1 August 2014

GI News—August 2014


  • Nutrient density: Prof. Jennie Brand-Miller answers your questions;
  • Alan Barclay discusses the role of family environment in the expression of diabetes genes; 
  • Weight gain where there's a family history of type 2 diabetes; 
  • Nutritional strategies for preventing and managing type 2 diabetes; 
  • Focus on prunes. Nicole Senior checks out the benefits of prunes, Anneka Manning whips up a batch of prune and almond brownies and Chrissy Freer serves up baked barley puddings with port-poached prunes; 
  • Taste Planner's mustard and rosemary pork with roast pears.  
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Management and design: Alan Barclay, PhD
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Food for Thought

It’s all in the family. 
The road to type 2 diabetes can run in the family. In fact, a family history of diabetes is a major risk factor. What are your odds? It’s estimated that having:

  • one parent with diabetes doubles your risk 
  • both parents with diabetes increases your risk up to six times 
  • a brother or sister with type 2 diabetes increases your risk more than four times. 
Don’t be despondent. Even if type 2 diabetes or pre-diabetes runs in your family, there’s plenty you can do to keep diabetes at bay. For example, clinical trials have shown that three out of five people with pre-diabetes can avoid type 2 diabetes simply by improving their diet, losing a bit of weight (and keeping it off) and becoming (and staying) more active.

PREVIEW, an international study involving 8 different countries and 15 partners, is currently underway to identify the most efficient lifestyle intervention pattern for preventing type 2 diabetes in people who have pre-diabetes, are overweight or obese (i.e. at high risk). “The aim of this study is to find out the best methods (through diet, exercise and behavioural modification) of maintaining weight loss and keeping diabetes at bay. Volunteers for this study will have their own team of professionals dedicated to their weight loss and weight loss maintenance, all free of charge,” says Prof Jennie Brand-Miller.

“Here at the University of Sydney, we’re going to compare two diets and two forms of exercise. So first of all we will randomise eligible participants with pre-diabetes to either a high protein/low GI diet, or to the conventional healthy diet. Then we will split each dietary group into two again. One group will be doing the equivalent of 150 minutes a week of moderate intensity exercise, like a brisk walk. The other group will do something that’s a little bit more intense, it will involve puffing but they only have to do half as many minutes per week. So what we’re doing is we’re going to build up slowly with the help of exercise physiologists to doing, say, 15 minutes five days a week where you puff.

The 3-year study itself is in two parts. For the first 8 weeks (phase 1), we will get participants to lose about 8% of their body weight using meal replacement milkshakes – we provide all the milkshakes. Those who lose 8% of their body weight are then eligible for phase 2, the maintaining weight loss phase. We are trying to prevent our successful losers from putting the weight back on. If you live in Sydney (Australia) and are interested in taking part, see below for details for applying or for finding out more about it.” 

Preview poster

What's new?

Know your family medical history.
A family history of type 2 diabetes was associated with a higher incidence of diabetes reports a study in Diabetologia. The greatest risk was observed in those with two parents with type 2 diabetes and those whose parents had been diagnosed with diabetes at a younger age, an effect largely confined to a maternal family history.

Family history of diabetes increases the risk of pre-diabetes by 26 percent. 
Pre-diabetes can take two forms: impaired fasting glycaemia (IFG) where levels of glucose are higher than normal but not high enough to be classed as diabetes; and impaired glucose tolerance (IGT) where blood glucose levels are abnormal due to increased insulin resistance. When Fritsche and colleagues from the German Centre for Diabetes Research analysed the records of 8106 individuals who did not have type 2 diabetes, they found 2624 had IFG and/or IGT. When they went on to analyse whether having at least one first degree relative with diabetes was associated with pre-diabetes, they found that a family history of diabetes increased the risk for pre-diabetes by 26% when the analysis took account of age, sex, and BMI. Writing in Diabetelogia, they conclude: “We found that family history is an important risk factor for pre-diabetes, especially for combined IGT and IFG. Its relevance seems to be more evident in the non-obese.”

Weight gain when there's a family history of type 2 diabetes. 

Professor Campbell
Professor Lesley Campbell. 

Healthy people with a genetic predisposition to type 2 diabetes gain more weight overeating over the short term than their non-genetically-prone counterparts. In a 28-day study undertaken at Sydney's Garvan Institute of Medical Research, scientists set out to mimic the kind of overfeeding that typically takes place during feasting periods like Christmas. Seventeen (otherwise healthy) people with a family history of type 2 diabetes, along with 24 people without any family history, took part in the research. The groups were matched for age, weight and lifestyle. Each person was asked to eat 1250 calories (5230 kJ) a day beyond their energy requirements – all carefully calculated in advance. They were given a variety of high-fat snacks such as crisps, chocolate bars and dairy desserts to supplement their normal diets. Their weight, fat distribution and blood insulin levels were measured at the start of the project, after 3 days and at 28 days. On average, the people with a family history of diabetes gained over a kilogram more than the rest (3.4 kg as opposed to 2.2 kg) over 28 days. They also had more insulin circulating in their systems after only 3 days, before they showed any detectable difference in weight gain from the other group.

“It’s already well-known that relatives of people with type 2 diabetes are more likely to develop it themselves,” said Professor Campbell, senior researcher at Garvan and Director St Vincent’s Diabetes Services. “We wanted to challenge these individuals with overfeeding while they were still young and healthy, without any metabolic impairments. Our study shows just how quickly the body reacts to overeating, and how harmful it can be in susceptible people. While we expected differences between the two groups, we were surprised by the amount of extra weight the diabetes-prone group gained.”

At the end of the study, participants were helped to lose weight, with both groups being equally successful. The “biggest loser” came from the group with a family history of diabetes.

Nutritional strategies for preventing and managing type 2 diabetes. 
Professor Frank Hu
Professor Frank Hu. 

Writing in The Lancet, Professor Frank Hu and colleagues review the evidence on the dietary components and nutritional strategies for preventing and managing type 2 diabetes. “The quality of dietary fats and carbohydrates consumed is more crucial than is the quantity of these macronutrients,” they conclude. “Diets rich in wholegrains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, and nuts; moderate in alcohol consumption; and lower in refined grains, red or processed meats, and sugar-sweetened beverages have been shown to reduce the risk of diabetes and improve glycemic control and blood lipids in patients with diabetes. With an emphasis on overall diet quality, several dietary patterns such as Mediterranean, low glycemic index, moderately low carbohydrate, and vegetarian diets can be tailored to personal and cultural food preferences and appropriate calorie needs for weight control and diabetes prevention and management.”

Nicole's Taste of Health

A dark horse. 
I’m attracted to black foods. I’m not sure why: perhaps it because they are so unusual and mysterious? Perhaps it is because it is unlikely that something so unattractive and sinister looking can actually be edible? Just think Japanese nori (seaweed), eggplant, squid ink, black beans and Vegemite (yeast extract spread). But my all-time favourite black food is the humble prune. You’d just never expect these shrivelled little uglies to taste as good as they do, and their nutritional goodness is also surprising. This dark horse is actually a dried plum, which probably explains why they are low GI and such a rich source of nutrients and phytochemicals. Calling them dried plums also seems to make them sound so much more attractive, and goes some way to make up for their shortcomings in the looks department.


The best plum variety to dry into prunes is the Ente, developed by French monks in the thirteenth century, and the prunes are called D’Agen. They are a good source of vitamins A and C, and contain potassium, calcium and iron. But I suppose they are most famous for their effect on the bowels. Prunes are renowned for getting things moving and this is due to their fibre and natural sorbitol content. Both whole prunes and prune juice have provided relief to those suffering constipation for generations, and are the go-to natural cure recommended by just about everybody. Nowadays of course, we know they are high in FODMAPS (poorly digested carbohydrates) that have adverse effects for many people with IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), but this is a small detail in their otherwise glowing report card.

Prunes are more than their goody-two-shoes reputation: they taste delicious and are marvellously versatile. Traditionally served at breakfast as compote or on top of cereal, they offer so much more than a healthy start to the day. They are compact and travel well making them the perfect snack on-the-go, especially mixed with nuts and particularly those with bitter flavour notes like walnuts and pecans which provide good contrast to the rich sweetness of the prunes. Their sweetness and gooey texture are ideal for making uber-trendy bliss balls (or protein balls), and add richness to cakes, loaves and slices, and especially yummy when partnered with cocoa (See Anneka’s delightful recipe below). Their slightly tart sweetness and exotic colour make them sensational in crumbles, puddings and tarts. And prunes work well in savoury dishes too: who could forget the retro-classic Devils on Horseback – prunes wrapped in bacon (there are those dark horses again). They also add contrasting sweetness to poultry stuffing, sauces for pork and game meats, tagines, chutneys and cheese platters.

I read on the Australian Prunes website that the French so love prunes, they often present a beautifully wrapped box of them as a gift instead of chocolates. I’m not sure they’d have quite the same impact elsewhere in the world. What about chocolate coated prunes? Now there’s a winner, and something like ‘D’Agen au chocolat’ has a lovely ring to it!

Buon appetito!

Nicole and Finn
Nicole Senior is an Accredited Nutritionist, author and consultant who strives to make healthy food taste terrific. You can follow her on Twitter or Facebook or checkout her website

In the GI News Kitchen

Family Baking.
Anneka Manning, founder of Sydney’s BakeClub, shares her delicious ‘better-for-you’ recipes for snacks, desserts and treats the whole family will love. Through both her writing and cooking school, Anneka teaches home cooks to bake in practical and approachable yet inspiring ways that assure success in the kitchen.

 Anneka Manning
Prune and Almond Brownies
Cocoa, prunes, almond meal and buttermilk are all key ingredients in making these brownies moist, fudgy and rich (just the way brownies should be)…without a square of chocolate or a cube of butter in sight. You’ll be amazed how good they taste too. Our guesstimate is that they are low GI too.

  • Makes 32 
  • Preparation time: 15 minutes (+ cooling time) 
  • Baking time: 25 minutes 
200g (7oz) pitted prunes, chopped
1 cup water
75g (2½oz) cocoa powder
¼ cup plain wholemeal spelt flour (see Baker’s Tips)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup almond meal
½ cup LoGiCane sugar (See Baker’s Tips)
2 eggs, at room temperature,
1/3 cup sunflower or light olive oil, plus extra for greasing
¼ cup buttermilk
1 tsp natural vanilla essence or extract
1 tsp icing sugar (optional), to dust

Prune and Almond Brownies

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F (160°C/320°F fan-forced). Lightly brush a 16 x 26cm/7 x11in (base measurement) slice tin with a little oil to grease and then line with a piece of non-stick baking paper.
Combine the prunes and water in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until almost all the water has evaporated and the mixture is pulpy. Transfer to a bowl and set aside to cool to room temperature.
Sift together the cocoa powder, flour and baking powder, returning any husks from the flour to the mixture. Stir in the almond meal and sugar.
In a separate bowl, combine the cooled prune pulp, eggs, oil, buttermilk and vanilla and use a fork to combine evenly. Add to the dry ingredients and use a spatula or large metal spoon to fold together until just combined.
Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and smooth the surface with the back of a spoon. Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes or until moist crumbs cling to a skewer inserted into the center. Cool in the tin.
Cut into 32 portions and serve sprinkled with icing sugar, if desired. These brownies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days.

Baker’s tips 
  • You can use plain wholemeal flour or buckwheat flour in place of the spelt flour if you wish. 
  • You can use raw sugar in place of the LoGICane sugar if you wish. 
Per serve (one small piece)
350kJ/ 85 calories; 2g protein; 5g fat (includes 0.8g saturated fat; saturated:unsaturated fat ratio 0.2); 8g available carbs (includes 5.5g sugars and 2.2g starch); 1g fibre

Cooking with Supergrains author, Chrissy Freer 
Baked Barley Puddings with Port-poached Prunes.
Remember the milk puddings of childhood? This one is for grown-ups. It’s deliciously low GI and you can make it with regular or reduced fat milk and if it’s for the whole family, poach the prunes in water or green tea rather than port. Serves 4.

1 cup cooked pearl barley
2 eggs
1½ cups milk
2 tbs caster (superfine) sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp ground nutmeg, to sprinkle

Poached prunes
100g/3½oz pitted prunes, quartered
2 tbs light brown sugar
2 tbs port

Baked Barley Puddings with Port-poached Prunes

Preheat oven to 160C/315F. Lightly grease four 150ml/5fl.oz. ovenproof ramekins and place on a large baking tray.
Divide the barley evenly among the greased ramekins. Whisk the eggs, milk, sugar and vanilla until well combined and pour evenly over the barley. Sprinkle the top of each pudding with a little nutmeg and bake for 30 minutes or until puffed and just set. The puddings should have a slight wobble in the centre. Set aside to cool. Meanwhile ...
Poach the prunes in a medium saucepan with the sugar, port and ¼ cup water, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes or until the prunes are syrupy. Remove from heat and allow to cool a little.
Serve the puddings warm or chilled topped with the poached prunes.

Per pudding (made with reduced fat milk) 
1145kJ/ 278 calories; 8.5g protein; 7g fat (includes 3g saturated fat; saturated:unsaturated fat ratio 0.75); 42g available carbs; 4g fibre

Supergrains (Murdoch Books/Random House) is available from good bookshops and online.

Meal planning made easy with Taste Planner. 
Taste Planner provides personalised meal plans including diabetes-friendly plans that you can access on your mobile (cell), laptop, desktop or tablet. They are offering GI News readers a 28-day free trial plus 24 weeks with 50% off. After your free trial subscription period, you would pay $3.98 every 28 days for meal plans. Enter coupon code GINEWS on the payment details page to redeem your 50% discount. For a taste of Taste Planner, try ...

Chrissy Freer’s Mustard and Rosemary Pork with Roast Pears.
Serves 4.

4 pears, unpeeled, cored, cut into 3/4in/2cm-thick wedges 
2 red onions, cut into thick wedges 
Olive oil spray 
2 tbs balsamic vinegar 
2 tbs wholegrain mustard 
2 tsp chopped fresh rosemary 
1 tsp finely grated lemon rind/zest 
1 tbs olive oil 4 (about 4oz/125g each) pork loin steaks 
3½oz/100g baby spinach leaves 
Steamed green beans, to serve 

Mustard and Rosemary Pork with Roast Pears

Preheat the oven to 400°F/200°C. Line two baking trays with non-stick baking paper. 
Place the pear and onion wedges on one of the trays. Spray with oil, drizzle with half the vinegar and bake in the oven for 25 minutes or until the pears are golden and tender. Meanwhile ... 
Combine the mustard, rosemary and lemon rind in a bowl. Heat the olive oil in a large non-stick frying pan over high heat. Cook the pork for 2 minutes each side or until golden. Remove from heat. Spread one side of each pork steak with mustard mixture. Transfer to the second baking tray and bake in the oven for 6–7 minutes or until cooked through. 
Place the pear, onion, spinach and remaining vinegar in a bowl, and toss to combine. Divide pear mixture and pork steaks among serving plates. Serve with beans. (Recipe and photo courtesy www.taste.com.au; Photo credit: Rob Palmer.) 

Per serve 
1325kJ/330 calories; 30g protein; 7g fat (includes 1g saturated fat; saturated:unsaturated fat ratio 0.2); 30g available carbs; 11g fibre 

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


Lemon-laced Roasted Eggplant. 

Eggplant (aubergine) tastes great with cooked tomatoes. True. But have you ever eaten plain broiled eggplant with fresh lemon juice sprinkled on top? Dynamite! Simple, quick and delicious. End of story. Servings: 6

2 large eggplants (1¼lbs or 0.6kg each)
3 large cloves of garlic, sliced
sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 tsp dried oregano
1/4 cup (60ml) extra virgin olive oil
2 tbs (30ml) fresh lemon juice
5-6 sprigs fresh parsley, coarsely chopped

Lemon-laced Roasted Eggplant

Preheat oven to 400F (200C). Line a baking pan with foil or baking paper.
Cut the eggplants in half lengthwise. Cut each half lengthwise in half again. Cut each of the 8 resulting strips in half crosswise. Place them in a large bowl with the garlic, sprinkle with salt and pepper, add the oregano and then the oil. Mix well.
Place eggplant pieces in the prepared baking pan. Roast eggplant for 25 minutes until soft and browned. Remove eggplant from oven, place in a serving bowl, toss with the lemon juice and parsley. Serve immediately.

Per serve
560kJ/135 calories; 2g protein; 10g fat (includes 1g saturated fat; saturated:unsaturated fat ratio 0.1); 5g available carbs; 7g fibre

Putting the Fun Back into Fitness

Walking is a surprisingly effective form of exercise for people with diabetes or those trying to prevent it.
It doesn’t really matter who you are or what type of diabetes you have, if you want to be around and in good shape to enjoy your life, your family and your friends, you have to get some exercise. There are really only two requirements when it comes to exercise. One is that you do it. The other is that you continue to do it say authors Jennie Brand-Miller, Kaye Foster-Powell, Alan Barclay and Stephen Colagiuri in the new ebook edition of The Low GI Diet: Managing Type 2 Diabetes (Hachette Australia; to be published 26 August 2014).

People walking

Why push yourself to exercise? Exercising muscles need fuel and the fuel they need most is glucose. So as soon as you start moving your muscles they’ll start burning up glucose. First they’ll use their own stores of glucose (that’s glycogen); then they’ll call on the liver for some of its stores, all the time drawing the glucose out of the blood and lowering your blood glucose levels.

A study in Diabetes Care provides convincing proof that regular walking can provide significant health benefits for very little cost. A group of nearly 200 people with type 2 diabetes were given physical activity counselling every three months for two years. Some took it more seriously than others. The researchers found that those walking 2–5km (2400–6400 steps) more than usual each day achieved the most benefits for their diabetes.

“When I was recently diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, at the age of 75, I was horrified when my doctor suggested I go for a walk each day. ‘Walk? The furthest I ever walk is to the driveway!’ I said. But I wanted to manage my diabetes and to do that I really had to lose some weight, so I began walking every morning, with my husband. After six weeks I could walk 40–50 minutes a day quite easily. And I had lost 5kg. I feel so much better for it and I can do things I haven’t done in years. – Betty

Is it fun or is it exercise? According to the findings of two small studies from the Cornell Food and Brand Lab published in Marketing Letters, if you think of being physically active as a “fun run” or as a well-deserved break, you’ll eat less afterwards. Think of it as exercise or as a workout and you'll later eat more to reward yourself.

Adults were led on a 2 km walk around a small lake and were either told it was going to be an exercise walk or a scenic walk. In the first study, 56 adults completed their walk and were then given lunch. Those who believed they had been on an exercise walk served and ate 35% more chocolate pudding for dessert than those who believed they had been on a scenic walk. In the second study, 46 adults were given mid-afternoon snacks after their walk. Those thinking they taken an exercise walk ate 206 more calories of M&Ms, which was over twice as much – 124% more – than those who had been told they were on a scenic walk. “Viewing their walk as exercise led them to be less happy and more fatigued,” says lead author, Carolina Werle, professor at Grenoble Ecole de Management in France.

For beginning or veteran exercisers, the bottom line is this says Brian Wansink, author and Director of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab: “Do whatever you can to make your workout fun. Play music, watch a video, or simply be grateful that you're working out instead of working in the office. Anything that brings a smile, is likely to get you to eat less.”

Update with Dr Alan Barclay

Alan Barclay
Dr Alan Barclay

Families share more than their genes
As we describe in food for thought this issue, the road to type 2 diabetes can run in the family. One of the main reasons is genetic – you are genetically very similar to your biological parents and siblings. Your height, amount of muscle, the size of your essential organs and amount and location of your body fat is partially determined by your genes, and this in turn affects your insulin sensitivity, amongst many other things.

We tend to overlook, or perhaps downplay, the role of the family environment in the expression of those diabetes genes. As well as inheriting genes, we tend to inherit a “lifestyle”. If your parents were always active and encouraged you to participate in team sports, bicycle riding, walking, dancing, etc., chances are they and you will have reduced the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, as you will all have more muscle, a lower amount of body fat and less insulin resistance than if your lifestyle was a sedentary one.

We also inherit eating habits. Our family background is a powerful predictor of our family’s diet. It’s well established that type 2 diabetes is more common among certain groups including people from the Middle East, South Europe, South Asia, Indigenous Australians, Maoris, Pacific Islanders, African Americans, Hispanic Americans and American Indians compared with people from an Anglo-Celtic background, for example. Again, along with their genes, they inherited their ancestors’ eating patterns built around their traditional foods and drinks and ways of preparing and eating foods. These dietary and cultural patterns undoubtedly influence the expression of diabetes genes.

There is strong evidence that both the traditional Mediterranean diet and certain traditional Asian cuisines like traditional Japanese diets are associated with longevity and a lower risk of developing chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes, despite being composed of very different foods, with very different macronutrient profiles – Mediterranean diets are relatively high in fat whereas most Asian diets are very high in carbohydrate and low in fat. What these traditional eating patterns have in common, however, as discussed in What’s New in this issue is that they were built around naturally low GI, minimally processed whole foods.

Mediterranean food

Of course, that was then. Nowadays, like the rest of us, people living in Asia and around the Mediterranean are adopting more typical Western diets with more refined and processed foods. Indeed, a large population-based study carried out in Western European found that the average GI of the typical Greek diet was 57, whereas in Japan the average dietary GI was 64. A low GI diet has an average GI ≤ 45, so the typical diets of both countries now fall well outside the low GI category and may explain in part each nation’s rising diabetes prevalence rates.

Dietary modelling conducted at the University of Sydney showed that by simply swapping medium to high GI foods with lower GI equivalents in modern Asian and Greek cuisines, you can reduce average dietary GI down to the recommended range. This simple “swap it don’t stop it” approach is one way of improving dietary quality, and it works with a range of cuisines, meaning people can continue to enjoy the foods they love, and it doesn’t have to ruin their social or cultural life. This is one reason why low GI diets are sustainable in the long-term.

So, even if you have a strong family history of type 2 diabetes, don’t think that it is inevitable that you and your children will develop it. Be an active family and use the “swap it don’t stop it” approach to improve your eating habits. This long term recipe for success will help you prevent, or at the very least delay, the onset of type 2 diabetes.

New GI Symbol
GI Symbol Program
Dr Alan W Barclay PhD,
Chief Scientific Officer,
Glycemic Index Foundation (Ltd):


GI testing
Fiona Atkinson,
Research Manager,
Sydney University Glycemic Index Research Service:


GI database

Q&A and New Product News

Prof Jennie Brand-Miller answers your questions. 

Everyone seems to be talking about “nutrient density” these days. Can you explain simply what this actually means and why it seems to matter so much?
Nutrient density is about quality over quantity. Nutrient-dense foods are those which contribute greater amounts of beneficial nutrients (vitamins and minerals) per calorie (kilojoule) to your overall diet. By selecting these foods first, it allows you to obtain all the nutrients you need in your diet without exceeding your energy needs. It is wise for everyone to opt for mostly nutrient-dense foods to maximise nutritional intake and manage their weight but this is particularly important during pregnancy when a Mum’s need for essential nutrients increases more than her energy (calorie/kilojoule) needs.

Fruit and nut mix

The produce aisles are where you’ll find nutrient-dense foods – fruits, vegetables, legumes (dried beans and lentils), whole grains, nuts, seeds, fish, lean meats and poultry and lower fat dairy products. Foods with a high nutrient density are largely those which tend to be less processed and most come from the plant kingdom. If they are rich in carbohydrate, they should have a low GI. These include:

  • Vegetables and fruit For maximum nutrition aim for a wide variety of different coloured fruit and vegetables each day and make these the basis of your meals and snacks. 
  • Low GI grains, preferably wholegrain foods These will provide more nutrients and fibre than highly processed, refined grains. Think thick-cut, traditional oats, brown (or black or red) rice, quinoa, pearl barley, burghul, buckwheat and wholewheat pasta or noodles and low GI, high fibre breakfast cereals or dense wholegrain breads. 
  • Legumes Lentils, chickpeas, kidney beans, cannellini beans, borlotti beans, butter beans, black-eye beans and navy beans are all low GI, nutritious, economical and versatile. Cook your own or use the convenient canned versions. 
  • Nuts and seeds Nuts and seeds are rich in the healthy fats and a packed with a variety of vitamins and minerals including iron, zinc and magnesium. Add them to meals or eat them as a snack. Nut and seed spreads (such as tahini) are a nutritious alternative to butter.
  • Lean protein foods Lean meats, poultry, fish, seafood, tofu and eggs supply important vitamins and minerals including iron, zinc, vitamin B12 (animal products only) and omega-3 fats (fish and seafood) in addition to protein. 
  • Dairy or soy products or alternatives Milk, soy milk and yoghurt provide protein and all important calcium. If choosing soy milk or other milk alternatives such as rice or oat milk (these latter two have high GI values), make sure you choose brands with added calcium, and if you are vegetarian look for one with added vitamin B12. If you don’t eat dairy products or calcium-fortified alternatives you will need to incorporate other calcium-rich foods such as hard tofu, almonds, dried figs, unhulled tahini, Asian greens, Kale and broccoli. 
Random House Australia has recently given me a review copy of Jerusalem by chefs Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi. I have to say this cookbook is like having a bible of nutrient-dense, low GI recipes. It makes eating the nutrient-dense, low GI way deliciously easy.

And it’s probably not hard to work out the nutrient-poor foods – this includes things like sweet biscuits, cakes, pastries, confectionery, chips/fries, crisps and other savoury snacks, and soft drinks – these foods are high in energy but provide little in the way of nutrition and are best kept for occasional treats rather than everyday choices.

Product News. 
Eating for Eye Health.
Macular degeneration (MD) is the name given to a group of degenerative diseases of the retina that cause progressive, painless loss of central vision, affecting the ability to see fine detail, drive, read and recognise faces. There’s no cure, but there are treatment options that can slow down its progression, depending on the stage and type of the disease (wet, dry, and other forms). The earlier it is detected, the more vision you are likely to retain. Exactly what causes MD is not fully understood, but it runs in families – if you have a parent with MD, you have a 50% risk of suffering from it yourself. You can’t change your genes but you may reduce the risk of macular degeneration as you age or slow down the progression of the disease by making positive diet and lifestyle changes. Here’s what the Macular Degeneration Foundation advises:
  • Have an eye test and make sure the macula is checked 
  • Don’t smoke 
  • Keep a healthy lifestyle, control weight and exercise regularly 
  • Eat a healthy well-balanced diet 
  • Eat fish two to three times a week, dark green leafy vegetables and fresh fruit daily, and a handful of nuts a week. Limit the intake of fats and oils 
  • Choose low glycemic index (GI) carbohydrates instead of high GI whenever possible 
  • In consultation with your doctor, consider a suitable supplement Use an Amsler grid daily to check for symptoms of macular degeneration 
  • Provide adequate protection for your eyes from sunlight exposure, including for those who are very young 
Eating for Eye Health

Eating for Eye Health (Ita Buttrose and Vanessa Jones ), a practical guide to cooking for nutrition and wellbeing, contains over 90 recipes to ensure that eating for good eye health comes with a great taste (New Holland Publishing).

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