Ground-breaking research has made a link between the consumption of low-glycaemic index (GI) bread and the prevention of Type 2 diabetes.

The research also shows that low-GI bread contributes to a reduced risk of heart disease.

The year-long study, entitled The Effect of Low-GI Bread on Glucose Response, was carried out by Professor Jeya Henry, head of food science and nutrition at Oxford Brookes University, with Dr Helen Lightowler of the same university.

"Consumption of bread in the UK is very important," Henry told British Baker. "We wanted to marry science with something very practical and that’s what prompted us to do the research.

It certainly does not mean that consumers should avoid eating high-GI, but it does prove the additional health benefits of low-GI bread."

The independently validated research was published in the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition on Thursday, November 30.

It claimed that the "results demonstrated how a simple dietary change can favourably alter blood glucose concentrations.

Such small modifications to diet, if adopted in the long term, could improve glucose control and consequently reduce the risk of chronic disease in both diabetic and non-diabetic individuals."

GI ranks carbohydrates according to their effect on blood glucose levels. Low-GI foods produce only small fluctuations in blood glucose and insulin levels.

Henry tested this by giving ten subjects identical diets in two separate 24 hour periods - toast for breakfast and sandwiches for lunch and supper.

The only difference was that ordinary white bread, with a high-GI rating of 71, was replaced by bread with a low GI-rating of 54.

The low-GI breads used were Warburtons’ All-in-One and bread made with Bakels’ Country Oven Multiseed concentrate.

This change in diet, consistently reduced the blood glucose after meals, through the night, and the ’fasting glucose level’ the next morning, which is important in reducing the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

"This is the beginning of a series of studies that will benefit the industry," said Henry. "We are looking at how bakery might be used to reduce hunger and provide a mechanism to lower cholesterol."