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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    I have heard that all sugars are high GI and all starches are low GI, is this true?

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    The Glycemic Index Foundation (GIF) is a not-for-profit company supported by The University of Sydney and JDRF (Australia). GIF is committed to providing Australians with … View Profile

    It is a common misunderstanding that all sugars have a high GI and all starches have a low GI. In fact, most sugar-containing foods do not have a high GI. Low GI examples include most fresh, dried and canned fruits, reduced and low fat milks, flavoured milk drinks and yoghurts. On the other hand, many starchy foods have a high GI including white flour and white flour breads, potatoes (except Carisma), Jasmine rice, rice crackers, low-fat popcorn and many crunchy breakfast cereals (puffed rice, flaked corn and wheat).

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    Carolien Koreneff

    Counsellor, Credentialled Diabetes Educator (CDE), Diabetes Educator, Psychotherapist, Registered Nurse

    Carolien Koreneff is a Somatic (body-oriented) psychotherapist, Health Coach, Counsellor as well as a Credentialed Diabetes Educator with over 20 years experience. She currently sees … View Profile

    The Glycaemic Index is a complex concept, it is not as simple as “sugars are high GI and starches are low GI”.
    The GI in a particular food group can vary enormously. Take bread for example: white bread is very high in GI, but a Soy & Linseed bread is much lower. Similarly Jasmin rice is high GI, but Basmati or Doongarra rice are much lower in GI.
    The sugar in fruit (fructose) is often lower in GI, but glucose is high GI.
    In addition to the above, the GI of foods can be changed by fibre and fat. If the meal is high in fibre and low in fat the total GI for that meal tends to be lower.
    As I said, it is a complex concept and in my humble opinion just focussing on the GI of foods is not enough to maintain a healthy diet and good blood glucose levels.

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    Peter is an Accredited Practising Dietitian with a private practice on the Gold Coast. He has an interest in helping people make positive lifestyle changes … View Profile

    Increasing the fat level of a meal will lower its GI (glycemic index). So too will adding lemon juice or vinegar to the meal as these slow the rate of digestion.  Just because a food is low GI does not allow someone to overconsume it as it eventually will result in an elevated blood glucose level.

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    Chris Fonda

    Dietitian, Nutritionist, Sports Dietitian

    As an Accredited Sports Dietitian, APD and athlete (springboard diver), Chris has both professional and personal experience in sport at the sub-elite and elite level.Chris … View Profile

    I agree with my colleagues above. When talking about GI, it comes down to the types of polysaccharides found in starchs in plant/carbohydrate type foods. There are two types: amylose and amylopectin.

    Different foods contain varying amounts of these polysaccharides and this affects its GI. Foods which have a higher amylose:amylopectin ratio are more slowly digested and absorbed and are considered low GI. Those who have a higher amylopectin:amylose ratio are more quickly digested and absorbed and are high GI.

    Other factors also affect the GI as Peter has explained above. To add protein rich foods to carbohydrate meals can also help to lower the GI as when combined they slow digestion and absorption (hence why most dairy products are considered low GI).

    If you are wanting more expert advice on the GI of foods, consult an Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD). To find one, head to the Dietitian's Association of Australias website (www.daa.asn.au) and click on the find an APD tab.

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