1 July 2007

Feedback—Your FAQs Answered

I have been hunting for the GI of blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, honeydew melon, tangerine, currants, crab apples, lemon, lime, cumquats, nectarine, plum, rhubarb and have had no luck.
Apologies, to our regular GI News readers who have seen this question in other guises more than once before – it’s a regular to gifeedback. To deal with the ‘where to hunt’ bit first. Check out the database at www.glycemicindex.com, The Shopper’s Guide to GI Values (it is updated annually), use the Google search facility in the right-hand column of every issue of GI News, or thumb through the ‘top 100 low GI foods’ section of Low GI Eating Made Easy.

More importantly, we know that people who eat three or four serves of fruit a day, particularly apples and oranges, have the lowest overall GI and the best blood glucose control. Naturally sweet and filling, fruit is widely available, inexpensive, portable and easy to eat – just like other snack foods, but without the added fat and sugar. In fact, the sugars in fruits and berries have provided energy in the human diet for millions of years. It shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise, therefore, to learn that these sugars have low GI values. Fructose, in particular – a sugar which occurs in all fruits and in floral honeys – has the lowest GI of all. Fruit is also a good source of soluble and insoluble fibres which can slow digestion and provide a low GI. And as a general rule, the more acidic a fruit is, the lower its GI value.


Temperate climate fruits – apples, pears, citrus (oranges, grapefruit, mandarins, tangerines) and stone fruits (peaches, plums, apricots) – all have low GI values. Lemons and limes contain virtually no carbohydrate but provide acidity that slows stomach emptying and lowers the overall GI of a meal so use them to make a vinaigrette dressing or simply squeeze over veggies.

Tropical fruits – pineapple, paw paw, papaya, rockmelon (cantaloupe) and watermelon tend to have higher GI values, but their glycemic load (GL) is low because they are low in carbohydrate. So keep them in the fruit bowl and enjoy them every day if you wish as they are excellent sources of anti-oxidants.

Bananas – these are also tropical and contain more carbohydrate than most other fruits (hence you see them strapped to bikes!). As more and more studies have been done, their average GI has gradually come down to the low 50s. Greener ones will have a lower GI still and riper ones will be higher. As a consequence, their GL is higher than most fruit but don’t give them the flick – they give you a good amount of fibre and plenty of micronutrients, including a big dose of vitamin B6.

Berries – Apart from strawberries (GI 40), most berries have so little carbohydrate it’s difficult to test their GI. So they will have negligible impact on blood glucose levels. Enjoy them by the bowlful.

Dried fruit – Apple rings, apricots, currants, dates, prunes, sultanas etc have low GI values and are a great source of fibre, but the calorie count is much greater than for fresh fruit, so watch portion size. Dried fruit can be very more-ish!

Rhubarb – has virtually no carbs at all, so the GI can’t be measured. If you stew it up with lots of sugar (GI 60) of course, that’s a different story. See GI News July 2006.

How much fruit? One serve is equivalent to:

  • 1 medium piece of fresh fruit such as an apple, banana, mango, orange, peach or pear (about 120 g/4 oz)
  • 2 small pieces of fresh fruit such as apricots, kiwi fruit or plums (about 60
  • 1 cup of fresh diced or canned fruit pieces including grapes and chopped
  • berries and strawberries
  • 4–5 dried apricot halves, apple rings, figs or prunes (about 30 g/1 oz);
  • 1½ tablespoons sultanas (about 30 g/1 oz)
  • 200 ml (about ¾ cup) 100% fruit juice, homemade or unsweetened
Can you please clarify the main things my type 2 diabetic husband can do to reduce his glucose levels?
Well see a doctor and a dietitian have to be numbers one and two on the list. After that? First of all check out March 2007 GI News where dietitian and author Kaye Foster-Powell highlights the key aspects you need to focus on. To get you started, here’s her healthy type 2 diabetes checklist from The New Glucose Diabetes Revolution.

Kaye Foster-Powell

  • Use poly and/or monounsaturated margarines and spreads instead of butter and butter blends.
  • Use olive and/or canola oils in cooking and for salads.
  • Don’t drink more than 1–2 standard alcoholic drinks a day.
  • Eat more than 3 cups (300 g) of vegetables every day (this includes soups).
  • Eat more than 2 pieces (200 g) of fruit every day.
  • Include legumes (canned or dried peas, beans or lentils) in your diet at least twice a week.
  • Eat fish (100 g or more) at least twice a week.
  • Include low fat dairy products (or calcium-enriched alternatives) in your diet daily and generally avoid full cream types.
  • Eat wholegrain and high fibre cereals, breads and grains daily – look for the low GI ones.
  • Eat lean red meat (all visible fat trimmed) or poultry (skin removed) in moderately sized (less than 150 g/5½ oz) portions.
  • Drink 6–8 glasses of water, or other low kilojoule beverages, every day. Drinking more water won’t lower your blood glucose levels, but high blood glucose means you should drink more water to avoid dehydration.


Anonymous said...

18years ago I was diagnosed with type2 diabetes, floundering until the GI came along, very helpful, will, Hubby was recently diagnosed with type3 diabetes, again, very helpful. Judyjda

Anonymous said...

Glad it has been helpful for you. That's what we are here for.

Anonymous said...

How does a person who is extremely thin and has been recently diagnosed as prediabetic best follow a low GI diet? Everything I've read about the diet emphasizes portion control and weight loss. I can't afford to lose another ounce! I've learned so much from your website and books, but I need to tailor the diet to my specific unusual situation.

Anonymous said...

Here's what Jennie Brand-Miller and Kaye Foster-Powell say in Low GI Eating Made Easy published in the US by Marlowe and Company. We hope it helps you enjoy a healthy low GI diet, manage your blood glucose levels and maybe even gain an ounce or two!

There’s no specific order in which you have to do things, no strict week-by-week list of diet do’s and don’ts, no counting, calculating or measuring. However, there are some basics—daily and weekly eating and activity habits essential to good health. After all, this is not a magic pill. It’s an eating plan that will help you nourish your body, feel better and promote optimum health. So, to help you get started, here are the basics.

Every day you need to:
. Eat at least three meals—don’t skip meals. Eat snacks too if you are hungry.
. Eat fruit at least twice—fresh, cooked, dried or juice.
. Eat vegetables at least twice—cooked, raw, salads, soups, juices and snacks.
. Eat a cereal at least once—such as bread, breakfast cereal, pasta, noodles, rice
and other grains in a wholegrain or low GI form.

Every week you need to:
. Eat beans, peas and/or lentils—at least twice. This includes baked beans, chickpeas, red kidney beans, butter beans, split peas and foods made from them such as hommous and dhal.
. Eat fish and seafood at least once, preferably twice—fresh, smoked, frozen or canned.
. Eat nuts regularly—just a tiny handful.

What to choose?
. Low GI breads—wholegrain, sourdough and other low GI breads
. Low GI breakfast cereals—muesli, porridge, rolled oats, etc.
. Low GI cereals—pasta, noodles, Basmati or Doongara rice, wholegrains etc.
. Lean meat and skinless chicken
. Low fat milk, yoghurt, or soy based, calcium-enriched alternatives
. Omega-3-enriched eggs
. Olive and canola oils as your main cooking and salad oils'

Anonymous said...

Greetings, I apologize if this question has been previously asked or if it has any relevance, but yesterday I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and am somewhat freaked out. I do not want to take medication and hope to control it through my diet. Believe me I am going to have to make some serious changes.

So here is my question. I was reading about the GI index and how various foods have a numerical rating. Is there a standard as to what number I should shoot for to stay under, per day?

Any help is greatly appreciated.

Fresno, Ca.

Anonymous said...

Hi Bill - sorry to hear about the diagnosis. The first thing you need to do is see a registered dietitian. Just make sure it is someone who knows about diabetes and the GI.

Is there a number you should shoot for? We are often asked if you should add up the GI each day. Our dietitians have found that people who substitute high for low GI foods in their everyday meals and snacks reduce the overall GI of their diet without counting and gain better blood glucose control.

If you are serious about managing this without drugs, then we would also suggest that you pick up a copy of The New Glucose Revolution for Diabetes.

One of the most popular pieces we ever did in GI News was called The Lowdown on Reducing the GI of Your Diet. We ran it in November 2006 and you can find it quickly using the google search facility in the right hand column near the top of this newsletter.

Good luck

Anonymous said...

Greetings once again. Bill here. I have a question someone might be able to help me with. While water is great and I am making an awesome effort of not drinking soda, with the exception of a Diet Rite once a week as a treat, water is getting pretty bland. Now that I am classified as a diabetic, can I use those Crystal Light packets I see everyone putting in their water?

Again thanks for any help.

BTW, I am determined to beat diabetes naturally and have looked into supplements rather than drugs and I can tell you I have been checking my blood sugar level and it has averaged 167 for about 30 days. I have just apply the research I have done. If anyone is interested in how my blood sugars are while trying this I will be glad to share :-)

Have a great day,

Fresno, Ca.

Anonymous said...

So cool clear plain water doesn't do it for you Bill! As we said before, you really should see a dietitian and have a chat about your eating plan as that's a very natural way you can start managing your blood glucose levels and the key to longterm health, wellbeing and weightloss. As for Crystal Light - there's basic nutrition data for Crystal Light on the internet (see Nutrition Facts Crystal Light) or you can check the nutrition information on the packets as it may vary from flavour to flavour. But most of them have about 5 calories per serving and no carbs as they are usually sweetened with aspartame.

Anonymous said...

hi, can you pls explain how many GiPs per day should a person be on in the lose it stage and then the keep it stage.

many thanks

Anonymous said...

hi i'm 5"3, weigh 9stone 9 pounds and am 37 years old. i have been reasearching the Gi diet and there seems to be a slight difference on how many GiPs per day i should be on. can you pls tell me how many GiPs i should be on in the weight loss stage and then in the keeping it off stage. thank you

Anonymous said...

The GiP plan was put together by Azmina Govindji and Nina Puddefoot and published in a couple of their books. Although it's based on the GI, it's not a diet strategy we are familiar with so we can't answer this. The website you need is the authors' own one: www.giplan.com