1 April 2012

GI News—April 2012


  • What to do about Easter treats with Dr Alan Barclay;
  • ‘Quit the Sit’ – short breaks improve BGLs and insulin levels by up to 30%;
  • Prof Maria Fiatarone Singh’s tips to break up sitting time;
  • Is home cooking healthier?
  • When it comes to rice (brown or white), it's the GI that matters;
  • Emma Stirling gives us the scoop on GUMPS: grown up milks;
  • New GI values: 3 low GI breakfast biscuits and 7 GUMPs.
‘Jamie’s Ministry of Food is a practical solution to the problems of obesity and diet-related disease,’ said Alicia Peardon, Program Director for Jamie’s Ministry of Food Australia in a press release announcing their collaboration with the Ballieu government to set up Jamie’s Ministry of Food in Victoria (Australia). It’s rather a big claim to fame as it does depend on what’s cooking – the recipe, the ingredients and the portion on the plate. We are all for home cooking. There are so many benefits from the mouth-watering aromas that fill the house and the pleasure of preparing great-tasting food (low GI of course) for family and friends to knowing exactly what is in the meal you and your family are tucking into. This is one reason why we give you plenty of tasty recipes each month in the GI News Kitchen. This month is no exception with three recipes plus Ali Roberts deliciously spicy and aromatic (moderate GI) hot cross buns as a bonus.

Good eating, good health and good reading.

: Philippa Sandall
Web management and design: Alan Barclay, PhD
Contact email (for questions or permission to reproduce stories from this newsletter): info@gisymbol.com for technical problems or faults please contact smbginewstech@sydney.edu.au

Food for Thought

The joy of cooking.
Food and cooking are back in fashion, but are we eating any healthier? There are so many stories of children being inspired to cook by watching ‘Masterchef’ on TV, and families becoming inspired to cook more at home. Certainly, supermarkets report that ingredients used on episodes of ‘Masterchef’ experience massive sales booms after the show goes to air so it appears we do cook what they cook. But is it actually good news for our waistlines? Will it solve the problems of obesity and chronic diet related disease like heart disease and type 2 diabetes?

‘Unfortunately,’ says dietitian and myth-buster Nicole Senior, who checked out the story that home cooking is healthier in a previous issue of GI News, ‘most of the recipes we see on TV are not particularly healthy and would have the red light furiously flashing if we had a traffic light system of food labelling. Celebrity chefs and MasterChef contestants are famous for their very liberal use of fatty meat, butter, cream and salt. Most demonstrate what I call special occasion or sometimes food, yet this is rarely pointed out.’ For example, everyone absolutely loved Julie Goodwin’s (Australia’s first MasterChef) style of home cooking. But when Diane Temple checked out her Pan-fried Steak and Chips with Tarragon Salt (a recipe the judges raved about it) she found that you’d be taking on board an entire day’s calories in a single meal (i.e. 1800 cals/7560 kJ).

Joy of Cooking

Calories are climbing in recipe books too. When Dr Brian Wansink and Dr Collin Payne compared 18 ‘classic’ recipes published in all seven editions of the Joy of Cooking they found that the average calories per serving jumped 63% in 70 years in 17 of the 18 recipes that they compared from about 268 calories (1125 kJ) per serving in 1936 to about 436 calories (1831 kJ) in 2006.‘This jump in calories was influenced by both changes in ingredients – usually increases in fat and sugar – and changes in serving size,’ says Wansink. ‘Family size has gotten smaller, but calorie content and portion sizes have gotten bigger’. For example, in the 1997 edition, the beef stroganoff recipe called for 3 tablespoons of sour cream (less than ¼ cup). The 2006 edition calls for 1 whole cup for the same serving size.

We are putting more on our plates too. Emma Stirling dished up the scoop on supersizing home-cooked meals for us back in 2010 and reported that our supersized crockery is a big part of the problem. She says that:

  • dinner plates are about 30% bigger than they were 50 years ago
  • we tend to serve ourselves more on big plates
  • if you switch from a 12in (30cm) plate back to a 10in (25cm) plate you could lose 18 pounds (a bit over 8kg) in a year. If you skip over to the Scoop on Nutrition Emma will show you what a difference crockery size makes.
‘In times past, a good cook knew about balance, moderation, variety, fresh ingredients and providing nourishing meals on a budget. The same knowledge and skills are needed today,’ says Nicole, ‘but we must add environmentally sustainable and extra healthy to the list. Much of what we see of cooking in the media (and by celeb chefs) has a different focus. If more home cooking is to help rather than hinder our well being we have to see more about healthy eating in our info-tainment. Or switch off altogether and take lessons from grandma.’

News Briefs

Rice and diabetes risk.
A meta-analysis and systematic review in the BMJ reports that higher white rice intake is associated with a significantly elevated risk of type 2 diabetes, especially among Asian populations. The researchers conclude: ‘The recent transition in nutrition characterised by dramatically decreased physical activity levels and much improved security and variety of food has led to increased prevalence of obesity and insulin resistance in Asian countries. Although rice has been a staple food in Asian populations for thousands of years, this transition may render Asian populations more susceptible to the adverse effects of high intakes of white rice, as well as other sources of refined carbohydrates such as pastries, white bread, and sugar sweetened beverages.’ Not surprisingly, this study made the headlines and was reviewed by NHS Choices. You can read their full review HERE.

One key piece of information is missing from the study. We don’t know the varieties of rice consumed. The GI of rice (brown or white) depends on its amylose content– a kind of starch that resists gelatinisation. When you cook rice, millions of microscopic cracks in the grains let water penetrate right to the middle of the grain, allowing the starch granules to swell and become fully ‘gelatinised’, thus very easy to digest. Greater gelatinisation of starch means a higher GI. However, the more amylose in the rice, the less gelatinisation and the lower the GI. In fact, the GI values of rices SUGiRS has tested range from 53 (Doongara Clever Rice) up to 89 (jasmine rice). That's quite a big difference in glycemic impact!

We recommend you choose the lower GI varieties of rice with a higher amylose content such as basmati (GI 58), Doongara Clever Rice (GI 53) and the Uncle Ben’s Ready Rice range (GI 46–51). These high-amylose rices stay firm and separate when cooked. But you still need to keep portions moderate, even when you choose a low GI rice as eating too much can have a marked effect on your blood glucose. Here’s our tip: a cup of low GI cooked rice combined with plenty of mixed vegetables can turn into three cups of a rice-based meal that suits any adult’s daily diet.

Looking beyond counting carbs.
It’s well established that low GI diets improve glycemic control in diabetes and may decrease the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. However, there is still some controversy about its relevance for the rest of us out here in the real world because of concerns that it is difficult to choose low GI foods, that values are imprecise, and that it doesn't predict the glycemic response to normal mixed meals due to the high day-to-day variation of glycemic responses and the confounding effects of fat and protein. A recent study in the Journal of Nutrition however, supports the notion that one should perhaps look beyond simply the grams of sugar or total carbohydrates in your diet to determine the actual glycemic risk of foods. The Canadian research team including Profs Tom Wolever and Arya Sharma found that the GI is a significant and more important determinant of individual glycemic responses elicited by self-selected breakfast meals, than just the intake of carbohydrates. The effects of fat, protein, dietary fibre, age, sex, and the participants' BMI were not significant determinants of glycemic response.

Quit the sit.
Overweight office workers, drivers and call centre staff who sit for long periods could improve their health by simply breaking up their sitting time with frequent activity breaks according to new research by Australia’s Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute, published in Diabetes Care.

Dr David Dunstan
Associate Professor David Dunstan walks the talk and quits the sit: he stands at his desk!

Lead researcher, Associate Professor David Dunstan explains: ‘When we sit, we have muscle “dis-use” – our muscles are essentially “sleeping”. When we’re up and moving, we’re contracting muscles and it appears that these frequent contractions throughout the day are beneficial for helping to regulate the body’s metabolic processes. The evidence that sitting is hazardous to health is now quite compelling. But for the vast majority of us who work in desk-bound sedentary jobs, our choice to sit appears largely out of our control. This prompted me to ask the question: How ridiculous is it that people now sit longer than they sleep and what, if anything, can be done about sitting for long periods?

In response, my research group set about identifying how frequently, and at what activity intensity, one would need to break up sitting time in order to counteract its negative consequences. By examining spikes in participants’ BGLs after consuming a high-calorie meal, we discovered that glucose levels and insulin sensitivity improve by as much as 30% following frequent short breaks in sitting.

Our next step was to identify the frequency and intensity of activity required to break up sitting time. We found that the benefit of walking at a light intensity pace was almost identical to walking at a moderate intensity pace – suggesting that it was not so much the amount of effort put into the break that was critical. The simple act of standing up and moving was, itself, beneficial.

When you consider that around 60% of Australians are overweight or obese, it’s clear we need new approaches to obesity prevention and the workplace is an ideal place to start. Current Australian occupational health and safety guidelines recommend desk-bound employees take a break from their computer screen every 30 minutes or so to reduce eye strain. We’d like to see these guidelines extended to encourage workers to take frequent breaks that involve some kind of physical movement.’

Does eating red meat raise the risk of premature death?
NHS Choices reviewed the headline hitting study Red Meat Consumption and Mortality published in Archives of Internal Medicine and concludes: ‘This was a well-conducted study but it could not conclusively prove that red meat raises the risk of premature death, although the results are of key interest and the evidence is mounting on the issue. According to UK dietary surveys, 4 in 10 men and 1 in 10 women eat more than 90g (3oz) of red and processed meat a day. The Department of Health recommends that people eating more than 90g (3oz) of red and processed meat a day limit their intake to no more than 70g (2½oz) a day in cooked weight. That is about the size of a large beef burger … Red meat is a good source of protein and certain nutrients such as iron, some vitamins and zinc, but it is already recognised that it is likely to raise the risk of cancer especially bowel cancer.’ You can read the whole review HERE.

Excess Baggage.
GI News contributor Dr Joanna McMillan is the nutritionist for Channel Nine’s Excess Baggage. What’s different about this weight loss reality show is that Joanna hasn’t give the contestants a diet but has taught them how to eat well, listen to their bodies for hunger cues, time their food intake around their workouts and relax and enjoy good food.

Dr Joanna McMillan
Dr Joanna McMillan

‘I can’t tell you what happens in the end,’ she says, ‘you'll have to keep watching us online or on GO! to find out, but what I can tell you is that our contestants did amazingly well. Our psychologist Dr Tim Sharp worked with them on their psychological barriers to eating well and we both stressed the importance of mindful eating, while they upped the ante with their exercise in the hands of our trainer Christian. The results were revealed at our final check-ins last week and I have to admit to feeling very emotional seeing their progress as a whole. It reassured me that what we’re teaching works – and it works at the level of the mind and the body. They’re not only leaner, but they’re happier as a result of true lifestyle change.

My take-home message
? If you’re contemplating the latest fad diet, stop and think. Long term the best results come from learning how to eat well, improving your relationship with food and moving your body in the right way. You’ll know when you’re achieving it – that’s when you feel your inner mojo alive and well.’

Download Ideology not science.
Opponents of the nanny state show a more sophisticated understanding of the science than public health campaigners says public health academic Dr Michael Keane arguing that the Nanny State policy solutions designed by his colleagues have little sound basis in science. You can download the paper HERE.

Get the Scoop with Emma Stirling

The scoop on GUMPs.

Emma Stirling
Emma Stirling APD

Have you heard about GUMPS? No not of the FORREST variety. Actually they’re more closely related to open pastures. Popular in many Asian countries GUMPS stands for Growing Up Milk Powders and they are widely used as a cow’s milk replacement for toddlers and older children. Professor Jennie Brand-Miller recently presented findings at the Nutrition Society of Australia conference on the glycemic testing of a selection of these milk replacement products and the results revealed a growing concern around their usage and dietary balance.

What are they? When it comes to picking milk for toddlers, there is a clear international trend toward parents’ preferences for a growing up milk powder over fresh cow’s milk. We know that cow’s milk rich in protein, calcium, riboflavin, vitamin A and zinc is an important food for children. However, with a heightened awareness of the links between nutrition and good health, many parents are dedicated to making sure their child gets the very ‘best’ available. And that’s where GUMPS can sound very attractive. You see many of these products are fortified with additional nutrients like, zinc, vitamin D and omega-3 DHA and carry attractive claims about boosting growth and brain development. So it’s no surprise to hear they are growing in popularity in places like Australia and New Zealand too.

So what’s wrong with that? A 2009 ACNielsen survey looking at GUMP consumption shows that the average child in Malaysia from the age of one is consuming over four servings per day with the range stretching to seven daily glasses of powdered milk. While four servings per day may be within recommendations, it’s important to realise that not all GUMPS are created equal.

Testing conducted by SUGiRS looking at six different GUMPS from Indonesia and Malaysia revealed a huge range in the GI and GL levels. You see many GUMPS are formulated with added carbohydrate ingredients (up to 25% by weight) such as maltodextrins, glucose syrups, fructose and sucrose. Not only does this increase their energy or kilojoule density, but it also adds to the carbohydrate load on top of the natural lactose content in milk. Compared to cow’s milk with a low GI of 30 many of the GUMPS tested had a relatively high GI and GL, therefore potentially placing a high insulin demand on little bodies. Check out the GI and GL values of the 7 GUMPs tested in GI Update in this issue.

The scoop? We know that over nutrition in early life puts children at risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes and chronic disease later in adulthood, so it’s vital that a milk replacement look beyond simply the optimal level of nutrient fortification and assess the GI and GL as well.

There is also a typical problem in the toddler years of children becoming fussy eaters and “milkaholics”, favouring an easy to consume milk diet over eating and trialing solid foods. If busy parents perceive that GUMPS are so superior, they may fall into the trap that more is better. Education is vital.

However, as cow’s milk is a low source of dietary iron essential for cognitive development, GUMPS with a low GI and other boosted nutrients, can play a role with fussy eaters or parents looking for vitamin and mineral insurance.

Emma Stirling is an Accredited Practising Dietitian and health writer with over ten years experience writing for major publications. She is editor of The Scoop on Nutrition – a blog by expert dietitians. Check it out for hot news bites and a healthy serve of what’s in flavour.

In the GI News Kitchen

American dietitian and author of Good Carbs, Bad Carbs, Johanna Burani, shares favourite recipes with a low or moderate GI from her Italian kitchen. For more information, check out Johanna's website. The photographs are by Sergio Burani. His food, travel and wine photography website is photosbysergio.com.


Chocolate glazed almonds
The Easter meal is a grand event all over Italy. The different regions prepare their local traditional recipes – all delicious. When it comes to dessert, however, there is a standard commonality. All over the country, a ‘Columba’ cake is served to herald the last of the several Easter meal courses. ‘Columba’ means ‘dove’ in Italian, the shape of this butter cake. To accompany our Columba, I often serve these delicately glazed almonds. Sometimes they disappear before the Columba! If an espresso machine or coffee maker is not available, use instant espresso coffee granules and follow instructions on the jar. Servings: 16 (2 pieces per serve)

2 cups blanched, roasted almonds (see tip below)
100g (3½oz) 90 % cocoa dark chocolate, broken into small pieces
90g (3oz) semi-sweet morsels
pinch salt
1/3 cup freshly brewed espresso coffee (regular or decaf)
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp Grand Marnier or Cointreau orange liqueur (optional)

Chocolate glazed almonds

Place the almonds in a single layer on parchment paper to form a 32cm x 15cm (13in x 6in) rectangle.
Mix the chocolates in a small double boiler and gently melt, using a small spatula to blend. Add the pinch of salt and mix.
Brew the coffee and immediately add to the chocolate mixture. When well blended, add the butter, allow to melt. Stir to blend thoroughly. If using, add the liqueur and mix well.
Carefully pour a thin layer of the mixture evenly over the almonds. Allow to air dry overnight or refrigerate for at least 2 hours before cutting into pieces 3.5cm x 5cm (1½in x 2in).

To blanch almonds: Place almonds in a medium sauce pan, cover with water and boil 2–3 minutes. Drain. When cooled, slip off the outer layer and pat the almonds dry.
To roast almonds: Preheat oven to 180ºC/350ºF degrees. Arrange almonds in a single layer in a jelly roll pan. Toast for 15–20 minutes. Cool before using.

Per serving (2 pieces - made with Grand Marnier)
Energy: 823kJ/196cals; Protein 5g; Fat 16g (includes 4g saturated fat and 2mg cholesterol); Available carbohydrate 6g; Fibre 3g

Cut back on the food bills and enjoy fresh-tasting, easily prepared, seasonal, satisfying and delicious low or moderate GI meals that don’t compromise on quality and flavour one little bit with this Money Saving Meals recipe making the most of barley. For more recipes check out the Money Saving Meals website.

Chicken and barley soup
Barbara Solomon’s totally, totally delicious soup from the Monday Morning Cooking Club nourishes body and soul. Use up leftover roast chicken, or simply pick up half a chicken (without stuffing) from the takeaway and shred the flesh, discarding the skin and bones. It’s a winning combination. Makes 8 servings.

2 tbsp olive oil
2 onions, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 stalks celery, sliced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
400g (14oz) can diced or crushed tomatoes
8 cups chicken stock (home-made is best, but a bouillon cube is fine)
1 cup pearl barley
2 cups shredded chicken meat (no skin)
2 tbsp chopped parsley

Chicken and barley soup

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan and cook the onions, carrots and celery until sort. Add the garlic to the pan and cook for a further 2 minutes, then add the tomatoes and stock and bring to the boil.
Add the barley and reduce the heat to a simmer, then cook for about 50 minutes (no lid0 or until the barley is tender. Add the chicken and parsley, and stir to heat through. Season well and serve.

Monday Morning Cooking Club started back in 2006 when six Jewish women who live in Sydney came together on a Monday morning to share recipes and talk about food. What started as an idea to raise money for charity (over $230,000 to date), grew into a project to document their community’s somewhat obsessive relationship with food, and became a beautifully photographed (by Alan Benson) book with 100 recipes from 65 ‘contributing cooks’. It’s available from their website HERE.

Per serving (based on making 8 servings)
Energy: 885kJ/210cals; Protein 12g; Fat 8.5g (includes 1.6g saturated fat); Available carbohydrate 20g; Fibre 4.5g1

For a special occasion …
Lemon pepper lamb with braised eggplant
Here’s a dish for an Easter feast served with creamy tzatziki. You can buy tzatziki from the refrigerator section of the supermarket or make your own by mixing together 1 cup low-fat plain Greek-style yogurt, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, ⅓ cup grated carrot or cucumber, 1 clove finely chopped garlic, and a pinch each of salt (optional) and black pepper. Serves 4–6

1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup grated lemon zest
800g/1¾lb lamb loin
6 small or 2 medium eggplants, cut into 1in cubes
Olive oil spray
2 red onions, each cut into 8 wedges through the root end
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained
½ cup roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
6 cups baby spinach
½ cup low-fat tzatziki

Lemon pepper lamb with braised eggplant

Combine the pepper and 2 tablespoons lemon zest and press well into the lamb (add a little flaky sea salt to the mix if you wish). Set aside.
Lightly salt the eggplant and set aside for 15 minutes, then rinse really well and drain on paper towels.
Heat a large nonstick frying pan over medium-high heat. Spray well with oil and cook the onions until softened. Lightly spray the eggplant with oil. Add to the pan and cook for 4–5 minutes, shaking the pan regularly (add a little stock if it starts to stick). Add the chickpeas and remaining stock and cook, covered, for another 5 minutes. Stir in the parsley, garlic, remaining lemon zest, and 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Meanwhile …
Heat a nonstick grill pan over medium-high heat. Spray with oil and cook the lamb for 2–3 minutes on each side for medium-rare, or longer if preferred. Remove the lamb, cover with foil and then a tea towel, and leave to rest for 5 minutes. Cut into 2cm/¾in thick slices. While the meat is resting …
Combine the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and remaining lemon juice in a small saucepan and gently warm through. Add any lamb resting juices.
Divide the spinach, lamb, and eggplant mixture among four plates. Drizzle with the dressing and serve with tzatziki.

Per serve (based on making 6 servings)
1554kJ/370cals; 34g protein; 26g carb; 15g fat (includes 5g saturated fat and 3mg cholesterol; 6g fibre

Protein, Low GI, Bold Flavor: Recipes to Boost Health and Promote Weight Loss

From High Protein, Low GI, Bold Flavor: Recipes to Boost Health and Promote Weight Loss, copyright © Fiona Carns, 2012; reprinted by permission of the publisher, The Experiment. Available wherever books are sold.

Hot cross buns
This recipe has a moderate GI value (66). Note that it uses the Australian 20ml tablespoon. If you use a 15ml tablespoon, you will need to add 2 extra teaspoons of the psyllium, caster sugar and golden syrup. The great thing about home cooking is you get to decide the portion size. We made 26 medium-sized buns.

3 cups 00 flour
1 1/3 cups wholemeal plain flour
1 cup wholemeal spelt flour
2 tablespoons pysllium
2 tablespoons caster sugar
4 teaspoons dried yeast
3 teaspoons mixed spice
200g (7oz) raisins, finely chopped
1¾ cups reduced-fat milk
60g (2oz) 40% reduced-fat margarine
2 tablespoons golden syrup
1 small egg
Cooking spray, for greasing
1 extra small egg, lightly whisked, for brushing

1/3 cup 00 flour
2½–3 tablespoons water

1/3 cup 100% fruit spread
1/3 cup water

Combine the 00 flour, plain flour, spelt flour, pysllium, sugar, yeast and spice in a large bowl. Stir in the raisins. Heat the milk, margarine and golden syrup in a small saucepan until the margarine melts and the mixture is lukewarm. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the egg. Add to the dry ingredients and mix to a soft dough.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover with a damp tea towel and prove in a warm, draught-free place for 45 minutes or until the dough doubles in size.
Preheat oven to 180 C (fan-forced). Spray a swiss roll pan or large baking tray with cooking spray. Punch down the dough with your fist and turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead for 2 minutes or until the dough returns to its original size. Divide the dough into 18 equal portions. Knead each portion into a ball and place close together in the pan. Cover with a damp tea towel and set aside for 20 minutes to prove or until buns rise up and touch each other. Meanwhile, to make the paste …
Place the flour and water in a small bowl. Beat until smooth, until a little more water if the paste is too thick. Spoon into a small plastic bag.
Brush the tops of the buns with a little egg. Snip a small hole in the corner of the bag and pipe the flour paste to form crosses over the buns. Bake for 25–30 minutes or until the buns are cooked through and golden brown.
To make the glaze, put the fruit spread and water in a small saucepan. Stir over low heat until the spread melts. Simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes or until the mixture reduces and thickens. Pour through a fine sieve into a small bowl. Turn the hot cross buns out onto a wire rack. Brush the tops of the buns with the glaze and set aside to cool.
Keep the hot-cross buns in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Alternatively, wrap individual buns in plastic wrap and place in a freezer bag. Label and freeze for up to 3 months, defrosting as required.

Per serving (1 medium-sized bun - 70 g)
Energy: 730kJ/175cals; Protein 5g; Fat 2.6g (includes 0.6g saturated fat and 13mg cholesterol); Available carbohydrate 32g; Fibre 3g

Being Fit for Your Life

Professor Maria Fiatarone Singh
Professor Maria Fiatarone Singh

Take a break! ‘Take 5 for your health’
For many years, regular physical activity has been advocated for preventing and treating chronic diseases like heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Unfortunately, many people are reluctant to commit to exercise, or simply find it hard to find the time. Adding exercise to a day that may already be over-filled with work and family responsibilities in addition to financial constraints, transport difficulties, lack of access to training venues or supervised programs, may pose barriers that seem insurmountable.

If this is you, Take a break! may be a more realistic solution. Recent studies suggest that sedentary behaviour – sitting or lying – for long uninterrupted periods of the day is also a risk factor for many chronic diseases. Too much sitting time, particularly if it is largely uninterrupted (without breaks) poses a health threat in itself including insulin resistance and elevated lipid levels and increased body fat. After all, the human body was designed to keep moving, not sit for hours on end! The good news is that breaking up sitting time is free, requires no extra time or expense, can be done anywhere, doesn’t need trainers or equipment or a trip to a gym.

Here’s how easy it is to take a break and take 5:

  • Make a rule not to sit for more than 20 minutes at a time without a break.
  • During each break, stand up for 1 minute.
  • During this 1-minute break, introduce movements that enhance musculoskeletal health or balance. For example: Stand on one leg, stand up and sit down very slowly, jump 5 times as high as you can, march in place lifting knees as close to chest as possible, raise yourself up and down on your toes, etc.
  • Make it easy to remember to do this by making every TV commercial a break from sitting, or setting an alarm on your phone or watch, or posting a sign on your computer or desk, etc. It’s a good idea to keep a record of how many ‘breaks’ you take each day, putting a tick on a chart each time.
  • You may decide to reduce your total sitting time with some extra changes in your routine or environment at work or home such as: replacing your office chair with a Swiss Ball; never sitting with your feet touching the ground; using the arms of your chair to do triceps dips while sitting watching TV or videos; putting a recumbent bike in your office and pedalling while you read; doing knee extensions and heel raises under your desk – with ankle weights if you wish; making all your phone calls standing up or walking; walking to offices on same floor rather than sending emails; conducting ‘walk meetings’ with colleagues rather than sitting around a table; paying your bills or opening your mail while standing.
Professor Maria Fiatarone Singh is a geriatrician, Professor of Medicine and John Sutton Chair of Exercise and Sport Science at the University of Sydney. Her research, clinical and teaching career has focused on the integration of medicine, exercise physiology, and nutrition as a means to improving quality of life across the lifespan, with a particular focus on the elderly. She is founder and executive director of the non-profit Fit For Your Life Foundation. Her favourite sport is fencing.

GI Symbol News with Dr Alan Barclay

Dr Alan Barclay
Easter treats
With a little forward planning and by making the right food choices you can enjoy Easter like any other festivity and still look after yourself.

Chocolate treats
Chocolate eggs, bunnies, chicks and the like are one of the most exciting things about Easter for both young and old. Although most chocolates are what we call energy dense – you get a lot of calories in a relatively small volume, there is increasing evidence that a little bit of plain dark chocolate (i.e. about 30g) each day may do you good, the problem at Easter time is getting too much of a good thing. So enjoy if you wish, but in moderation!

Nutritionally, what’s in them? It’s virtually impossible to read the nutritional info on the shiny wrapper, so you are better off heading to www.calorieking.com.au to find out what you are getting. Here’s a few popular products as an example:

  • Red Tulip 6g mini egg (solid milk chocolate) – 33 cals/139kJ; 4g carb; 2g fat (including 1g saturated fat)
  • Red Tulip 35g egg (size 2, 8.5cm milk chocolate) – 179 cals/746kJ; 22g carb; 9g fat (including 6g saturated fat)
  • Lindt 100g Gold Bunny (dark chocolate) – 514 cals/2150kJ; 63g carb; 26g fat (including 16g saturated fat)
  • Cadbury 200g Easter Bunny (purple vest) – 1100 cals/4600kJ; 114g carb; 59g fat (including 36g saturated fat)
The fats of the matter Chocolate is high in total and saturated fats. In high quality chocolate, 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 but raises the ‘good’ HDL cholesterol more, so the net effect on your total blood cholesterol levels is not bad at all. However, the amount of cocoa butter used in chocolate does vary, and along with it the amount of the stearic acid, but this information is usually not provided in any simple form on the chocolate wrapper. As a rough guide, the better quality, and as a result, more expensive varieties generally have more cocoa butter, and as such are usually a better choice.

What about your BGLs? Despite most chocolates being relatively high in added sugar, they don’t have a big impact on BGLs. In fact their GI is low (around 45 for most brands) because the high fat content slows the rate that the sugars are released from the stomach into the intestine and absorbed into the blood. This is why people with diabetes don’t need to eat low or reduced-sugar chocolates to avoid high BGLs provided they don't eat too much. However, alternatively sweetened chocolates usually do provide fewer calories, an advantage if you are trying to lose weight. As alternatively sweetened chocolate is usually more expensive and often not as tasty, there is a good argument for choosing to have a small amount of high quality regular chocolate rather than a larger quantity of less pleasant alternatively sweetened chocolate.

Hot cross buns

Hot cross buns
Hot cross buns are a favourite for Good Friday, Easter, and throughout Lent, but they are increasingly available all year round. Traditional buns are filled with sultanas, currants or raisins, then topped with a 'paste' cross. Like Easter eggs, sizes vary significantly as does their nutritional value.
  • Small hot cross bun (40g) – 123 cals/518kJ; 23g carb; 2g fat (including 0.6g saturated fat)
  • Medium hot cross bun (65g) – 200 cals/842kJ; 38g carb; 3g fat (including 0.9g saturated fat)
  • Large hot cross bun (85g) – 262 cals/1101kJ; 49g carb; 4g fat (including 1.2g saturated fat)
They are not high in fat (although that changes if you spread them with margarine or butter), but they are high in carbohydrate. And although we haven’t been asked to test them by any manufacturers yet, they are likely to be high GI as in our experience most bakery products made with refined starches and sugars have values around the 65–75 mark. So to minimise their glycemic impact, it’s best to stick with small hot cross buns if you can find them, and if not, only eat half a medium or large one.

If you want to try making your own hot cross buns, try Ali Roberts' recipe in the GI News Kitchen this issue. We tested them and found they have a moderate GI value (66). We made 26 medium-sized buns with the mixture.

The GI Symbol, making healthy low GI choices easy choices

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

GI Update

Prof Jennie Brand-Miller answers your questions

Prof Jennie Brand-Miller

I’m an avid cook, and I often make my own bread, pancakes, muffins, cookies, and other baked goods. Which flours, if any, are low GI?
To date, there are no GI values for any raw flours of any kind, whether milled from wheat, soy, rice, or other grains. This is because the GI rating of a food must be determined physiologically (in real people). So far we haven’t had volunteers willing to consume fifty-gram portions of raw flour! What we do know, however, is that many bakery products such as scones, pastries, and cakes made from fine flours, whether white or whole wheat, are quickly digested and absorbed. However, some products also made with fine flours, such as crackers and noodles, are often low GI. The final GI of products made with flour is unpredictable. With your own baking, try to increase the soluble fiber content by partially replacing flour with oat bran, rice bran, or rolled oats.

New GI values from SUGiRS
Low GI belVita Breakfast will help you kick start your day
Breakfast matters. It boots up your metabolism, helps you concentrate better and generally gets the day off to a good start without mid-morning hunger pangs (and munchies) or hitting the wall by lunchtime. Other benefits include better blood glucose and cholesterol levels and improved insulin sensitivity. belVita Breakfast (Kraft Foods Australia) is a new range of European-style biscuits specially designed to fit with busy lifestyles and that the hectic morning rush hour so many adults face each day. And because they are low GI, you get the extra benefits of their slow release smart carbs that release glucose gradually into the bloodstream. You can enjoy them at home with a piece of fruit and glass of skim milk (or cup of tea or coffee), grab a pack as you head out the door or have them at your desk with a tub of yoghurt as you start your day. Per serving, they are a useful source of wholegrain cereals and fibre with around 4g protein. Here’s the current range with their GI values, carb content (rounded) and kilojoules per serving (four biscuits):

  • belVita Breakfast Milk & Cereals – GI 45, 35g carbs, 960kJ
  • belVita Breakfast Fruit & Fibre – GI 47, 32g carbs, 940kJ
  • belVita Breakfast Crunchy Oats – GI 54, 34g carbs, 960kJ
For more information, check out their website HERE


7 GUMPs (growing up milk powders)
Sydney University GI Research Services recently tested a range of GUMPS from Malaysia and Indonesia. The range in GI and GL values (per serve, or 1 cup) was surprisingly large:
  • Annum Essential 1+ – GI 23; GL per serving 3
  • Enfagrow A+ GI 43; GL per serving 10
  • Nutrilon Royal GI 51; GL per serving 15.5
  • Enfakid A+ Step 3 GI 55; GL per serving 14
  • S-26 Procal Gold Step 3 GI 55; GL per serving 15
  • Dumex Mamil Gold 3 GI 66; GL per serving 19
  • Dutch Lady 1,2,3 GI 68; GL per serving 16
See dietitian Emma Stirling's story above on The Scoop on GUMPs.

GI testing by an accredited laboratory North America
Dr Alexandra Jenkins
Glycemic Index Laboratories
20 Victoria Street, Suite 300
Toronto, Ontario M5C 298 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

See The New Glucose Revolution on YouTube

Copyright and Permission

This website and all information, data, documents, pages and images it contains is copyright under the Copyright Act 1968 (Commonwealth of Australia) (as amended) and the copyright laws of all member countries of the Berne Union and the Universal Copyright Convention.

Copyright in the website and in material prepared by GI News is owned by GI News, Human Nutrition Unit, University of Sydney. Copyright in quotations, images from published works and photo libraries, and materials contributed by third parties including our regular contributors Alan Barclay, Jennie Brand-Miller, Johanna Burani, Emma Stirling and Nicole Senior is owned by the respective authors or agencies, as credited.

GI News encourages the availability, dissemination and exchange of public information. You may include a link to GI News on your website. You may also copy, distribute, display, download and otherwise freely deal only with material owned by GI News, on the condition that you include the copyright notice “© GI News, Human Nutrition Unit, University of Sydney” on all uses and prominently credit the source as being GI News.

You must, however, obtain permission from GI News if you wish to do the following:

  • charge others for access to the work
  • include all or part of the work in advertising or a product for sale, or
  • modify the work.
To obtain such permission, please contact info@gisymbol.com

This permission does not extend to material contributed and owned by other parties. We strongly recommend that you refer to the copyright statements at their respective websites and seek their permission before making use of any such material, whether images or text. Please contact GI News if you are in doubt as to the ownership of any material.

GI News endeavours to check the veracity of news stories cited in this free e-newsletter by referring to the primary source, but cannot be held responsible for inaccuracies in the articles so published. GI News provides links to other World Wide Web sites as a convenience to users, but cannot be held responsible for the content or availability of these sites.

© ® & ™ The University of Sydney, Australia