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Low GI Foods: The Breakfast of Champions
One of the keys to controlling blood sugar may be your choice of breakfast foods. Researchers believe that eating breakfast foods with a low glycemic index (GI) can help prevent a spike in blood sugar during the morning hours and the effect may last until after the next meal of the day.
During a presentation at the Institute of Food Technologists' Wellness 12 meeting, researchers from Purdue University described research that found that low glycemic breakfast foods can increase feelings of satiety and fullness. As a result, people may eat be less likely to overeat during the day and blood sugar spikes can be prevented.
The glycemic index is a numerical scale from 0 to 100 that is used to indicate how high and how fast a food can raise a person's blood sugar level. Low GI foods typically cause a gradual and moderate rise in blood sugar and are considered healthier, particularly for people with diabetes. High GI foods are digested quickly and cause high fluctuations in blood sugar, possibly raising it to dangerous levels for those with diabetes. There are several factors that can affect a food's GI score, including the type of fiber and starch it contains.
The presenters focused specifically on the effects of adding almonds to the breakfast meal. Almonds fall on the low end of the GI scale. In a study published last year, people who ate breakfast that included almonds felt full longer and had lower blood sugar concentrations after both breakfast and lunch compared to those who started off their day with a breakfast of high GI foods. An additional benefit is that people tend to eat less during the day when a low GI food is added to the diet, potentially a help for those struggling with their weight.
About 30 percent of people do not eat breakfast one to three times a week. Cold cereal and eggs are the most popular breakfast food among those who eat breakfast. According to the presenters at the IFT meeting, the ideal breakfast meets these characteristics: savory, portable, pleasing texture, filling for an extended period of time, satiates quickly, affordable, not fried, and delicious.
While this is quite a tall order for food manufacturers, it is worth the effort to develop these types of products because of the prevalence of diabetes and pre-diabetes, not only in the United States but around the world. By 2030, it is estimated that over 16 percent of the global population will have a problem with blood sugar levels.
Breakfast foods that have a low GI include whole grain breads and cereals like whole wheat toast or oatmeal, eggs, yogurt without added sugar, fresh fruit, tea, coffee, and nuts.You can view the glycemic index for common foods here.
April 24, 2012