1 September 2005

GI News—September 2005

GI News

In This Issue:

  • The Low GI Diet—More Than Just “The Next Big Thing”
  • Vegetarian Women Are Less Likely to Get Fat
  • Whey to Health
  • No Mixed Message About GI and Mixed Meals
  • Added Risks
  • Breakfasts That Sustain You Through the Morning
  • Chickpeas
  • Syrupy Oranges with Yoghurt
  • The Low GI Diet Cookbook

  • What connection is there between acne and GI?
  • I have been reading What Would Jesus Eat? Would this be a low GI diet?
If you have posted a comment or question on one of the stories in our newsletter, be assured that the GI Group will answer this as soon as possible. Sometimes we need to do some research first, and this may take a little time.

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Jennie Brand-Miller

GI News Briefs

Vegetarian Women Are Less Likely to Get Fat
Vegetarian and vegan women are less likely to be overweight than meat-eaters even accounting for age, exercise and total kilojoule/calorie intake according to a new study. PK Newby and researchers at Tufts University report their study of 55,459 healthy, middle-aged and older Swedish women who were surveyed about their eating habits, weight and other health and lifestyle factors in the June issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. They found that 40 per cent of the women who said that they ate meat, poultry, fish, eggs and dairy products as well as plant-based foods were overweight or obese (a BMI of 25 or more) compared with 29 percent of the vegans (no animal products) and semi-vegetarians (dairy foods and fish occasionally). Lacto-vegetarians (dairy products but no meat, poultry, fish or eggs) were the leanest group with 25 percent identified as being overweight or obese. ‘In the present study, energy intakes were higher and fiber intakes were lower as more animal products were included in the diet,’ they said.

‘Notably, all the vegetarian groups had higher intakes of fruit, vegetables and fiber and lower intakes of fat and protein,’ the researchers write. ‘That vegetarians are leaner and have a reduced risk of overweight or obesity despite higher total carbohydrate intake points to the importance of differentiating between types of carbohydrate when selecting diets including weight-loss diets. Current fad diets that emphasize low carbohydrate intakes ignore the fact that whole and refined carbohydates evoke different metabolic responses. This study and others suggest that a high carbohydrate diet may be protective against obesity if the carbohydrates come from fiber-rich foods such as fruit, vegetables and whole grains,’ they said. ‘The advice to consume more plant foods and less animal products may help individuals control their weight.’
—Reported in American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (Vol. 81, No. 6, 1267–1274, June 2005)

Whey to Health
For people with type 2 diabetes, adding whey protein, not any old protein, to a high GI meal with rapidly digested and absorbed carbohydrates can stimulate insulin release and reduce blood glucose spikes after meals according to Dr Mikael Nilsson of Lund University, Sweden writing in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. In a small study, Nilsson and his team gave fourteen people with type 2 diabetes a high-GI breakfast (white bread) followed by a high-GI lunch (mashed potatoes with meatballs) both supplemented with either whey protein or ham. They report that when whey was included in the meals, insulin responses were higher, but the rise in blood glucose after the lunch was significantly reduced. In other words, whey protein had the same action as some of the drugs that are frequently added to diabetes therapy. Increasing insulin responses with whey protein ‘might improve glucose homeostasis in type 2 diabetic patients and could possibly postpone the introduction of medical treatment,’ states Nilsson.
—Reported in American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (Vol 82, No. 1, 69–75, July 2005)

No Mixed Message About GI and Mixed Meals
Because most GI testing involves single foods, the question is often asked whether the GI can be applied to mixed meals. ‘The GI concept can be successfully applied to mixed meals that would be consumed in a real life setting,’ report Dr Emma Stevenson, Prof Clyde Williams and Maria Nute in The British Journal of Nutrition. The Sport and Exercise Nutrition Group at Loughborough University investigated the effects of changing the GI of high-carbohydrate mixed meals. Nine recreationally active men took part in two randomised trials. For one they ate a low GI breakfast (GI 44) and lunch (GI 34); and for the other a high GI breakfast (GI 76) and lunch (GI 73). After a three-hour rest they did a 60-minute treadmill run. The researchers found not only that blood glucose and insulin levels were significantly lower after the low GI meals, but also that the utilisation of fat was greater during the 3-hour rest. This could have important implications for weight control.
—Reported in The British Journal of Nutrition (2005; 93, 885–893)

Added Risks
Insulin resistance is an important risk factor for congestive heart failure independent of diabetes, reports Dr Erik Ingelsson in the July issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. Heart failure's main causes are high blood pressure and coronary artery disease. Smoking, obesity, high blood fat levels, diabetes, valve-related heart disease, and a thicker-than-normal left ventricle in the heart may increase the risk of developing heart failure. The new Swedish study adds insulin resistance to the risk factor list. Ingelsson of the public health and caring sciences departments at Sweden's Uppsala University and his team studied more than 1100 older men for about nine years, on average. The men were all at least 70 when the study started and none had congestive heart failure at the time. During the study, 104 men developed congestive heart failure. They found that insulin resistance predicted the incidence of heart failure independently of other established risk factors. ‘Our observations may indicate that the risk for congestive heart failure is already increased in the long subclinical phase of impaired glucose regulation that precedes clinically manifest diabetes,’ they write.
—Reported in The Journal of the American Medical Association (2005;294:334-341)

Food for Thought

The Low GI Diet—More Than Just “The Next Big Thing”
According to analysts at the market research/consumer intelligence company, Mintel International, American dieters are beginning to show interest in the glycemic index (GI) diet. ‘With the Atkins diet crashing financially, many consumers are in search of “the next big thing,”’ they report.

But encouraging people to adopt a low GI diet is not about being “the next big thing” for the weight loss industry or a best-seller list. For nutritionists and dietitians, it’s about encouraging people to adopt a way of eating that will make a real difference to their lives helping them to maintain long-term health and wellness and reducing their risk of developing chronic and crippling diseases such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease. The real reward is when someone with diabetes says that the GI has transformed their life—and you can see that it has.

Low GI eating not only has science on its side, it dovetails with the key dietary guideline of countries right around the world: ‘Eat a wide variety of foods.’ Low GI carbs are found in four of the five food groups. There are wholegrains and pasta in the bread and cereal group; milk and yoghurt among the dairy foods; legumes in the meat and alternatives group; and virtually all fruits and vegetables (with potato one notable exception) in the group we should eat the most of!

Photo: Ian Hofstetter, The Low GI Diet Cookbook

The low GI diet is not a restrictive diet. No one has to jump through a hoop or turn themselves inside out (or even buy a book) to adopt this back-to-the-future, commonsense way of eating that delivers taste, nutrition, satisfaction and wellbeing as we eat food closer to the way nature intended. It’s suitable for the whole family as it essentially encourages a ‘this for that’ approach to making some simple changes—such as swapping white bread for a grainy one or cornflakes for natural muesli or porridge.

What are the lifelong benefits?
Low GI eating:

  • Reduces your insulin levels
  • Lowers your cholesterol levels
  • Controls blood glucose levels
  • Halves your risk of heart disease and diabetes
  • Helps control your appetite

GI Values Update

Breakfasts That Sustain You Through the Morning
Whether you like waking up to cereal and fruit, muesli and yoghurt, or a warming bowl of porridge, a good breakfast can set you up for the day. Given the solid evidence that people who eat breakfast are calmer, happier and more sociable, the number of people skipping breakfast is an alarming trend. In fact skipping breakfast is a counterproductive way to restrict kilojoules/calories. Breakfast skippers, research shows, tend to make up for the missed meal by eating more snacks during the day and more food overall. The habit can leave you feeling fatigued, dehydrated and without energy for the day’s decisions.

Studies regularly show that eating breakfast improves mood, mental alertness, concentration and memory. Nutritionists also know that having breakfast helps people lose weight, can lower cholesterol levels and helps stabilise blood glucose levels. But what you eat for breakfast is critical. Firing up your engine with high GI crispy flakes (even bran flakes) or regular toast provides a short-lived fuel supply that will send you in search of a top-up snack within a few hours. If you want something to nourish your body, boost your fibre intake and sustain you right through the morning, start the day with the right fuel—low GI carbs—muesli, porridge, wholegrain toast etc.

Photo: Ian Hofstetter, The Low GI Diet Cookbook

A world first! Three new breakfast cereals specifically developed to achieve a healthy low GI product were recently launched in Australia. From the makers of the popular low GI Burgen breads, the three new Burgen cereals give Australian consumers more low GI breakfast options with taste, nutrition and satisfaction to sustain them through the morning:

  • Burgen Soy-Lin Muesli Cereal GI 51
  • Burgen Rye Muesli Cereal GI 41
  • Burgen Fruit & Muesli Cereal GI 51
For readers from other countries, remember the power of consumer demand. In a recent ‘Perspective’ in Food Technology (July 2005), Prof S. Jay Olshansky and Dr David Ludwig remind the food industry that ‘there are profits aplenty for companies willing to market, in a socially responsible manner, products that are both healthful and appealing.’ You can encourage them to do this. Tell them to look at the Burgen success story.

Low GI Food of the Month


GI 28 (home cooked)
GI 40 (canned)

For low GI foods that are easy on the budget, versatile, filling, low in kilojoules and nutritious, look no further than legumes—beans, chickpeas and lentils. They are high in fibre and packed with nutrients, providing protein, carbohydrate, B vitamins, folate and minerals.

Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans or ceci, have a nutty flavour and firm texture. Popular in Middle Eastern, Mediterranean and Mexican cuisine, they are the main ingredient in specialties such as hommous and felafel and the basis for many vegetarian dishes. Keep a can in the pantry or cooked chickpeas in the fridge and add them to soups, stews and salads or to a tomato-based sauce served with couscous or rice. After soaking, whole chickpeas can be roasted with salt and spices to make a crunchy low GI snack that’s every bit as more-ish as potato crisps!

Legumes are an important part of a low GI diet which is why it’s a good idea to try to include them in your meals at least twice a week as a starchy vegetable alternative—more often if you are vegetarian.

Salad of Grilled Chicken with Black Sesame

This is one of those recipes where the leftovers are just as delicious if not more so. It’s great for a buffet spread or for a family meal. You could save preparation time by buying a cooked chicken, but remove the skin. Here we give you a lower fat version of the recipe that was originally created by Sean Anderson, National Food and Brand Manager for Compass Group (Australia). It is from Spicery by Ian and Liz Hemphill who run Herbies Spices in Sydney, Australia. If you would like to find out more about Spicery or order a copy, click on this link www.herbies.com.au

Serves 6 with a couple of crispy salads on the side

1 kg (2 1/4 lb) pumpkin or winter squash such as ‘butternut’, peeled and chopped into 1 cm (1/2 inch) dice. You will end up with about 800 g pumpkin or squash
1 large Spanish onion, finely sliced
olive oil spray
1 x 250 g (9 oz) skinless chicken breast
2 x 400 g (14 oz) cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper (optional)
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh parsley
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh coriander (cilantro)
1 teaspoon black sesame seeds

1/3 cup (80 ml or 2 3/4 fl oz) olive oil
1 teaspoon mustard powder
1/4 cup (60 ml or 2 fl oz) white vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons pomegranate molasses or balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon caster (superfine) sugar

1) Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F). Lightly spray the pumpkin or squash dice and chopped onion with the olive oil spray, mix well and place on a baking tray. Roast for about 20 minutes or until the vegetables are just lightly browned and cooked through. Remove from the oven and set aside.
2) Lightly spray the chicken breast with the olive oil spray and season with salt and pepper if you wish. Place the chicken on a baking tray and roast in the oven for about 10 minutes or until it is just cooked through, turning once. Remove the chicken from the oven. Allow it to cool completely, then slice it finely on an angle, crosswise. Place the chicken slices in a bowl, cover with cling film and refrigerate until you are ready to serve.
3) To make the dressing, whisk the olive oil, mustard powder, white vinegar, pomegranate molasses, lemon juice and sugar together in a medium-sized bowl.
4) To make the salad, put the cooked vegetables and chicken slices in a large bowl with the chickpeas, herbs and black sesame seeds. Gently fold the dressing through until all ingredients are just lightly coated and serve immediately.
Photo: Greg Elms, Spicery. A cook’s guide to culinary spices (Hardie Grant Books)

Cook’s tips
  • Black (or golden brown) sesame seeds are simply white ones with their shell or outer husk on, making them a little tougher to bite on, and not quite as nutty in flavour as the better-known white seeds. However, it’s these ones that have the calcium, although it’s not as well absorbed as calcium from milk. You’ll probably have to go to a specialty spice store or Asian food shop for these or buy online.
  • Pomegranate molasses is a deep red almost black thick molasses with a rich berry-like fruitiness and citric tang. It is available from Middle Eastern and specialty food stores and does not need to be kept in the refrigerator after opening. However, in winter the ‘liquid’ can get very thick and you may have to sit the bottle in hot water to get it to pour.
Per serve
Nutritional Analysis per Serve
1732 kJ (412 Kcal), 22.1g fat (3.5g sat fat), 22.4g protein, 27g carbohydrate, 10.4g fibre

Low GI Recipe of the Month

Syrupy Oranges with Yoghurt
One orange is something of a personal protection powerhouse, providing you with your whole day’s vitamin C requirement. Oranges are rich in anti-oxidants and are good sources of folate and potassium. Much of their sugar is sucrose, a ‘double’ sugar made up of glucose and fructose. When digested, only the glucose molecules have an impact on your blood glucose levels which along with the high acid content, account for the low GI.

Serves 2

juice of 1 orange
2 tablespoons sugar
2 large oranges, peeled, pith removed
1 tablespoon brandy or Cointreau™ liqueur (optional)
100 g (31/2 oz) frozen low fat yoghurt
4 slices almond bread

1) Combine the orange juice, sugar and 60 ml (2 fl oz/1/4 cup) water in a frying pan. Stir over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, without stirring, for 10–12 minutes to reduce the syrup.
2) Cut the peeled oranges into slices about 1 cm (1/2 in) thick and add to the syrup in the pan. Add the brandy or liqueur, bring to a simmer and cook for 3 minutes.
3) Spoon the oranges into bowls and pour over the syrup. Top with a scoop of frozen yoghurt and serve with the almond bread.

Photo: Ian Hofstetter, The Low GI Diet Cookbook

Cook’s tip

  • Almond bread is a very thin, slightly sweet crispbread containing whole almonds. It is available in the biscuit or gourmet section of supermarkets.
Per serve
1250 kJ (300 Cal), 4 g fat (saturated 2 g), 6 g protein, 55 g carbohydrate, 4 g fibre, 38 mg sodium

New Books

The Low GI Diet Cookbook
Prof Jennie Brand-Miller, Kaye Foster-Powell and Joanna McMillan-Price

The Low GI Diet Cookbook from the creators of The Low GI Diet is packed with mouth-watering meals, snacks and treats to help you put the GI to work in your kitchen—and throughout your day. The book is filled with low GI recipes that the authors love to cook themselves. They come from their own home kitchens; and the kitchens of their families, friends and favourite celebrity chefs and food writers such as Antonio Carluccio, Margaret Fulton, Julie Le Clerc, Luke Mangan, and Rick Stein.


The Low GI Diet is more than a weight-loss plan. It’s a simply delicious way of eating based on choosing low GI carbohydrates – the smart ones that produce only gentle rises in your blood glucose and insulin levels. Lowering insulin levels is a key factor in helping you shed unwanted kilos, and the secret to long-term health, reducing your risk of diabetes and heart disease.

High in nutrition and full of flavour the low GI recipes here are rich in lean proteins, good fats, vital vegetables and healthy wholegrains. They represent a way of eating that’s part and parcel of many ethnic cuisines. Having stood the test of time, they are naturally and simply delicious. From cook’s tips and serving suggestions, to fitness and shopping tips, there’s never been a better or more attractive way to live the Low GI way.

About the Authors

Prof Jennie Brand-Miller is an internationally recognised authority on carbohydrates and health. She is Professor of Human Nutrition at the University of Sydney.
Kaye Foster-Powell is an accredited practising dietitian providing consultancy on all aspects of health, diet and GI. Together they have authored 17 titles in the worldwide bestselling New Glucose Revolution™ series.
Joanna McMillan-Price is a nutritionist and fitness instructor. She is completing her PhD at the University of Sydney on the links between the glycemic index and weight loss.

The Low GI Diet Cookbook will be published in:

Australia: September 2005 (Hachette Livre Australia)
New Zealand: October 2005 (Hachette Livre New Zealand)
UK: January 2006 (Hodder Mobius)
USA: November 2005 (Marlowe & Company)

Feedback—Your FAQs Answered

What connection is there between a high GI diet and acne?
The jury is still out on the acne diet link. But the debate is ongoing. After Prof Loren Cordain and his colleagues published ‘Acne Vulgaris: A Disease of Western Civilization,’ Archives of Dermatology/Vol 138, December 2002) we have received a number of questions asking where you can read more about GI and acne.

In Cordain’s article, he and his colleagues note the complete absence of acne among the non-westernized Kitavan Islanders living on the Trobriand Islands near Papua New Guinea and the Aché hunter-gatherers of Paraguay. According to Cordain, the perfect skin could not be explained just by genetic factors, but likely was the result of differing environmental factors including diet. The Kitavan diet consists mainly of fruit, fish and tubers and is virtually uninfluenced by Western foods. The Aché diet includes wild (game) and foraged foods, locally cultivated foods (peanuts, maize, rice and sweet manioc, a native root) and a small percentage of Western foods (pasta, flour, sugar, tea and bread).

Cordain believes the Western diet filled with refined carbs permanently boosts the production of the hormone insulin, which leads to acne. By elevating growth factors and hormones, insulin indirectly stimulates the overproduction of oil and skin cells in pores. Clogged pores nourish bacteria, forming infected blemishes.

Follow up research on GI and acne is underway but nothing has yet been published. However, you can read Cordain’s article in full on www.thepaleodiet.com (PDF, 108 kB).

I have been reading What Would Jesus Eat? Would this be a low GI diet?
Our best guess is yes. People living in the Middle East 2000 years ago would have eaten a healthy Mediterranean-style diet that fits naturally into the low GI way of eating with lots of low GI carbohydrates including fruit, vegetables, legumes and cereal grains, plus nuts, plenty of fish and some lean meat. They certainly would have used olive oil in their cooking and their bread (a staple) would certainly not have been made with highly refined flour. Research since the 1980s reveals that a traditional Mediterranean-style diet can lower cholesterol and blood pressure and, therefore, the risk of heart disease. Experts think it is healthy not only because it’s lower in saturated fat and higher in monounsaturated fats, but also because it’s rich in low GI carbohydrates and micronutrients (such as folate) that reduce the risk of heart disease. As long as total fat intake isn’t too high (that is, no more than 30 to 35 percent of total kilojoules/calories), everyone—including people with diabetes—is likely to benefit from a healthy low GI Mediterranean-style diet.