• Magnesium and health
    Blog,  Diet,  Health,  Nutrition

    Magnesium and health

    The relationship between magnesium and health is widely studied because of the importance of this essential nutrient in many body functions and the prevention of chronic diseases. What is magnesium? Magnesium is a mineral involved as a cofactor in many processes within the body, including metabolic functions (energy production, glucose breakdown, protein synthesis, RNA and DNA synthesis), bone development, immune and neuromuscular function (1, 2, 3). It’s also involved in the balance of calcium, sodium, potassium and antioxidants (1, 2, 4). The total amount of magnesium in an adult is about 25 grams, of which 50-60% is located in the bones (1, 3) and about 0.3% in serum (2). This…

  • Nutrient reference values vs nutrient intake in Australia
    Blog,  Diet,  Health,  Nutrition

    Nutrient reference values vs nutrient intake in Australia

    We all know we should be eating vitamins and minerals but not many know how much. Is there a gap between nutrient reference values vs nutrient intake in Australia? What are nutrient reference values? Nutrient reference values (NRV) are the recommended levels of intake of different nutrients, based on scientific evidence about food intake and health. The NRVs for Australia and New Zealand are expressed as a recommended daily intake (RDI) of each nutrient, which is the average amount of the nutrient that is required for the majority of healthy individuals. For some nutrients where the RDI could not be determined, the recommendation is based on the adequate intake (AI)…

  • Ultra-processed foods
    Blog,  Diet,  Health,  Nutrition

    Ultra-processed foods

    Ultra-processed foods, a.k.a. energy-dense nutrient-poor foods, discretionary choices or junk foods dominate modern supermarkets. They represent a large proportion of the average dietary intake in developed countries and, not surprisingly, are linked with poor health outcomes. What are ultra-processed foods? The term “ultra-processed” foods refers to the NOVA classification and it’s based on the degree of processing of foods. This classification has 4 categories: unprocessed or minimally processed (such as grains, meat, fish, milk, eggs, vegetables, fruit, nuts and seeds) processed culinary ingredients (such as sugar, oils and butter) processed foods ultra-processed foods (1, 2) Processed vs ultra-processed foods Have you ever met someone that tries to justify their junk…

  • Eat Like The Animals
    Blog,  Book review

    Book review: Eat Like The Animals (Dr David Raubenheimer and Dr Stephen J Simpson)

    Eat Like the Animals – What Nature Teaches Us about the Science of Healthy Eating is a fascinating book written by two brilliant scientists who are applying animal natural wisdom in human nutrition. The authors Although the authors tend to refer about themselves as “insect biologists”, they both have impressive careers and credentials. From their bios: “Professor Stephen Simpson AC is Academic Director of the Charles Perkins Centre, and a Professor in the School of Life and Environmental Sciences at the University of Sydney, and Executive Director of Obesity Australia.” and “David Raubenheimer joined the University in April 2013 as Leonard P Ullmann Chair in Nutritional Ecology.” You can read…

  • The Health Star Rating System
    Blog,  Diet,  Health,  Nutrition

    The Health Star Rating System

    The Health Star Rating System is a way of labelling food products in Australia to indicate their healthiness. Similar to energy ratings, health ratings are meant to guide consumers toward better choices. What is the Health Star Rating System? The Health Star Rating (HSR) labelling system was created by the Australian government in collaboration with industry, public health and consumer groups. It is being used voluntarily by manufacturers since June 2014 and reviewed every 5 years. Assigned ratings go from ½ star (least healthy) to 5 stars (most healthy), which are displayed on food product packaging. How is the Health Star Rating calculated? The HSR score is calculated as: baseline…

  • Sugar-containing ingredients
    Blog,  Diet,  Health,  Nutrition

    Sugar-containing ingredients

    Now that you know that there is little difference between brown sugar vs white sugar, that added sugar consumption in Australia is higher than it should be and how to read food labels, it is time to put it all together by looking at sugar-containing ingredients. What is sugar? The term sugar “refers to all carbohydrates of the general formula Cn(H2O)n” (1). Single sugars such as glucose and fructose are known as monosaccharides. Two monosaccharides linked together (e.g. sucrose = glucose + fructose, lactose = glucose + galactose) are known as disaccharides. Many sugars linked together are known as polysaccharides. Added and free sugars As a reminder, added sugars are…

  • How to read food labels
    Blog,  Diet,  Food,  Health,  Nutrition

    How to read food labels

    The most common advice I give to people is to read labels before buying packaged foods. There is a lot on information printed on packages, so keep reading for some advice on how to read food labels. What is a food label? Food label is the term that encapsulates all the information printed on a food package. Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) regulates what goes in the label of foods sold in this part of the world. Parts of a food label The information below can be found in FSANZ’s website (see references below). Food identification This includes the name of the food, the name and business address of…

  • Added sugar consumption in Australia
    Blog,  Diet,  Health,  Nutrition

    Added sugar consumption in Australia

    Intake of added sugars has been associated with health issues such as weight gain and dental caries. As it happens with most developed countries, added sugar consumption in Australia exceeds recommended limits. Last week I explained the difference between added, free and total sugars. Briefly, added sugars are those that do not occur naturally in foods and are added before consumption. Free sugars include added sugars and the natural sugars in honey, syrups and fruit juices (1). Regarding recommended intake of added and free sugars, guidelines differ. The Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend limiting the intake of added sugars but do not specify a quantity (2). The World Health Organisation (WHO)…

  • Brown sugar vs white sugar
    Blog,  Diet,  Health,  Nutrition

    Brown sugar vs white sugar

    Have you ever found yourself in the supermarket staring at sugar packets and not knowing which one to buy? Which one is healthier: brown sugar vs white sugar? What about raw sugar? What is sugar? The sugar you buy at the supermarket to put in your coffee is sucrose, a disaccharide (= two sugars) composed of glucose and fructose. Types of sugar White sugar: this is your regular table sugar. Caster sugar: has a smaller crystal size than white sugar. It is used for coating bakery products and confectionery. Brown sugar: is a moist, golden brown, very fine crystal product, made using selected refinery syrups. Raw sugar: is a free…

  • Diet and blood pressure
    Blog,  Diet,  Health,  Nutrition

    Diet and blood pressure

    Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is a common chronic condition that represents a risk for cardiovascular health. Besides other lifestyle factors, there is a clear link between diet and blood pressure which we’ll discuss in this article. Blood pressure levels In Australia, blood pressure is classified as follows (1): Category Systolic (mmHg) Diastolic (mmHg) Optimal <120 and <80 Normal 120-129 and/or 80-84 High-normal 130-139 and/or 85-89 Mild hypertension 140-159 and/or 90-99 Moderate hypertension 160-179 and/or 100-109 Severe hypertension ≥180 and/or ≥110 Isolated systolic hypertension >140 and <90 Target recommendations vary for individuals that have other health conditions. Dietary factors Sodium In about half of people with hypertension and a quarter…