Category Archives: Nutrition News

New Years Resolution # 1: Getting a Handle on Sugar Cravings!

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Sugar cravings.. just about everyone gets them at some point or another, but what can you do to Mixed-lollies_Lge-01override them? For some it is a daily battle to overcome that 3pm sugar craving slump and if this is you, here a few simple suggestions on how you can take control and stop the cravings for good!

1) Make sure you eat every 2-3 hours

Though it may be easy to get distracted at work and before you know it, its 3pm and you still haven’t had lunch, this is a serious recipe for disaster! Going long periods of time without eating causes significant drops in your blood sugar levels, often leading to intense sugar cravings. This is because glucose or sugar (which is what carbohydrates are broken down into in your gut) is your body’s primary energy source. So, when energy levels become too low, your body starts to crave sugary foods as these are easily broken down and released into your blood stream to be used as energy, providing a super quick energy fix. The problem is, the energy release from sugary foods is short lived and you often end up feeling sluggish  and craving even more sugar before you know it! Moral of the story?… eat regularly to prevent your blood sugar levels dropping too low and the sugar cravings from creeping in!

2)    Always keep a packet of minty chewing gum on hand

Popping in a piece of gum after a meal not only keeps your breath minty fresh but it also serves as a great distraction from sweet foods and it also helps to cleanse the palate, making sugary foods seem less appealing.

3) Opt for herbal or black tea between meals

Virtually calorie free and oh-so soothing herbal or black teas are the perfect distraction after meals to prevent those sugar cravings from creeping in! Herbal teas like peppermint are especially effective at curbing the cravings as they help to refresh the palate in much the same way as chewing gum!

4) Curb the cravings with healthier, more nourishing alternatives.

Instead of feeding your cravings with sugar, which will only cause you to crave MORE sugar, try opting for more satisfying, protein –rich snacks like nuts, a slice of cheese or celery sticks with peanut butter. Or, if you absolutely feel you need something sweet, opt for a couple of squares of extra dark chocolate. The richness of dark chocolate should prevent you from eating as much and it is also far less sweet than normal milk chocolate, which may help to prevent a total sugar blow out!

5) Ride it out

Though it may sometimes feel like sugar cravings are going to last a life time and the only answer is to give in, I can promise you those feelings will pass! In fact, studies show most cravings last a maximum of 20 minutes. So, why not try distracting yourself with something non-food related for a few minutes and you might just find those cravings might just pass faster than you think!

Happy New Year!

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Growing Green Fingers

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IMG_0758Ever wondered what our food would be like without herbs? I for one, feel that my world as a Nudie Foodie would not be the same without my beloved herbs! Especially fresh herbs picked straight from the ground! Imagine how dull and tasteless your Thai Beef Salad would be without that zingy flavour from the fresh coriander leaves or imagine a roast leg of lamb without out it’s famous partner in crime, Rosemary. Even dried herbs can do wonders to an otherwise fairly dull tasting dish. A sprinkling of mixed dried herbs can bring a boring old spag bol to life and a Greek salad is not a Greek salad without some dried oregano to bring the dish together is it not?

Not only do herbs add flavour, depth and colour to meals, they also contain a myriad of nutrients that help us ward off illness and stay strong and healthy! Although I clearly adore herbs and use them religiously in my cooking, I am well aware that fresh herbs are not cheap! Especially if you are like me and use them in your cooking on a daily basis! So, I’ve decided to let you in on a little secret… Save yourself some coin and invest in your own mini herb patch! Now I know what you’re thinking…”But I live in the city  and I don’t have room for a garden!”

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My little herb patch in the city!

Well if this is you, then I have some good news….ANYONE can grow some green fingers and grow a mini herb garden, even if you live in an apartment! All you need is a small balcony or windowsill, some good quality herb pots and fertiliser and then treat your herbs with some tender loving care! You don’t need masses of pots or different herbs, just choose the ones you use most often. Trust me, it is just the handiest thing to be able to decide what you’re having for dinner at the last minute then just duck outside (or to your windowsill) and pick a fresh bunch of your favourite herbs straight out of the soil!

From my experiences and from what my mum taught me growing up, some herbs are easier to grow (and maintain) than others. Basil, rosemary and mint are three such herbs that seem to withstand the test of time and can tolerate hotter temperatures than some of the others. Trust me, if these herbs can flourish and thrive even in the 45 degree heat of my parent’s garden in Central West QLD then they must be pretty tough! Coriander on the other hand is unfortunately very difficult to grow without the right climate conditions, so don’t be disheartened if you have trouble keeping this little baby alive!

Though I live in the inner city, I am lucky enough to have a court yard with enough room to grow quite a collection of herbs including basil (which almost grows like a weed at times!), parsley, mint, rosemary, oregano, chives and sage. And I am telling you now my life would not be the same without it!

So, if you haven’t thought about giving it a go before, why not visit your local nursery or farmers markets next weekend and pick yourself up a couple of different types of herb pots and try your hand at becoming a green thumb! Not only will it save you a bucket load of cash in the long run (with a small herb pot costing you as much as one bunch of fresh herbs from the supermarket), but you will also be doing your little bit for the environment as a supporter of sustainable farming and food production!

Still not convinced? Have a look at the nutritional benefits that a couple of my favourite herbs have to offer…

Parsley and Basil-

These herbs are great sources of minerals including iron, magnesium, potassium and calcium, which are all required for a range of important daily bodily functions.

They are also rich in many antioxidant vitamins including vitamin A and beta-carotene (Vitamin A is known to have antioxidant properties and is essential for vision), vitamin C (a powerful antioxidant), vitamin E (a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory) and a number of other forms of antioxidants.

Both of these herbs are also very rich in vitamin K, which is essential for many coagulant factors in the blood and plays a vital role in the bone strengthening function by helping the mineralization process in the bones.

But it doesn’t stop there, Parsley leaves are also rich in many essential vitamins such as vitB5 (pantothenic acid), VitB2 (Riboflavin), VitB3 (Niacin), VitB6 (Pyridoxine) and VitB1 (Thiamin), all of which play vital roles in carbohydrate, fat and protein metabolism!

Enough said! Let’s get growing!!

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Going Nuts about Nuts!

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mixed_nutsDid you know that a peanut is not actually a nut? Yep, that’s right, your good old faithful peanut has been lying to you all these years! It’s actually a legume, as unlike its other nutty counterparts, peanuts grow in the ground not on a tree. So why are they called peaNUTS and generally classified as a nut? Well the the International Nut and Dried Fruit Foundation recognises that the nutritional composition of the peanut is so similar to that of tree nuts that is is only practical that it be included in this group!

So what are the nutritional characteristics of nuts that make so more-ish and yet so good for us at the same time?

Well perhaps a little uncharacteristic of foods that are of plant origin, nuts contain moderate amounts of protein (9–20%) and they also contain large quantities of fat (49–74% total fat)! Wait a minute..how can something that is so high in fat be good for us???? Well basically the fats found in nuts are mostly monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats, which are known as the “good” fats that help fight heart disease by lowering our cholesterol levels. Not only are they good for our hearts but nuts are also a great source of dietary fibre and provide a wide range of essential nutrients, including several B group vitamins, vitamin E, minerals such as iron, zinc, potassium and magnesium, antioxidant minerals (selenium, manganese and copper), plus other antioxidant compounds (such as flavonoids and resveratrol)..the compounds also found in red wine!
Upon munching my way through a handful of raw nuts this morning I started thinking about just how many different types of nuts there are out there…we have macadamias, walnuts, brazil nuts and cashews, we have pistachios and almonds and pecans, pinenuts and hazelnuts oh and of course there is the sneaky “peanut” who we will call a distant cousin of the nut family for now! When talking about nuts and their health benefits I am often asked what are the BEST nuts for you so I  thought I would share with you my pick of the top 5 best nuts for you!
1. Walnuts – While all nuts offer heart health benefits, Walnuts certainly take the cake as one of the best for us! Walnuts contain by far the most significant amount of all nuts of the omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linoleic acid (ALA), a compound that helps reduce plaque buildup in arteries and fights heart disease. Just one-quarter cup of walnuts gives you nearly 91 percent of the recommended daily value for this healthy fat. Your body cannot make omega-3 fats on its own, which is why it’s so important to include omega-3-rich foods in your diet. Aside from their heart health benefits, Walnuts also contain the antioxidant ellagic acid, which helps support our immune systems.
2. Almonds – It’s nuts how much nutrition is packed into these little bite sized morsels! Almonds are high in calcium, fiber, magnesium, potassium, copper, protein and vitamin E. They contain more vitamin E than any other nut, with around 20 almonds providing almost half your daily vitamin E needs! Due to their high protein content Almonds help to keep you full and prevent hunger cravings that all too often result in you reaching for the chocolate cupboard at around 3 oclock each day! And to top off their endless list of health benefits, almonds are also high in antioxidants! Yay for almonds!
3. Hazelnuts – These are another fantastic type of nut, as they are rich in heart healthy nutrients such as vitamin E, folate, B vitamins and arginine, which all work together to reduce our risk of heart disease! Hazelnuts are also rich in iron and proanthocyanidins, which is really just a complicated name for a type of antioxidants that help to strengthen our blood vessels and prevent urinary tract infections!
4. Brazil Nuts A single Brazil nut provides your daily dose of selenium, an antioxidant that fights free radicals and may play a role in preventing breast cancer. Brazil nuts are also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids.
5. Pecans – Firslty, Pecans have the highest antioxidant content among alllll nuts, which means they are most likely beneficial in lowering your risk of cancer, heart disease and perhaps even Alzheimer’s Disease!  They are extremely high in vitamin E, an antioxidant that plays an important role in helping stop oxidation of blood lipids (fats) in our blood vessels and therefore may help prevent coronary heart disease! These little gems also contain more than 19 essential vitamins and minerals, including vitamin A, magnesium, folic acid and calcium among others, making them an ideal mid morning snack..or any time of day really!
Other great nut choices include:
Pistachios – which are high in cholesterol lowering plant sterols and have more potassium than most nuts, playing a role in the  regulation of blood pressure!
Cashews – have a lower fat content than a number of other types of nuts, and the fat they do contain is extremely healthy with about 75 percent being comprised of oleic acid, the same type of heart-healthy fat found in olive oil. They are also a fantastic source of magnesium, which is a nutrient that plays a crucial role in many biochemical reactions in the body including maintaining normal muscle and nerve function, regulating blood sugar levels, promoting normal blood pressure and heart rhythm and also supporting our immune systems and keeping our bones strong and healthy!
Macadamias – ahhh the old macca nut! Long been hailed a “not so healthy” choice of nut due to their extremely high fat content these delectable little Aussie icons contain very high levels of the monounsaturated fats (the good fats) and have been shown to help prevent oxidative stress and inflammation! So as long as your not devouring a pack a day these babies, they can be included as part of a healthy balanced diet when eaten in small amounts! Phhhewww!
And the other question I am often asked..are raw nuts really better for me than roasted??

Well though the jury is still out on this one, in my opinion it is always better to eat foods in their most natural state to ensure you get the most nutrients out of your food as possible! Though some preliminary studies have shown very little  difference in the nutrient content of raw and roasted nuts, roasting may potentially reduce the concentration of several B group vitamins (as they are not heat stable). Other studies have also suggested that roasting nuts changes their overall fat composition, destroying some of the heart healthy properties of the nuts!  Additionally, many roasted nut varieties are salted and therefore have a higher sodium content than raw nuts. So yes, in my opinion raw is definitely better for you! If you only like like the roasted varieties however, choose those that are only lightly roasted (or roast them yourself) and avoid those that are salted!

So, so far we have concluded that although they are high in fat, nuts are a great snack and should definitely be included as part of healthy balanced diet due to their wide range of health benefits.. but how do we know how many nuts constitutes a serve?
Well according to Nutrition Australia the following can be used as a rough guide to determine an average serve size (usually 30-50g) of the many different types of nuts…
A health-promoting daily intake of 30–50 grams of nuts is about one small handful.
30 g of nuts corresponds to approximately:
•20 almonds
•15 cashews
•20 hazelnuts
•15 macadamias
•15 pecans
•2 tbsp pine nuts
•60 pistachios in shells (30 g of kernels)
•10 whole walnuts or 20 walnut halves
•a small handful of mixed nuts
Happy Munching Everyone!
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Peer Review of David Gillespie’s “Toxic Oil”

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Hi everyone! Just read this peer review written by two very well renowned Nutrition Experts in Australia and thought I just had to share it with you all! This review, which I read on The Conversation, really shows us how to read between the lines of Gillespie’s misleading, almost totally unverified “research”and see his work for what it really is! Fantastic review, so please read!
Click on this link or See Below!
http://theconversation.com/peer-review-david-gillespies-toxic-oil-13118
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Peer review: David Gillespie’s Toxic Oil

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  1. Peter Clifton

    Professor of Nutrition at University of South Australia


  2. Bill Shrapnel

    Deputy Chairman of the Sydney University Nutrition Research Foundation

A best-selling book about nutrition has a power to influence the national diet that many health professionals can only dream about. And, if David Gillespie’s success is anything to go by, being a layman author is an advantage.

Freed of the constraints and caveats of scientific precision, the layman can use overstatement and simplistic messages to craft a story that resonates with the man or woman in the street.

In Gillespie’s earlier book Sweet Poison, he took the familiar dietary message to limit sugar intake, greatly elevated its health significance and broadcast it. Although the experts pooh-poohed his science, it could be argued that the whole exercise was positive for public health.

The same cannot be said for Gillespie’s latest book Toxic Oil, which carries the subtitle “Why vegetable oil will kill you and how to save yourself”. Here, the author’s key message is diametrically opposed to that of just about every reputable nutrition authority in the world.

At a time when a consensus has emerged that polyunsaturated fats are the preferred replacement for dietary saturated fats for the prevention of coronary heart disease, Gillespie declares that polyunsaturated fats actually increase coronary risk. And, for good measure, they increase the risk for cancer and macular degeneration too. Saturated animal fat is recommended as a healthier choice.

Despite claiming to be “Australia’s No. 1 Health Crusader”, Gillespie has no qualifications in nutrition or any other health science but argues that, as a lawyer, he knows how to assess evidence.

Over the last four years, there has been a lively debate in the scientific literature about saturated fat and its preferred replacement in the diet. Two meta-analyses of randomised controlled trials with clinical end points have been published as well as a pooled analysis of prospective cohort studies, not to mention the scores of studies of the effects of dietary fats on blood lipids in the literature.

Yet none of this found its way into Toxic Oil. Instead, the author re-visits some of the earliest studies into dietary fats and heart disease and revives the cholesterol controversy that those early studies generated 40 years ago.

The arguments presented are not original. Rather, like so many articles found on the internet, they flow from the familiar script of the cholesterol sceptics – Ancel Keys (an early research in the field) fiddled his figures; saturated fat and cholesterol have nothing to do with heart disease; it’s all been a con; and the truth can now be revealed.

The prevarication continues in the section headed Polyunsaturated fats cause cancer, which is supported by minimal evidence – a non-significant finding in a trial commenced in the 1960s and a single prospective cohort study showing a weak association between polyunsaturated fat consumption and increased risk for breast cancer.

Any reasonable review of the evidence on this topic could not have missed the pooled analysis of prospective cohort studies that showed no link. Somehow, the author of Toxic Oil comes to a conclusion at odds with every leading nutrition and cancer authority in the world.

This book will not appeal to the health professional. There’s almost no referencing and some data are presented in figures without acknowledging the source, so they can’t be checked. In one instance, British data are used to support an argument on the grounds that Australian data are “pretty thin on the ground”. Relevant Australian data are readily available; they just don’t support the argument.

Predictably, the dietary recommendations that flow from all this non-evidence leave a lot to be desired. Gillespie sums up his advice better than we can do:

If you do what I suggest, you will be doing all the wrong things, according to our health authorities. You’ll be eating butter, drinking full-fat milk, chomping through bacon and eggs for breakfast and enjoying a meat pie for lunch.

The message is so over-the-top that it’s hard to believe that anyone would take it seriously. Still, messiahs develop followers and the author’s previous advocacy on sugar probably guarantees him an audience that is at least prepared to listen. But any public good that came from David Gillespie’s earlier work will be undone by this poorly researched and ill-conceived book.

My Top 5 Favourite Antioxidant Foods

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Anitoxidants..a term we are all likely to have come across at some point, but what exactly are they?  Antioxidants are naturally occurring compounds in foods that have long been shown to promote good health. Their role in the body is basically to “mop up” or nuetralise chemicals in the body known as free radicals (unstable molecules), that are produced by oxidative processes in the human body. It is important that we do our best to prevent build ups of these chemicals as they are linked to aging processes and common health problems such as cancer and heart and liver disease!

So this is where our Antioxidants come into play! Antioxidants are found in many types of fruits and vegetables, nuts and wholegrains, but some are much richer sources than others. Below are my top 5 favourite antioxidant rich foods..not only because they contain these important natural compounds but also because they are delicious and leave you feeling revitalised and full of energy! Many have also been shown to have anti-aging effects! yay!

1. Blueberries:Blueberries

Though they are only tiny, these tastey little morsels pack a good punch as they known to be one of the richest natural sources of a antioxidants in the world! Just half a cup of blueberries will double your usual antioxidant intake! These little babies not only have anti-aging properties but they also contain a culmination of other essential vitamins and minerals that will keep you energised and healthy!  So, to get a serious hit of antioxidants in your daily diet, why not add half a cup to your breakky cereal in the morning or whiz them up in a tastey, nutrient rich smoothie? Though fresh blueberries are often quite expensive..don’t lose hope as the frozen varieties are just as nutritious if not more, due to being snap frozen after picking!

2. Raw Cacao

What’s not to love.. it’s used to make our beloved chocolate AND its good for you!! win win situation right?? Now notice that I said Cacao not cocoa, which is a much more commericalised, highly processed version of the chocolate forming compound that contains very little nutrients at all due to the high level of processing it undergoes before it reaches your supermarket shelves. Raw Cacao on the other hand is known as the raw chocolate superfood as unprocessed raw cacao beans are super-rich in the type of flavonoid called flavanols which are very strong antioxidants that help maintain healthy blood flow and blood pressure! In a recent study by Cornell University* food scientists discovered that cocoa powder has nearly twice the antioxidants of red wine, and up to three times the antioxidants found in green tea! So instead of reaching for the highly processed sugar laiden chocolate bunnies on your supermarket shelf..why not try making your own antioxidant rich Easter treats using raw Cacao powder! (See my previous post for a quick and easy, yet oh so tastey and nutritious Easter treats recipe!)

3.  Acai Berries

Acai berries, although fairly new to the Western world, are quickly becoming very popular due to their high antioxidant properties. Acai berries are small purple colored berry that originates from the Amazon jungle!..(healthy and exotic!) The antioxidants found in them have been shown to have a positive effect on the heart and cardiovascular system. In addition, acai berries are believed to improve circulation, fight cancer, and prevent both blood clots and artherosclerosis, the clogging of blood vessels! You can buy acai powder and other products from most health food shops and watch out for this little gem at your local juice bars and cafes, as it is often whizzed up in delicious smoothies and juices!

4. Green Tea

Just another reason to have another cuppa! Green Tea has been cultivated for centuries, beginning in India and China and it’s benefits have long been known to these cultures. In traditional Chinese and Indian medicine, practitioners used green tea as a stimulant, a diuretic (to help rid the body of excess fluid), an astringent (to control bleeding and help heal wounds), and to improve heart health. Other traditional uses of green tea include treating gas, regulating body temperature and blood sugar, promoting digestion, and improving mental processes. And why is green tea so great? Well it is now knwon that green tea in particular, which is made from unfermented tea leaves contains the highest concentration of a powerful type of antioxidant known as “polyphenols”, making it a very potent (and easily accessible) source of these aging and disease fighting compounds!

5. Apples

Yep, you thought it was just an old wives tale didn’t you that “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”… Well in actual fact, that old saying actually rings very true, espeically when talking about health promoting compounds like antioxidants! Packed full of flavenoids,  (a collective term for a range of antioxidant compounds), apples are a great source of antioxidants, as their natural sugars (known as Fructose) are believed to improve our body’s abilities to absorb the high levels of the falvenoids that they contain! Along with their antioxidant properties, apples also contain pectin, a soluble fiber that helps lower blood cholesterol. So, what’s not to love about this wonderful fruit that is available almost all year around? Not only do they taste great, but they are always relatively cheap (even for all you poor uni students out there!) AND they have multiple health benefits to help keep you feeling healthy and youthful! Who knew the old faithful apple could be so ridiculously good for you?!

Enjoy!

A

 

Why I’m Not Going Gluten Free

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My thoughts exactly!!!

Chances are if you have been around any kind of media source lately you have heard about the gluten-free fad. A recent poll done by a marketing research company found 30% of adults claim to be going gluten-free. Do you know someone who has gone gluten-free? Have you tried to go gluten-free yourself? Do you even know what gluten is? Before you decide to give up gluten it is important to know all of the facts.

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. It is important to our foods because it is what gives baked products elasticity. Without gluten you would not be able to shape your pizza dough or knead your bread dough. Contrary to what you may have heard gluten is not a toxin and it is not a harmful particle.

So why would cutting this little protein out of your diet help you feel better? For…

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