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Sugar-sweetened drinks and diabetes risk

Consuming soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages regularly is associated with a greater risk of metabolic syndrome and type-2 diabetes according to a meta-analysis of 11 published studies (300,000 participants) by Harvard School of Public Health researchers published in Diabetes Care.

Sugar sweetened beverages

‘Many previous studies have examined the relationship between sugar-sweetened beverages and risk of diabetes, and most have found positive associations but our study, which is a pooled analysis of the available studies, provides an overall picture of the magnitude of risk and the consistency of the evidence,’ said lead author Vasanti Malik.

Sugar-sweetened beverages are made up of energy-containing sweeteners such as sucrose, high-fructose corn syrup, or fruit juice concentrates, all of which, the authors noted, have essentially similar metabolic effects. The consumption of such beverages, which include soft drinks, fruit drinks, iced tea, and energy and vitamin water drinks, has risen globally.

The findings showed that drinking one to two sugary drinks per day increased the risk of type 2 diabetes by 26% and the risk of metabolic syndrome by 20% compared with those who consumed less than one sugary drink per month.

While a number of factors are at work in the development of type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome, sugar-sweetened beverages represent one easily modifiable risk factor that if reduced will likely make an important impact, say the researchers. ‘People should limit how much sugar-sweetened beverages they drink and replace them with healthy alternatives, such as water, to reduce risk of diabetes as well as obesity, gout, tooth decay, and cardiovascular disease,’ said Malik.

The researchers added that although sugar-sweetened beverages increase the risk of metabolic syndrome and type-2 diabetes, in part due to their contribution towards weight gain, there may be other mechanisms involved. Such mechanisms may include the high levels of easily absorbed added sugars in drinks contributing to a high dietary glycemic load, which is known to induce glucose intolerance and insulin resistance.

It’s here. Finally. The low GI potato.

Four years ago we started the hunt for a low GI potato. We sat down with chef and potato expert Graham Liney, owner of restaurant/guest house Willow Vale Mill, near Goulburn and we have been working closely with him ever since along with Australian potato growers and the Dutch potato breeding company Agrico, to bring Carisma, Australia’s first low GI potato to your table. It’s versatile and full of flavour with a creamy taste, and ‘melt in the mouth’ texture. And it has a GI of 55 cooked the way we describe below.

Carisma is currently only grown in Australia (sorry rest of world) in the Riverland in South Australia, the Lockyer Valley in Queensland and in various regions in Western Australia. You can read all about it here. It’s exclusive to Coles supermarkets and is on sale throughout Australia, with the exception of Tasmania (for the moment).

Carisma potatoes

Cooking with Carisma Here’s our quick and easy ‘no-peel’ cooking method that will allow you to enjoy Carisma potatoes the low GI way. Wash the potatoes and cut into 1 cm thick slices or chop into 1cm dice leaving the skin on and cook them your preferred way until firm but cooked through (al dente). When we tested their GI, we boiled them, placing them into hot (not boiling) water, then bringing the water to the boil and cooking them for about 4 minutes until al dente. But it’s fine to steam or microwave them if you prefer.

Because Carisma are a versatile, general purpose potato, you can use them to make potato bake, home-baked wedges, roast potatoes, jacket potatoes, mashed potatoes or in your favourite potato recipes. Just be aware that the GI value may not be quite as low. And of course keep an eye on portion size if you are watching your BGLs. As Alan Barclay said in GI News back in July, a serve providing 15g carbs is one medium potato (around 125g).

Here are Nicole Senior’s tips for serving spuds: ‘One of the things I love about the potato, apart from the gorgeous taste and texture, is how simple they are to prepare. I simply wash, cut and microwave on high until tender, and lightly dress with some extra virgin olive oil, dried rosemary and black pepper. Use whatever healthy oils, herbs and spices you like for an instant accompaniment to lean meat, chicken or fish and steamed greens. And a good tip: always cook more than you need because cooled and reheated potato contains a beneficial kind of dietary fibre called resistant starch that keeps your bowel healthy. That’s what I call potato magic.’

Low GI Diet author wins Australian Food Media Award

Dr Joanna McMillan Price

Dr Joanna McMillan Price

Dr Joanna McMillan Price, one of the regular contributors to GI News over the years, has won the Australian Food Media Award ‘Best Health or Specific Diet Book’ for her recently published Inner Health Outer Beauty. The biennial awards held in October are a flagship event of the Australian Association of Food Professionals. ‘I wrote this book,’ said Joanna talking to GI News, ‘to try and inspire busy women to find ways that work for them to supercharge their health and look their glowing best. ’

‘I really appreciate the importance and pleasure of good food in my life – a lesson I learned from my Mum. I want to share this message and encourage women to stop thinking about nutrition and to think about the food. We women are so controlled in so many areas of our lives (or at least we try to be) that we allow our obsession with nutrition and weight to skew our view of what a healthy meal is. To me, the lines between fat-rich, carb-rich and protein-rich are not immutable. I think that the most important factor on your plate is the middle line, ensuring you fill half your plate with veggies and/or fruit. The remaining half can be more flexible depending on what you are having, your likes and dislikes, where you are and what you’ll have (or have already eaten) for other meals during the day. For example, if you have just finished a pretty tough cardio workout, you’ll probably want a few extra carbs to restock your body’s stores. Or you may feel better on a higher protein diet with fewer grain foods. Or perhaps you had a largish steak when you were out for lunch and feel like a lighter vegetarian supper. All these options are fine.’

Inner Health Outer Beauty is available from leading bookstores in Australia or you can order a copy HERE.