1 August 2019

GI News - August 2019

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

GOOD CARBS: THE ORIGINAL PLANT-BASED DIET
In some quarters, carbs get an undeserved bad rap. But students of human evolution know that dietary carbohydrates (fruits, berries and tubers) played an instrumental role throughout our long 3-million-year journey from a small upright walking ape (Lucy, Australopithicus afarensis) to the tall, smooth-skinned creature with a very large brain who can perform high level maths as well as prolonged strenuous marathons (Homo sapiens sapiens). You could say we evolved eating the original plant-based diet. The challenge today however, is to ensure we consume the high-quality carbs similar to the ones our ancestors ate that are digested at a rate that our bodies can accommodate, preventing burnout of our insulin-producing machinery. In Food for Thought, we answer some of the questions we are asked about the high-quality carbs we like to call “good carbs”. 

Good carbs
WHAT DO CARBS DO? Our brains, nervous system, red blood cells, kidneys and muscles during exercise prefer carbs as their energy source. Carbs also give our cells structure, form part of our genes and play a part in the function of some proteins. Did you know that glucose powers the growth of a healthy human fetus born with substantially more body fat than any other primate.

WHAT ARE CARBS? Carbohydrates are made up of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen, so you can see where the name comes from. You may recall seeing it written up in your high school science books as CHO. For example, the chemical formula for glucose is C6H12O6 which stands for six carbon atoms and six water molecules (H2O = one water molecule; six water molecules = H2O x 6).

All plant foods contain carbs to a greater or lesser extent—fruits, vegetables, legumes, grains and nuts—as do milk and yoghurt, but not most cheeses (the whey is drained away so it is just protein and fat).

WHAT ARE GOOD CARBS? These are the plant foods the natural world has provided for us: fruits and berries, vegetables, beans, peas, lentils, seeds, nuts, and grains and the traditional staple foods and dishes we make from them such as noodles, pasta and grainy, seedy breads.

WHAT ABOUT MILK? Dairy foods such as regular milk and yoghurt are good carbs too. And let’s not forget mother’s milk which provides the perfect mix of carbs, fat, protein, vitamins and minerals for our babies to grow and thrive for the first six months of life. Mother Nature made it sweet so it is very appealing to babies. The sweetness comes from a special sugar called lactose only found in milk. Human milk has one of the highest concentrations of lactose of any mammal coming in at around 7 grams of lactose per 100 millilitres (3½ fluid ounces) which in household measures is little over ⅓ cup. It contains almost 50% more than that of cow’s milk. Why so much? One reason is probably to satisfy our fast-growing, energy-hungry, glucose-demanding brain. Scans show that a baby’s brain reaches more than half adult size in the first 90 days of baby’s life. Mother’s milk also contains special carbs called oligosaccharides (think of them as prebiotics), which friendly bacteria in the large intestine chomp on to thrive.

WHAT’S SO GOOD ABOUT GOOD CARBS? They are sustaining and sustainable foods that come with a swag of micronutrients we need for good health including vitamins B, C and E; minerals such as magnesium, potassium and calcium and antioxidants including the carotenoids that play a protective role in eye health. Dan Buettner’s Blue Zones studies provide compelling evidence that dietary patterns that are rich in good carbs and dietary fibre reduce the risk of weight gain, type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease and certain kinds of cancer, like colorectal cancer.

HOW MUCH CARBOHYDRATE DO WE NEED? Our diet is not limited to One Size Fits All. You only have to look around the world to see that there are very different dietary patterns with very different fuel mixes associated with good health and long life. Traditional Mediterranean and Japanese diets which are both linked with a long and healthy life couldn’t be more different. The Mediterranean diet is relatively high in fats and tends to be rather moderate in carbs. The Japanese diet, like most Asian diets, is high in carbs and low in fats. What they have in common and what seems to matter most is that they are based on good, wholesome foods and ingredients. Mostly plants.

WHAT ABOUT BLOOD GLUCOSE? When we eat carb-rich foods, our bodies convert their sugars and/or starches into glucose during digestion. However, our bodies do this at very different rates and this is where using the glycemic index (GI) helps us make better choices for long-term health and wellbeing. The GI is particularly useful for people who need to manage their blood glucose levels (BGLs). Think of it as a carbo speedo that gives us an idea how quickly our bodies will digest particular carb foods and how fast and high our BGL is then likely to rise.

Research around the world over the past forty years shows that switching to eating mainly low GI carbs throughout the day that will trickle glucose into our bloodstream and lower our day-long blood glucose and insulin levels helping us:

  • Manage our appetite because we will feel fuller for longer 
  • Minimise our body fat 
  • Maximise our muscle mass 
  • Decrease our risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease. 
IS RESISTANT STARCH A GOOD CARB? It is starch that resists digestion and absorption in the small intestine and zips through to the large intestine largely intact to be fermented into short chain fatty acids, like acetate, propionate and butyrate by those good gut bacteria we have down there. Research in recent years suggests it may well be as important as fibre in helping reduce the risk of colorectal cancer, so it has a lot of fans. It’s found naturally in unprocessed cereals and whole grains, firm (unripe) bananas, beans and lentils. But you can create it in your own kitchen too when you make potato salad, rice salad or pasta salad—starchy foods that you cook and then cool. The same goes for old-fashioned oatmeal if you cook up a pot one day and reheat individual portions the next.

Read More:

WHAT’S NEW?

THE HUMBLE GLYCEMIC INDEX MARKS GLOBAL DIABETES RISK

ConscienHealth’s Ted Kyle reports on a systematic review and meta-analysis of glycemic index, glycemic load, and type 2 diabetes risk published in Nutrients by an impressive global group of nutrition scientists. Their conclusions are simple and powerful he says. Glycemic index and glycemic load are important markers of food quality. In fact they do an excellent job of predicting type 2 diabetes risk for individuals and for the population.

GI
Almost 40 years ago, David Jenkins published the first paper to propose that the glycemic index of foods might be an important measure of nutrition quality. Back then, dietary guidance pointed to a low-fat panacea. Research continued quietly on the glycemic index. The pendulum swung from fear of fats to carbophobia. Sugar is the villain of the day now. But maybe the time has come for the glycemic index to bring a bit more objectivity.

Perhaps some of the energy that goes into vilifying carbs, sugar, soda, and other dietary goblins would be better spent directing people toward better carbs. “Don’t” has never been an especially effective tool for behavior modification.

Senior author on this new paper, Jennie Brand-Miller, explains the appeal of the glycemic index: “I liked the fact that it turned traditional nutritional science upside down. The old wisdoms were that sugars were bad and starches were good, but the GI showed some starches, such as potatoes, converted to glucose far quicker than some sugars. What appealed most was that GI intuitively made sense. We all talk about needing a sugar hit or having a sugar low, and this provided an explanation. It provided a way in to explore how foods can affect not just our physical health, but our moods as well.”

And now we know that glycemic index is a good marker for how changes in the food supply are driving an increased type 2 diabetes risk. Maybe now we can move from the narrow focus on macronutrients to a broader view of dietary quality. It looks like paying attention to this humble index might help.

Read more:

WHAT’S HOT?

PLANT-BASED BURGERS
A recent post in Refinery29 (“a modern woman's destination for how to live a stylish, well-rounded life”) says “grilling up a good time doesn't have to mean meat-based burgers for all. In fact, these days there are a lot of meatless burger alternatives on the market. From veggie and plant protein patties to quinoa and bean-based, non-meat eaters have plenty of options when it comes to grilling out.” Their reporter found that some people looked for trad veggie burgers, while others want burgers to taste as much like real meat as possible.

Vege burger
Meat substitutes are certainly having a moment in the sun. Writing for the New York Times, Timothy Egan says “fake meat will save us.”

PR like that is an agency’s dream come true says ConscienHealth’s Ted Kyle. So, it’s no wonder that Beyond Meat was “going bananas” with a 550 percent surge in its stock price after a very successful IPO. Its rival, Impossible Foods, can’t keep up with demand for its Impossible Burger. That’s good news for farmers who can’t sell their soybeans – a typical plant-based protein source. Suddenly, pea protein is hot. Prices for this humble legume are rising, even though soybean prices are depressed. The biggest meat processor in the U.S., Tyson Foods, is jumping in to build a billion-dollar brand with half-pea, half-beef burgers. Kellogg is supposedly sitting on a goldmine with its Morningstar Farms brand for fake meat.

Kyle asks if PR spin is tapping into foodie moralism to make this highly processed food seem like a healthy choice? Yes, indeed, he says. We need to move toward a more sustainable diet that won’t destroy the planet he says. Fake burgers, though? It’s unlikely they’ll give us a healthier diet. Maybe it’s time to remind ourselves of Michael Pollan’s top tip: “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.” By food Pollan means fruit, vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds, seafood, poultry and meat and to avoid what he calls “edible food-like substances.”

Read more:

PRODUCT REVIEW

BURGERS

Since everyone seems to be talking (and eating) burgers, we thought it would be interesting to compare a regular lean beef patty that just contains lean beef, with a meatless patty (we chose the top-seller Beyond Meat Beyond Burger™) and a homemade chickpea patty (the recipe is from The Low GI Vegetarian Cookbook). The nutrition information here is for the patty alone.

Burger

LEAN BEEF PATTY
Ingredients: Lean minced beef.

LEAN BEEF PATTY

BEYOND MEAT BEYOND BURGER
Ingredients: Water, Pea Protein Isolate*, Expeller-Pressed Canola Oil, Refined Coconut Oil, Rice Protein, Natural Flavors, Cocoa Butter, Mung Bean Protein, Methylcellulose, Potato Starch, Apple Extract, Salt, Potassium Chloride, Vinegar, Lemon Juice Concentrate, Sunflower Lecithin, Pomegranate Fruit Powder, Beet Juice Extract (for color).

(*Peas are legumes. People with severe allergies to legumes like peanuts should be cautious when introducing pea protein into their diet because of the possibility of a pea allergy. Our products do not contain peanuts or tree nuts.)

Vege PATTY

CHICKPEA PATTY
Ingredients: 400g (14oz) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained, 1½ tablespoons olive oil, 1 onion, finely chopped, 1 garlic clove, crushed, 1 tablespoon mild Indian curry paste, 1 zucchini, grated, 110g (4oz/1½ cups) firmly packed fresh wholegrain breadcrumbs, 1 tablespoon freshly chopped coriander, 1 egg, lightly beaten, Wholemeal plain flour, to dust. Serves 4.

Vege PATTY  
Read more:

PERSPECTIVES WITH DR ALAN BARCLAY

LOW CARB?
Low carb diets are still very popular in many parts of the world. The problem is, many people do not seem to really understand what “carbs” actually are. Consumer research in Europe, for example, has found that only 51% of consumers can correctly identify a carbohydrate. This is not really surprising, because carbohydrates are complicated and not currently well described on food labels.

Good carbs
CARBS IN FOODS Carbohydrates include varieties that are digestible by humans (known scientifically as available carbohydrates):

  • Oligosaccharides (e.g., maltodextrins)
  • Starches (e.g., amylose and amylopectin)
  • Sugars (e.g., fructose, galactose, glucose, lactose, maltose and sucrose)
And varieties that are not digestible by humans (unavailable carbohydrates):
  • Dietary fibres (e.g., cellulose, gums, hemicellulose, mucilages and pectins)
They occur in relatively large amounts in a broad range of unprocessed and minimally processed foods including:
  • Fruits
  • Grains (e.g., barley, oats, rice, rye, wheat, etc.)
  • Legumes (e.g., peas, beans, lentils, chickpeas, etc.)
  • Milk
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Vegetables
  • Yoghurt
But are also refined into processed culinary ingredients, including:
  • Flours (e.g., plain wheat flour)
  • Sugars (e.g., table sugar, or sucrose)
  • Dietary fibres (e.g., pectin)
Unfortunately, food labelling requirements for carbohydrates are generally poor all around the world. In most nations, including Australia, New Zealand and Europe (including the UK), only total carbohydrate and total sugars are required to be listed in Nutrition Information panels. Dietary fibre is optional unless certain specific nutrient claims are made.

North Americans are provided with more information – Nutrition Facts panels must include:
  • Total carbohydrate
  • Dietary fiber
  • Total sugars
  • Added sugars
However, oligosaccharides and starches are currently not identified in any Nutrition Information/Facts panels anywhere. Unfortunately, their omission creates erroneous statements about “carbohydrates and sugars” in foods (which is of course a tautology, because sugars are a form of carbohydrate), when what people are actually trying to say is “starches and sugars” in foods. Indeed, starches and oligosaccharides are the invisible nutrients in foods, not sugars.

WHAT DOES “LOW CARB” MEAN? Many people that are following low carb diets today are in reality following low starch diets that primarily exclude or limit grains (e.g., breakfast cereals, breads, pastas, rice, etc...) and starchy vegetables (e.g., corn, potatoes, peas, etc...). Most aren’t specifically aiming to exclude dietary fibre, although a reduced fibre intake is often an unwanted side-effect.

Even the definition of a low carb diet is hotly debated. One of the more popular systems classifies diets according to the amount of total available carbohydrate they provide:
  • Very low-carbohydrate diet. 20–50 grams per day or less than 10% of a 2000 Calorie (8,400 kJ diet)
  • Low carbohydrate diet. Less than 130 grams per day or less than 26% of energy from a 2000 Calorie (8,400 kJ diet)
  • Moderate carbohydrate diet. 130–230 grams per day, or 26–45% of energy from a 2000 Calorie (8,400 kJ diet)  
  • High carbohydrate diet. More than 230 grams per day or more than 45% of energy from a 2000 Calorie (8,400 kJ diet)
To put these definitions into perspective, traditional Mediterranean diets are moderate in carbohydrate and traditional Japanese diets are high in carbohydrate. Traditionally, humans have not consumed very low carbohydrate diets.

HOW MUCH CARBOHYDRATE ARE WE EATING? Many people in the developed world could be forgiven for thinking that our diets are high in carbohydrate, and should reduce our intakes. However, we know from the latest Australian Health Survey that on average, Australian adults consumed an average of 222 grams of carbohydrate per day in 2011–12, or 44% of energy from carbohydrates, putting them in the moderate carbohydrate diet camp.

ENJOY GOOD CARBS Most people in the developed world don’t need to consume a low carbohydrate diet. Enjoying a traditional dietary pattern with a long history of health, well-being and longevity, like the traditional Mediterranean diet or Japanese diet, is a better strategy – and both diets contain plenty of fruit and vegetables, something most people don’t eat enough of.

Read more:

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.

GOOD CARBS FOOD FACTS

SWEET CORN
It’s hard to beat the juicy burst of sweet corn kernels straight from the cob. Peel back the husk of a fresh ear of corn (stripping away the silk) and we are munching through the neat rows of yellow or white kernels of a very big grass seed head that was cultivated in the Americas for thousands of years before Christopher Columbus arrived on the scene.

SWEET CORN
Although “officially” a grain, the particular variety we tuck into is very much eaten immature as a vegetable. Boil, steam, microwave, bake or barbecue and serve piping hot with just a dot of butter and sprinkle of salt. Or add the kernels to soups, stews and stir fries; fritters and frittatas; chowders and crepes; salsas and salads; muffins, breads and corn cakes, and toss whole baby corn into stir-fries.

Buy cobs with fresh green unblemished husks that fit snugly with moist slightly brown silky tassels intact. (If the tassels are black or dry, the corn is old: if dry and pale the corn is immature) if you can get a peek at the kernels, they should be tightly packed, plump, shiny and smaller at the tip than they are in the middle (this indicates a young cob). When sweet corn is really fresh, the kernels will release a milky liquid when cut. As the natural sugars in the kernels start converting to starch once the husk is removed, resist buying pre-packed shucked ears. Snap-frozen cobs and kernels make a handy year-round substitute.

Wholegrain products made from corn include:

  • Polenta, a coarsely ground dried corn that is actually a type of grits. (Avoid instant polenta, it may be convenient and foolproof but it’s not the same at all.)
  • Corn grits, which are chopped up dried kernels that you can use in soups or stews or serve as a side dish.
  • Hominy grits are corn grits that have been treated with an alkaline solution (nixtamalized).
Corn is often used as a base for gluten-free processed foods. Be aware that many products made from corn don’t have a low GI at all – cornflakes (GI 77), popcorn (GI 72), cornmeal (GI 68) and corn pasta (GI 87). Corn chips do (GI 42), but they are also very high in fat and added salt.

Corn NIP
Source:

THE GOOD CARBS KITCHEN

It’s all about corn this month with Barbecued Corn with Avocado Cream from Dr Alan Barclay’s book, Reversing Diabetes; Chicken and Corn Soup with Toasted Tortilla and Avocado from The Good Carbs Cookbook; and for the kids, Diane Temple’s Chicken and Corn Nuggets from the Money Saving Meals series we ran in 2010.

BARBECUED CORN WITH AVOCADO CREAM
The avocado cream can also be used as a creamy topping for jacket potatoes or as a spread for toast or sandwiches says Alan Barclay. It’s full of healthy unsaturated fats, dietary fibre and potassium.
Serves 2 • Preparation 5 minutes + 15 minutes soaking • Cooking 20 minutes

BARBECUED CORN WITH AVOCADO CREAM
2 corn cobs, husks attached
1 long red chilli, finely chopped
lime cheeks, to serve

For the avocado cream
1 small avocado
1 tablespoon lime juice
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
tablespoon coriander (cilantro) leaves, finely chopped

Peel back the husks from the corn cobs, discard the silk and remove several of the inside husks, leaving a few outer husks to protect and steam the corn while it is cooking. Soak the corn cobs and two pieces of string in a large bowl of water for 15 minutes. • Meanwhile, to make the avocado cream, use a stick blender or small food processor to blend the avocado, lime juice and cayenne pepper until it reaches a smooth, spreadable consistency. Stir in the coriander and set aside until needed. • Preheat a barbecue or chargrill pan to medium–high. Drain the corn cobs, reseal the husks and secure with the wet string. Cook the corn, turning occasionally, for 15–20 minutes or until tender. • Peel back the husks and spread the corn with the avocado cream. Sprinkle with the chilli and serve with lime cheeks.

Per serving
Energy 1790kJ/426 calories; Protein 9g; Fat 29g (includes 6g saturated fat; saturated : unsaturated fat ratio 0.26); Carbohydrate 27g (includes 4g sugars and 23g starches); Fibre 9g; Sodium 9mg; Potassium 1475mg; sodium : potassium ratio 0.01

CHICKEN AND CORN SOUP WITH TOASTED TORTILLA AND AVOCADO
Much of the depth of flavour in this soup comes from the first step of gently cooking the veggies in oil says Kate McGhie. Once there’s a slight sizzle, put the lid on the pan to keep the aromatic moisture in while the veggies soften. Her top tip? Cook the chicken the day before and use the stock for the soup. • Preparation time: 25 minutes • Cooking time: 25 minutes • Serves: 8
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 medium zucchini, finely diced
1 medium carrot, finely diced
2½ litres chicken broth
400g (14oz) can chick peas, rinsed
Salt flakes
2 medium (about 320g) boneless, skinless chicken breasts, poached
1 small red chilli, finely chopped
2 handfuls coriander (cilantro) leaves, coarsely chopped
3 large tortillas
1 medium avocado, sliced
1 small lime, cut into thin wedges

Put the oil in a large pot and when hot add the onion, garlic, zucchini and carrot. Cook gently until the vegetables soften and then add the chicken stock, chick peas and salt to taste. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes. • Shred the chicken and stir through the hot soup with the chilli and half of the coriander. • Lightly toast the torillas and cut into fine strips. • Ladle the soup into bowls, garnish with a few avocado slices, some tortilla strips, remaining coriander and serve with lime wedges for squeezing over the soup.

Per serving
Energy 1540kJ/370 calories; Protein 26g; Fat 19g (includes 4g saturated fat; saturated : unsaturated fat ratio 0.3); Carbohydrate 21g (includes 4g sugars and 17g starches); Fibre 7g; Sodium 1030mg; Potassium 695mg; sodium : potassium ratio 1.48

CHICKEN AND CORN NUGGETS
The next time the clamour for takeaway starts, try these lightly pan-fried nuggets for a quick and easy, budget friendly meal instead. You can also bake them, but they’ll take a little longer to cook. The nuggets also double as tasty finger food when entertaining and leftovers (if there are any) are ideal for lunch boxes says Diane Temple. Makes about 30

CHICKEN AND CORN NUGGETS
500g (1lb 2oz) chicken mince
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 cloves garlic, crushed
125g (4oz) can corn kernels, drained
1 cup fresh breadcrumbs made from grainy bread
2 tablespoons chopped chives
½ cup panko crumbs
2 tablespoons canola oil

To serve
Celery and carrot sticks
Tiny tomatoes
Blanched snowpeas (mangetout) or sugar snap peas
Crispy green beans
Tomato, barbecue or sweet chilli sauce

Mix the chicken mince, soy sauce, garlic, corn kernels, fresh breadcrumbs and chives together. With damp hands, roll 1 tablespoon of the mixture into a ball, then flatten it slightly. Repeat with the rest of the mixture. Roll each nugget in dry breadcrumbs and chill in the fridge for 10–20 minutes. • Heat the oil in a large non-stick frying pan and cook the nuggets in batches (about 2 minutes each side) until golden brown and cooked through. Place them on a tray lined with paper towel. Repeat with remaining nuggets.

Per nugget
Energy: 236kJ/ 56 calories; Protein 4g; Fat 4g (includes 0.5g saturated fat, saturated :
unsaturated fat ratio 0.1); Carbohydrate 3g; Fibre 9g

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Nutritional analysis To analyse Australian foods, beverages, processed products and recipes, we use FoodWorks which contains the AusNut and Nuttab databases. If necessary, this is supplemented with data from www.calorieking.com.au or http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/search.

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1 July 2019

GI News - July 2019

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

Like us on Facebook

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

PROTEIN QandA: OUR EXPERTS ANSWER YOUR QUESTIONS
Prof Jennie Brand-Miller and Dr Alan Barclay answer the most common questions we are asked about protein.

WHAT IS PROTEIN? People talk about “protein”, but in fact there are many proteins. They are chemical compounds made up of chains of smaller building blocks called amino acids. There are about 20 different amino acids that come together in different combinations to make up the millions of proteins found in nature. A protein can consist of between 50 and tens of thousands of amino acids.

WHAT ARE AMINO ACIDS? An amino acid consists of a central carbon atom, linked to an amino group (an atom of nitrogen + hydrogen atoms), a carboxylic acid group (an atom of carbon + oxygen atoms), a hydrogen atom, and a distinctive R group, which is referred to as the side chain. The unique composition of the R group is what makes all of the amino acids different.
Amino acid
In addition to being the building blocks of proteins, the cells of our bodies use amino acids to form nerve transmitters and hormones (e.g. adrenalin and insulin). They can also be used as an energy source, particularly when carbohydrate and fat are restricted. Amino acids are generally divided into two broad classes – those that our bodies can make (non-essential amino acids), and those we have to get through our diet (essential amino acids).

Protein foods
WHY DO WE NEED PROTEIN? We need to consume protein for the growth, development and maintenance of our body tissues because it’s an essential part of the structure and function of every cell in our body. Consuming protein brings a couple of bonus side-effects. First up, protein-rich foods are more appetite satisfying compared with carb- and fat-rich foods and can reduce those pesky hunger pangs between meals. In addition, protein increases our metabolic rate for one to three hours after eating. This means we burn more energy by the minute compared with the increase that occurs after eating carbs or fats.

WHERE DO WE GET IT? Protein is widely available in our food supply. And while people talk about “protein foods”, no food is all protein and most of us eat a variety of foods containing many different proteins. We are often asked what are the best sources. The answer is easy: whole foods which provide us with other things our bodies need such as vitamins, minerals and dietary fibre. As Dr David Katz says: “Dietary protein does not require animal foods, and does not require any specific food combinations. Wholesome foods in any balanced, sensible assembly – even a strictly vegan assembly – will readily provide it.”
Animal sources:
• Meat, poultry, and seafood
• Eggs
• Milk, cheese and yoghurt.
Plant sources:
• Beans, chickpeas or lentils (legumes/pulses)
• Nuts and seeds
• Grains, especially whole grains
• Starchy veggies

HOW MUCH DO WE NEED? Because our bodies don’t stockpile large amounts of protein from one day to use up the next, we need to top up the protein tank every day. We don’t need a lot – in fact, the average adult needs less than 1 gram of protein per kilogram of healthy body weight a day. So, it isn’t hard to do and most of us living in developed nations get more than enough. Children, teenagers, pregnant women and women who are breastfeeding need more as do people recovering from an injury or a major illness. Athletes, weekend warriors and people who work out vigorously also need more for building and repairing muscles. People with diabetes do have an increase in protein turnover because of their high blood glucose levels and this increases the body’s protein needs slightly. However, because most people are already consuming much more protein than necessary, eating more is not usually recommended. Remember, excess calories from protein are still excess calories and they will do what all excess calories do, turn into stored body fat.

WHAT ABOUT PROTEIN AND BLOOD GLUCOSE? Up to half the protein we eat will eventually be converted to glucose via a process called gluconeogenesis (which literally means the creation of new glucose). However, our glucose concentrations do not rise and fall in any marked way after we eat a protein-rich meal because our bodies balance the rate of glucose production with the rate of glucose burning. While protein does not directly affect blood glucose levels, it does stimulate secretion of significant amounts of insulin depending on the protein source. Research to-date suggests whey protein (often used in protein-supplemented foods) is the most potent insulin stimulator, followed by fish, beef, eggs and chicken.

WHAT ARE PROTEIN SUPPLEMENTS? These are the high protein balls, bars, shakes and powders you’ll find in gyms, health food stores and supermarkets. Consuming them is not the same as eating protein-rich wholefoods such as a piece of meat, a handful of nuts or a tub of yoghurt, as they provide few nutrients apart from protein. They are typically highly processed made with either soy or whey protein such as:

  • Soy protein isolate, which is extracted, refined protein from the soy bean. 
  • Whey protein concentrate, which is extracted protein from whey (the leftover liquid from milk formed during the production of cheese). It retains many of the bioactive compounds of the whey, along with small amounts of fat and lactose. 
  • Whey protein isolate, which is further refined so that it is almost entirely protein. 
  • Whey protein hydrolysate which is where the proteins have been partially broken down for quicker digestion and absorption. 
 Sweeteners such as sugar alcohols (maltitol and sorbitol) and intense sweeteners (e.g., sucralose); flavours and emulsifiers are often added to make them taste good and provide “mouth appeal”.

WHO NEEDS PROTEIN SUPPLEMENTS? No one really needs supplemental protein says the American College of Sports Medicine. Athletes do require more protein than the rest of us, but can generally get it from a good mixed diet. However, consuming protein right after a vigorous workout can help you recover and gain muscle mass. “A good choice for the post workout would be a whey-based protein shake or a home-made protein shake made with milk, yoghurt and fruit as it will be absorbed more quickly than solid food and this is key for timing,” says dietitian and nutritionist Dr Joanna McMillan.

Read More:

WHAT’S NEW?

MODERNIZING THE DEFINITION OF PROTEIN QUALITY
Dr David Katz and colleagues call for the definition of protein quality to be modernized in their recent paper in Advances in Nutrition, because the current definition is misleading and antiquated they say. Historically, protein quality has been defined in biochemical and physiological terms reflecting the concentration of the 9 essential amino acids and their digestibility from specific food sources. The resulting measure, the Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score (PDCAAS), is what the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States uses to measure protein quality in foods.

Legumes
Katz and his colleagues explain why it is obsolete. “The popular concept that protein is “good,” and that the more the better, coupled with a protein quality definition that favors meat, fosters the impression that eating more meat, as well as eggs and dairy, is desirable and preferable. This message, however, is directly opposed to current Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which encourage consumption of more plant foods and less meat, and at odds with the literature on the environmental impacts of foods, from carbon emissions to water utilization, which decisively favor plant protein sources. Thus, the message conveyed by the current definitions of protein quality is at odds with imperatives of public and planetary health alike.”

In their paper, Katz and colleagues propose a modernized definition, which incorporates the quality of health and environmental outcomes associated with specific food sources of protein.

They also demonstrate how such an approach can be adapted into a metric, and applied to the food supply. Their metric still considers the distribution of essential amino acids, and their digestibility – but also considers, and weights appropriately, the net effects of the food on our overall health, and its environmental footprint. By such a measure, beans and lentils shoot up to the top of the rankings, and beef, for example, falls down because while it is indeed a concentrated protein source, it’s a food we should be eating less, not more. They conclude: “The adoption of such a shift in protein quality assessment would allow for clearer, more consistent messaging to the public and better alignment of nutrition policy with nutrition science.”

Read more:

WHAT’S HOT?

PROTEIN BARS, BALLS, BITES, AND SHAKES 
Protein is hot. Not regular protein-rich foods like meat, chicken, fish, milk, yoghurt, eggs, legumes, and grains nuts and seeds – it’s protein supplemented bars, balls, bites and shakes that are hot. And if that’s not enough protein-supplemented product, you can top up your protein tank with protein boosted breakfast cereals, protein noodles, protein bagels, protein cookies and protein coffee and protein water.

Protein balls
The food industry has really embraced protein. They love its health halo. It’s a gift to the bottom line which is why they are adding it in truckloads to all sorts of processed and ultra-processed foods. In 2014, the protein supplemented foods market in Australia was valued at A$545 million dollars and predicted to keep growing by around 10% a year.

“When the Box Says ‘Protein’, Shoppers Say ‘I’ll take it” was the headline of a 2013 article in the Wall Street Journal. Protein mania has partly come about because with so many people now regarding carbs or fats (and sometimes both) with suspicion in the current nutrition wars, protein has emerged as the last macronutrient left standing. “The whole macronutrient fixation is a boondoggle that has been calamitous for public health,” says Dr David Katz. “First they told us to cut fat. But instead of wholegrains and lentils, we ate low-fat junk food. Then food marketers heard the message about cutting carbs and sold us protein-enriched junk foods instead.”

“When we talk about protein,” says Katz, “we are dissociating the nutrient from its food source.” It certainly looks that way in the high protein snack aisle we discovered researching this story. Here are our tips to help you make better choices.

  • “When the Box Says Protein”, read the nutrition information panel (NIP). 
  • Ingredients are listed in descending order of weight from the most down to the least. 
  • Wise up on label lingo – what the highly processed ingredients in packaged foods, are, and on how these ingredients are made. 
 What did we find when we went shopping?

There are certainly protein bars packed with ingredients you may have at home. The Health Food Guys’ vegan Cacao Goji Raw Protein Bar contains: “Organic Wholegrain Bio-Fermented Raw Brown Rice Protein, Organic Raw Tahini, Crushed Raw Almonds, Organic Rice Syrup, Organic Chia Seeds, Organic Dates, Organic Coconut Nectar, Goji Berries, Raw Cacao Powder”. What’s “Bio-Fermented Raw Brown Rice Protein”? It’s a protein powder like soy and whey protein powders, and like them is used as a base for shakes, smoothies, bars and other protein-supplemented products.

We also found bars where the ingredient topping the list is something you’ll have at home like nuts. Carman’s Coconut, Yoghurt & Roasted Nut Gourmet Protein Bars contains “Nuts (Peanuts 17%, Cashews 10%), Soy Protein Blend (Soy Protein Crisps [Isolated Soy Protein, Tapioca Starch, Salt], Soy Protein Powder [Soy Lecithin]), Glucose, Honey, Seeds 9% (Sunflower Seeds, Pepitas, Sesame Seeds), Yoghurt Compound 9% (Sugar, Vegetable Oil, Milk Solids, Yoghurt Powder 4%, Emulsifier [Sunflower Lecithin], Food Acid [330], Natural Coconut Flavour), Coconut 7%, Sunflower Oil, Natural Coconut Flavour.”

However, while nuts at 27% “(Peanuts 17%, Cashews 10%)”, top the list, we don’t actually know if there are more nuts than soy protein in the bar by weight, because the manufacturer has used two kinds of soy protein powder and they are listed separately and without percentages.

There are also products where anything you are likely to find at home like cocoa powder or unsalted butter is at the end of the list. For example, Aussie Bodies Protein FX Lo Carb Mini Protein Bar Choc Caramel, described as an indulgent guilt-free low carb protein snack, contains: “Aussie Bodies® Protein Blend (29%) [Whey Protein Concentrate, Whey Protein Isolate, Soy Protein Isolate, Soy Protein Crisps (Soy Protein Isolate, Tapioca Starch, Salt, Emulsifier (Soy Lecithin)], Protein Milk Chocolate (22%) [Maltitol, Cocoa Butter, Milk Solids, Cocoa Liquor, Soy Protein Isolate, Emulsifier (Soy Lecithin), Flavour], Polydextrose, Glycerol, Maltitol, Caramel (5%) [Glucose, Sweetened Condensed Milk (Milk, Sugar, Lactose), Vegetable Fat, Unsalted Butter, Salt, Emulsifier (471)], Resistant Starch (Starch, Maltodextrin), Cocoa Powder, Unsalted Butter, Emulsifier (Soy Lecithin), Flavours.”

Read more:

PRODUCT REVIEW

GOOD CARBS FOR GOOD PROTEIN 
Using the True Health Initiatives modernised protein quality metric, we chose a couple of the top-ranking plant sources of protein they mention in their paper (brown rice and chickpeas both get a 5 out of 6) that are good for our overall health, and good for the planet. We also have added in sweet potato, because it’s now grown in more developing countries than any other root crop.

BROWN RICE – Nutty tasting brown rice with just the inedible hull removed is the rice with whole grain credentials (it’s a good source of niacin and magnesium) and there are now 2-minute microwave options to help you get a meal on the table fast. In Australia you can buy low GI brown rice (SunRice Doongara Low GI Brown Rice, GI 51).

BROWN RICE

CHICKPEAS – Like other legumes, they are high in protein, rich in fibre, an excellent source of manganese and folate, and a good source of iron, phosphorous, copper and zinc. They have a low glycemic index (39).

CHICKPEAS

SWEET POTATO – While sweet potatoes come in a variety of colours, shapes and sizes, it’s the orange-fleshed sweet potato that’s packed with fibre, beta-carotene and vitamin C that we like to roast and use in recipes. It has a moderate glycemic index (65).

SWEET POTATO
Read more:

PERSPECTIVES WITH DR ALAN BARCLAY

FEEDING THE PROTEIN FAD WITH ULTRA-PROCESSED FOODS 
Ultra-processed foods have been in the media a lot lately, with new research suggesting that they cause weight gain and may increase the risk of heart attack, stroke and ultimately death. They can be described as “formulations mostly of cheap industrial sources of dietary energy and nutrients plus additives, using a series of processes, and containing minimal whole foods”. One of the more popular methods for identifying ultra-processed foods is the NOVA system which classifies all foods and food products into one of four groups:

  1. Unprocessed or minimally processed foods. Edible parts of plants or of animals, and also fungi, algae and water, after separation from nature. Minimally processed foods are natural foods altered by processes that include removal of inedible or unwanted parts, and drying, crushing, grinding, fractioning, filtering, roasting, boiling, non-alcoholic fermentation, pasteurization, refrigeration, chilling, freezing, placing in containers and vacuum-packaging. 
  2. Processed culinary ingredients. Include oils, butter, sugar, flour and salt. They are substances derived from Group 1 foods or from nature by processes that include pressing, refining, grinding, milling and drying. They are not meant to be consumed by themselves, and are normally used in combination with Group 1 foods to make freshly prepared drinks, dishes and meals. 
  3. Processed foods. Include canned vegetables, seafood, fruits in syrup, cheeses and freshly made breads, are made essentially by adding salt, oil, sugar, flour or other substances from Group 2 to Group 1 foods. Processes include various preservation or cooking methods, and, in the case of breads and cheese, non-alcoholic fermentation. Most processed foods have two or three ingredients, and are recognizable as modified versions of Group 1 foods. They are edible by themselves or, more usually, in combination with other foods. 
  4. Ultra-processed foods. Include soft drinks, sweet or savoury packaged snacks, reconstituted meat products and pre-prepared frozen dishes. They are not modified foods but formulations made mostly or entirely from substances derived from foods and additives, with little if any intact Group 1 foods. 
Ultra-processed foods can be summarised as energy-dense, high in unhealthy types of fat, refined starches, free sugars and salt, and poor sources of protein, dietary fibre and micronutrients (i.e., vitamins and minerals). The definition is important as it goes beyond the current meme about “limiting/avoiding fats, sugars and salt” and importantly includes refined starches and poor-quality protein in its definition – two extremely common food ingredients that have generally avoided scrutiny, in part due to poor food labelling policy which excludes starches altogether from the Nutrition Information / Facts panel, and only lists total protein.

With all of the protein claims on the labels of packaged foods, and the associated health halos, it is hard for many people to swallow the fact that most of these ultra-processed snack foods are largely sources of junk protein – highly refined and purified extracts from Group 1 foods, largely devoid of vitamins, minerals or any other essential nutrients, but fortified with a sprinkling of a select few vitamins/minerals to make them look more nutritious than they really are.

Protein bar
Ingredient list
Additionally, most people in the developed world meet their Estimated Average Requirement (EAR: the daily nutrient level estimated to meet the requirements of half the healthy population) for protein without the need for supplementary protein in the form of ultra-processed snacks. For example, in Australia, the EAR for protein for men is 0.68g per kg body weight per day and for women it is 0.60g per kg body weight per day. Australia’s most recent nutrition survey in 2011/12 determined that men consumed an average of 104.6g of protein per day or 1.2g per kg body weight and women consumed 77.9g of protein per day or 1.1g per kg body weight. In other words, the average Australian man and woman consumed nearly twice as much protein as the Estimated Average Requirement each day.

What happens to the excess ultra-processed protein that we consume? Unlike carbohydrates and fats, we are unable to store excess protein as such. Like any other nutrient, proteins can be converted into other forms of energy, however. Many of the amino acids that make up proteins can be converted into the carbohydrate glucose which can be stored as glycogen in liver and muscles. The nitrogen portion of the amino acid molecule is excreted as urea in the urine. Just like it can from other dietary sources, glucose from protein metabolism can also be converted to fat and stored in our fat cells.

For your daily protein requirements, enjoy minimally-processed foods like beans, chickpeas, lentils, nuts and seeds, wholegrains, meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, milk and yoghurt. Save ultra-processed foods, including those high in protein, for special occasions – they are not daily fare.

Read more:
The UN Decade of Nutrition, the NOVA food classification and the trouble with ultra-processing
• Australian Health Survey - protein

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.

BEST FOOD FORWARD

WINNER, WINNER CHICKPEA DINNER
We thought we’d ‘chick’ out the chickpea because they have some unique benefits, especially for people living with diabetes. Also known as garbanzo beans, chickpeas belong to the legume family and like their cousins, they are high in protein, rich in fibre, an excellent source of folate, and a good source of iron, phosphorous, copper and zinc. And to top it off, they have a low GI (40). Their neutral, nutty flavour blends into the background in a smorgasbord of dishes including curries, soups, stews and salads. They are famously used to make hummus, but try them dry roasted with herbs and spices for a crunchy snack.

Chickpeas
They can help people living with diabetes by: 

  • Improving glycaemic control: Research has demonstrated that people who eat 5 cups of chickpeas or other legumes a week have improved fasting blood glucose levels (FBG), fasting blood insulin (FBI) and HbA1c (which reflects the average blood glucose levels over the past 3 months). A great example of what you eat influencing the important numbers discussed in your doctor’s office. 
  • Reducing obesity risk: Diets that include legumes/pulses help to regulate body weight and reduce obesity risk by improving satiety, or satisfaction after eating. This is great news to achieve the ideal situation of eating fewer calories (kilojoules) but not feeling hungry. 
  • Reducing CVD risk: People living with diabetes are at greater risk of developing cardiovascular disease (CVD). Enjoying chickpeas or other legumes daily can help lower your blood cholesterol and blood pressure, thereby reducing these important cardiovascular disease risk factors. 
 Chickpeas in a nutshell
  • Chickpeas and other legumes/pulses are highly nutritious with many health benefits including diabetes management, reduction of CVD risk and weight management. 
  • Aim to enjoy a serving of versatile beans, chickpeas or lentils every day. 
 Read more:
 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

SOY BEANS 
Soybeans and soy products (tofu, tempeh, soy drink and other soy foods) are the nutritional powerhouse of the legume family. A staple of Asian diets for thousands of years, they have long been a mainstay of vegetarian and vegan diets. They are an excellent source of protein, and rich in fibre, iron, zinc and B vitamins. They are lower in carbohydrate and higher in fat than other legumes, the majority of the fat is polyunsaturated.

Soybeans
On the whole, soy foods have not played a major role in the typical Western diet. In contrast, soy is regularly consumed by many Asians at all stages of life from weaning to old age. It’s this difference in levels of soy consumption that got the ball rolling in soy research says Dr Joanna McMillan. “Scientists found that levels of heart disease and many cancers, including breast cancer, were far lower in these soy-eating Asian countries, compared to levels in the West. Numerous studies followed to try to identify what it was about soy that might be protective,” she says.

“Research has centred on two aspects of soy – soy protein and compounds found in soy called isoflavones. Isoflavones are phytoestrogens (meaning ‘plant oestrogen’) and are similar in structure to the hormone oestrogen. These phytoestrogens can act in two ways:

  • They can act like oestrogen. This may be beneficial during menopause for example, when natural oestrogen levels are dropping. Theoretically consuming sufficient phytoestrogens-rich soy at this time can reduce menopausal symptoms. 
  • They can block the action of oestrogen. This is potentially beneficial in for example breast tissue where oestrogen stimulates growth of both normal and cancerous cells. At least one of the isoflavones in soy, called genistein, has been shown in animal studies to inhibit the development of breast cancer. 
 Additionally, isoflavones have been shown to be powerful antioxidants and may in this way contribute to protection against diseases including cancer and heart disease,” says Dr Joanna. “However, I don’t recommend consumption of highly processed soy foods, such as those made from soy protein extract. Consuming these processed foods may have different effects to consuming the wholefood soy products traditional in Asia.” (see Read More below for the link in her blog on soybeans).

Soybeans
Read more:

IN THE GI NEWS KITCHEN

IN THE GI NEWS KITCHEN 
Lamb Shanks with Garden Peas and Mint from The Good Carbs Cookbook • Tomato, Mozzarella and Olive Quinoa Pizzas from Reversing Diabetes • Peanut Butter and Chickpea Energy Balls from Veggie-licious.

LAMB SHANKS WITH GARDEN PEAS AND MINT 
Lamb and pearl barley are a natural pairing and 1 large shank is enough for two people generally, though it depends how hungry they are. This is a one-pot meal you can prepare quickly and leave to gently cook. Add tiny whole carrots, peeled garlic cloves and extra onions with the barley if you like. Prep: 15 minutes • Cook 2 hours • Serves 6
LAMB SHANKS WITH GARDEN PEAS AND MINT
1 tablespoon (20ml) olive oil.
4 large lamb shanks.
1 brown onion, chopped.
About 4 cups (1 litre) chicken stock.
1½ cups pearl barley.
1½ cups garden peas.
1 handful mint leaves, fresh.
1 large orange, zest and juice.
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper.

Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF (fan 160ºC/315ºF). • Place a large casserole dish on the stovetop over medium-high heat. Pour in the oil and, when hot, add the shanks to brown all over, turning occasionally, for about 8 minutes. Push the shanks to the side of the dish slightly and reduce the heat. Add the onion and cook for about 8 minutes, or until golden. Pour in the stock, bring to a lively simmer, cover and place in the oven for about 1½ hours, or until the shanks are tender. • Rinse the barley, drain and add it to the casserole dish, making sure it is covered in liquid. If not, add a little more stock. Cover and cook for about 25–30 minutes, or until barley is al dente, adding the peas in the last 5 minutes of cooking. Roughly chop half the mint and stir it in with the orange zest and juice, and salt and pepper to taste. Using forks, pull the meat from the bone and serve with the barley and pea mixture, garnished with the remaining mint leaves.

Per serve 
1665kJ/400 calories; 27g protein; 13.5g fat (includes 5g saturated fat; saturated : unsaturated fat ratio 0.56); 37.5g available carbs (includes 4g sugars and 33.5g starches); 8g fibre; 560mg sodium; 630mg potassium; sodium : potassium ratio 0.89

Recipe sourced from The Good Carbs Cookbook by Dr Alan Barclay, Kate McGhie and Philippa Sandall (Murdoch Books). Photography by Alan Benson.

TOMATO, MOZZARELLA AND OLIVE QUINOA PIZZAS 
Quinoa has a light, nutty texture with a slight crunch and will give the pizza bases a lovely crisp texture. Serves 4 • Preparation 20 minutes + 1 hour resting • Cooking 1 hour
TOMATO, MOZZARELLA AND OLIVE QUINOA PIZZAS
¼ cup quinoa, rinsed
2 teaspoons instant dried yeast
1 cup wholemeal plain flour
½ cup stone-ground plain flour semolina, for sprinkling
140g (5oz) artichoke hearts in brine, rinsed and halved
100g (3½oz) reduced-fat grated mozzarella cheese
⅓ cup black olives, halved
1 handful basil leaves
200g (7oz) baby English spinach leaves
250g (9oz) baby Roma tomatoes, halved
1 small Lebanese (short) cucumber, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Tomato sauce 
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 brown onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
500g (1lb 2oz) ripe tomatoes, finely chopped

Put the quinoa and ½ cup water in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 10–12 minutes or until all the liquid has evaporated. Transfer to a bowl to cool. • Stir the yeast into 185ml (6fl oz/¾ cup) tepid water until the yeast has dissolved. Combine the quinoa and flours in a large bowl. Make a well in the centre, add the yeast mixture and mix to a soft dough. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Return the dough to the lightly oiled bowl, cover with a tea towel (dish towel) and rest in a warm place for 1 hour or until doubled in size.

To make the sauce, heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook the onion, stirring, for 4 minutes or until softened. Add the garlic and stir for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes or until the sauce has thickened. Remove the lid and cook for 5 minutes or until reduced by two-thirds. Set aside to cool, then purée using a stick blender.

Preheat the oven to 220°C (425°F). Sprinkle two large baking trays with semolina. Divide the dough into four portions and roll each on a lightly floured surface into a 20cm (8inch) round, about 5mm (¼inch) thick. Place on the prepared trays. • Spread the tomato sauce over the bases, then top with the artichokes, mozzarella and olives. Bake the pizzas for 18–20 minutes or until crisp and golden. Top with the basil leaves and cut into wedges. • Drizzle the spinach, tomatoes and cucumber with the vinegar and serve with the pizzas

Per serve 
1790kJ/ 426 calories; 21g protein; 9.5g fat (includes 3g saturated fat; saturated : unsaturated fat ratio 0.46); 58g available carbs (includes 10g sugars and 48g starches); 11g fibre; 270mg sodium; 1150mg potassium; sodium : potassium ratio 0.23

Recipe sourced from Reversing Diabetes by Dr Alan Barclay (Murdoch Books). Photography by Chris Chen.

PEANUT BUTTER AND CHICKPEA ENERGY BALLS 
Dietitian Caroline Trickey says one of the most common requests she gets from clients is for healthy snack suggestions. These energy balls from her new cookbook, Veggie-licious, are speedy to make and require no cooking. You can use choc chips or cranberries instead of apricots if you prefer. For a vegan version, use maple syrup instead of honey. • Makes about 30 • Prep time 10 minutes.
PEANUT BUTTER AND CHICKPEA ENERGY BALLS
400g (14oz) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
½ cup natural peanut butter
¼ cup honey
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup whole rolled oats
⅓ cup chopped dried apricots (optional)
¼ cup shredded coconut, for rolling

Place the chickpeas, peanut butter, honey, cinnamon and oats in a food processor and blend until well combined. • Carefully mix through the chopped apricots by hand if using. • Place the shredded coconut on a dinner plate. Scoop out teaspoons of the mix and roll between your palms to form a ball then roll in the coconut. • Place in an airtight container and store in the fridge.

Per serve (1 energy ball)
246kJ/58 calories; 2g protein; 3g fat (includes less than 1g saturated fat; 6g available carbs; 1g fibre

Recipe sourced from Veggie-licious by Caroline Trickey (www.healthyhomecafe.com) and reproduced with permission.

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Nutritional analysis To analyse Australian foods, beverages, processed products and recipes, we use FoodWorks which contains the AusNut and Nuttab databases. If necessary, this is supplemented with data from www.calorieking.com.au or http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/search.

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© ®™ The University of Sydney, Australia

1 June 2019

GI News - June 2019

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:
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Editor: Philippa Sandall
Scientific Editor/Managing Editor: Alan Barclay, PhD, APD, AN
Contact GI News: glycemic.index@gmail.com

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FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Vegan meal
GOING VEGAN QandA: OUR EXPERTS ANSWER YOUR QUESTIONS 
Dr Neal Barnard, Prof Jennie Brand-Miller, Dr Alan Barclay and Matthew Lore answer the most common questions we are asked about vegan diets.

Whether it’s for better health, a better environment or animal welfare, choosing to go vegan is one of the biggest diet trends. The plant-based/vegan world has exploded in the last decade, with hundreds of books, many of them major bestsellers says Matthew Lore, whose company, The Experiment Publishing, has published 30+ plant-based/vegan books including #1 NYT bestseller Forks Over Knives: The Plant-Based Way to Health.

WHERE DOES “VEGAN” COME FROM? “Vegan” was coined by Donald Watson and his wife Dot in 1944 when they launched Vegan News which they sent to 25 subscribers in November. He had quit eating meat at the age of 14 after seeing a terrified pig being slaughtered on his uncle’s farm, and later gave up dairy foods. As an adult, finding many others shared his interest in a plant only diet, he produced a magazine. In issue 1 he writes: “We should all consider carefully what our Group, and our magazine, and ourselves, shall be called. ‘Non-dairy’ has become established as a generally understood colloquialism, but like ‘non-lacto’ it is too negative. Moreover, it does not imply that we are opposed to the use of eggs as food. We need a name that suggests what we do eat, and if possible one that conveys the idea that even with all animal foods taboo, Nature still offers us a bewildering assortment from which to choose. ‘Vegetarian’ and ‘Fruitarian’ are already associated with societies that allow the ‘fruits’(!) of cows and fowls, therefore it seems we must make a new and appropriate word. As this first issue of our periodical had to be named, I have used the title The Vegan News. Should we adopt this, our diet will soon become known as a VEGAN diet, and we should aspire to the rank of VEGANS.” Donald Watson lived to the age of 95.

WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A VEGAN DIET AND A PLANT-BASED DIET? “As the Washington Post reported in February 2019,” says Matthew Lore, “the rebranding of ‘vegan’ to ‘plant-based’ has been a long time coming. T. Colin Campbell introduced the term ‘plant-based’ in his 2005 book The China Study. Campbell, and Cleveland Clinic cardiologist Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, Jr., are the major intellectual godfathers of the documentary, Forks Over Knives, which promotes a ‘whole foods, plant-based’ way of eating that both have long championed. Plant-based and vegan both refer to the same way of eating – but vegan now implies more of an identity with all-things animal-free (of course including eating no animal products whatsoever); whereas plant-based can be deployed pretty much everywhere meat is absent (surely not for nothing does Beyond Meat’s Beyond Burger packaging ID what’s inside as ‘Plant-Based Burger Patties’).”

DOES A VEGAN/PLANT-BASED DIET HAVE HEALTH BENEFITS? Yes, says Dr Neal Barnard, author of Dr Neal Barnard’s Program for Reversing Diabetes. Vegan diets skip the cholesterol and most of the saturated fat found in animal products, and are richer in fiber and some vitamins. Studies have shown that a low-fat vegan diet has enormous health benefits. “The DASH diet was one of the first studies to put plant-based diets on the map,” says Barnard. “Not that it used a vegetarian or vegan diet, but the DASH investigators openly acknowledged that the study was in large part inspired by the observation that vegetarian diets are associated with lower blood pressure. They modified the diet, partly hoping for broader acceptance, but their work led to more interest in plant-based regimens and what they could achieve.

Dean Ornish’s heart studies (Lancet 1990, JAMA 1998) were perhaps the next major advance. The regimen was nearly vegan, apart from a small amount of nonfat dairy and egg whites. And it showed that diet changes can do more than fight a battle of attrition; they can reverse disease. David Jenkins showed that it's not just a question of what one avoids. By emphasizing foods with a low GI and, later, by introducing a portfolio of foods with special lipid-lowering properties, one can really put nutrition to work.

Epidemiologic studies showed that people following vegan diets are slimmer, with healthier cholesterol levels and a much lower risk of type 2 diabetes, compared with meat-eaters, pescatarians, and ovo-lacto-vegetarians.

Our randomized studies on diabetes, especially our Diabetes Care article in 2006 (with follow-up in AJCN 2009), established vegan diets for managing type 2 diabetes. I would argue that they are the regimen of choice.”

WHAT’S OUT? WHAT IN? Switching to a vegan/plant-based diet means cutting out all animal products – meat, poultry, seafood, dairy foods, eggs and even honey. What’s in are the good carbs, many of which are low GI – fruit, veggies, legumes (beans, chickpeas and lentils), nuts and seeds, and grains. These plant foods power our brain, fuel our muscles, and provide us with energy, vitamins and minerals. They are also packed with “keep it regular” fibre. However, people following a vegan diet do need reliable sources of vitamin B12, such as fortified foods or supplements, as this vitamin can be difficult to get if meat, milk and eggs are off the menu.

WHAT ABOUT CALCIUM? Leafy greens like kale, broccoli and bok choy are rich in absorbable calcium. Fortified plant milks and cereals are good sources of calcium, too. Check the nutrition information panel. Other plant foods providing calcium include firm tofu, almonds, Brazil and pecan nuts, figs, oranges, and kiwi fruits, unhulled tahini, and chickpeas.

WHAT ABOUT B12? Found almost exclusively in animal foods, vitamin B12 in vegan diets comes from fortified foods or supplements. Some plant-based milks, like soy milk and almond milk, are fortified with B12. Check the nutrition information panel and choose products that contain 0.4ug (mcg) /100mL of B12. Some meat alternative products are fortified with B12 as are some brands of nutritional yeast. We check out B12 fortified foods in Product Review, and in Perspectives, Dr Alan Barclay discusses vitamin B12.

WHAT ABOUT IODINE? Iodine is in short supply for many people – not just those on a vegan diet. Eating sea vegetables is one strategy to ensure you get the iodine you need, and iodized salt makes it a nonissue for those using it.

WHAT ABOUT IRON? Iron is abundant in green leafy veggies (spinach, silverbeet/Swiss chard and broccoli); legumes (beans, chickpeas and lentils); nuts and seeds; grains (whole wheat, brown rice, quinoa), and dried fruit. You’ll also find it in fortified breakfast cereals. Check the nutrition information panel.

WHAT ABOUT OMEGA-3? When seafood (especially fatty fish) is off the menu, you’ll find the omega-3 you need in plant foods like chia and flax seeds, walnuts, soy beans and oil, wheat germ and green leafy veggies. Our body can convert these plant-based omega-3s to the longer chain form, like the omega-3 found in seafood.

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WHAT’S NEW?

PLANT-BASED DIETS FOR CARDIOVASCULAR SAFETY AND PERFORMANCE IN ENDURANCE SPORTS
Meat-free athletes – from tennis champion Venus Williams to Formula 1’s Lewis Hamilton to Derrick Morgan of the NFL’s Tennessee Titans – have already proven the performance-boosting power of a plant-based diet. A review recently published in Nutrients adds further evidence that plant-based athletes may benefit from improvements in heart health, performance, and recovery.

Athletes
“It’s no wonder that more and more athletes are racing to a vegan diet,” says review co-author James Loomis, M.D., M.B.A., medical director for the Barnard Medical Center. “Whether you're training for a couch-to-5K or an Ironman Triathlon, a plant-based diet is a powerful tool for improving athletic performance and recovery.” Dr. Loomis, who is currently training for an Ironman Triathlon, is also featured in The Game Changers, a documentary on vegan athletes. He also served as team internist for the St. Louis Rams and the St. Louis Cardinals.

Plant-based diets play a key role in cardiovascular health, which is critical for endurance athletes. But the review finds that even well-trained athletes are at risk of heart disease. A 2017 study found that 44 percent of middle-aged and older endurance cyclists or runners had coronary plaques. A low-fat, vegetarian diet is the most effective dietary pattern clinically shown to reverse plaque. A plant-based diet also addresses other key contributors to atherosclerosis, including dyslipidemia, elevated blood pressure, elevated body weight, and diabetes.

Because a plant-based diet is typically high in carbohydrates, it may also offer performance advantages. Carbohydrates are the primary energy source during aerobic exercise, and endurance is enhanced by a high-carbohydrate intake. But a 2016 study of Ironman triathletes found that fewer than half reported meeting the recommended carbohydrate intake for athletes training 1–3 hours per day.

The researchers also find that a plant-based diet boosts athletic performance and recovery by increasing blood flow and tissue oxygenation and reducing oxidative stress and inflammation. A varied diet of fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes, along with a vitamin B12 supplement, provides all of the necessary nutrients an endurance athlete needs, including protein, calcium, and iron.

“Like any endurance athlete, plant-based athletes just need more calories than less active people,’ says review co-author Susan Levin, M.S., R.D., C.S.S.D., a board certified specialist in sports dietetics and director of nutrition education for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. “And if they are eating a wide variety of nutrient-dense fruits, vegetables, grains, and beans, they will easily meet all of their nutritional needs.”

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WHAT’S HOT?

PLANT-BASED EATING
For some people, plant-based means a plant-only diet that consists of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds and products made from them and excludes all animal products, including meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, dairy products and honey. For others, it’s a diet centred largely around fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds but spares the hard stop of cutting out animal products. Wholesome plant-based eating whether vegan or omnivore certainly aligns with our goals at GI News encouraging people to tuck into “the good carbs and minimally processed staple foods made from them that are digested at a rate that our bodies can comfortably accommodate.”

Avocado on sourdough
The health benefits are measurable. Dr John Sievenpiper of St. Michael's Hospital and his team carried out a systematic review and meta-analysis of 112 randomized control trials in which people substituted plant proteins for some animal proteins in their diets for at least three weeks. They found: “substituting one to two servings of animal proteins with plant proteins every day could lead to a small reduction in the three main cholesterol markers for cardiovascular disease prevention.” The health benefits could be even greater they said “if people combined plant proteins with other cholesterol-lowering foods such as viscous, water soluble fibres from oats, barley and psyllium, and plant sterols.”

According to consumer research company Mintel, “plant-based” is the hottest trend because it has rebranded “vegan” for the mainstream market – consumers who are willing to eat more vegetables, but not give up meat. New US food and drink products that mentioned “plant-based” grew 268% between 2012 and 2018 they say.

Like many food and diet trends, when opportunity knocks, the market answers with a myriad of processed products of varying nutritional quality. Atlantic Natural Foods plant-based seafood alternative, Loma Linda Tuno in Spring Water, has just arrived on our supermarket shelves. (The Australian product is made in Thailand and distributed by Freedom Foods.) The label on the can tells us it’s a “plant based seafood alternative.” While it may have a “fish flavour”, it’s not really an alternative to seafood if you are eating a vegan diet as it hasn’t been fortified with the B vitamins (including B12) you’ll get in canned tuna.

The take-home? We are fans of a plant-based diet built around good carbs and the minimally processed foods made from them, including products fortified with essential vitamins lacking in vegan diets. With processed foods, be a bit wary. “Vegan” and “plant-based” on the label doesn’t give a product a “health halo”. The food inside can be high in calories (kilojoules), saturated fat (from coconut and other plant fats), added sugars, refined starches and added sodium and low in essential vitamins and minerals. Remember, says dietitian Nicole Senior: “a soy-based frozen dessert may be lower in saturated fat than regular ice cream as the fat predominantly comes from vegetable oils (not cream). However, it’s no lower in calories (kilojoules) and the main ingredient is added sugar. Like ice cream, it’s an occasional treat.”

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Source: Loma Linda Tuno in Spring Water distributed in Australia and New Zealand by Freedom Foods Group Trading Pty Ltd. Made in Thailand. Values relate to the solid portion of the content.

PRODUCT REVIEW

5-STAR FOODS BOOSTED WITH B12 
We chose three B12 fortified foods for Product Review – So Good Soy Milk (Sanitarium), Vegie Delights Savoury Mince (Life Health Foods), and Wellness Road Nutritional Yeast Flakes (Coles). These 5-star products set the standard for what you should be looking for on the nutrition facts panel of similar B12-fortified plant products. Australia’s Health Star Rating is a front-of-pack labelling system that rates the overall nutritional profile of packaged food and assigns it a rating from ½ a star to 5 stars. It provides a quick, easy, standard way to compare similar packaged foods.

yeast flakes
SO GOOD REGULAR SOY MILK 
Ingredients: Filtered water, soy protein (3.5%), corn maltodextrin, vegetable oils (sunflower, canola), cane sugar, minerals (calcium, phosphorus, magnesium), acidity regulators (332, 450), antioxidant (ascorbic acid), vitamins (A, B12, D2, B2, B1), natural flavour. Glycemic Index: 37

Table1
VEGIE DELIGHTS SAVOURY VEGIE MINCE
Ingredients: Water, Vegetable Protein (23%) (Soy, Colour Caramel), Tomato, Onion, Garlic, Sugar, Salt, Flavour, Spices, Thickener (Xanthan Gum), Sunflower Oil, Minerals (Zinc, Iron), Vitamin (B12), Colour Caramel

Table2
WELLNESS ROAD NUTRITIONAL YEAST FLAKES 
Ingredients: Inactive yeast flakes, B vitamins (Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12), Folic acid, Iron

Table3
Nutritional yeast flakes add a savoury cheesy flavour to dips, dressings, sauces, spreads and soups. They are made from a variety of Sarrcharomyces cerevisiae and are inactive (don’t make food rise or ferment). Manufacturers grow nutritional yeast on a variety of sources including blackstrap molasses, whey and sugar beets. They add the B vitamins during processing.