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Eat low-GI foods during Ramadan
June 29, 2014, 1:05 pm

With Ramadan here, it is important to pay attention to your meal planning for Iftar and Suhour. After breaking your fast, you must eat in a manner that allows your body to deal with the food in an easy way.

One of the most effective ways to keeping your body happy is to pick foods with Low Glycemic Index. In other words, eat foods that will not raise your sugar levels dramatically as that can place stress on your system. A glycemic index (GI) is the value obtained by monitoring a person’s blood sugar after eating a food. The value varies slightly from person to person and from one type of food to another.
But generally, a food is said to be low GI when the value is 55 or less. A food with High GI has a value of 70 or more. For instance, High-GI foods are watermelon (80), dates (103) and honey (58 GI medium).

It’s always advisable to eat a low-GI diet as much as possible, but you need not to eliminate high GI foods altogether. The trick is to avoid eating high GI foods. Alternatively, combine them with low GI foods, which will give you an intermediate GI, overall. When you are fasting, your metabolism slows down and calories requirements drop. With a low budget of calories, you need to invest them in the best sources to gain maximum benefit. Avoid empty calories that have no nutritional value.

The lower the GI, the slower the food is converted to sugar and the longer it satisfies your hunger.  To help your body cope and perform well through the day, eat more fibre-rich food at Suhour. This will keep you feeling full for a longer time. To be alert throughout the day and concentrate at work, eat a high-protein diet at Suhour.

Selecting low GI foods helps maintain normal blood sugar, minimises hunger pangs, satisfies appetite and optimises brain power and mental focus during the day. If you cannot avoid eating high GI food such as white rice (GI 87), balance it with grilled chicken or vegetables. The other rule to observe before embarking on a fast is to avoid eating foods high in sodium such as canned or processed foods and pickles as they will make you thirsty.

Is all this talk of high and low GI foods intimidating you? Don’t worry, it’s not at all complicated. You do not need to know the glycemic index of all foods to take a sensible middle path. Follow the rule of thumb that all vegetables are low GI foods – between 10 to 47 GI.

Read about the good low GI choices on this page.

Fruits: They are hydrating as well as nourishing. Watermelon can help summer fasting. The fruit is mostly water and sugar and is packed with essential rehydration salts magnesium, calcium, sodium and potassium so it can actually hydrate you more effectively than water. Other fruits for these long days of summer are: oranges, berries, grapefruit, cantaloupe, coconut water, pineapple, grapes and mango. Eat at least 2 to 3 fruits everyday.

Brown rice: The difference between brown rice and white rice is not just the colour. Brown rice is packed with a double punch of being a concentrated source of fibre and selenium and eating it reduces the risk of colon cancer. Whole brown rice (rice bran oil) reduces LDL (bad) cholesterol. Its beneficial role is also seen in metabolic syndrome, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and bone health.

Eggs: An excellent Suhour meal, they are high in protein to keep us full, and in choline (a water-soluble nutrient) to boost brain health and memory.

Fibrous vegetables: These help increase the feeling of fullness. Broccoli, lettuce, spinach, cabbage, peas, beet root, carrots, corn, cauliflower, peppers, cucumber – all pack a punch of antioxidants, phytochemicals with a range of health benefits. At least 3 to 4 servings of vegetables should be eaten every day.

Fish: A rich source of protein as well as healthy fats, EPA and DHA, which is not only heart-healthy but also helps boost concentration during the fasting hours, also found in walnuts and flaxseeds.

Buttermilk: This cooling drink is known to reduce body heat during scorching summers. It’s a thirst quencher and prevents dehydration, a rich source of calcium, phosphorous, B12, protein, potassium. Easily digested, it also populates the digestive system with good bacteria, preventing digestive troubles and enhancing the immune system during the fasting days.

Soups: Great for Iftar. They are hugely refreshing and nutritious – a quick shot of thirst-slaking liquid with hunger-relieving solid nutrition that prepares the body and soul for the prayers that follow, before the proper evening meal. It helps restore water and mineral balance in the body after the long hours of fasting.

Chicken: A major source of lean and high quality slow-digesting protein to keep us full, it also provides a broad spectrum of nutrients. It is a rich source of B vitamins specially B3 and B6, supports the immune system, alleviates depression and keeps the blood sugar in the normal range, and is rich in selenium which plays a role in preventing cell damage.

Walnuts: They contain almost twice as much antioxidants as an equivalent amount of any other consumed nut. Walnuts contain several antioxidants not found in other nuts. The anti in- flammatory effects of omega-3 reduces risk of heart disease, prevents and treat prostate and breast cancer.

Oats: High in fibre and a great choice for Suhour. The fibre in oats will help prevent constipation and stomach upset during fasting. A filling smoothie would be with whole banana (magnesium and potassium), yogurt (protein), almonds (vitamin E and healthy fat) and oats (fibre and whole gain).

Dates: The Iftar staple. The body’s immediate need at the time of Iftar is to get an easily available energy source in the form of glucose for every living cell, particularly brain and nerve cells. Dates are good source of sugars. They contain a unique blend of glucose and fructose and have a very high potassium content (about 64 per cent more than bananas), a key rehydration mineral. They have a nutrient called beta-D glucan which is a soluble fibre that has health benefits and can increase the feeling of fullness.



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