Replacing starch with sucrose in a high glycaemic index breakfast cereal lowers glycaemic and insulin responses

Eur J Clin Nutr. 1994 Oct;48(10):749-52.


Objective: To test the hypothesis that replacing starch with sugar in a processed breakfast cereal that has a high glycaemic index could significantly decrease glycaemic and insulin responses.

Design: Subjects consumed in random order three equi-carbohydrate meals based on a popular puffed rice cereal containing three levels of sucrose (0, 21 and 43 g). Postprandial glucose and insulin responses were compared using the incremental area under the curve (AUC).

Subjects: Twelve healthy volunteers (5 males and 7 females) with normal glucose tolerance drawn from the university community, mean age 23 years (range: 20 to 27 year), mean body mass index 22.6 kg/m2 (range: 18.6 to 31.2 kg/m2).

Results: Glycaemia was significantly lower after the meal containing the highest amount of sugar (glucose AUC 101.7 +/- 14.0 mmol/l.120 min) compared with the non-sweetened cereal (155.5 +/- 18.0 mmol/l.120 min, P < 0.01). There was a significant inverse correlation between the amount of sucrose incorporated and the degree of glycaemia (analysis of covariance coefficient = -1.25, P = 0.00). Similarly, the plasma insulin response was significantly lower after the highest sugar meal (insulin AUC 2267 +/- 346 microU/ml.120 min) compared with the meal without sugar (3505 +/- 365 microU/ml.120 min, P < 0.01).

Conclusions: We found a significant reduction in glycaemic and insulin responses when sugar replaced the rapidly digested starch in a processed breakfast cereal, i.e. the opposite of what is commonly believed. Thus sweetened breakfast cereals may not compromise glycaemic control more so than the unsweetened counterpart.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Blood Glucose / analysis
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / administration & dosage*
  • Edible Grain / chemistry
  • Edible Grain / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hyperglycemia / blood
  • Hyperglycemia / etiology*
  • Insulin / blood*
  • Male
  • Nutritive Value
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Starch / physiology*
  • Sucrose / administration & dosage*
  • Sucrose / analysis
  • Sucrose / physiology*


  • Blood Glucose
  • Dietary Carbohydrates
  • Insulin
  • Sucrose
  • Starch