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Pass on the bread and rolls.... Unless...

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Terri R.
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Joined: 21 Apr 2004
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Location: So. Calif.

PostPosted: Mon Nov 15, 2004 5:23 pm    Post subject: Pass on the bread and rolls.... Unless... Reply with quote

Your choice of bread may have a lot to do with whether or not you become overweight or develop type 2 diabetes.

Researchers at the Cancer Council in Victoria, Australia, didn't set out to study bread. The original scope of their study was designed to examine associations between type 2 diabetes risk and the intake of different kinds of food. The foods were evaluated by using the glycemic index (GI).

Foods that are classified as low GI (such as most fruits and vegetables) prompt a slow increase in blood sugar levels, while high GI foods (such as processed baked goods and starchy foods) produce a quick spike in blood sugar levels. A steady intake of high GI foods promotes a gradual insensitivity to insulin the precursor of type 2 diabetes.

As reported in the journal Diabetes Care, the Australian team studied the medical records and eating habits of more than 36,700 men and women over a period of four years. The subjects' ages ranged from 40 to 69 years at the outset of the study, and none had been diagnosed with diabetes. More than 360 cases of type 2 diabetes were identified by the end of the study period. The data confirmed that a diet with a high GI rating was associated with an elevated risk of diabetes. More specifically, the researchers singled out white bread as the one food most strongly related to the development of diabetes.

Not all whole grain breads are created equally. Many of the whole grain breads that line grocery store shelves consist of mostly white bread with a little coloring added to give them a whole grain look. And according to a recent study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, it's well worth your time to read nutrition panels carefully to make sure the bread you buy is genuinely whole grain.

A research team lead by the Harvard School of Public Health used periodic questionnaires to follow the dietary habits of more than 27,000 men for eight years. The subjects measured and reported body weight at the beginning and end of the study. Unlike the Australian study, this research specifically examined the intake of whole-grain, bran and cereal fiber.

The Harvard team found that subjects who consumed the most whole grains tended to have the lowest weight gain. This association held true even when added bran or fiber intakes fluctuated. So while it's not a surprise that whole grains would turn out to be a healthier choice than highly processed flour products, the researchers concluded that "additional components in whole grains may contribute to favorable metabolic alterations that may reduce long-term weight gain."

In addition to helping regulate weight, true whole grain breads also contain enough fiber to inhibit blood sugar spikes. That's why whole grains tend to rate low on the glycemic index. And there's one more clear advantage to choosing a genuine whole grain bread over a white bread: Whole grains don't trigger carbohydrate cravings.

This is one of the worst aspects about foods with a high GI: They actually make you hungrier than foods with a low GI. As a result, you end up eating more. And if the foods you're eating more of are high GI, you're caught in a vicious cycle that can only lead to weight gain and all of the other problems that come tagging along as the pounds increase.

The solution is to become aware of the GI value of the foods you eat, and a web site operated by the University of Sydney now makes that very easy to do. The site (glycemicindex.com) provides a GI Database where you can search for the glycemic index of different types of food. The slight drawback for those of us in the U.S. is that the database is sometimes specific about brand names, which are mostly Australian and European. Nevertheless, the database still offers an excellent guide for making low GI dietary choices.
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