Why being flexible in the holiday season matters

With only 10 days to go until Christmas (and counting), the festive season can be challenging when it comes to making healthy food choices. Every year at this time, recipes and tips for eating nutritiously over Christmas pop up all over the web. While I admire the efforts of many of these authors, often I can’t help but think that:

a) Many of these recipes really don’t look particularly appetising. Enjoyment of food and feasting is important to all cultures, and we all need a “free pass” every now and again.

b) What you eat on one day of the year (1/365th of what you eat overall) doesn’t really make any difference to your overall nutrition. It’s what you eat on the remaining 364 days that counts.

 

Image courtesy of nuchylee at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of nuchylee at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

Orthorexia is a word that has entered popular vernacular in the past few years. The ‘condition’ is about as legit as other nebulous food-related terms, such as being ‘hangry’ (hungry-angry, something I am certainly prone to!), or following a ‘detox diet’ (your liver and kidneys do this for you on a daily basis, don’t waste your money).

The Dietitians’ Association of Australia defines orthorexia as encompassing

“…strict and inflexible eating behaviours, where a person has rules about how much food should be eaten and the timing of meals or avoidant-based eating practices due to misguided beliefs on what they perceive as healthy.

Orthorexia starts out as a true intention to eat healthy foods but it is taken to the extreme.” Source

 

Courtesy of stock images at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Courtesy of stock images at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

Orthorexia is particularly visible at the festive time of year. Rather than succumbing to food anxiety, strive to find a way of eating that is full of plant foods, that you enjoy. And then give yourself free passes every now and again. Just go back to your regular nourishing way of eating on the next day. Guilt-free.

Rather than labelling foods ‘good’ and ‘bad’, view them as ‘everyday’ and ‘sometimes’ foods. That way, you’ll avoid the guilt trap, and the ensuing ‘well, if I’ve slipped up, I might as well go all-out’. You’re more likely to end up binging on a large quantity of comfort food this way.

 

Courtesy of Apolonia at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Courtesy of Apolonia at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

Making plans in advance, such as which day/s will be your “free days” and how you will use any confectionery you are given as a gift, will also make it much easier to continue eating nutritiously over the festive season.

Have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Happy feasting!

 

What’s your thoughts about eating nutritiously over Christmas? Do you give yourself a ‘free pass’, or do you adjust recipes to make them healthier?

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Legumes: The overlooked food group

I love legumes. Sometimes referred to as “dried beans”, legumes includes everything from green peas to chickpeas, lentils to kidney beans and soy, and even peanuts are technically a legume! The thing I like about them the most is how filling they are. Give me a big serve of kidney bean pasta sauce, and I’ll be satisfied for several hours.

The other great thing about legumes is that not only are they  nutrition powerhouses, they’re also generally incredibly cheap.

 

A snapshot of some of the different kinds of legumes out there. Clockwise: Chickpeas, red lentils and green lentils.

A snapshot of some of the different kinds of legumes out there.
Clockwise: Chickpeas, red lentils and green lentils.

 

Here’s a snapshot of some of the nutritional benefits of legumes:

  • Protein
  • Fibre
  • Iron, zinc, and B-group vitamins (including folate)
  • (Most of them are) Low GI. In other words, they give you long-lasting energy. This is important for people with diabetes, as it helps to stabilise your blood sugar levels. There’s also evidence to indicate that it appears to help clear up acne.
  • They’re very filling, which helps you avoid overeating (because of their protein and fibre content, and because they’re low GI)

Nutritionally, legumes fall in both the “meat/eggs” and the “vegetables” food groups. So you’re getting the benefits of both groups, from one food!

 

Other benefits:

People who eat lots of legumes on a regular basis have:

  • A reduced risk of bowel (colon) cancer
  • A reduced risk of  heart disease or stroke

Legumes are also a good choice for people with cholesterol issues.

Substituting meat for legumes where possible, and limiting meat/poultry/fish to 2-3 times per week (or less), is also great for one’s health. The longest lived populations in the world all have mostly plant-based diets, although not necessarily vegetarian. There is plenty of high-quality research to demonstrate the benefits of eating lots of plant foods, and minimal animal foods (although that’s for another post!)

Finally, a diet that doesn’t contain much meat (especially red meat) is far better for our environment.

 

After soaking dried legumes overnight, drain them in a colander and rinse with fresh water.

After soaking dried legumes overnight, drain them in a colander and rinse with fresh water.

 

Bring soaked (dried) legumes to the boil, and then reduce to simmer. The cooking time depends on the type of bean you are cooking. Kidney beans contain haemagglutinin, a toxic compound that causes vomiting and diarrhoea if ingested. Kidney beans need to be boiled (at a rapid boil) for 10 minutes to destroy this compound. Never cook kidney beans in a slow cooker, as the temperature won't get high enough to destroy the compound.

Bring soaked (dried) legumes to the boil, and then reduce to simmer. The cooking time depends on the type of bean you are cooking.
Kidney beans contain haemagglutinin, a toxic compound that causes vomiting and diarrhoea if ingested. Kidney beans need to be boiled (at a rapid boil) for 10 minutes to destroy this compound. Never cook kidney beans in a slow cooker, as the temperature won’t get high enough to destroy the compound.

 

Dried versus canned varieties?

Legumes cooked from dry are slightly higher in nutrients (protein, folate, iron, fibre) than their canned counterparts, but the main difference is the price. I calculated from prices around me in Melbourne that canned legumes are more than 3x the price of cooking them from dry.

The average price for a 400g (14oz, 240g or 8.5oz drained weight) can of chickpeas in metropolitan Australian supermarkets is around $1.00 AUD ($0.85 USD at time of print). You can buy 2kg (4.4lb) of dried chickpeas at an Indian grocer for $5.50. A quick Google search came up with a factor of 2.2 to determine the weight of cooked chickpeas from dried ones.

So, some simple arithmetic:

From a can: 240g cooked for $1.00, or 42 cents per 100g

From dry: 2kg * 2.2 = 4.4kg cooked for $5.50, or 13 cents per 100g

Of course, if you live a busy life, and aren’t quite organised enough to soak beans overnight then cook them for roughly 1.5 hours, canned legumes are still a very good alternative.

At $4.20 AUD per kilogram, canned legumes are still far cheaper than virtually all cuts of meat. (And for the average person, far better for you nutritionally- eating healthily doesn’t have to be expensive!)

If you do buy canned, just remember to drain and rinse them thoroughly in a colander, to remove as much salt as possible. Alternatively, buy no added salt versions if you can.

 

Soy products are also a member of the legume family. Nutritionally, however, these can also fit into the dairy food group (if soy milk is calcium-fortified, and if tofu is set with calcium) Clockwise: Soy beverage, firm calcium-set tofu, fried tofu puffs (also calcium-set) Tofu is often made with magnesium instead of calcium, so read the ingredients list to check.

Soy products are also a member of the legume family. Nutritionally, however, these can also fit into the dairy food group (if soy milk is calcium-fortified, and if tofu is set with calcium)
Clockwise: Soy beverage, firm calcium-set tofu, fried tofu puffs (also calcium-set)
Tofu is often made with magnesium instead of calcium, so read the ingredients list to check.

 

What’s your favourite legume? Got a great recipe tip?

Nosh Magazine: Bringing some of Australia’s leading Dietitians to your computer

I often find my Facebook newsfeed and email inbox filling up with discussions around quacks who peddle misinformation and confusion around healthy eating. I’m not a fan of demonising an individual food or nutrient, and I’m certainly not a fan of the amount of money that such an overly-simplistic approach can make. But I’m also not keen on ‘bashing’ individuals for promoting these kind of approaches to eating. Personal attacks easily step into the realm of maliciousness, and I have never seen them to be very effective- they just get people’s backs up.

Adopting a more constructive approach and taking small steps to help others realign their approach to food, however… Now, that’s the way forward.

That’s why I was excited to come across Nosh a month or two ago, on another Dietitian’s blog, Cheering for Nutrition. Nosh is a new online magazine that is published by Australian Dietitians. All of its content comes from Accredited Practising Dietitians (APD’s) and other qualified health professionals, so you know you can trust what you read.

 

Cover of Nosh Issue 2.

Cover of Nosh Issue 2.

 

Some of the things I like about Nosh is that it:

  • Is full of photos and graphics, and light on text
  • Contains information you know you can trust
  • Is a good length- not long enough to make you regret clicking on it, but also long enough to cover a wide range of nutritional topics
  • Contains nutritious recipes that the average person would want to eat (as opposed to recipes that contain unusual and expensive super foods that only a certain niche demographic would eat)

My only gripe with it so far is that the website seems to be quite slow, although I suspect that this is more to do with the online publishing software than anything else. I know I’ve had similar issues with other similar online magazines.

Nosh joins the ranks of a growing range of magazines that deliver nutrition information in a reader-friendly format. Other similar publications include the Healthy Food Guide and eDietitians. So far, it appears that two issues of Nosh have been published (see Issue 1 and Issue 2).

Do you have any other trustworthy nutrition magazines that you enjoy reading? I always love to hear about such publications.

 

Disclaimer: I have no personal interest, financial or otherwise, in Nosh magazine. The views held are my own.

Exploring Fats. Part Three: Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Fish Oils.

This post has been a long time coming, but it’s also been one of the topics I’ve been most looking forward to exploring on this blog. I try to put a reasonable amount of effort into researching each post that’s … Continue reading

New article at eDietitians.com: Healthy Bones

Breakfast is a great opportunity to enjoy dairy foods as part of your daily routine. Milk yoghurt and cheese are some of the best food sources of calcium, a vital bone nutrient. Image courtesy of Joephotostudio / Free Digital Photos.net

Breakfast is a great opportunity to enjoy dairy foods as part of your daily routine. Milk, yoghurt and cheese are some of the best food sources of calcium, a vital bone nutrient.
Image courtesy of Joephotostudio / Free Digital Photos.net

 

Sorry for being so quiet over the last month. But at the same time, you’ll be pleased to hear that I had a great time interstate with my parents. At the moment, I’m working on the final article in the three-part series on fats, this time on Omega-3. It’s a fascinating area of research to be exploring, and I really look forward to publishing the verdict here in the next few days.

In the meantime, my second article has been published over at eDietitians.com. This time, it’s on ‘Healthy Bones’ and how nutrition can help you maintain healthy bones for longer. With osteoporosis being such a major issue in post-menopausal women and men over 65, it’s a very topical subject.

As always, I’d love to hear what you think of the article. And keep checking back for the Omega-3 article to be posted in the next few days!

 
– Sonia

Nutrition-Related Articles from Around the Web

Right now, I’m in one of those busy phases that we all get into from time to time. Next week, I’m venturing interstate for one week, which caps off what has been a frantic couple of weeks.

So rather than writing a new post, for now I thought I would take this opportunity to share with you all a few nutrition-related blog posts or articles that are really worth reading.

 

Young woman reads cookbook

Source: Witthaya Phonsawat, Free Digital Photos.net

 

Superfoods: more like a super myth (from Associate Professor Tim Crowe’s blog, Thinking Nutrition)

Why are we chasing our tails?  (Alex, Accredited Practising Dietitian at The Dietitian’s Pantry, questions why we are always chasing the latest diet, rather than returning back to a simple and balanced way of eating that we know works)

The ‘Dietitians are spoon fed by the food industry’ rebuttal (from Accredited Practising Dietitian Larina Robinson’s website, The Body Dietetics)

Health Check: What’s the best diet for weight loss? (from The Conversation, article by Professor Clare Collins)

Tips for eating well: Eating away from home (from the Australian Government’s Eat For Health website)

 

Come across any other blog posts or articles related to nutrition that you liked? What do you think of the posts and articles I’ve shared here? I’d love to hear from you.

 

– Sonia

Exploring Fats. Part 1: Saturated, Unsaturated and Trans Fats.

This is the first in a series of three posts that looks at the role of fats and oils in our diet. This first post breaks down the different types of fat that you see on food labels: saturated, unsaturated and trans. The second and third posts will look into the highly topical omega-3 (found especially in oily fish) and omega-6 fats (found especially in seeds and their oils).

I’m writing this series in response to requests from several different readers, on similar themes. If you’ve made a request for a different post subject that I haven’t addressed yet, I thank you for your input and I will get to your topic soon!

***

What are fats?

Let’s start at the very basic. Fats and oils are essentially two words that refer to the same thing. We call them ‘fats’ when they’re solid at room temperature (think the fat on meat, or lard), and ‘oils’ when they’re liquid at room temperature. Fats are a essential component of our diet.

The following are all 80-100% fat:

  • Vegetable oil, olive oil, sunflower oil, coconut oil etc
  • Fish oil
  • Cod liver oil
  • Butter
  • Lard
  • Ghee (‘clarified butter’)
  • Fat on meat
  • Dripping
  • Suet
  • Shortening

 

Butter- high in saturated fat.

 

Fats and energy

Like carbohydrates and protein, fats give us energy. You may have heard the terms ‘calories’ or ‘kilojoules’. We measure the energy in food in calories or kilojoules, depending on whether you use an imperial or metric system. Energy in food goes towards maintaining our body weight, and gives us the energy to do all the things we do each day. If we don’t get enough energy from food, we lose weight. If we eat too much, we gain weight.

 

Different types of fat

On a sub-microscopic level, fats are made up of millions of smaller components, called molecules. The molecules in fat are called ‘fatty acids’. 

There are several different types of fatty acid. You may have come across these on the Nutrition Information Panels of food products when you’re at the supermarket. The main types of fatty acid are: saturated, monounsaturated, polyunsaturated and trans. Or, more simply, saturated and unsaturated.

All fats/oils contain a mixture of these types of fatty acid. For example, if we look at the Nutrition Information Panel of one brand of butter (see image below), we see that although butter contains 80.5 grams of fat per 100g of butter (80.5% fat), “only” 53.1 grams of this is saturated fatty acids. So although the majority of fat in butter is saturated, some of it is unsaturated.

 

Nutrition Information Panel of Butter Note the fat content per 100g

Nutrition Information Panel of Butter
Note that butter, like other fats, contains a mixture of different types of fat (see where circled).

 

Saturated fatty acids

Solid fats are high in saturated fatty acids. These are usually animal fats, although coconut and palm oil, and cocoa butter, are also high in saturated fatty acids. (Coconut and palm oil are only called ‘oils’ because they are liquid at room temperature in their native tropical climate; they are solid at room temperature in temperate climates)

 

Copha is a brand of coconut oil which is sold in Australia. According to the Nutrition Information Panel, Copha is 98% saturated fat.

Copha is a brand of hydrogenated coconut oil which is sold in Australia.
According to the Nutrition Information Panel, Copha is 98% saturated fat.

 

A diet high in saturated fats increases “bad” LDL-cholesterol, and increases your risk of having a heart attack. Public health bodies around the world recommend minimising the amount of saturated fats in our diet. I mentioned in the last post that current average intakes of saturated fat in the West are almost double the Heart Foundation’s recommendations (12% versus 7%).

Major sources of saturated fat in the average Westerner’s diet include:

  • Meat, including bacon and processed meats
  • Butter
  • Cream and sour cream
  • Full-cream milk and yoghurt
  • Regular fat cheese
  • Coconut milk and coconut cream
  • Chocolate
  • Cakes
  • Biscuits
  • Pies and pastries

Choosing reduced fat milk, yoghurt and cheese is a great way to reduce the amount of saturated fat you eat, and still get enough calcium.

 

Replace coconut milk with evaporated milk with coconut flavouring to cut the amount of saturated fat in your diet, without compromising on taste. Find it in the long-life milk section of the supermarket.

Replace coconut milk with evaporated milk with coconut flavouring to cut the amount of saturated fat in your diet, without compromising on taste. Find it in the long-life milk section of the supermarket.

 

Choosing reduced fat dairy options is a great way to reduce the amount of saturated fat you eat, while still getting enough calcium.

Choosing reduced fat dairy options is a great way to reduce the amount of saturated fat you eat, while still getting enough calcium.

 

Unsaturated fatty acids

Liquid oils are high in unsaturated fatty acids. Foods high in unsaturated fatty acids include oils, nuts and seeds (i.e. they’re from plants). They’re also found in their derivatives, such as margarine and similar spreads, peanut butter and tahini. Eating a handful of nuts and/or seeds every day is good for our health.

 

(L): Extra virgin olive oil; (R): Canola oil. Both high in unsaturated fats, and a good choice for heart health.

 

There are two main types of unsaturated fatty acids: monounsaturated and polyunsaturated.

Monounsaturated fatty acids

Good sources include:

  • Plant oils, including canola, olive & soybean
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Peanut butter
  • Avocado

Polyunsaturated fatty acids

Consist of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Good sources include:

  • Seed oils (such as canola, sunflower or flaxseed)
  • Seeds
  • Oily fish (such as mackerel, herring/kippers, sardines, salmon, trout, tuna)
  • Walnuts and Brazil nuts
  • Wheat germ

 

Tahini (sesame seed spread) is a good source of unsaturated fats.

Tahini (sesame seed spread) is a good source of unsaturated fats. This tahini is made from black sesame seeds.

 

Trans fats

As a simple summary, trans fats are produced when plant oils are chemically altered to become solid. In the process, the unsaturated fats turn into trans fats. Trans fats are even worse for your heart than saturated fats. They are found in old-style margarines and any food where you see the words “partially hydrogenated” in the ingredients list. For more information, see my summary about trans fats in my last post.

 

Health effects

Importantly, low-fat diets are no longer recommended. Instead, there is strong evidence to support replacing saturated fats with unsaturated fats, but still eating a moderate amount of fat. In general, this means eating fewer foods high in animal fats, and more nuts, seeds and plant oils. Aim for a handful of nuts on most days. In the case of milk, cheese and yoghurt, this means choosing reduced fat options.

 

To summarise:

  • Try to minimise the amount of saturated fats in your diet.
  • Try to have more unsaturated fats in your diet.
  • (In general: less animal fat; more plant oils, nuts and seeds)
  • Low-fat diets are no longer recommended. Instead, a way of eating that is high in unsaturated fats (plant oils, nuts and seeds) and low in saturated fats (animal fats) is recommended.

 

If you have any questions, or want clarification, please comment below.

Next post, I’ll explore Omega-6 fatty acids and seed oils, which have received a lot of bad press lately. Stay tuned!

 

Disclaimer: The summary provided above is for the general public, and should not replace advice given by a dietitian or doctor. If you need dietary advice tailored to your individual circumstances, consult your GP or Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD).

Butter or margarine?

Butter or margarine? One of the many choices when it comes to food that seems to offer no easy answer.

 

 

The camps

If you’re from the butter camp, chances are you’re aware that margarine “is naturally grey” and is only yellow because of the “artificial colours” that are added. You might see margarine as a concoction of chemicals, full of trans fats (even worse than saturated ‘animal’ fats), and not “real food” that we are made to eat.

If you’re in the margarine camp, chances are that you know most of the fat in butter is saturated ‘animal’ fat, which is the type that raises cholesterol in your body. When visiting a friend who uses butter, you might be wracked with pangs of guilt, with images of clogged arteries speeding through your mind.

Or you might be sitting on the fence, waiting for a post like this to come along!

 

The facts

When it comes to heart health, there’s no two ways about it: margarine is a better choice than butter. Butter is roughly 80% fat, 20% water. Saturated ‘animal’ fat makes up more than half (55%) the weight of butter, which, as we mentioned in the last post, is the major dietary factor in increasing cholesterol levels. On the other hand, being made from plant oils, margarine contains mostly unsaturated ‘healthier’ fats.

The National Heart Foundation of Australia and American Heart Association each recommend reducing saturated fat to 7%, or less, of the energy we eat, to maintain healthy arteries. To put this into perspective, saturated fat made up 12% of the energy Australians ate in 2011-12, and 11% of the energy Americans ate in 2009-10. So it is very important that we do all we can to eat far less animal fats, and replace them with plant oils.

In short: Switching from butter to margarine is a simple strategy to significantly reduce the amount of saturated fat in your diet.

 

 

What is margarine? What about trans fats?

In simple terms, margarine is solidified plant oils, with flavour and colour added. Originally, this process involved a process called partial hydrogenation. One of the issues of partial hydrogenation is that it produces trans fats. Trans fats have received a lot of media coverage for being even worse for you than saturated fats, and this is one reason that some people believe that butter is a better choice.

In Australia, a different process is now used to produce margarine, called interesterification. This process produces negligible trans fats. If you’re unsure, check the Nutrition Information Panel of a margarine product next time you’re in a supermarket. Chances are it will have an (optional) section for trans fats in the Nutrition Information Panel, showing that the levels are nil or next to nil. Labelling of trans fats content is mandatory in the United States, but not in Australia or the EU.

Thankfully for those of us in Australia and New Zealand, Britain and the United States, the amount of trans fats we eat is under the safe limit of 1% of dietary energy set by the World Health Organisation. In all of these countries, our intake of saturated fats is of far greater concern (is much too high). Interestingly, the World Health Organisation note that, due to cheap hydrogenated oils, it is people living in developing countries who are more likely to have an intake of trans fats that exceeds the 1% limit.

 

Alternatives to both

If you can’t quite come at the idea of margarine being ‘unnatural’, but are keen to maintain healthy arteries, there is a third option. Use butter, but use it sparingly and occasionally. If you enjoy having a sandwich with butter on it everyday and can’t come at any of the tips below, I would seriously consider switching to margarine.

Ideas for a butter and margarine-free sandwich:

  • Have a salad sandwich with avocado or a drizzle of olive oil instead of butter. Add reduced fat cheese for extra flavour, protein & calcium
  • Avocado. Full of healthy ‘unsaturated’ plant oils and vitamins.
  • Peanut butter. It’s a great source of healthy plant oils and protein
  • Tahini (sesame seed spread), available in health food shops, Middle Eastern grocers, and supermarkets. It has a nutty flavour and is high in plant oils. Goes well with tomato for some sweetness.
  • A small drizzle of olive oil on bread makes the perfect accompaniment to a bowl of homemade soup
  • Try going butter/margarine free. It’s amazing how many people try sandwiches without a butter-like spread, and find they can’t taste the difference. You might be one of them!

Or try branching out and have left-overs, tuna and crackers or pasta salads for lunch instead. Chances are you’ll naturally end up enjoying better nutrition and more varied, tastier food at the same time!

 

Tahini made from black sesame seeds

Tahini made from black sesame seeds

 

Summary

Margarine is a much better choice for your arteries than butter, although there’s nothing wrong with having butter occasionally. If you can’t come at switching over to margarine entirely, branch out and try other lunch options. Chances are you’ll have a tastier range of choices for lunch too!

 

Further reading: The National Heart Foundation of Australia has some FAQ’s on this topic.

Eggs: To eat or not to eat?

Nutrition is certainly an evolving science. As more and more research is done into the health effect of different foods, nutrition scientists, health bodies and dietitians are constantly reviewing the evidence to ensure that the advice they give people is up-to-date. Occasionally, new evidence emerges to show that this advice is not accurate. and needs to change.

In my view, there’s no better symbol of this than the humble egg. Until relatively recently, people were advised to limit the number of eggs they ate. This was because, being high in cholesterol, eggs were thought to increase one’s risk of heart disease. (To put this into context, this was before we tested for “good” (HDL) and “bad” (LDL) cholesterol separately, and instead lumped it all into a single category. If your total cholesterol was high, that was bad. If it was low, that was good. Simple. Of course, we now know that it is the levels of good and bad cholesterol that matter, rather than total cholesterol)

 

 

The facts on cholesterol

We now know that dietary cholesterol has only a small impact on the amount of cholesterol in your body. Instead, other lifestyle factors have a much larger impact on raising your cholesterol levels. These include being overweight, smoking, being inactive, eating lots of animal (saturated) fats compared to plant oils, and drinking lots of alcohol often.

 

What does the Heart Foundation say about eggs?

So we’ve established that dietary cholesterol only has a relatively small impact on the amount of cholesterol in your body. Now let’s get back to eggs. According to the National Heart Foundation of Australia:

All Australians, including people with diabetes or metabolic syndrome, who follow a healthy balanced diet low in saturated fat can eat up to six eggs each week without increasing their risk of cardiovascular disease.

Similarly, the British Heart Foundation says:

Unless you have been advised otherwise by your doctor or dietician, if you like eggs, they can be included as part of a balanced and varied diet.

 

 

Eggs: A Nutrition Powerhouse

Eggs are, in fact, a nutrition powerhouse. They contain a huge range of vitamins and minerals. They are particularly high in protein, folate, iodine, vitamin A, selenium, vitamin B12, and some eggs can be good sources of omega-3 (check the label).

They are an especially good source of nutrition for people who have a poor appetite, or who live alone and don’t feel like cooking. Boiling two eggs, and serving with a source of whole grains and vegetables, can give you a nutritious meal in only a few minutes. Hard boiling them makes a quick and easy snack that you can take out with you. Of course, the best way to enjoy eggs is as part of an overall way of eating that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains.

The healthiest way of cooking eggs? Try boiling, poaching or scrambling your eggs. Frying eggs, or making an omelette is alright too, but use a small amount of oil, rather than butter. Quiche, while delicious, is full of butter and cream, and is best saved for the occasional treat.

The Egg Farmers of Canada have a great site of egg recipes, ranging from the basic omelette to more advanced recipes for the adventurous.

 

Disclaimer: This is advice is only for the general population. Some people can be more sensitive to dietary cholesterol than others. If you have high cholesterol, talk to your GP or Accredited Practising Dietitian for tailored dietary advice.

 

What should I eat?

A question which, in bygone days, was assuredly simple to answer:

“What should I eat?”

With organic kale chips, bread high in antioxidants and fat-free ice cream all becoming regular features in the supermarket aisle, anyone would be forgiven for thinking that this supposedly simple question is no longer so simple.

To make things even more confusing, several food outlets here in Australia have started displaying the kilojoule content of their foods. Suddenly, the shopper is no longer merely contending with strange foodstuffs, but an assault of meaningless numbers.

And in comes the revised Australian Dietary Guidelines. Published by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC, an Australian Government body) last year and based on the latest scientific evidence, they provide some refreshingly simple guidance about what we should be eating. Similar guidelines are in use around the world, including MyPlate in the US, and a dietary pagoda (think oriental food pyramid) in China.

Australian Guide to Healthy Eating Source: National Health and Medical Research Council

Source: National Health and Medical Research Council

 

For those of us who prefer it even simpler, the NHMRC summarised what the average Australian should be trying to do with their diet.

The average Australian should be trying to eat more:

  • Vegetables and legumes (beans, lentils, peas) – 5-6 serves a day
  • Fruits – 2 serves a day
  • Wholegrains
  • Reduced fat milk, yoghurt, cheese – 2 serves a day
  • Fish, seafood, poultry, eggs, legumes/beans (including soy), and nuts and seeds
  • Red meat (young females only)

 

The average Australian should be trying to eat less:

  • Starchy vegetables, like potato
  • Refined grains, like white bread or pasta
  • High and medium fat dairy products, including full-fat cheese
  • Red meats (adult males only)
  • Food and drinks high in saturated fat, added sugar, added salt, or alcohol (e.g. fried foods, fast food, cakes and biscuits, chocolate and confectionery, sweetened drinks).

Source: http://www.eatforhealth.gov.au/guidelines/about-australian-dietary-guidelines

 

Journalist Michael Pollan, acclaimed author of Omnivore’s Dilemma and Food Rules, summarises what we should be eating into 3 refreshingly SIMPLE guiding principles:

“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”

 

For more on Michael Pollan, go to: http://michaelpollan.com/books/