1 December 2006

GI News—December 2006


In This Issue:

  • Food For Thought
    —Going with the WHOLE grain
    —Why do some wholegrains have a low GI and not others?
  • GI News Briefs
    —Two matters of the heart
    1. Low carb and heart health
    2. Fruit and veg – it’s a numbers game
    —PCOS prevalence
  • Low GI Food of the Month
    —The real deal on chocolate
    —Chilli chocolate black beans
  • Low GI Recipes of the Month
    —Sumac-spiced lamb backstraps with quinoa and roasted grapes
    —GI Express: Poached pears with rich chocolate sauce
    —GI Solo: Sweet chilli tuna salad
  • Success Story
  • What's New?
    The Spice and Herb Bible
  • Feedback—Your FAQs Answered
    1. Any thoughts on juicing? Many websites seem to indicate that diabetics shouldn't juice because there is no fibre to slow the assimilation of the sugar.
    2. What should the daily glycemic load be held below for someone with diabetes?
    3. With the festive season upon us, do you have some tips for people with diabetes to help us stick to our healthy eating and exercise routines when overindulgence is the order of the day?
    4. I would like to make some low GI bran muffins, but I don't know what type of flour to use.
    5. Do you have any prepared menus for breakfast, lunch and dinner?
    6. How many carrots does it take?
  • GI Values Update
    —The latest GI values from SUGiRS
    —Where can I get more information on GI testing?
    —Where can I get more information on the GI Symbol Program?

GI News Editor: Philippa Sandall
Web Design and Management: Scott Dickinson

Food for Thought

Going with the WHOLE grain
Grains are the seeds of cereal plants and include amaranth, barley, buckwheat, bulgur, maize (corn), millet, oats, quinoa, rice, rye, spelt and wheat. These staple foods are the most concentrated source of carbs in our diet, provide us with protein, are low in fat, packed with essential vitamins and minerals and rich in fibre when you eat the wholegrain varieties. Studies around the world show that eating plenty of wholegrain cereals reduces the risk of certain types of cancer, heart disease and type 2 diabetes. In addition, a higher fibre intake, especially from whole cereal grains, is linked to a lower risk of cancer of the large bowel, breast, stomach and mouth. Although all wholegrains are healthy, nutritious foods, it’s only the low GI ones that reduce your blood glucose and insulin levels throughout the day and increase your sense of feeling full and satisfied because they are the ones that slowly trickle glucose into your bloodstream. We like to say that your body is doing the processing, not the manufacturer.


By the way, GI Group, I've got a question for you. How would you explain this ‘contradiction’? Both wholemeal bread and sweet corn contain lots of insoluble fibre but the GI of wholemeal bread tends to be high while sweet corn's GI is relatively low. Why do you think this happens?

Why do some ‘wholegrains’ have a low GI and not others? Prof Jennie Brand-Miller explains
Some people use ‘wholegrain’ and ‘low GI’ as though they are interchangeable terms. That’s not the case at all. Wholegrain foods can be high or low GI, and it’s essential to understand this and know what’s low and what’s not to manage your blood glucose levels. In fact many processed wholegrain foods such as wholemeal bread have a high GI. Why? It all comes down to the physical state of the fibre and the starch in the food. When wheat fibre has been finely divided as it is in wholemeal bread, it does little for either constipation or blood glucose levels. That’s why we say to choose your carbs carefully, and if your favourite wholegrain food has a high or moderate GI, combine it with a low GI food to reduce the glycemic load of the meal or snack. Just for the record, here are five factors that can slow digestion of those nutritious wholegrain carbs. (For tips on reducing the GI of your diet see November GI News.)

Jennie Brand-Miller

  1. Starch gelatinisation
    The starch in raw food is stored in hard, compact granules that make it difficult to digest. During cooking, water and heat expand these starch granules to different degrees – some actually burst freeing the individual starch molecules inside. If most of the starch granules have swollen and burst during cooking, we say that the starch is fully gelatinised. These swollen granules and free starch molecules are very easy to digest. The less gelatinised or swollen the starch is after cooking, the slower the rate of digestion.

  2. Physical entrapment
    The fibrous coat around foods like beans, chickpeas, lentils, barley and seeds acts as a physical barrier. It slows down access of the digestive enzymes to the starch inside and thus slowing digestion. That’s why we say to look for lots of grainy bits when buying bread.

  3. How much amylose starch there is in the food
    Amylose and amylopectin are two types of starch found in foods, but the ratio of one to the other varies considerably. Here’s how it works. Amylose is a straight chain molecule, like a string of beads. These tend to line up in rows and form compact clumps. The more amylose a food contains, the less easily the starch is gelatinised and the slower its rate of digestion. Legumes have lots of amylose as does basmati rice. Amylopectin on the other hand is a string of glucose molecules with lots of branching points, such as you see in some sorts of seaweed. Amylopectin molecules are larger and more open and the starch is easier to gelatinise and digest. So if a food has more amylopectin than amylose, it’s going to be moderate or high GI.

  4. Particle size
    The larger the particle size, the lower the GI. When you eat a starchy food in ‘nature’s packaging’ – whole intact grains like barley that have been softened by soaking and cooking – the food will have a lower GI value. It’s the grinding or milling of cereals that reduces the particle size that makes it easier for water to be absorbed and enzymes to attack during digestion. That is why cereal foods made from fine flours like many breakfast cereals tend to have a high GI value.

  5. The type of fibre
    The effect of fibre on the GI value of a food depends on the type of fibre (soluble or insoluble). Soluble fibres are the gel, gum and often jelly-like components of foods like oats, legumes and apples. By slowing down the time it takes for food to pass through the stomach and small intestine, soluble fibre can lower your body’s glycemic response to a food.
    Insoluble fibres are dry and bran-like and often referred to as roughage. All cereal grains and products made from them that retain the outer coat of the grain are sources of insoluble fibre. But not all foods containing insoluble fibre are low GI. Why? Insoluble fibres will only lower the GI of a food when they exist in their intact, original form, for example in whole grains of wheat. Here they act as a physical barrier, delaying access of digestive enzymes and water to the starch within the cereal grain.

GI News Briefs

Two matters of the heart

1. Low carb and heart health
‘A heart-healthy diet should embrace healthy types of fat and carbohydrates,’ said Frank B. Hu commenting on the findings of the first study to look at the long-term effects of low-carb diets published in the New England Journal of Medicine. The researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health looked at data collected over a 20-year period from 82,802 women in the Nurses’ Health Study. They found no evidence of an association between low-carb diets and an increased risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) in women. When vegetable sources of fat and protein (see below) were chosen rather than animal sources, they report that ‘these diets may moderately reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.’ The authors highlighted a link between glycemic load and CHD. ‘A low-carbohydrate diet tends to have a lower dietary glycemic index and glycemic load than a high-carbohydrate diet,’ explained the researchers. ‘We found that the direct association between glycemic load and coronary heart disease was much stronger than the association between carbohydrate and coronary heart disease, probably because glycemic load reflects both the quantity and quality of carbohydrates.’ In a press release about the findings, Hu says: ‘This study doesn’t mean that you should load your plate with steak and bacon. One likely explanation that we did not see increased risk of CHD with low-carbohydrate diets is that the adverse effects of animal products might be counterbalanced by reducing refined carbohydrates. The quality of fat and carbohydrate is more important than quantity.’
New England Journal of Medicine (Vol. 355, pp. 1991-2002)
– Harvard School of Public Health press release: www.hsph.harvard.edu

Coronary heart disease

GI Group: How much protein can you get from plants?

  • 200 g (7 oz) of home-cooked or canned beans, lentils or chickpeas provide an average of 15 g protein
  • 200 g (7 oz) soy beans or soy products provide around 24 g protein
  • 100 g (3½ oz) tofu provides around 10 g protein
  • a cup of brown rice provides around 6 g protein
  • a slice of mixed-grain bread or 30 g (1 oz) raw rolled oats provide around 3 g
  • a 30 g (1 oz) serving of most nuts or seeds will deliver around 5 g protein
2. Fruit and veg – it’s a numbers game
Every extra of fruit or vegetable consumed daily could cut the risk of heart disease by 4 per cent, says a meta-analysis of almost a quarter of a million people published in the Journal of Nutrition (Vol. 136, pp. 2588-2593). Scientists from France’s INSERM in Paris, Lille’s Pasteur Institute, and Rouen’s Department of Epidemiology and Public Health pooled nine cohort studies giving an overall study population of 91,379 men, 129,701 women, and 5,007 coronary heart disease events. They report that the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD), was cut by 4% for each additional fruit and vegetable portion consumed, and by 7% for fruit portion intake. The link between the risk of CHD and vegetable intake however was mixed with a more beneficial relationship observed for general cardiovascular mortality (26% risk reduction) than for the more specific fatal and non-fatal heart attacks (myocardial infarction) (5%).
Journal of Nutrition (Vol. 136, pp. 2588-2593)


GI Group: If you are wondering what a meta-analysis is, think of a it as being a way of looking at all the evidence statistically by integrating the results of several independent smaller studies.

PCOS prevalence
PCOS is one of the most common hormonal disorders affecting pre-menopausal women and the leading cause of female infertility. Because insulin resistance is at the root of PCOS, women with it are at greater than average risk of other chronic diseases that will have a huge impact on their long-term health and wellbeing – diabetes, metabolic syndrome and heart disease. No one really knows how many women actually have PCOS. It tends to be under-diagnosed because many women consult their doctor (or doctors) about a variety of very different symptoms (See October GI News), and the dots never get joined. Figures like 5–10% are widely quoted. But this may be just the tip of the iceberg.

A new Spanish prospective study of pre-menopausal Spanish women published in Archives of Internal Medicine puts the figure at 28.3% for those who are already overweight or obese. Francisco Álvarez-Blasco, MD, of the Hospital Universitario Ramón y Cajal and colleagues recruited 113 otherwise healthy women referred by their primary physicians to an outpatient endocrinology clinic for dietary treatment. All participants were pre-menopausal, had a body mass index above 25 and were younger than 50. Of 113 women recruited, 32 were diagnosed as having PCOS, based on clinical and/or biochemical hyperandrogenism, oligo-ovulation, and exclusion of secondary causes. ‘Our results demonstrate a 28.3% prevalence of PCOS in overweight and obese women from Spain, which is markedly increased compared with the 5.5% prevalence of PCOS in lean women of our country,’ they write. But even this figure may underestimate the prevalence of PCOS as women on medications that might interfere with hormone profiles, such as contraceptives or insulin sensitisers, were excluded.

‘Physicians treating overweight and obese patients should be aware of the high prevalence of PCOS among these women,’ conclude the authors. They call for routine screening of overweight or obese women for PCOS, ‘at least by obtaining a detailed menstrual history and a careful clinical evaluation of hyperandrogenic symptoms … to diagnose PCOS and ameliorate the health burden distinctly associated with this prevalent disorder.’
Archives of Internal Medicine. 2006; 166:2081-2086

Low GI Food of the Month

The real deal on chocolate
With Christmas and the holiday season upon us, GI News asked dietitian Alan Barclay for some tips what to do about chocolate.
‘If eaten in moderation, most people with diabetes or pre-diabetes can enjoy an occasional chocolate in a well balanced diet. In fact, there is increasing scientific evidence that a little bit of chocolate each day may do you good,’ he says.


Chocolate and your blood glucose
Although most chocolates have a relatively high sugar content, they don’t have a big impact on your blood glucose levels. In fact the average GI is around 45 because their high fat content slows the rate that the sugars are released from the stomach into the intestine, and absorbed into the blood. So, people with diabetes don’t need to eat low, or reduced-sugar chocolates to avoid high blood glucose levels. However, alternatively sweetened chocolates usually do have fewer kilojoules – a big advantage if you are trying to lose weight.

Chocolate and your weight
Most chocolates are energy dense – you get a lot of kilojoules (calories) in a little piece. This is good if you are trying to gain weight, travel long-distances with limited storage space, or participate in an endurance sport where it is an advantage to be able to carry around a concentrated and highly palatable source of carbohydrate and energy. But it is obviously not good if you are trying to lose weight. If you are overweight, buy quality chocolate and take care not to eat too much. Keep it for that occasional treat.

Chocolate and your blood fats
Chocolate is high in total and saturated fats. In high quality chocolates, cocoa butter is the main source of fat. This is important, because cocoa butter is high in a particular kind of saturated fat called stearic acid. Stearic acid raises the ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol the least of the saturated fats. It also raises the ‘good’ HDL cholesterol, so the net effect on your total blood cholesterol levels is not too bad at all. However, the amount of cocoa butter used in chocolate does vary and along with it the amount of stearic acid. This information is not usually stated on the chocolate wrapper. As a very rough guide, the better quality more expensive chocolates generally have more cocoa butter and are a better choice.

Chocolate and antioxidants
Chocolate is one of nature’s richest sources of a powerful group of antioxidants known as flavonoids, along with green and black tea, red wine, certain fruits (berries, black grapes, plums, apples) and vegetables (artichokes, asparagus, cabbage, russet and sweet potatoes). It’s believed that these antioxidants may benefit people with diabetes or pre-diabetes by helping to prevent cholesterol sticking to the walls of blood vessels, relaxing major blood vessels and thereby decreasing blood pressure, and maybe even reducing the ability of the blood to form too many clots. A row of dark chocolate (28 g) provides about the same amount of these antioxidants as half a cup of black tea or a glass of red wine. Milk chocolate has only one-third as much antioxidants as dark chocolate, and white chocolate has none at all.

Chilli chocolate black beans
This recipe for ‘mole poblano de laraotas negras’ is from Ian Hemphill’s The Spice & Herb Bible (Robert Rose). You need a good quality dark chocolate – one with 70% cocoa solids. If you use dried black beans, you first need to soak them overnight and cook them for about an hour.

Serves 6
Preparation time 10–15 minutes; Cooking time 45 minutes


500 g black beans, cooked and drained (or 2 x 400 g/14 oz cans black beans rinsed and drained)
1 chipotle chilli
2 pasilla chillies
2 cascabel chillies
1 red (Spanish) onion, chopped
1 teaspoon crushed garlic
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon quills
100 g (3½ oz) ground almonds
1 tablespoon dried oregano
50 g (1¾ oz) 70% chocolate, broken into pieces
1 teaspoon salt (optional)

  • Preheat the oven to 170ºC (325ºF). Roast chillies in the oven for 5 minutes then soak them in 2 cups (500 ml) of boiling water.

  • In a large pan, toast the allspice, cloves and cinnamon for 1 minute, or until their fragrance is released. Add the onions, garlic, almonds and oregano and stir until combined. Strain the chilli soaking water into the saucepan. Deseed and finely chop the chillies and add to the pan. Add the beans, chocolate and salt if you are using it and simmer gently for 45 minutes, adding more liquid if necessary.

  • Serve with a low GI rice or simply spoon into a warm tortilla and eat immediately.
Nutritional analysis per serve
Energy 1056 kJ/251 Cal; fat 12 g (saturated 2 g); fibre 7 g; protein 11 g; carbohydrate 25 g; low GI

Low GI Recipes of the Month

Sumac-spiced lamb backstraps with quinoa and roasted grapes
This recipe is from The Eat Well Cookbook by Jan Purser and Kathy Snowball, which is packed with dairy free and gluten free recipes – many of which are likely to be low GI (like this one) as this cooking duo loves beans, chickpeas and lentils. Jan and Kathy are pretty passionate about good health and good food, so you will discover lots of interesting ways to incorporate legumes (pulses), gluten-free grains and quinoa into your eating plans. We love the roasted grapes touch in this recipe and the fact you can make the quinoa salad a day ahead. Sumac is that burgundy powder often rubbed on kebabs before cooking. You can buy it from specialty produce and spice shops and Middle Eastern food specialists. The Eat Well Cookbook is available in Australia and NZ from major bookstores. The US edition will be available in 2007, but in the meantime anyone can buy it off the publisher’s (Allen and Unwin) website – www.allenandunwin.com

Photo: Greg Elms

Serves 4

600 g (1 lb 6 oz) lamb backstrap (eye of loin)
olive oil
1 tablespoon sumac
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
400 g (14 oz) seedless black grapes
1 cup baby spinach leaves
lemon wedges, to serve

Quinoa Salad
1 cup (180 g/6¼ oz) quinoa
2 cups (500 ml/17 fl oz) chicken stock
½ preserved lemon, skin only, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
4 green onions (scallions), finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh lemon thyme leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

  • To make Quinoa Salad, combine quinoa and stock in a saucepan, season with salt (optional) and bring to the boil over a high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for about 15 minutes or until the stock is absorbed and the quinoa tender. Remove lid and stir over low heat until all liquid has evaporated. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature, then stir in remaining ingredients.

  • Brush lamb with a little oil and rub with sumac, thyme and black pepper. Fry lamb in a non-stick frying pan until browned, then place on an oven tray. Toss grapes in a little oil and place beside lamb. Roast at 200ºC (400ºF) for about 10 minutes for pink lamb. Remove lamb and rest, loosely covered, in a warm place for 10 minutes then slice on the diagonal. Meanwhile return grapes to oven and roast for another 10 minutes or until just beginning to burst.

  • Top baby spinach leaves with Quinoa Salad and sliced lamb, spoon grapes and their juices over and serve with lemon wedges.
Jan and Kathy suggest serving this with a big soft leaf salad (butter lettuce, oak leaf, mignonette, watercress sprig, radicchio torn into bite-sized pieces and tossed with a dressing of 1 tablespoon extra virgin oil and 2 teaspoons lemon juice.

Nutrition analysis per serving
Energy 2568 kJ/611 Cal; fat 21 g (saturated 6 g); fibre 5 g; protein 55 g; carbohydrate 51 g; low GI. Want to cut back the fat? Use a little less meat per serving (say 500 g for 4 people) and make the Quinoa Salad with water not chicken stock.

GI Express: Poached pears with rich chocolate sauce
Lisa Lintner’s quick and easy (it’s on the table in 30 minutes) dessert is from The New Glucose Revolution Life Plan. It’s delicious on its own or you can serve it with a dollop of reduced fat plain yoghurt or ice-cream.

Serves 6
Preparation time 10 minutes, Cooking time 20 minutes


6 medium-sized pears (about 200 g/7 oz each), peeled, cored and quartered
1½ litres water
1 cup (200 g) raw sugar
1 cinnamon stick
juice and rind of 1 lemon

Chocolate sauce
130 g dark chocolate, chopped into small pieces
1 tablespoon canola oil
30 ml/1 fl oz water
  • Bring the water, sugar, cinnamon stick, juice and lemon rind to the boil in a large saucepan. Reduce the heat, add the pear slices and simmer for 20 minutes uncovered. Spoon the pear slices into a serving bowl or individual dishes using a slotted spoon.

  • While the pears are simmering, make the chocolate sauce by placing all the ingredients in a small saucepan. Heat gently, stirring occasionally. When combined, drizzle over the pears and serve.
Nutrition analysis per serving
Energy 1250 kJ/300 Cal; fat 10 g; fibre 5 g; protein 2 g; carbohydrate 55 g; low GI

GI Solo: Sweet chilli tuna salad
This recipe is adapted from The Low GI Diet Cookbook. If you can’t fined canned sweet chilli tuna, use canned tuna in springwater and add a tablespoon of sweet chilli sauce to each can.

Serves 1
Preparation time: 10 minutes

Photo: Ian Hofstetter

2 iceberg lettuce leaves, shredded
3 cm (1½ in) wide strip of red capsicum (pepper), finely diced
½ tomato, diced
½ a small red (Spanish) onion, finely chopped
95 g (3¼ oz) can sweet chilli tuna
½ cup crispy soy noodles (about 20 g or ½ oz)
juice of 1/2 lime
coriander leaves to garnish

Combine the lettuce, capsicum, tomato and onion in a bowl. Add the tuna (including the sweet chilli sauce) and noodles. Squeeze over the lime juice and top with the coriander leaves. Toss and serve.

Nutrition analysis per serving
Energy 1215 kJ/290 Cal; fat 10 g (saturated 3 g); fibre 7g; protein 28 g; carbohydrate 20 g; low GI

Your Success Stories

Avoiding complications – Marianne
‘About 10 months ago I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol. I had been overweight for most of my life and have been treated with medication for hypertension for 20 years. I searched the Web for a nutritional plan to help me lose weight. As a nurse I knew I craved carbohydrates, especially bread. I came across the plan for glycemic index and have followed it since then. So far I have lost over 30 pounds. I visited my physician after six months of weight loss and my cholesterol levels and glucose levels (HbA1c) were all the normal range. When I see my physician next month she wants to stop my diabetes medication. I exercise every day and feel so much better. I have a lot more energy, I sleep better, and I actually enjoy going out with my friends and family. I hope to lose more weight and avoid any complications from my diabetes, high cholesterol, and hypertension.’


Preventing diabetes – Jason
I've been overweight most of my life. I remained overweight after becoming a vegan in 1994. I've had diabetic symptoms such as chronic pain and fatigue in the arches of my feet since I've been 18, and occasionally constant thirst, and frequent urination. When I got blood cholesterol panels tested, it always came back with the same results: Normal total cholesterol, high triglycerides and low HDL. My doctors always told me to lose weight and exercise more, but I could never lose the weight permanently. In the summer of 2004, I once again had a cholesterol panel blood test. Once again the results were the same, high triglycerides and low HDL. I looked up the symptoms in the Dr. Weil website. It says high triglycerides, low HDL and weight concentrated around the mid-section (the classic apple shape, which was how I looked), were symptoms of insulin resistance. There was another article that recommended eating lower on the GI index. That information led me to the website and books. After a few days after adopting a low GI diet to my vegan diet my foot pain was gone. I started to lose weight immediately. After a few months I was down to 140 pounds from the 160s. The symptoms of insulin resistance in my follow-up blood test were greatly diminished. Today my BMI is 22. I really do believe the information in your books and web site saved me from diabetes and heart disease. I have no hesitation in recommending the GI website and books to friends and family. Merry Christmas.

Inspire others. Share your GI story.
success story

We'll send you a free copy of The Low GI Diet Cookbook if your story is published.


Books, DVDs, Websites: What’s New?

The Spice and Herb Bible by Ian Hemphill with Kate Hemphill
Published by Robert Rose
Ian Hemphill wants us all to enjoy the world of spices and herbs. It is the driving force behind this second and now fully illustrated edition of The Spice and Herb Bible. With growing evidence of the role spices like cinnamon, chilli, turmeric can play in blood glucose control, GI News asked Ian to give us some simple suggestions for spicing up your meals. Here are his tips.

Ian Hemphill

‘Many people are under the impression that healthy food is not tasty, however this can be changed with the addition of just a little spice. Most spices are not hot or even strong, so anything between one and two teaspoons to approximately 500 g (1 lb 3 oz) of the meal to be flavoured, will do the trick. The following spices will all compliment low GI carbs.’

  • Cinnamon goes particularly well with porridge and any non-savoury dishes. Add during cooking so the flavour amalgamates effectively.

  • Beans (red kidney, borlotti, black-eyed, soy and chickpeas) are all greatly enhanced by adding equal proportions of paprika, turmeric and ginger. For those who like a bit of heat, add a pinch of chilli powder as well.

  • Delicious South Indian flavours can be created with most vegetables by adding a little turmeric and ginger with a pinch of ground cardamom seed. For added interest and freshness, also include some fresh coriander leaves and curry leaves.

  • The Middle Eastern spice sumac compliments salads, avocado and is brilliant on tomatoes that have been slow-roasted. Sumac is one of the easiest condiments to add, as it does not need to be cooked into the meal and may be simply sprinkled on when served.

Published in North America and the UK by Robert Rose as a fully illustrated trade paperback.
Published in Australia by Macmillan as a hardback (Spice Notes and Recipes).

Prof Jennie Brand-Miller's The Low GI Vegetarian Cookbook is now available in the UK
Packed with delicious recipes and illustrated with mouthwatering photography, this book by the world authorities on low GI eating shows you how to combine the basics of healthy vegetarian or vegan eating with low GI carbs. There are seven-day menu plans for vegetarian and vegan adults, teenagers and children plus 80 easy-to-follow recipes to delight your tastebuds and nourish your body. Start eating yourself healthy today.


Feedback—Your FAQs Answered

Any thoughts on juicing? My husband (he has type 2 diabetes) and I generally have fresh juice in the mornings. We have noticed that his sugar readings are higher than usual and I am wondering if the juice is having an adverse effect. Many websites seem to indicate that diabetics shouldn't juice because there is no fiber to slow the assimilation of the sugar.
GI Group dietitian Kate Marsh says: ‘Definitely moderation when it comes to drinking juice – although many juices have a low GI, they also have a relatively high GL due to the amount of fruit it takes to make a glass of juice. I suggest making a combined fruit and vegetable juice as there is obviously less sugar/carbs in the vegies. Alternatively, dilute the fruit juice with water or mineral water. Remember it’s all too easy to overdo the calories (kilojoules) with juice – a serving is a small glass which if you measure it out is just ¾ of a cup (7 fl oz/200 ml).’


What should the daily glycemic load be held below for a diabetic?

As we said in November GI News, we recommend you use the GI, rather than GL so we don’t suggest a GL number to shoot for. This is because a low GL diet can either be low GI and high in carbohydrates; or high GI and low in carbohydrates, and have similar effects on blood glucose levels, but significantly different effects on blood fats and insulin sensitivity. Emphasis on GL could easily lead to an unhealthy diet based on too few carbs. If you concentrate on foods/meals with a low GL, you could well end up eating a diet that is too low in carbs and too high in saturated fat. Fatty meats like salami and bacon and cheese after all have a low GL. If you choose healthy low GI foods – at least one at each meal – chances are you’re eating a diet that not only keeps blood glucose within the healthy range, but contains balanced amounts of carbohydrates, fats and proteins.

With the festive season upon us, do you have some tips for people with diabetes to help us stick to our healthy eating and exercise routines at family and social events when overindulgence is the order of the day?
Christmas, birthdays, entertaining, celebrations, parties – all of these events have one thing in common: food, and in particular, food that’s out of your control. The key is to try to keep your celebratory eating distinct from your regular meals rather than letting the entire Christmas period become a time of gorging and indulgence. And let people know if you don't want food as gifts, especially chocolates, lollies. Here are some tips from dietitian Kaye Foster-Powell for successful socialising.


  • Don't arrive hungry. Have a small healthy snack before you go to parties to reduce the chance you'll overeat.

  • Don't stockpile your plate. It’s not a siege. If it’s a buffet, take one or two items and come back for more if you are still hungry.

  • Adopt a pastry-free policy. By simply avoiding one of the most calorie/kilojoule-laden party foods, you'll be ahead.

  • Talk more, eat less and move away from the table.

  • Take to the dance floor to burn up some or all the excess energy.

  • Alternate alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, use small wine glasses and fill your glass and only when it's empty.

  • If you eat dessert, eat less carbohydrate (starch, fruit, milk) at that same meal. Or, learn to adjust your short or fast acting insulin for larger portions.
When you are the host:
  • Only buy and prepare as much food as you need

  • Let your guests know that there’s no need to bring any food. Or, if it is a tradition that everyone contributes something to the festivities, specify exactly what you would like them to bring.

  • Freeze leftovers as soon as possible to make it harder to pick at them while you are cleaning up. Better still, give leftovers to guests when they leave or donate them to a charity that feeds underprivileged or homeless people.
I would like to make some low GI bran muffins, but I don't know what type of flour to use (that I can buy at the grocery store). Any suggestions?
To date there are no GI ratings for refined flour whether it’s made from wheat, soy or other grains. What we do know, however, is that bakery products such as scones, cakes, biscuits, donuts and pastries made from highly refined flour whether it’s white or wholemeal are quickly digested and absorbed. What should you do with your own baking? Try to increase the soluble fibre content by partially substituting flour with oat bran, rice bran or rolled oats and increase the bulkiness of the product with dried fruit, nuts, muesli, All-Bran or unprocessed bran. We don’t have a plain bran muffin recipe, but there are numerous muffin recipes in Jennie Brand-Miller's GI books and most contain some bran. The ‘Mixed Berry Muffins’ pictured here from The Low GI Diet Cookbook are delicious and have about a cup of bran in them as do the low GI ‘Oat & Apple Muffins’ (recipe below) from The New Glucose Revolution.

photo: Ian Hofstetter

You need:
½ cup All-Bran™ cereal, ⅔ cup 1% milk, ½ cup self-rising flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1 teaspoon mixed spice, ½ cup unprocessed oat bran, ½ cup raisins (or sultanas), 1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and diced, 1 egg, lightly beaten, ¼ cup honey (pure floral if possible), ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

To make:
Combine the All-Bran and milk in a bowl and let stand for 10 minutes. Sift the flour, baking powder, and mixed spice into a large bowl. Stir in the oat bran, raisins, and apple. Combine the egg, honey, and vanilla in a bowl. Add the egg mixture and All-Bran mixture to the dry ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon until just combined. Do not over mix. Spoon the mixture into a greased 12-hole muffin tray. Bake in a moderate oven (180°C/350°F) for about 15 minutes or until lightly browned and cooked through. Serve warm or cold. Makes 12 muffins

Do you have any prepared menus for breakfast, lunch and dinner?
When it comes to menus one size doesn’t fit all, so we don’t have them on our site at this stage. There are menus with an emphasis on low GI foods designed for people with specific needs from diabetes and heart disease, to PCOS, weight loss or wanting to follow a vegetarian diet in Jennie Brand-Miller’s GI books. For example, if you are just after some low GI healthy eating plans, you might like to check out Low GI Eating Made Easy, which includes the top 100 low GI foods and ways to enjoy them. Or the New Glucose Revolution Life Plan where dietitian Kaye Foster-Powell provides four typical healthy low GI menus for ‘EveryBody’, ‘BiggerBodies’, ‘BusyBodies’ and ‘KidsBodies’. There are vegetarian and vegan menus created by dietitian Kate Marsh in The Low GI Vegetarian Cookbook and a 12-week weight loss plan in The Low GI Diet. If you have special dietary needs, we suggest you consult a registered dietitian. He or she will have the letter RD (US/Canada) or APD (Australia) after their name.

How many carrots does it take? When you test GI do you use 50 g weight or 50 g as a unit of energy i.e. 50 g of CHO = 200 Kcals. If so, how do you test carrots? You must leave fibre out, so that seems like an awful large bunch of carrots to make someone crunch through.
Great question. When we test at SUGiRS, we calculate the quantity of a particular food necessary to deliver 50 grams of digestible carbohydrate (we don’t count the grams of fibre in this). If this represents an unreasonably large amount of food, we scale down everything by half and test a 25 gram carbohydrate portion. In fact, all the fruits and many vegetables, including carrots have been tested in this way, including carrots. In the case of carrots, the subjects ate about 350 g cooked carrots (about 3–4 large carrots). It was a large portion but manageable! In the case of raw carrot juice, they consumed about 350 ml (easy!). The resulting GI values (41 and 43 respectively) show that carrots, cooked or raw, have a low GI. Because all fruits and vegetables (bar potatoes!) are valuable additions to the diet, we don’t dwell on their GI. With the exception of potatoes, we recommend you eat them all to your heart’s content.


GI Values Update

The latest GI values from SUGiRS

Fiona Atkinson

The following fruit juices are a combination of 99% fruit juice with an added dash of vitamins, herbal or botanical extracts. There’s no added sugar. The available carb and GL figures here are based on drinking one small glass (200 ml/7 fl oz) which is equivalent to one delicious serving of fruit.


SuperJuice product range

Where can I get more information on GI testing?

North America
Dr Alexandra Jenkins
Glycemic Index Laboratories
36 Lombard Street, Suite 100
Toronto, Ontario M5C 2X3 Canada
Phone +1 416 861 0506
Email info@gilabs.com
Web www.gilabs.com

Fiona Atkinson
Research Manager, Sydney University Glycemic Index Research Service (SUGiRS)
Human Nutrition Unit, School of Molecular and Microbial Biosciences
Sydney University
NSW 2006 Australia
Phone + 61 2 9351 6018
Fax: + 61 2 9351 6022
Email sugirs@mmb.usyd.edu.au
Web www.glycemicindex.com

New Zealand
Dr Tracy Perry
The Glycemic Research Group, Dept of Human Nutrition
University of Otago
PO Box 56 Dunedin New Zealand
Phone +64 3 479 7508
Email tracy.perry@stonebow.otago.ac.nz
Web glycemicindex.otago.ac.nz

Where can I get more information on the GI symbol program?


Alan Barclay
Acting CEO, Glycemic Index Ltd
Phone: +61 2 9785 1037
Fax: +61 2 9785 1037
Email: awbarclay@optusnet.com.au
Web www.gisymbol.com.au

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