1 December 2008

GI News—December 2008


  • 32 chews: why slowing down could help you slim down
  • Squelch hunger pangs with low GI low-energy-dense foods
  • Prof Trim on alcohol and weight
  • Celebrate with dealcoholised wines and beers
  • Johanna's sensational Spiced Pears with Zabaglione Sauce
This issue of GI News is packed with tips to help you keep the pounds at bay over the festive season from eating slower and leaving the table feeling as though you still had room for a little more, to choosing low-energy-dense foods and cutting back on alcohol. News Briefs looks at glycemic control: how tight is right and how to get there while Alan Barclay reminds us that treating diabetes is a team effort and the most important member of the team is you. With four delicious recipes and a new low GI chocolate treat from Canada, there's plenty for good eating, good health and good reading.

Season's greetings.

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

Food for Thought

Slow down and you could slim down
When Uncle Percy came to dinner, we always found it hard to keep a straight face with the inevitable lecture on chewing each mouthful 32 times! We later discovered he was a huge fan of The Great Masticator, Horace Fletcher, who believed that ‘prolonged chewing precluded overeating, led to better systemic and dental health, helped to reduce food intake, and consequently, conserved money.’ (J. Hist. Dent. 1997 Nov.) At 45, Fletcher had been ‘overweight, short of breath and in poor condition’. At 60, thanks to his new regimen, ‘he outdid college athletes in gymnasium tests of endurance, went on long tramps and climbed mountains with the vigour of youth. He had considerably reduced his weight and was living on a much smaller ration than formerly,’ according to his bio in The American Journal of Public Health.

Horace Fletcher

The evidence is piling up that Percy, Horace and Grandma were all onto something when they told us to sit down to eat (elbows off the table), chew our food properly (the mouth is where digestion begins), and to leave the table feeling as though we still had room for a little more rather than stuffing ourselves until we were FTB (full to the brim).

In the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, Researchers Ana M. Andrade and her team report that eating slowly may help to maximise satiation (basically how quickly and to what extent we feel full while we eat) and reduce energy intake within meals. In their study, 30 young, healthy volunteer women ate around 70 fewer calories (294 kJ) in a meal when they slowed down. They also felt fuller and more satisfied after eating. The women tucked into the same meal (pasta with tomato-vegetable sauce and grated parmesan cheese, plus a glass of water) on two separate occasions. They ate ‘meal one’ as fast as they could with no pauses between bites, and took their time over ‘meal two’ with small bites, chewing each mouthful 20–30 times and putting their spoon down between bites. Check out the difference. They put away an average of:

  • 646 calories (2713 kJ) in about 9 minutes when eating fast.
  • 579 calories (2432 kJ) in about 29 minutes when eating slowly.
A recent study published in the British Medical Journal reports that people who wolf down their meals until they are full to the brim are more likely to be overweight. Koutatsu Maruyama and colleagues measured the BMI of some 3,300 adults in Japan and asked them to complete questionnaires about their eating habits over the previous month. After adjusting for confounders including calorie intake, they found that those who reported eating until they were full had roughly twice the odds of being overweight, compared with those who stopped eating sooner. Those who ate quickly were also about twice as likely to be overweight as those who ate more slowly. Being overweight was especially common among those who ate fast and until bursting. However, because it’s difficult to estimate cause and effect in a cross-sectional survey like this, further studies are needed to ‘validate these associations between eating behaviour patterns and being overweight,’ say the researchers.

In an editorial in the same issue of the British Medical Journal, Drs Elizabeth Denney-Wilson and Karen Campbell, suggest how eating patterns might be contributing to the obesity epidemic. On the one hand fast food and fewer families eating together may promote speed eating, while the availability of inexpensive energy-dense foods served in larger portions may encourage eating beyond satiety. So what’s the good news? Speaking to GI News, Dr Denney-Wilson says there’s evidence that we can learn to eat more slowly. Here’s how:
  • Make sure your meals include plenty of 'chew foods' such as lean meat, crunchy salads and vegetables, wholegrains like brown rice and pearl barley.
  • Put your fork down between mouthfuls.
  • Take small bites. Cut your meat into tiny bites, before you begin eating.
  • Pace yourself. Don’t take your lead from the ‘bolters’ at the table.
  • Take a break between second helpings or dessert to let your stomach have a good chat to your brain.
  • Don’t get so hungry you could eat the proverbial horse. Wolfers are often skippers. Have a healthy snack between meals to keep the pangs at bay.
  • Eat meals as a family (or with partners/friends/flatmates) with the TV off – look at mealtimes as a time to catch up and enjoy the company you keep.
As for eating until you are not quite full, let your plate be your guide while you learn to listen to your tummy for starters. Don’t fill it to the rim. Amanda Clark compares a modest, 350 calorie (1470 kJ) dinner plate with a rim-to-rim, 450 calorie (1890 kJ) dinner plate in her new book, Portion Perfection. And parents, don't force your children to eat more than they want to – let them learn to recognise the cues from their bodies that tell them when they are full.


News Briefs

How tight is right and how to get there
With the explosive development of new classes of blood glucose-lowering medications offering an increased number of treatment choices, the question for physicians and for people with diabetes is how tight is right and how to get there. In an editorial in Archives of Internal Medicine, Dr David Nathan says: ‘For now, the approach to the type 2 diabetes epidemic should include attempts to prevent the disease and to treat it with the medications known to be safe and effective. Given the magnitude of the epidemic and the central and demonstrated role of glycemic control in ameliorating the toll of microvascular and neuropathic complications, we should continue to emphasise a goal of HbA1c levels of less than 7.0% for patients likely to benefit and the aggressive application of other interventions that reduce cardiovascular disease risk as demonstrated in clinical trials.’


Step 1 in treating new-onset type 2 diabetes and reducing the risk of complications, according to the American Diabetes Association and the European Association for the Study of Diabetes in its 2006 consensus statement, is lifestyle interventions to improve glucose, blood pressure, and lipid levels and to promote weight loss or at least avoid weight gain – and lifestyle interventions should remain an underlying theme throughout the management of type 2 diabetes, even after medications are used. The 2008 update published in Diabetes Care (PDF) advises that:

  • People with diabetes should strive to achieve and maintain hemoglobin A1c (2–3 month average blood glucose) levels under 7%.
  • Physicians should begin treatment with lifestyle intervention and metformin (because of its effect on glycemia, absence of weight gain or hypoglycemia, good tolerability profile, and relatively low cost).
  • If that does not achieve or sustain the glycemic goals, then step 2 is adding another medication (eg, sulfonylureas, basal insulin) within 2–3 months.
  • If the above therapies do not work, then step 3 is starting or intensifying insulin therapy.
GI Group: Treating diabetes is a team effort and the most important member of your team is you.


‘Working with a healthcare team is the best way you can avoid the serious complications that diabetes can cause,’ says Dr Alan Barclay, coauthor of The Diabetes & Pre-diabetes Handbook (New Glucose Revolution for Diabetes in the US and Canada). ‘That’s the clear message from numerous studies of people with diabetes in recent years. Make sure you know as much as possible about your diabetes, are involved in the decisions about treatment and act on the advice that you are given. If the combination of weight loss (if necessary), a healthy diet, physical activity and medication delivers near normal blood glucose levels, your diabetes is well managed and your risk of complications is much lower. Knowledge is your best defence. Working with your healthcare team, here’s what you need to aim for:
  • Hemoglobin A1c – under 7%
  • Blood glucose levels 4–8mmol/L (72–144 mg/dL)
  • Blood pressure – under 130/80
  • Cholesterol – under 4 mmol/L (156 mg/dL)
  • A healthy weight
  • A healthy eating plan
  • Regular exercise
  • Regular eye checks, and
  • Regular foot examinations.

Australia/New Zealand: The Diabetes & Pre-Diabetes Handbook
USA/Canada: New Glucose Revolution for Diabetes

Squelch hunger pangs with low GI low-energy-dense foods
In October GI News, Catherine Saxelby reported that researchers from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found they could drop the calorie (kilojoule) content of a lunch meal by half if they substituted ground (minced) white button mushrooms (a low calorie, low-energy-dense food) for beef mince (much higher in both departments) in familiar dishes like lasagna, ‘sloppy Joe’ (a kind of savoury mince) and ‘chili’ (as in con carne). The study participants didn’t rate the taste of the mushroom meals any differently from the beef meals. And despite consuming fewer calories with the mushroom meals, they didn’t compensate by eating more later in the day.

‘Energy density’ simply means how many calories there is in each mouthful of a food.
  • A food that is high in energy density has a large number of calories in that mouthful. Most modern-day snacks for example are energy-dense. They pack a lot of energy (the scientific term for calories/kilojoules) into a small volume (your mouth).
  • A food that has a low energy density has fewer calories for the same mouthful of food.
It’s not rocket science to work out that tucking into too many energy-dense foods will pile on the pounds. This is because most of us tend to eat roughly the same weight of food each day regardless of calories. If we can choose foods that offer fewer calories for the same amount of food, we will be able to manage our weight more effectively. We may also reduce our risk of type 2 diabetes according to a large prospective study published in Diabetes Care that suggests that the energy density of our diet may itself be a risk factor for diabetes, regardless of BMI, total energy intake and other known risk factors for diabetes.

The bottom line: Don’t worry about calculating numbers or investing in another diet book. A healthy, low GI diet rich in fruit and vegetables, unprocessed or minimally processed fibre-rich grain foods (the low GI ones of course) and lean protein – legumes, fish, skinless poultry, low-fat dairy foods – is a low-energy-density way of eating that squelches those hunger pangs and helps you manage blood glucose levels.

What's new?
Hot Flashes, Hormones, and Your Health
Dr JoAnn E. Manson with Shari Bassuk, McGraw-Hill


Although subtitled ‘Breakthrough findings to help you sail through the menopause,’ this book is more a guide to the latest scientific evidence on the risks and benefits of hormone therapy and whether you should start or stop from the Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School and Chief, Division of Preventive Medicine, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital. Chapters cover treating the symptoms of menopause; the rise, fall and (cautious) return of hormone therapy; evaluating the risks and benefits; and how to calculate (and reduce) your risk of five health outcomes associated with hormone therapy.

Regarding type 2 diabetes, here’s the ‘bottom line’ according to Manson: ‘Hormone therapy may lower the risk of type 2 diabetes. However, many women at risk for diabetes are also at heightened risk for developing coronary heart disease and stroke and therefore are not good candidates for hormone therapy.’ So check it out and talk to your doctor.

Dr Neal Barnard, The Reverse Diabetes Diet
Australian lecture and book signing tour
All lectures will be followed by a book signing and are free and open to the public.
To RSVP to any of these events, please e-mail: contact@zeitgeistmediagroup.com

Brisbane Monday, Dec. 1, 6:30 pm
Where: State Library of Queensland Cultural Centre Auditorium 2
Sydney Wednesday, Dec. 3, 6:30 pm
Where: State Library of NSW, The Dixson Room
Melbourne Thursday, Dec. 4, 6:30 pm
Where: The University of Melbourne, Elisabeth Murdoch Building, Theatre A, Building 134
(Gate 3 entry off Swanston Street)

Food of the Month with Catherine Saxelby

Chocolate – pleasurable indulgence or antioxidant-rich super food?

Catherine Saxelby

Chocolate is the world's favourite flavour for ice cream, cakes, sweet sauces and milk shakes and those who say they don't like it are few and far between. Each new study on the alleged benefits of chocolate’s antioxidants is greeted with glee (and headlines), and has given chocoholics and health-conscious consumers the green light to indulge. Is it any wonder sales of dark premium-end chocolate are booming and trendy chocolate cafes from Guylian, Max Brenner and Lindt are springing up in our city centres?

The good news on antioxidants Cocoa and dark chocolate have been found to be abundant in a class of antioxidants known as procyanidins (OPCs). You’ll also see these referred to as flavonols or polyphenols (which is the general term for this whole class of related antioxidants including those found in tea and red wine). These cocoa flavonols are platelet inhibitors which research now shows have a mild anti-coagulation effect as well as being anti-inflammatory. They can also keep arteries elastic, lower blood pressure, prevent cholesterol from being oxidised and even prevent cancer. But it’s still early days in the research department. And not all chocolate is created equal. This research applies to dark chocolate (where the level of cocoa solids is high from 35–70%). Milk chocolate has much less (and the milk may actually interfere with the absorption of the antioxidants into the body); white chocolate has none. Some manufacturers have modified their dark chocolate so it’s less bitter with slightly lower cocoa solids but still high in the important flavonoids (eg, Mars Cocoapro, Nestle Club).


Guiltless sweet? Antioxidants aside, chocolate remains a rich, high-fat/high-sugar (30% fat and 50% sugar), concentrated food that packs a lot of calories into a very small piece – which explains why hikers take it on long treks and soldiers are never denied a bar in army survival rations. Take the average 50 g (just under 2 oz) bar of chocolate. It supplies 1100 kJ (260 cals). This is twice as much as you get from 50 g of steak (410 kJ/98 cals) or even 50 g of fried potato chips at 500 kJ/120 cals). That 50 g bar slaps on 15 g of fat plus 25 g sugar. The good news is that even though the fat is mainly saturated, much of the saturated fat is in the form of stearic acid, which has little effect on blood cholesterol. So even those wanting to follow a ‘heart healthy’ diet can still happily eat a piece in moderation.

But, however much some people would love to hear it, chocolate does not qualify as a super food alongside vegetables, fruit and whole grains. It’s a treat food, and even then you need to keep the doses small. And small means SMALL, about 20 g or 3 squares a day as part of a healthy diet.

For more information on super foods and healthy eating, visit Catherine’s website: www.foodwatch.com.au


Zest: The Nutrition for Life Cookbook Offer
Dietitian and nutritionist Catherine Saxelby has a TWO FOR ONE offer with copies of her popular cookbook Zest from now until Christmas from her online nutrition & health bookshop. Buy one, get one free to give to a friend or relative. Last delivery to make it in time for Christmas is Monday 15th December.

Low GI Recipes of the Month

Our chef Kate Hemphill develops deliciously simple recipes for GI News that showcase seasonal ingredients and make it easy for you to whip up healthy, low GI meals and snacks. For more of Kate’s fabulous fare, check out her website: www.lovetocook.co.uk. For now, prepare and share good food with family and friends.

Kate Hemphill

Cardamom & blueberry smoothie
It might seem obvious to throw a few things together for a smoothie, but this is such a great combination I thought I'd share it. If are a lassi fan, you'll like the addition of spices. If you're not using frozen berries, add a couple of ice cubes for a nice chilled smoothie. This is very much a summertime smoothie, when nectarines aren’t in season, use half a pear, peeled of course.
Serves 2

1 large ripe banana (about 200 g/7 oz), peeled and chopped
5 tablespoons fresh or frozen blueberries
1 ripe nectarine, peeled, stoned and cut into chunks
1½ cups (375 ml) semi-skimmed milk
1 teaspoon runny honey
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cardamom

  • Combine all ingredients in a blender or blitz with a hand blender until smooth. Drink within 30 minutes or the solids will separate.
Per serve
Energy: 1030 kJ/ 245 cals; Protein 6 g; Fat 3 g (includes 1.5 g saturated fat and 13 mg cholesterol); Carbs 43 g; Fibre 5 g

Low GI fare from Johanna’s kitchen: In GI News American dietitian, Johanna Burani shares her recipes photographed by husband Sergio. (Adapted with permission from Good Carbs, Bad Carbs, Da Capo Lifelong Books, New York.)

Johanna Burani

Baked spiced pears with zabaglione sauce
Pears with cinnamon and cardamom are a marriage made in culinary heaven. Adding the most ‘divine’ of all Italian sauces, zabaglione, makes this dessert a truly ethereal experience. This full-bodied dessert relies exclusively on the wholesome flavours of its ingredients and not added fats, making it an excellent finish to a hearty holiday meal – or even Christmas dinner.
Serves 4


2 ripe Bosc pears
2 tablespoons sugar, divided
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons marsala wine
  • Preheat the oven to 180ºC (350ºF).
  • Peel, halve and core the pears. Place them cut side down in a rectangular baking pan with just enough water to cover the bottom of the pan.
  • Combine 1 tablespoon of the sugar with the spices, and sprinkle half of this mixture over the pears. Bake the pears for 5 minutes in the preheated oven. Turn the pear halves over, sprinkle with the remaining sugar-spice mixture and continue to bake for another 5 minutes. Pears are done when they are easily pierced by a fork but still hold their shape. Large pears may take a little longer to cook. Remove from the oven, place in individual dessert dishes and set aside.
  • To make the sauce, combine the egg yolk and remaining tablespoon of sugar in a very small saucepan and mix vigorously for at least 5 minutes with a wooden spoon. Slowly add the marsala and mix well. Heat over low heat stirring constantly for approximately 1 minute or until the mixture thickens WITHOUT COMING TO A BOIL. Pour the sauce over the pear halves and serve warm or at room temperature.
Per serve (Serving size: ½ pear with 2 tablespoons of sauce)
Energy: 416 kJ/ 99 cals; Protein 1 g; Fat 2 g (includes less than 1 g saturated fat and 55 mg cholesterol); Carbs 21 g; Fibre 2 g

Visit Johanna’s website: www.eatgoodcarbs.com.

The following recipes from The Low GI Family Cookbook are perfect for the festive season.


Australia/New Zealand: Low GI Family Cookbook
USA/Canada: The New Glucose Revolution Low GI Family Cookbook

Frozen Berry Yoghurt
Anneka Manning's frozen yoghurt is easy to prepare and perfect for summery desserts. You can refreeze it in single serve containers in Step 3 rather than 1 large container if you prefer and have it on hand as an after-school snack.
Serves 6 (see photo above on the Family Cookbook)

250 g (9 oz) fresh or frozen
mixed berries
3 x 200 g (7 oz) tubs low fat
vanilla yoghurt
2 egg whites
2 tablespoons pure floral honey
  • Place the berries and yoghurt in a food processor and blend until smooth. Transfer to a medium-sized bowl and set aside.
  • Whisk the egg whites in a clean, dry bowl until stiff peaks form. Add the honey a tablespoon at a time, whisking well after each addition until thick and glossy. Fold into the berry yoghurt mixture until just combined.
  • Pour the mixture into an airtight container and place in the freezer for 4 hours or until frozen. Use a metal spoon to break the frozen yoghurt into chunks. Blend again in a food processor until smooth. Return to the airtight container and refreeze for 3 hours or until frozen. Serve in scoops.
Per serve
Energy: 540 kJ/ 129 cals; Protein 7 g; Fat 0.3 g (includes less than 0.1 g saturated fat and 6 mg cholesterol); Carbs 22 g; Fibre 1.4 g

Vegetable roasties
Make the most of moderate and low GI root vegies. They are packed with vitamins, antioxidants and fibre and simply scrumptious roasted this way as a side dish with a roast dinner. We promise you won’t miss the baked spuds.
Serves 6


1 medium orange sweet potato (about 500 g/17 oz)
2 medium parsnips (about 400 g/14 oz)
2 medium carrots (about 250 g/9 oz)
1/2 medium butternut pumpkin (about 700 g/24 oz)
3 teaspoons olive oil
Pinch salt (optional)
Freshly ground black pepper
4 sprigs rosemary, thyme or oregano, leaves removed from stems
  • Preheat the oven to 220ºC (440ºF) and line a roasting pan with non-stick baking paper.
  • Peel all the vegetables, deseed the pumpkin and cut the vegetables into 2.5 cm (1 in) chunks. Place them in the prepared roasting pan, drizzle with the olive oil and a tiny sprinkle of salt (if using), pepper and herbs. Use your hands to toss the vegetables to coat with the oil and seasonings.
  • Bake for 1 hour, or until golden and tender, tossing the vegetables about 3 times during cooking so that they brown and crisp evenly. Serve immediately.
Per serve
Energy: 762 kJ/ 181 cals; Protein 6 g; Fat 3 g (includes 0.3 g saturated fat and 0 mg cholesterol); Carbs 29 g; Fibre 6.5 g

Busting Food Myths with Nicole Senior

Myth: Sea salt is healthier

Nicole Senior

Fact: All salt contains sodium harmful to your health
Not to be too dramatic, but the saying “pure, white and deadly” is quite fitting for this ubiquitous food ingredient. If it’s good luck you want, you’re better off throwing a pinch of salt over your shoulder than into your dinner. Professor of Medicine at Sydney University Bruce Neal, chair of the Australian division of World Action on Salt and Health (www.awash.org.au) says, “reductions in dietary salt consumption have greater potential to avert death and disability than stopping smoking”. His comment, surprising to many, arises from an investigation published in The Lancet medical journal exploring the costs and benefits of salt reduction and smoking cessation for chronic disease prevention. In short, the study showed we can save lives if we desalinate our food. The problem is, too much salt increases blood pressure and high blood pressure increases the risk of heart attack and stroke: our biggest killers.


Sea salt is not healthier Sea salt oozes natural food cred, while exotic and expensive gourmet sea salt is revered in the foodie world. Kosher salt and many other weird and wonderful kinds jostle for our attention. A quick online search revealed extraordinary claims for sea salt that take unhealthy marketing hype to new levels such as: ‘one of God’s gifts,’ ‘salt-deficiency is the cause of many diseases,’ ‘evidence for healing,’ and ‘contains 80 mineral elements the body needs’. The fact is, while sea salt (or any other kind) may add subtle differences in flavour and texture, it contains just as much harmful sodium as regular table salt. In terms of mineral content, the amounts are so small you would need to poison yourself with sodium in order to obtain useful quantities of minerals otherwise found in nutritious foods. For instance, one posh French sea salt with the highest amount of magnesium I could find only contained 0.71g/100 g. If you were to add a very generous 1 teaspoon (5 g) of this stuff to your food on a single day, you would obtain a paltry 0.0355 g (35 mg) of magnesium. This is around 8–11% of the Recommended Dietary Intake of magnesium for adults, but comes with a hefty 2400 mg of sodium: one and a half times the 1600 mg a day Suggested Dietary Target (SDT, Australia and New Zealand). Cheaper sea salts would offer an even worse sodium bang for your magnesium buck.

The bottom line is to add as little salt as possible and recent advice suggests using salt with added iodine (‘iodised’ salt) in order to increase your intake of this essential but hard-to-get trace element. Importantly, check the label of processed food to find the lowest in sodium as this is where the majority of the salt in our diet comes from. If you’d rather starve than cut back on salt, you’re underestimating the marvelous ability of human taste buds to adapt to less salt over time. If you reduce the salt in your diet gradually, the suffering will be minimal. Get into taste sensations offered by garlic, onion, lemon, herbs and spices and soon a whole world of real food flavour will open up.

For more interesting food facts and great tasting heart-friendly recipes with less salt, go to eattobeatcholesterol.com.au . If you’d like great ideas for simple, heart-friendly food made with the goodness of healthy fats and oils with less salt , try Heart Food or Eat to Beat Cholesterol. Both titles available from www.greatideas.net.au.


Healthy Kids with Susie Burrell

Lifestyle lesson number 4: Christmas is just one day!
Christmas and the school holidays can be a challenge for families with too many high calorie, high fat foods in the home along with all those hours to be filled as structured activities go on hold, friends go away for the holidays and screens (TV, computer, movie) beckon. Not surprisingly, weight gain is common for parents and kids. In fact, the average weight gain for adults in Australia over the summer holiday period is 1–2 kg (2–4 pounds)!


Remember, Christmas is just 1 day, not 6 weeks. Here are some tips to help you keep yourself and your kids a healthy weight over the break.

  • Over the festive season, place a limit on treats your children eat each day – for example 1–2 chocolates a day so children are aware they can have extras but not overeat.
  • Don't buy too much food – if it's there and in the fridge or on the pantry shelf, it will be eaten.
  • Buy treats in small amounts only.
  • Structure in treats each week over the holidays so your children know when they will be having them. And remember, treats don't have to be food! Doing things and having fun together as a family can be a real treat.
  • Use your veto power. Ask family and friends not to give your family food gifts or treats like cookies, lollies (candies) or chocolates.
  • Choose water instead of high-calorie soft drinks and fruit juices which can pile on the pounds quick smart.
  • Look as the holidays as a time to do more activity not less. Children need to be active for at least 1–2 hours every single day. Enjoy a daily family walk or bike ride or ball game in the park, or trip to the beach or local pool.
  • Have firm limits on the amount of television your children watch and computer time you allow. Aim for 1–2 hours each day. Discuss it beforehand so everyone knows where they stand.
  • Enrol the kids into as many structured holidays activities as you can afford. Check out your local council website or school holiday camp websites to see what's on offer.
  • Stick to standard meals times (at the table, TV off) to avoid constant grazing, which promotes overeating.
  • Eat before you head out to the mall or the movies, so that the kids don't get hungry.
  • Make a pre-emptive strike if you are going to be out for a long time – have a chat before you leave the house about what food you are prepared to buy.
  • Pack a snack pack to deal with hunger pangs – keep apples and healthy wholegrain snack bars in your bag along with a bottle of water.
  • Low fat smoothies, sushi, burgers (with one meat pattie), wraps and low fat muffins are the best options when eating out. Try and avoid deep fried fries, pies and pizza as well as soft drinks at all times.
Susie Burrell is a specialist Weight Management Dietitian at The Children's Hospital at Westmead. In her private practice, she balances her clinical work with writing for print and electronic media. For more information check out: www.susieburrell.com.au

Susie Burrell

Curly Questions

Any tips for enjoying a low GI Christmas dinner without piling on the pounds? The roast turkey is non negotiable!
Putting on weight over the Christmas period is a problem for many of us – all that eating with family and friends. But, it’s more likely to be all the trimmings and treats that pile on the pounds rather than The Dinner itself. A word of warning: a single mince pie contains about 250 calories! Here’s what the British Dietetic Association suggests:


‘Turkey is a low fat meat – most of the fat is stored in the skin, so remove the skin and you cut down on fat. Adding plenty of seasonal vegetables such as unbuttered Brussels sprouts, peas and carrots will contribute to your 5-a-day fruit and vegetable intake … Smoked salmon makes a good starter and is a source of omega-3 fatty acids, which helps keep your heart healthy; alternatively try a hearty vegetable soup or a refreshing melon starter. Christmas pudding is rich so a small portion should be satisfying enough, or you could go for fresh fruit salad or baked apples as a virtuous alternative … (For snacks) have healthy options to hand, such as fresh or dried fruit like dates, figs and apricots. Satsumas (type of plum) are handy, so keep a large bowl of these other fruits close by. Chestnuts are lower in fat than most nuts so roast a few and leave the salted peanuts to one side.’

All we would add is ditch the Yorkshire pud, cut back on the roast potatoes and include some lower GI options like roasted pumpkin, sweet potato and parsnips along with carrots and onions. And keep those portions moderate, eat slowly and say no thanks to seconds – remember Grandma’s words: ‘you should leave the table feeling as though you still have a little room in your tummy’.

I have seen a number of articles now suggesting that drinking fruit juice is not a good idea for those of us trying to maintain a healthy weight and glucose levels. I know we are encouraged to drink water, but it’s not always what you want when you sit down with friends on a summer’s evening or join colleagues for that after-work drink.
It’s a great idea to choose non-alcoholic alternatives to enjoy the spirit of the occasion without the side effects and (possibly) half the calories. You don’t have to toss a coin to decide between energy-dense juice or soda with a dash of lime or verjuice. There are plenty non-alcoholic beers and wines to choose from, although you may have to BYO, as they aren’t widely available in restaurants and bars. You can, however, pick up a bottle from your supermarket, maybe your local liquor store, and of course online.


Non-alcoholic wines are actually de-alcoholised wines. The wine is made the traditional way (even ‘aged in oak’ at times, and then the alcohol is removed. The legal definition of a non-alcoholic beverage means it has less than 0.5 percent alcohol. This is because it is just not possible to remove 100% of the alcohol. It’s a pricey process and the end result isn’t the same as regular wine or beer so it’s best not to compare them. But do check them out, you’ll be surprised at the range on offer and you are sure to find one that appeals. Joe Timmins of Clearmind who distribute dealcoholised beverages such as Ariel wines and Lowenbrau Alkoholfrei in Australia and New Zealand says that the market isn’t niche at all – it is growing in leaps and bounds and includes large numbers of people who don’t drink for religious or health reasons including pregnant women and, he says, ‘there are many people who simply want an alternative because they are on duty or on call like doctors or airline pilots, or simply want an alcohol-free option’. Joe agrees that there’s a big range in the quality of what’s on offer in the supermarket, so it pays to be choosy, just as you would with any wine or beer. ‘I really love the Ariel reds as my favourite food is Italian,’ he says. For more information on dealcoholised wines or beers (or to opt for a clear head over Christmas/New Year and order some), check out Clearmind.

In The Diabetes and Pre-diabetes Handbook (The New Glucose Revolution for Diabetes in North America), dietitian Dr Alan Barclay says: ‘Low alcohol and alcohol-free beers contain roughly the same amount of carbohydrate as the alcoholic varieties and will have little effect on your BGLs if you drink them in moderation. Many low- and non-alcoholic wines, on the other hand, are based on grape juice, and give you about 10–15 g of carbohydrate per 100 mL (a bit under ½ cup) serve (do check the label). They probably won’t cause your blood glucose levels to rise rapidly, but just because they are alcohol free, don’t think you can drink them freely if you are watching your BGLs or your weight. If you want something a bit more exotic, you could always try a mocktail.’


Email your curly question about carbs, the GI and blood glucose to: gicurlyquestions@gmail.com

Move It & Lose It with Prof Trim

Why alcohol is not totally innocent in the lard production department
Of the three biochemical means of metabolising alcohol, none result in its direct conversion to fat. However, research from several centres shows that our inhibitions go down when we have a drink. Hence those fattening salted peanuts look more appealing, and the means of resisting are less after a few drinks. Food intake also tends to increase when alcohol is drunk with a meal. Some studies show this could be as much as 200 calories (840 kilojoules) per meal, which could mean an extra kilo (couple of pounds) every month or so. This is particularly so if the meal is preceded by high fat pre-dinner snacks and alcohol (eg, beer and peanuts or chips/crisps).


It’s also true that too much alcohol (ie, a binge) is not only bad for the overall health, but tends to cause changes in eating behaviour the next day. How often have you felt like a salad and fruit, rather than bacon and eggs the morning after for example? So while the odd drink may not be a cause of concern (except in those aggressive types), there’s no reason to take it up if you are a nondrinker. If you like a tipple, here’s some advice for the health (and weight):

  • Drink small amounts frequently (rather than binge infrequently)
  • Have a couple of AFDs (alcohol free days) per week
  • Avoid high energy mixes (soft drinks, fruit juice etc.)
  • Watch what you eat when you drink
  • Be conscious of how much you are eating when drinking with meals.
Dr Garry Egger aka Prof Trim

For more information on weigh loss for men, check out Professor Trim.

Your Success Stories

‘How I Lost 80 Pounds (36 kg) with Smart Carb Eating.’ – Richard Price
‘I became a type 2 diabetic about 15 years ago, and have learned how to control my weight and blood glucose with diet and exercise. I lost 80 pounds (36 kg) and am a member of the National Weight Loss Registry (US). Two of my secrets are eating food with a low energy (calorie) density and eating food with a low glycemic impact. Energy density is a measurement of calories per gram of food. Researchers at Pennsylvania State University, led by Barbara Rolls, concluded that we eat by weight volume and not by calories. I did a twist on these two principles, by coming up with the concept of Glycemic Density which is a measurement of glycemic load per gram of food. Eating carbohydrate dense foods with a low Glycemic Density allows us to maximize hunger satisfaction while minimising glycemic impact. As I am not a professional, I am not able to further examine this concept other than on a philosophical basis. I do not have the resources of a university or major nutritional clinic. I would love for someone who has these resources to pursue this concept further.’

success story

GI Symbol News with Alan Barclay

Oh what a difference your bread choice can make!

Alan Barclay

‘A lack of satisfying, filling foods is a hurdle for many people when trying to maintain a balanced, healthy diet. There are a lot of diets and food fads that claim to improve satiety – which is why we were keen to conduct a study in this area,’ said Prof. Jennie Brand-Miller. ‘We found that your daily bread choice can play a role in satisfying hunger and decreasing food intake at a subsequent meal.’

Researchers in the Human Nutrition Unit at Sydney University carried out the lab-based study for George Weston Foods from January–March 2008. Twenty healthy weight (BMI 18-25) volunteers aged 18–45 who were non smokers and had normal glucose tolerance took part in the study. All completed a restrictive-eater questionnaire to ensure only those with normal eating habits were taking part.

On two separate occasions, the researchers randomly asked the volunteers to eat either two slices of Burgen Wholemeal & Seeds bread (83 g) or two slices of standard white sandwich bread (74 g) with margarine and jam and a glass of water as a breakfast meal and rank their feelings of fullness. They also had to list their subsequent meal’s food intake. There was a washout period of at least three days in between test sessions.


The volunteers felt fuller for longer after the Wholemeal and Seeds bread breakfast and, on average, reduced their intake at the next meal by 500 kilojoules (120 cals) and 4 g of fat compared with the standard white bread breakfast. They also had a lower glycemic response to the meal with the low GI (39) Wholemeal and Seeds bread compared with the white bread meal, which may have contributed to keeping hunger pangs at bay. The Wholemeal and Seeds bread is also a good source of dietary fibre and provides protein – both of which may have also helped to provide the greater satiety response.

Email us for more information: alan@gisymbol.com

Dr Alan W Barclay, PhD
CEO, Glycemic Index Ltd
Phone: +61 2 9785 1037
Mob: +61 (0)416 111 046
Fax: +61 2 9785 1037
Email: mailto:alan@gisymbol.com
Email: alan@gisymbol.com
Website: www.gisymbol.com.au

The Latest GI Values with Fiona Atkinson

Chocolate #9 GI 46
This tasty chocolate treat was GI tested by GI Labs in Toronto. It is thick gel that’s a blend of organic low GI agave and Belgian-style dark chocolate. Although it’s much lower in fat and calories than the equivalent amount of dark chocolate, remember it’s still a ‘sometimes’ food, especially for anyone watching their weight. Packaged in 29.5 g (around 2 tablespoons) single serve foil pouches, it is suitable for people on vegan and vegetarian diets. For more information and the nutrition facts about Chocolate #9, check out the manufacturer’s website.


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

See The New Glucose Revolution on YouTube

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1 November 2008

GI News—November 2008


  • GI values for over 2,480 foods in the 2008 International tables of glycemic index
  • Prof Trim: ‘The real issue is not if you are fat, but where the fat’s gone.’
  • ‘It’s not how much fat you eat, it’s the type that counts,’ says Nicole Senior
  • ‘The GI can be a great friend and tool to anyone battling weight and carb cravings.’ – Stephanie's success story
  • Kate's delicious low GI, dollar-saving Carrot, Ginger & Cannellini Bean Soup
‘Any changes aimed at reducing weight without a complete lifestyle “makeover” package are doomed to failure in the long term,’ says Prof Trim in Food for Thought. ‘It’s the whole kit and caboodle you need – good sleep, low stress, non-smoking, good diet and plenty of exercise.’ In News Briefs, we cover the key findings from the 2008 International tables of glycemic index and Fiona Atkinson summarises the average GI values of more than 60 common carb-containing foods in the Latest GI Values to help you put the lower GI choices into your shopping trolley and on your plate.

Good eating, good health and good reading.

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

Food for Thought

Inflammation and obesity
‘Any changes aimed at reducing weight without changing all aspects of lifestyle are doomed to failure in the long term in today’s inflammatory environment,’ writes Prof. Garry Egger in his newsletter, Professor Trim’s Waistline (23). ‘So, while health “experts” and dinner party guests continue to argue the merits of the Atkins over the Zone diet, or weight lifting over walking, the world moves on, with new findings suggesting the ineffectiveness of single behaviour change programs in the absence of a “lifestyle makeover”.


Leading the charge is research that indicates that body weight or even fat, per se, may not be the issue in disease, and may in fact just be a marker of other problems occurring in the overall lifestyle. Studies on inflammatory processes in the body, normally thought to be associated with infections, have shown that a low grade form of inflammation throughout all cells of the body, seems to result from certain lifestyle behaviours, some of which (but not all) can make us fat at the same time.

Eating too much and not being active enough are the two main lifestyle behaviours that cause obesity. And while obesity has been known for over a decade to be associated with inflammation, certain types of nutrition and inactivity are now known to cause a low grade form of inflammation, with or without the weight gain.

Foods that cause a rise in pro-inflammatory markers (chemical call-out signals to the immune system to fire up its defences) immediately after they have been eaten, have now been identified (e.g. saturated fat, high GI foods, salt, excessive alcohol, starvation) as have foods that have the opposite (anti-inflammatory and hence supposedly good) effect (e.g. fruit and veg, nuts, tea, monounsaturated fats, calorie restriction).

A casual glance at these suggests an immediate hypothesis: pro-inflammatory foods and nutritional behaviours are typically those with which humans have not evolved, and those listed under the anti-inflammatory side are those that humans have consumed for thousands of years – little wonder the body reacts as if it is at war against these foreign invaders. Starvation is the exception, but an inflammatory reaction to this has survival value in increasing insulin resistance and enabling the body to conserve what valuable energy stores (glucose and fat) it may have left. On the positive side, calorie restriction – although obviously not to the point of starvation – can have an anti-inflammatory effect, so bearing in mind the adverse effect of over-eating, it seems like this is a moderation in all things type recommendation

The fact that most of the pro-inflammatory stimulants can also increase body fat may be less relevant than is often thought. And this is reinforced by the fact that other modern behaviours can have a similar effect.

  • Inadequate sleep is a common phenomenon in an electric light and entertainment driven environment. Over one-third of individuals in modern industrialised countries are now getting less than 7 hours sleep a night and this has been shown to raise inflammatory markers.
  • Depression is also on the rise and is also associated with an inflammatory reaction.
  • Finally, smoking, while actually being responsible for keeping weight down, can cause an outpouring of pro-inflammatory markers.
In all of these cases, obesity or weight gain may or may not exist. So by adopting a single behaviour such as a short-term diet or exercise program, could we realistically expect to see a decrease in inflammatory related diseases (such as heart disease and diabetes)?

It seems clear that any changes aimed at reducing weight, without changing all aspects of lifestyle relating to the modern inflammatory environment are doomed to failure in the long term – hence the renowned failure of all forms of dieting, biggest loser programs and TV promoted machines for weight loss. What’s needed for those lucky enough to be “warned” by an expanding waistline, and those who stay lean but should be aware of increasing disease risk factors, is a complete lifestyle “makeover” package. Bits of the package won’t do. It’s the whole kit and kaboodle – good sleep, low stress, non-smoking, good diet and plenty of exercise – that has been promoted since the days of Hippocrates, that must make up the prevention armoury.’


For more information check out Prof Trim’s article in September’s Obesity Reviews.

News Briefs

GI of over 2,480 individual food items published
The International tables of glycemic index 2008 produced by researchers from the University of Sydney’s Human Nutrition Unit have been published online in Diabetes Care. The tables give the GI (glycemic index) of over 2,480 individual food items – doubling previous data. The key findings says lead researcher Fiona Atkinson are:

  • Most varieties of legumes, pasta, fruits and dairy products are low GI.
  • Breads, breakfast cereals, rice and snack products, including wholegrains, are available in both high and low GI forms.
  • Most varieties of potato and rice are high GI, but lower GI ones are available.
  • The GI of some foods such as oatmeal/porridge appears to be increasing possibly reflecting food industry efforts to provide convenience for the consumer with faster cooking products.
  • The GI of foods must be tested locally because manufacturers in different countries prepare and process foods, particularly cereal products, in different ways. For example, Kellogg’s Special K™ and All-Bran™, for example, are different formulations in North America, Europe and Australia.

‘Low GI foods have benefits for everybody,’ says Prof. Jennie Brand-Miller from Sydney University’s Human Nutrition Unit. ‘They can keep you feeling full longer, help you achieve and maintain a healthy weight and provide you and your brain with more consistent energy throughout the day. They can also have a major effect on the way the body functions and whether or not you develop health problems. If you have constantly high blood glucose and insulin levels due to eating a high GI diet, for example, you may literally “exhaust” your pancreas over time and eventually this can lead to pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes.’

‘The GI was a controversial topic among researchers and health authorities for many years, for a variety of reasons, she says. ‘But today, studies from major leading medical institutions and research universities around the world have repeatedly demonstrated that the GI is a clinically proven tool in its application to weight control, diabetes and coronary health. Moreover, the International Diabetes Federation and diabetes organisations in many countries have endorsed the judicious use of the GI in the dietary management of diabetes.’

To create the 2008 tables, University of Sydney researchers spent over two years systematically sorting through all the published and unpublished sources of reliable GI values. ‘What’s unique about the 2008 tables,’ says Brand-Miller, ‘is that there are actually two tables, the first is a list of GI values derived from testing foods in healthy people, and the second primarily from individuals with impaired glucose metabolism.’

In their conclusion, the researchers emphasise that the GI should not be used in isolation. Food choices should be based on overall nutritional content along with the amount of saturated fat, salt, fibre and of course the GI value.

Low g-eyes
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is one is the most common causes of blindness in the over-50s, currently responsible for 14 million cases of blindness or severe visual impairment worldwide.


Dietary factors are known risk factors for AMD. In ‘Food for Thought’ (May 2006) we reported on research suggesting that the quality of the carbohydrates you eat may help to bring it on — or hold it off. A recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition confirms that it would be a good idea to make a low GI diet part of any AMD prevention plan along with foods you already know about such as dark green leafy vegetables, a variety of fruits (all different colours) and fish. Prof. Paul Mitchell from Sydney University’s Department of Ophthalmology says the prospective population based study shows that a high GI diet is a risk factor for early AMD — the recognized precursor of sight-threatening late AMD. ‘Low-glycemic-index foods such as oatmeal may protect against early AMD,’ say the researchers in their conclusion.

What's new?
Check your fracture risk

The Garvan Institute’s Dubbo Osteoporosis Epidemiology Study has followed more than 2,500 people aged over 60 from Dubbo (in Australia) for almost 20 years. It’s the world's longest osteoporosis study and the first to include men. Three-quarters of the risk of developing osteoporosis is genetic. But, according Assoc. Prof. Tuan Nguyen, ‘men with prostate cancer should consider seeking evaluation for osteoporosis, particularly if they are being treated with androgen deprivation therapy as they face a 50 per cent higher risk of fracture, which increases to nearly double the risk if they are receiving androgen deprivation therapy’. Using data collected in the Dubbo study, the Garvan Institute has formulated a web-based tool to enable people to calculate their fracture risk: www.fractureriskcalculator.com.


2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans
The US Government has issued its first-ever Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. They describe the types and amounts of physical activity that offer substantial health benefits for adults and children.

November 14: World Diabetes Day focuses on diabetes and children
World Diabetes Day is a campaign that each year features a theme chosen by the International Diabetes Federation to address issues facing the global diabetes community. In 2008, the World Diabetes Day theme is diabetes in children and adolescents. For more information: www.worlddiabetesday.org


Catherine Saxelby reviews Portion Perfection by Amanda Clark
Finding it hard to lose that excess weight? Could be that you’re eating ‘the right stuff’ but just eating too much of it. A new book published in Australia called Portion Perfection is a visual weight control plan that shows you exactly the right amount to eat if you want to lose or maintain weight. It includes everyday and occasional foods (such as treats like chocolate or wine) and spells out just how much you can eat for a number of different diet levels. The best thing about this book is that it has hundreds of pictures showing brands of packaged foods – not something normally found in a diet book. You’ll find almost every brand of yoghurt, cereal, muesli bar and crisps available in Australia shown as well as sushi, nuggets and take-aways. There’s also a Portion Perfection plate and bowl to help you serve up the right amount. For more information, check out www.greatideas.net.au.


The giveaway is now closed.
Check 'COMMENTS' for the winners and Great Ideas In Nutrition's special offer for residents of Australia who order the Portion Perfection book, plate and bowl before 5pm on Friday 7th November 2008.

Food of the Month with Catherine Saxelby

Ginger it up!

Catherine Saxelby

Whether you enjoy it fresh or dried, ginger adds a wonderful fragrance and pungency to your cooking. A key medicinal in traditional Chinese medicine (it has been used for over 2,500 years and it has a reputation for relieving stomach upsets as well as being a digestive aid), many of ginger’s health benefits are now being backed by research. Today, ginger’s medical uses include the treatment of nausea and morning sickness during pregnancy, motion sickness and some cancer treatments. Ginger can help reduce the pain and inflammation of osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis. Some sufferers have been able to reduce their arthritis medications with a daily dose of ginger extract.


Ginger is technically a rhizome – it’s the underground stem of the Zingiber officinale plant. It’s rich in hundreds of phytochemicals, including gingerols, beta-carotene, capsacin, caffeic acid, curcumin and salicylates. It’s these chemicals that scientists believe are responsible for ginger’s therapeutic actions.

With very few kilojoules and virtually no fat, a tablespoon of grated fresh ginger (around 13 g) adds its pungent flavour and aroma without adding to your waistline. It’s 90% water. In contrast, a couple of squares (10 g) of glace or crystalline ginger is in the ‘treat’ category and will set you back around 130 kilojoules (31 calories) thanks to its 8 g sugar.

Ginger up your diet: Peel a chunk of the ginger root and then grate, finely chop, slice or even crush it in a garlic crusher. Store fresh ginger unpeeled in the vegetable crisper of the fridge for one to two weeks. Ground ginger should be stored in an airtight container away from light and heat.

  • Team fresh ginger with garlic, fish, pork, chicken, beef, shellfish, beans, pumpkin and Asian greens.
  • Sip home-made ginger tea: place 2 or 3 slices of fresh ginger in a cup and pour over boiling water. Leave for a couple of minutes and then drink. Add lemon juice and honey to taste.
  • Pep up a Japanese meal with pickled ginger on the side.
  • Indulge in a few squares of crystalline ginger as an after-dinner treat, occasionally
For more information on super foods and healthy eating, visit Catherine’s website: www.foodwatch.com.au


Low GI Recipes of the Month

Our chef Kate Hemphill develops deliciously simple recipes for GI News that showcase seasonal ingredients and make it easy for you to cook healthy, low GI meals and snacks. For more of Kate’s fabulous fare, check out her website: www.lovetocook.co.uk. For now, prepare and share good food with family and friends.

Kate Hemphill

Carrot, ginger and cannellini bean soup
As a very new Mum, not having much time in the kitchen is a new experience for me and cooking has become frantic and hurried. So I thought I’d share one of my current favourite fast and nutritious meals. As there’s no sweating of onions or peeling of carrots, you really can throw this all in the pot without a worry. I’ve been making large batches of it and freezing portions so there’s always something to eat. Best of all, it's a real dollar saving dinner at around $US1 a serving if you make it using stock powder or cubes!
Makes 10–12 serves

1.5 kg (3¼ lb) carrots, scrubbed or peeled, ends trimmed and cut into 5 cm (2 inch) pieces
10 cm (4 inch) piece ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
2 large cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
Chicken or vegetable stock, to cover (approx 600 ml)
2 x 400 g (14 oz) cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
300 ml (10 fl oz) light crème fraiche, low fat or skim yoghurt or light sour cream
Freshly ground black pepper

  • Put carrots, ginger and garlic into a large saucepan, cover with stock and and bring to the boil then reduce the heat and gently simmer until the carrots are tender.
  • Blitz, leaving some texture, and stir through the beans and crème fraiche (or yoghurt or sour cream). Add extra stock for a thinner soup. Reheat, taste and season with freshly ground black pepper and serve.
  • If freezing, allow to cool and ladle into 1-cup or 2-cup containers or zip-seal bags for easy use.
Per serve (based on 12 servings with skim yoghurt)
Energy: 392 kJ/93 cals; Protein 5 g; Fat 0.5 g (includes 0.2 g saturated fat and 1.3 mg cholesterol); Carbs 14 g; Fibre 7.6 g

Low GI fare from Johanna’s kitchen: In GI News American dietitian, Johanna Burani shares her recipes photographed by husband Sergio Burani. (Adapted with permission from Good Carbs, Bad Carbs, Da Capo Lifelong Books, New York.)

Johanna Burani

Chocolate applesauce cupcake
You just can’t imagine how light and moist and tasty these cupcakes are unless you try them! Any nutritionist would agree that eating one of these as an occasional treat is 781 kJ (186 calories) well spent.
Makes 12 large or 48 mini cupcakes

½ cup tub margarine or light butter
¾ cup sugar
1 egg plus 1 egg white or ¼ egg substitute
½ cup cocoa powder, unsweetened
1½ cups natural applesauce
1¾ cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
  • Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF. Grease and flour the cupcake tin.
  • In a deep mixing bowl, cream the margarine or butter and sugar for about 1½ minutes at medium speed until smooth. Add in the egg, egg white or substitute and cocoa powder and mix for about 1 minute until smooth, scraping the sides of the bowl frequently. Fold in the applesauce.
  • In a small mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the egg mixture and mix by hand, about 60 or 70 strokes. Do not over mix.
  • Fill the cupcake molds half to three-quarters full. Bake the large cupcakes for 22 minutes or the mini cupcakes for 15 minutes. Cool before removing from pan.
Per serve (1 large or 4 mini cupcakes)
Energy 781 kJ/186 cals; Protein 4 g; Fat 7 g (includes less than 0.5 g saturated fat and 18 milligrams cholesterol); Carbs 31 g; Fibre 4 g


Chocolate-pear smoothie
Thirty seconds to prepare, thirty seconds to mix, and then take your time to enjoy this luscious creamy treat.
Makes 2 serves

1 cup nonfat or 1% milk
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 medium pear (fresh, frozen or canned) peeled and cut into small pieces
1 teaspoon honey
Dash ground cardamom
  • Combine all ingredients in a food processor. Blend at high speed for 30 seconds. Pour into two glasses and serve immediately.
Per serve (1 cup)
Energy 550 kJ/131 cals; Protein 6 g; Fat 2 g (includes less than 0.5 g saturated fat and 0 mg cholesterol;); Carbs 27 g; Fibre 3 g

Visit Johanna’s website: www.eatgoodcarbs.com.

Busting Food Myths with Nicole Senior

Myth: A low fat diet is best

Nicole Senior

Fact: It’s not how much fat you eat, it’s what type of fat that counts.
It’s fair to say most people are scared of fat and try to avoid it. However, failure to eat the right kinds of fat is a primary reason why Australia’s national average cholesterol level has not improved in over 25 years. This is due in no small part to well-intentioned but misleading public health education aimed to reduce the risk of heart disease. Health authorities didn’t think regular folks would understand the difference between saturated fat and unsaturated fat, so they went for the simple message to ‘eat less fat’. As a consequence, the food industry went into overdrive in the quest to drive down fat levels, and low fat claims became the most sought by shoppers in the supermarket. Rather than being a good thing for our growing waistlines, eating low fat foods didn’t make any difference and we just grew fatter. Some healthy fat is good, but we’ve thrown the baby out with the bath water. While dietary guidelines around the world have now changed their emphasis towards reducing saturated fat and not total fat, the damage has been done.

To help you get your ‘fats’ straight, here are my five favourite dietary edicts.

Commercial reduced-fat, light, low-fat, and fat-free salad dressings are unnecessary. Home-made salad dressings are easy and simple: oil, plus vinegar and/or lemon juice, with perhaps some herbs, spices or perhaps mustard. It is fat-phobia gone mad when perfectly good oils are removed from commercial ‘dressings’ which are then loaded with salt, sugar and additives to put the flavour back in. Enjoying your salad or vegetables with oil is a healthy habit, and also enhances the absorption of antioxidants. The Mediterranean diet is certainly not low fat, but famous for its health benefits.

Reduced fat potato crisps are fattening. Potato crisps and the like were traditionally viewed as party food, to be enjoyed in small quantities on special occasions. Being so rich and tasty, and knowing they were a high-kilojoule (calorie) treat, meant we knew when to put the eating brake on. Having such foods manufactured with a lower fat content has loosened our inhibitions and unleashed the impulse to eat twice as much. The other bad news is these foods are still kilojoule-dense (and nutrient poor), and strangely unsatisfying: a recipe for over-eating. Switching to an unsaturated cooking oil to cook the crisps and reducing the salt is where the real health triumph lies, provided we can stop eating this ‘sometimes’ food after a modest amount (would removing the ‘low fat’ label help?).


Eating chocolate, cakes and biscuits instead of oils, spreads and nuts is a false economy. Like the glittering hope offered by a sub-prime mortgage, saving calories (kilojoules) from healthy fats to spend on treats is a pipedream and will only end in a health meltdown. And like sub-prime mortgages, calories from treats are way too easy to get – restraint is needed. Considering how important omega-3 fats are for mental health, missing out will have you heading into depression. While the occasional calorie sleight-of-hand is OK, if you usually skip healthy fats in order to indulge in nutrient-poor treats (often high in saturated fats), your diet is not healthy. Think of oils, spreads, nuts and seeds as another food group, like lean meat or vegetables, and therefore not inter-changeable with ‘extra’ foods or treats. There is no need to endure dry toast or soggy sandwiches – oil-based spreads (AKA margarine spreads) are healthy, provided you select trans-free, reduced-salt versions.

“Frying” food in water or stock is a crime against cooking. There was a time, in the quest for eliminating fat of any type, when food lovers the world over were thrown into misery by the advice to switch from oil to water or stock. Besides breaking every rule of cooking, flavour and gastronomy, and creating an infinitely inferior result, the advice was counter-productive for health. Oils (any you care to name in your local supermarket) contain good fats, fat-soluble vitamins, and healthful phytochemicals. Why would you avoid such a food? If your answer is, “to lose weight” – see point below.

You don’t need a low fat diet to lose weight. The best weight loss is the result of eating less calories (kilojoules) overall and exercising more. The trick is to maintain a high nutrient intake in fewer calories (kilojoules) and this is where food choice is paramount. You must choose the most nutrient-dense foods from all of the food groups to ensure you stay well-nourished at the same time as burning body fat. A fat-free diet does not contain enough essential fatty acids and fat-soluble vitamins, and also leaves a massive flavour black hole. A Cochrane Review meta-analysis of studies concluded there is no advantage to low fat diets over calorie-restricted diets for weight loss. You can still lose weight eating healthy fats so long as your diet is calorie controlled (and it will taste a lot better too).

It should be said there is a place for low fat foods – in the dairy aisle. Because dairy foods are a major source of artery-clogging saturated fat, low fat versions of these nutrient-rich foods are a change for the better and recommended for everyone, including children from 2 years of age. Low-fat dairy foods such as milk and yoghurt are also satisfying and low GI, making them a heart-friendly food.

If you’d like more information on how to lose weight and lower cholesterol in a healthy way, grab a copy of Eat to Beat Cholesterol by Nicole Senior and Veronica Cuskelly. If you’d like great ideas for simple, heart-friendly food made with the goodness of healthy fats and oils, try Heart Food by Veronica Cuskelly and Nicole Senior. Both titles available from www.greatideas.net.au.


Curly Questions

So many times one reads: ‘Eat nuts regularly - a small handful’. Since hand sizes differ greatly I would appreciate if possible some kind of measurement.
Good question. That serving ‘a small handful’ is 30–50 g (1–1¾ oz) and doesn't include the tempting salted kinds. Enjoy that unsalted ‘handful’ 5–7 times a week and halve your risk of developing heart disease. Even people who eat nuts once a week have less heart disease than those who don’t eat any nuts.


I have been tracking the stories about consumption of fruit juices and the correlation with type 2 diabetes. Should we give up fruit juice altogether and stick to raw fruit? What's the causal relationship between fruit juice consumption and type 2 diabetes?
Eating fresh fruit as a snack when you are hungry and drinking water when you are thirsty is always going to be a better option than gulping down a glass of juice, but we wouldn't say give up juice altogether. We would say think of juice as an occasional or keep-for-a-treat food (note we use the word 'food' here and not 'drink'), and be judicious re portion sizes. A serving is only about 1/2 cup or 125 ml. That's not a lot. Liquid calories are a little stealthier than most, in that they tend to sneak past the satiety centre in our brain, which would normally help to stop us from overeating. Here's what Catherine Saxelby says in her article on juice and juicing in June 2008 GI News:

'Fruit juice is fruit that’s concentrated. Juices pack in a lot of kilojoules/calories and represent fruit in a form that’s all too easy to seriously over consume. The fibre and intact structure have been removed, and with that goes the ‘natural brake to over consumption. Look at this comparison:

  • A 200 g (7 oz) apple PROVIDES 3 g fibre and 300 kilojoules (71 calories) and TAKES 10 minutes to eat.
  • A 650 ml glass or bottle of apple juice (2½ cups) PROVIDES zero fibre and 1300 kilojoules (309 calories) and TAKES 2 minutes to drink. In fact a large juice is equivalent in food value to 4 apples but takes a fraction of the time and volume to drink and you are missing out on the fibre in the skin.'
As for the second part of your question, Julie Palmer’s study referred to in September GI News suggests that the mechanism for the increase in diabetes risk associated with soft drink and fruit drink consumption is primarily through increased weight from the calories. The fruit drinks she is referring to aren't 100% fruit juice. They are diluted and sweetened juice sold as 'fruit juice drinks' like Ribena and 'cordials' like Orange Crush in Australia. They noted no association between type 2 diabetes risk and grapefruit juice or orange juice.


Email your curly question about carbs, the GI and blood glucose to: gicurlyquestions@gmail.com

Move It & Lose It with Prof Trim

The real issue is not if you are fat, but where the fat’s gone
So you’ve put on weight – that happens when humans spend too much time in the good paddock. But the real issue is where the fat’s gone – to your belly, to your hips or to places unknown.

The average punter typically has around 50 billion fat cells stored in various depots throughout the body. The main ones are around the organs of the trunk (what's called visceral or internal fat); around the waist (called subcutaneous abdominal fat); and on the hips and buttocks (subcutaneous gluteal fat). Visceral fat tends to be much more closely linked with disease than the other type of subcutaneous belly fat that makes up a ‘pot belly’. Visceral fat is generally correlated with abdominal fat and can usually be picked up in waist circumference measures (so get that tape out).


Research shows that where you get fat depends largely on the genes you’ve inherited from your parents. ‘Apple’ or ‘pear-shaped’ people have parents that are generally shaped the same, and particular genes control for this. It means that no matter how you try, if you’re a natural pear, and you lose a good amount of weight, you’ll probably just become a smaller pear – never a smaller apple.

Asians may have more visceral fat than Caucasians. In one study from the International Journal of Obesity, it’s been shown that Japanese men have a higher proportion of visceral to subcutaneous abdominal fat than Caucasian men at the same level of overall body fatness. This is important because it has long been known that Asians have a higher health risk than Caucasians even if they have the same waist measurement and BMI.

Exercise decreases abdominal fat more than diet. A US study examined the question of whether a diet alone, or a diet with low or high intensity exercise has a differential effect on different fat cell depots. Obese women were given a low calorie diet, or a diet with exercise that amounted to the same number of calories as the diet alone. Fat cells in different parts of the body were examined to see if each of these regimes affected fat cells differently. The researchers found this was indeed the case. Although all groups lost about the same amount of weight, those given the exercise program as well as the diet tended to lose more from the subcutaneous fat cells around the waist, suggesting that these respond somehow differently to other fat cells. Because these are more linked to disease risk in women, this suggests that exercise might have a greater benefit for health improvements than diet in obese women.

Dr Garry Egger aka Prof Trim

For more information on weigh loss for men, check out Professor Trim.