Thursday, 25 November 2010
Christmas is now well and truly here. I suddenly found myself digging around for my hat and gloves yesterday as the cold had got too much to handle. Christmas is notoriously a time of over indulging so over the next couple of weeks I will be writing some tips on how to avoid the January slug back to health.
Firstly Cholesterol. Before we begin I want to make it clear that Cholesterol is essential to build cell membranes and without it our cells would not be able to function resulting in serious problems. We make the majority of the cholesterol in our bodies and the dietary sources merely top this up.
There are two types of cholesterol; there is LDL and HDL. HDL is seen to be beneficial as it collects any LDL cholesterol and takes it back to the liver. LDL is the cholesterol that is easily damaged and can cause clots and lesions in the arteries that lead to Cardio Vascular disease. Over eating and over drinking during the festive period puts a strain on our already busy liver and this can result in a decline in HDL so less LDL is being collected and is free to cause problems.
So what to do about it. Well firstly there are ways of increasing your numbers of HDL. One of these is exercise and I’m sure I don’t need to waffle on about the other benefits of exercise. Omega 3’s (see blog entry called sorry for the delay in September 2010) have been shown to not only increase the numbers of HDL cholesterol but also increase the Size of the LDL particles. This is important as it is the small, dense LDL cholesterol which are particularly susceptible to damage. Omega 3’s can be found in oily fish as well as flaxseeds. Lycopene, found in tomatoes also has the same effect on LDL cholesterol. Foods high in saturated fats such as mince pies, brandy butter, and bread sauce will all increase your levels of LDL cholesterol I am afraid so eat these in moderation to maintain optimum cardio health.
Enjoy your Festive feasting x
Sunday, 24 October 2010
It’s the orange time of year. Every shop you go into whether it is food or furniture every street you walk down everywhere you look everything is orange. This is fantastic news for our diets as orange foods hold many brilliant secrets. Tangerines, pumpkins, Swede, sweet potato and squash are all fruits and vegetables which are in season and a fantastic source of many vitamins and especially antioxidants. As discussed in a previous blog the more colourful the diet the better and these foods will give you a brilliant source of another colour! Take some tangerines to work at the start of the week and have as a great snacks with a selection of nuts. People tend to shy away from cooking with pumpkin and squash as they are not as simple to use as potatoes but they are far tastier and arguably more important as they contain more available nutrients. Pumpkins contain a significant amount of iron and zinc which are both vital nutrients when it comes to boosting the immune system which is especially useful as the winter sets in and the offices start coughing!
A simple way of using your pumpkin meat after you’ve scraped your scary face is to make a pumpkin soup. Very roughly all you need is 2 red onions, the meat from a large pumpkin, 700ml chicken or vegetable stock, a sweet potato and some crème fraiche to serve. It’s so easy – put some olive oil in a heavy based pan chop the onions and sweat them. Add the pumpkin and sweet potato and stir until golden. Pour the stock over and leave to simmer for 10 mins. Puree by hand for a more silky flavor and serve with crème fraiche and some chopped parsley. Worth noting that this soup can be frozen in bags for up to 2 months so is a great freezer filler.
Happy Halloween! xx
Sunday, 10 October 2010
There have been many scaremongering storied surrounding the humble chicken egg such as you shouldn’t eat more than one a week. Yes, importantly if you are on a low cholesterol diet avoid egg yolks and while some people may not be able to digest eggs the majority of us can and should utilize this inexpensive brilliant source of protein as often as possible. When the amount of protein in a food is measured it is measured against the makeup of an egg as this food source is seen to be the most complete form of protein in the human diet. Eggs contain all 8 essential amino acids which are vital for a healthy functioning body. Not only are they the building blocks for muscles, tissues, immune system antibodies they also are a great source of many micronutrients including Selenium and iodine which help support thyroid function. We cannot synthesize enough Choline to satisfy the need in our brains therefore it is very important that we ingest some and eggs are the best food source for this particular micronutrient. The wonders of eggs don’t stop there with significant levels of Vit D K B2 and B5 as well as sleep promoting tryptophan they are a fantastic food choice. For those on low cholesterol diets it is important to note that all dietary cholesterol is found in the yolk and therefore this should be avoided.
Eggs are incredibly versatile and can be eaten (in my opinion) at any time of day. Bung one in a pan and have boiled eggs on rye toast, multigrain whole-wheat toast or a bed of spinach for breakfast. The advantage of having protein for breakfast is that the combination of the macro nutrients will take longer to be digested and release there energy more slowly than the moer traditional cereal therefore you will be less hungry during your morning. A quick omelets or frittata for lunch or supper! Ideal and cheap! A frittata or omelet is also a great way of sneaking in some of your 5 a day…! Whisk the eggs with some pepper and salt and place in a non stick pan. Leave for 30 seconds. Add whatever veg your like – broccoli, spinach, cale, tomatoes, mushrooms. Either cook as an omelet or put in the oven for 5 mins until it rises and cooks around the veg.
Saturday, 2 October 2010
Many people I’ve given this too have never had it before and sometimes never even heard of it! Quinoa originates from the Inca in Peru making it an ancient grain which until recently was not part of the European diet. Not only is Quinoa incredibly easy to prepare it is also a dream nutritionally. Very rarely is a plant a complete protein, meaning it contains all 8 essential amino acids but quinoa is. This makes it a brilliant option for vegans and vegetarians to boast their protein levels. There are huge health benefits to this delicious food as not only a great source of protein it also contains lots of dietary fibre as well as most notably Iron and Magnesium. Magnesium is closely related to cardiovascular health and iron helps promotes energy production through the part it plays in Hemoglobin and thus the energy making cycle.
Quinoa can be used as a substitute for couscous, rice, pasta, and polenta as a side dish or main dish or as a porridge in the morning and it couldn’t be easier to cook. Make sure you rinse it first in cold water and then simply 1 part Quinoa to 2 parts water – half a mug is enough for a big portion for 1 or 2 people. Bring to the boil and then plonk a lid on turn down the heat and leave to cook for 15 mins. Turn off the heat, leave to stand and all the excess water will be absorbed. If you want a more porridgy texture add more water. It’s such a versatile food that there is very little point me putting recipes up. All I will say is to add more flavor perhaps use stock instead of water if using the quinoa in a savory dish and make your dish as colorful as possible (read the Phytonutrients blog).
I can’t tell you enough how much of a brilliant food this is.
Please try it soon! X
Saturday, 25 September 2010
Ive had a long break from blogging as have been starting my business (more to come on that) as well as tackling exams and navigating my way through the summer, but now as the cold weather comes floating back so have I.
Where to start (as there is so much to say!) - a nutritional tip. Omega 3 or to be really grown up alpha linolenic acid is an essential fatty acid which humans can not be make themselves so must be ingested. This fatty acid helps reduce inflammation throughout your body, maintains cell and brain health, keeps blood from clotting excessively as well as supporting immune function - all pretty important stuff. People who lack Omega 3 in their diets will often have dry skin, brittle hair and nails joint pain(caused by inflamation) amungst other things. Walnut and linseed oil both contain high levels of Omega 3, ground flaxseed are also a very simple way of getting omega 3 into your diet by simply sprinkle them over your cereal or adding them to a smoothie. If you are a fish lover oily fish such as mackerel and Salmon are a fantastic source of omega 3. This wonderful bud of joy has been splashed all over packaging recently with every margarine and processed fish product claiming that eating their product will boost your omega 3 levels. While this may be true it is important to bear in mind a) the source of your omega 3 and b) the ratio of the 2 omegas. It has been suggested that the correct ratio of Omega 3 to omega 6 should be 1:3. The average person that ratio is more like 1:20 as omega 6 is more readily available in the average diet. The reason it is so important to get this ratio as low as possible is beacause both the omegas compete with the same enzymes in the body. Which omega is most readily avaiable will dictate the derivative of that enzyme. If there is alot of omega 6 this will lead to pro inflamatory and pro thrombosis substances being formed which can lead to blood clots etc. Conversly if there is sufficient omega 3 then these make anti inflamatory and anti thromsosic substances. The body needs the omegas to be balanced in order to perform to its optimum
Tip of the day - buy some omega 3 oil and take a teaspoon a day to boost the ratiowhich will definatley keep the doctor away...
See you soon xx
Friday, 26 March 2010
It is so difficult nowadays to know what on earth you are actually allowed to eat. Surely butter would be a definate no no ... however there is a saving grace coconut butter. OK so I will admit it does not have the same salty and slightly satisfying taste of butter but it still melts loving on to your toast and hugs your vegetables to make them glisten like tinsle. The benifits of this wonder butter far outwieght the fact it has a different taste. This taste is not a horrible one and depending on what type of coconut butter you go for it doesnt have to have a taste at all, it is a milky smooth flavour and melts faster than you can spread it.
The other option as an alternative to butter is to find a ramekin or small bowl and fill it with olive oil. If you put this in the fridge it will go hard and then can be used as a butter subsitute.
Both of these options are better than dairy butter. Coconut butter although still a saturated fat it has shorter chains that the animal products. These mean the body deals with them differently and uses them as energy first meaning they are not stored as fats. It is also a very useful cooking tool as they are relatively stable at high temperature so do not produce free radicals.
Your local independant health shop will stock it....
Wednesday, 17 March 2010
This is music to most people’s ears...It is time the nation started snacking ... on certain things. The illusion that we need only three meals a day is no more. If you have a snack mid morning and mid afternoon the chances are you will feel less hungry at meal times so your portions will be smaller....
When snacking it is important to eat the right things. A snack should be something more complex than just a bar of chocolate. This is because it will take the body longer to break it down if it has more parts to it. So the advice is: eat a carbohydrate like a piece of fruit with some protein like some nuts or seeds or some yoghurt. Although you are still eating the sugary fruit the energy you get from it will be more sustained as the body has to work harder to breakdown the more complicated combination of sugars and protein. This will mean the glucose takes longer to get into your blood and will make you not only feel less hungry for longer but also will maintain your levels of energy.
Snacks which are easily portable include vegetable crudités and dips such as hummus or smoked mackerel pate, Fruit and nuts or yoghurt. As the breakfast blog said before smoothies made with protein and carbs are also a fantastic thing to have as a snack rather than a drink!
When we talk about carbs we are talking about healthy foods such as oatcakes and fruits not chocolates and pastries so as long as you are sensible about what you are snacking on go ahead... dive in. xx