCLAY

SHOULD YOU BE EATING THAT, IT’S FULL OF SUGAR? 
Honey is classified as a free sugar by the World Health Organisation: “Free sugars include monosaccharides and disaccharides added to foods and beverages by the manufacturer, cook or consumer, and sugars naturally present in honey, syrups, fruit juices and fruit juice concentrates.

A teaspoon of honey
This is because, like all available carbohydrates (sugars and starches), honey provides a fuel for bacteria in our mouths that may cause tooth decay. Also, while it provides small amounts of the minerals potassium, calcium and magnesium, honey is more energy dense than table sugar (sucrose), providing 94 kilojoules (23 Calories) in a level teaspoon compared to table sugars 67 kilojoules (16 Calories). So, despite popular perception, the typical honey that you will find in your local supermarket is not really any better than table sugar from a human nutrition perspective anyway. However, it does have a unique flavour and texture that makes it ideal for use in a range of delicious recipes.

It’s important to remember that the WHO Guidelines recommend that we consume less than 10% of energy from free sugars each day. They do not say that we need to completely avoid all free sugars, or foods and drinks that contain free sugars. For a typical adult consuming 8,700 kJ (2,080 Calories) each day, 10% of energy from free sugars is less than 54g of free sugars, or approximately 13 level teaspoons a day. It’s important to note that these guidelines are for the total day’s food and drink intake – not for individual foods or beverages. Evidence-based guidelines for individual foods or drinks are yet to be developed.

There is no need to obsess over every gram of sugars in foods or drinks to achieve the WHO recommendation – focus on the major dietary sources instead. Simply saving sugar sweetened drinks ((soft drinks such as soda pop or fizzy drink), cordials, energy and sports drinks), cakes (including muffins, scones and cake-type desserts) and confectionery (lollies, sweets or candy; chocolate) for special occasions (parties, religious festivals) will help most people to achieve this goal based on recent national dietary surveys.

Even people with diabetes do not need to completely avoid sugars – they too simply need to follow the WHO Guideline and aim to consume less than 10% of energy from free sugars like the rest of us. The reason why is simple – essentially all available carbohydrate (starches and sugars) is eventually digested, absorbed and metabolised into glucose – the sugar in blood that is characteristic of diabetes. And much of the excess protein that we eat can also be converted to glucose in our liver and released into our blood. So simply avoiding free sugars won’t necessarily improve blood glucose levels – the amount and type (quality) of starch and protein also matters. Finally, a diet proportionately high in saturated fat increases insulin resistance, which in turn affects blood glucose levels. In other words, it’s the whole diet that matters when it comes to optimal blood glucose management – focusing on a single ingredient/nutrient isn’t enough.

What about the sugars in fruit? Fresh, canned and dried fruits and fruit juices are all sources of sugars and energy, and in theory, if consumed in excess, may contribute to weight gain and tooth decay. The reality is, however, that many people struggle to consume the minimum two serves a day according to recent dietary surveys, and the best available scientific evidence for whole fruit and juice do not show an association with weight gain. Both whole fruits and juice can contribute to tooth decay, however.

While limiting our daily free sugars intake to less than 10% of total energy is wise, it does not mean we cannot still enjoy foods and drinks that contain sugars – what we consume, how much we consume, and how frequently we consume foods and drinks that contain sugars is what really counts. History has proven that prohibition doesn’t work. Be mindful instead.

Listen to Alan talk about sugars on Sydney radio station 2GB (Note: there is an advertisement at the beginning of the segment).

Dr Alan Barclay  
Alan Barclay, PhD is a consultant dietitian and chef (Cert III). He worked for Diabetes Australia (NSW) from 1998–2014 . He is author/co-author of more than 30 scientific publications, and author/co-author of  The good Carbs Cookbook (Murdoch Books), Reversing Diabetes (Murdoch Books), The Low GI Diet: Managing Type 2 Diabetes (Hachette Australia) and The Ultimate Guide to Sugars and Sweeteners (The Experiment, New York).

Contact: You can follow him on Twitter or check out his website.

KEEPING IT GREEN – EATING FOR BODY AND PLANET

PALM OIL: FRIEND OR FOE? 
Palm trees are often associated with tropical beaches, sunsets and vacations, so you may be surprised to learn some species produce an oily fruit, from which we extract palm oil. Oil from oil palms (Elaeis guineensis, and Elaeis oleifera) is the world’s cheapest and most popular vegetable oil. Its neutral flavour and aroma, long shelf life and good shortening properties make palm oil a common ingredient in many food products such as biscuits and chips. Palm oil is also very versatile and used broadly across personal care products such as laundry detergents, toothpaste and cosmetics, and is also used in plastics and biofuels. In the EU and USA, if palm oil is used it must be listed in the ingredients list but in Australia it can fall under the more generic ‘vegetable oil’ label or technical names like Palmitate, Sodium Laurel Sulphate or its botanical name E. guineensis. You may be consuming more palm oil than you realise.

Palm fruit
Does palm oil impact the environment? On the plus side, palm oil production is the most efficient of all oil crops. One acre of oil palm can produce up to eight times more than other oil crops. This is an environmental benefit, however there are significant down sides. There are millions of hectares of available cleared land suitable for sustainable palm oil production in Indonesia. However, businesses can make extra income from selling cleared timber to help offset the costs of establishing a palm oil plantation and deforestation is common adverse environmental result. This occurs in countries like Indonesia and Malaysia where most of the world’s palm oil is produced. The United Nations Environment Program estimates 7 million hectares of forests are cut down every year – a massive area roughly the size of Portugal. Deforestation destroys the habitats of animals such as orang-utans, rhinos, tigers and elephants. The slash and burn method is the fastest and cheapest method to clear land; sadly many animals lose their homes or are burned alive. Displaced animals often wander back into plantations where they may be stolen by poachers or killed by plantation workers that consider them to be pests. Burning forests also releases carbon dioxide into the air, contributing to global warning. The bad news is forests in Malaysia and Indonesia often sit on carbon rich peat lands and release even more carbon into the atmosphere when burned – an environmental double whammy.

Unfortunately eliminating palm oil from the food supply won’t stop deforestation. Palm oil production generates more oil than any other major oil crop: 6 times more oil than rapeseed (canola) and 10 times more oil than soy. If we switch to another oil this will worsen the deforestation issue. Palm oil also generates much needed income for some of the poorest people in the world, therefore ceasing production would have economic ramifications.

Is palm oil good or bad for our health? Palm oil is not a healthy choice. Palm oil contains a mixture of fats, of which roughly 50% is saturated fat. This type of fat increases the “bad” LDL cholesterol in the blood, which is a risk factor for heart disease. The Heart Foundation recommends that less than 10% of your total daily energy intake should come from saturated fat. However, trans fats are even worse and many (cheap) replacements for palm oil are partially hydrogenated and contain trans fats. Trans fats increase “bad” LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels, but also reduce the “good” HDL cholesterol. Palm oil is not a nutritional superstar, but at least it doesn’t have trans fats and it contains less saturated fat than coconut oil and butter. The best oil choices for health are more unsaturated oils vegetable oils such as olive oil and canola oil, however these are more expensive and do not provide the same technical properties as palm oil.

The most sustainable choice While it is not realistic to stop using palm oil, we should encourage food companies to choose more ethically and sustainably produced palm oil. There is Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO) that does not involve clearing land where there are high concentrations of endangered species or vulnerable ecosystems. Some companies are making steps in the right direction toward being CSPO by being members of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO).

Palm oil in a nutshell: 

  •  Palm oil is the most commonly used oil in the world, but its production contributes to global warming, deforestation and threatens endangered animal species. 
  • If using packaged products, look for Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO). 
  • For good health, choose products that contain healthier oils like olive, canola or sunflower oil. 
 Thanks to Rachel Ananin AKA TheSeasonalDietitian.com for her assistance with this article.

 Nicole Senior    
Nicole Senior is an Accredited Nutritionist, author, consultant, cook, food enthusiast and mother who strives to make sense of nutrition science and delights in making healthy food delicious.   Contact: You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram or check out her website.

GOOD CARBS FOOD FACTS A TO Z

Honey
Honey is made by bees after gathering nectar from flowers. It’s a beautiful image and a lovely example of the generosity of Mother Nature (or the greed of man, depending on your world view). It’s also a great example of how food can be regional. Much like winemakers talk of the “terroir’ (soil, climate, topography) influencing the characteristics of wine, the characteristics of honey are influenced by the flowers within gathering distance of the hive.

Honeycomb with bees
Honey, as they say, is “so hot right now” due to the trend of growing your own food. From the mega-trend of growing veggies and herbs in your backyard or balcony is emerging the DIY apiculture (bee-keeping) movement. There are now services such as Sydney’s Urban Beehive that will install a hive at your place and help keep your buzzing friends healthy, happy and producing your own honey “à la maison”. And there is this book for beginners on the subject. Small scale beekeeping is also being encouraged to help save our honey bees, which are under threat from all sides: primarily from colony collapse disorder, but there are other problems as well such as varroa mite and in Australia the risk of Asian bees breeching our borders. Suffice to say we’re all in trouble if the bees disappear because of their pivotal role in pollinating food crops.

From a health perspective, overall, honey is no better than table sugar and nutritionally they are very similar. However, don’t give honey to babies under 12 months. Why? It can become contaminated with the bacteria clostridium botulinum, and children under the age of 12 months are particularly sensitive to the toxin produced by the bacteria – botox (yes, the same one used in facial injections for anti-aging treatments).

The clever thing about honey is that besides tasting wonderful it has all kinds of medicinal uses. It’s great for soothing sore throats (traditionally mixed with lemon juice), more effective than over-the-counter medicines for children’s coughs, and special “active” honeys such as Manuka from New Zealand are used to treat wounds.

In terms of culinary uses, the options are many and varied, but sometimes the simple things are the best. Fresh wholegrain toast with honey is a reliable classic, as is porridge with a golden drizzle. Personally, I think peanut butter is wonderful with honey on toast. Chinese honey soy chicken is a lovely dalliance between sweet and savoury and exemplifies how honey goes so nicely with meats of all kinds: honey glazed ham is but one famous example. Naturally honey is gorgeous in baked goods and delicious in hot or cold drinks such as smoothies, cordials, teas and coffee. And here’s one out of the box: it’s delicious with cheese. “The lovely Spanish tradition of eating cheese with honey is worth adopting. Mel y mato is a popular Catalan dessert of ‘mato’, a fresh unsalted cheese made from cow’s or goat’s milk (you can substitute ricotta but it won’t be so good) with a dribble of honey ‘mel’ in Catalan.” – Claudia Roden, The Food of Spain. – Thanks to dietitian Nicole Senior for this report.

Honey nutrition facts

IN THE GI NEWS KITCHEN

SPEAKEASY’S HONEY ROASTED BABY CARROTS WITH HOUSE LABNE, HAZELNUT PRALINE, AND FRESH HERBS 
Speakeasy Bar is a warm and welcoming communal space in Bondi Beach that serves simple and delicious food (mostly tapas-style share plates) inspired by Asian and Mediterranean dishes. They use honey from local beekeepers in Bellingen in northern NSW. Serves 4 as a share plate.

HONEY ROASTED BABY CARROTS WITH HOUSE LABNE, HAZELNUT PRALINE, AND FRESH HERBS

2 bunches baby (Dutch carrots), scrubbed
¼ cup (60ml) honey
Juice 1 orange
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon paprika
1–2 teaspoons ground cumin
Pinch salt

To serve
½ cup labne
1 tablespoon crumbled hazelnut praline
Picked leaves fresh herbs such as dill, mint and coriander
½ small Spanish onion, thinly sliced in rings and marinated in lemon vinaigrette

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. • Combine the honey, orange juice, olive oil, paprika, cumin and salt in a mixing bowl and toss carrots to coat well with the marinade. • Place the carrots in an oven roasting tray, pour over the marinade and cover with foil. Cook for 20 minutes or longer depending on thickness of the carrots. Serve the carrots with a dollop of labne and the fresh picked herbs and marinated onion rings. Sprinkle over the crumbled hazelnut praline.

Per slice 
Energy 970kJ/ 230Cal; protein 4g; fat 10g (includes 3g saturated fat; saturated : unsaturated fat ratio 0.4); available carbohydrate 31g (includes 30g sugars; 1g starches); fibre 6g; sodium 175mg; potassium 450mg; sodium : potassium ratio 0.4

ANNEKA MANNING: BAKECLUB 
ANNEKA MANNING
Anneka Manning is an author, food editor, cooking teacher, home economist, mother of two and the founder of BakeClub. With over 27 years' experience, she specialises in teaching the ‘why’ behind the ‘how’ of baking, giving home cooks the know-how, understanding and skill to bake with confidence and success, every time. She has written and contributed to a number of books, including The Low GI Family Cookbook (Hachette), Mastering the Art of Baking (Murdoch Books) and BakeClass (Murdoch Books).

ANNEKA MANNING’S BANANA BREAD This recipe is a favourite in our house and I love it as much as the kids do. It includes many ingredients such as pure floral honey, bananas, buttermilk and oat bran, that are perfect for ‘better-for-you’ baking. Makes 20 pieces • Preparation time: 15 minutes • Baking time: 45–50 minutes

BANANA BREAD
Melted unsalted butter, to grease
100g (3½oz) unsalted butter, softened
½ cup single-origin floral honey
2 eggs
2 large very ripe bananas (about 400g/14oz)
⅓ cup buttermilk
1¼ cups wholemeal spelt flour
½ cup unprocessed oat bran
1½ teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Grease a 21 x 11cm/8 x 3in (base measurement) loaf pan with melted butter and line the base and the two long sides with a piece of non-stick baking paper. • Combine the butter and honey in a large mixing bowl and beat with electric beaters until well combined and creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition until well combined. • Peel and mash the bananas and stir into the mixture with the buttermilk using a spatula or large metal spoon to combine well. • Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda and cinnamon together into a mixing bowl and return any husks to the bowl. Add the oat bran and stir to combine. Add to the banana mixture and use a large metal spoon or spatula fold in until just combined. • Spoon into the prepared loaf pan and smooth the surface with the back of a spoon. Bake in the preheated oven for 45-50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Stand in the pan for 5 minutes before turning onto a wire rack to cool. • Store the banana bread in an airtight container in a cool place (but not in the refrigerator) for up to 3 days. • To freeze, wrap individual slices in plastic wrap and then seal in a freezer bag or airtight container before freezing. Alternatively, pack slices in an airtight container and interleave with freezer wrap or non-stick baking paper). Thaw the slices at room temperature or toast straight from the freezer.

Per slice
Energy 500kJ/ 120Cal; protein 2g; fat 5g (includes 3g saturated fat; saturated : unsaturated fat ratio 1.5); available carbohydrate 16g (includes 10g sugars; 6g starches); fibre 2g; sodium 94mg; potassium 111mg; sodium : potassium ratio 0.8

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1 October 2018

GI News - October 2018

GI News

GI News is published online every month by the University of Sydney, School of Life and Environmental Sciences and the Charles Perkins Centre, and delivered to the mailboxes of our 97,000 subscribers. Our goal is to help people choose the high-quality carbs that are digested at a rate that our bodies can comfortably accommodate and to share the latest scientific findings on food and diet with a particular focus on carbohydrates, dietary fibres, blood glucose and the glycemic index.

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Editor: Philippa Sandall
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FOOD FOR THOUGHT

TOPPING UP THE TANK
It’s often said that we run on fuel just as a car runs on petrol. In fact we burn a mix of three key fuels that we get from the foods and drinks we consume. Nutrition scientists call these fuels “macronutrients” because our bodies need lots of them. They provide us with energy (calories or kilojoules) along with vitamins and minerals and phytonutrients. They are (in alphabetical order): 

  • Carbohydrates (sugars and starches) from fruit, vegetables, legumes, grains, some nuts and milk. These foods give us much more than energy, they provide us with the fibre, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients we need. – 1 gram of carbohydrate contains 4 calories or 17 kilojoules. 
  • Fats from nuts, seeds, oils, avocados, fish, meat, dairy foods and coconuts provide us with the fatty acids that are part of our cell membranes and they help us absorb the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. – 1 gram of fat contains 9 calories or 37 kilojoules. 
  • Proteins from dairy foods, eggs, fish, meat, chicken, legumes, nuts and grains. These are the body builders. They maintain our body tissues and help us meet our needs for certain vitamins (especially B vitamins) and minerals (especially iron, zinc and calcium from dairy foods if you eat them). – 1 gram of protein contains 4 calories or 17 kilojoules. 
Our fuel mix changes at different stages of our lives. A growing baby has different needs from a toddler, a teenager, a sedentary adult, a very active adult, an elderly person, or someone with a chronic condition such as diabetes.

Mother’s milk provides the perfect mix of nutrients—carbs, fat, protein and many vitamins and minerals—for our babies to grow and thrive and that’s all they need (or baby formula) for the first six months of life. But after infancy, we have considerable flexibility in our fuel mix options because we are omnivores. Our diet is not limited to One Size Fits All. It doesn’t need to; it never has because we evolved to be adaptable. That’s what made us successful in populating the planet and thriving in very different parts of the world with very different food supplies.

Enjoying food at the meal table

These days, our tastes and our family and cultural background play a large part in what we eat and like to eat. Remember, it’s the overall quality and quantity of the foods we consume – what we put on our fork or pick up with our fingers or chopsticks is what really matters. That means building healthy eating habits and being a good role model for the kids – they are watching us more carefully than we will ever know.
–Reproduced from The Good Carbs Cookbook (Murdoch Books) with permission.