Monday, February 27, 2012

March is National Nutrition Month

March has been named "National Nutrition Month" by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly ADA) with the aim of spotlighting the importance of healthy eating habits, better food choices and maintaining a physically active lifestyle.  The focus of this year's nutrition month is  "get your plate in shape".

So I'm letting you know about this on the last Monday of February, to give you some time to prepare for getting your plate in shape for the beginning of March on Thursday.

Why not select some goals for the month of March to improve your diet?  Think about healthy eating ideas such as:

  • adding more fruits and vegetables; 
  • eating less meat and dairy; 
  • reducing your salt intake; 
  • reduce sugar and processed foods; 
  • try new foods and recipes
What do you think YOU could do for yourself to create a healthier diet?

Photo by Alex E. Proimos
During March, I'll be posting some ideas for you to consider.   But take some time this week to decide on your first goal for Thursday.  That way, when you go food shopping, you can buy what you need.  What will that one change be that will start you on the path to a healthier diet?

If you need a little more motivation, check out my previous blog post about trying something for 30 days.
Friday, February 24, 2012


I just downloaded a new food app to my iPhone today called  "Fooducate" .  It looks really good. It is basically an app that, through reading the barcode on food packaging, analyzes the ingredients and nutrition information and simplifies it to show you which foods are healthy and which are not so healthy.  Each food gets a grade, A - D, and then: the product's highlights are listed - both good and bad; other products are compared; and healthier alternatives are suggested.  The scoring system takes into account processing, fat content, nutrients, plus lots of other factors, thus whole foods or minimally processed foods score higher than processed foods.

Highlights they report to you include:

  • excessive sugar
  • too much salt
  • high fructose corn syrup
  • controversial food colorings
  • high fiber
  • additives and preservatives etc, etc

It utilizes the iPhone's camera to scan barcodes of food items.  If a particular food item isn't listed, it then asks you to take three photos of the item and they will then update their list.  Currently more than 200,000 unique foods are in the database.  They are also keen to get feedback from people if they think a product isn't analyzed correctly.

Screen shot of the phone scanning the barcode

The system was created by dietitians and concerned parents with the idea that people will check on items as they are doing their shopping and choose the healthiest version.

I got the free version but there is a $3.99 version too, but I'm not sure what the difference is...maybe just no ads. Fooducate won AppStore 2011 best app in Health and Fitness category. They also have a blog where they educate you even more about food. It seems a good quick guide for people to use.

Have you tried it?  Let me know if you give it a go.  I'm going to try scanning my cupboard now and see what I'll have for dinner tonight.  Eat something healthy tonight.
Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Green Tea Benefits

After yesterday's post about hibiscus tea being higher in anti-oxidants than green tea, you may be left thinking you should make a switch from green to hibiscus tea....but before you throw out that green stuff, let's look at some of the other benefits, above and beyond anti-oxidant activity, that green tea has to offer.

Although coming in second place to hibiscus tea, green tea does still have a very high antioxidant value (see yesterday's table) and is also a detoxifier by activating enzymes in the liver that eliminate toxins from the body.

It is rich in polyphenols including catechins and particularly EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate-3).  EGCG is one of the most powerful nutritional molecules against the formation of new blood vessels by cancerous cells (angiogenesis) needed for tumour growth and metastases.   Green tea also facilitates the death of cancer cells (apoptosis) and has been seen to enhance the effects of radiotherapy on cancer cells.

Pretty impressive stuff heh?  And so many good clinical studies on it's effects.

Japanese green tea - called Matcha - has even higher levels of EGCG than chinese green tea, as matcha is ground up tea leaves rather than just steeping the leaves in water.

EGCG is not present in black tea as it is destroyed during the fermentation process required to make it.  However, decaffeinated green tea still contains all the good polyphenols that caffeinated green tea does, so its preferable to go with decaf.

After two or three cups of green tea a day, EGCG is plentiful in the blood and spreads throughout the body by means of our small capillary vessels.  These surround and feed every cell in the body.  EGCG settles on the surface of cells and blocks the "switches" or receptors on the cells, whose function it is to set off a signal that allows the penetration of neighboring tissue by foreign cells, such as cancer cells.  Once the receptors are blocked by EGCG, they no longer respond to the signal that cancer cells send to invade tissue and to make the new vessels needed for tumor growth.

Studies have shown green tea to substantially slow the growth of leukemia, and breast, prostate, kidney, skin and oral cancer.

It has been found that green tea has even greater effect when combined with other molecules commonly found in Asian diets, such as soy.

So hibiscus tea or green tea?  I don't see any reason to choose just one - why not just drink both?  Both have benefits and both taste very different from each other, so if you are in the mood for something fruity, try the hibiscus, otherwise, go green.

And don't limit yourself to just drinking your EGCG - you can add it to yoghurts, smoothies, ice cream, cakes, desserts - especially if you use the powdered Matcha.  Even Nestle have come out with a green tea KitKat bar in Japan!

How will you get your green tea?
Monday, February 20, 2012

Best beverage

We've heard for a long time about the high antioxidant and health benefits of green tea, but a study published in 2010 in "Nutrition Journal", has found another drink that has even greater antioxidant levels.

The study was very extensive, comparing the antioxidant levels of more than 3100 foods, beverages, herbs and spices. Can you even think of 3100 different foods?  I'll be sharing some of the other results in future blog posts.

But the beverage that came out tops of 283 beverages was Hibiscus tea.  Some examples of the antioxidant content for popular drinks are:

  • coke/pepsi 1
  • white wine 5
  • black tea 23
  • green tea 36
  • red wine 38
  • coffee 47
  • matcha tea 100 (matcha is powdered green tea)
  • hibiscus tea 132

An example of a readily available hibiscus tea in a tea bag is Red Zinger.  Alternatively, you can purchase dried hibiscus flowers from Mexican food stores and steep your own tea. Hibiscus teas don't contain caffeine and, as well as their antioxidant powers, they are also seen to lower high blood pressure.

Michael Greger, M.D. suggests preparing a day's worth of hibiscus tea as follows:
8 glasses of water, 4 bags of hibiscus tea, juice of one lemon, sweetener if desired (eg erythritol or blended dates).  Mix together and put in the fridge overnight. Remove the tea bags in the morning and drink throughout the day.

I fancy adding some ginger to the above too....Do you have other ideas?  I'm going to give it a try.

By the way, I met Dr. Michael Greger this weekend at a great nutrition conference I attended in Santa Rosa.  What an entertaining man and so informative. I highly recommend his website where he posts a new video every day -

BUT, before you throw all that green tea away, while hibiscus tea may have a higher level of antioxidants, green tea also has many other health benefits, especially anti-cancer properties from EGCG - a compound in the tea.  I'll tell you more about that tomorrow.
Friday, February 3, 2012

Meatless Monday

How often do you eat meat ? Everyday?  More than once a day?

Take a look at this short video and see what going meatless on Mondays can do for YOU and the ENVIRONMENT.

It's easy to just start with one day - like this coming Monday - and see how it goes..then commit to doing it every Monday and then........

You can sign up to receive meatless recipes every Friday, so you are all ready for Monday. Give it a try!

Blog Template by