1 June 2007

GI News—June 2007


‘Chestnuts roasting on an open fire ...’ Did you know that they were part of the staple diet of Southern Europe, Turkey and Asia for centuries. In fact until potatoes arrived on the scene, they were a major source of carbohydrate. And now we know that they are low GI. Check out Food of the Month and GI Values Update. This issue we also look at how low a GI diet should go, whether you’ll burn up more fat if you exercise before breakfast and how a low GI diet benefits your genes. There's more on low carb-high protein diets, too - what’s the long-term risk to your health? The jury may still be out, but Prof. Walter, Willett from Harvard reminds us that it’s the type of carbohydrate and the type of fat rather than the relative amounts that make a difference. Enjoy June GI News and don’t forget to try our real food recipes this month: Chilli Chestnut Fettuccine, Chicken and Sweet Corn Soup and Instant Berry Fool.


GI News Editor: Philippa Sandall
Web Design and Management: Scott Dickinson, PhD

Food for Thought

How low should a low GI diet go?
Prof Jennie Brand-Miller and Diabetes Australia's Alan Barclay believe there's a real need to define the numerical difference between a low GI diet and a low GI food. Because a low GI food is defined as 55 or less, people have made the reasonable assumption that a whole diet that averages less than 55 is 'low enough'. In fact the AVERAGE Australian and American diet already has a GI of 56 to 58 because we all eat low GI fruits and dairy products and of course sugar (GI 60). So to reduce the risk of chronic disease, a low GI eating pattern/diet must have much lower number.

What we now know from observational/cohort studies is that the GI of the diet of the people in the lowest quintile (20% of the population) is about 40–45. Since this reduces the risk of chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease and people can achieve it in real life, we think it's a reasonable definition of a low GI diet (i.e. less than 45). How do you achieve this? Substitute low for high GI foods in your everyday meals and snacks, especially in the breads you choose. Breakfast in particular is your opportunity to go for gold by selecting a low GI breakfast cereal. Don't assume that adding milk to crispy flakes makes it a low GI meal. If you don’t eat breakfast cereal, make sure you choose a low GI bread for your toast, and of course low GI breads are a must for those sandwiches at lunch.’


Seven secrets to making healthier eating a habit
Now that a large US study published in the April edition of American Psychologist has come to the obvious conclusion that (fad) diets don’t work, GI News asked Nutrition for Life author Catherine Saxelby what sort of eating plan helps people lose that excess and keep it off.

‘Well, the best way of eating if you are overweight, is a diet you enjoy and can stick to for more than a week. It has to be sustainable – it’s not about dropping a dress size, it’s about healthy eating for life! Cut down the fat, especially saturated fat. Eat protein at each meal for satiety. Choose high fibre or low GI carbohydrates to slow digestion and absorption. Cut down, but don’t cut out! Eat a large salad a day. It fills you up for few kilojoules. Don’t skip meals, especially breakfast. But food aside, you need to adopt some healthier eating habits. Remember, although motivation may get you started, it’s habit that keeps you going and keeps the kilos off.’

Catherine Saxelby

  1. Listen to your stomach. Your stomach is only the size of your fist clenched. Imagine this and you’ll soon realise that it doesn’t take a lot of food to fill that volume. Aim to eat only when you’re hungry. Stop when you’re comfortably full – not stuffed. I believe this notion is so important, I created a ‘Hunger-Fullness Log’ where you can plot your hunger rating over the day (peckish, hungry, ravenous, running on empty, starving or too weak to chew). You can download it at www.foodwatch.com.au/foodwatching.
  2. Think long term. Think weeks or months, not one week. Your excess weight crept on gradually and that’s the best way for it to come off – slow and gradual. That way, you won’t trigger your body’s ‘fast and famine’ mode.
  3. Eat small. It’s now clear that the bigger the portion in front of you, the more you’ll end up consuming, as Prof. Brian Wansink has amply demonstrated in his new book Mindless Eating. Watch your portions. You can still enjoy a treat as long as it’s small. Don’t let waiters and fast food chains upsize your portions for very little more money. It’s a trap – if it’s not waste on your plate, it will end up around your waist!
  4. Practise mindful eating. Eat slowly, savouring each mouthful and enjoying the different flavours and aromas. Focus on the food in front of you. Put your fork and knife down between bites. Sit down to eat, even if it’s only for a snack. Turn the TV off and don’t read. Check in with your stomach every so often – it takes the stomach 20 minutes to signal the brain that it’s FULL! Before you start to eat, take a long breath in and out to trigger the start of your mindful eating.
  5. Plan meals ahead.
    Have something in the fridge or freezer that you can defrost and cook when you come home tired. If you’re going out, take a salad box or sandwich with you so you don’t have to buy fast food.
  6. Use the 90/10 rule. If 90% of your intake is healthy, then the remaining 10 per cent of an occasional treat won’t derail your efforts. And the odd treat will stop you feeling deprived and less likely to pig out and binge. One chocolate won’t spoil a healthy diet – but the whole box will!
  7. Think positive. Don’t dwell on what you CAN’T eat! Think of the good things you CAN enjoy from a bowl of hearty chicken and vegetable soup to good Greek yoghurt.
And finally, be active – just walking more helps! ANY exercise is better than none!


Catherine Saxelby’s most recent book, Zest, The Nutrition for Life Cookbook, includes 120 ‘real food’ recipes for vitality and good health that will help you achieve and maintain a weight that’s right for you. For more information about Zest, check out Catherine’s website: www.foodwatch.com.au

GI News Podcast

GI News Podcast: Strategies for Cooking and Eating Low GI Foods
In the fourth of the New Glucose Revolution podcasts, Prof. Jennie Brand-Miller talks about strategies for cooking and eating with the glycemic index. Where do you begin? How to get your engine revving at breakfast time.


Play the Podcast above or download here

GI News Briefs

Putting your genes on a diet
It’s a commonplace to say you are what you eat, but Petteri Kallio and colleagues writing in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in May suggest that’s pretty much what’s happening at a molecular level in a study that highlights changes in gene expression in people consuming diets with different effects on post-meal insulin concentrations. The researchers from the University of Kuopio in Finland randomly assigned 47 men and women with metabolic syndrome either to a rye-pasta diet producing a low insulin response or an oat-wheat-potato diet producing a high insulin response for 12 weeks and assessed the effect by looking at the effect on subcutaneous fat (that's the fat under the skin). They found the genes regulating insulin signalling were down-regulated on the rye-pasta diet, and genes related mainly to stress were up-regulated on the oat-wheat-potato diet.

In an accompanying editorial entitled ‘Putting your genes on a diet’, Dr Sandra Salsberg and Dr David Ludwig say: ‘The present study has direct implications concerning our understanding of the dietary glycemic index (GI). High-GI meals produce greater postprandial insulin concentrations and C-peptide excretion than do nutrient-controlled low-GI meals. Observational and interventional studies have linked GI to the risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer, although the topic remains much debated …. The results of the present study emphasize the age-old wisdom to “use food as medicine” – in this case, for the targeted prevention and treatment of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.’
- American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2007;85:1417–27
http://www.ajcn.org for the accompanying editorial

Dr David Ludwig

GI Group: Gene expression is the process by which a gene’s DNA sequence is converted into the functional proteins of the cell. For more detail check out Wikipedia.

Is the jury in or out on the long-term effects of low carb-high protein diets?
In the past 20 or so years, people struggling to get rid of extra pounds frequently opted for a high protein-low carb diet on the basis of promises that these diets led to faster weight loss and better weight control. Recent evidence has in fact suggested that these diets do deliver faster weight loss. But, a more serious question is whether sticking to these diets long term is compatible with long-term health? Fans of these diets gave a collective sigh of relief last year when a US observational cohort study based on the Nurses Health Study revealed no link between a low carb diet and mortality, particularly from heart disease. Two new studies from Sweden (Dr Lagiou’s) and from Greece (Prof Trichopoulou’s) appear to flatly contradict this, both concluding on the basis of similar long-term studies with large numbers of women that prolonged consumption of a diet that’s low in carbohydrate and high in protein was associated with increased total and particularly cardiovascular mortality among women. So where does that leave us? Harvard’s Prof Walter Willett to the rescue. In an editorial comment in the Journal of Internal Medicine, he makes the point that the complexities of human diets make comparisons of patterns between one population and another difficult, suggesting that the most likely interpretation of the inconsistency between the US and Swedish studies is that both are correct in the context of their respective populations and diets. He says:
‘Within the relatively lean and younger Swedish women, replacement of largely whole grains with the protein packages consumed in that population probably have an adverse effect on cardiovascular disease. In contrast, within a heavier and older population of US women, replacement of mainly refined starch and sugar with almost any source of calories is not likely to increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. This conclusion emphasizes the most fundamental conclusion of research into diet and cancer during the last decade: it is the type of fat and type of carbohydrate rather than the total amounts of either that influence risk of cardiovascular disease. Thus, in the Nurses’ Health Study, a low-carbohydrate pattern that emphasized vegetable sources of protein and fat was associated with a significantly lower risk of coronary heart disease … There is every reason to believe that a moderately low carbohydrate intake (approximately 30–40% of energy) can result in low risk of cardiovascular disease if the proteins and fats are mainly from plant sources (but do not include hydrogenated oils) and the remaining carbohydrates are from whole grains, fruit and vegetables.’
Journal of Internal Medicine 261; 366–374 (Swedish study) and 363–365 (Walter Willett)
European Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2007) 61, 575–581 (Greek study)


Exercise benefits women with PCOS
A structured exercise training program is a simple way to help reduce cardiovascular risk in women with PCOS say researchers from the University of Naples writing in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. There are other benefits as well as this small study shows. Ninety overweight young women with PCOS but otherwise healthy took part in the randomised trial. Half undertook a supervised and structured exercise program that included aerobic activity 3 times a week with 30 minutes on a bicycle. The other half did no structured exercise. Both groups were encouraged to follow a healthy balanced meal plan with 50% of calories from carbohydrates, 25% from protein and 25% from fat. All the women completed the trial. After 3 months (84 days to be precise), the exercisers had achieved a significant reduction in BMI, waist circumference, hip to waist ratio and insulin resistance. Sixty per cent also had normal menstrual cycles. No changes were observed in the non-exercisers.
JCEM Vol. 92, No. 4 1379–1384
http://www.medscape.com (login required)

Want to take part in a PCOS diet study?
The University of Sydney is conducting a dietary study for women with PCOS. If you have PCOS, live in Sydney (Australia), are aged 18-40, and are not taking the pill or trying to get pregnant, contact pcosdietstudy@nnd.com.au for more information.


Australians get help in managing type 2 diabetes

Medicare rebates are now payable for group services provided by eligible diabetes educators, exercise physiologists and dietitians for people with type 2 diabetes, on referral from a GP. The new rebates are in addition to the current Medicare items for individual services provided by health professionals. For more information and a referral ask your doctor.


Low GI Food of the Month

Chestnuts are something of an anomaly in the nut family – they are very low in fat and are a great source of smart carbs (GI 54 for crushed uncooked chestnut kernels). They are also high in dietary fibre and rich in minerals like potassium and calcium and in B group vitamins. What else? Well, they are versatile – just roast them in ‘that open fire’ and enjoy hot, or add them to soups, stir fries, stuffings, casseroles, vegetable dishes, pasta, risotto and desserts. You’ll find fresh chestnuts in your supermarket or produce store from Fall through to early winter. Look for even-sized nuts which feel heavy for their size, with undamaged, firm shells. One kilogram of chestnuts yields approximately 700 grams (1 lb 10 oz) of shelled chestnuts. Because they are about 50% water, store them in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator to stop them from drying out. You can also buy them year round frozen, canned, vacuumed packed, pureed and dried.


How to prepare chestnuts
Chestnuts have two skins. One is the hard outer shiny brown shell and the other is the inner thin skin known as the pellicle. Chestnuts Australia shared their prep tips with us.

Lie chestnut on its flat side and cut or score halfway around the nut piercing both the outer
shell and inner skin.

Microwave: place layer of cut chestnuts in a covered container on high/100% for 2-3 minutes until shell opens and flesh is soft.
Roast/bake/grill: place cut chestnuts on oven tray and cook at 200C (400F) or under a moderate grill for 15 minutes until shells open.
Boil/steam: place cut chestnuts in a pan of cold water or steamer, cover, bring to boil and simmer for 15-20 minutes until shell opens and flesh is soft.

Immediately wrap hot cooked chestnuts in a tea towel for a few minutes, and whilst still
hot, peel off outer shell and inner brown skin.

Chilli chestnut fettuccine
Here’s a great way to use leftover pasta. This spicy, nutty blend delivers a tasty meal in double-quick time. Even if you have to start from scratch and cook the pasta, it’s a speedy meal.
Serves 4; Preparation time 5 minutes; Cooking time 10 minutes


3 tablespoons (60 ml) extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon crushed garlic
2 long red chillies, deseeded and finely sliced
1/3 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped
2 cups chestnuts, finely chopped
freshly ground black pepper
300 g cooked fettuccine (or your favourite pasta shapes)
shaved parmesan, to taste

  1. Heat oil in a large non-stick frying pan and add garlic, chilli, chestnuts and parsley until golden and fragrant.
  2. Add cooked, drained fettuccine and toss to coat in chestnut mixture and heat through. Serve topped with parmesan cheese and extra chestnuts, if desired.
Nutrition analysis per serve
1562 kJ/372 cal; 14 g fat (includes 2.5 g saturated fat); 12 g fibre; 7 g protein; 49 g carbohydrate

For more information on chestnuts visit www.chestnutsaustralia.com.au

Low GI Recipes of the Month

The low GI recipes this month are from Zest, Catherine Saxelby’s new cookbook written with Woman’s Day Food Director, Jennene Plummer and published by Hardie Grant. Each recipe has been analysed for calories/kilojoules, fat, fibre and sodium. Low GI recipes are highlighted.

Instant berry fool
Instead of berries you can use chopped mangoes, papaya, bananas or passionfruit says Jennene. And if you are wondering what to do with those leftover yolks, use them to bind patties or meat balls or to enrich sauces. They can also be frozen for up to a month.
Serves 4; Preparation time; 5 minutes


3 egg whites
¼ cup (55 g/2 oz)caster sugar
2 cups (500 ml) low fat pouring custard
2 cups (300 g/10 1/2 oz) mixed berries of choice
1 tablespoon chopped toasted almonds

  1. In a clean, dry bowl, beat the egg whites with an electric beater until soft peaks form. Take care not to over-beat them, though, or they will collapse and cannot be used.
  2. Gradually add then sugar, beating until it is thick and glossy.
  3. Gently fold in the custard and berries and spoon into serving glasses. Chill until required. Serve topped with almonds.
Nutrition analysis per serve
810 kJ/193 Cal; 3 g fat (includes saturated fat 1 g); 2 g fibre; 9 g protein; 33 g carbohydrate; 100 mg sodium

Chicken and sweetcorn soup
To serve, whisk an egg and stir through soup just before serving to make ‘egg flowers’ – shreds of cooked egg through the soup, says Jennene. For a change, add 120 g (4 oz) of thinly sliced button mushrooms and some sliced chilli.
Serves 4; Preparation time 10 minutes; Cooking time 10 minutes


2 cups (500 ml) chicken stock
2 cups (500 ml) water
¼ cup (60 ml) sherry
1 tablespoon grated ginger
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 skinless chicken breast fillet, thinly sliced
400 g (14 oz) creamed corn
50 g (1½ oz) baby corn, halved lengthwise
½ bunch choy sum, sliced
6 green onions (spring onions/shallots), sliced

To serve
soy sauce
grainy bread or bread rolls
  1. In a large saucepan combine the stock, water, sherry, ginger and garlic. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat and simmer for 3 minutes.
  2. Stir in the thin chicken slices and corn and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the choy sum and green onions and simmer for another minute.
  3. Ladle the soup into bowls and serve immediately with a drizzle of soy sauce if desired. Accompany with grainy bread.
Nutrition analysis per serve (includes 1 slice of sourdough or grainy bread)
1215 kJ/289 Cal; 6 g fat (includes saturated fat 1 g); 6 g fibre; 21 g protein; 32 g carbohydrate; 815 mg sodium

Your Success Stories

‘The low GI lifestyle works. My weight dropped 35 kilos over 18 months.’ – Lisa
‘I turned 42 last week and have been living with diabetes since my first pregnancy when I was 23. I was also diagnosed with gestational diabetes at the onset of my second pregnancy 7 months later (yes I know, nice and close). I largely ignored all the advice from the health sector for the first 7 years after diagnosis, swallowing the prescribed pills and conducting blood testing when I remembered. I made the odd trip to the specialist who was always at pains to tell me how non-compliant I was along with all the dire warnings about heart disease, blindness, amputation etc. By the time I was 30, I was extremely overweight with out of control BGLs and generally disgusted with myself. Around this time I discovered a new GP who really put himself out to try to get me on the straight and narrow. He gave me a copy of The New Glucose Revolution and I have been religiously following the concept ever since. My weight dropped 35 kg over 18 months and has stayed off to this day, my BGLs average around 5 mmol and I still have my eyes, feet and very luckily for me, no obvious complications from my years of self neglect. The low GI lifestyle works and it was so easy to make the changes to my every day foods with such amazing results.’


‘We are finding more energy to do more activities as a family. I believe this is due to a conscious decision to eat better carbohydrates with a lower GI.’ – Michael
‘In the 1990s I was extremely fit, competing in triathlons of all distances including Ironman. However, since 2000, a back injury and work commitments led to a fairly sedentary lifestyle where I put on 15 kg. The back would not heal and finally a chiro advised me to start back exercising. By exercising at least once daily I was able to cure my back injury by strengthening my abdominals. Recently I discovered low GI foods and their assistance with weight loss and in sustaining energy allowing longer sessions without flat – last weekend I completed a 3-hour run without any after effects, my longest run in 7 years.

I used to eat only white bread and jasmine rice etc. I have now changed to wholegrain bread, Doongara and basmati rice. I am now learning that these foods actually taste better when creatively used. Some of the recipes found on http://ginews.blogspot.com have really helped bring back the flavour to foods and also assist with a steady flow of energy rather than the quick hit and drop off of the type of carbohydrates I was used to consuming.

My whole family is benefiting from this. We all eat the same meals and no one complains about my cooking or my wife’s. My wife who has always been fairly sedentary is now running and doing triathlons as are 2 of my daughters, aged 7 and 11 (at 20 months the youngest is still a bit young). My wife has also lost approx 8 kg and working towards her pre-children weight. We are finding more energy to do more activities as a family. I believe this is due to a conscious decision to eat better carbohydrates with a lower GI. I still am amazed about the differences in GI content in not only the individual raw ingredients but also amongst different brands etc.

Recently I completed a 25 km 2 day hike with my 2 daughters (7 and 11 years old). Without the use of low GI foods I don’t believe it would have been as easy. We are finding every week that we are benefiting from making a conscious choice of low GI foods.

Websites such as www.glycemicindex.com have proved invaluable as a resource to assist us in our quest for a better form of carbohydrate as we know that they are not the evil foods portrayed in the late 90\'s but rather an essential part of an active lifestyle.’

‘I lost 10 pounds within 3 months and feel great!’ – Jamie
‘At the age of 31 I had my first child. After a 3 month maternity leave I returned to work thinner than before pregnancy. My weight gain began after I weened my daughter 6 months later. I was used to eating more food. When my daughter turned one, I knew I needed to make some changes. I weighed 17 pounds more than before pregnancy! I learned of the Glycemic Index eating plan. Our family now consumes very little processed carbohydrate. I lost 10 pounds within 3 months and feel great! Now I plan to add in more exercise and lose those last 7 pounds.’

Inspire others. Share your GI story.
success story

We'll send you a free copy of The Low GI Diet Cookbook or The Low GI Vegetarian Cookbook if your story is published.


Move it and Lose it!

Glenn answers those FAQs about exercise
When should I exercise? I have read that you will burn more fat if you exercise before breakfast.

The biggest factor for burning body fat is whether you do the activity in the first place. It may be interesting to speculate whether you burn more fat in certain circumstances, but the best I can give you is a general guide.

Glen Cardwell

  1. To burn fat you have to be active in the first place.
  2. The fitter you are the better your body is at burning fat. To get to a reasonable level of fitness, you need to move your body 3–5 times a week.
  3. It doesn’t matter if you walk or jog. You will burn more fat jogging for 30 minutes than walking for 30 minutes. On the other hand, you will burn more fat by walking for 60 minutes than jogging for 30 minutes.
  4. The amount of incidental activity during the day will potentially burn more fat than a jog. Getting up from your chair, having a stretch, taking a quick walk around the office, using the stairs etc will probably burn more body fat during the day. So don’t do 30 minutes of exercise then tick the exercise box and plonk your bum on a chair for the rest of the day.
  5. Weight bearing exercise like walking, aerobics and jogging are better at burning up fat stores than weight supported exercise like swimming or cycling. However it’s better to do something you enjoy than analyse its fat burning potential. Refer back to point 1.
For more information see Gold Medal Nutrition.

Exercise goals for June

Fitness expert Dr Joanna McMillan Price says aim to walk at a steady comfortable pace for 20 minutes on four days. Plus complete three resistance exercises – squats (see April GI News); single leg extensions (see May) and assisted push-ups on three days.

Joanna McMillan-Price

Assisted push-ups strengthen and tone chest, shoulders and arms
The push-up is undeniably one of the best upper body exercises you can do. The push-up involves the muscles of the chest, shoulders and arms and is therefore an efficient means of toning the upper body all at once. Why do most people hate push-ups? The answer is easy—because they are hard! In fact, they are even harder if you are carrying too much body weight since you are effectively lifting your own body weight against gravity. Here is a modified version of the traditional push-up, which enables you to gain the benefits of the exercise but makes it easier for you to perform it correctly. You will need a low coffee table – alternatively, use the second or third bottom step of your stairs.

How to do it:
  1. Start in a kneeling position with your hands wider than your shoulders on the edge of the table or stair. Move your knees back until your body is a straight diagonal line from head to knee.
  2. Slowly lower your chest towards the edge of the table/stair while keeping your back flat and without letting your bottom stick up.
  3. At the bottom of the move, your elbows should be directly above your hands – adjust your hand position as appropriate before returning slowly to the starting position.
How many: 2 sets of 10 repetitions with a short rest in between

– Source: The Low GI Diet and The Low GI Diet Revolution.

Feedback—Your FAQs Answered

My 10-year-old daughter has recently been diagnosed with insulin resistance. We are already eating a low GI diet but I need some help with portion sizing and interesting meals that are kid-friendly. I am having great difficulty finding this information – can you give me some advice?
‘That’s a tough one,’ says dietitian Kaye Foster-Powell who helped us answer this. ‘Insulin resistance at age 10. It may be a good idea to consult a registered dietitian with special expertise in children’s needs as well as an understanding of the GI, in the meantime, here are some ideas.’

A typical day

  • Breakfast: ½ cup of cooked porridge made from traditional oats (not instant) with a teaspoon of sugar or honey served with ½ cup low fat milk
  • Lunch: Low GI bread sandwich including 2 slices of bread, 2 teaspoons of canola margarine, 60 g (2 oz) of chicken, lean roast beef or pork, egg or canned fish with a couple of vegetable serves either as salad on the sandwich or served separately as carrot, celery, red capsicum, cucumber bits, grape tomatoes, baby beets, etc.
  • Dinner: Around 80–100 g (2½–3 ½ oz) lean meat or chicken or 150 g (5½ oz) fish + 2 starchy serves and plenty of veggies.
Plus the following incorporated as part of these meals or as snacks:
  • 1 cup of low fat fruit yoghurt
  • An apple
  • 2 mandarins
  • A cup of low fat milk
Some typical main meals
  • 1 cup of pasta with 1 cup of vegetable-rich bolognaise sauce
  • 1 cup of cooked rice with about ½ cup of stir-fried meat strips and at least 1½ cups of vegetables
  • 1 cup of noodles, 1 or 2 eggs and a combination of Asian stir-fried vegetables
  • 1 roast chicken drumstick without skin served with 1 medium baked potato or similar sized sweet potato chunk plus at least 1 cup of other vegetables such as roast pumpkin, peas, beans, broccoli, and cauliflower
  • A bowl of home-made vegetable soup followed by ½ cup of baked beans, an egg plus 2 slices of toast
  • 4 regular sized taco shells filled with chilli beans, lettuce, tomato slices, grated reduced fat cheese and about ¼ avocado
Kaye Foster-Powell

Why aren’t the GI values of all those vegetables we are urged to eat 5 serves a day of on the GI database?

The GI is a measure of carbohydrate quality and only applies to carb-rich foods. Most vegetables from artichokes to zucchini along with all your favourite greens and salad veggies contain so little carbohydrate they won’t have much effect on blood glucose levels at all, and their GI can’t be measured following the international standardised procedure. Root vegetables such as carrots and parsnips and squash such as butternut pumpkin/winter squash contain a little carbohydrate and have low GI values, so pop them on the plate when serving dinner.

What we say is, brighten your plate (at least half of it) with a variety of colourful vegetables. They are full of fibre and essential nutrients that fill you up without adding extra kilojoules/calories. Try leafy green and salad vegetables; green peas and beans; broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower; zucchini and baby squash; onions and leeks; fennel and asparagus; carrots, parsnips and pumpkin; and don’t forget mushrooms (yes we know that they are really fungi). Opt for flavour and enjoy vegetables fresh in season or frozen year round. If choosing canned convenience, make sure you buy brands with no added salt.

Photo: Ian Hofstetter, from Zest by Catherine Saxelby and Jennene Plummer

Starchy vegetables such as potatoes, sweet potato, sweet corn, yams, taro and legumes, belong in the carb-rich foods (not the vegetables) part of the plate. You need to keep portions moderate (a quarter of the plate as the diagram shows) and choose the low GI types. These carb-rich foods are all in the GI database and listed in The New Glucose Revolution Shopper’s Guide to GI Values.

If you are unsure about how to use the GI database, just scroll down to the bottom of GI News and see the step-by-step guide.

GI Values Update

The latest GI values

Crushed uncooked chestnut kernels: GI 54, tested by the International Diabetes Institute, Melbourne Australia.

Beech-Nut Good Morning Products
As we get lots of questions about healthy foods for kids, we were interested when a press release arrived on our desk (well computer screen) from Beech-Nut Nutrition Corporation. This company develops baby foods that are free of preservatives, artificial colours and flavours, trans fats, soy and added refined sugar. Their Good Morning products based around oats have a low GI says the press release. We followed up to see where the products were tested and what the GI actually was so we could share this with GI News readers.


In fact the Good Morning range hasn't been clinically tested. It was ‘calculated from GI values of its ingredients by the method of Wolever and Jenkins [AJCN 43:197-172, 1986], using total carbohydrate and total fibre data from the USDA Nutrient Database and the clinically measured GI of each ingredient (Foster-Powell et al., Univ. Sydney)’ Beech-Nut told GI News.

We agree with Beech-Nut's nutritional scientists that the products couldn’t possibly be tested in babies! But we feel that it would be great if they followed up all the good work invested so far in developing these healthy products for babies and toddlers with some clinical testing in adults – just to make sure that the GI really is low. If it is, they really have come up with a first. Testing is important to reliably know the GI value, because in addition to ingredients, other factors such as food processing techniques can have a significant impact on the GI. Milling, cooking, baking, extrusion, granularity – these can all have an effect. For more information: www.beechnut.com

GI Symbol News
The Organic Beverage Company (TOBC) Syzmo™ has joined the GI Symbol Program. Syzmo™ organic energy drink (GI 30) meets the GI Symbol Program’s nutritional criteria for carbonated beverages – it’s a reduced kilojoule/calorie beverage with 24 grams of carbohydrate per 1 cup (240 ml) serving (be aware that the 12 fl oz can you buy contains 1½ cups, so you may like to share it with a friend). The sweetness is from blue agave – no high fructose corn syrup here! The energy-enhancing ingredients include guarana, yerba mate extract and caffeine. It also contains a host of added vitamins and minerals including B12. It’s certified organic by USDA. And it’s not recommended for children, pregnant women, or people sensitive to caffeine. You may or may not be in favour of energy drinks (or any carbonated drinks for that matter), but they are a fact of life, and if people are going to drink and enjoy them (in moderation we hope), then opting for the healthier product is a very smart decision. For more information, check out: www.syzmo.com


Where can I get more information on GI testing?

North America
Dr Alexandra Jenkins
Glycemic Index Laboratories
36 Lombard Street, Suite 100
Toronto, Ontario M5C 2X3 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

New Zealand
Dr Tracy Perry
The Glycemic Research Group, Dept of Human Nutrition
University of Otago
PO Box 56 Dunedin New Zealand
Phone +64 3 479 7508
Email tracy.perry@stonebow.otago.ac.nz
Web glycemicindex.otago.ac.nz

Where can I get more information on the GI symbol program?


Alan Barclay
Acting CEO, Glycemic Index Ltd
Phone: +61 2 9785 1037
Fax: +61 2 9785 1037
Email: awbarclay@optusnet.com.au
Web www.gisymbol.com.au

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A Step-by-Step Guide to the GI Database on www.glycemicindex.com
Use the database to find the GI value of your favourite carbohydrate foods that have been tested over the past 25 years from all around the world. You can also check the glycemic load (GL) and grams of carbohydrate per serve. If you want to dig a little deeper, you can see where and when the food was tested and whether the test subjects were healthy or had diabetes. Although our database is the most comprehensive GI database resource on the web, we don’t have the GI values of every carbohydrate food tested. Sometimes food companies prefer not to publish the GI of their products, and sometimes they don’t want their foods tested at all.

Step 1
Go to www.glycemicindex.com and click on the GI Database link in the left-hand menu.


Step 2
To search for ‘beans’ for example, insert ‘beans’ in the ‘Name of the Food’ box and click search.


Step 3
To refine your search, use the less than (<) and greater than (>) symbols, to tell the database to show you only foods containing beans with a GI less than 55 and a GL greater than 20. Use the drop-down menu on the far right, to tell the database to sort the results by the GI and in ascending order.



Step 4
Now click on the actual food name (the text will change colour) and the following page appears.


The GI of the kidney beans was calculated using glucose as the standard. The serve (in grams) refers to the nominal serving size. This value is then used to calculate the GL value for each product. For example:

Red Kidney Beans
Serve (g): 150 g
CHO/serve (g): 60.3
GI: 51
GL = 31

In this case the test period was the standard 2 hours where a total of 9 finger-prick blood samples were taken in 10 subjects over that period (this includes 3 fasting samples). The subjects were ‘normal’ which means they were healthy volunteers. In some tests, ‘Type 2’ refers to testing in people with type 2 diabetes. Finally, the reference shows where the food was tested and in which journal the results were published if applicable.

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