The key, is knowing how to tell the difference between “good” fats and “bad” fats, and then apply this knowledge to the concept of a low GI diet. By including good essential fatty acids with our meals, we tend to slow the rate at which a meal is digested or absorbed into the bloodstream, and in so doing, lower the GI of the overall meal.
It’s now well known that “good fats” or essential fatty acids (EFA’s), play a very important role as part of a healthy diet and are important for the functioning of all cells in our body. Essential fatty acids support
- Heart health
- Immune function
- Cognitive function
- Hormone function
- Joint health
- Weight loss
- Skin & hair
The “good” or beneficial fats are the unsaturated fats, either monounsaturated or polyunsaturated, which come from plant sources such as nuts, seeds, and some fruits such as olives and avocadoes. Medium chain fatty acids, which are most prolific in coconut oil and coconut products, are also not to be overlooked. They’re metabolised differently, and are digested and absorbed quickly. They’ve been attributed with many health giving properties, so be sure to include good quality coconut oil in your diet.
The “bad” fats, on the other hand, are mainly the saturated fats derived from animal sources. “Transfats” or “hydrogenated” oils and fats are another category of fats to be totally avoided. Hydrogenation is a way of processing oils so that they can be used in the production of processed foods to extend their shelf life. Hydrogenated fats are damaging, as our bodies are incapable of breaking them down. Read the labels of all packaged foods, and if you see the words “transfats” or “hydrogenated” leave them on the supermarket shelf! They have no place in a low glycemic diet!
What to Include in Your Low GI Diet
Enjoy the vast array of delicious oils available to you – they’re really all very different in taste, and are wonderful additions to your salads or meals. Experiment and you’ll find your favourites. The most important thing, however, is to choose oils which are fresh, cold pressed, and extra virgin where available. The taste difference is very noticeable – as is the nutritional content! And remember to keep them in the fridge, too!
- Olive oil
- Coconut oil
Both are very stable at high temperatures, so great choices for cooking. Have both on hand to enjoy the benefits of each.
Salad Oils – so many to choose from!
- Olive oil
- Walnut oil
- Macadamia Oil
- Sesame oil
- Pistachio oil
- Flax seed oil
- Coconut oil
Nuts and Seeds
These are a nutritious addition to any low GI diet. They’re high in protein and EFA’s so include them in snacks, salads, or meals. Enjoy a small handful daily. If you haven’t tried any of the following lately, enjoy some soon! Just remember to rotate your choices to benefit from the varied nutrient and EFA combinations in each.
- Brazil nuts
- Sunflower seeds
- Pumpkin seeds
- Pine nuts
- Flaxseeds / linseeds
In my book they rate a special mention! They’re a powerhouse of nutrition – so use them on your wholegrain breads as a spread instead of butter or margarine!
So stock up the pantry on healthy oils today! Avoid the mass produced supermarket varieties if you can – choose fresh, local, cold pressed – and taste the difference. They’ll help you appreciate the lifestyle of a low GI diet.