1 February 2012

Low GI Carbs and Healthy Fats

Not all carbs are created equal. Nor are all fats of the same nutritional value.

To be sure if eaten in excess all carbs and fats/oils are fattening.

But given that they are taken in moderate amounts - and we should include both carbs and lipids as part of a balanced diet - it is better to eat low GI foods, and to choose oils rather than fats of animal origin.

Why? Low GI foods are digested and absorbed more slowly and thus they do not cause a marked spike in the blood glucose and insulin levels. Low GI carbs promote a more moderate rise in blood glucose level which is sustained over a longer period of time. This helps to keep us full for a more prolonged period of time.

Oils, especially  olive oil, actually improve the blood cholesterol numbers, whereas fats (and especially animal fats and the artificial trans-fats) increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Random Practical Hints
  • All Bran (low GI) instead of other cereals, or at least add a tablespoon of All Bran to  your favourite breakfast cereal.
  • Cook pasta 'al dente' (lower GI than well-cooked pasta).
  • Eat fish (e.g. salmon, tuna) twice weekly or more (good source of essential fatty acids, omega 3).
  • Drink a glass of wine about twice weekly (increase HDL, the good blood cholesterol).
  • Use barley (low GI) instead of rice.
  • Buy olive oil in small, dark bottles, close tightly. Most oils in the maket labelled 'extra-virgin' are anything but!
  • Use olive oil (1 tablespoon) with your salad, instead of mayo.
  • Grill or bake instead of frying ... to reduce total fat. 100g of baked potatoes = 100 calories; 100 g of fried potatoes = 300 calories - that's three times as much.
  • Serve potatoes twice weekly only (potatoes are high GI food).
  • Eat whole fruit rather than drink juices (to get benefits of fibre).
  • Drink cold sparkling or still water, with lemon, instead of carbonated sweetened drinks (including 'diet' drinks).
  • If nutrition label includes coconut or palm oil or unspecified 'vegetable oil' - leave the item on the shelf. These plant oils are high in saturated fats.
  • Do not buy products containing trans fats or partially hydrogenated oils. These are the worst  kind of fats on the planet. You don't want them to get to your arteries.
  • Eat more of the low GI foods: oats, natural muesli, multi-grain bread, pasta, low-fat milk and yoghurt, most fruit, sweet corn, sweet potato and legumes
  • Eat less of the high GI foods: white bread, white rice, wheat-based breakfast biscuits, white potato, rice cakes.