Asia Pacific J Clin Nutr (1993) 2, 111-114
Glycaemic index of some commonly
consumed foods in western India
U.V. Mani MSc, PhD, FICN, B.M. Prabhu MSc, S.S. Damle MSc and I. Mani MSc, PhD*
Department of Foods and Nutrition
MS University of Baroda; *Alembic Chemical Works Baroda Gujarat, India.
- Glycaemic index (GI) was determined in 36 non-insulin-dependent
diabetes mellitus (NIDDM) patients.
- The subjects were fed 50g carbohydrate portions
of six foods consumed widely in India including Varagu (Plaspalum
scorbiculatum) alone and in combination with whole and dehusked
greengram (Phaseolus aureus Roxb), Bajra (Penniseteum typhoideum),
Jowar (Sorghum vulgare) and Ragi (Eleusine coracana).
- The GI of Varagu alone, Varagu in combination
with whole greengram and Bajra was significantly lower than that
of Ragi which produced a glycaemic response equivalent to that
of the glucose load.
Diet is considered to be the cornerstone in the management
of diabetes mellitus and more so in the case of noninsulin-dependent
diabetes mellitus (NIDDM) in which the primary derangement is of carbohydrate
metabolism, with secondary abnormalities of lipid and protein metabolism.
Dietary management of diabetes involves the reduction of postprandial
hyperglycaemia and good glycaemic control. The concept of glycaemic
index (GI) emerged as a physiological basis for ranking carbohydrate
foods according to the blood glucose response they produce on ingestion,
and was introduced by Jenkins et al. (1981)1. Few foods,
traditionally consumed by the Indian population, have been tested
for their glycaemic response. Dilawari et al. (1981)2,
Akhtar et al. (1987)3 and Mani et al. (1990)4
have studied the glycaemic response to cereals and a few legumes and
dals (dals are dehusked and split legumes). The diet of the rural/tribal
population of India is predominantly cereals and millets (coarse cereals)
which provide 80% of the total energy. Further, information regarding
the GI of millet-based foods is scanty. Hence, the present study was
planned to determine the GI of six millet-legume/dal combinations
that are important in the diet of rural areas of India.
Thirty-six confirmed NIDDM patients over 40 years
of age and on oral hypoglycaemic drugs were selected for testing the
glycaemic responses of the recipes. The clinical data of the subjects
is given in Table 1. On the first visit, the patients were subjected
to an oral glucose tolerance test using 50g glucose load. Blood glucose
was determined by the O-toluidine method of Hultman (1959)5
in fasting and postprandial 1 hour and 2 hour venous blood samples.
Serum triglycerides were determined in fasting and 2-hour postprandial
blood samples by the method of Foster & Dunn (1973)6.
On a subsequent visit (within 2 weeks), the patients were given a
test food containing 50g (available) carbohydrate which was consumed
over an 8-10 minute interval. The composition of the foods as determined
by the food tables compiled by Gopalan et al. (1979)7 is
given in Table 2. Blood glucose response and triglyceride were again
monitored for the different groups fed different foods. Blood glucose
response curves for the glucose load and the test food were plotted
and GI was calculated using the method described by Jenkins et al.
(1981)8 in which the ratio of the areas under the glucose
response curve for the food was compared with that of the GTT. The
TG response was calculated by finding the per cent increase in mean
TG value over mean fasting value for each group.
Table 1. Clinical data of the diabetic patients.
|Number of patients
|Mean age ± SD (years)
|Mean % ideal body weight
|Mean duration of the
disease ± SD (years)
Table 2. Composition of foods.
||Phaseolus aureus Roxb
||+ Phaseoilus aureus
The six recipes tested were Varagu (Paspalum scorbiculatum)
(R1), Varagu in combination with greengram dal (Phaseolus
aureus Roxb) (R2), Varagu in combination with whole
greengram (R3), Bajra (Penniseteum typhoideum) (R4),
Jowar (Sorghum vulgare) (R5) and Ragi (Eleusine
coracana) (R6). Recipes R1, R2 and
R3 were pressure cooked at 15 lb pressure for 12-15 minutes
using 400ml water. The whole greengram in R3 was presoaked
for 12 hours and then cooked with Varagu. Recipes R4, R5
and R6 were given as roasted bread, made from Bajra, Jowar
and Ragi flours respectively. Salt and spices were added to all recipes
to enhance palatability. No oil was added in any of the recipes.
The glycaemic response at various time points after
each test food and after the glucose load, was statistically compared
using a paired t-test. Anova was used to compare glycaemic index values
among the test foods.
The GI values obtained for the foods are given in
Table 3. The GI of R3-Varagu (Paspalum scorbiculatum)
R3Varagu in combination with whole greengram (Phaseolus
aureus Roxb) and R4-Bajra (Penniseteum typhoideum)
were found to be significantly lower than that of R6-Ragi (Eleusine
coracana) which elicited a glycaemic response equivalent to that
of the glucose load. Table 4 represents the mean value± SEM of blood glucose responses to a 50g
glucose load as well as the various test foods. No significant difference
was observed in the blood glucose response after each of the foods
at the 1 hour and 2 hour postprandial levels when compared with the
corresponding blood glucose response to the 50g glucose load for the
Table 3. Glycaemic indices of the recipes.
||Glycaemic index (%)
(Mean ± SE)
||Varagu (Paspalum scorbiculatum)
||Varagu + Greengram dal
(Paspalum scorbicultam + Phaseolus aureus Roxb)
||Varagu + Whole greengram
||Bajra (Penniseteum typhoideum)
||Jowar (Sorghum vulgare)
||Ragi (Eleusine coracana)
(Note: significant difference at p<0.05 between
the glycaemic indices for the six different recipes by one-way ANOVA.)
Table 4. Mean (± SE) blood glucose response (mg/dal).
||Postprandial 1 hour
||Response 2 hour
|Glucose(n = 6)
+ Greengram dal(n = 6)
+ Greengram whole(n=6)
(Note: non significant on comparing a with b at p<0.05.)
However, when a comparison was done of the means of
the glycaemic indices of the various recipes it was seen that there
was a significant difference between the glycaemic indices for the
six different recipes.
Crapo et al. (1977)9 have shown repeatedly
that there are varied metabolic responses to different starches. These
differences in postprandial physiological outcome are attributed to
various factors such as dietary fibre content of food, food-processing
methods (such as polishing of grains, grinding, extrusion under pressure
and cooking by different methods like baking, roasting, steaming,
etc.), other food components such as anti-nutrients (phytates, tannins,
lectins, etc.) that retard the amylase activity and the chemical nature
of starchy polysaccharides, eg amylose or amylopectin, all of which
might affect the rate of digestion. Understanding the role of these
factors can be of help in identifying foods for their suitability
for inclusion in a diabetic diet. Very little information is available
regarding the GI of millets and the study determined the GI of some
millet-based foods that are widely consumed in western India.
Dietary fibre exerts a hypoglycaemic effect in patients
with diabetes mellitus. By virtue of its viscous nature, soluble dietary
fibre can retard the rate of digestion of starchy polysaccharides
and can also lower the rate of absorption of the mono- and disaccharides.
A study by Jenkins et al. (1978)8 showed that the dietary
fibre galactomannans in legumes and dals (dehusked and split legumes)
are more viscous than the fibre content of cereals and millets. Legumes
have a higher fibre content than dals (dehusked legumes) and this
may explain the lower GI of R3-Varagu (Paspalum scorbiculatum)
in combination with whole greengram (Phaseolus aureus Roxb)
as compared to the GI of R2-Varagu in combination with
greengram dal. However, R4-Bajra (Penniseteum typhoideum)
as the lowest GI of the test foods in spite of its lowest fibre content
suggesting the presence of some other factor influencing GI. A study
by Mani et al. (1985)10 on the effect of supplementation
with wheat bran and blood glucose response to different breads were
shown to have found little effect in decreasing hyperlipidaemia in
diabetic rats and humans.
The phytin phosphorous content of the test millets
is high and its presence may affect digestion. Other antinutrients
such as lectins, saponins and tannins, may also influence the glycaemic
response. R6-Ragi (Eleusine coracana) interestingly elicits
a glycaemic response equivalent to that of the glucose load. The ground
ragi flour used in the recipe may be the reason for this since studies
by Mani et al. (1992)12, Cannon & Nuttall (1987)13,
and Wong & O'Dea (1983)14 have shown that decreasing
the particle size of a food produces a higher glycaemic response.
Since studies by Cerami et al. (1987)15 and Reaven (1987)16
have shown that diabetes mellitus brings about alterations in
lipid metabolism, the TG responses to the food were also determined.
R4-Bajra (Penniseteum typhoideum) elicited the highest
mean per cent increase in TG over the fasting value and this may be
related to its higher fat content: R4 - 40%, R1
& R3 - 31%, R2 - 34% and R5 &
R6- 27%. Further, the TG responses do not correlate with
the glycaemic responses.
This study shows that traditional meals consumed in
rural areas of India vary in their glycaemic impact. Some, such as
'Ragi', are a glycaemic index similar to an equivalent load of glucose.
Others, such as 'Bajra' with a low GI, may play a useful role in the
management of hyper- glycaemia in diabetes.
Acknowledgments--Part of the data reported in this 10 communication has been presented
at the 32nd Annual 11 Meeting of the American College of Nutrition
in Florida, USA, 1991.
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Copyright © 1993 [Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical
Nutrition]. All rights reserved.
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