1 August 2007

Feedback—Your FAQs Answered

Which sweeteners can be used to support the low GI diet and have no calories?
Check out the ‘What Sweetener Is That?’ table in The New Glucose Revolution for Diabetes (US/Canadian edition) or The Diabetes and Pre-diabetes Handbook (ANZ edition). It will give you the GI and calories per gram of a wide range of nutritive and non-nutritive sweeteners plus brand names and the per teaspoon equivalent of table sugar if you want to substitute. Here’s a summary.

Non-nutritive sweeteners (such as Equal®, Splenda®, NutraSweet® or saccharin) are all much sweeter than table sugar and have essentially no effect on your blood glucose levels because most are used in such small quantities and are either not absorbed into or metabolised by the body. Because they are only used in minute amounts, the number of calories they provide is insignificant. The best non-nutritive sweeteners to cook with are Splenda®, saccharin and Neotame®, and to a lesser extent Equal Spoonful®. This is because the non-nutritive sweeteners made of protein molecules often break down when heated for long periods and lose their sweetness.


Nutritive sweeteners including sugars, sugar-alcohols, and oligosaccharides (medium-sized chains of glucose) are simply different types of carbohydrate with varying levels of sweetness. The sugar alcohols like sorbitol, mannitol and maltitol are generally not as sweet as table sugar, provide fewer calories and have less of an impact on blood glucose levels. To overcome their lack of sweetness, food manufacturers usually combine them with non-nutritive sweeteners to help keep the calorie-count down and minimise the effect on blood glucose levels so check the ingredient listing on the food label.

I read that Diet Coke and Diet Sprite have a high GI. Why is that, as they contain only artificial sweetener?
Diet soft drinks made with alternative sweeteners contain so little carbohydrate their GI can’t be tested – it is negligible. So we wouldn’t trust any source that tells you they have a high GI. Regular Coca-Cola tested following the standardised international method has a low GI (53) as does regular Schweppes lemonade (GI 54). Regular Fanta has a medium GI (68).


Which products can be used to thicken sauces or soups? Arrowroot?
We are often asked about the GI of starchy thickeners from arrowroot and cornstarch, to kudzu root powder and instant tapioca and covered it all in some detail in GI News in August 2006. None of these thickeners has been GI tested as far as we know. You usually use only very small amounts of these thickeners (a teaspoon or two) so the GI of the recipe will depend more on the other carb ingredients in what you are making rather than the thickener. However, here are our alternative ideas for thickening soups. For vegetable soups, puree some of the cooked vegetables then stir them back into the soup to thicken. Adding grated starchy vegetables like sweet potato or yams will also thicken a vegetable soup; or stale, well-crumbled breadcrumbs (sourdough or grainy of course) to a mushroom soup. For a creamy soup you can stir in a little light evaporated milk or low fat yoghurt. Pureed cooked or canned white beans will also thicken a vegetable soup. If readers have some other good ideas, we’d be glad to add them to the list.


I read about Prof Jennie Brand-Miller’s study, ‘Effect of alcoholic beverages on postprandial glycemia and insulinemia in lean, young, healthy adults.’ Can you explain what substances in white wine contribute to lower glucose response and how this works?
Here’s what Jennie says: ‘Alcohol itself is a major reason why white wine lowers the glucose response. It is well known that the alcohol reduces the production of glucose molecules by the liver. If we drink too much, we can be ‘hypoglycemic’ (low blood sugars) in the morning. But it's also possible that there are other components at work. Wine is acidic and we know that acidic substances such as malic acid (which is also known as fruit acid), will slow down stomach emptying.’

Prof Jennie Brand-Miller


Anonymous said...

How can Normal Coca Cola be low GI when it is pretty much just sugar??

Anonymous said...

I would like to know the same thing, Reg. Coke, low GI, is that a typ-o?

Anonymous said...

See addresses below for some information on artificial sweetners. A Book "Sweet Deceptions" has been written by Dr. Mercola and K. Pearsall. See reviews at Amazon.com.




In the search text box, if you key in Splenda, etc. you will come up with more information on the topic.

Dr. Mercola's site has interesting all around information posted on his blog. The address is:


Anonymous said...

I thicken stews & casseroles with natural oat bran, which is virtually unnoticeable and creates a richness to the sauce that other thickeners don't.
You can use it in anything, just a dessert spoonful sprinkled over the top and stirred through or incorporated at the beginning. it works best if the dish is simmered for 10 min or so after adding the bran.

Anonymous said...

I use stevia as a sweetener. It is a natural herb with no calories. I discovered, years ago, that nutrasweet gave me migraine headaches and did some research. Pretty scary stuff.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the information on oat bran. We will pass that on to our recipe developers.

Anonymous said...

We have discussed stevia a couple of times in GI News. Check out June and October 2006 issues. Or simply key stevia into the Google search bar in the right-hand column of GI News near the masthead.

GI Group said...

We didn't say Coca Cola was good for you or even suggest you drink it by virtue of its GI. We simply answered the question about its GI based on the results of glycemic index testing. The GI of Coke is low primarily because of its highly acidic nature (pH approximately 2.8) It's important that we all get the facts right. Regular Coke still has those extra calories that so many of us don't need. We recommend water to quench thirst. Sugar may not be your preferred sweetener, but it has a GI of around 60.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your excellent newsletter. I have thickened soups and stews with a small amount of pinto bean flour made by grinding uncooked pinto beans in my grain mill.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for your wonderful work on the newsletters. I enjoye it very much! For thickening soups try bean flours, yellow split pea or lentil flours. If they taste too strong can be mixed with basmati rice flour. -- this way stay gluten free too.. It is great to make even rue. We use yellow split pea flour in making bechamel sauce. Too keep fat down this
sauce can be made by blending low fat yogurt with eggs and cooked yellow split pea, + add all desired spice and herbs.
Zsuzsanna Fajcsak

Anonymous said...

Tickening soups. I have made low GI soups and thickened them with porridge oats, which I sometimes add to stews as well. Adding skimmed milk as well makes the soup very 'creamy' and filling.

GI Group said...

Graham, a sheepfarmer from New South Wales Australia sent in the following tip re thickening soups etc.

"I usually boil a tablespoon of basmati rice till very soft, liquidise, then add to the dish to thicken. It works fine and hopefully is OK GI wise. Thanks for all the tips which are very useful."

Anonymous said...

Mairin's suggestions for thickening soups.
'I have often used either flake oatmeal or carrigeen moss (sea weed picked on the west coast of Ireland). I find either one or the other of these very good.'

Kristen said...

Your Newsletter are great! Thanks so much. An idea for thickening up soup, or making it taste more substantial is to add some nuts to blended mix of vegies that you were talking about - a bit decadent, but I'm sure it could be justified by making them walnuts - it's a good way to addto the soup and keep it gluten free for anyone who has that issue as well.



Anonymous said...

We have had lots of great ideas for thickening soups and sauces and will put them all together in a up-coming issue. Nut and legume flours are a great idea. You only need a little to do the job and they add all sort of other nutritional goodies to the mix as well.