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Blood sugar shopping list

Carrots - Which foods have low-GI - Women's Health & Fitness

Which foods have low-GI? David Goding investigates.

You’ve no doubt seen the signs: low-GI is the new low-fat, with food manufacturers slapping the claim on everything from quick rice to fortified breads. Trouble is, the glycaemic index of a standalone food means little. It’s the overall composition of a meal that matters: white bread with a truckload of chicken breast has a lower glycaemic index than white vegemite toast.

Likewise, wholegrain sourdough loses its charm when you pile it with honey. Rolled oats may be changed depending on the type of milk and toppings. The other gotcha is labelling.

What is considered low-GI?

Under Food Standards Australia New Zealand’s (FSANZ) labelling criteria, any product with a glycaemic index of 55 or less on a 100-point scale can be labelled ‘low GI’. As such it’s futile to obsess over counting the GI of every food you buy; a better approach is the looser rule of including all macros in each meal or snack. But having a bit of a clue can help avoid blood sugar crashes. Stick this in your green bag.

The scale

LOW <55: Slowly raises blood sugar and keeps it stable

HIGH >70 Causes a rapid spike. Prepare for the subsequent crash

Fruit and vegies - Blood Sugar Shopping List - Women's Health & Fitness

Fruit and vegies

Fruits and vegetables span the GI spectrum, depending on their starch and sugar quotient. The fibre in many fruits helps to slow glucose absorption, reducing the GI.

Broccoli, spinach, lettuce (15); carrots (35); apples, grapefruit, pears and oranges (40); peaches, dates and prunes (<50); peas, parsnips and yams (50).


The scale

LOW <55: Slowly raises blood sugar and keeps it stable

HIGH >70 Causes a rapid spike. Prepare for the subsequent crash


Grains - blood sugar shopping list - Women's Health & Fitness

Not all grains are good when it comes to GI. You want whole grains, not processed grains (beware the tricky marketing hype).

Pearled barley, converted rice and whole-wheat kernels (all <40); wheat pasta (42); wholegrain bread (51); bran cereal and rolled oats (55).


The scale

LOW <55: Slowly raises blood sugar and keeps it stable

HIGH >70 Causes a rapid spike. Prepare for the subsequent crash


Dairy - blood sugar shopping list - Women's Health & Fitness

Reduced-fat and fat-free options generally have a lower GI than full-fat cousins, but beware the low-fat trap. It’s not uncommon for manufacturers to make up for the mouthfeel and flavour of fat with sugar or questionable artificial sweetening agents (see what we mean about the big picture?).

Skim milk (32); reduced-fat yoghurt with fruit (33); full cream milk (41).

Note: cheeses, except those crammed with glace fruit, are almost carb-free and not included in the scale.


The scale

LOW <55: Slowly raises blood sugar and keeps it stable

HIGH >70 Causes a rapid spike. Prepare for the subsequent crash

Juices- Blood sugar shopping list - Women's Health & Fitness


Juice gets its bad rep from the removal of fibre, which means the sugar component (fructose) hits your bloodstream in one fell hit. But some juices are surprisingly low on the GI scale.

Tomato juice (38); unsweetened apple (44); unsweetened orange (50); juice cocktails and juices with added sweeteners (>60).

The scale

LOW <55: Slowly raises blood sugar and keeps it stable

HIGH >70 Causes a rapid spike. Prepare for the subsequent crash

Beans - Blood Suagr Shopping List - Women's Health & Fitness


Beans, Nuts and Legumes
The golden children of blood sugar, these babies do the balancing for you, with inbuilt carb-protein ratios that favour steady blood sugar and satiety. They all come in admirably low on the GI scale but for a real coup, try peanuts or soybeans.

Peanuts (7); soybeans (15); kidney beans, lentils and cashews (20 to 30); black-eyed peas, black beans, canned chickpeas and navy beans (30 to 40).


The scale

LOW <55: Slowly raises blood sugar and keeps it stable

HIGH >70 Causes a rapid spike. Prepare for the subsequent crash




Tuna steaks with orange & watercress salad

Looking for healthy lunch ideas? Try this fresh, healthy salad recipe.

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 3 medium oranges

  • 1 tbsp olive oil

  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar

  • 1 tsp minced crystallised ginger

  • or fresh ginger

  • ½ tsp ground coriander

  • ½ tsp aniseed, chopped

  • or crushed, divided

  • ½ tsp kosher salt, divided

  • Pinch of cayenne pepper

  • 450–570g tuna steaks (about 2.5 cm thick), cut into 4 portions

  • ¼ tsp freshly ground pepper

  • 1 cup loosely packed tiny watercress sprigs or leaves (2–2.5 cm long)


Peel oranges with a sharp knife, removing all peel and white pith. Working over a medium bowl, cut the segments from the surrounding membranes and let them drop into the bowl. Squeeze the peels and membranes over the bowl to extract all the juice before discarding them. Gently stir in oil, vinegar, ginger, coriander, quarter teaspoon aniseed, quarter teaspoon salt and cayenne. Set aside.

Position oven rack 13–15 cm from the broiler; preheat to high. Cover a broiler pan with foil. Season tuna with the remaining quarter teaspoon each aniseed, salt and pepper. Place on the prepared pan. Broil for about two minutes per side for medium-rare, four minutes per side for medium or to desired doneness.

Stir watercress into the orange mixture. Slice the tuna, divide among four plates and top with equal portions of the salad. Serve immediately.

Nutritional info: Energy: 550kJ; Protein: 29g; Carbs: 35g; Fat:  3g; Fibre: 15g; Salt: 195mg; GI: Low

Browse more healthy salad ideas>>



Grapefruit smoothie

Grapefruit has a high concentration of lycopene, a phytochemical that reduces the effects of free radicals.

It will naturally boost your immune system, flush toxins, feed vital organs and cleanse you from the inside out.

Ingredients (serves 1)
*    1 grapefruit, peeled and quartered
*    4 strawberries, hulled and sliced
*    2 avocados, peeled, pitted and flesh cut into chunks
*    1 handful of parsley
*    1 handful of mint
*    4 ice cubes
*    250ml coconut water


Put all the ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. For a thinner juice, add more coconut water.

kJ  2421 | Fat 47.9g | Carb 25.6g | Protein 6.3g

Recipes and images from Supercharged Food: Eat Yourself Beautiful by Lee Holmes, published by Murdoch Books, RRP $35.00.

NEXT: Mango and strawberry smoothie>>


Chicken burritos

Looking for healthy dinner ideas? We love these tasty chicken burritos.

Ingredients (serves 2)

  • 1 avocado

  • 1 tomato, finely diced

  • ½ red onion, diced

  • Cajun seasoning

  • 4 pieces (150g each) skinless chicken tenderloin

  • ½ cup red/yellow/green capsicums, sliced

  • 4 small low-fat corn tortillas

  • 1 cup baby spinach leaves

  • Spray olive oil


Scoop out the avocado and mash into a bowl. Add the tomato and onion and mix thoroughly.  

Sprinkle the Cajun seasoning over the chicken. Heat a frypan to medium heat and lightly spray with olive oil. Place the chicken and capsicum in the frypan and cook for approximately three minutes on each side. Set aside.

Heat the tortillas for a couple of minutes in the oven or frypan.

Place the avocado mixture and baby spinach leaves on the tortillas and top with the chicken and capsicum.

Recipe from Light & Delish magazine, published by Blitz Publications & Multi-Media Group.

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Tomato, mozzarella and basil skewers


A light entrée that’s perfect for summer!

Ingredients (serves 16)

  • 16 small fresh mozzarella balls

  • 16 fresh basil leaves

  • 16 cherry tomatoes

  • Extra-virgin olive oil, to drizzle

  • Coarse salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste


Thread mozzarella, basil and tomatoes on small skewers. Drizzle with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.


Recipe from Light & Delish magazine, published by Blitz Publications & Multi-Media Group.

NEXT: 13 healthy summer salads>>



11 smart snack swaps

Handbag-friendly snacks that satisfy those 3pm sugar cravings.

Coca-cola - healthy swaps - Women's Health & Fitness

We ask food experts Dr Joanna McMillan, Lyndi Polivnick, Nicola Moore and Larina Robinson for guilt-free snack alternatives.

Coca Cola, 600ml
1080kJ, 0g fat, 63.6g carb, 0g protein, 63.6g sugar


Zevia Cola soda, 355ml
0kJ, 0g fat, 7g carb, 0g protein, 0g sugar

Our experts say: “If you really want a soft drink, then this is about as good as I’ve seen. No artificial sweeteners – it just uses stevia and sugar alcohol erythritol. This might upset some people’s gut, but otherwise this is a good choice,” Dr McMillan says. 

Kettle chips - Healthy food swaps - Women's Health & Fitness

Kettle Chips Sweet Potato, Beetroot & White Sweet Potato, 45g
945kJ, 14.5g fat, 22.3g carb, 1.7g protein, 11.3g sugar, 236 mg sodium


Loving Earth Red Kale Chips, 35g
828kJ, 15.8g fat, 6.9g carb, 5.6g protein, 3.9g sugar, 349 mg sodium

Our experts say: “A delicious way to get more greens into your day,” Robinson says. “Kale is rich in fibre and vitamins A, C, K and iron. With 5.6 g of protein per serve, this is a highly nutritious snack option.”

Nestle milkybar - healthy snack swaps - Women's Health & Fitness

Nestle Milkybar, 50g
1165kJ, 17g fat, 24.1g carb, 3.8g protein, 24.1g sugar


Aussie Bodies ProteinFX Lo Carb Mini Bars Cookies and Cream, 30g
450kJ, 3.2g fat, 1.9g carb, 9.1g protein, 1g sugar,

Our experts say: “The small portion size of Aussie Bodies ProteinFX Lo Carb Mini Bars means that you get around nine  grams of protein without too many additional calories. Protein bars can be a great snack for active individuals as they are convenient and help keep you fuller for longer,” Polivnick says.

Allen's snakes - healthy food swaps - Women's Health & Fitness

Allen’s Snakes Alive, 13g (one snake)
185kJ, 0.1g fat, 10.1g carb, 0.7g protein, 6.4g sugar


Double D Aussie Gummy Bears, 10g
155kJ 0g fat, 0g carb, <1g protein, 0g sugar

Our experts say: While these won’t fill you up, Dr McMillan says, “If you must have a lolly, these are about as good as they come.” Polivnick’s on side. “This portion-sized pack is the perfect treat for sugar lovers.” Artificial sweetener maltitol can have a laxative effect if you overindulge, so stick to the recommended portion.

Crisps - healthy snack swaps - Women's Health & Fitness

Samboy Salt & Vinegar, 45g
954kJ, 13.4g fat, 24.1g carb, 2.9g protein, 0.9g sugar, 635 mg sodium


Slim Secrets Guilt Free Chips Salt & Vinegar, 40g
592kJ, 1.2g fat, 26.3g carb, 4.3g protein, 1.6g sugar, 366 mg sodium

Our experts say:  “They’re lower in saturated fat and sodium than competitors, with a serve of fibre and protein,” Polivnick says.  Dr McMillan agrees. “These are much lower in fat than regular potato chips, and the fat present comes from olive oil, which is good. However, they do have four additives present, so those with sensitivities might want to avoid these.”


Big-M chocolate milk - healthy snack swaps - Women's Health & Fitness

Big M Chocolate Milk, 300ml
879kJ, 5.4g fat, 30.3g carb, 9.6 protein, 29.7g sugar


Up & Go Vive, 250ml
697kj 3.8g fat, 22.5g carb, 9g protein, 13.5g sugar
Our experts say: “If you absolutely must snack and run, these are at least low-GI and provide many nutrients as well as fibre,” Polivnick says. “For busy, active people, Up & Go can be a healthy breakfast option.”

Arnott's Premier Chocolate chip biscuit - Women's Health & Fitness

Arnott’s Premier Chocolate Chip Biscuit, 14.8g
315kJ 3.8g fat, 9.4g carb, 0.8g protein, 5.6g sugar


Nairns Dark Chocolate
Chip Oat Biscuits, 25g
183kJ 1.7g fat, 6.4g carb, 0.7g protein, 2.2g sugar
Our experts say: These Scottish IGA-stocked biscuits are among Dr McMillan’s pet snacks. “They do make lovely oatcakes but also sweet oat-based biscuits. They should still be occasional, but are certainly better than biscuits made with white flour.”

Cadbury chocolate - snack swaps - Women's Health & Fitness

Cadbury Dairy Milk
Chocolate Bar 50g bar
1110kJ 14.8g fat, 28.5g carb, 4g protein, 27.8g sugar


Sweet William Sweet As No Added Sugar White Strawberry Chocolate, 25g
575kJ 8.4g fat, 5.9g carb, 1.2g protein, 2.5g sugar
Our experts say: If you’re not sensitive to sugar alcohols and stevia as a sweetener (which can have a laxative effect), this is a preferable option for a choccie hit without the added sugar.

Doritos corn chips - healthy snack swaps - Women's Health & Fitness

Doritos Corn Chips, 50g
1085Kj, 13.5g fat, 29.4g carb, 4.5g protein, 1.3g sugar


Cobs Natural Slightly Salted, Slightly Sweet Popcorn, 30g
595kJ, 6g fat, 18.9g carb, 1.9g protein, 8.4g sugar
Our experts say: “Popcorn is a great alternative to chips,” says Polivnick. “Cobs Natural Popcorn is a delicious alternative that is low in sodium and in portion-controlled packs, helping you limit your daily energy intake.”

Uncle Tobys chewy muesli bar - food swaps - Women's Health & Fitness

Uncle Tobys Chewy Muesli Bar Choc Chip, 31.3g
565kJ 4.6g fat, 20.1g carb, 2.3g protein, 5.7g sugar


Nakd Cocoa Delight Bar, 35g
567kJ, 5g fat, 17g carb, 3g protein, 15g sugar
Our experts say: “Nakd bars are made from nuts and fruit, natural sources of nutrients like fibre, unsaturated fats and protein, making them a great choice in my book,” Polivnick says. Dr McMillan agrees. “Simple and natural with an appropriate 567kJ per bar.”

Arnott's Tim Tim chewy caramel - healthy snack swaps - Women's Health & Fitness

Arnott’s Tim Tam Chewy Caramel, 19.4g
405kJ, 4.6g fat, 12.7g carb, 1g protein,
9g sugar


Slim Secrets Crème Caramel Low Carb Fit & Fab Mini Protein Bar, 28g  
414kJ, 2.8g fat, 1g carb, 9.3g protein, 0.9g sugar
Our experts say: “With less than 100 calories and 9.3g of protein per serve, Slim Secrets Crème Caramel Fit & Fab Mini Protein Bars pack a nutritional punch,” Polivnick says. “A great snack for after an intense workout. The high protein content will help keep you feeling fuller for longer.”

Banana- Golden rules of snacking - Women's Health & Fitness


1. Fruit is still top pick as an inexpensive, convenient and great snack option.

2. Enjoying a wide variety of colourful foods in your diet is the best way to ensure you are getting all the nutrients your body needs.

3. Before eating, consider whether you are really hungry. Listen to your body rather than eating by the clock.

4. Snacks help you manage hunger until your next meal; they don’t replace it.

5. Don’t assume that all foods in the health food aisle are nutritious.

NEXT: Browse more healthy eating tips>>



Grilled swordfish salad with beet-carrot slaw

This grilled swordfish salad is packed full of omega-3, vitamin C and iron.


  • 1 lemon, sliced

  • 570g swordfish, skinned

  • 3/4 tsp salt, divided

  • 6 sprigs fresh tarragon plus 2 tablespoons finely chopped, divided

  • 5 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

  • ¼ cup lemon juice

  • 1 tsp whole-grain mustard

  • ¼ tsp freshly ground pepper

  • 2 heads butterhead lettuce, torn

  • 1 large beet, preferably golden 
or Chioggia, shredded

  • 1 large carrot, shredded

  • Cooking spray


Preheat grill to medium.

Measure a piece of foil large enough to hold the fish and lightly coat it with cooking spray. Place a layer of lemon slices on the foil and lay fish on the lemon slices. Sprinkle with quarter teaspoon salt and top with tarragon sprigs.

Grill the fish on the foil (without turning) until it flakes easily, 12 to 20 minutes, depending on the thickness. Meanwhile, whisk oil, lemon juice, chopped tarragon, mustard, pepper and the remaining half teaspoon salt in a bowl.

Toss lettuce with about quarter cup of the dressing in a large bowl; divide among four plates. Add beet and carrot to the bowl; toss with two tablespoons of the dressing.

Divide the fish and slaw among the plates (discard the tarragon sprigs and lemon slices). Drizzle with the remaining dressing.

Nutritional info: Energy: 1090kJ; Protein: 30g; Carbs: 10g; Total fat:  20g; Fibre: 4g; Sodium:  595mg; GI:  Low

Browse more healthy recipes>>



Supercharged breakfast bars with FSA

Lacking energy? These healthy breakfast bars will pep you up in no time.

Ingredients (makes 8)
➜    Unsalted butter, for greasing
➜    125g almond meal
➜    Pinch of Celtic sea salt
➜    1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
➜    60ml coconut oil
➜    60ml rice malt syrup, or sweetener of your choice
➜    1 tsp alcohol-free vanilla extract
➜    40g cashews, crushed
➜    160g combined flaxseeds, sunflower seeds and slivered almonds
➜    40g dried cranberries (optional)

➜    Preheat the oven to 175°C. Grease a 20 x 20 x 5 cm square ovenproof tin.
➜     Mix the almond meal, salt and bicarbonate of soda together in a bowl.
➜     In a separate bowl, combine the coconut oil, rice malt syrup and vanilla. Add the almond meal mixture, and mix in the nuts, seeds and cranberries, if using.
➜     Wet your hands and then transfer the mixture to the tin, using your hands to press down firmly on the mixture.
➜     Transfer to the oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes.
➜     Remove from the oven, transfer to a wire rack and cool before dividing into eight bars and serving.
➜     These will keep in an airtight container for seven to 10 days.


These can easily be popped into a container for a mid-morning energy hit, plus they’re bursting with skin-saving omega 3s.

Recipes and images from Supercharged Food: Eat Yourself Beautiful by Lee Holmes, published by Murdoch Books, RRP $35.00.

kJ 1346 | Fat 27g | Carb 17.3g | Protein 7.7g

NEXT: Healthy chocolate balls>>