1 December 2014

GI News—December 2014


  • Why are there different GI values for the same food? 
  • Why Prof Jennie Brand-Miller is uncomfortable with traffic lights and rating stars. 
  • Is fast weight loss better than slow and steady?
  • Do school gardens get kids to eat more veg? 
  • Get cracking with macadamias, says dietitian Nicole Senior. 
  • Recipes from Joanna McMillan, Anneka Manning, and Johanna Burani. 
  • New quick meals with the GI Symbol. 
GI News 
Editor: Philippa Sandall
Management and design: Alan Barclay, PhD
Contact: info@gisymbol.com
Technical problems or faults: smb.ginewstech@sydney.edu.au
GI testing: sugirs.manager@sydney.edu.au

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Food for Thought

Reaching for the stars. 
How do you sum up the nutritional quality of a food on its label? How can a food labelling rating system be simple, but not too simple? How can we be sure it does not have unintended consequences? How does it keep pace with advances in nutrition science? In this edited transcript of a presentation given in Sydney, Australia, in July 2013, Professor Jennie Brand-Miller talks about what we really need on food labels to help us make better choices. 

“I am uncomfortable with traffic lights and rating stars. Why? If breast milk were sold in the dairy compartment, it would have at least two red marks – one for saturated fat and one for sugar (human milk has the highest sugar content of any mammalian milk). This is because the algorithms that underpin traffic lights and rating stars are based on the old nutrition that has past its use-by date.

  • The energy content (calories/kilojoules) of a food is not the best way to judge a food – lentils and liquorice have the same energy density. 
  • The fat content of food is not the best way to judge a food – nuts have more fat and are more energy dense than French fries. 
  • The sugar content is not the best way to judge a food – dried fruit is full of sugar. 
  • The sodium content is not the best way to judge a food – soft drinks are low in sodium. 
What’s wrong with the current traffic lights and rating stars? They ignore micronutrients – vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. They ignore two important proven attributes of foods in the new nutrition – the protein content and the GI of the carbohydrates. Both these factors are proven to help to curb appetite.

Appetite matters. Appetite is what drives our energy intake.

It is not possible to balance energy intake and energy expenditure by counting calories. Firstly, no one knows how many calories they expend each day. Even if you knew, the calories on the food label are not precise enough.

Secondly, mathematical modelling shows that a small but persistent excess of only 7 calories or 30 kilojoules per day over and above energy requirements for 10 years underlies the current epidemic of obesity. The best way to balance calories in and calories out, is to weigh yourself regularly or use the belt test.

What would I like to see on food labels? I’d like to see a system that:
  • Focuses on the positive. 
  • Rates foods according to their contribution to desirable macronutrient and micronutrient intakes. 
  • Uses Adam Drewnowski’s Nutrient Rich Foods Index, which rates individual foods based on their overall nutritional value, as an essential component. 
  • Encourages higher protein intake, particularly from legumes. 
  • Distinguishes between naturally-occurring and added sugars. 
I would advocate that we make the most of something we already have available to use on our food packaging here in Australia and that is proven to work: two certified and recognisable symbols that are signposts to both healthy foods and healthy diets.

One is the Heart Foundation Tick, which encourages eating healthy types of fat.
Olive oil with Heart Foundation Tick
The other is the Glycemic Index Foundation Low GI Symbol, which encourages eating healthy carbs. And here I have a duality of interest to declare. The University of Sydney owns the Low GI Symbol trademark. Research shows that the low GI focus automatically improves diet quality because it increases fibre intake, it reduces saturated fat, and it improves micronutrient intake. While the low fat focus had unintended, undesirable consequences, the low GI focus has had unexpected benefits.
Low GI Rice with GI Symbol

My take home message for Australians: The Low GI Symbol + the Heart Foundation Tick = is good nutrition by default.”

You can download the full “Old Nutrition, New Nutrition” presentation HERE.

Professor Jennie Brand-Miller holds a Personal Chair in Human Nutrition in the Boden Institute of Obesity, Nutrition, Exercise and Eating Disorders and Charles Perkins Centre at the University of Sydney.

What's new?

Dietary Dilemmas. 
Popular diets can help you lose some weight in the short term, but keeping the weight off after the first year and the diet’s impact on heart health are unclear, according to a new systematic review.

Popular diet books

After analysing clinical trials on four popular diet plans that that promote weight loss and improved cardiovascular health and advocate carbohydrate restriction – Atkins, South Beach, Weight Watchers, and Zone – researchers found:

  • All four result in a modest weight loss at one year, as did those in the control group who received the usual care. Those on the Atkins diet lost an average 4.6 to 10.3 pounds; Weight Watchers participants lost an average 6.6 pounds; Zone dieters lost an average 3.5 to 7 pounds; and control lost about 4.85 pounds.
  • In studies involving head-to-head comparisons, there were no marked differences between Atkins, Weight Watchers, and Zone diets at improving cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar levels, or other cardiovascular risk factors.
Dr David Katz critiques the study in his editorial, “Diets, Diatribes, and a Dearth of Data” in the same journal HERE.

Lose it fast or lose it slow? Fast weight loss is more quickly regained is dietary dogma. But the findings of a two-phase, randomised, non-masked, dietary intervention trial report that an obese person is more likely to achieve a weight loss target of 12.5%, and stick to the weight loss program, if losing weight is done quickly. The initial rate of weight loss did not affect the amount or rate of weight regain: with similar amounts of weight regained by 3 years by participants on both diet programs, who completed both phases of the study.

Fruit and Veg. Getting People to Eat Them.
Worrying about the kids “eating their greens” (or any other veg) goes with the territory of being a parent. But few adults are eating enough fruit and veg either according to the latest National Nutrition Survey. A mere 6.8% Australians met the recommended daily intake (5 serves) of vegetables and 54% the recommended daily intake (2 serves) of fruit.

Popular diet books

Most people know they should eat more fruit and veg; getting them to do so is hard. In recent years, school kitchen-garden programs have been enthusiastically promoted as being the answer to at least get the kids to eat more greens. But, in the first large cluster randomised controlled trial to evaluate a school gardening intervention, little evidence was found to support the claims that school gardening alone can improve children’s fruit and vegetable intake. However, gardening interventions implemented at a high level within schools have the potential to improve children’s daily fruit and vegetable intake by a portion. Improving children’s fruit and vegetable intake remains a challenging task say the researchers. Parents will agree.

To end on a more upbeat note, here’s an opportunity in February for the whole family to celebrate (and tuck into more) tomatoes: the second Tomato Extravaganza in the Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney.If you want to grow your own, the October issue of Gardening Australia Organic Gardener has tips on resilient varieties plus a problem-solving guide.

Bulking Up with Maltodextrins in Foods and Pharmaceuticals.  
Maltodextrins are widely used in processed foods as bulking agents or fillers and as fat replacers in “low fat” products – and you will find them listed on the label. They are also widely used in pharmaceuticals (and placebos) as non-active ingredients (excipients) to help provide taste, shape and solubility – but they don’t have to be listed on the label, because they aren’t active ingredients.

Findings of a rodent study in PLosOne demonstrate that maltodextrin exposure “promotes the formation of a novel protective niche for Salmonella through dampening host anti-microbial responses to enhance intracellular survival and mucosal colonization. These results suggest that consumption of processed foods containing the polysaccharide maltodextrin may contribute to a greater risk for enteric infection and may be an environmental priming factor for the development of chronic inflammatory diseases, such as inflammatory bowel disease.”  

So what are maltodextrins? Think of maltodextrins (modified food starches) as a family group, not as an individual ingredient. They are carbohydrates: chains of glucose molecules ranging from three to nine glucose units long. They are produced by processing corn (maize), potato, rice, tapioca, or wheat to break down the starch. As they are flavourless and only moderately sweet, they are commonly added to processed foods to provide bulk and texture and to help blend ingredients together. The FDA’s Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) lists maltodextrin as a GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe) additive. In their rush to condemn added sugar, everyone seems to have forgotten about maltodextrins. Why does it matter? They contain essentially the same amount of calories, total carbohydrates, and fibre as do refined sugars and, without fortification, are just as devoid of vitamins and minerals. They also have a high glycemic index. In a nutshell, maltodextrins can be as detrimental to our health as added refined sugar.

This is an edited extract from The Ultimate Guide to Sugars and Sweeteners reproduced courtesy The Experiment Publishing (New York). 

The Ultimate Guide to Sugars and Sweeteners

Nicole's Taste of Health

Get Cracking – It’s the Festive Season. 
Is there a more luxurious nut than the macadamia? Its delicate flavour, velvety texture and perfectly mouth-sized roundness just trumpet specialness, happiness and joy. I associate macadamias with Christmas time – probably due to their premium price and the gift boxes I’ve been lucky enough to receive over the years – so I can add “festive” to their list of charms.

Macadamia nuts

The macadamia (Macadamia integrifolia) is native to northeastern New South Wales and central and southeastern Queensland. It’s also called Queensland nut, bush nut, maroochi nut, bauple nut, and Hawaii nut. It is known as bauple, gyndl, jindilli, and boombera in Aboriginal languages. They are the toughest nut to crack. Indigenous Australians used special stones to smash the strong outer shell and reach the highly prized kernel. These days we can buy them shelled for us.

Like other nuts, macadamias are among the nutrient-rich core foods it is recommended we eat on a daily basis. They’re heart-friendly because of their healthy fat content (mostly monounsaturated) and ability to lower bad LDL cholesterol. They are an excellent source of thiamine (vitamin B1) to help extract energy from food, rich in manganese essential for bones, and contain antioxidant phytochemicals to bolster the body’s natural defences.

Macadamias don’t have a GI value because they contain very little carbohydrate, but they can lower the GI of the meal or snack when eaten with high GI foods: macadamia nut butter on fluffy white bread moderates the GI of the bread. They do this because of their oil content which slows the rate of digestion. And while macadamias have high oil content, they are not a problem for weight control. Like other nuts they can actually help with weight management when enjoyed instead of nutritionally poor treats in a calorie/kilojoule-controlled eating plan.

Just gorgeous on their own, macadamias make the perfect delicious, nutritious, portable snack. They are also delightful in both the sweet and savoury recipes. On the sweet side, they make everyday wholegrain cereal taste like a treat, add fabulous texture to yoghurt, or give healthy edge to ice cream. They shine in baking such as loaves, cakes, tarts, muffins, muesli bars and cookies, and perfect in homemade sweets such as fudge, nougat, chocolate and toffee – Christmas gifts made with love anyone?

If you’re entertaining over the festive season, start with some simple spiced macadamias: toss raw macadamias in oil, sprinkle with your favourite spices and roast for around 10 minutes in a moderate oven. Try Australian native spices like wattleseed, pepperberry or lemon myrtle, Indian spice mix, chilli powder or good old garlic and rosemary. A macadamia crust on fish or meat, or stuffing in poultry, will certainly impress. Nuts add lovely texture and satisfaction to salads and macadamias partner well with sweet potato, beetroot, pumpkin, baby spinach, avocado and mango. Warm salads of grilled or roasted vegetables also taste great with chopped macadamias on top.

And let’s not forget macadamia oil. This delicately flavoured oil is also robust due to its stable monounsaturated fats. It has a high smoke point and can handle high heat cooking and has a long storage life. Try macadamia oil in baking or in salad dressings. Interestingly, the oil is highly valued for skincare products due to its excellent ability to moisturise. I hope you take some time to prepare good food for the ones you love this festive season. Season’s Greetings and best wishes to you and yours.

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

Disclosure: Nicole Senior provides Nutrition Consultancy services to The Australian Macadamia Society on a fee-for-service basis. 

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. In 2015 she is offering a wide range of classes including healthy Kids Lunchboxes, Savoury Baking and Gluten-free Baking. You can find out more about them HERE.

 Anneka Manning
Macadamia, Date and Goji Berry Bars.
This dense bar is halfway between a fruit cake and a slice. Studded with macadamias, dates, goji berries and cranberries it has a real festive feel and makes a wonderful gift cut into four bars, wrapped in cellophane and tied with ribbon.

  • Makes 24 pieces
  • Preparation time: 10 minutes
  • Baking time: 30 minutes
Macadamia oil or sunflower oil, to grease
200g (7oz) macadamia halves, toasted
150g (5oz) dried dates, coarsely chopped
100g (3½oz) dried cranberries
50g (nearly 2oz) goji berries
⅓ cup plain wholemeal or spelt flour
90g (3oz) LoGiCane sugar (see tip)
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
⅛  tsp baking powder
⅛ tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 egg
1 tsp natural vanilla extract or essence

Macadamia, Date and Goji Berry Bars

Preheat the oven to 160°C (320°F). Lightly grease a square 18cm/7in (base measurement) cake tin and line the base and two sides with one piece of non-stick baking paper.
Combine the macadamias, dates, cranberries, goji berries, flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda in a medium bowl. Whisk together the egg and vanilla. Add to the macadamia mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until evenly combined.
Press the mixture evenly into the prepared tin with your fingers or the back of a spoon. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes or until golden and aromatic. Remove from the oven and cool in the tin.
Cut into small pieces to serve.

Tip: Substitute raw sugar or Demerara for LoGiCane™ – a low GI sugar (GI54) developed in Australia by Horizon Science. The low GI value is due to the polyphenols that occur naturally in molasses, which are recovered by a membrane filtration process and incorporated back into the washed raw sugar crystals.

Per piece 
 510kJ/ 120 calories; 1.5g protein; 7g fat (includes 1g saturated fat; saturated:unsaturated fat ratio 0.2); 13.5g available carbs (includes 12g sugars and 1.5g starch); 2 g fibre; sodium:potassium ratio 0.13 

Joanna McMillan: What’s for dinner? 
Joanna McMillan PhD is a qualified dietitian and nutritionist. She is director of nutrition consultancy company Dr Joanna, and founder of Get Lean – the online healthy lifestyle system. She is a popular media spokesperson in Australia with regular TV and radio appearances, writes for several magazines and blogs, and has authored several books including The Low GI Diet (with Prof Jennie Brand-Miller). Joanna is a proud ambassador for Diabetes Australia and The Skin and Cancer Foundation. She is also a former fitness instructor and continuing exercise enthusiast which she juggles with being mum to two very energetic boys. Find out more at www2.drjoanna.com.au

Dr Joanna McMillan

Soto Ayam (Balinese Chicken Soup).
Street vendors in Bali sell this chicken soup in the hot humid climate, not only to fill local bellies with goodness, but to keep them hydrated. It’s refreshing, tasty and satisfying. If all your ingredients are ready, you can prepare this soup in about 10 minutes, but even if you are cooking from scratch (assuming you have your stock) it only takes about 20 minutes. I prefer to use soba (buckwheat) noodles when making this recipe, as we did in our photo shoot. These are low GI, wholegrain and gluten free.  Serves 4

3 kaffir lime leaves, finely shredded
¼ cup coriander, leaves picked
dried shallots, garnish (or you could use fresh finely sliced green onion)
2 tomatoes, cut into small dice
1 chicken fillet, cooked and shredded (160g/5oz cooked weight)
4 hard boiled eggs, cut into quarters
1 sweet potato, boiled to tender, chopped into small dice
200g/7oz soba or rice vermicelli noodles, cooked to packet instructions and drained
4 cups good quality chicken stock (preferably homemade)

Soto Ayam (Balinese Chicken Soup)

Prepare all your ingredients. Bring the chicken stock to the boil. Portion the noodles, sweet potato and shredded chicken into 4 bowls.
Pour over the hot stock and then top with Kaffir lime leaves, coriander, tomato, boiled eggs and dried shallots. Serve immediately.

Per serve
1330kJ/ 316 calories; 23g protein; 7g fat (includes 2g saturated fat; saturated:unsaturated fat ratio 0.4); 38g available carbs; 3g 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.


Macadamia-Fig Granola. 
It’s been years since I’ve convinced my relatives and close friends living in Italy that a hearty breakfast with whole grains, fruit and lean protein is a much better idea than a small hard roll and marmalade. In fact, some are even baking double batches of their own granola. Here’s a recipe those new diehards can add to their collection. I can see them maybe replacing the macadamia nuts with walnuts or almonds but they’ll love the figs! Makes 14 ½-cup servings.

Cooking spray
6 cups old fashioned oats
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
3 tbsp chia seeds
½ cup coarsely chopped macadamia nuts
¼ cup canola oil
¼ cup lavender honey
3 dried figs, coarsely chopped

Macadamia-Fig Granola

Preheat the oven to 375° F (190° C). Coat a large lasagna pan with cooking spray. Set aside. In a large bowl add the oats, cinnamon, chia seeds and macadamia nuts. Mix well. Pour the oil and honey into a microwavable cup. Heat on HIGH for 15 seconds. Pour over the dry oat mixture. Mix thoroughly to coat evenly.
Pour granola mixture into the prepared pan. Bake 25 minutes, stirring 4-5 times. When done, allow to cool.
Add the figs, mix well. Store in an airtight container.

Per ½ cup serve
967kJ/ 230 calories; 5g protein; 11g fat (includes 1g saturated fat; saturated:unsaturated fat ratio 0.1); 26g available carbs; 5g fibre; sodium:potassium ratio 0.04

Putting the Fun Back into Fitness with Emma Sandall

Yoga is something different to everyone and people come to yoga at different stages in life. They move in and out of it – although certain practitioners and teachers are dogmatic about consistency!

Walking in Sydney

I first came across yoga through a beautiful school in North Bondi, called Dharma Shala. This initial experience has stayed with me. The room was small but comfortable. It was quiet, too. On entering we took off our shoes and made our way to a little table where the teacher would greet us and where we would pay ($17 back in the day). Then we would collect a mat and unravel it in a neat row next to the others.

While people arrived we’d lie on our backs, our arms above our heads and the soles of our feet together, in a position called Supta Baddha Konasana allowing the body to relax and hips to open before the class began.

Yoga means “yoking together” – the yoking together of mind and body. With that in mind – the philosophy of yoga can be applied to any activity in which the mind and body are connected in flow. But the exercises, postures, movements and technique of yoga practice is a system or discipline which encourages this implicitly. Built into the practice is an emphasis on breath, on quieting the mind and on being present. In other words, it is meditation through movement.

After settling ourselves into the soft ambience of the room for five minutes or so, the work would begin. Class was an hour and a half of flowing practice which linked traditional postures through breath and movement (vinyasa). The structure of the class would take us up from the floor into standing poses with names like warrior pose, tree pose, mountain pose challenging balance and endurance, to seated and lying poses which would stretch and strengthen the body in different ways finishing with bold back arches, shoulder stands and head stands, when the body was well warmed and connected.

Class always ended in shavasana, lying on the back again, relaxed, quiet, all the systems having been pulled or rather yoked together.

This type of class is often called vinyasa flow yoga. It draws on different types of yoga and brings them together through the teacher’s own practice and instruction. Basically, in a yoga class, your body will be stretched and strengthened with a focus on good technique, patience and perseverance.

People are either put off or drawn to yoga because of its “spiritual” nature. If taken lightly, this side of the practice can be used to connect you more deeply and respectfully to your body and the bodies of others. The spiritual or philosophical side helps you see the movements less as dry exercises imposed and more like experiences in the course of a personal and informative narrative, one which is different every day.
Emma Sandall
Emma Sandall is an ex-ballerina turned fitness and health guru. She teaches and coaches dance, fitness and Pilates and writes and produces video for all things movement related. Emma runs Body Playground, a space to activate and inspire body and soul.

Perspectives with Dr Alan Barclay

Alan Barclay

Optimise Physical Performance with Low GI Carbs. 
For high intensity exercise that requires quick bursts of speed, like football, netball, basketball, marathons, etc., carbohydrate, or more specifically glucose, is the preferred fuel for your muscles. Consequently, eating enough carbohydrate at the right time in your training schedule, and before the event, has long been one of the key foci of nutrition advice. However, the role of the type or quality of carbohydrate in enhancing physical performance has not been clear.

Due to their slower rates of digestion, absorption and metabolism, low GI foods and meals provide a slow and sustained release of glucose, with a lower peak in blood glucose levels after a meal and correspondingly lower peak in insulin levels. The benefit of consuming low GI foods/meals prior to physical activity is that the resultant changes in blood glucose and insulin levels are not as rapid as what occurs when high GI foods/meals are consumed, so consequently consuming low GI foods/meals will lead to an increase in free fatty acid (blood fat) oxidation and more optimal maintenance of blood glucose levels, leading to more sustained glucose availability for working muscles. This means that consuming low GI foods/meals before an event should translate into improved physical performance.

In 2013, dietitians Talya Postelnik, Alan Barclay and statistician Peter Petocz set out to see if the body of scientific evidence supported this. They conducted a systematic literature review and found 15 studies in humans that met stringent selection criteria and were eligible for meta-analysis. When exercising to exhaustion, as may occur in many team sports or marathons, people that consumed a low GI food or meal between 0.5 and 3 hours before an event were able to keep going for an average of 22% longer. When participating in time trials, people that consumed the low GI food or meal were significantly quicker (3% improvement) than those that consumed the high GI foods/meals. So overall, the results do indicate that consuming low GI foods/meals before an event will lead to significant improvements in physical performance.


For optimal performance, it is important that you eat and drink foods and beverages that best suit your personal and cultural preferences, and the event you are participating in, so as always, see your Accredited/Registered Dietitian for personalised advice.

Alan Barclay (BSc; Grad Dip; PhD, APD, AN) is a consultant dietitian and Chief Scientific Officer at the Glycemic Index Foundation. He worked for Diabetes Australia (NSW) from 1998-2014 and is a member of the editorial boards of Diabetes Australia’s consumer magazine, Conquest, and health professional magazine, Diabetes Management Journal. He is coauthor of The Low GI Diet: Diabetes Handbook, The Low GI Diet: Managing Type 2 Diabetes, and The Ultimate Guide to Sugars and Sweeteners. Contact: alan.barclay@gisymbol.com.

News from the Glycemic Index Foundation

Quick Meals. 
As our lives get busier, there are more ‘quick’ or microwavable rice and related products (e.g., quinoa and chia seeds) finding their way onto our supermarket shelves, that can be enjoyed as sides for our main meals, or as a quick and easy lunch (served with canned fish, cold meat or poultry, etc. for a complete meal). In Australia, we have a rapidly growing range of delicious and healthy, low GI choices available at an affordable price.

Regular rice products

  • SunRice Low GI Brown Rice – GI54 
  • SunRice Doongara Low GI Clever Rice – GI54 
 Quick meals products 
  • SunRice Low GI White Rice microwavable pouch – GI52 
  • Coles Brown Rice and Chia Seeds – GI41 
  • Coles Brown Rice and Quinoa – GI51 
  • Coles 7 Ancient Grains – GI49 
  • Coles Mexican Rice – GI47 
  • Coles Simply Gluten Free Mexican Style Quinoa and Brown Rice Cups – GI49 
  • Coles Simply Gluten Free Quinoa Cups – GI53 
Coles Supermarkets have some wonderful family recipes on their website with their rice products, but as yet nothing using the new “90 second” Brown Rice and Quinoa. With their permission, we asked Alison Roberts, Diabetic Living’s food editor, to recreate their Roast Vegetable Rice Salad for a family of four people using one packet of Coles Brown Rice and Quinoa. “It’s delicious,” says Alison.

Coles Brown Rice and Quinoa

Roasted Vegetable, Rice and Quinoa Salad.
  • Preparation time: 10 minutes 
  • Cooking time: 35 minutes 
  • Serves 4 
500g (1lb 2oz) orange sweet potato, peeled and cut into 2cm (¾in) pieces
1 medium eggplant (aubergine), cut into 3cm (1½in) pieces
1 red onion, peeled and cut into wedges
2½ tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 red capsicum (bell pepper), cut into 3cm (1½in) pieces
1 x 250g (8oz) packet Coles Brown Rice and Quinoa
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
80g (2½oz) pitted Kalamata olives, quartered
50g (2oz) rocket leaves
Freshly ground black pepper

Roasted Vegetable, Rice and Quinoa Salad

Preheat the oven to 190°C/380°F (fan-forced). Line a large roasting pan with non-stick baking paper.
Toss the sweet potato, eggplant and onion in 1½ tablespoons of the oil. Spread the vegetables out over the lined pan. Toss the capsicum with another 2 teaspoons of oil in a small bowl and set the capsicum aside.
Roast the sweet potato, eggplant and onion for 15 minutes. Add the capsicum to the pan and roast for a further 20 minutes or until the vegetables are golden and tender. Set aside for 10 minutes to cool slightly.
Meanwhile, prepare the Rice and Quinoa following packet directions. Transfer to a large bowl and set aside to cool slightly. Add the balsamic vinegar, olives, rocket and remaining olive oil. Season with pepper and toss to combine.
Add the roasted vegetables to the rice mixture and toss gently to combine. Place on a serving platter and serve.

Per serve 
1440 kJ/ 345 calories; 7 g protein; 13 g fat (includes 2 g saturated fat; saturated:unsaturated fat ratio 0.2); 46 g available carbs (includes 15 g sugars and 31 g starch); 6 g fibre; sodium:potassium ratio 0.24
New GI Symbol

Q&A with Prof. Jennie Brand-Miller

Prof Jennie Brand-Miller answers your questions. 

Why are there different GI values for the same thing? It’s very confusing. 
If you are a fan of Google (and who isn’t) you’ll find various GI values for the same foods and beverages. I have to say that I have no idea where some values come from. Certainly not any scientific research we have seen in peer-reviewed journals or from the GI test facilities we collaborate with.

First of all, some foods we think of as being the same are actually different. The popular potato: same? No. Different. There are many varieties. Ditto for rice. Back in 2007, when we saw the evidence mounting that it is the potato variety that affects its glycemic impact not the cooking method, we sat down with potato expert Graham Liney, grower Frank Mitolo and Dutch potato breeding company Agrico to put a low GI potato on the table. Three years after the first crop was pulled from the soil, Carisma was internationally certified as the first low GI potato (GI 55). Dr Kai-Lin Ek reports on it here and on what we are doing to identify other low GI potatoes.

Secondly, the testing method matters. A food’s GI value must be measured in people (we call this ‘in vivo testing’) and these days, according to ISO 26642:2010 (the international standard). There is (as yet) no easy, inexpensive substitute test. There are also old GI values from the early days of testing, which brings us to carrots.

Girl with carrots
Photo courtesy Hachette Australia: The Low GI Family Cookbook

Raw or cooked, carrots are good for you and they won’t send your blood glucose on a roller coaster ride. End of story. Why? Well, not only are they a low GI food (41), they have very few carbs. In fact, to get a hefty portion of carbs from carrots you’d have to crunch through at least 5 cups or 750g (about 1½ lb) at a sitting – a pretty awesome achievement even for carrot lovers. How did the high GI carrot myth happen? Well, they were first tested way back in the early days (1981) – only five people were included in the study, the variation among them was huge, the reference food was tested only once and the result was a very high GI. And it was that early high GI result for healthy foods like carrots (along with watermelon) that became the stick to beat the whole GI concept with for years – and still to this day for the anti-GI stalwarts.

  • Lesson One: you can’t win ’em all. 
  • Lesson Two: A food’s GI value was never meant to offer the only criterion by which it is judged as fit to eat. It’s a useful tool from the nutrition tool box to help you choose more of those smart carbs when creating a healthy eating plan.
GI Graph

Professor Jennie Brand-Miller (AM, PhD, FAIFST, FNSA, MAICD) is an internationally recognised authority on carbohydrates and the glycemic index with over 250 scientific publications. She holds a Personal Chair in Human Nutrition in the Boden Institute of Obesity, Nutrition, Exercise and Eating Disorders and Charles Perkins Centre at the University of Sydney. She is the coauthor of many books for the consumer on the glycemic index and health.

It’s Time to Get Mobile Friendly. 
From January 2015, GI News is getting a new look so it will be as easy to read on your phone or tablet as it is on your laptop and desktop. It will also be easier for you to share the stories and recipes you like, print them and Tweet them.

At the same time, we will be moving from Blogger and our base at the University of Sydney to WordPress and the Glycemic Index Foundation. The Foundation, a not-for-profit health promotion charity supported by the University of Sydney and JDRF, can provide us with the ongoing technical support we need.

Everything else will stay the same – the same team and the same range of stories, recipes and quality of content.

We do hope you like the new look and enjoy the benefits of the changes. We look forward to hearing your constructive comments on how we can deliver an even better GI News to your Inbox.

– Jennie Brand-Miller, Philippa Sandall, Alan Barclay

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Copyright and Permission

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