Friday, August 14, 2009



Fats are another vital part to a healthy diet. Good fats are needed to nourish your brain, heart, nerves, hormones and all your cells, as well as your hair, skin, and nails. Fat also satisfies us and makes us feel full. It’s the type of fat that matters in addition to how much you consume.

Saturated fats, primarily found in animal sources including red meat and whole milk dairy products, raise the low-density lipoprotein (LDL or "bad") cholesterol that increases your risk of coronary heart disease (CHD). Substitute lean meats, skinless poultry, and low-fat or nonfat dairy products, fish and nuts. Other saturated fat sources include vegetable oils such as coconut oil, palm oil and foods made with these oils.

Trans fat raises low-density lipoprotein (LDL or "bad") cholesterol that increases your risk of coronary heart disease (CHD), as well as lowering HDL, or good cholesterol. Trans fats are created by heating liquid vegetable oils in the presence of hydrogen gas, a process called hydrogenation. Primary sources of trans fat are vegetable shortenings, some margarines, crackers, candies, cookies, snack foods, fried foods, baked goods, and other processed foods made with partially hydrogenated vegetable oils.

Monounsaturated fats - People following traditional Mediterranean diets, which are very high in foods containing monounsaturated fats like olive oil, tend to have lower risk of cardiovascular disease, Primary sources are plant oils like canola oil, peanut oil, and olive oil. Other good sources are avocados; nuts such as almonds, hazelnuts, and pecans; and seeds such as pumpkin and sesame seeds.

Polyunsaturated fats – These includes the Omega-3 and Omega-6 groups of fatty acids which your body can’t make. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in very few foods – primarily cold water fatty fish and fish oils. Foods rich in certain omega-3 fats called EPA and DHA can reduce cardiovascular disease, improve your mood and help prevent dementia. See below for more on Omega-3. Other sources of polyunsaturated fats are sunflower, corn, soybean, and flaxseed oils, and walnuts. It is important to know that these oils become unhealthy when heated due to the formation of free radicals, which can lead to disease.

How much fat is too much? It depends on your lifestyle, your weight, your age and most importantly the state of your health. Focus on including Monounsaturated fats and Polyunsaturated fats in your diet, decreasing Saturated fats, and avoiding Trans fats as much as possible. The USDA recommends that the average individual:

Keep total fat intake to 20-35% of calories
Limit saturated fats to less than 10% of your calories (200 calories for a 2000 calorie diet)
Limit trans fats to 1% of calories (2 grams per day for a 2000 calorie diet)
Limit cholesterol to 300 mg per day, less if you have diabetes.

Thursday, August 13, 2009


by Dr Mairlyn Smith

I'm a huge fan of berries. It never ceases to amaze me that those tiny little bundles can impart such a huge flavour hit.

Take blueberries for instance. With the recent heat wave British Columbia has experienced the berries have hit an all time record in production making them the biggest high bush producers in Canada and second in the world.

My BC roots are definitely showing when I tout the benefits of these amazing little blue orbs. Even if I was born in Timbuktu I'd still be plugging these antioxidant dense Lilliputian gems.

The last time it rained here in Toronto, for anyone keeping score in the weather wars that was about two hours ago, I started surfing the net and came across an article in the New York Times on miracle berries.

Hold the phone; I thought blueberries were the only miracle berries out there. Is there a contender in the house?

Blueberries are considered a super fruit by both Canadian and American food researchers. Not a miracle berry, but a super fruit none the less. Loaded with a diseasing lowering powerful antioxidant called anthocyanin, blueberries may reduce the build-up of bad LDL cholesterol that contributes to cardiovascular disease and stroke, according to scientists at the University of California. In animal studies a blueberry rich diet has been shown to prevent Alzheimer's as well as reduce stroke induced brain damage.

Armed with my blueberry knowledge I read the miracle berry article with great interest and a hint of healthy scepticism.

Miracle berries or miracle fruit (or try the botanical name synsepalum dulcificum) gets its name not because it tastes amazing and is good for your heart and brain but because it alters your taste buds for about one hour so that sour foods taste sweet. Hmmm. Interesting.

Lemons and vinegar taste like honey and apparently Tabasco sauce tastes like doughnut glaze. Hmmm. Weird.

This berry is a native plant from West Africa and for a hefty price tag you too can indulge in taste bud manipulation. Expect to shell out one hundred loonies for about twenty berries and that's only if you can find them in your city, note not your supermarket, your actual entire city. Best bet is to check the internet and have them flown up from either Texas or Florida. Hmmm. Expensive.


Miracle berries are highly perishable. They have to be shipped overnight packed in dry ice and must be eaten within fifteen minutes of being thawed. Local blueberries last about ten days in your fridge and you can eat them anytime after you wash them.

I'm not rolling in dough and neither are any of my foodie friends so none of us have actually had the berries, miracle or otherwise, FedExed up to experience this taste bud malarkey. So with nothing to go on except the article in the New York Times here's the deal. Apparently one little berry smashed up in your mouth and held there for about one minute is the formula for gastronomic illusion. Then its taste bud trickery and shots of vinegar all round. Wonder how your GI tract feels the morning after an evening of Tabasco shooters and eating whole lemons? I'm thinking a bottle of Pepto-Bismol may come in handy. A handful of blueberries? No worries for any day-after stomach traumas.

All things considered: flavour, availability, health, and bang for your buck? I think I'll save myself $97.00 and buy a basket of local blueberries.

Check out this GUIDE for some blueberry recipes, where the berries actually taste the way Mother Nature intended them to, no smoke and mirrors allowed.

Monday, August 10, 2009


provided by Dietitians of Canada

1. Have the number of Vegetables and Fruit Food Guide Servings recommended for you each day in Every Other Day Diet Food Guide. Eat at least one dark green and one orange vegetable each day.

2. Enjoy soups often – it might be a broth soup with lots of vegetables or a soup made from pureed vegetables, such as squash, broccoli, carrot or red pepper. You can even experiment with soups using fruits, such as melon and apple.

3. Keep frozen peas, beans, corn or mixed vegetables in the freezer to steam or microwave as part of a meal or for a quick addition to stews, stir-fries, chili, or soups.

4. Make a fruit salad at least once a week with a mix of different fruits such as apples, berries, oranges, grapefruit, melons, peaches, pears or pineapple. Use a combination of fresh or canned fruit. Add a splash of citrus juice to keep it fresh. Having it ready and available in the fridge will ensure it gets eaten.

5. Keep a variety of raw vegetables cut and washed in the fridge for quick snacks. The choices are endless – carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, celery, peppers of any colour, radishes, cherry tomatoes, turnip.

6. Throw berries onto cereal, into muffins and pancake batter, or on a salad. Add grated vegetables, such as carrot, zucchini, beets, to muffins and cakes.

7. Whirl up a "smoothie" using ½ cup (125 mL) milk or orange juice, a 6 oz (175 mL) container of flavoured yogurt, and ½ cup (125 mL) fruit in a blender.

8. Pack fruit and vegetables to take for snacks or lunch every day. Wash and cut in advance, and carry in small plastic bags or containers. This preparation will help increase the odds that it will get eaten rather than traveling back home.

9. Try vegetables like broccoli, celery, green beans and green peppers. Try a 3-pepper stir-fry with red, green and yellow peppers. Make it Asian-style with Chinese broccoli, bok choy, mini-corns and water chestnuts. Use your imagination.

10. Enhance bottled or canned tomato sauces with extra vegetables such as peppers, carrots, broccoli, mushrooms, onions or zucchini. Grating them finely into the sauce can sometimes get them past children who might not be eating many vegetables.

Sunday, August 9, 2009


I have got this short letter from Dr. Adrian Smyth this morning, want to share it with you, guys...

Good morning, Alex
We used to have the four food groups to use as a nutrition guide. Then it became the food pyramid, and even that has changed dramatically from its original design. It started with one type of food, grains, as the foundation and worked its way up to the smallest necessary dietary elements at its peak. Now it’s sliced horizontally with stairs going up the side.

And all this while one group says carbohydrates are key to good health and nutrition and meats and fats should be heavily restricted, while another group says you can eat a lot of fat as long as you watch your carbohydrate intake. Is it any wonder that most people don’t get the right nutrition each day?

While experts still seem to have trouble agreeing on whether diets should be more protein or carbohydrate based (though the government has opted for carbohydrates), no matter which way you lean in that debate there’s little question about the nutritional benefits of eating enough fruits and vegetables.

The common phrase is “5 a day,” meaning that you should aim for at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day. Fruits and vegetables are rich in vitamins that serve as antioxidants, protecting us against everything from premature aging to cancer and diabetes. While eating these foods can’t prevent these things, they do help lower a person’s risk of many conditions and diseases.
Including many fruits and vegetables in your diet not only helps you get the best nutrition, but also makes it easier to maintain a normal weight. Someone without a weight problem is less likely to develop one, provided the low calories and high fiber of the fruits and vegetables aren’t cancelled out by the addition of lots of junk food or a high overall calorie intake.

Someone with a weight problem can more easily lose pounds to achieve a more normal weight with fruits and vegetables as a large part of his or her diet. An overweight person may be eating more than the necessary calories each day, but that doesn’t mean that he or she is getting the proper nutrition. It’s possible, but most overweight people eat too many calories from things like processed foods.
Processed foods often contain staggering amounts of calories, as well as things like large amounts of fat and sugar that you wouldn’t even know are there unless you read the nutrition label. Since all food is required to display this label listing calories, different types of fats, carbohydrates, sugars, sodium, cholesterol and more, you should use the label as a tool in your quest for good nutrition.
The experts give guidelines, like no more than 30% of your calories per day from fat, that can help many people maintain a healthy diet. If you need a specialized diet like a diet that doesn’t contain peanuts or has limited sugar, using these labels can help, as well.

Overall, diets that avoid most processed foods and stress things like fish, lean meats, whole grains, fruits and vegetables offer the best nutrition.

Dr. Adrian Smyth

By Dr. Adrian Smyth - "CLEAN EATING" magazine expert.