• 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…

  • The Fast 800
    Blog,  Book review,  Diet,  Health,  Nutrition

    Book review: The Fast 800 (Dr Michael Mosley)

    The Fast 800 is one of the most recent diet books by Dr Michael Mosley, author of the famous 5:2 diet. His books focus on the use of “intermittent fasting” for weight loss, blood sugar regulation and general health. The author I first heard from Dr Mosley through his piece on high intensity interval training (HIIT, see video below). I later learned about his 5:2 diet and know a few people who have done it. It wasn’t until I read his bio that I realised that Dr Michael Mosley became a psychiatrist after working in other fields, and then decided to move away from the medical profession. He is mostly…

  • Nutrients in organ meats
    Blog,  Diet,  Health,  Nutrition

    Nutrients in organ meats

    Organ meats are a staple in some traditional cuisines, but unfortunately not very common in Western countries. Nutrients in organ meats include many vitamins and minerals, making them true superfoods. What are organ meats? Organ meats, or offal, are exactly what they sound like: meat from animals’ organs. This includes the heart, liver, brain, thymus gland, intestines, etc. Organ meats contain many micronutrients and that’s why they are highly regarded in traditional cultures. Nutrients in organ meats The graphs below contain a comparison of some nutrients for different types of organ meats (data from 1). What about cholesterol? Cholesterol content in organ meats is higher than in muscle meats such…

  • Nutrition and mental health
    Blog,  Diet,  Health,  Nutrition

    Nutrition and mental health

    What we eat has a big impact in all aspects of our well-being. The relationship between nutrition and mental health has been a topic of interest for quite some time and is especially relevant in uncertain times. Healthy vs unhealthy diets Higher intakes of fruits, vegetables, fish and whole grains seem to reduce the risk of depression (1, 2). On the flip side, unhealthy diets are associated with increased mental health problems. This negative effect seems to be true in diverse populations, i.e. across different age ranges, genders and ethnicities (1). Dietary patterns Some dietary patterns such as the Mediterranean diet, a traditional Japanese diet and a typical Tuscan diet…

  • Athletes and their immune system
    Blog,  Diet,  Health,  Nutrition,  Sports nutrition

    Athletes and their immune system

    Many people think that athletes are the healthiest human beings in the planet. However, fitness does not necessarily equal health. High level performance can take a toll in athletes and their immune system. Regular moderate exercise mitigates inflammation and all the health conditions caused by it. However, a large volume of high intensity exercise combined with travel and stress can depress the immune system and lead to illness (1). The following factors have an impact on the immune system in the context of athletic activities: Diet Energy When energy intake is not enough to match energy output, immune function can be compromised. This is a common problem for athletes who…

  • Dinnerly meal kits
    Blog,  Product reviews

    Product review: Dinnerly meal kits

    Dinnerly meal kits were launched by Marley Spoon in 2007. As the self-proclaimed “most affordable meal kit in Australia”, Dinnerly offers convenience and quality ingredients at a cheaper price. Dinnerly meal kits Plans Dinnerly offers two plans: 2-person and 4-person box. For each of them you can choose from 3, 4 or 5 meals per week. Price per meal The price per meal, including shipping, is in the graph below. Meal tags The following tags will help you identify which meals to choose: Dairy free Healthy Kid friendly Low carb Meat No added gluten One pot meal Poultry Spicy Under 30 minutes Vegetarian Preferences You can set up your taste…

  • Marley Spoon meal kits
    Blog,  Nutrition,  Product reviews

    Product review: Marley Spoon meal kits

    Marley Spoon is one of the biggest meal kit vendors in Australia. Their focus on sustainability includes the use of local ingredients and reusable/recyclable packaging. Marley Spoon Google tells us the company hails from Berlin, Germany and was founded in 2014. They are currently present in Austria, Australia, Belgium, Germany, Denmark, Netherlands, Sweden and the USA. Marley Spoon meal kits Plans Marley Spoon offers two plans: 2-person and 4-person box. For each of them you can choose from 2, 3 or 4 meals per week. Price per meal The price per meal, including shipping, is in the graph below. Meal tags The following tags will help you identify which meals…