1 June 2014

GI News—June 2014


  • Try Taste Planner's low GI Chargrilled fish with green chilli, coriander (cilantro) and coconut relish; 
  • New GI value for coconut sugar;  
  • Anneka's Rhubarb and pear coconut crumble; 
  • Do the myriad coconut products live up to the hype? Nicole Senior investigates; 
  • Jennie Brand-Miller and the GI of coconut flour; 
  • Alan Barclay looks at GI, GL and risk of diabetes; 
  • Setting fitness goals and having fun achieving them; 
  • Try exercise snacking for better BGLs.
GI News 
Editor: Philippa Sandall
Web management and design: Alan Barclay, PhD
Contact email (for questions or permission to reproduce stories from this newsletter): info@gisymbol.com for technical problems or faults please contact smb.ginewstech@sydney.edu.au

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Food for Thought

The coconut conundrum. 
Tropical coconut palms (Cocos nucifera) flourish on shorelines in a worldwide band 25 degrees north and 25 degrees south of the equator. It’s considered the tree of life in many cultures, and is certainly top contender for gold when it comes to “world’s most useful plants”. With each tree yielding thousands of coconuts over a 60–80-year lifespan, it provides, in one neat package, a high-calorie food, potable water, fiber that can be spun into rope, and a hard shell that can be turned into charcoal. What’s more it makes a handy flotation device if you need it. And it’s not a nut, it is a drupe or stone fruit.


But where did it come from originally? Check out your plant guide and you’ll find there’s some disagreement about origins. “The traditional argument” says plant evolutionary biologist Kenneth Olsen “was that the niu kafa (triangular and oblong with a large fibrous husk) form was the wild, ancestral form that didn’t reflect human selection, in part because it was better adapted to ocean dispersal”. Dwarf trees with the rounded niu vai fruits that contain abundant sweet coconut water when unripe were thought to be the domesticated form that arose only in the Pacific. (Niu kafa and niu vai are Samoan names for traditional Polynesian varieties.) “The lack of universal domestication traits together with the long history of human interaction with coconuts, made it difficult to trace the coconut’s cultivation origins strictly by morphology (form and structure),” Olsen says. DNA was a different story.

When he and colleagues examined the DNA of more than 1300 coconuts from all over the world they report in PlosOne that Pacific and Indian Ocean coconuts are quite distinct genetically. In the Pacific, coconuts were likely first cultivated in island Southeast Asia (Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia), and perhaps the continent as well. In the Indian Ocean the likely center of cultivation was the southern periphery of India, including Sri Lanka, the Maldives, and the Laccadives (Lakshadweep).

One exception to the general Pacific/Indian Ocean split is the western Indian Ocean, specifically Madagascar and the Comoros Islands. The coconuts here are a genetic mixture of both Indian and Pacific oceans types. They believe the Pacific coconuts were introduced to the Indian Ocean a couple of thousand years ago by Austronesians establishing trade routes connecting Southeast Asia to Madagascar and coastal east Africa.

Much later the Indian Ocean coconut was transported to the New World by Europeans. The Portuguese carried coconuts from the Indian Ocean to the West Coast of Africa, Olsen says, and the plantations established there were a source of material that made it into the Caribbean and also to coastal Brazil.

So the coconuts that you find today in Florida are largely the Indian ocean type, Olsen says, which is why they tend to have the niu kafa (triangular) form. On the Pacific side of the New World tropics, however, the coconuts are Pacific Ocean coconuts. Some appear to have been transported there in pre-Columbian times by ancient Austronesians moving east rather than west. In addition, the Spanish brought coconuts to the Pacific coast of Mexico from the Philippines, which was for a time governed on behalf of the King of Spain from Mexico.This is why, Olsen says, you find Pacific type coconuts on the Pacific coast of Central America and Indian type coconuts on the Atlantic coast. (Source: Eurekalert.)

What's new?

Preventing diabetes with diet and exercise brings healthy heart benefits. 
People with type 2 diabetes have more than twice the risk of death from heart disease than people of a similar age without diabetes. Many studies have shown that diet and exercise can prevent pre-diabetes progressing to diabetes. However, there hasn’t been any high-quality, randomized controlled trial evidence to date to show that lifestyle interventions like this can actually prevent deaths from heart attack and stroke as well. Now, the results from Dr Guangwei Li and colleagues 23-year follow up of the Da Qing Diabetes Prevention Study published in The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology, show that participants with impaired glucose tolerance who were randomized to diet and exercise lifestyle interventions had significantly reduced death rates from cardiovascular disease, compared to those randomized to the control arm of the original 6-year study.

Dr. David Katz, director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center, says: “This study shows first, that an intervention focused particularly on diabetes prevention has generalized benefits. This is not very surprising, since the causal and protective factors for all of the prevalent chronic diseases are interrelated. The same diet and activity pattern that helps prevent diabetes does the same for cardiovascular disease. Second, and more surprising, this study suggests that a robust lifestyle intervention program of sufficient duration is a gift that keeps on giving, conferring benefit for years after it concludes. This offers important promise with regard to the cost-effectiveness of such interventions.”

Try exercise snacking for better BGLs.
Exercise science and medicine researchers, including Monique Francois and James Cotter from the University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand report in Diabetologia that brief bursts of intense interval exercise before meals (they call it exercise snacking) can help control blood glucose levels (BGLs) in people with insulin resistance more effectively than a daily 30-minute session of moderate exercise. They compared three exercise regimens:

  • 30 minutes of moderate-intensity incline walking before dinner
  • 6 x one-minute intervals of intense incline walking 30 minutes before each meal 
  • 6 x one-minute intervals that alternated between intense incline walking and resistance band exercise 30 minutes before each meal. 
“Sustained hyperglycaemia following meals is an important feature of insulin resistance. Reducing these post-meal spikes is important for reducing the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and its associated complications,” says Francois. “We found exercise snacking to be a novel and effective approach to improve blood glucose control in individuals with insulin resistance. Brief, intense interval exercise bouts undertaken immediately before breakfast, lunch and dinner had a greater impact on post-meal and subsequent 24-hour glucose concentrations than did a single bout of moderate, continuous exercise undertaken before an evening meal. The practical implications of our findings are that, for individuals who are insulin resistant and who experience marked post-meal increases in blood glucose, both the timing and the intensity of exercise should be considered for optimising glucose control.”

Stick with steady aerobic exercise to shift abdominal fat. 
High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is being touted as the fastest way to get lean, but according to University of Sydney researcher, Shelley Keating, only endurance exercise goes the distance for fat loss. Findings of a controlled trial at the University of Sydney’s Charles Perkins Centre published in Journal of Obesity show regular continuous aerobic exercise yields better fat loss results than HIIT workouts for overweight people looking to shed weight and achieve a slimmer waistline.

 “A growing number of people are substituting HIIT for regular aerobic workouts in their exercise routine, but it is not a fast track to quick fat loss if you’re overweight,” says researcher Shelley Keating. “High-intensity burst training does deliver increased fitness, but it doesn’t have a ‘fat furnace” effect if you carry weight around the middle. The message is if you're hitting the gym to lose weight and trim your waistline, stick with steady aerobic exercise to shift abdominal fat and see better results on the scales,” she says. “HIIT can be used as a time-efficient training method to improve fitness, but if you’re overweight you can’t afford to dump aerobic exercise if you want to see fat loss.”

 Group exercising

Exercise extras. 
#1 Prevent diabetes after pregnancy. Women who develop diabetes during pregnancy are more than seven times more likely to go on to develop type 2 diabetes after pregnancy. A recent study in JAMA Internal Medicine, found that sufficient physical activity after pregnancy can cut the risk of progressing to type 2 diabetes by almost half.

#2 Get the low GI edge. A systematic review and meta-analysis presented at May’s DAA Conference in Brisbane (Australia) provides good evidence that low GI foods consumed before exercise enable people to perform longer in an endurance activity or faster in a time trial. “Even small improvements in exercise performance are important at recreational and elite levels,” says researcher Dr Alan Barclay. “Our meta-analysis shows that low GI foods or meals as part of an overall healthy balanced diet can lead to significant improvement in performance.” However, he says, dietary advice needs to be tailored to meet individual requirements.

Nicole's Taste of Health

When does a regular food become a super food? When it has lots of dough spent on promotion. And the over-hyped, “super” food of the moment is coconut: the Kardashian of the food world due to abundant self-promotion. Its uber-cool aura has now drifted from the health nuts to normal folk who are apparently caught; hook, line and sinker.

I love coconut for its flavour, texture and versatility in the kitchen. What I hate is amateur nutritionists encouraging coconut oil in everything because “it helps lose weight”, and the shameless marketers and their misleading advertising and PR. If I see another dodgy, unfounded, exaggerated and pseudo-scientific claim about the superiority of anything to do with coconut I think I’ll scream. And it’s often a svelte, whippet of a trainer preaching to podgy, office-dwelling clients about ditching their usual oil and switching to coconut oil for cooking and dressing because “it won’t turn to fat” and “it’s good for the heart”. Talk about tinkering around the edges; adding coconut oil will not health-ify an average diet. This is a classic case of wanting your cake and eating it too in a world filled with too much cake. The evidence for coconut oil helping with weight loss and cholesterol is scant. In fact, the position of heart health organisations around the world is to caution against too much coconut fat because it is 90% saturated fat and likely to increase bad LDL cholesterol.

Now, let’s get back to good things about coconut. It’s a very clever food which yields many different products: coconut water (fat-free liquid from inside the coconut), coconut flesh that can be eaten fresh or dried (desiccated), or squeezed to make oil, milk and cream. Nowadays there’s even coconut milk yoghurt, coconut flour, coconut sugar, coconut syrup and even coconut vinegar – très exotique! This product diversity is born of necessity in countries for which coconuts are a staple crop, but they’ve taken on new-age cachet (and premium price) in our natural food stores because they are interesting and different.

Coconut oil

  • Coconut flour is gluten-free, which is great for those with coeliac disease and gluten intolerance. It is also high in fibre and therefore absorbs a lot of liquid in cooking so be sure to use recipes developed with coconut flour to ensure they work. 
  • Coconut sugar comes from the sap of the coconut palm and has a low GI value (GI 54, see Product News below for more details). Although it contains small amounts of minerals, it contains just as many kilojoules (calories) as regular table sugar and enjoyed in moderation contributes very low levels of nutrients, which are found in everyday core foods in greater amounts anyway. 
  • Dried coconut is fabulous in baking because it adds chewy texture, subtle coconut flavour and desirable moistness to cakes, loaves and biscuits (cookies). And I really enjoy ribbons of dried shredded organic coconut from the local farmers market in my muesli. 
  • Coconut water has a little natural sugar and low levels of electrolytes, minerals and antioxidants and tastes refreshingly different, but it doesn’t live up to the marketing hype. I don’t mind the occasional coconut water (although I know many others don’t as they don’t like the taste). The Nudie brand has been tested and has a GI value of 55. (The 350ml serving provided 18 grams available carbohydrate and the glycemic load is 10 which is considered low.) 
  • Coconut milk is lower in fat at 24%, (and there are light (fat-reduced) versions available) than coconut cream, which as the name suggests is rich and high in fat at around 35%. I like to add coconut milk to a Thai or Indian chicken curry. Sticky rice in coconut milk is a classic South East Asian not-too-sweet and terrifically different dessert.
  • Coconut milk yoghurt alternative is dairy free and much higher in fat and kilojoules than regular dairy yoghurt.
There’s a lot to love about coconut, provided you take the marketing hype with a large grain of salt.

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
Rhubarb and pear coconut crumble.  
Rhubarb and pear make wonderful partners and when teamed with a coconut and macadamia nut crumble topping in this dessert it brings sunshine to cold wintery days. The coconut sugar lends a lovely rich caramel flavour but can be replaced by brown sugar if you wish. I served it with coconut milk yogurt alternative, which worked well.

  • Serves 8
  • Preparation time: 20 minutes 
  • Baking time: 35-40 minutes 
1 bunch rhubarb, trimmed and cut into 4cm/1½in lengths (about 500g/1lb 2oz trimmed and chopped rhubarb)
4 firm ripe pears such as Josephine, Williams or Packham (about 750g/1lb 8oz)
2 tbsp coconut or brown sugar
Coconut milk yoghurt alternative, to serve

Crumble topping
½ cup rolled oats
½ cup flaked coconut
1/3 cup macadamia nuts, coarsely chopped
¼ cup coconut or brown sugar
2 tbsp (40ml) LSA (ground linseeds, sunflower seeds and almonds)
1½ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ cup sunflower oil
½ tsp natural vanilla essence or extract

Rhubarb and pear coconut crumble

Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF.
To make the crumble topping, place oats, flaked coconut, macadamias, sugar, LSA and cinnamon in a bowl, mix to combine. Combine the oil and vanilla, drizzle over the oat mixture and toss to combine evenly. Set aside.
Peel, quarter and core the pears and then cut each quarter lengthwise into three slices. Place the pear slices, rhubarb and sugar in a large bowl and toss gently to combine. Transfer to a 6-cup ovenproof dish. Sprinkle with the crumble topping.
Bake in preheated oven for 35–40 minutes until the crumble is crisp and golden and the fruit is tender when tested with a skewer.
Serve warm or at room temperature with a dollop of the coconut milk yoghurt alternative.

  • Store any leftover crumble in the ramekins covered with plastic wrap or in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. Serve cold or reheat in an oven preheated to 180ºC/350ºF for 10–15 minutes. 
  • This crumble can also be baked in eight 185ml (¾ cup) ramekins or ovenproof dishes at 180ºC/350ºF for 25–30 minutes.
Per serve
1440 kJ/ 344 calories; 6 g protein; 20 g fat (includes 6 g saturated fat; saturated:unsaturated fat ratio 0.43); 32 g available carbs (includes 23g sugars and 9 g starch); 6 g fibre

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

Chargrilled fish with green chilli, coriander and coconut relish.
Serve with a scoop of brown basmati or low GI brown rice.

1 small red onion, finely chopped
1 tsp finely grated fresh ginger
1 tsp mustard seeds
¼ cup shredded coconut
1 truss tomato, seeded, finely chopped
1 long fresh green chilli, seeded, thinly sliced
¼ cup chopped fresh coriander (cilantro)
1 (20-ml) tbsp lime juice (i.e. 4 tsp)
Pinch of caster sugar 4 (about 150g/5oz each) firm white fish fillets
Steamed green beans, to serve
Steamed asparagus, to serve

Chargrilled fish with green chilli, coriander and coconut relish
Photo: Jeremy Simons

Heat a frying pan over medium heat. Spray with oil. Stir in the onion for 5 minutes or until soft. Stir in the ginger and the mustard seeds for 30 seconds or until aromatic. Stir in the coconut for 1–2 minutes or until light golden. Transfer to a bowl. Set aside to cool slightly. Stir in the tomato, chilli, coriander, lime juice and sugar.
Preheat a barbecue grill or chargrill on high. Spray the fish with oil. Cook on grill for 2–3 minutes each side or until golden and fish flakes easily when tested with a fork.
Divide the steamed vegetables among plates. Top with the fish and a spoonful of the coconut mixture.

Per serve (without rice)
1015kJ/ calories; 41g protein; 4.5g fat (includes 1.5g saturated fat; saturated:unsaturated fat ratio 0.5); 8g available carbs; 5g fibre

A taste of Brazil for the World Cup: Bahia seasoning 
“Tempero baiano” hails from Brazil's north-eastern state of Bahia. It is a versatile, complex seasoning blend, beloved in kitchens across Brazil. There are many variations of the seasonings, with each cook and each family mixing their own version, but typically the blend contains a mix of spices and herbs such as oregano, red and white pepper and cumin. It adds zest to many savoury dishes including seafood, vegetables, soups and stews. McCormick have shared their own blend with us. Try it as a marinade for baked chicken drums or spiced barbecued lamb fillets (pictured). To marinate, combine the spice mix with a little olive oil and rub over the meat. Set aside to marinate before cooking. You need: 1 tsp ground cumin • 1 tsp oregano • ½ tsp white pepper • ¼ tsp red pepper (cayenne or chilli powder) – Mix all ingredients until well blended and store in tightly covered jar in cool, dry place.

Tempero baiano

To celebrate their 125th anniversary, McCormick is joining charity United Way to raise $1.25 million to help feed those in need. How? The goal is to connect people around the world by sharing 1.25 million stories about the special role food and flavour play in all our lives. McCormick will donate $1 to United Way for every story posted on the website. If you want to help, share a story about your remembered flavours (a secret recipe, a family favourite, a memorable dish, or an everyday pleaser) HERE.

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


Strawberry yoghurt dessert.
 In case you haven’t heard, in May the New York State Senate passed a bill declaring yogurt the State’s official snack. And in case you didn’t know, the proposal originated in a fourth-grade classroom! I guess it makes sense from an economic perspective. New York has a very robust dairy industry and has become the nation’s #1 manufacturer of yogurt. The bill has yet to be taken up by the Assembly. To celebrate (in anticipation of a yes from them too), here’s simple dessert with an Italian twist that I created for GI News a year ago. Serves 4.

15 fresh, washed, hulled strawberries
1 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp Grand Marnier liqueur
2 cups fat-free plain yoghurt
¼ cup mascarpone
1 tsp vanilla

Strawberry yoghurt dessert

Cut strawberries horizontally into 4 slices. Place in a small mixing bowl. Set aside. Combine the sugar and Grand Marnier in a small cup. Pour over the strawberries. Allow to macerate at least 30 minutes. In the meantime … Mix the yoghurt, mascarpone and vanilla in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Pour into 4 dessert dishes. When ready, pour the strawberry mixture equally over the 4 yogurt servings. Serve cold.

Per serve 
649kJ/155 calories; 6g protein; 6g fat (includes 4g saturated fat; saturated:unsaturated fat ratio 2.0); 15g available carbs; less than 1g fibre

Emma Sandall Looks at Putting the Fun Back into Fitness

How to have some fun while meeting your fitness goals. When it comes to fitness, many of us find that having a goal, something to work towards, not only keeps us on track and motivated but gives us an idea of how well we are going. of how well they are doing. This month I talk to Mitch Beare who decided he would sign up for an event a month to keep up his commitment. The outcome? Mitch is very fit and has had a lot of fun staying fit.


Emma: What made you to start on your path towards better fitness three or so years ago?
Mitch: I needed to change a whole lot of things in my life – fitness was probably the easiest decision to make but perhaps the hardest to implement. However, once good habits are formed it is easy to maintain.

Emma: How did you come up with the idea of signing up to an event a month?
Mitch: I was setting a new year’s resolution. I thought that doing the city to surf and the half marathon was not challenging enough, so I committed to one event per month. Once I started investigating, I realised that there are so many events that it would be possible to do an event every weekend. However, you would probably be somewhat crazy to attempt this. Like everything, balance is important.

Emma: What was the first event you took part in at this time and how did you prepare yourself?
Mitch: The first event was the Resolution Run held in early January. I did no preparation for this event, which in hindsight caused additional suffering at about the 5km mark.

Emma: Do you prefer to do events with friends or alone and what's the difference?
Mitch: I prefer doing events and sports with friends as it permits a bit of friendly banter and egging on. Experience such events with mates makes them so much more memorable. However, in most cases training requires a personal commitment to get up off the couch and be active.

Emma: What are the strangest and most difficult events you’ve been in? 
Mitch: Wearing a pink tutu in a mud run was pretty strange (although it seemed somewhat normal at the time). The most mentally challenging was my first marathon. At times, both the mind and body wanted to stop but the will to finish keeps your legs ticking along.

Emma: What do you enjoy most about the whole experience? What have you learnt about yourself through this journey? 
Mitch: Increasing my fitness has provided me with a totally different perspective on life. I am now much more positive and have plenty of energy to tackle any challenge. I have learned that, with commitment, it is possible to achieve virtually anything.

Emma: What kinds of people do you see and meet at these events? IS there a great variety? Age range? Fitness range?
Mitch: I am always impressed with the variety of people at these events. People of all ages from all backgrounds and all fitness levels participate and enjoy these events. I am always particularly inspired by those people with disabilities who participate. However, I was less impressed with the Yogi bear that passed me halfway up heart break hill in Sydney's City to Surf.

Emma: Do you think you will keep doing events regularly to keep yourself motivated to exercise or do you think you have created a new habit now?
Mitch: Yes, I plan to continue doing events. I hope to include a greater variety of events (e.g. more swimming) and different places. My next big challenge is the NY marathon in early Nov 2014 followed a few weeks later by the Sydney Mudder (under the team name ‘dirty weekenders’).

Emma: What do you most enjoy doing to stay fit and inspired today? 
Mitch: I enjoy meeting different people and participating in different sports. I am currently trying to spend as much time as possible on a surf ski, although winter might scare me indoors for a while. 

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
Glycemic index, glycemic load and risk of type 2 diabetes.
How high your blood glucose level rises and how long it remains elevated when you eat a food or meal containing carbohydrate depends on both the glycemic index (GI) of the carbohydrate and the total amount of carbohydrate in the food or meal. We use the term “glycemic load” or GL to describe this. You calculate it by multiplying the GI of a food by its available carbohydrate content (carbohydrate minus fiber in the USA) in the serving (in grams), divided by 100 (because GI is a percentage). Or, if you prefer: GL = GI/100 x available carbs per serving.

Here’s why the overall GL matters. One unit of GL is equivalent to 1 gram of pure glucose. So, the higher the GL of a food or meal, the more insulin your pancreas needs to produce to drive the glucose out of your bloodstream and into your cells. Consuming constantly high GI and GL foods and meals effectively speeds up the rate at which your pancreas wears out, and when it reaches the tipping point, type 2 diabetes develops.

Thanks to observational studies, we have a good idea of the level of risk of eating high GI/GL foods and meals. Research findings from Harvard University’s Nurses Health Studies 1 and 2 and the Male Health Professional Study were in fact the first studies to demonstrate a link between dietary GI and GL and the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. When results from these Harvard studies are combined with the results of similar studies from around the globe using meta-analysis techniques, we see that high GI diets increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 19% and high GL diets by 13%. This risk is on top of other risk factors you may have such as age, ethnic background, smoking, alcohol consumption, body mass index and total calorie (kilojoule) consumption.

To reduce your risk, the evidence suggests you have a choice. You can lower either the GI, or the GL of the diet, to decrease it. This is important, because there are many ways of lowering the GL of the diet:

  • Consuming less carbohydrate 
  • Consuming lower GI foods 
  • Or both, less carbohydrate AND lower GI foods 
This flexibility is important. Not everyone needs or wants to consume less carbohydrate.

In Australia, for example, people consume on average only 45% of calories from carbohydrate (or 220 grams carbohydrate a day on a 2000 calorie diet). This is right at the bottom end of the recommended range of carbohydrate consumption (45–65%). In addition, total carbohydrate intake is decreasing, yet rates of obesity and diabetes continue to rise. So the take-home message for most Australians is that rather than consume less carbohydrate, the average person needs to be more concerned about eating better quality (low GI) carbohydrate.

In the United States, however, carbohydrate consumption is 48.7% and is increasing (as both a percentage of calories and in total amount), so Americans may wish to decrease both the total amount of carbohydrate they consume and improve its quality (low GI) in order to lower the GL of their diets.

The flexibility of reducing the GI or GL of your diet to decrease your risk of developing type 2 diabetes has important cultural considerations. A Mediterranean diet which tends to be lower in carbohydrate than typical Western diets is a healthy way of eating and is associated with decreased risk of a range of chronic diseases. But Asian diets which are higher in carbohydrate such as a traditional Japanese diet are also associated with a reduced risk of chronic diseases. What these very different dietary patterns share is eating lots of minimally processed cereals, plus plenty of legumes, seafood, vegetables, and fruit. This is why both dietary patterns have a relatively low glycemic load, despite their very different total carbohydrate content.

The bottom line: You can either eat a low GI or low GL diet as both are associated with a significantly decreased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. This choice gives you the flexibility to include your personal and cultural food preferences – a vital ingredient if you are going to improve and maintain healthy eating habits for life.

New GI Symbol

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

Q&A and New Product News

Prof Jennie Brand-Miller answers your questions.  
What’s the GI of coconut flour?


We don’t have a GI value for coconut flour. As with regular flour, it’s just not reasonable to ask volunteers to eat a 50-gram portion of neat (indigestible, uncooked) flour. However, back in 2003, PhD candidate T.P. Trinidad GI tested a number of coconut flour supplemented bakery products including pancakes, pan de sal (a sweet bread roll), multigrain bread and carrot cake, and found that with increasing amounts of dietary fiber from coconut flour, the GI in the foods decreased. The results were published in the British Journal of Nutrition. When looking at the following data from this study, remember that the GL reflects the amount of available carbohydrate in the serving. The GI stays the same, whatever the serving size.

  • Multigrain bread (30-gram slice) containing coconut flour GI 60 (available carbohydrate per serving 12 grams; GL7)
  • Pancakes (80-gram serving) prepared with coconut flour GI 46 (available carbohydrate per serving 22 grams; GL 10).
  • Pan de sal (80-gram serving) containing coconut flour GI 61 (available carbohydrate per serving 36 grams; GL 22)
  • Carrot cake (60-gram serving) prepared with coconut flour GI 36 (available carbohydrate per serving 23 grams; GL 8) 
      GI News Product News
      Co Yo Coconut Milk Yoghurt Alternative 
      Anneka served her Rhubarb and Pear Coconut Crumble with a dollop of creamy Co Yo Coconut Milk Yoghurt Alternative, chosen to match the flavour of the coconut story we tell in this issue. As it’s not a product we have come across before, we went shopping. “Heaven in a mouthful” is what the label claims enticingly. So, what’s in “heaven in a mouthful”? No dairy, gluten, soy or added sugar. It is sweetened however, originally with xylitol (a sugar alcohol or polyol), but they seem to have dropped that for stevia according to the latest Australian label. And the label is rather coy about confessing that this product is high in fat and calories.
      • Ingredients: Organic coconut milk (98%), starch (tapioca, pectin), stevia, live vegan cultures including lactobacillus casei, L.rahamnosus, L.acidophillus, L.bulgaricus, Bif.bifidum, Bif.lactis, S.Thermophilus.
      • Nutrition analysis (per 100 grams, the recommended serving size): 691 kJ/ 165 calories; 1.5g protein; 16.6g fat (includes 12.9g saturated fat; saturated:unsaturated fat ratio 3.5:1); 4.5g available carbs; 0g fibre.
      Reviewing this product on her Foodwatch website back in 2013, Catherine Saxelby makes the point that it’s better to think of coconut milk yoghurt alternative as an alternative to cream rather than an alternative to yoghurt. We absolutely agree. What’s great about yoghurt apart from the creamy taste and texture is the protein and the bone-boosting calcium it’s going to give you. Co Yo hasn’t got any calcium at all. You can read Catherine’s review HERE.

      Coconut sugar has a low GI value. 
      This traditional, partially refined Asian sugar made from freshly harvested sap from the coconut palm (Cocos nucifera) has a low GI value. Sydney University Glycemic Index Research Service (SUGiRS) recently tested one of the most popular and widely available brands of coconut sugar in Australia following the international standardised procedure for GI testing. Here are the results:
      • Glycemic index = 54 
      • Available carbohydrate per 5g serving (1 level teaspoon) = 4 grams
      • Glycemic load per 5g serving (1 level teaspoon) = 2 
      • Energy per 5g serving (1 level teaspoon) = 67kJ/ 16 calories

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