1 May 2014

GI News—May 2014


  • Try Taste Planner's low GI salmon with white bean mash; 
  • Bake your own wild harvested wattleseed bread;
  • Alan Barclay looks at the bountiful benefits of fruit; 
  • Nicole Senior has an orange crush;
  • Anneka Manning bakes a whole orange and walnut cake for Mother's Day; 
  • Jennie Brand-Miller answers your questions about juice and GI.
GI News 
Editor: Philippa Sandall
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Food for Thought

Is juicing the solution, asks Glenn Cardwell. 
“You are not serious about your health until you juice combinations of fruits and vegetables, according to those that pray at the Church of Blended Plants. You exchange recipes online and discuss the best juicers and blenders on the market and tell the world of nature’s wonders. But will juicing elevate your health beyond the capabilities of the original ingredients?

Juicing is a relatively new concept, with the popularity growing over the last 30 years. The great thing is that you can develop your own creative formulas and in an instant you have a tasty and nutritious drink that you can down in seconds before you go to work, or sip while you check emails.

Berry boost

Berry boost, from The Low GI Vegetarian Cookbook (photo courtesy Hachette Australia)

Don’t forget the pulp: Well-known Australian Food Coach Judy Davie says her favourite juice recipe is perfect for keeping her “regular”, even if she doesn’t include the pulp. Well, she probably eats lots of other fibre foods too. Now, one criticism about juicing is that the fibrous pulp is often discarded and plant fibre is excellent for your insides. Judy reserves the pulp for using in muffins. Smart idea. Those healthy bacteria in your intestines get particularly upset if you don’t include their favourite food (they eat the fibre to produce protective compounds against bowel cancer and nutrients in your large intestine).

Enzyme hoax: Some people will tell you that juices contain enzymes, or even “live” enzymes (do they socialise and swap orchard stories?). As an enzyme is a protein, and all consumed proteins encounter protease enzymes in the small intestine, it makes no difference if they are alive or semi-conscious, because they are all going to be chopped up into small chains of amino acids. It may sound like a horrible death, but that is the cruelty of nature I’m afraid. Enzymes are proteins. We eat them. They die. Then their amino acids get made into human proteins we can use and bingo!, they start a new life.

Another favourite line is that juices “detox” the body. Nope, and that’s a definite. What detoxifies your body are the lungs, liver and kidneys and they work around the clock doing a fabulous job for eight or ten decades, with luck, providing you give them good care. Detox anything’s are a scam. Eating well is normal, leaving your body to do its own detoxification and “cleansing”.

Drinking vs chewing: Enjoy your homemade juice but don’t make that the only way you get two fruits and five veggies inside you. One clear benefit from eating fruit and veg the traditional way (i.e. chewing) is that it takes longer than drinking. Chewing food takes time, and taking time over food means that you are better able to control your appetite and less likely to overeat.

Commercial juices from the supermarket are likely to be devoid of fibre, possibly be more dilute than what comes out of your juicer, and won’t contain the love and flavour of your homemade version. Fruit juices are generally 12% sugar (12g per 100ml/3½fl.oz.), which is the same as a regular soft drink, so it becomes a very easy way to drink quite a few calories as juice. Knocking back 300ml (10fl.oz.) of juice will give you 145 cals/600kJs, about the same as eating three medium apples. The juice won’t make much of dent in your appetite; eating three apples will.

What does it all mean? Juices and juicing can be a neat way to get nutrients from fruit and vegetables, especially if you are in a hurry. Juicing can also be a refreshing drink that you are confident is “good for you”. Try and include the whole food where possible to avoid peeling. For example, the peel of an apple has 60–100% of its antioxidant flavonols. Just don’t rely on juicing to get all your fruits and vegetables, and don’t think you have moved up to a higher plane, because all those non-juicers who just chew their plant food will be equally wholesome and well.”

Glenn Cardwell
Glenn Cardwell
is an Accredited Practising Dietitian. Make sure you check out Glenn's website.

What's new?

Eat to beat cholesterol with low GI legumes – beans, peas and lentils.
They aren’t labelled “cholesterol-fighters” like oats, barley or nuts, but eating just one serving of legumes such as beans, chickpeas, lentils and peas a day can help reduce “bad cholesterol” according to the findings of a meta-analysis published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal that reviewed 26 randomized controlled trials.

beans, peas and lentils

The researchers suggest that a single serving of legumes a day – about 130 grams or three-quarters of a cup – is enough to lower LDL cholesterol by 5%. That would translate into a 5 or 6% reduction in risk of heart disease. “Legumes have a lot of amazing things in them,” says co-author Dr John Sievenpiper. “They are a whole food, they have wonderful vitamins and minerals, sticky fibres that lower cholesterol, plant protein, and a low GI value. Consuming more legumes could also cut down on trans fats or processed meat because you’re reaching for plant protein over animal protein. Have some oatmeal in the morning, nuts as a snack and bean salad for lunch, for example. Each food would take on about a five per cent decrease in bad cholesterol,” he says. They also contain resistant starch. This clip, The Hungry Microbiome, shows why resistant starch is good for you.

Scroll down to the GI News Kitchen to up your legume intake with Chrissy Freer’s fabulous Salmon with White Bean Mash (reprinted courtesy www.taste.com.au); or Sophie Hansen’s Braised Cannellini Beans with Garlic and Rosemary (from Local Is Lovely reprinted courtesy Hachette Australia).

Could wild-harvested wattleseed bread be a soy and linseed success story? 
Wattleseeds are legumes and like other legumes they are extremely nutritious, have a low GI are gluten free and high in protein and fibre. Back in 1987, when Sydney University researchers substituted 18% of the wholemeal (wholewheat) flour in bread for high-protein, wild-harvested wattleseed flour (Acacia coriacea), they found that it significantly lowered both glucose and insulin responses in the six healthy participants taking part in the study. “The findings suggest that wattleseed (Acacia) flour, when used to dilute wheat flour in the manufacture of breads, biscuits, pastes and dampers, could be particularly useful in the diets of people with diabetes,” says Prof Jennie Brand-Miller, “and may be a way of encouraging all Australians to consume more slow-release foods.”
Bake your own wild-harvested wattleseed bread: We don’t have the actual recipe, but the study reports it was made with “18% A. coriacea flour and 82% wholemeal wheat flour. Yeast, water and salt were added to produce a dough which was fermented for 10–16 hours, kneaded and baked.” If you want to try it, you can buy wild-harvested wattleseed flour (A. victoriae) from Lyle Dudley of Bushfood Australia. Let us know how you fare info@gisymbol.com. We would love to publish your recipes and pictures on the GI Symbol Facebook page with full acknowledgment of course.

Wattle with seeds

Wattleseeds: According to ANU’s Fenner School of Environment and Lifestyle, 47 sorts of wattles growing in southern Australia produce seeds we can eat. Talking about traditional use they say: “The Aborigines ground the dried wattle seeds between stones to form a flour which was then baked as a damper. These seed grinding practices appear to be a relatively recent technological development. It is thought that Aboriginal people in central Australia have been grinding grass or wattle seed for no more than 4000 years. Green seeds are also eaten, taken green like peas. It is currently believed that only desert dwellers ate acacia seeds, with the exception of coastal South Australian and Tasmanian tribes, which roasted the pods and then ate the seeds of Acacia sophorae (coast wattle).”
Thanks to Ian Hemphill who explained why we needed to buy Lyle’s raw ground wattleseed (a flour) not Herbies roasted and ground wattleseed (a spice). Herbie does have a risotto recipe using wattleseed spice and bush tomato which we are going to try with pearl barley. Watch this space.

Skinnyfish Music's latest video.
In Spear Dodging, the latest in the series promoting better health in Aboriginal communities, the traditional knowledge and skill of dodging spears becomes a metaphor for dodging illness, and urges people to visit health care facilities for a check up.

New GI values: Devondale Smoothies. 
These low GI smoothies are Australian School Canteen approved (Green) and provide 14% of the recommended daily intake of calcium for children. They are “made simply with Aussie milk and real fruit. With no artificial additives and no cane sugar, it’s the snack you don’t have to worry about,” says the manufacturer’s website. However, for those parents who do worry about added sugars, these smoothies contain added fructose as well as the fruit purees and natural flavours and of course the Banana and Honey Smoothie has honey in it.

Banana and Honey Smoothie GI 28 

  • Per serve (200ml) 528kJ/ 126 calories; 4g protein; 3g fat (includes 2g saturated fat); 20g available carbs; GL 5 
Tropical Smoothie (mango/pineapple/passionfruit) GI 31 
  • Per serve (200ml) 486kJ/ 116 calories; 4g protein; 3g fat (includes 2g saturated fat); 18g available carbs; GL 6

Nicole's Taste of Health

Orange crush. 
I love how you can tell whenever someone is eating an orange, even if you can’t even see them. It’s the gorgeously perfumed spray of orange oil released from the peel that gives the game away; an instant room freshener. Another reason I like oranges is because a boy I liked at school liked them too. He never showed any interest, yet my love affair with all things citrus remains.

And speaking of school, I remember being most impressed with mums (or dads) that peeled the skin from an orange in one continuous length but left it on so it could be artfully unfurled without the bother of getting peel under the fingernails. That’s love! It’s a pity oranges fall down the hierarchy of lunchbox fruit because of the mess-factor, but I guess that’s why mandarins do so well- they skin practically falls off leaving plump juicy segments there for the taking. But oranges are really worth the effort, especially if it’s someone else’s: thanks to all the mums and dads still peeling them for their kids, or slicing them into quarters for the fun of orange teeth!
Oranges have an aura of healthiness: there’s a reason orange quarters are the preferred half-time snack during team sport. They’re juicy for rehydration and refreshment, a little sweet for an energy boost, low GI to keep the energy going, and packed with good stuff like vitamin C, fibre to make them filling, potassium, folate and over 170 different types of phytochemicals that have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer effects. Studies have shown diets containing citrus fruits are associated with a lower risk of heart disease and stroke, and some cancers. Emerging research suggest citrus phytochemicals may also protect and maintain brain function and reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

Although probably most famous for juice, this is not the healthiest way to eat oranges because you miss out on the satisfaction and digestive health benefits of the fibre. Try to eat whole oranges more than juice, and enjoy the juice in small quantities. Try diluting it with cool water – still or sparkling – for the best refreshment, perhaps with a crushed mint leaf for some extra aromatherapy.
Another idea is to make a “crushie” or smoothie by pureeing the whole peeled fruit with ice and adding other seasonal fruits and vegetables such as custard apple, passionfruit, kiwi or strawberries.

And of course while we usually discard orange skin, it is a precious resource worth using. The valuable part is the coloured zest (the white pith can be bitter) which is where the fragrant and phytochemical-rich oil and pigment are found, and can be removed using a citrus zester, or a fine grater. Remove the zest before you slice or peel them so it’s easy to remove; it doesn’t affect the flavour inside (however it will spoil your game of orange teeth). Add the zest to cool drinks, hot tea, baking, soups, stews, tagines, risotto, stir-fries and pilaffs- anything where fresh, citrus flavour partners well. If you can’t use the zest right away, mix with a little water and freeze in ice cube trays to use later. The other delicious and decadent ways of eating citrus skin are marmalade and cakes where you boil up the whole orange skin and all (see Anneka’s fabulous recipe below, and her Gluten-free Mandarin Roasted Almond Cakes in the September 2013 issue).

Oranges are simple, traditional and hardworking and perhaps this is the reason why oranges are so quick to be pipped at the post of the fruit fashion stakes. When food is so plentiful and our choices so numerous, our palates become fickle. Apparently, the next up and coming member of the citrus family hails from Japan: the Yuzu is forecast to be the next hot ingredient in restaurant and foodie circles. But I’m more frump than fashionista when it comes to food – give me good old fashioned, locally grown oranges and life tastes (and smells) great. Buon appetito!

Nicole and Finn

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

In the GI News Kitchen

Family Baking.
Anneka Manning, author of Bake Eat Love. Learn to Bake in 3 Simple Steps and founder of Sydney’s BakeClub, shares her delicious ‘better-for-you’ recipes for snacks, desserts and treats the whole family will love. Through both her writing and cooking school, Anneka teaches home cooks to bake in practical and approachable yet inspiring ways that assure success in the kitchen.

 Anneka Manning
Whole Orange and Walnut Cake. 
A simple, no fuss recipe made in the food processor and a perfect Mother’s Day treat. Walnuts, wholemeal flour, olive oil and a whole orange all add to the goodness of this cake. It is best to use a thin-skinned navel orange that is around in winter and spring, as it has no seeds and very little bitter pith.

  • Serves 10 
  • Preparation time: 15 minutes 
  • Baking time: 30–35 minutes 
1 orange, quartered, core and seeds removed
1 cup raw caster sugar
100ml (3½fl.oz.) olive oil
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 cup wholemeal (wholewheat) plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
100g (3½oz) walnuts, toasted and ground
icing sugar, to dust (optional)

Orange Cake in a Food Processor.

Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Grease a 20cm/8in round cake tin and line the base with non-stick baking paper.
Place the whole orange, sugar, olive oil and eggs in the bowl of a food processor. Process until the orange is finely chopped. Add the flour, baking powder and ground walnuts and process until just combined. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and use the back of a spoon to smooth the surface.
Bake in the preheated oven for 30–35 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
Remove from the oven and set aside for 5 minutes before turning onto a wire rack to cool.
Serve dusted with icing sugar if you wish. This cake will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days

Per serve
1245 kJ/ 297 calories; 5 g protein; 17 g fat (includes 2 g saturated fat; saturated:unsaturated fat ratio 0.13); 31 g available carbs (includes 22 g sugars and 9 g starch); 2.5 g fibre

Meal planning made easy with Taste Planner
Taste Planner provides personalised meal plans you can access on your mobile (cell), laptop, desktop or tablet. To date, Diabetes Australia has partnered with Taste Planner to give users access to over 550 diabetes-friendly recipes. Subscribers also get access to 25 other dietary and allergy filters including gluten-free and heart-healthy that can be used to build a meal plan from the 27,000 recipes they have available. They are offering GI News readers a 28-day free trial of Taste Planner plus 24 weeks with 50% off. This means that after your free trial subscription period, you would pay $3.98 every 28 days for personalised meal plans that come with nutritional information and a shopping list. Simply enter coupon code GINEWS on the payment details page to redeem your 50% discount. Get a taste of Taste Planner with Chrissy Freer’s Salmon with White Bean Mash. 

Chrissy Freer's Salmon with White Bean Mash.
This delicious meal will be on the table in 25 minutes. It’s rich in the good omega-3 fats and cholesterol-fighting legumes. Recipe and photo courtesy www.taste.com.au. Serves 4.

1 tbsp (20ml) olive oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp finely grated lemon rind
2 x 400g (14oz) cans cannellini beans, rinsed, drained
1 tbsp (20ml) fresh lemon juice
1 cup fresh continental parsley leaves
1 small red onion, halved, thinly sliced
1 tbsp (20ml) baby capers, rinsed, drained
 olive oil spray
 4 (about 125g/4oz each) skinless salmon fillets
steamed green round beans, to serve

Salmon with White Bean Mash
Photo: Steve Brown

Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic, cumin and lemon rind and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds or until aromatic. Add the cannellini beans and lemon juice, and cook for 2 minutes. Use a fork to coarsely crush. Set aside and cover to keep warm.
Combine the parsley, onion and capers in a small bowl.
Heat a large non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat. Spray with oil. Cook the salmon for 3-4 minutes each side for medium or until cooked to your liking.
Divide the bean mixture among serving plates. Top with the salmon and the parsley mixture. Serve with green beans.

Per serve 
1863kJ/ 443 calories; 40g protein; 19g fat (includes 4g saturated fat; saturated:unsaturated fat ratio 0.27); 27g available carbs; 9g fibre

Local Is Lovely. 
Sophie Hansen lives on a farm four hours west of Sydney with her husband Tim and their two children. In her new book, Local Is Lovely (Hachette Australia, $35), she takes us on a seasonal journey introducing us to the fresh food she loves to cook with and the farmers who produce it.

Braised Cannellini Beans with Garlic and Rosemary. 
“A humble dish, this one,” she says, “but this recipe sums up exactly how I like to cook and eat: just a few ingredients prepared very simply.” Serves 6.

1½ cups dried cannellini beans
¼ cup olive oil
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
⅓ cup fresh rosemary leaves, finely chopped
¼ cup stock or water (optional) salt and pepper, to taste

Braised Cannellini Beans with Garlic and Rosemary

Soak the beans overnight in a big pot of cold water.
Drain them, then return them to the pot and cover once again with cold water. Place over a medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat a little and cook until the beans are tender. (This can take up to 45 minutes but check after 30 minutes). Drain the beans, then heat your olive oil in a large, deep frying pan. Add the garlic and rosemary and cook for a minute or so, until the garlic becomes fragrant. Add the beans and cook, stirring gently and often for a few minutes. The idea is to just warm the beans through.
Add the stock or water if you feel it’s getting too dry, then stir gently and season generously.

Per serve 
1660 kJ/ 396 calories; 11 g protein; 30 g fat (includes 4 g saturated fat; saturated:unsaturated fat ratio 0.15); 20 g available carbs (16 g starch, 2 g maltodextrin and 2 g sugars); 10g fibre

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


Rotini with Artichoke Heart Sauce. 
This is a light sauce, informing the palate that the thick, steaming sauces of winter are no longer on the menu. It’s spring in Italy! No fresh tomatoes or basil yet, but it won’t be long! Servings: 10
1 tbsp (15ml) olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1–2 large cloves garlic, minced
4–6 oz (120–180 g) frozen artichoke hearts, thinly sliced
3 sprigs fresh parsley, chopped
1 bay leaf
zest 1 lemon
2 x 14oz (400g) cans Italian crushed tomatoes
½ cup water
salt and pepper to taste
20oz (600g) rotini pasta
grated parmigiano-reggiano, to taste

Rotini with Artichoke Heart Sauce

Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan, add the onion and garlic and sauté for 7 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the artichoke hearts, parsley, bay leaf and lemon zest and sauté for 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, water, salt and pepper. Cover and simmer for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile …
Bring a large pot of water to a boil (adding salt to the cooking water if you wish). Add the pasta and cook according to package directions until al dente. Drain the cooked pasta, return it to the saucepan and add the sauce, mixing together well. Serve immediately with parmigiano-reggiano on the side.

Per serve
Energy: 1000kJ/ 240 cals; Protein 8g; Fat 4g (includes less than 1g saturated fat); Available carbohydrate 44g; Fibre 4g

Putting the Fun Back into Fitness

Cycling stretches.
I have recently had great fun cycling in the English countryside with my brother and his friends. My brother is a keen cyclist and it’s his favourite way to get away from it all and get exercise and stay fit. I have been introducing him to the benefits of Pilates stretches specifically designed for cyclists and he is now incorporating these stretches into his own warm up and cool down routines.


Peta Green, my partner at BodyPlayground, teaches Pilates regularly to two professional cyclists: Liam Kelly, the owner of Bondi Bikes and Anthony Shippard. Within a few weeks of training she saw a huge improvement. “They seem more connected with their core, they are starting to get the idea of lengthening the muscles, especially in the legs and they are becoming more aware of their posture,” she told me.

Following on from the mat classes she developed for Liam and Anthony, Peta came up with a series of Pilates exercises to help all cyclists, whether they ride professionally or for fun, balance out their bodies and create a lean, strong physique by strengthening and stretching the muscles in the core, spine and extremities. The exercises can also help make the cycle stroke more efficient Peta says.

She explains: “Cyclists’ posture is in a constant curve of the spine sitting on the bike (kyphosis) and also they use their legs in a repetitive action for hours on end. Pilates exercises strengthen the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, calf muscles, hip flexors, lower back and abdominal muscles and increase the flexibility of the hamstrings and lower back which assists with the positioning on the bike. Most importantly Pilates helps to correct imbalances of the muscles and improve balance in general, minimizing falls.

Pilates is a great addition to any cyclist’s fitness regime either as a cool down after a long ride or for stretching on the days when you don’t get out riding. The best way to see results is doing Pilates exercises at least twice a week. It takes time and a bit of patience to get it at first, but that’s the beauty of Pilates – you keep learning about your body and how it works.”

Peta and I have made a couple of special stretching videos for cyclists in our sport specific “25s” series. That’s 25 exercises in 25 minutes. You can check them out HERE.
Emma Sandall runs (with Peta Green) Body Playground, an online space for discovering how to put the fun back into your fitness routines. For tips on stretching or to learn a nice sequence you can do any time, any place, check out Vimeo.

Update with Dr Alan Barclay

Alan Barclay
Dr Alan Barclay

The bountiful benefits of fruit.  
Whatever your beliefs are about the origin of human life, one fact is relatively common to all. Be it from the trees in the Garden of Eden or the berries and fruits consumed by our ancient hominid ancestors – the first solid food consumed by our kind was fruit.

In today’s increasingly obesogenic environment, it’s refreshing to know that most fresh fruits have a low energy density due to their high water and dietary fibre content. This means that for most of us, it’s hard to over eat fruit – it fills us up too quickly. Indeed, dietary guidelines recommend that adult men and women eat at least two serves of fruit each day. A serve is:

  • 150g/5oz of fresh fruit (1 piece of a medium sized fruit or 2 small), or 
  • 150g/5oz of diced, cooked or canned (not in syrup) fruit (1 cup), or 
  • 30g/1oz of dried fruit (a small palm full) 
In most fruit, carbohydrate is the primary source of energy. Fruit contains a mixture of sucrose, glucose and fructose and a small amount of starch, in varying proportions between the many different varieties. Despite some peoples concern about the fructose content of fruit, it’s important to note that on average, total fructose (from fructose and sucrose) makes up about half of the total carbohydrate in fruit: a typical serve of fruit contains around 17g of total carbohydrate, and 8.5g of total fructose. Most fruit is a good source of fibre, containing on average around 4g per typical serve.

What about glycemic index? Temperate climate fruits like apples and pears, berries, citrus fruits and stone fruits all have low GI values as do bananas. Some tropical fruits and melons have moderate or high GI values, but their glycemic load tends to be low because they are low in carbohydrate. Dried fruit counts, too. But remember drying not only concentrates the flavour, it concentrates the calories, so a little goes a long way. You can check out the GI values of your favourite fruit in the GI database or in The Shopper’s Guide to GI Values. A range of fruits are certified as low GI by the GI Foundation including, apples, pears and grapes.

Nutrition There are many good reasons why fruit is such an important part of our diets, both past and present. Most are a good source of the water soluble vitamins, in particular vitamin C, with around 28mg per typical serve, which is just over half Australia’s Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) of 45 mg per day. They also contain small amounts of important B group vitamins including thiamine, riboflavin, niacin and folate along with the minerals potassium and magnesium. And with the notable exceptions of avocados and olives, fruit is also low in fat and sodium.

Health benefits With so much goodness packed into a relatively small package it is perhaps not surprising that daily consumption of moderate amounts of fruit (at least 2 pieces) is associated with the prevention of heart disease, stroke, certain cancers (mouth and upper digestive tract), obesity and weight gain.

Sadly, most of us don’t eat enough – the most recent Australian National Nutrition Survey found for example that less than half of average adults eat two or more serves a day. This is one instance where most of us need to be eating more, not less…

New GI Symbol

For more information about the GI Symbol Program
Dr Alan W Barclay, PhD
Chief Scientific Officer
Glycemic Index Foundation (Ltd)
Email: alan.barclay@gisymbol.com
Website: www.gisymbol.com

For more information about GI testing in Australia
Fiona Atkinson
Research Manager, Sydney University Glycemic Index Research Service (SUGiRS)
Email sugirs@mmb.usyd.edu.au
Web www.glycemicindex.com

Q&A with Jennie Brand-Miller

Prof Jennie Brand-Miller answers your questions. 

Are you better off drinking a small glass of fruit juice than a soft drink, cordial or sports drink?
Fruit juices have a low GI in most cases (40–50) and they contribute valuable micronutrients that you won’t find in alternative beverages. Some fruit juices are not low GI, e.g. Ocean Spray cranberry juice/drinks, which are around 60. Most soft drinks are in the GI range of 60–70. Sports drinks can be 70–80. A small glass of fruit juice is probably better than no fruit at all, but it always best to choose the whole fruit because it makes you feel fuller.

Does the high amount of fructose in juice have any effect on the release of glucose? 
No. When it comes to any sugary product (natural or otherwise), you have a mixture of sucrose, glucose and fructose. The ratio of fructose to glucose is about 1:1. Sucrose is digested quickly to glucose plus fructose before absorption. The fructose is metabolised in the liver and about 50% is converted to glucose and burnt as a source of fuel. While glucose is generally absorbed rapidly, it can be slowed by acidic solutions (e.g. all fruits are acidic) and very concentrated solutions. If fructose is consumed on its own, the process of absorption is slower and some may escape absorption. The presence of glucose increases the rate of absorption of fructose. The high proportion of fructose in fruit and fruit juice is one reason why they have a low GI. But it’s not the only reason. Very large amounts of fructose (70g a day or more) from any source can have adverse effects on the liver and blood lipids (fats) but few people consumed those quantities. The old adage applies: enjoy in moderation.

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