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GI Labs is proud to display the most recent issue of our newsletter, GI Review.


In this issue of GI Review, we focus on pulses and their properties. Hear from Dr. Julianne Curran, Vice-President of Food and Health at Pulse Canada, about why the United Nations has designated 2016 the Year of the Pulse. Nutrition News summarizes recent developments in clinical nutrition research, and Industry Briefs presents relevant market research data about consumer attitudes and purchasing patterns related to the healthy food industry..

Volume 10 Issue 1     |     |     Winter 2016


Dr. Julianne Curran


2016 is the International Year of Pulses. Read the interview with Dr. Julianne Curran, Vice-President of Food and Health at Pulse Canada, to learn more about pulses and their applications in the food and research industry.

Why was 2016 designated the Year of the Pulse?

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) designated 2016 the International Year of Pulses (IYP) to increase public awareness of the contribution of pulses to global health, nutrition and sustainable food production. The aim of IYP is to encourage connections throughout the food chain that would lead to increased production and consumption of pulses in both developed and developing nations, while also addressing challenges in the trade of pulses.

What are the health benefits of pulses?

Pulse consumption has demonstrated a broad range of health benefits in the scientific literature including beneficial effects on blood cholesterol levels, blood pressure, gut health, weight loss, satiety, and anti-cancer properties. However, the body of evidence in each area varies in terms of number of studies, pulse types (i.e. beans, lentils, chickpeas) and forms that have been studied (i.e. whole cooked pulses versus processed flours and fractions). The largest body of evidence related to a health effect that exists for pulses is that of their impact on post-prandial glycemic response of pulses. There is also a large number of studies that have demonstrated the cholesterol-lowering effects, but most have tested either a mixed pulse diet or specifically beans.

What role do pulses play in the global diet and how do you see that changing, particularly in North America?

Pulses are a source of plant-based protein. However on a global basis, dietary protein comes predominantly from cereals and from animal based foods. Pulses contain 2-3 times the amount of protein as wheat, corn and rice. Compared to animal based foods, pulses are low in saturated fat and are very high in fibre. For reasons of affordability, cultural acceptability, environmental sustainability, nutrition, and health, pulses are well suited to become a more prevalent food choice in diets around the world.

What is some of the new research being explored for pulses and their applications?

Pulses and their applications are currently being explored at many research institutions.

  • The Culinary Institute at the Red River College in Winnipeg, MB is exploring pulses in egg-free bakery products from muffins to meringues. Expanding knowledge on pulses in egg replacement will help bakeries market to those with egg allergies, while also countering the rising cost of eggs.
  • The University of Saskatchewan is testing pulses in meat patties and sausages to increase moisture retention, improve texture and shelf-life, with some cost-saving benefits to manufacturers. The aim of pulse inclusion is not only to help extend the meat, but also enhance the sensory experience and value of processed meat products.
  • The Canadian International Grains Institute (CIGI) is investigating the impact of pulse flour inclusion on the Glycemic Index of breakfast cereals and snacks. They are also looking at the impact of different pulse processing techniques on the nutrition value and health impact (glycemic response) of food products made with the pulse flours.
  • Researchers in China are reformulating rice noodles, a national staple, with pea flour for improved protein quality and health properties like lowering of blood sugar levels.
  • University of Saskatchewan is testing the potential to use pea protein as an ingredient in capsules for natural health products. Pea would replace gelatin which would make the capsules vegan friendly.

    For resources, click here.


    Scientific Consensus Statement from the ICQC on carbohydrates published

    The scientific consensus statement on carbohydrates by leading nutrition scientists around the world was published this past fall. The statement recognized the importance of postprandial glycemia in overall health and the GI as a valid and reproducible method for classifying carbohydrate foods, with particular implications for the prevention and management of diabetes and coronary heart disease.
    pdf View Article

    Particle size affects satiety in emulsions

    Researchers have found that after study participants drank emulsions containing smaller oil droplets, they consumed 12% less food than after drinking isocaloric emulsions with larger oil droplets. These preliminary findings may have significant implications for the production of satiety-enhancing drinks.
    pdf View Article

    Sugar-sweetened beverages associated with hypertension

    A recent meta-analysis, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and co-authored by GI Labs President Dr. Thomas Wolever and Director of Research Dr. Alexandra Jenkins, found that the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages is associated with a modest risk of developing hypertension.
    pdf View Article


    Weight management continues to be top priority to Americans

    According to the Hartman Group Inc.'s Health and Wellness 2015 Report, weight management is the number one health condition concerning American consumers. 58% of consumers are managing weight loss or preventing weight gain. 54% are using food and 27% are using beverages for weight management.
    link View Details

    Consumers can differentiate between different types of carbohydrates

    A recent study demonstrates that consumers are able to differentiate between carbohydrate-containing foods based on carbohydrate quality, as opposed to the amount of carbohydrates. Consumers identified slow release carbohydrates as 'good', with 60% correctly linking them to sustained energy.
    This demonstration of understanding that slow release carbohydrates are the healthier choice is likely to have significant implications for new food and beverage development.
    link View Details

    Top Food CEOs agree that nutrition will dominate food trends in 2016

    At the IFT 2015 CEO Panel, titled Is Big Food, Bad Food?, panelists David Cotton of Flying Food Group, James C. Borel of DuPont Pioneer, and Eric Larson of Linden Capital Partners were asked to predict what they would be talking about at a 2016 session on food trends. All 3 panelists predicted that they would be talking about food with respect to nutrition and health.
    link View Details


    EB 2016

    April 2-6, 2016

    Dr. Thomas Wolever, President of GI Labs, and Dr. Alexandra Jenkins, Director of Research at GI Labs, will both be attending the Experimental Biology conference, as well as presenting their research. If you are attending EB and would like to schedule a meeting with Dr. Wolever and Dr. Jenkins, or if you are interested in having your research presented at EB, please contact us.
    link Visit the Web site

    EB 2016: the 4th Global Summit on the Health Effects of Yogurt

    April 6, 2016

    Dr. Thomas Wolever, President of GI Labs, will be speaking at this symposium about glucose and insulin responses to yogurt.
    link Visit the Web site

    13th International Hydrocolloids Conference

    May 16-20, 20166

    Dr. Alexandra Jenkins, Vice-President and Director of Research at GI Labs, will be speaking about the Glycemic Index and clinical trials of dietary fibres.
    link Visit the Web site

    Institute of Food Technologists Annual Meeting + Food Expo

    July 17-19, 2016

    GI Labs will once again be exhibiting at this major event for the food industry. Come visit us at booth #3819!
    link Visit the Web site


Senior Scientists


Dr. T. Wolever MD, PhD

Vice President

Dr. A. Jenkins PhD, RD