Diabetics see real benefits from Kurakkan cereals

Diabetes mellitus has been identified as the number one health threat in Sri Lanka, outpacing even heart disease as a leading factor in premature death. Senior health officials estimate that well over 10% of Sri Lankans are already suffering from diabetes with the incidence rate having grown by 50% in the past decade. More worryingly still, 9.1% of diabetes sufferers are now under the age of 30. Hardly a single organ in your body remains unaffected when this silent stealthy sickness sets in. It can lead to impaired vision and heart attacks. It’s a frightening disease, made even more so by the fact that many sufferers are often unaware they have the disease until the symptoms become more serious.

According to healthcare professionals, a healthy diet is key for preventing and containing the disease, with more and more emphasis being placed on traditional natural, foodstuffs that have a long tradition in Sri Lanka.

New scientific research carried has revealed that Kurakkan (Eleusine coracana), a traditional favourite in Sri Lankan households, is substantially healthier than Western grain products such as wheat and maize. From time immemorial, our ancestors were aware of the health benefits of this cereal and used it extensively in many food preparations such as pittu, rotti, string hoppers, halapa etc... The low incidence of diabetes, cholesterol and intestinal disorders in this bygone era may well be attributed partially- to the regular consumption of Kurakkan in various preparations. However, in these hectic modem times many people prefer the convenience of pre-packaged food products, especially at breakfast time.

Fortunately, a new range of breakfast cereals by renowned Sri Lankan company Daintee Ltd, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, addresses both of these issues. Daintee’s Kurakkan Crunch breakfast cereal has now been scientifically proven to have a lower glycemic index than other breakfast cereals such as corn flakes, puffed wheat, or even puffed rice. Dr Ananda Chandrasekara, formerly of Peradeniya University, states that foods with a lower glycemic index (GI) can be safely digested by the, body without causing sharp increases in blood glucose levels. Blood glucose levels are of critical importance to diabetics, who are unable to produce or respond to the hormone insulin which regulates blood glucose levels so that they do not become dangerously high. If untreated, high blood glucose levels can lead to lethargy, coma and death.

The glycemic index is not only useful for diabetic. Lower gylcemic index diets are also associated with improved HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol) levels than higher glycemic index diets. Furthermore, many studies have shown than lower glycemic index foods enhance the feeling of fullness and thereby lower energy intake, so may play a major role in weight control. According to Dr Ananda Chandrasekara "the dietary guidelines for many disorders recommend the consumption of lower GI, cereal based diets instead of higher GI diets. Thus, the use of GI in meal planning has increased substantially all over the world."

In fact, a scientific study carried out,- by the Department of Food Science and Technology at the University of Peradeniya showed conclusively that the special extrusion and cooking processes used in the production of Daintee Kurakkan Crunch resulted in a product with a lower glycemic index than other cereals made with corn, wheat, or rice. Not only does Daintee Kurakkan Crunch have a lower glycemic index than other cereals, but it also has a lower glycemic index than health foods such as red rice and whole meal bread.

Kurakkan is rich in minerals (especially calcium and iron) and dietary fibre. Calcium is important for healthy teeth and bones, Iron is an important component in red blood cells. The high fibre content also aids the normal peristaltic movement of the bowels and may have the effect of reducing cholesterol.

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