1 February 2010

GI Symbol News with Dr Alan Barclay

Dr Alan Barclay

Finding a low GI bread
For many of us, bread is the number one source of glycemic carbohydrate in our diet. This is partly because it is such a versatile product – we can eat it for breakfast with our favourite spread, use it to make sandwiches for lunch, and serve it with dinner.

Bread is naturally very high in starch (carbohydrate), and typically it has a high GI so its overall glycemic load can be relatively high. But because bread is such an important part of life, we do not recommend cutting it out – low carbohydrate diets are generally unsustainable, and arguably not ideal for long-term health. Choosing a lower GI bread is a much easier way of lowering the overall glycemic impact of your diet.

There are a number of factors that potentially affect the GI of breads including:

  • The type of flour (wheat, rye, barley, etc)
  • The amount of each type of starch in the flour (i.e., ratio of amylose to amylopectin)
  • The method of milling the flour (i.e., steel vs stone)
  • The addition of other ingredients (seeds, kibbled grains, dried fruit, sugar, fibre, water, etc)
  • The fermentation process (yeast and proofing time)
  • How the bread is cooked
This is why you cannot simply look at a breads nutrition information panel or ingredient list and guess its GI value. It’s absolutely essential that the bread has its GI tested at an Accredited Laboratory using the standard method.

In Australia and New Zealand, it is easy to find breads that have had their GI tested correctly – simply look for those that carry the GI Symbol:
  • Bürgen® Soy-Lin GI 52
  • Bürgen® Grains with Barley for Men's Wellbeing GI50
  • Bürgen® Pumpkin Seeds bread GI51
  • Bürgen® Rye bread GI53
  • Bürgen® Fruit & Muesli bread GI53
  • Bürgen® Wholemeal & Seeds bread GI39
  • Bürgen® Oatbran & Honey bread GI53
  • Tip Top original 9 grain bread GI53
  • Tip Top 9 grain Wholemeal GI53
  • Cripps 9 grain sandwich loaf GI53
  • Tip Top Up EnerGi white bread sandwich GI58
  • Country Life Low GI gluten free GI53

Burgen bread

If you live in a country that does not yet have the GI Symbol Program, you need to do a little more detective work. If the bread is making a low GI claim, call up the manufacturer and ask who conducted the GI test. A list of Accredited Labs can be found here – if it was done by one of these, you can trust the claim. While you’re at it, why not ask the manufacturer to consider putting the GI Symbol on their breads – most are genuinely customer-focused and if enough people ask, you may be surprised with the results.

New GI Symbol

For more information about the GI Symbol Program
Dr Alan W Barclay, PhD
Chief Scientific Officer
Glycemic Index Foundation (Ltd)
Phone: +61 (0)2 9785 1037
Mob: +61 (0)416 111 046
Fax: +61 (0)2 9785 1037
Email: alan@gisymbol.com
Website: www.gisymbol.com


Daniela (UK) said...

As someone who often bakes her own bread, it would be helpful to have a guaranteed low GI recipe. Has anyone produced one yet?

GI Group said...

Hi Daniela,
Over the years we have asked people about bread recipes but haven't heard about any that have been GI tested. In the interim, you might like to check out our tips for lowering the GI of your baking. We have covered this a few times in GI News. Use the Google box in the r/h column to search. However, here's what we told Zilla years ago and that may be useful:

Hi Zilla - it is very hard to estimate the GI of baked products. Even we find it hard when developing recipes. This is because baked products contain flour which is a finely milled product even if you opt for a wholewheat/wholegrain flour. What we aim to do is lower the overall GI of baked products like pancakes, muffins and doughs for bread by incorporating lower GI ingredients such as oat bran, whole grains, milk, juices and dried fruit. We are often asked this question and have covered it a couple of times in GI News.

Q: Flax seed and oat bran are said to lower GI, what proportion is necessary to get a lowering effect?

A: To get a GI lowering effect the flaxseed or oat bran would need to replace some of the flour – the extra soluble fibre is what really has an effect on the GI. It’s difficult to put an absolute value on how much but we would estimate as least 10% in order to have a realistic effect on the GI. You need to weigh up how much can be added without negatively affecting the taste of the end product.

Q: Ingredients like almonds, sunflower seeds, soy protein, eggs, butter – are they just ‘bulk’ that will ‘dilute’ the GI/GL per gram of finished product? Or will they have actual effect on GI?

A: None of these ingredients contain an appreciable amount of carbohydrate and so do not have a GI themselves and neither will they affect the GI of the end product. They will however affect the GL since they alter the gram weight of the finished cookie…in other words more fat and protein will reduce the amount of carbohydrate per gram of cookie.

Anonymous said...

What do you think about breads based on sprouted-grain instead of flour? In the US I get Diabetic Lifestyles bread from Alvarado St. Bakery of northern California. It seems kind to my blood glucose level. JAN

GI Group said...

We have written about sprouted grain breads a couple of times (check the stories using the Google box in the right-hand column). The brand you are buying does not appear to have been GI tested. But Stonemill Sprouted Grains 3 Grain Bread has, and has a GI of 55.
To make this bread, the whole wheat kernel is sprouted for 48 hours. Each grain kernel grows a new shoot then the ‘live’ sprouted whole grains is mashed into the dough. Everything stays, the bran, germ and endosperm. Glad to hear your sprouted grain bread is kind to your blood glucose. Maybe the bread maker would consider having it GI tested -- why don't you ask?

Anonymous said...

Per the Alvarado Street page for their Diabetic Lifestyles product, it "... was submitted for testing to the Glycemic Research Institute in Washington, D.C. and was clinically proven to be Low Glycemic with a Low Glycemic Load when fed to diabetics. Actual clinical results show a Glycemic Index of 5.0 on the glucose scale (0-100) and Glycemic Load of 0.9 per serving."

Oh, and it tastes terrific.

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