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NHF Approves US$62,000 For Study To Identify Glycemic Indices Of Common Jamaican Foods – To Support Control Of Diabetes In Jamaica

NHF Approves US$62,000 For Study To Identify Glycemic Indices Of Common Jamaican Foods – To Support Control Of Diabetes In Jamaica

The National Health Fund has approved a grant of US$62,100 for a Study to be conducted by the Scientific Research Council (SRC), to create a Glycemic Index (GI) database of commonly eaten Jamaican foods and to develop low GI food products from selected food crops having low GI values.

Glycemic Index is a classification of carbohydrate foods based on their potential to raise the blood sugar levels when consumed. Diabetics in particular should take the GI indices of foods into consideration in order to control the spikes in blood sugar levels after a meal. Foods with high GIs would spike the blood glucose levels considerably and affect the control of diabetes. Using the GI concept has therefore been accepted as an excellent nutritional management guide for diabetics, since diabetics who maintain their blood sugar under tight control best avoid the complications from this disease such as damage to the nerve, kidney and eye.

Dr. Audia Barnett, Executive Director of the SRC says, “It is expected that elucidating the GI of carbohydrate-rich Jamaican foods will assist health care professionals, diabetics, obese individuals, athletes and other health conscious persons in Jamaica and the wider Caribbean in optimal nutritional management and also in effectively maintaining normal blood glucose levels and prevent postprandial spikes.”

In addition Dr. Barnett notes that one of the major dietary challenges that diabetics in Jamaica encounter, compared to diabetics in developed countries, is the limited variety of foods available for consumption. “The development of low GI foods from our own Jamaican crops will significantly alleviate this burden and enhance the quality of life of persons affected by diabetes,” she says.

The Study which is being undertaken in collaboration with the University of the West Indies is now underway and is expected to be completed in twenty-four months. Two (2) root crops, eight (8) fruits and seven (7) vegetables will be examined.

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