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 The Low Carb Luxury Online Magazine  
    May 2005    Page 8       > About LCL Magazine     > Cover Page      > Inside Cover    Feature Pages:   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   11  12  13  14     


Feature Articles
 Beat The Monday Blues
 The Cholesterol Myth
 Make it Low Carb!
 Great Low Carb Ice Creams
 Spring Redecorating!
 Just Say Cheese
 Glycemic Index vs Load
 Low Carb Grows Up!
 Dreamfields Readers' Forum
 An Open Letter to My Mother
 The Weight Loss Alphabet
 The Story of Mother's Day
 Soothing Sounds of Music
 Teach Your Children Well



  InStone Low Carb Pudding

    Low Carb Grows Up by Kantha Shelke

                                                 "Even if you're on the right track,
                                             you'll get run over if you just sit there."
                                                                              Will Rogers

The end of the first quarter has a lot of people wondering: Whatever became of Atkins and South Beach — the diets that helped many lose weight easily and gain good health? Their dietary recommendations, based on medical principles intended to prevent and treat identifiable illnesses, had become mainstream labels for the last two years, largely due to the successful experiences of people everywhere. In addition to losing weight, consumers had become conscious of what their foods contained. Searching labels for carb counts became as routine as looking for its price.

According to global market researcher ACNielsen, the sales of "low carb" foods have declined (LabelTrends). Both unit and dollar volume were down by more than 10% in the 4th quarter of 2004. Key consumer insight gleaned — consumers found it difficult to follow the diet with manufactured "low carb" products.

"Low Carb diets," as designed by Dr. Atkins and Dr. Agatston, were never meant to be wholly and exclusively for weight loss. They were meant to be a way of selecting food choices to impact overall health and well-being. The underlying principle was to remove simple carbohydrates from one's diet and to develop a conscious way to select foods on the basis of their nutrient content and their impact on one's physiology.

According to NPD's 2004 Carbohydrate Consumption study, people who report health problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol at above average rates, are consuming fewer carbohydrates. These consumers are obviously driven by their health problems to select the diet. And they stay on when they see results.

At the other end of the spectrum, blood sugar spikes from high carbohydrate consumption can cause surges of insulin, which could encourage the growth of tumors, according to the Journal of the National Cancer Institute (2004).

Enter Glycemic Index (GI) — the concept was originally conceived to help diabetics regulate their blood sugar levels. It helps them understand the impact of carbohydrates from individual foods on their blood sugar, as compared to the impact of digesting pure glucose (which enters our blood stream almost instantly) or white bread (which produces glucose surges in our blood equally instantly).

Europe — whom we often regard as superior in culinary and nutrition sophistication — has already embraced the concept of GI and allows for the index to be posted alongside the nutritional information on processed food packaging. American food companies are waking up and discussing GI as the next big trend for the masses in their boardrooms and product development labs.

Scientific research from Harvard School of Public Health indicates that the GI of the overall diet is strongly related to risks of Type 2 diabetes and coronary heart disease. The evidence was strong enough for World Health Organization (WHO) and Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to recommend that people in industrialized countries base their diets on low-GI foods in order to prevent coronary heart disease, diabetes and obesity — the most common diseases of affluence.

Here's how the Glycemic Index works:

Carbohydrates are ranked — on a scale from zero to 100 — based on their immediate effect on blood glucose levels. High levels of sugar in the blood lead to the production of insulin, a hormone that causes the body to store excess carbohydrates as fat. One downside to using GI — the GI of a food is not a calculated number — it has to be measured in a laboratory. Also, consumers don't eat foods individually and this raises the second difficulty — of calculating food combinations since GI can be affected by what else is being consumed and a whole number of other factors. Portion size affects the amount of glucose produced in the body.

The GI concept has gotten people to understand that foods are multi-faceted and food selection requires conscious decision making and more effort than the mere straightforward sum that they had been misled into believing. To adopt the GI system consumers have to learn about Glycemic Load (GL) — a concept that provides a measure of total glycemic response to a food or meal and takes the quantity of "available carbohydrates" into account.

In food, available carbohydrates, i.e. starch and sugar, provide energy; components such as fiber do not. A typical American diet contains about 100 GL units per day. This concept becomes clearer when one considers the GI and the GL of some of the common foods — as shown in the grid published in the July 2002 issue of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The table "Revised International Table of Glycemic Index (GI) and Glycemic Load (GL)," lists GL first and then, the GI. For example, (8,42) for Kellogg's All-Bran cereal means a glycemic load of eight and a glycemic index of 42.

What matters most is that people who follow a low GI diet tend to lose weight and researchers are discovering that lowering the GI of a diet can reduce the amount of LDL, or "bad" cholesterol.

The FDA never authorized the use of the term "low-carb" and is now immersed in an engaged conversation with the public and private sectors to define "carbohydrates." Like its northern counterpart, Health Canada, the FDA still does not recognize GI ratings of foods. Further, they don't acknowledge that the GI concept is actually proven to help those with diabetes select foods that are best for their day-to-day health, and that it can serve as a tool to help mainstream shoppers in their fight to lose or maintain ideal weight and improve heart health.

So, while the FDA works to find the "meaning of carbohydrates," savvy food companies are forging ahead to demystify the GI concept for consumers. Expect to see packaged food which lists GI numbers, support services on the Internet, and even on cell phone services on GI matters.

Stay tuned next month for a look at manufacturers of tasty healthful foods that are also good for your health!
                                                     Kantha Shelke
                                      Kantha Shelke, Ph.D.
                                      Consumer Insights & Ingredients R&D Editor
                                      Food Processing magazine (
                                      Wellness Food magazine (

Kantha Shelke is a principal at Corvus Blue LLC, a Chicago-based firm that specializes in competitive intelligence and expert witness services. The firm helps businesses and professional organizations in the health and wellness sector to focus on what matters most. Kantha also serves as the Consumer Insights and Ingredient R&D editor for Food Processing, Wellness Foods, and Food Creations magazines. For additional insights write

Copyright © May 2005  Kantha Shelke and Low Carb Luxury
Photography copyright © 2005 Neil Beaty.



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