GI Symbol News with Dr Alan Barclay

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Alan Barclay
Dr Alan Barclay

Milk and yoghurt: nutritious and inexpensive low GI foods for the whole family. 
Dairy foods like milk and yoghurt are great sources of essential nutrients like calcium, magnesium, zinc, vitamin A, riboflavin (B2), B12, protein and low GI carbs. Generally we recommend reduced or low fat varieties for most people over the age of two as they provide considerably less calories. All plain milks (GI 20–34) and yoghurts (GI 11–19) have very low GI values, due to the fact that the carbohydrate is lactose – a low GI sugar (GI 46). On average 1 cup of milk provides 12–13 grams of carbohydrate, and 1 cup of plain yoghurt 12–15 grams. The unique amino acids found in milk proteins that help promote insulin secretion also contribute to their low GI. Although all high quality protein foods (that includes meat, fish and eggs) stimulate insulin secretion, it’s possible that the proteins in milk may promote more because they are uniquely designed to help young mammals grow and develop. Despite this, these dairy foods are not associated with an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes – the opposite in fact is the case.

Because not everyone likes to drink or eat plain milk or yoghurt, they are often sweetened with honey, other added sugars (e.g. sucrose) or alternative sweeteners (e.g. aspartame, sucralose), fruit, chocolate (e.g. cocoa) or other flavours (e.g. vanilla) to increase their palate appeal. Although added fruit and nutritive sweeteners may increase the GI of milk (GI 29–45) and yoghurt (29–44) and the amount of carbohydrate in a serve, they remain highly nutritious, low GI foods overall. It’s also easy to ‘sweeten’ your favourite reduced or low fat plain milks and yoghurts yourself with fresh or canned fruit, low GI sweeteners like Logicane™ or wildflower honeys (e.g. yellow box), or a low GI flavouring such as Milo™. Live probiotic bacteria can be added to any type of yoghurt.

What yoghurt is that? 

  • Set (or ‘pot set’) yoghurt tends to be fairly thick and not have any whey separation. It is fermented and set at controlled temperatures in individual tubs.
  • Stirred yoghurt is the most popular variety on our supermarket shelves. It is bulk-fermented then pumped through a cooler, the fruit or flavouring is stirred in and it is packaged in individual containers.
  • Drinking yoghurt is produced similarly to stirred yoghurt.
  • Soft serve/frozen yoghurt starts out as stirred yoghurt. To maintain its smooth texture on freezing, a blend of sweeteners, stabilisers, emulsifiers (and flavours) is added. 

Frozen berry yoghurt 
Anneka Manning’s frozen yoghurt from The Low GI Family Cookbook  is perfect for desserts or snacks and serves 6.

250g (9oz) fresh or frozen mixed berries
3 x 200 g (7oz) tubs low fat vanilla yoghurt
2 egg whites
2 tbsp floral honey

Anneka Manning's frozen yoghurt

Place the berries and yoghurt in a food processor and blend until smooth. Transfer to a medium-sized bowl and set aside. Whisk the egg whites in a clean, dry bowl until stiff peaks form. Add the honey a tablespoon at a time, whisking well after each addition until thick and glossy. Fold into the berry yoghurt mixture until just combined. Pour the mixture into an airtight container and place in the freezer for 4 hours or until frozen. Use a metal spoon to break the frozen yoghurt into chunks. Blend again in a food processor until smooth. Return to the airtight container and refreeze for 3 hours or until frozen. Serve in scoops.

Per serve 
Energy: 540kJ/ 129cals; Protein 7g; Fat 0.3g; Carbs 22g; Fibre 1g

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For more information about the GI Symbol Program
Dr Alan W Barclay, PhD
Chief Scientific Officer
Glycemic Index Foundation (Ltd)
Phone: +61 (0)2 9785 1037
Mob: +61 (0)416 111 046
Fax: +61 (0)2 9785 1037