Are you befuddled by B vitamins? Do you groan about GI? We’ll show you how to eat smarter with the My Blackmores's easy guide that makes better nutrition as easy as A, B, C.
These natural chemicals fight the free radicals that can increase susceptibility to conditions such as heart disease, certain cancers and even premature ageing.
There are many types of antioxidants, some of which can be found in orange-coloured fruit and veg, such as carrots and apricots, while others are in red produce, such as tomatoes and watermelon. Other sources include tofu, grapes, citrus fruits and leafy green vegetables.
Collectively known as the ‘B complex’, foods rich in B vitamins may help maintain a healthy heart and are involved in fighting free radicals in the body. Good sources include fish, eggs, cheese, asparagus, spinach, liver, meat and whole grains.
Cholesterol is a type of fat made by the body and too much of it can narrow the flow of blood vessels, eventually triggering heart-related diseases.
To help reduce your blood cholesterol levels it’s important to cut down on saturated fat. Eat more heart-healthy fish, nuts and seeds, oats, soya and garlic, while boosting your exercise levels.
Most of our vitamin D comes from the action of sunlight on the skin; however, some food sources of vitamin D include cod liver oil, oily fish, eggs, margarine, butter and cheese. As well as strengthening bones and teeth, recent research suggests that vitamin D also helps to maintain brain health.
Exercising burns calories to help you lose weight, can improve strength, balance, flexibility and endurance, plus it increases your metabolism so you burn more calories while at rest. As well as toning your body to give you better shape and definition, it also strengthens bones to reduce your risk of osteoporosis. On top of this, it boosts the feel-good chemicals in the brain, which cut stress levels and boost self-esteem.
Free radicals are highly reactive molecules that can damage healthy body cells. Poor diet and too much alcohol, plus environmental factors such as exposure to the sun and tobacco smoke, may increase the damage on the body. Antioxidants work to protect against free-radical damage.
This is a measure of carbohydrate foods that are ranked from zero to 100, according to the rate at which they raise blood glucose levels.
Low GI foods break down slowly and raise blood sugar levels at a steady rate, providing longer-lasting energy, leaving you feeling fuller for longer. High GI foods flood the body with sugar fast, but the effect wears off just as quickly.
The Heart Foundation Tick is a way to help consumers make healthier choices. Each food item or meal has met strict criteria for saturated fat, trans fat, salt and where appropriate, calories and fibre. When used on a restaurant meal, the way the food had been prepared and served have also been reviewed. Opt for a tick-approved meal or food item whenever possible.
Insulin is a hormone that helps control blood sugar levels, but sometimes the body no longer responds to insulin as effectively, causing the blood glucose levels to rise.
Being overweight, inactive and eating a diet high in fat all contribute to insulin resistance. Staying within a healthy weight, exercising regularly and eating less total fat (especially less saturated fat) could help the body become sensitive to insulin once again.
Foods that are rich in fat, salt and/or sugar, while low in nutritional value, are labelled as ‘junk’. Although it's best not to eat these regularly, with a few little calorie-reducing tricks you can enjoy them once in a while as part of a healthy eating plan.
This is a unit of energy. One calorie has the same energy as 4.2 kilojoules. To convert calories into kilojoules, multiply them by 4.2 and to convert kilojoules into calories, divide by 4.2.
Don’t be fooled by this term. A food that’s labelled ‘light’ or ‘lite’ doesn’t necessarily mean that it is low in fat – it could refer to the texture, colour or taste of the product. The characteristic that makes the food ‘light’ must be stated on the label, so make sure you check the actual fat and calorie content before purchasing.
Found in foods such as avocado, nuts and olive oil, this unsaturated fat is a heart-healthy option. Polyunsaturates are equally as good, but watch out for the artery-clogging saturated fats.
This is a food product that provides medicinal or health benefits. It could be a nutrient-rich food such as garlic or soy, a food source that helps prevent a disease or a specific component of a food, such as added omega-3.
These polyunsaturated fats, among other things, help the brain send messages between cells. They are called essential fatty acids because they cannot be produced by the body, so it is vital to include them in your diet. Enjoy tuna, salmon, sardines, soy beans, flax seeds and pumpkin seeds.
Research has shown that eating more omega-3 can cut the risk of heart disease, regulate blood pressure, strengthen the immune system, improve the memory and ease joints.
These are non-digestible components naturally found in food. Prebiotics nourish friendly bacteria that live in your intestines and boost the immune system by reducing the chances of infection by harmful bacteria. Examples include inulin and oligosaccharides, which can be found in oats, bananas, cold cooked potatoes, garlic, onions and wholegrain breakfast cereals.
Quick-fix diets have been filling the pages of books and magazines for decades. Everyone looks for a quick fix from time-to-time, but the short and honest answer is, there isn’t one. If a weight loss program sounds too good to be true, it probably is! It might not be want you want to hear, but focusing on a healthy diet and exercise program most of the time is the only way you will reach your goal weight and stay there. It’s as simple as that!
The body cannot digest this type of carbohydrate, so it arrives undigested in the large intestine where it is fermented by bacteria. Eating resistant starch encourages the growth of healthy bacteria and has a slight laxative effect.
You can find it in carbohydrate foods, especially in cold, cooked potatoes, unripe bananas, pasta and in legumes, such as beans and chickpeas.
Sterols and stanols
These are plant-based compounds called phytosterols, which help lower harmful (LDL) cholesterol. A recent review showed that consuming about two grams of stanols or sterols daily lowered individuals’ cholesterol levels by nearly 10%.
In their naturally occurring state, sterols and stanols can be found in corn, soy and wheat, but they may also be added to margarine, spreads and yoghurts.
These occur naturally in meat and dairy products, but the biggest health concerns come from trans fats produced by food manufacturers. In food processing, vegetable oils may be ‘hardened’ or ‘hydrogenated’ to make them easier to work with. Although they are unsaturated, trans fats actually behave in a similar way to saturated fat and can increase the risk of heart disease. Fast foods, manufactured biscuits, cakes and some margarines contain trans fats.
It has been reported that people underestimate their daily eats by 25-40%. There is some evidence that people remember to record main meals, but forget the little bites in between, like the children’s leftovers. This form of ‘food amnesia’, or mindless eating, is where people underestimate their calorie intake. So remember to always be honest with your diary and if you know you're guilty of not counting every calorie, find out how you can overcome this common weight loss problem.
People class themselves as vegetarian when they don’t eat meat, while some people don’t eat any animal products at all, known as a vegan. Meat is a good source of protein and iron, so vegetarians need to be conscious of getting enough protein. Good sources include nuts, tofu, wholegrains and breans.
Zero-calorie water is essential for life. We don’t store excess water so you need to drink plenty every day to keep your kidneys healthy and, together with fibre, promote waste removal from the body.
Rich in calcium, yoghurt makes a healthy, everyday snack. But check that the yoghurt you choose is not loaded with fat or added sugar. According to CHOICE, “Many flavoured yoghurts have five or more teaspoons of table sugar (sucrose) added by the manufacturer.”
This essential mineral combines with vitamin A for healthy eyesight and is important for a strong immune system. Find it in nuts, wholegrains, legumes, meats and seeds such as pumpkin.