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Low GI diet best for type-2 diabetics: study

A study led by Dr. David Jenkins of St. Michael’s Hospital and University of Toronto shows that foods with a low glycemic index (GI) manage blood glucose levels better than high-fiber diets.

Toronto, December 18, 2008

Dr. David Jenkins Dr. David Jenkins (Photo credit: Michelle Gibson)

A study led by Dr. David Jenkins of St. Michael’s Hospital and University of Toronto shows that foods with a low glycemic index (GI) manage blood glucose levels better than high-fiber diets.

“At a time when the incidence of Type-2 diabetes is likely to double in the next 20 years, any information that refines how we can manage this disease better is welcome,” says Dr. Jenkins.

The glycemic index measures how quickly food is absorbed by the body. Low glycemic foods are digested slowly and do not cause spikes in blood glucose levels. Examples of low glycemic foods include beans, peas, lentils, pasta, parboiled rice and breads like pumpernickel and flaxseed.

Low GI diets also produced other health benefits. “Our study shows that a low-GI diet can also minimize the risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease,” explains Dr. Jenkins. The low GI diet also improved levels of the healthy HDL cholesterol, which tends to be low in patients with Type-2 diabetes.

The study, published in the December 17 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, assessed the effects of a low–glycemic index diet versus a high–cereal fiber diet on glycemic control and cardiovascular risk factors for 210 patients with Type-2 diabetes. The participants, who were treated with antihyperglycemic medications, were randomly assigned to receive one of the two diet treatments for six months.

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