Low-GI Diet Does Not Limit Variety or Food Quality

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By: Jan Chait

Children with type 1 diabetes who followed a low glycemic index (low-GI) diet for one year ate approximately the same amount of macronutrients and variety of foods as a group that followed the traditional carbohydrate-exchange diet, say researchers in Australia.

The researchers studied the food intake of 104 children between the ages of 8 and 13 to determine the practicality of a low-GI diet. The children were randomly assigned to follow either a low-GI diet or the standard exchange diet.

At the one-year mark, the researchers noted no differences between the two groups in their intake of dietary fat, carbohydrate, protein, total sugars or fiber. Nor did the average number of carbohydrate foods per day differ. Children who ate foods ranked lowest on the GI index ate less carbohydrate in the form of potatoes or white bread, but more in dairy-based foods and whole-grain breads, compared to children who ate foods ranked in the highest levels of the index.

The glycemic index is a numerical ranking of foods based on how those foods affect blood glucose. Pure glucose is ranked 100 on the glycemic index. Low GI foods, which are said to break down more slowly in digestion, rank from 1 to 55 on the scale.

—American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, January 2003

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