Hi everybody . . . :grouphug: . . . I'm Linda and I usually post in the Diabetes Forum. However, I recently read a book that so caught my attention that I thought a lot of us could benefit from the information it contained. After some PM discussions with Jennifer of the PCOS/Insulin Resistance Forum, we decided this would probably be the best place for a review.
The book is called Magic Foods for Better Blood Sugar and was written by Robert A. Barnett, Christine L. Pelkman, and Densie Webb. It caught my eye because I was familiar with another book that Mr. Barnett co-authored.
Over the next few weeks, I'm going to attempt a fairly in-depth review by adding to this thread on a more or less daily basis. So I do hope you won't get too bored seeing my cat, Purrecious, and her semi-sarcastic look peeking out at you from my Avatar. :lol:
Before we actually discuss the Magic Foods of which there are over 50 reviewed in the book, we need to set a little background information in place . . . so for today's chapter . . . let's discuss the connection between several of today's worst health challenges and roller-coaster bood sugar levels . . .
The Latest Epidemic
Guess What – It’s no longer just those with Diabetes; those with Insulin Resistance (Pre-Diabetes), or those with PCOS that need to watch their blood sugar levels – it’s now pretty much everybody. Our modern diet contains far too much fast acting carbohydrate in the form of white sugar, white rice, white flour (are you beginning to see a pattern here?) and all those highly-refined, fast acting, (also known as high GI, high GL) foodstuffs that are causing our blood sugar levels to be on a constant roller-coaster ride. So . . . if you don’t have any of those little nasties mentioned in the first paragraph; why worry . . . right? . . . WRONG! . . not only does the constantly bouncing ball of blood sugar instability lead to Diabetes; it also contibutes to Heart Attack; serious Depression; Early onset Senile Dementia; several types of Cancer (particularly Colon/Rectal Cancer, Breast Cancer, Endometrial Cancer, and Prostate Cancer); and, of course, just plain old weight gain.
One of the newer epidemics sweeping North America (and much of the rest of the world too) is a little thing called METABOLIC SYNDROME. Metabolic Syndrome is a cluster of risk factors, closely connected with the sugar roller coaster, that very quickly leads to so many of those above noted nasties that we’d all like to avoid.
Do you have Metabolic Syndrome??? If you have three of the following five major indicators, you very likely do . . .
Central Obesity – a waist size more than 40 inches (102 cm) for men; more than 35 inches (88 cm) for women – regardless of whether you are overweight or not. The infamous “Apple” shape.
HighTriglycerides – above 150 (US scale) or 1.7 (just about everybody else’s scale).
Low HDL Cholesteral – lower than 40 (US men) or 50 (US women) – for other parts of the world; that’s lower than 1.00 for men and 1.30 for women) -- this is the good stuff, so higher is better.
High Blood Pressure – higher than 130/85 (hey, the same scale all over).
High Fasting Blood Glucose Levels– higher than 110 (US) or 6.0 (elsewhere) after you have not eaten for 6 to 8 hours.
Things are beginning to sound pretty familiar and pretty frightening aren’t they. :( Can you do anything about the situation. Yes you can . . . lots. You can help to prevent those diseases if you haven’t already contracted them and you can help to control them if you already have. HOW . . . the answer, of course, lies in controlling that Blood Sugar Roller Coaster ride by lowering the Glycemic (sugar) Load provided by all those highly processed, fast acting carbohydrates in your diet – and for a nice little bonus, you’ll also probably lose some weight.
That's what this book is all about and the MAGIC FOODS That we all need to incorporate into (or try to anyway) really do work so fast and so well at lowering those blood sugar levels it is almost magical.
Tomorrow . . . Glycemic Index / Glycemic Load . . . hope to see you then. :wave:
Glycemic Index (GI) and Glycemic Load (GL)
Carbohydrates used to be (prior to the 1980’s) classed only as “simple” (sugars) -- or “complex” (starches) and it was thought all sugars would raise your blood sugar far faster than any starches.
In 1981, Dr. David Jenkins developed a new system for looking at carbohydrates and the impact they have on blood sugar. He called his method the Glycemic Index (GI) and this has now become the standard against which carbohydrates are measured. Dr. Jenkins had volunteers eat different foods, each containing 50 grams of useable or available carbohydrates (net carbs, after deducting the amount of fibre which is not digested), and then measured each individual’s blood sugar level numerous times over the next two hours to see what happened. Pure glucose (which is the form of sugar indentical to blood sugar was used as a control and given the number of 100. The test food was then assigned a GI depending on how it raised the blood sugar as compared to the glucose control. The GI measures the blood sugar raising “quality” of the food. A GI of 55 or less is considered low; 56 to 69 is moderate; 70 or more is high.
If there was a flaw in the GI findings it was the fact that the GI is based on 50 grams of net carb of each food. For example -- Jelly Beans have a GI of 78. We all know they are almost straight sugar and not exactly a health food; especially if compared to a nice hunk of watermelon or similar fruit. Well, Watermelon has a GI of 76. Hmmmmm. :dizzy: Hence the Glycemic Load (GL) was developed. The GL is simply a mathematical way to equate the GI to normal serving sizes – the formula is GI x net carb in the serving size / 100. Back to the jelly beans and the watermelon. For the JBs, the serving size was determined to be about 1 oz (that’s not a lot; most people want more) and the GL is 22. For the Watermelon, a serving size is about 1.5 cups of cubes (and that’s a good amount for most of us) and the GL is 9. Which do you think would be more filling? The GL considers both “quality” and “quantity”. A GL of 10 or less is low; 11 to 19 is moderate; 20 or more is high.
Tomorrow – Apples and Avacodos – the first of our Magic Foods - finally she's actually going to talk about food ;).
Apples and Avocados
The impact a carbohydrate will have on blood sugar (and consequently it’s GI/GL values) is, basically, determined by the speed with which the carb is digested or broken down into glucose (and other components) to allow for absorption and use in the body. The slower the digestion of the carbs, the lower the spike in blood sugar levels and the more gentle and more gradual the return to normal levels and the lower the GI. The faster the food is digested, the faster the glucose hits your bloodstream; the higher the level spikes, and the faster and deeper it drops again, and the higher the GI.
Obviously the amount of carbohydrate in the food has a big impact on this little roller coaster routine, but numerous other things have an impact too. The first of these -- the amount of Fibre or Fat the food contains -- is well illustrated by our first two MAGIC FOODS –
APPLES – GI of 38/GL of 6 (for an average sized apple) -- contain lots of Pectin, a form of Soluble Fibre. Soluble Fibre binds with the food in the stomach and intestines and slows the rate of absorption and consequently the rate that the carbohydrate in the apple is converted to glucose. Apples have a few other benefits too – they’re loaded with antioxidant flavonoids which are believed to reduce the risks of cancer and heart disease. They really are as good for you as you’ve heard all your life. :yes:
Apple Menu Magic -- For the best bang for your buck, make sure you eat whole unpeeled fruit and steer clear of apple juice. You can add sliced apple to a sandwich; chop an apple into your oatmeal (another Magic Food); mix apple into your yogurt (yep, that’s another one); smear on a little peanut butter (yes; it’s Magic too).
Next on the list -- AVOCADOS – Yes, technically they are a fruit and yes, they are high in fat, very high in fat (but it is mostly good monounsaturated fat). They are so high in fat that neither a GI or GL for them can be measured since they have so little impact on blood sugar levels, and that is pretty unusual for a fruit. This is also true for lemons and limes but for a different reason. (We will get to them :D) For the Avocado it is because Fat empties from the stomach much more slowly than carbs do. Consequently, the higher the fat content, the more slowly the food is digested. Fat does have to be consumed carefully, of course. It’s very high in calories and too much of the wrong kinds of fat may definitely lead to other health problems. Avocados are also very rich in sterols which lower cholesterol and they are packed with vitamins and minerals. Ounce for ounce they have more potassium than bananas.
Avocado Menu Magic – an acceptable serving size for Avocado is about 2 Tbsp, or about ¼ of a small one -- add chunks to salad; mash it and use it as a spread on your high fibre, whole grain (magic food) bread; drizzle it with a little lemon juice (more Magic) and eat it out of hand instead of a hunk of high saturated fat cheese; and of course, the classic Guacamole makes a great dip with any number of (Magic) vegetables.
Next – Barley, Beans, Berries, Bran -- See you later. :wave:
Good Morning . . . It's time for installment 4 . . .
BRAN, WHEAT or RICE – average GI of 19/ GL of 2 per ounce (29 grams). We discussed Soluble Fibre when we talked about apples yesterday. That isn’t the only fibre out there. Insoluble Fibre is one we’ve probably all heard about the most often – good old “roughage”. Insoluble Fibre is the one found in great abundance in most low-carb vegetables and, of course, in Wheat and Corn Bran and those “twiggy” cereals. Insoluble Fibre does not directly slow digestion. It acts like a protective ‘overcoat’ for the concentrated starch of the grain wearing it. The bran resists both water and other liquids including digestive enzymes. Consequently, the starch cannot be broken down as quickly into glucose for digestion. The added benefit, of course, this is the type of bran that helps to “regulate” things in the lower digestive tract. (:o) BRAN, OAT – GI of 50/GL of 9 per ounce (29 grams) – Oat bran has insoluble fibre, but it is a great source of soluble fibre as well and can be used as a cereal, whereas a dish of straight wheat or rice bran would be rather less appealing.
Bran Menu Magic – use oat bran as a binding agent for meat loaf; sprinkle any or all three onto casseroles and use in almost all baked goods. Watch out for commercial Bran Muffins, however – they are loaded with sugar, fat, and calories. :(
BARLEY – GI of 29/GL of 9 for ½ cup (cooked) – we’re back to another powerhouse of Soluble Fibre again.
Barley Menu Magic – it’s not just for sticking in soup, although it is delicious in there. Try it as a side dish instead of sticky white rice (not a Magic food) or use it in salads. Mix it with our next Magic Food. Yum. :D
BEANS (well, actually LEGUMES) – each species is a little different, but they have an average GI of 40/ GL of 8 for ½ cup (cooked). Another powerhouse of Soluble Fibre, with all the benefits we’ve already talked about; beans also pack a great load of Protein. Like fat, protein does not raise blood sugar levels. Protein, as well as slowing the emptying of the stomach, also actually helps your body process the carbs in the meal more efficiently.
Bean Menu Magic – even canned beans are great (but rinse them thoroughly to remove as much salt as possible and to get rid of some of the indigestible (to you) substances that cause your intestinal bacteria to thrive and do a somewhat noisy little ‘happy dance routine’ :rolleyes: If you are using dry beans that must be soaked before you can begin to cook them; discard the soaking water for the same reason. As well as just eating them, plain – use beans in soups, and salads; make bean dip or hummus for snacking with crispy vegetables; they can even be ground into flour and substituted for ¼ to ½ of the regular flour in baked goods. They are amazingly versatile. :yes:
BERRIES – Strawberries, Raspberries, Blueberries, and more – Most have not even been GI/GL tested because their blood sugar impact is so miniscule. Strawberries have been tested (probably because of their popularity) and can be considered representative of the group with a GI of 40/GL of 2 for a full cup. Berries have both soluble and insoluble fibre but, the main reason they are so MAGIC is because their natural sweetness is from Fructose which has very little impact of blood sugar levels. Fructose is much sweeter that ordinary table sugar (sucrose). So it takes much less of it to give that wonderful sweetness we all love so much. As an extra bonus, of course, most berries are very high in vitamin C and other antioxidants that keep your eyes healthy and your brain and memory ticking along in tiptop shape.
Berry Menu Magic – eat them by the bowful, just as nature made them; use them in baked goods; use them in salads; make them into a salsa; use them with skim milk and yogurt in a smoothie – the possibilities are almost endless.
Tomorrow – Broccoli and some close of it's relatives
Eat Your Vegetables . . .
. . . sorry, but you knew we'd have to get there sooner or later, didn't you. ;) Actually, I :love: vegetables -- not as much as chocolate, ice cream, and peanut butter of course -- but I like most of them a lot.
Almost all VEGETABLES are really chock full of MAGIC. Most of them so much so that it’s impossible to measure either their GI or GL. There are a few notable exceptions, of course, and we’ll save the most notable of those POTATOES for inclusion in the Rice and Pasta post. :s:
The book talks about lots of individual vegetables, but I think these are pretty well-known and fairly representative of them all.
Broccoli, Cabbage, and Brussel Sprouts are all very low in calories and high in nutrients that are known to lower blood pressure and lower the risk of certain cancers. They all have loads of that marvellous blood sugar regulating fibre and are also high in vitamin C. Supposedly a half cup cooked, or one cup raw is a serving; but you really can eat them to your health’s content. It’s pretty hard to overdose on these. Cauliflower – is another of the same cruciferous family of vegetables as those already mentioned; but it is one of the lowest vegetables in calories and probably the most versatile of the bunch. A half cup serving of cooked cauliflower packs only 17 calories and, since it also has 2.5 grams of fibre (which cannot be digested); the net calorie and carbohydrate impact is 7 (that’s right, seven) calories – that’s without butter or any cheese sauce of course. :lol:
Menu Magic – all of these are wonderful used to stretch a smallish serving of pasta or rice; you can turn then into a “non-cream-creamed soup” just by cooking in broth with some Magic onions. Cabbage, of course, is famous in coleslaw (hold the high fat dressings) but shredded broccoli stalks are wonderful that way, too; and either (or both) are terrific in omelets. Once again, Cauliflower really shines. It can mimic and thus replace certain high starch commodities like mashed potatoes; rice; and pasta in casseroles. Just cut it in about the same size hunks and replace about half of the starchy stuff with cooked cauliflower and almost nobody will know the difference. Do you have a favourite Shepherd’s Pie recipe? -- top it with mashed cauliflower (no potato at all) mixed with a little yogurt (Magic) and topped with some low fat cheddar. Fantastic taste and fantastic nourishment.
Salad Greens – once again, impossible to measure a GI/GL, and so full of good things it’s downright amazing – Spinach and Romaine and others that are darker green in colour are the best; unfortuntely ice-berg lettuce doesn’t have a lot going on in the nutrition department; but it doesn’t raise blood sugar or contain much in the way of a calorie count either. This is probably a good place to stick Cucumber and Celery, too. Not recommended as items to nourish the body all by themselves, but absolutely wonderful and healthy filler-uppers. It’s hard to overeat any of these. Celery, of course, is often found in soups and stews as well. Celery is, in fact, just about the closest you can ever get to a ‘negative-calorie’ food. A large celery stalk has 2 grams of carbohydrate, almost all of it fibre, and ½ gram of protein – that comes out to about 2 or 3 net calories – and you’ll burn that just chewing and digesting it. :dizzy:
Tomatoes – are really a fruit, but don’t we all tend to think of them as a vegetable? I mean what green salad seems complete without these little powerhouses? An average size tomato has only about 30 calories and is full of vitamin C and lycopene which is a member of the beta-carotene family of antioxidants. As well as eating them raw, tomatoes are great in all sorts of cooked dishes. Even canned tomatoes pack a great healthy wallop (but try to get them unsalted). A few more little tips for best tomato consumption – eat the whole fruit rather than drinking the juice; stay away from Ketchup which is loaded with both salt and sugar; and, never keep them in the refridgerator, it ruins both the flavour and the texture.
Now for some vegetables that bear a little watching when it comes to portion sizes because they contain more calories and do have GI/GL numbers – Carrots, Peas, Beets, and Corn --
When the GI was first developed, Carrots (with a GI of 45 and GL of 2) got a very bad rap and it wasn’t until a lot of re-testing was done and the GL was developed that the real story surfaced. The GL really brought things into the real world. The GI is based on 50 grams of net carb and that’s the amount in about 7 large carrots (most people who are not named “Bugs”, don’t eat that many). A normal serving is more like 1 carrot and with a GL of 2, is definitely on the low list. Peas (fresh) have a GI of 48 and a GL of 3. They have about 4 grams of protein per serving, too. Beets are quite high with a GI of 64, but a GI of only 5 (lots of fibre). Corn, which is actually a grain, has a GI of 48 also, but a GL of 8 and that’s still in the low range. BUT, in each case, serving size now becomes important – those numbers represent ½ cup of cooked product. Eat twice that amount and the GL will double and that starts to move things (especially beets) out of the low range; the GI remains the same since it does not reflect the quantity of the food. These are still ‘good for you’ foodstuffs, but the portion size does count.
And a special word of warning about Parsnips – they have a GI of 97 and a GL of 12 per ½ cup – so cannot be easily recommended as a Magic Food – but maybe they are currently suffering from a misconception similar to that which carrots once had to overcome. :dunno:
Next on the agenda – Potatoes, Rice, and Pasta -- :yikes:
Potatoes and Pasta and Rice -- Oh My!
Well, these three are not exactly good Magic unfortunately – only partly because of their makeup, though. The other (and larger) part of the problem is how we treat them, or to be a little more specific, the quantities in which we eat them.
POTATOES, White, Blue, Yellow, Red – GI of 79 and GL of 16, for an average to smallish potato or ½ cup cooked. That’s about ½ of the average baked potato – do you eat only ½ . . . so let’s call that a GL of 32 for the whole thing. If you remember back to the second post, anything over 20 is considered high. If we ate our potatoes raw, we’d be better off. Cooking of foods results in something called Gelatinization and nowhere is this process more evident than with potatoes. Basically the cooking process starts to pre-digest the food, making it ever so much easier for us to digest it. And for something really awful, there’s Instant Mashed Potatoes (GI/88 and GL/26). Suprisingly enough; some of the things we do to potatoes that increase the calorie load actually decrease the GI/GL. French Fries add a lot of fat to the picture and that slightly reduces the hit on our blood sugar; Potato Chips have even more fat and so much salt its hard to imagine a much less healthy food; but they do have a slightly lower GI/GL level. :dizzy: However, that won't get either Fries or Chips onto the Magic List. :o:
Then there are Sweet Potatoes, a tuber with a GI of 46 and a GL of 11, but again that is for a ½ cup serving so if you eat a whole cup, you are back into the high GL range again. With careful portion control and a light-handed preparation method, they do make the Magic Foods list, though so enjoy them. They will only raise your blood sugar about 70% as high as the white kind; and they are very high in beta-carotene, vitamin C and potassium (more than you’ll find in the average banana).
Menu Magic with Sweets – stay away from the traditional Thanksgiving or Christmas dish with all the butter, sugar, and :yikes: marshmallows. You can enjoy a Sweet Potato just about any way you would enjoy a regular one. If you are currently hooked on mashed potatoes; try subsitituting half Sweets (as you also remove the heavy cream and butter, of course). :)
PASTA, of all shapes and sizes, and including noodles, is actually a far better bet than either Potatoes or Rice—especially if you choose a whole grain type. Various kinds have slightly different GI/GL ratings but they average about a 40 for GI and a 20 for GL. Pasta does make it onto the Magic Foods list. BUT, that’s only for a ½ cup serving. Pasta is meant to be a side-dish; it is not meant to fill the plate and have a couple of meatballs and some red sauce (sometimes high in sugar) thrown on top. I don’t know about you, but to me a serving of Pasta is at least two cups so that means a GL of about 80 – we are talking a granddaddy of a blood sugar high here, gang. Pasta is fine in moderation. If you can’t do the moderation thing, don’t do the Pasta thing. Gelatinization is very important when it comes to Pasta. Make sure to cook it ‘al dente’. What makes it relatively moderate on the GI/GL scales is the fact that it is made from a very hard Durham Wheat, that is harder for the our systems to break down; making it a little slower to digest. Cook it to a really mushy state and both the GI and the GL increase quite dramatically
Pasta Menu Magic – Just about the best thing you can do to temper that glycemic load is to mix your pasta with at least the same amount of any of the vegetables we discussed the other day. Top it with a no-sugar-added tomato sauce, too. Instead of putting the meatballs or chicken or, whatever, on top of the heap; treat the Pasta like what it is meant to be – a side dish. Before indulging in any pasta, make sure you start your meal with a large green salad. And don't forget Spaghetti Squash as a possible replacement for all or part of the pasta you'd normally eat. It's another one of those really Magical Vegetables with GI/GL levels so low that are not even measured. Personally, I like it; but it doesn't taste like the 'real thing' to me. You will feel so self-righteous while you are eating it, though. ;)
RICE – there are some bad ones, and some really bad ones, and some slightly better, almost good, ones. All serving sizes being discussed are ½ cup, cooked, BTW. And, as for Pasta, do not overcook it because of the impact of the Gelatinization. So . ..
The almost GOOD . . . Brown Rice (GI/66 & GL/12) still has it’s bran and germ intact; the bran slows down the digestive process accounting for the relatively low GL. It is a whole grain. Converted Rice (good old Uncle Ben’s) (GI/58 & GL/14). This rice is steamed before being hulled and some of the ‘good stuff’ is forced into the rice grain. Amazing . . . all that hype we’ve been hearing about brown rice and, at least on this one front of Blood Sugar Control, converted white rice is just about the same. :yes: Finally, Wild Rice, which is really not a rice at all but the seeds of a marsh grass (GI/57 & GL/18) is quite chewy in texture and has an earthy kind of flavour. With proper portion control; these three can be included in a healthy eating regimen.
The BAD . . . Basmati Rice (GI/58 & GL/22), grown in the Himalayan Mountains, this is a long grain rice that smells wonderful; but the GL is in the high range. Long Grain White Rice (GI/50 & GL23) is the most common rice used in cooking and the one you’ll find in most frozen/packaged meals and in Chinese Meals, Restaurant or Take-Out. It has had all the bran and germ removed. Not recommended eating if you can avoid them. If you can’t then make sure to practice good portion control.
And, the UGLY . . . Long Grain Quick Cooking Rice; i.e., Instant Rice (GI/87 & GL/29) and it has basically no remaining vitamins and minerals either -- just straight, quickly digested starch. Arborio Rice (GI/98 & GL/31) is the kind usually used for risotto. Cooks fairly quickly and absorbs lots of water without getting too mushy. Jasmine Rice another one with a lovely flower-like aroma but a GI of 109 and a GL of 46 for that measly little half cup . . . No I did not mis-type those numbers :yikes: . . . Obviously these three cannot be recommended.
Tomorrow . . . the staff of life (well, maybe) :s: . . . BREAD
Breads and Breakfast Cereals
We now get to talk about another of the items that cause some foods to have a much higher GI/GL than others – Particle Size – the more finely ground up the carbohydrate is, the more easily we can digest it. It’s almost as though the manufacturing process has started the digestion routines for us. Finely milled flour (and particularly the nutrient stripped and often bleached White Flour) is the perfect example.
Whole Wheat Bread, Stone Ground (GI 59/GL 12) for a small slice. Notice the emphasis is on Stone Ground and small. It is great Magic Food (as bread goes). :yes: Even better is a MultiGrain Whole Grain bread (GI 43/GL 6), but make sure it is really made with Whole grains. Always check the ingredient list not just the wording on the label. However, even that ingredient list can be misleading -- The constant hype over “whole wheat” and the “goodness of whole grains” in our bread and cereal products has now resulted in a new level of horror – Whole Wheat Bread that is just as smooth and doughy as the good old ‘white wall-paper paste’ that kid’s seem to love; and every cereal box you read now yells about the “goodness” of its grains. Oh yes, that wonderful word “whole” may be on the ingredient list; but the small particle size that the grain has been ground down to, still causes a rapid spike in blood sugar levels. Always go for the breads that have a visible graininess to them, if possible. The same goodness is in whole wheat flour too (as compared to white) although by it’s very nature, flour is fairly finely ground. You can definitely use up to half whole wheat for the flour content in just about any recipe. In baked goods , the texture will be a little heavier, of course. One other tip for both whole grain bread and whole grain flour – because the fat (found in the germ) is higher, these are more perishable. Store in the refrigerator or freezer.
Breakfast Cereals -- it’s very difficult to find even one pre-packaged cereal that could be put on any list of Magic foods. The possible exception is All-Bran with GI 34/GI 5 for ½ cup. And similar very twiggy cereals. Even Bran Flakes (GI 74/GL 13) are suspect; and good old Corn Flakes – have a GI of 77 and GL of 20. Believe it or not, Fruit Loops are lower at GI 69/GL18 – in this case the addition of table sugar (sucrose) actually reduces the glycemic impact because sucrose is half glucose and half fructose and (remember our conversation about berries) fructose has very little impact on blood sugar. :no: I’m not recommending pre-sweetened cereals by any stretch of the imagination. :no:
In fact, other than the All-Bran types, about the only cereal that can be placed on the Magic Foods List is OATMEAL. Even with oatmeal, you do have to be careful. Particle Size makes a big difference, here. Steel Cut Oats are best at GI 52/GL 11, for a one cup (cooked with water) serving size; but they do take a very long time to cook. Old-Fashioned or Large Flake Oats at GI 58/GL 11 for the same size serving are almost as good and cook in about half the time. You’ll find a couple of increasingly more finely cut varieties out there, too and they get progressively higher in Glycemic Impact as the particle size gets smaller until we come all the way down to Instant Oatmeal (which is almost just dust) with a GI of 87 and GL of 17 and that’s for the absolutely plain kind (which is hard to find) with no sugar and no flavourings added. The more common kinds have up to 4 tsps of sugar per serving.
For a little additional Menu Magic with Rolled Oats – you can grind them in your food processor and turn them into a course flour-like consistency that can be used to extend white flour (substitute up to ½) or as a coating for fish or chicken. In baked goods, they add a natural sweetness that actually allows for less sweetener, too.You can also use them in meatloaf instead of bread crumbs. One of my favourite things is the High Protein Pancake recipe that shows up in many places around 3FC. Delicious and wonderfully healthy. Also so simple – about ½ cup of each of Rolled Oats, Egg Whites, Light Cottage cheese (all Magic Foods) – whir around in the blender and cook like any other pancake in a non-stick pan – top with fresh or stewed fruit. I like to make a quick fruit topping to keep in the fridge by combining, in a large dutch oven, a 600 gram bag of each of frozen rhubarb, frozen strawberries, and frozen blueberries (all Magic, too). After everything thaws, stir in about ½ cup of Splenda and simmer gently for about an hour. Also makes a great topping for fat free, unsweetened Yogurt which is, of course, another Magic Food.
Next – Milk, Yogurt, and Cheese.
Milk, Yogurt, and Cheese
MILK – Some call it “Nature’s most nearly perfect food”; others think it is only meant to nourish baby cows. This not the place for that debate. ;)
From the point of view of blood sugar control, Milk is definitely a Magic food. It is fairly low in carbohydrate and pretty high in protein and that’s a combination that is both filling and perfect for stabalizing blood sugar levels. Fat Free (Skim) Milk has a GI of 32 and a GL of 12 for an 8 oz glass and it’s rich in calcium and vitamin D. If you are one of those who cringes at the thought of “blue-milk”, try making the changeover gradually by going first from whole milk to 2% to 1% and finally to FF. You really do need FF to reap all the wonderful Magic benefits because the fat in regular milk is the artery-clogging and insulin-resistance aggrevating, saturated kind.
YOGURT – again we are talking fat free and GI/GL levels about the same as FF Milk, too, -- the unsweetened, natural kind, not only has all the same benefits as FF Milk, but also contains some gut-friendly bacteria that ferment it to give it the distinctive yogurty taste. These bacteria also feed our own intestinal bacteria and keep them healthy too. Those intestinal bacteria in turn boost our immune system’s ability to fight disease – more than 70% of our natural immune defenses are located in the digestive tract. Yogurt can go a long way to reducing diarrhea, and constipation, and helps to fight colon cancer and (as an added bonus), women who eat yogurt regularly, get fewer yeast infections.
Yogurt Menu Magic – I :love: yogurt – as well as just eating it; you can use it in place of sour cream in baked goods and dips; you can bake with it; use it to replace half the mayonnaise in salad dressings; turn it into a cooler or smoothie by blending it with some Magic fruit. One of my favourite non-recipes – mix about 2 tsps of Splenda and 1 tsp of dry, unsweetened cocoa powder into a cup of yogurt and you’ve got chocolate ice cream (well almost). :lol:
CHEESE – Although made from milk, you do have to be very careful with the serving sizes for this Magic Food, because it takes 10 pounds of milk to produce 1 pound of cheese and all the saturated fat is left for us to absorb and so are the calories. The good part is that the calcium remains, too. Try to choose Low Fat cheeses whenever possible and keep serving sizes in control. One ounce of cheese is a serving. That’s a little hunk about the size of two dice or a scant ¼ cup shredded. Low Fat Cottage Cheese is also a great protein food and even the 1% tastes pretty good. I personally do not like the almost totally fat-free kind; but that might just be me. :shrug: Do read the nutrition information panel carefully, though, different brands of cottage cheese seem to show quite a variance in their sodium levels.
Menu Magic with LF Cheese -- try to get as much flavour for your calories as possible by choosing sharp cheddar and feta types. They are great in an omelet or on a salad where a little goes a long way. LF cheese is difficult to melt because it does tend to get a little rubbery and stringy. Use lower heat and stir constantly for a longer time. LF Mozzarella usually works fairly well though. LF String Cheese is a great snack stuffed into those very Magic celery sticks and we talked about the Magic High Protein Pancakes, yesterday. Yum.
Next – some carb-free Magic Protein Foods – better known as Eggs, Meat, Poultry, and Fish
Eggs, Beef, Chicken, and Fish
Obviously we are not talking about carbohydrates here, so no GI/GL numbers to look at . . . :lol: . . . all of these are considered Magic Foods for other reasons than just that they do not spike blood sugar levels. They are definitely good for you foods, but that doesn’t mean you should get too carried away with them. They do have calories.
EGGS – 75 calories and 5 grams of fat in a large egg; the rest is protein – they are the gold standard against which all other protein sources are measured – Why? – because they contain all the essential amino acids that your body cannot manufacture and in the exact proportions required. Okay, so what about cholesterol? Yes, an egg contains about 213 grams of cholesterol in the yolk, along with about 2 grams of saturated fat and 3 grams of unsaturated fat. Eggs had a very bad rep for years because of that. More recent studies show that it’s more the amount of saturated fat that you eat that raises your cholesterol, not the cholesterol that you eat. Still, most experts recommend no more that 3 or 4 egg yolks a week. The really Magic part of the egg is actually the white, that’s where all the protein is. So practice a little restraint with the yolks, but you can eat the whites to your (and your heart’s) content. BTW, eggs keep best in their original containers, pointy end down; so avoid storing them in those cute little door racks some refridgerator manufacturers insist on giving us. ;)
BEEF (and other red meats) – are great protein sources but once again, serving size is important – about 3 to 4 ounces or the size of your palm is good. From the Blood Sugar point of view, Beef is very high in conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) that helps to stabalize blood sugar. Obviously, as well as portion size, you have to control the high fat cuts and those are, of course, the ones that are naturally marbled with all that artery-clogging saturated fat. Unfortunately :dizzy: those are the cuts that are also the most naturally tender. The best cuts (healthwise) are often referred to as the “Skinny Six” -- (a) eye of the round, (b) top round, (c) sirloin, (d) bottom round, (e) top loin, and (f) tenderloin. Try marinating the less tender cuts and cooking them with moisture and for a longer time at a lower heat. A crock-pot does a marvellous job of tenderizing the toughest cut of meat. Try to stay away from Rib Eye, Prime Rib, and T-bone. Now, as for Ground Beef . . . try to get the leanest you can find, but remember that even the 93% to 95% lean kind still has a pretty hefty dose of saturated fat and also remember that the percentage mentioned on the label is of weight not of calories – a 100 gram (3.5 ounces) serving of 93% lean ground beef contains about 63 calories of fat and about 372 calories of protein so almost 15% of the calories actually come from the fat. PORK has been dubbed the “other white meat” (although it really falls into the ‘red’ family) because the leanest cuts --like tenderloin -- are almost as low in saturated fat as Poultry. So don’t avoid it because of the connection to the word “pig”. :lol: It really is a good source of lean protein . . . make sure you trim off any extra fat and be careful not to overcook it or you get shoe-leather. LAMB – is probably the first meat eaten by mankind and it is definitely a good protein source, especially the leaner cuts. Lamb has the advantage of not being marbled with fat so as long as you cut off all the visible fat you are getting something at least as lean as the leaner cuts of beef. Mutton (sheep over a year old) is even leaner but most people do not enjoy it. To me, it tastes like somebody forgot to remove the wool. :s:
CHICKEN and TURKEY as a lean protein source, these birds are way above the cows, pigs, and sheep; and not just because they have wings. :lol: That 100 gram serving of beef tenderloin (one of the lean cuts) has 95% MORE saturated fat than the same amount of skinless chicken breast; and skinless turkey breast is even lower. The operative words here are “Breast” and “Skinless”. No matter what the cut, always remove the skin because that is where the majority of the fat is located and remember that the dark meat is higher in fat than the white. A boneless chicken breast is like a blank canvas, just waiting for your imagination to turn it into a wonderful, and healthy lunch or dinner. Try using ground turkey or ground chicken for meatloaf or meatballs instead of beef – yes, the ground stuff is usually higher in fat than the breast (unless you grind it yourself), since it contains a fairly high proportion of the darker meat, but it’s generally stilll a lot lower in fat than even the lowest ground beef.
FISH and SEAFOOD – When it comes to Magic Foods; the underwater world is your best pick – as well as being very low in calories most are very high in Omega 3 fatty acids which really help to fend off heart disease. The best sources are the fattier fin-fish, like Salmon and Albacore Tuna and Sardines – all are good even canned but stay away from the heavy sauces and the oil-packed varieties. Shellfish -- Shrimp, Lobster, and their Crabby and Clammy friends – are some of the lowest fat proteins around and the majority of the fat they do contain is again that wonderful Omega 3 kind. Yes, it’s true most crustaceans do contain more cholesterol than fin-fish; but an average 100 gram serving of rich tasting lobster, shrimp, or crab actually contains less cholesterol than is found in a single egg yolk. Once again, you can use the canned varieties, but make sure they are water-packed and well rinsed. And, of course, for all fish and other seafood – all good can be quickly undone by a little finely ground flour or cracker crumbs – and skip the drawn butter with the lobster, too.
Spices, and a few other miscellaneous items – are on the agenda for tomorrow.
Once again I would like to thank you for taking the time to post this interesting and useful information!! Maybe if I read the Eggs, Beef, Chicken and Fish portion often enough I won't feel "guilty" when I eat red meat any more!!
A little note on sleep post. I find that information very interesting and believe it is true. About the same time I began my weight loss/lifestyle change endeavor, I was finally tested for sleep apnea. Which ( although no suprise to me) I tested positive. I have snored like a freight train as long as I can remember, no matter what my weight has been. When my CPAP was "perscribed" my doctor said to me, "This might actually help you with your weight loss efforts." I have to say I have never had such an easy time staying on plan. I really don't have cravings anymore. Maybe it is because I am eating healthier, no prepackaged "diet" meals, no artificail sweeteners, eating a well balanced diet (not cutting out any one group like carbs or fats), and maybe it is because for once in my life I am actually sleeping well. But I know I feel better now than I have at anytime in my life....even when I have been at a normal weight.
Recently I started working on my "leptin levels". After watching a 60 min episode on how when sleep or sleep quality is diminished, a hormone called leptin drops. This hormone was linked to appetite and satiety in a well controlled sleep study. Very cool and eye opening-- or closing-- stuff.
So, in addition to working on cutting out refined foods and getting more exercise, I am also trying to get more sleep, hoping it will be one more piece in the lifestyle improvement puzzle! :)
Thanks to both of you . . . think I'll ask my doctor to send me for sleep apnea testing. I know I snore and wonder just how much of my waking up throughout the night is actually due to that rather than a full bladder and then once I'm awake I discover I could stand to go to the bathroom. :dunno: . . . and I'll also look around for some more information on Leptin -- all I honestly know about it is that it's kind of the opposite of Ghrelin (not sure how to spell either one) and that one (the ghrelin) is the "gremlin" that makes you think you are hungry.
A few Miscellaneous Things
Spices/Condiments, and a few other good things :yes:
SPICES – are all very low in both the GI and GL – especially since a little goes a long way. Three spices in particular -- Cinnamon, Fenugreek, and Turmeric – are reputed to have blood sugar lowering capabilities. Turmeric is the spice that gives mustard it’s familiar bright yellow colour. It contains high levels of curcumin (as does cumin) which is an antioxidant known to help prevent blood sugar surges. Try using good old yellow mustard as your bread-spread (whole-grain bread, of course) of choice. Much more blood sugar, and calorie, friendly than butter/margarine/mayo. Fenugreek not only mimics insulin in the body but one study also points to it being able to prevent the absorption of fat. It also packs an amazing amount of fibre into a very small package. Good old Cinnamon also is said to mimic insulin’s ability to help glucose enter the muscle cells; although, of late, some authorities are questioning this. Since cinnamon is very sweet tasting, it can also help reduce the amount of sugar or other sweetener you desire in baked goods or anywhere else you choose to use it -- on your Magic Old-Fashioned morning Oatmeal, for example.
GARLIC and ONIONS – both are pretty low in the GI/GL department and in the calorie department; but extremely high in flavour levels. And both help to lower bad cholesterol and raise good cholesterol. In Chinese medicine, they are used for their ability to reduce cancer risk and both are also thought to reduce the swelling (and hence, the pain) of arthritis and to preserve bone and consequently lower the risk of osteoporosis. Amazingly enough, the more tears that onions cause while you are chopping them, the more sulphur and flavonoids (the disease fighting bits) they contain. Try chilling them for an hour or so and always leave the root end in tact until you’ve chopped as much as possible because that’s where the strongest concentration of the eye-burning compounds is located.
OLIVE OIL – in the world of Magic Foods, this is liquid gold, It is the Mother-lode of good fat, does not increase blood sugar levels at all (in fact, it can lower the GL of everything you use it with). Olive Oil (and the Olive) contain an anti-inflmatory substance so strong it is likened to aspirin in its effect. Chronic inflammation is closely linked to heart disease, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s. BUT, Olive Oil is a FAT and a Tablespoon of it does have about 120 calories, about the same as all other oils and spreads (like butter and margarine) so don’t go too far overboard.
COFFEE and TEA (of all colours) – are actually good for you – both contain higher levels of healthy antioxidants than almost any other substance we eat or drink. However, both do contain caffeine and Coffee has about twice the caffeine levels of tea. In some people caffeine can cause a blood sugar spike so try making the switch to de-caf. When it comes to Tea, forget the hype that only green contains the EGCG that has the ability to enhance insulin activity and thus provide blood sugar control. All colours of tea contain these antioxidants, although some may be of a different strain. Skip the milk, though, because it can bind with the EGCG making up to 90% of it unavailable to the body.
NUTS and SEEDS – are also very good for you – while having virtually no adverse effects on blood sugar levels even though they do contain carbs and have varying, but relatively low, GI/GL levels. They contain amazing amounts of protein and fibre, and very high antioxidant levels. Flaxseed in particular is very high in lignans and in Omega 3 fatty acids. It is better served ground because whole flaxseeds tend to pass through the body totally undigested. Most other seeds (Pumpkin, Sunflower, Sesame to name three of the healthiest) can be broken down in the body and therefore can be eaten out of hand as a snack. BUT . . . do watch that serving size; seeds are another high-calorie food. Try to stick to about 1 Tbsp. Out of hand is just about the best way to eat most NUTS, too. Just about all nuts contain high levels of protein and good fats (the exception is Macadamia Nuts which have a high saturated fat content and for that reason do not make the Magic list). All Nuts are also high calorie and about 1 oz (29-30 grams) is definitely it for serving size. Since nuts vary so much in size an ounce is about – 20-24 Almonds; 9-10 Brazil Nuts; 16-18 Cashews; 18-20 Hazelnuts; 8-11 Walnuts. Try nuts or seeds sprinkled into your salad.
PEANUTS and PEANUT BUTTER – Peanuts are technically a legume not a nut because they grow underground and nuts grow on trees; but from the point of view of nutritional benefit, they rank up there with the nuts although they do contain slightly higher carbohydrate levels. They are still very high in fat, protein, and fibre – all of which keep the carbs from adversely impacting blood sugar levels. A serving of peanuts is considered to be about 40. Peanut Butter :drool: -- afraid this is a terrible trigger food for me – and I have to avoid it; but for those capable of ‘portion control’ it is a wonderfully Magic, Magic Food. Since it’s “invention”, generations of children have practically been raised on peanut butter. The combination of good fats and high protein once again work their blood sugar controlling Magic and this stuff is also great for avoiding heart disease, high blood pressure, and for building strong bones and reducing the risk of gallstones. Again, try to stick to a 1 Tbsp serving because of the high calories and stick with the “natural” kinds that consist of nothing but squashed peanuts – read those labels, :( most commercial PB contains added sugar (often in the form of HFCS), added salt, and added trans-fats (partially hydrogenated vegetable oil) to prevent separation. And, don't just think of it on crackers or toast -- it's fantastic on apple slices or stuffed into celery.
Next – Soy Products
Although Soy Products have been getting a little bad press lately – because of how they tend to raise estrogen levels since they contain some estrogen-like properties – they are still one of the most Magic Foods around.
Soy Beans have a GI of 14 and an amazingly low GL of 1 for a ½ cup serving, cooked. For starters, Soy has more protein, by volume than lean beef and almost none of the saturated fat. It also contains good fats, loads of fibre, and cholesterol lowering plant sterols (although it’s impact on lowering cholesterol has proven to be not quite as strong as was once thought). It is still very ‘heart healthy’ and can lower the risk of kidney disease and several cancers. As an added bonus, because of those same estrogen-like compounds (isoflavones), it tends to ease the most famous of the menopausal symptoms; hot flashes.
There are so many different soy products; all displaying the same beneficial effects and approximately the same GI/GL level.
Edamame are fresh green soybeans available shelled or in the pod or frozen. You can eat them raw (just the beans; not the pods) but mostly they are served steamed (again, no pods) with a little salt and pepper as a side vegetable. Mature Soybeans can be bought canned. You can rinse them thoroughly and add them to casseroles, soups, stews, and chili like any other legume/bean. Soy Nuts are mature beans that have been roasted and salted and are usually eaten as a snack (they are higher in calories, though). Soy Milk (the creamy liquid pressed out of cooked soybeans) can be used in place of cow’s milk – as a beverage or a smoothie base. Tofu is to soybeans as cheese is to cow’s milk. It is the curd portion of the bean and is said to take on the taste of anything it is mixed with, making it an extremely versatile addition to meal planning. It comes in various textures ranging from “silken” which is the softest to “extra firm” and can be used to replace part of the cheese or cottage cheese in lasagna and other dishe; or can be used in place of the meat in stir fries, stews, curries, and salads. Tempeh is made from fermented soybeans and formed into a chewey cake or sold pre-crumbled as TVP (texturized vegetable protein). This is the source of vegetarian favourites like “hamburger” and “ground round” substitutes. Great in soups and pasta sauces and chili.
Everyone should be able to find one or two that they like. My personal choices are the fresh edamame and the tempeh ground beef substitutes.
Tomorrow -- the most amazing MAGIC of all -- IMHO anyway. :D
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