1 July 2017

GI News - July 2017

GI News


GI News is published by the University of Sydney, School of Life and Environmental Sciences and the Charles Perkins Centre

Publisher:
Professor Jennie Brand-Miller, AM, PhD, FAIFST, FNSA
Editor: Philippa Sandall
Scientific Editor/Managing Editor: Alan Barclay, PhD
Contact GI News: glycemic.index@gmail.com

Sydney University Glycemic Index Research Service
Manager: Fiona Atkinson, PhD
Contact: sugirs.manager@sydney.edu.au

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FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Carbs 101
As you can imagine, we have been asked many questions about carbs over the 12 years we have been publishing GI News. In Food for Thought it’s back to basics as we share our answers to some common FAQs: what are carbs, where do they come from, why are the good ones important, and why the GI matters.

What are carbs?
The word “carbohydrate” comes from chemistry and means “watered carbon” (or carbon with water molecules). Sometimes you will see it shortened to CHO which stands for carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. Here’s what the chemical formula of glucose looks like: C6H12O6 (which stands for six carbon atoms and six water molecules – H2O = water).

Carbs are one of four major molecules in our foods, and like two of the others – protein and fat – they provide us with the energy (calories or kilojoules) to power our lives. Water, the fourth major molecule, has no calories. Most foods are a mix of these molecules. Take half a cup (about 95g/3oz) of cooked quinoa. It provides 400 kilojoules (96 calories), 4g protein, 2g fat, 15g carbs (1g sugars, 14g starches), 2g fibre, 4mg sodium, 150mg potassium, and has a low GI (53) and GL (8).

They come in a number of guises. Sugars are carbs, so are starches and the bonus indigestible dietary fibres and resistant starches that nourish the gut, feed the friendly bacteria and keep things moving along nicely on the inside.

Where do they come from?
Mostly plants. One way or another, green plants provide us with the energy that fuels our lives from the fossil fuels formed millions of years ago to the foods we grow. Carbohydrate energy comes from plant photosynthesis. To put it as simply as possible, the green cells (chlorophyll) in a plant’s leaves use sunlight’s energy to convert the carbon dioxide they absorb from the air and the water they draw up through their roots into the sugars and starches they need to grow and produce the roots, tubers, stems, leaves, flowers, fruits and seeds. They also use it to make their (indigestible to us) cell wall materials such as cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin, along with various gums and pectins. And there’s more, there’s the oxygen they release into the atmosphere so we can all breathe easy.

Photosynthesis

Why are they important?
Good carbs are multi-talented molecules that play key roles in our body. Our brains, nervous system, red blood cells, kidneys and muscles during exercise prefer carbs as their energy source. Carbs also give our cells structure, form part of our genes and play a part in the function of some proteins. On top of this, good carbs serve up a swag of the micronutrients we need for good health including vitamins B, C and E; minerals such as magnesium, potassium and calcium and antioxidants including the carotenoids that play a protective role in eye health.

Why does low GI matter?
Here at GI News, we recommend putting good carbs on the plate, and where possible, choose those with a low GI or GL. Why? There’s high-level evidence that switching to low GI good carbs that trickle the glucose into the bloodstream can help us cut cravings; feel fuller for longer; stay in shape better by minimising body fat and maximising muscle mass; and decrease our risk of some chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

When we eat carb-rich foods (fruit, starchy vegetables, legumes, grains, or dairy products such as milk or yoghurt) our bodies convert their sugars and/or starches into glucose during digestion. However, our bodies do this at very different rates and this is where using the glycemic index (GI) helps us make better choices for long-term health and wellbeing. The GI is particularly useful for people who need to manage their blood glucose levels (BGLs). Think of it as a carbo speedo that gives us an idea how quickly our bodies will digest particular carb foods and how fast and high our BGL is then likely to rise.

High GI: 70 and over • Medium or moderate GI: 56 to 69 • Low GI: 55 and under

Why does it matter how high our BGLs go?

As with blood pressure, there’s a healthy range and a risky range. Having BGLs in the normal range over the day is good for our bodies because it also will lower our day-long insulin levels. Having high BGLs from eating too many high GI foods can put pressure on our health, because it means that our pancreas has to work extra hard producing more insulin to move the glucose into the cells, where it provides energy for the body and brain. It’s never a good idea to overwork or overstress body parts. They can wear out or stop functioning properly. It’s not easy to replace a pancreas.
 The Good Carbs Cookbook
This edited extract from The Good Carbs Cookbook (Murdoch Books Australia) is reproduced with permission. Hugh Ford created the illustration. For more information contact: Isabelle O’Brien, Marketing and Communications Associate, Murdoch Books: isabelleo@murdochbooks.com.au 

The Good Carbs Cookbook: Available online and in store in Australia now. Publishes 13 July in the UK and can be pre-ordered online from Amazon and Book Depository. It should also be available on www.amazon.com for interested US readers to pre-order from June 1.

WHAT’S NEW?

I AM NOT A DIABETIC 

National Diabetes Week 2017 kicks off on July 9 in Australia to raise awareness and understanding about this chronic condition. We thought we would do something different on the awareness-raising front with a poem by our UK colleague, Jim Young.

I am not a diabetic.
I have diabetes – you see?
I am not obese,
I do not smoke or drink,
I am a hungry vegetarian,
and I swim in the sea each day.

Then you shouldn't have diabetes?
But unfortunately, it doesn't work that way.
My Dad had diabetes and
it was his parting gift to me.
So, I have made friends with my condition,
it calls me Son and I call it Pop,
as I pop another pill.

I treat him with every consideration
and we do love to get it right.
My doctor treats him with reverence
and prescribes only the best wrapped gifts,
to assuage his temper, and hopefully one day
will inject some realism into my insinuation
and oft repeated question,
"Oh why Dad, why? Oh why?".

Now it ought to be OK? You say.
But these bloody auto-antibodies
go hunting in a pack.
So another pill for cholesterol,
another for BP,
I know these rustling popper packs
will be the life of me.

But I am not a diabetic!
Repeat that after me,
and then maybe you will see,
that whatever my glucose status,
it is me you see – yes me.
So please don't stick a label
for now you know the truth.
You know that I suffer from diabetes,
as you might do,
one day.

Jim Young is Editor-in-chief of Glycosmedia, an independent online newsletter reporting latest developments in diabetes research. You can read more of Jim’s poems here.

KEEPING AN EYE ON EYESIGHT 

Protecting our eyesight is one of the most important things we can do to ensure quality and enjoyment of life. Ophthalmologist Dr Shanel Sharma explains why for anyone with diabetes it’s vital to be vigilant and why the eye is vulnerable to damage from the complications of diabetes.
Dr Shanel Sharma

“Diabetes is the most common cause of blindness for people between 20 and 65 and diabetic eye diseases can affect anyone with diabetes whether type 1 or type 2,” she says. Chronically high blood glucose levels over time damage blood vessels throughout the body. Our small blood vessels are the most vulnerable and are affected first. These include the small blood vessels supplying our eyes, kidneys and our peripheral limbs (toes). People with chronically elevated blood glucose levels have substantially more, and more severe, retinopathy than those with lower blood glucose levels.

What happens in the eye is that the blood vessels become damaged and develop micro-aneurysms, start to bleed causing haemorrhages and stop carrying blood, resulting in retinal ischaemia. Ischaemic retina causes the release of a protein (VEGF – vascular endothelial growth factor), resulting in the development of sick and abnormal blood vessels, which can bleed or cause tractional retinal detachment and loss of vision. The other major way people lose sight is from diabetic macular oedema, from leaking of blood product into the macular. The macular is the part of the eye that allows one to read, look at people’s faces, or do any fine detailed work.

As there is usually a 10–15-year delay in chronically high BGLs and appearance of diabetic eye diseases, it is important to control BGLs well from the start. Although the damage to the eye is irreversible, early detection and treatment can reduce the risk of blindness by up to approximately 95%.

If you are diagnosed with diabetic retinopathy, don’t despair. Good blood glucose control can reduce its progression. Aim for an HbA1c of 6.05% (people with HbA1c levels less than 6.05%, generally develop slowest rate of retinopathy). Studies have shown that with every percentage point reduction in your HbA1c, you can reduce progression of diabetic retinopathy by 33%.

Reducing blood pressure helps too. A 2015 Cochrane review concluded that the available evidence supports ‘a beneficial effect of intervention to reduce blood pressure with respect to preventing diabetic retinopathy for up to 4 to 5 years’.

As diabetic eye diseases most commonly have no symptoms, it is essential to ensure that you are being screened regularly by your GP, optometrist or your ophthalmologist. Symptoms that are associated with diabetic eye diseases can include intermittent blurred vision, difficulty with focusing, loss of contrast, double vision or distortion to your vision. Additionally, diabetes is an independent risk factor for developing other eye diseases such as cataracts and glaucoma.”

Studies 

Diet and diabetic retinopathy 

Clinical trials have found that people with diabetes who follow healthy eating principles can reduce their HbA1c levels by 1 to 2 percentage points. If they are also following a low GI diet, they can reduce their HbA1c levels by another 0.5 percentage points. While this may not sound significant, a decrease of just 1 percentage point in HbA1c levels will decrease the common complications of diabetes by 19% to 43%.

Study: Dietary hyperglycemia, glycemic index and metabolic retinal diseases

Diet and AMD 

A recent review in Nutrients critically evaluates the evidence about lutein and zeaxanthin (the predominant carotenoids which accumulate in the retina of the eye) intake and age-related macular degeneration. “Current evidence suggests that higher dietary intakes of lutein and zeaxanthin are likely to play an important role in protecting against age-related macular degeneration (AMD)” conclude the authors. “A diet high in a variety of foods is important for achieving adequate dietary levels of lutein and zeaxanthin (as well as other nutrients). Moreover, such a diet should include plenty of leafy green vegetables, in keeping with dietary guidelines. There is also value in including a range of other foods to increase variety and improve the bioavailability of lutein and zeaxanthin, such as eggs and selected nuts,” they say.

Study PDF: Lutein and Zeaxanthin—Food Sources, Bioavailability and Dietary Variety in Age-Related Macular Degeneration Protection 

Contact: vicki.flood@sydney.edu.au or victoria.flood@health.nsw.gov.au

FRUCTOSE AND BGLS 

A new systematic review and meta-analysis in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition concludes there’s strong evidence that substituting fructose for glucose or sucrose in food or beverages lowers peak postprandial blood glucose and insulin concentrations without a substantial increase in blood triglyceride concentrations. Not so surprising when you look at the GI values of these sweeteners: Fructose (Fruisana brand) = GI 19; Sucrose (table sugar, average) = GI 65; Glucose = GI 100.

Study: Fructose replacement of glucose or sucrose in food or beverages lowers postprandial glucose and insulin without raising triglycerides: a systematic review and meta-analysis

PERSPECTIVES WITH DR ALAN BARCLAY

A POTTED HISTORY OF CARBOHYDRATE AND DIABETES

Fruit

People have been trying to work out the optimal diet for people with diabetes for hundreds of years. Until recently, most offerings have been restrictive and unpalatable. Fad diets are nothing new. In the early 1900s, they included: the “oat-cure,” the “milk diet,” the “rice-cure,” and “potato therapy,” diets often supplemented with a liberal dose of opium to suppress appetite ...

In 1912, Dr Fred Allen developed his “1000 Calorie Diet” (4200kJ), a very low carbohydrate diet with a kick-start seven-day fast before other foods were gradually reintroduced. Participants were told to boil their low-carbohydrate vegetables three times in water to remove starch. People became very emaciated and weak. From Allen’s later research on pancreatectomised dogs he concluded glucose was more rapidly absorbed than starch, a principle he expanded to include all “simple sugars” (fructose, galactose, lactose, maltose, sucrose, etc.). It was this “research” that led to low sugar diets being recommended to people with diabetes for most of the 20th century.

Despite H.R. Geyelin demonstrating (1923) that a higher carbohydrate diet did not upset blood glucose levels if adequate insulin was supplied, most doctors recommended low carbohydrate intakes (15% to 40% of total calories) until the late 1940s. Dr Elliot Joslin for example, plumped for 20% of calories from carbohydrate and 70% from fat.

Breakthrough 1: In 1950, the American Diabetic Association and American Dietetic Association developed the first Exchange Lists, which focused on six food groups with similar macronutrient (carbohydrate, fat and protein) levels. This system operated on the assumption that any food within a group was interchangeable because they would have the same impact on blood glucose levels. A good idea, but not entirely successful because the carb exchanges rarely had the same impact.

With an increasing number of deaths of people with diabetes from heart and blood vessel diseases, major diabetes associations reviewed their dietary recommendations in the 1970s dropping fat to less than 35% of calories and increasing carbohydrate to 55% to 60% of calories. It may have made life easier for people with diabetes, but it didn’t solve the problem of blood glucose levels.

Breakthrough 2: Building on the work of American dietitian Dr Phyllis Crapo and Australian endocrinologist Dr Mark Wahlqvist, Dr David Jenkins, Dr Tom Wolever and colleagues developed the concept of slow-release carbohydrates and the glycemic index. The concept generated much interest, even more heat and some most useful light as major diabetes associations cautiously revised their restrictions on “simple sugars” due to the growing body of evidence that they don’t adversely affect blood glucose levels in people with diabetes.

Breakthrough 3: In 1997, the World Health Organisation/Food and Agriculture Organisation recommend that the terms “simple sugar” and “complex carbohydrate” are no longer used to describe carbohydrate foods. They recommend the use of the GI as the best guide to the effect of carbohydrate foods on blood glucose levels.

The first studies showing that lower GI diets may also improve triglyceride and cholesterol levels were published in 1997.

Breakthrough 4: Harvard researchers develop the concept of Glycemic Load (GL = GI x available carbohydrate per serve), and diets with a high glycemic load are linked to the development of type 2 diabetes and heart and blood vessel disease in women and men.

In 2004, a systematic review and meta-analysis supported the recommendation of a higher carbohydrate, lower glycemic index, high fibre diet that is low in saturated fat and moderate in protein for people with diabetes. Dietary recommendations from the major international diabetes associations closely reflected the results.

“A low-GI diet can improve glycaemic control in diabetes without compromising hypoglycaemic events” concludes the first Cochrane Review of the evidence from randomised controlled trials on the GI in the management of diabetes.

Breakthrough 5: In 2013, the American Diabetes Associations systematically reviews the scientific evidence and concludes: “there is not an ideal percentage of calories from carbohydrate, protein, and fat for all people with diabetes (B); therefore, macronutrient distribution should be based on individualized assessment of current eating patterns, preferences, and metabolic goals. (E)”. In support of this, an independent group conducted a systematic review of randomised controlled trials of more than 6 months duration and determined that Mediterranean, low GI, higher protein and low carbohydrate diets are all effective in lowering glycated haemoglobin (HbA1c), with Mediterranean diets the most effective at 0.47% points and low carbohydrate diets the least effective at 0.12% points.

In 2014, a systematic review and meta-analysis that looked at people with diabetes who consumed a vegetarian diet for an average of 24 weeks (just under 6 months) found they reduced their HbA1c by 0.39% – that’s close to the Mediterranean diet and vegetarian diets are naturally very high in carbohydrates (an average of 75% of energy). But they also tend to include lots of legumes, which have very low GI values.

We now know that glycemic load is the most powerful predictor of blood glucose and insulin levels. You can lower GL by substituting low GI foods for high GI foods, or by consuming less carbohydrate, or by a bit of both.

The bottom line: There is no single best diet for all people with diabetes to manage their BGLs. It’s over to what works for you and what you can stick with long term. See your Accredited/Registered Dietitian to help you put together some healthy eating guidelines. And stick to them. And remember, a diet that’s good for people with diabetes, is good for everybody, so the whole family can enjoy it.

 Dr Alan Barclay

Alan Barclay, PhD is a consultant dietitian. He worked for Diabetes Australia (NSW) from 1998–2014 and is a member of the editorial board of Diabetes Management Journal (Diabetes Australia). He is author/co-author of more than 30 scientific publications, and author/co-author of  The good Carbs Cookbook (Murdoch Books), Reversing Diabetes (Murdoch Books), The Low GI Diet: Managing Type 2 Diabetes (Hachette Australia) and The Ultimate Guide to Sugars and Sweeteners (The Experiment, New York).

VIEWPOINTS FROM THE CHARLES PERKINS CENTRE, SYDNEY UNIVERSITY

NEW GI VALUES FROM SUGiRS

Table of new GI values

 Teff is a tiny, gluten-free grain, rich in carbohydrate, fibre and some essential minerals. It can be cooked as a porridge, added to soups and sauces, sprinkled on salads and baked in breads. To cook: Add to saucepan with boiling water. Cook on low heat (lid on) for 15 minutes. Stir occasionally during cooking. Drain and serve.

Study: Teff: nutrient composition and health benefits

Mckenzie’s SuperBlend Fibre combines greenwheat freekeh, lentils and beans. A 50g serve provides 8g dietary fibre. To cook: Add to saucepan with boiling water. Cook on medium heat (lid on) for 15 minutes. Stir occasionally during cooking. Drain and serve. Can be used in salads, soups, casseroles or as a grain/legume side dish. SuperBlend Fibre and Protein can be found in the supermarket’s soup aisle.

McKenzie’s SuperBlend Protein combines lentils, quinoa and beans. A 50g serve provides 7.7g dietary fibre. To cook: Add to saucepan with boiling water. Cook on medium heat (lid on) for 15 minutes. Stir occasionally during cooking. Drain and serve. Can be used in salads, soups, casseroles or as a grain/legume side dish.

GI testing The Sydney University GI Research Service (SUGiRS) was established in 1995 to provide a reliable commercial GI testing laboratory. Following the international standard method, the GI value of a food is determined by feeding 10 or more healthy people a portion of the food containing 50 grams of digestible (available) carbohydrate and then measuring the effect on their blood glucose levels over the next two hours. For each person, the area under their two-hour blood glucose response (glucose AUC) for this food is then measured. On another occasion, the same 10 people consume an equal-carbohydrate portion of the sugar glucose (the reference food) and their two-hour blood glucose response is also measured. A GI value for the test food is then calculated for each person by dividing their glucose AUC for the test food by their glucose AUC for the reference food. The final GI value for the test food is the average GI value for the 10 people.
GI graph

Contact: For information about GI testing at the University of Sydney, email: Fiona Atkinson, sugirs.manager@sydney.edu.au

Website (GI Database and glycemic index FAQs): www.glycemicindex.com

FOOD UN-PLUGGED

ARE RAW DESSERTS HEALTHIER? 

Raw food diet followers say that cooking foods destroys nutrients and enzymes; raw food marketers claim their products are better for you. Raw desserts are selling like hotcakes (so to speak), as consumers concerned about their health seek to satisfy their basic instincts for sweet pleasure. Are raw desserts nutritionally superior? Let’s take a closer look.

Most raw foodies won’t eat food cooked above 42°C (108°F), the temperature at which the sun dries out food. To concentrate flavours and make foods crispier without heat, raw foodies use dehydrating machines for fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, sprouted beans and seaweed. You can read more about raw foods in GI News here and here.

Reading the marketing guff for raw desserts, you’d be forgiven for thinking their brownies, slices, bliss balls, bars, cakes and mousses were a free pass into healthy dessert heaven while wearing slim-fitting trousers. Don’t be fooled; these are not everyday foods. They may look gorgeous and contain healthy ingredients such as fruit and nuts, and may be higher in fibre, vitamins and minerals than more orthodox sweets, but because they are usually made with a lot of dried fruit, nuts and seeds (often with a hefty swig of coconut oil) they are very high in calories.

We analysed (Foodworks) two raw desserts (Rawtarian Brownie and Merrymaker Sisters Paleo Salted Caramel Slice) with two traditional recipes on www.taste.com to give you the raw data on raw desserts. The calorie content is very similar. However, if you decide to tuck into Merrymaker’s caramel slice you will down your day’s maximum recommended saturated fat allowance (24 grams in about 3 bites). All gone in one petite portion.

Raw food nutrient analysis


The raw deal Dessert is dessert – raw or otherwise. A treat. An extra. Some raw desserts might add extra nutrients, but just like their traditional counterparts, they will also add extra calories, and possibly help you to store them around your middle. Keep raw desserts for occasional indulgence and don’t kid yourself you are bucking the usual nutritional rules because you went “raw”.

The un-plugged truth

  • You do not need to follow a raw food diet to be healthy or lose weight.
  • Some raw desserts may have more fibre and nutrients than their trad counterparts, but they can contain just as many calories and possibly more saturated fat.
  • Enjoy raw desserts occasionally and in small amounts.
Thanks to Rachel Ananin AKA TheSeasonalDietitian.com for her assistance with this article.

Nicole Senior

Nicole Senior is an Accredited Nutritionist, author, consultant, cook, food enthusiast and mother who strives to make sense of nutrition science and delights in making healthy food delicious.

Contact: You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram or check out her website.

KEEP GOOD CARBS AND CARRY ON

EYE HEALTH: THE AYES HAVE IT FOR VEG
Guest contributor Diabetes Victoria Dietitian Kim Duggan-Larkin APD explains why.

It’s common knowledge that eating lots of carrots is great for our eyes. Many people have also got the message that green leafy vegetables are good too. The evidence to date suggests it’s their antioxidants that protect the macula and other parts of the eye from damage by free radicals and help to keep eyes healthy. The main antioxidants that have been studied are vitamins C and E; and carotenoids such as beta-carotene (which is converted by the body into vitamin A), and lutein and zeaxanthin (which accumulate in the retina).

Because the most common cause of blindness in the developed world is age-related macular degeneration (AMD), much of the research has focused on preventing it, or delaying its progression. As the evidence currently stands, while neither high dietary intakes of carotenoids nor taking antioxidant supplements have been shown to prevent development of AMD, higher dietary carotenoid intakes and antioxidant supplements may be beneficial for people who already have AMD, indicating a protective effect. As dietitian Bronwyn Eisennhauer et al conclude in their recent review, “prudent advice to increase consumption of lutein- and zeaxanthin-containing foods in the diet of those people at high-risk of AMD or who already have AMD should be encouraged.”

To maximise your intake, include plenty of dark green leafy vegetables like spinach, kale, and silver beet, as these are the highest food sources of lutein and zeaxanthin. Orange vegetables such as pumpkin, corn and orange capsicum/peppers are also good sources. Carrots do provide a small amount of lutein and zeaxanthin, however they are higher in beta-carotene. Combining green leafy and orange vegetables with a salad dressing or good quality oil such as olive oil may help the body to absorb these nutrients better.

Top to toe list

What about eggs? Eggs contain smaller amounts of lutein and zeaxanthin than leafy greens, but our body absorbs it very well, likely due to the fat in eggs. In addition, eggs contain vitamin A and some omega-3 fats. You do need to eat the whole egg though, as most of the lutein and zeaxanthin is found in the yolk.

Study PDF: Lutein and Zeaxanthin—Food Sources, Bioavailability and Dietary Variety in Age-Related Macular Degeneration Protection

Contact: kdlarkin@diabetesvic.org.au 

Website: www.diabetesvic.org.au

IN THE GI NEWS KITCHEN

GO GREEN

Lifting lutein and zooming in on zeaxanthin with leafy greens is what’s in store this month in the GI News Kitchen because a new review in Nutrients concludes: “Current evidence suggests that higher dietary intakes of lutein and zeaxanthin are likely to play an important role in protecting against age-related macular degeneration (AMD)”.

FOOD AS MEDICINE WITH SUE RADD

Food as Medicine

Sue Radd APD believes that to live well you need to eat well. She is one of Australia’s leading nutritionists and health communicators and recognised by her peers as an expert on plant foods and phytonutrients. Her Food as Medicine won Best Health and Nutrition Cookbook in the World for 2016 by Gourmand World Cookbook Awards. She has selected two recipes packed with leafy greens from her new book to share with GI News readers.

CHICKPEA CURRY WITH PUMPKIN AND BABY SPINACH 

This curry goes well with a steamed brown rice/red rice wholegrain combo. One 400g (14oz) can of chickpeas supplies around 1½ cups when drained and rinsed well. Prep: 10 mins • Cook: 30 mins • Serves 4

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp ground cumin
2 cups plain tomato pasta sauce
1½ cups cooked chickpeas
320g (11oz) peeled pumpkin, diced
pinch salt, optional
120g (4oz) baby spinach leaves
2 tsp freshly chopped coriander (cilantro)

Heat oil in a large saucepan and sauté onion for about 5 minutes until soft. Stir in garlic and cook for 30 seconds. • Mix in chilli powder, coriander, cumin, tomato pasta sauce
and ½ cup of water. Stir well. • Add chickpeas and diced pumpkin, and bring to boil. Adjust
flavour with extra salt, if desired. • Reduce heat and simmer for around 15 minutes or until
pumpkin is tender. • Stir through baby spinach leaves until they start to wilt, followed by coriander, and serve immediately.

Per serve

1203kJ/ 287 calories; 9g protein; 13g fat (includes 2g saturated fat; saturated : unsaturated fat ratio 0.18); 29g available carbs (includes 15g sugars and 14g starch); 10g fibre; 639mg sodium; 1055mg potassium; sodium : potassium ratio 0.6.

TANGY LENTIL SOUP WITH SILVERBEET AND ZUCCHINI

Serve with wholemeal Lebanese bread, if desired. Prep: 20 minutes • Cook: 45 minutes • Serves 8


TANGY LENTIL SOUP WITH SILVERBEET AND ZUCCHINI

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
500g (17oz) brown lentils, picked over for stones and washed
1 teaspoon salt
2 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into 1cm (½in) cubes
2 medium zucchinis (courgettes), cut into 1cm (½in) cubes
1 bunch silverbeet (chard), trimmed, washed and shredded into 1cm (½in) strips making up 600g (about 1lb 5oz)
2 cloves garlic, crushed
freshly ground black pepper, optional
1 bunch fresh coriander (cilantro), chopped
juice of 2 lemons

Warm oil in a large soup pot and sauté onions until soft. • Add lentils, salt and 8 cups of water, cover with lid and bring to boil. Turn down heat and simmer for 15 minutes. • Add potato cubes and continue cooking for 10 minutes. • Add zucchini, silverbeet, garlic, pepper and 4 cups of extra boiling water, and cook for a further 5 minutes until the greens just start
to soften. • Stir in coriander and lemon juice, and ladle hot into soup bowls.

Per serve

1201kJ/ 287 calories; 19g protein; 6g fat (includes 1g saturated fat; saturated : unsaturated fat ratio 0.2); 34g available carbs (includes 5g sugars and 29g starch); 13g fibre; 457mg sodium; 1134mg potassium; sodium : potassium ratio 0.4.

STICKS, SEEDS, PODS and LEAVES

Kate Hemphill is a trained chef. She contributed the recipes to Ian Hemphill’s best-selling Spice and Herb Bible. You will find more of her recipes on the Herbies spices website. Kate’s recipes are made with Herbies spices and blends, but you can use whatever you have in your pantry or that’s available locally.

HOT GINGER PRAWNS 

Sogeri wild ginger (Zingiber officinale) is very high quality, hot, spicy and aromatic ginger with lots of flavour that’s produced in the Sogeri region of Papua New Guinea from rhizomes that have been harvested by cooperatives of local highland farmers. Prep time: 10 mins • Cook time: 5 mins • Serves: 4

HOT GINGER PRAWNS

16 green king prawns, peeled and de-veined, tails intact
2 tsp Sogeri wild ginger powder
2 tbsp freeze-dried green peppercorns
4 fresh garlic cloves
2 tsp coconut oil
2 cups Thai basil leaves
2 cups coriander leaves
½ cup Vietnamese mint leaves

To serve

1 cup (200g/7oz) Doongara low-GI brown rice, steamed

Pound ginger powder, peppercorns and garlic cloves in a mortar and pestle to create a paste, then coat prawns and leave to marinade, refrigerated, for at least 1 hour. • Heat a wok to high with coconut oil, then add prawns and all the marinade. Stir-fry for 3–4 minutes until prawns are opaque. Turn off heat, stir through herbs, and serve immediately with the steamed brown rice.

Per serve 

1360kJ/ 325 calories; 22g protein; 5g fat (includes 3g saturated fat; saturated : unsaturated fat ratio 1.5); 44g available carbs (includes 3g sugars and 41g starch); 6g fibre; 315mg sodium; 718mg potassium; sodium : potassium ratio 0.44.

RECIPES FROM THE GI FOUNDATION

The Glycemic Index Foundation, a not-for-profit health promotion charity, developed the GI Symbol program to help consumers make healthy low GI choices when grocery shopping easier. Foods that carry the Symbol have been GI tested at an accredited laboratory and meet strict nutrient criteria consistent with international dietary guidelines for kilojoules, saturated fat and sodium, and where appropriate, fibre and calcium.

HELGA’S SUPER SALAD AND CHICKEN SANDWICH

Di Crisp from the GI Foundation reports that Helga’s Lower Carb bread range – 5 Seeds (GI 53), Soy & Toasted Sesame (GI 51) and Wholemeal & Seed (GI 53) – now carry the GI Symbol. Head over to Helga’s website to find out more including ingredients and nutrition information. Prep: 15 mins • Cook: 10 mins • Makes 2.

4 slices Lower Carb Soy and Toasted Sesame bread
1 (200g/7oz) chicken breast fillet, trimmed

2 tbsp pistachio dukkah
½ tsp dried chilli flakes
¼ cup labne
1 small avocado, mashed
2 small iceberg lettuce leaves, shredded
1 small cooked beetroot, coarsely grated
½ small carrot, peeled, shredded
½ Lebanese cucumber, thinly sliced
2 tbsp mint leaves, shredded

Place chicken in a medium saucepan. Cover with cold water. Bring to boil over a high heat. Reduce to simmer. Simmer, uncovered for 8–10 minutes, or until cooked through. Drain and set aside to cool 10 minutes. Shred. • Combine dukkah, chilli and labne. Spread labne over one side of the two slices of bread. Spread avocado over one side of the remaining bread. • Top the avocado with lettuce, beetroot, chicken, carrot, cucumber and mint. Sandwich together labne-side down. Cut in half. Serve.


Per serve (1 sandwich) 

2981kJ/ 715 calories; 42g protein; 45g fat (includes 9g saturated fat; saturated : unsaturated fat ratio 0.25); 28g available carbs (includes 9g sugars and 19g starch); 10g fibre; 460mg sodium (potassium data not supplied)

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1 June 2017

GI News - June 2017

GI News

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FOOD FOR THOUGHT

GOING WITH THE GRAIN
We have just written a book called The Good Carbs Cookbook to share our enthusiasm for the plant foods the natural world provides us with: fruits, vegetables, beans, peas, lentils, seeds, nuts and grains and to try and answer the many questions we have received over the years from our GI News readers.

Good carbohydrates

Homo sapiens has been going with the grain for a long time. Food diaries weren’t around, so we can’t put a date on when our forebears began pounding and grinding the tough little seeds they gathered, adding a bit of water and making gruel or porridge or kneading dough to bake bread, but it was long before they became farmers.

How do we know? Our genes provide evidence for this. “We have evolved multiple copies of the salivary amylase gene, AMY1, which kicks off the digestion of starch in cooked foods. AMY1 has no other function. Amylase cannot act on raw starch, only starch that has been gelatinised by the action of heat and water,” says Prof Jennie Brand-Miller in the foreword to The Good Carbs Cookbook.

Digging around in buried villages gives us an idea of the wide range of foods our forebears ate. For example, in the remains of the 23,000-year-old lakeshore camp now submerged under the Sea of Galilee (Ohalo II, in present-day Israel), scientists found charred seeds and bones revealing that the people who spent much of the year there hunted gazelle and fallow deer, and occasionally fox, hare and wild pig; fished in the lake and caught migratory birds – the great crested grebe a great favourite if bone count is any indication. And they gathered grains including wild barley, wheat and oats, as the scientists found these seeds all over the campsite along with a grinding stone with starchy traces of barley. They also ate acorns, legumes and wild fruit, and they may have used their hearth to bake bread.

“Seeds are our most durable and concentrated foods. They are the rugged lifeboats designed to carry a plant’s offspring to the shore of an uncertain future. Tease apart a whole grain, or bean, or nut, and inside you find a tiny embryonic shoot,” says Harold McGhee. Which explains why they are so nourishing: they are a baby plant’s healthy pantry.

Grains are at their most nourishing when we eat them as whole as possible or as the
minimally processed staples our forebears enjoyed. Milling and refining grains to separate and remove the bran and germ does give us a more shelf-stable and quicker-cooking product, but it lacks many of the vitamins, minerals, fats and fibre of the original grain.

Minimally processed wholegrains figure prominently in the diets of the long-living Blue Zones folks, and observational studies around the world suggest that eating plenty of these staples may reduce the risk of developing certain types of cancer, heart disease and type 2 diabetes, which is why health professionals tend to worship at the altar of wholegrains and “consume more wholegrains’’ features prominently in dietary guidelines worldwide.

So, if we really want to “go paleo”, we should probably eat a much wider variety of seeds than we currently do. To help you do this, try a spiced grain salad like the one from Drake’s at Bondi Beach shown in the photograph above. It contains quinoa, farro, freekeh, popped wild rice, pomegranate seeds, labneh, coriander leaves and secret ingredients …

Studies:

The Good Carbs Cookbook
The Good Carbs Cookbook: Available online and in store in Australia now. Publishes 13 July in the UK and can be pre-ordered online from Amazon and Book Depository. It should also be available on www.amazon.com for interested US readers to pre-order from June 1.

WHAT’S NEW?

GLUTEN FREE AND HEART HEALTH
In April, ConscienHealth’s Ted Kyle reported on research that found that people who ate less gluten had a slightly higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Now a new study from Harvard finds that avoiding gluten won't lower your risk of heart disease. In fact, the researchers conclude from their findings that going gluten-free if you don’t have celiac disease could pose health concerns because “the avoidance of gluten may result in reduced consumption of beneficial whole grains, which may affect cardiovascular risk. The promotion of gluten-free diets among people without celiac disease should not be encouraged.”

As Ted Kyle says, “a gluten-free diet is a no-brainer for someone with celiac disease or confirmed non-celiac gluten sensitivity (gluten intolerance). But gluten-free fad diets have reached far beyond folks with actual gluten sensitivity or celiac disease. Some people falsely believe it will help them lose weight or magically give them better health. This new data is a useful reminder that food fads can have a downside and becoming fixated on demonizing a particular food or nutrient can lead to surprises down the road.”

Study: Long term gluten consumption in adults without celiac disease and risk of coronary heart disease: prospective cohort study 

Contact: A T Chan ACHAN@mgh.harvard.edu

YOUR BRAIN REALLY DOES WANT YOU TO EAT MORE VEGGIES
Prof. Felice Jacka is a psychiatric epidemiologist with a strong interest in the prevention of mental disorders. Her research relates to the possible influence of diet on common mental disorders, depression and anxiety. In The Conversation, she reports on a trial to examine whether diet improves depression. This edited extract is published with permission.

As well as our physical health, the quality of our diet matters for our mental and brain health. Observational studies across countries, cultures and age groups show that better-quality diets – those high in vegetables, fruits, other plant foods (such as nuts and legumes), as well as good-quality proteins (such as fish and lean meat) – are consistently associated with reduced depression. Unhealthy dietary patterns – higher in processed meat, refined grains, sweets and snack foods – are associated with increased depression and often anxiety.

vegetables

Our recent trial was the first intervention study to examine the common question of whether diet will improve depression. We recruited adults with major depressive disorder and randomly assigned them to receive either social support (which is known to be helpful for people with depression), or support from a clinical dietitian, over a three-month period.

The dietary group received information and assistance to improve the quality of their current diets. The focus was on increasing the consumption of vegetables, fruits, wholegrains, legumes, fish, lean red meats, olive oil and nuts, while reducing their consumption of unhealthy “extra” foods, such as sweets, refined cereals, fried food, fast food, processed meats and sugary drinks.

The results of the study showed that participants in the dietary intervention group had a much greater reduction in their depressive symptoms over the three months, compared to those in the social support group. At the end of the trial, 32% of those in the dietary support group, compared to 8% of those in the social support group, met criteria for remission of major depression. These results were not explained by changes in physical activity or body weight, but were closely related to the extent of dietary change. Those who adhered more closely to the dietary program experienced the greatest benefit to their depression symptoms. While this study now needs to be replicated, it provides preliminary evidence that dietary improvement may be a useful strategy for treating depression.

Depression is a whole-body disorder. It’s important to understand researchers now believe depression is not just a brain disorder, but rather a whole-body disorder, with chronic inflammation being an important risk factor. This inflammation is the result of many environmental stressors common in our lives: poor diet, lack of exercise, smoking, overweight and obesity, lack of sleep, lack of vitamin D, as well as stress.

Many of these factors influence gut microbiota (the bacteria and other microorganisms that live in your bowel, also referred to as your “microbiome”), which in turn influence the immune system and – we believe – mood and behaviour. In fact, gut microbiota affect more than the immune system. New evidence in this field suggests they are important to almost every aspect of health including our metabolism and body weight, and brain function and health. Each of these factors is relevant to depression risk, reinforcing the idea of depression as a whole-body disorder. If we do not consume enough nutrient-dense foods such as fruits, vegetables, fish and lean meats, this can lead to insufficiencies in nutrients, antioxidants and fibre. This has a detrimental impact on our immune system, gut microbiota and other aspects of physical and mental health.

Gut microbiota are particularly reliant on an adequate intake of dietary fibre, while the health of the gut may be compromised by added sugars, fats, emulsifiers and some artificial sugars found in processed foods. A diet high in added fats and refined sugars also has a potent negative impact on brain proteins that we know are important in depression: proteins called neurotrophins. These protect the brain against oxidative stress and promote the growth of new brain cells in our hippocampus (a part of the brain critical for learning and memory, and important to mental health). In older adults, we have shown that diet quality is related to the size of the hippocampus.

Now we know diet is important to mental and brain health as well as physical health, we need to make healthy eating the easiest, cheapest and most socially acceptable option for people, no matter where they live.

The Conversation: https://theconversation.com/food-as-medicine-your-brain-really-does-want-you-to-eat-more-veggies-74685
Study: A randomised controlled trial of dietary improvement for adults with major depression (the ‘SMILES’ trial)
Contact: f.jacka@deakin.edu.au

ALTERNATE DAY FASTING HYPE SHOULD BE FADING FAST
As a spiritual practice, fasting has deep roots in many religions, but when spiritual practices try to make the leap into health practices, look out. For a prime example, it now looks like the hype about the alternate day miracle fast should be fading fast reports ConscienHealth’s Ted Kyle. A new randomized, controlled study published in JAMA Internal Medicine finds no benefit for alternate day fasting compared to daily caloric restriction.

Researchers randomized 100 people with obesity to an alternate day fast, a standard reduced-calorie diet, or a control group making no change in dietary habits. They followed the participants for six months of weight loss, and six months of weight maintenance. At the end of 12 months, both of the treatment groups had lost about five percent of their starting weight – virtually identical outcomes. And the control group of course had no change in weight. Likewise, the researchers found no difference in markers of heart or metabolic health. For two treatment groups, blood pressure, heart rate, cholesterol, insulin resistance, cholesterol, and a number of other measures were the same at the end of 12 months.

Hopefully, this will put a capstone on years of hype about the health benefits of fasting. We’ve seen claims that it will “reboot your body” and “slow aging.” Health reporters have hyped animal studies to suggest that it will prevent cancer, improve brain function, and cure diabetes. Enough. Fasting is a fine spiritual practice. It’s not a bad way to lose weight. But don’t count on it for miraculous health benefits. – Thanks to Ted Kyle of ConscienHealth for this report

Study: Effect of Alternate-Day Fasting on Weight Loss, Weight Maintenance, and Cardioprotection Among Metabolically Healthy Obese Adults. A Randomized Clinical Trial

PERSPECTIVES WITH DR ALAN BARCLAY

A GRAIN OF SALT
For nearly four decades, dietary guidelines around the world have advised us to avoid consuming too much salt, or words to that effect. The salt they are talking about is sodium chloride, which has been used by humans for millennia, and is still the most common source of sodium today accounting for around 90% of all sodium consumed in developed nations. The guidelines are based on the relatively large body of evidence from randomised controlled trials (RCTs) that provides compelling evidence that reducing sodium consumption decreases blood pressure, which is a major risk factor for heart disease, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases.

Long-term observational studies also indicate that increased sodium consumption is associated with an increased risk of developing cardiovascular diseases. However, emerging evidence from observational studies is also indicating that excessive restriction of sodium is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, suggesting that there is a U shaped relationship between sodium and cardiovascular health.

While consuming less sodium does lower blood pressure, the combination of a lower-sodium, high-potassium diet is even more beneficial, with greater reductions in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure demonstrated in systematic reviews of RCTs, compared to low sodium diets alone, without any potential negative effects. Indeed, systematic reviews of RCTs now provide level 1 evidence that balancing the sodium : potassium ratio is effective in lowering blood pressure in people with and without high blood pressure, and is also associated with decreased risk of cardiovascular diseases in observational studies.

The WHO recommends a sodium : potassium ratio of no greater than 1 : 1. In other words, each day we should be aiming to consume at least as much potassium in our diet as sodium, to counter-balance any potential negative effects on blood pressure and cardiovascular disease risk. So keep up the fruit and veg!

This key recommendation is not well known perhaps because government regulatory food bodies don’t require potassium to be included in mandatory nutrition facts / information panels, and because public health campaigns focus very much on reducing salt intake rather than increasing potassium intake. However, in Australia and New Zealand, FSANZ requires the manufacturer to list the potassium content in the Nutrition Information Panel if they make a marketing claim about the salt / sodium content of a food or beverage. In this case, all you need to do is look for products that have more potassium than sodium – it’s as simple as that.

To help you follow WHO guidelines for sodium and potassium, the recipes in GI News include the sodium : potassium ratio in the nutritional analysis. Our recent books (Reversing Diabetes and The Good Carbs Cookbook, both published by Murdoch Books) also include the sodium : potassium ratio. Of course, recipes are rarely the complete meal, but if you see that sodium is higher than potassium, you know it’s important to up the potassium with a salad, some leafy greens, a piece of pumpkin or some sweet potato. It’s as easy as that.

But few cookbook recipes come with a nutritional analysis, and fewer the sodium : potassium ratio. So, here are some top sources of potassium to help you up your intake:

  • leafy green vegetables, such as bok choy (pak choy), silverbeet (Swiss chard) and English spinach 
  • vine fruits, such as tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini (courgette), eggplant (aubergine) and pumpkin (winter squash) 
  • root vegetables, such as potatoes, sweet potatoes and carrots. 
  • Unprocessed bran 
Moderately good sources of potassium include:
  • beans (for example, baked beans, kidney beans, black beans) 
  • green peas 
  • dried fruits 
  • fresh fruits, such as apples, oranges and bananas. 
Milk, yoghurt, wholegrains and meat (beef, lamb, pork, chicken) also contain some potassium as does good old canned salmon, although not as much as vegetables and fruits.

The take-home: It is more important to balance out your sodium and potassium intake than to focus on the salt content alone. As usual, the one-nutrient-at-a-time approach will not ensure optimal nutrition.

Dr Alan Barclay 

Alan Barclay, PhD is a consultant dietitian. He worked for Diabetes Australia (NSW) from 1998–2014 and is a member of the editorial board of Diabetes Management Journal (Diabetes Australia). He is author/co-author of more than 30 scientific publications, and author/co-author of  Reversing Diabetes (Murdoch Books), The Low GI Diet: Managing Type 2 Diabetes (Hachette Australia) and The Ultimate Guide to Sugars and Sweeteners (The Experiment, New York).

VIEWPOINTS FROM THE CHARLES PERKINS CENTRE, SYDNEY UNIVERSITY

PROF JENNIE BRAND-MILLER ON NUTRITION FOLLIES: #3 – WHOLEGRAIN FOLLIES

  • Wholegrain or wholewheat products have everything that’s in the original grain.
  • Substituting refined grains with unrefined grains improves your health.
  • Consuming wholegrain products reduces your risk of heart disease.
Wholegrain or wholewheat products have everything that’s in the original grain
Most consumers seeing “wholegrain” or “wholewheat” on a packaged food assume it has everything that’s in the original grain – all the vitamins, minerals and dietary fibre that make traditional grains such a healthy choice. That assumption is wrong. Products labelled “wholegrain” are rarely the whole grain that came in nature’s packaging (Why ‘whole grain’ is not always healthy). In many cases, the finished product has been soaked, ground, milled, cooked, flaked, toasted, puffed and/or popped beyond recognition. Indeed, this is why most breakfast cereals whether highly refined or not are fortified with certain vitamins and minerals.

Substituting refined grains with unrefined grains improves your health
Advice to consume “wholegrain foods” is enshrined in dietary guidelines around the globe. To put it simply, that means they are telling us we should consume most of our cereal products as wholegrains aka eat a “brown” diet (no white bread, not even sourdough, no white rice and no golden yellow durum wheat pasta). In my book, that’s quite a sacrifice. And there’s a question: does brown diet science convincingly show that substituting refined grains (a white diet) with less refined (brown) grains improve our health? Not yet.

It’s true that many observational studies report that consuming wholegrain products is associated with lower risk of cardiovascular disease. The Nurses’ Health Study showed women who ate the most wholegrains (an average of 2.5 servings per day), generally as wholegrain breakfast cereals, brown rice and wholewheat bread – were 30% less likely to develop heart disease than women eating next to none.

But such observational studies don’t actually prove wholegrains are responsible for the good health outcomes. It’s just an association. It’s probable people who choose to eat wholegrain foods are health conscious in all sorts of ways. They don’t smoke, they try to be active, they eat less red meat and more oily fish, fruit, vegetables and legumes. Of course, good studies statistically adjust for known confounders. But residual confounding may still be present. For example, to my knowledge, they never adjust for salt intake. And perhaps the person who chooses brown rice over white looks after their health in ways that having nothing to do with food at all, e.g. they breathe deeply, they sleep better, and they get less stressed.

The best test of the wholegrain hypothesis is whether wholegrain products produce improved outcomes when we switch from refined to wholegrain cereals as part of a randomized, controlled trial. You’ll find surprisingly few trials that have directly compared a brown diet with a white diet that was otherwise identical.

In the largest clinical trial of its sort to date, UK researchers provided 316 overweight men and women with a range of wholegrain foods and asked them to substitute them like-for-like for refined grain foods. Over a period of 2–4 months, there was not even a hint of difference in cardiovascular risk. In other words, there was no difference in blood cholesterol, triglycerides, insulin sensitivity and a range of common inflammatory markers between those who substituted wholegrain foods into their diet, and those who didn’t (the control group).

More recently, a very small American study in 33 participants found that wholegrain foods improved diastolic blood pressure but it had absolutely no effect on body weight, fat loss, systolic blood pressure, total cholesterol, or LDL cholesterol compared to the control diet.

Consuming wholegrain products reduces your risk of heart disease
So where does that leave the consumer wanting to make better food choices and reduce intake of saturated fat? What should replace those saturated fat calories? Foods with more carbs, or more good fats, or more protein, or a combination of all three? First of all, the nutritional attributes of the replacement foods are critical.
  • The carbs should be good carbs: slowly digested and absorbed foods such as beans, peas, lentils, pasta, cracked wheat, couscous, minimally processed grains and the traditional foods made from them. Have at least 5 serves of fruit and vegetables every day.
  • The fats should be good fats: avocado, nuts, olive oil, canola oil and rice bran oil.
  • The proteins should come from a combination of sources: fish and seafood, lean red meat, pork, poultry, eggs and legumes.
Secondly, don’t make the mistake of thinking any wholegrain product will be a good replacement for saturated fat. I say this because several studies have reported that replacing saturated fat with high GI carbohydrates (wholegrain or otherwise) was likely to increase future risk of heart attack. In contrast, replacing saturated fat with low GI carbs or polyunsaturated fats (e.g. safflower oil) appears to be protective. Low GI diets and low glycemic load diets have been associated with good health outcomes in scores of observational studies and clinical trials. Here are three useful studies to look at.
Barley salad

Source: Low GI Vegetarian Cookbook (Hachette Australia).

FAQ: Are all wholegrains low GI?
No. People assume wholegrains are low GI because they have more fibre. But this is wishful thinking. The reality is most processed cereal products today, white or brown, have a high GI. Nor is it correct to imply that all low GI carbs are less processed and refined. White pasta (cooked al dente) has a low GI, as do some varieties of white rice. Where does that leave the consumer? Choose those proven to be low GI, preferably whole grains, which contain more micronutrients. Here are some less processed staples we happily call wholegrain:

Healthy low GI wholegrains


Jennie Brand-Miller 
Professor Jennie Brand-Miller (AM, PhD, FAIFST, FNSA, MAICD) is an internationally recognised authority on carbohydrates and the glycemic index. She holds a Personal Chair in Human Nutrition in the Boden Institute of Obesity, Nutrition, Exercise and Eating Disorders and Charles Perkins Centre at the University of Sydney. She is the co-author of many books for the consumer on the glycemic index and health. Her latest book (with Professor Arne Astrup and Dietitian Christian Bitz) is The Nordic Way (Pam Krauss Books).

FOOD UN-PLUGGED

ARE ANCIENT GRAINS BETTER?
Ancient grains lost popularity in the 1700s following the surge in wheat, oats and barley cultivation. Nowadays we can thank novelty-seeking, health conscious consumers for the revival of grains such as spelt, chia, amaranth and quinoa, and their often premium pricing. Clever marketing aims to convince us that these ancient grains are nutritionally superior to more modern variants but it begs the question: are ancient grains superfoods or just super expensive?

What are ancient grains?
While many spell-checks still think ‘quinoa’ is a typo, many people are now familiar with these retro grains. They are added to a growing array of foods – you may have eaten them without even realising it.

  • Spelt is an older variety of wheat; therefore it contains gluten and can be used to make pasta or a nice loaf of sourdough bread. You can buy spelt flour in many supermarkets nowadays. 
  • Chia is a type of seed; therefore similarly to other seeds, it is gluten-free, rich in healthy omega-3 and omega-6 fats, protein and fibre. It has the remarkable ability to absorb water and swells to form a gel, therefore making it a popular ingredient for jams and tapioca-style puddings. If you can get over the fact that chia gel looks like frog eggs, it is quite fun to eat. We quite like it mixed with oats in Bircher muesli. 
  • Amaranth is a gluten-free grain that can be popped like corn. Popped amaranth has a high GI therefore for people with diabetes (and others) it is best eaten in combination with lower GI foods such as oats and nuts for a lower glycemic impact. This combination also makes delicious homemade muesli. 
  • Quinoa is a gluten-free grain that is high in carbohydrate (68%), low in fat (4.8%) moderate in protein (12%) and low GI. Quinoa works well as a substitute for couscous or rice and can be found at your local supermarket, although the flavour is quite different so don’t think you can get away with a sneaky swap – try it in combination with rice for the more steadfast members of the household. 
How do modern grains compare?
You can meet your nutritional needs with ancient or modern grains and seeds. The nutritional profiles are quite similar, including protein content (which many ancient grains claim to be high in). It’s sometimes said that modern crops aren’t as nutritious as they used to be but I have put together a table that shows that isn’t true. There are many environmental (and ethical) issues with modern intensive agriculture but loss of nutritional value isn’t one of them:

Nutrients in wholegrains

The standout difference is the folate content of quinoa - it is higher than many other grains. Folate is a B-group vitamin involved in DNA synthesis and it can help prevent neural tube defects in unborn babies and so is of benefit to women around conception and during pregnancy. However, in Australia and New Zealand most of our conventional wheat-based bread has folate added so there’s no need to switch to quinoa on that basis.

Quinoa porridge


Source: The Low GI Vegetarian Cookbook, Hachette Australia.


What’s good about ancient grains?
Ancient grains are great because they add variety to the diet, giving us additional healthy food options. Instead of rotating between potatoes, rice and pasta at dinner, we now have more choices. These ancient grains also increase the biodiversity of ecosystems, which enhances crop survival and recovery during droughts or disease epidemics. It’s not ideal having most of the worlds food supply provided by a handful of crops if the unthinkable happens and one or several get wiped out by a new disease.

The unplugged truth
• Ancient grains are becoming more popular but are often more expensive.
• Ancient grains are nutritionally similar to modern grains.

Bottom line: old and new grains are equally good for you; whole grains are best because they are packed with vitamin, minerals and dietary fibre.

Thanks to Rachel Ananin AKA TheSeasonalDietitian.com for her assistance with this article.

Nicole Senior

Nicole Senior is an Accredited Nutritionist, author, consultant, cook, food enthusiast and mother who strives to make sense of nutrition science and delights in making healthy food delicious.

Contact: You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram or check out her website.

KEEP GOOD CARBS AND CARRY ON

EAT YOUR VEG
It’s hard to imagine a dinner time when the spotlight wasn’t on “eat your veggies”. But it wasn’t long ago – a bit over 100 years. The discovery of vitamins and minerals in the early years of the twentieth century was the wakeup call, and “Dr Vitamin” (Elmer Verner McCollum, 1879–1967) was a key player. He claimed veggies were “protective foods” because “they were so constituted to make good the deficiencies of whatever else we liked to eat”. He wasn’t wrong because, as Harvard’s Professor Walter Willett says, “so far, no one has found a magic bullet that works against heart disease, cancer and a host of other chronic diseases as well as fruits and vegetables seem to do”.

Today, we are spoiled for choice. This is perhaps because “vegetable” is a culinary term, not a botanical one. So, we can take our pick from fruits such as avocado, cucumber, marrow, tomato, capsicum (peppers) and green beans; bulbs such as onion and globe artichoke; stalks such as celery and asparagus; flower stalks and buds such as broccoli and cauliflower; roots and tubers such as carrot, potato and sweet potato; as well as the proverbial leafy greens, including spinach, bok choy, lettuce and cabbage. And there’s more. There are the edible dried seeds from the legume family: beans, peas and lentils.

In the Sapiens story, cooking was the game changer. Cooking starchy roots, tubers, and legumes was central to the dietary change that triggered and sustained the growth of the human brain for our ancestors. “It’s hard to imagine the leap to Homo erectus without cooking’s nutritional benefits,” says primatologist Prof. Richard Wrangham, author of Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human. He believes we have been cooking for a long time because about 1.8 million years ago our teeth and our gut became small, a change that can only be explained, he says, by our ancestors getting softer foods and more nutrition, and “this could only have happened because they were cooking. It’s what made our human diet ‘human’ and is the most logical explanation for our advances in brain and body size over our ape ancestors.”

Sweet potato and fig

Our ancestors weren’t boiling their veg. they were roasting the roots and tubers the women and children gathered over the day on the embers of the fire to soften them. Anyone who has tried Yotam Ottolenghi’s Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Fresh Figs (GI News, September 1914) will certainly agree that roasting does a lot more than mere softening. It transforms. The dry oven heat caramelises any natural sugars on the surface, evaporates some of the water and concentrates the flavour. There is an art to roasting if you want veg crisp on the outside, hot and steamy on the inside and with deep, delicious sweetness says chef and food writer Kate McGhie.

  • Cut potatoes, and sweet potato into pieces of about the same size. Roast for 15 minutes or so before adding quicker cooking carrots, parsnips, pumpkin, turnips or beetroot (whole or halved). 
  • Make sure veggies are dry before roasting. 
  • Lightly brush them with a thin layer of oil. 
  • Arrange in a roasting pan in a single layer. No cramming, they need good airflow. 
  • Season lightly to taste.

IN THE GI NEWS KITCHEN

GO SLOW TO WARM UP
As the weather turns cooler, thoughts turn to slow cooking, baked dinners, pot roasts and casseroles. In this issue,we have come up with recipes for three (almost) one-pot wonders to feed the family and warm the heart. Serve with salad or steamed greens and your favourite starchy veg or grains to round out the meal, up the potassium and fill hollow legs.
POT-ROASTED CHICKEN AND APPLES IN CIDER
In this simple pot roast from Apple Blossom Pie (Murdoch Books) Kate McGhie uses the fruit itself and apple cider which, added at different stages, builds the depth of flavour. Adding the slightly tart crème fraîche at the end blends the juices into a silky sauce. Make a meal of it with mashed orange sweet potato and steamed beans (and boost your potassium, too). Serves 6 • Cook: 1½ hours.

Apple

3 tbsp butter
4 granny smith apples, cored and sliced
200g (7oz) button mushrooms, halved
1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, sliced
3 bacon rashers, sliced into matchsticks
1 large free-range chicken
2 cups dry apple cider (cloudy is best)
1½ cups chicken stock
salt flakes and freshly ground white pepper
4 tbsp crème fraiche or light crème fraiche
2 tbsp finely chopped parsley

Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). • Heat 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large sturdy ovenproof casserole. Add the apples, cook until golden and then remove them and set aside. Add the remaining butter with the mushrooms to the casserole and cook until they release their juice. Remove them and put with the apples. • Add the olive oil to the casserole with the onions and bacon and cook for 3–4 minutes until softened, then remove from the dish and put aside. • Tie the chicken legs together, put it in the casserole and brown all over. (Brown on the sides first then the back and just lightly on the breast which will brown towards the end of cooking.) • Pour in the cider, scraping up any crispy bits then return the onions and bacon to the casserole. Add the stock. Cover with a lid and cook in the oven for 50 minutes. • Add the apples and mushrooms with salt and pepper to taste and cook uncovered for 20 minutes, or until the juices of the chicken run clear when a skewer is inserted. Stir in the crème fraîche and sprinkle over the parsley.

Per serve (using light crème fraiche)
1585kJ/ 380 calories; 34g protein; 15g fat (includes 8g saturated fat; saturated : unsaturated fat ratio 1.1); 19g available carbs (includes 12g sugars and 7g starch); 3g fibre; 1768mg sodium; 826mg potassium; sodium : potassium ratio 2.1.

BEEF AND BEAN NACHOS
You don’t need to wait for winter to enjoy this low GI family favourite that’s high in dietary fibre and potassium from Alan Barclay’s Reversing Diabetes (Murdoch Books). Here are a couple of tips. Spice up the tortillas by sprinkling them with cayenne pepper before baking. A crisp garden salad will complete the meal. Serves 4 • Prep: 30 minutes • Cook: 1 hour

BEEF AND BEAN NACHOS

4 jalapeños, thinly sliced
2 tbsp malt vinegar
4 low-sodium white corn tortillas
olive oil spray
1 brown onion, finely chopped
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
1 green capsicum (pepper), finely chopped
300g (10oz) extra-lean minced (ground) beef
1 tbsp smoked paprika
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons dried oregano
400g (14oz) canned diced tomatoes
800g (1lb 12oz) canned no-added-salt kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 small avocado
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 small handful coriander (cilantro) leaves, finely chopped, plus extra sprigs to serve

Put the jalapeños in a small bowl with the vinegar and set aside to marinate. • Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F/Gas 4). Lightly spray both sides of the tortillas with olive oil. Cut each tortilla into 10 wedges and arrange on a large baking tray. Bake, turning once, for 10–12 minutes or until golden and crisp. Set aside until needed. • While the tortilla crisps are cooking, spray a large saucepan with olive oil and place over medium heat. Cook the onion, stirring, for 2 minutes or until softened. Add the celery and capsicum, and stir for 6–7 minutes or until browned and softened. Add the beef and cook, stirring and breaking up any lumps, for 5 minutes or until browned. • Stir in the paprika, cumin and oregano, and cook for 2 minutes or until fragrant. Stir in the tomatoes and ¾ cup water. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 25–30 minutes or until the sauce has thickened. Add the beans and cook for 10 minutes. • Meanwhile, mash the avocado with a fork, then stir in the lemon juice and chopped coriander. Season with freshly ground black pepper. • Spoon the beef mixture into bowls and top with the extra coriander. Serve with the avocado, jalapeños and tortilla crisps

Per serve
2850kJ/ 679 calories; 48g protein; 24g fat (includes 6g saturated fat; saturated : unsaturated fat ratio 0 : 33); 51g available carbs (includes 14g sugars and 37g starch); 28g fibre; 400mg sodium; 1845mg potassium; sodium : potassium ratio 0.22.

STICKS, SEEDS, PODS and LEAVES
Kate Hemphill is a trained chef. She contributed the recipes to Ian Hemphill’s best-selling Spice and Herb Bible. You will find more of her recipes on the Herbies spices website. Kate’s recipes are made with Herbies spices and blends, but you can use whatever you have in your pantry or that’s available locally.

Lamb Rogan Josh
As it’s starting to cool down, we’ll be making slow-cooked one-pot meals like this deliciously “tomatoey” rogan josh to warm up. It is a great meal to make the day before eating. Serve with brown basmati rice. Serves:6 • Prep: 20 mins • Cook: 3½ hours.

Lamb Rogan Josh


1kg (2lb 4oz) lamb shoulder off the bone, excess fat removed and cut into roughly 5cm (2in) pieces
400g (14oz) plain low fat yoghurt
2 tbsp (30ml) rogan josh blend
3 tbsp (45ml) vegetable oil
6 brown onions, peeled and finely diced
6 cloves garlic, crushed
¾ cup tomato paste/puree
½ tsp salt (optional)
½ cup fresh coriander leaves
2 ripe tomatoes, diced

Preheat oven to 120°C/250°F. • Combine lamb, yoghurt and spice mix in a bowl and leave for at least 15 minutes. • Heat the oil and cook onions over medium heat for 20–30 minutes until softened and golden. • Add garlic and cook gently for 5 minutes, then stir in the yoghurt coated lamb plus all the marinade. Add tomato paste and salt (if using), and bring to a simmer, while stirring. Place lid on the cooking pot and cook in the oven for 2½–3 hours until meat is very tender. • Serve with fresh coriander leaves and diced fresh tomatoes to garnish.

Per serve (without rice)
1785kJ/ 425 calories; 36.5g protein; 23g fat (includes 7g saturated fat; saturated : unsaturated fat ratio 0.44); 15g available carbs (includes 14g sugars and 1g starch); 6g fibre; 370mg sodium; 1345mg potassium; sodium : potassium ratio 0.28.

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1 May 2017

GI News - May 2017

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FOOD FOR THOUGHT

THE BRAINPOWER DIET

What other species gleefully jiggles their jaws on the flames of a Jalapeno or laps up the tongue curling delights of a lemon? In The Conversation, Dr Darren Curnoe took a look at why is it that humans are so unusual compared to all other life. The key to solving this riddle lies in explaining the evolution of our large brains and exceptional intelligence he says. This edited extract is reproduced with his permission.

Chillis

For as long as humanity has been contemplating our existence we must surely have been struck by the fact that we are the only species capable of doing so. I don’t believe it’s an exaggeration to say that the evolutionary arrival of humankind – some 200,000 years ago – was a decisive moment in the long history of the universe. After 14 billion years in the making, and in the blink of an eye of cosmological time, human intelligence arrived and gave the universe the ability to comprehend itself. A new study finds that primate brain size is better predicted by diet than any measure of sociality, suggesting a revision is needed to prevailing hypotheses explaining brain size evolution.

To really understand how the human brain emerged we must first recognise that we share big brains with other primates. It’s our evolutionary inheritance, as primates are among the brainiest of all mammals; when taken kilo for kilo against body size. And apes are especially well endowed in the brains department. Why? Well, this has been a major puzzle for anthropologists for decades, and the most widely accepted explanation has been the cognitive demands placed on us by living in large social groups; the so-called ‘social brain hypothesis’ or ‘Dunbar’s Number’.

The main alternative has been that braininess evolved in response to the demands of sex. Polygynandrous species – where males and females have multiple partners in a given breeding season – possess larger brains than those using other systems of mating, such as a harem or monogamy.

Now a new study by Alex DeCasien and colleagues published in Nature, Ecology and Evolution has turned the debate completely on its head. They’ve found that the kind of diet a primate species consumes offers the best explanation for its brain size. While this idea is not an entirely new one, their work provides strong validation for the diet-brain connection.

When it comes to apes it turns out that fruit eating – the dietary niche present in most living apes and the one our ancient ape ancestors indulged in – is so cognitively demanding that it led to a big evolutionary leap in intelligence when it began. How come? Well, challenging diets require individuals to seek out or capture food; they have to judge whether it’s ready to be eaten or not; and they may even need to extract it, peel it, or process it in some way before it can be ingested.

Sound familiar? It should. Humans have the most specialised and challenging diets of all primates; and I have in mind here hunters and gatherers not urban foodies. The human dietary niche is exceptionally broad and involves behaviours aimed at not only obtaining food but also making it more palatable and digestible; activities like extraction, digging, hunting, fishing, drying, grinding, cooking, combining other foods to add flavour, or even adding minerals to season or make food safe to eat.

What other species would so gleefully jiggle their jaws on the flames of a Jalapeno or lap up the tongue curling delights of a lemon?

What’s more, our large fruit eating ape brains got even bigger late in human evolution because our diets became ever more challenging to obtain and prepare, especially as a result of our ancestor’s penchant for eating meat.

Hunter-gatherers typically have a diet comprising between 30% and 80% vertebrate meat, while for chimpanzees it’s only around 2%. Instead, chimps get 60% of their diet from fruit, but hunter-gatherers typically obtain only 5% or 6 % (on the odd occasion a lot more) of their nutrition from fruit.

Humans rarely eat raw meat though, and we cook many of our vegetables as well, so even after expending huge efforts to collect it we still have to process much of our food in drawn out ways.

All of this throws up a paradox for us. Why is it that our closest and now extinct relatives, such as the Neanderthals, who were capable of complex behaviours like hunting, cooking and perhaps even cultural activities like art, lacked the smarts to ponder the ultimate questions of life?

Why is it us, and not them, that are capable of pondering and explaining the existence of life and the universe, including human life itself? There is clearly something very unique about human intelligence and a lot more to this evolutionary tale than mere food for thought.

This is an edited extract. For Darren’s complete article, head over to The Conversation

Contact: Darren Curnoe is Chief Investigator, ARC Centre of Excellence for Australian Biodiversity and Heritage, and Director, Palaeontology, Geobiology and Earth Archives Research Centre, UNSW
Study: Primate brain size is predicted by diet but not sociality