Be a Healthier You

Posts Tagged ‘fibre

Some food for thought…

What a Food Pyramid Based on Nutritional Science Looks Like.

How many of us girls (maybe even boys) were coerced into eating every bite of our sandwiches as children, on the premise that it would give us beautifully bouncing ringlets?

We were picturing something more like Annie…

Today I thought I would start the week off with something a little more fun! This is one of my favourite food myths, one that makes me giggle and smile at the memories.

At eight years old I didn’t even want curly hair, but you can bet your last dime I would eat my body weight in crusts now if I thought it would magically transform my hair into this:

Myth: Bread crusts = curly hair.

History of the myth: It has been suggested that historically both curly hair, and the consumption of bread were strongly associated with prosperity and wealth. Thus it would seem that the two ideas have morphed into the belief that crusts = curls!

Fact or Fiction: Fiction.

The science: Disappointingly sparse, although Michael Slater, a reporter for nine msn, did conduct his own experiment: eating as many bread crusts as possible over two weeks. The outcome: no curls!

Of course, this doesn’t discount that fact that we should still eat our crusts. Not only would it be wasteful, but we would also be missing out on the lovely fibre and antioxidant goodness found in those lovely golden edges!!

And remember, the more seeds there are the more nutritious it will be. Opt for wholegrain, pumpernickel or rye, and avoid heavily processed white breads where possible.

I hope you enjoyed this lighthearted break from my usual nutrition talk.

NEXT TIME IN FACT or FICTION: Carbs make you fat, don’t eat carbs!

So, we’ve all come across ‘food myths’ at least once in our lives. Old wives’ tales our grannies, aunts, mums or dads told us as we were growing up that go back generations. Little sayings we are sure are unlikely to be true, but that we just can’t seem to let go of.

Well, I’m here to burst your bubble… Or am I?

Over the coming months I will be taking apart some of the most highly-touted food myths I have been subjected to throughout my life. Myths that I confronted head-on in my studies as a budding Public Health Nutritionist, and a couple of others that didn’t quite fit the curriculum!

Surely everyone is familiar with the old ‘carrots help you see in the dark’ speech from your parents as you were pushing veggies around your plate at five years old. What about ‘if you eat your spinach you’ll have muscles like Popeye’? Mum, who do you think you are kidding? But wait, I have seen him down a can of the green stuff and then BAM he looks like a balding Hulk Hogan! And as for ‘bread crusts make your hair curly’ – who said I even want curly hair? (okay maybe I do, I just don’t want to eat the crusts, okay?). You get the picture.

So, without further ado onto today’s myth…

Carrots on display at local greengrocer

Carrots on display at local greengrocer (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Myth: Carrots help you see in the dark.

Fact or Fiction: Almost FACT.

There is some scientific basis to this statement, read on..

History of the myth: The myth is believed to have originated in WWII when RAF pilots were fed large quantities of carrots. There was an excess harvest of carrots in Britain at that time, and in a bid to promote carrots to the British public the government attributed the RAF’s flying skills to the high beta-carotene content of carrots.

The science: The β-carotene (beta-carotene) compound found in carrots is turned into Vitamin A within the body. Vitamin A has three main functions for health: 1) immunity; 2) vision; and 3) healthy skin linings.

So, let’s address point 2 a little more. The retina of the eye works with a protein called opsin to produce rhodopsin, a light-absorbing molecule required for dim/low-light vision, and colour vision. Vitamin A contains retinal, an essential component of rhodopsin forming-process. Thus, we can see that carrots do indeed contribute to vision in dimly lit areas though it would be a stretch to claim that they provide humans with night-vision!


Try my super healthy coleslaw recipe to get more vitamin A into your diet!

Or try juicing some with oranges and apples for a delicious breakfast drink!

A little more on Vitamin A…

This wonderful vitamin can also be found in liver, sweet potato, cod liver oil, and Cheddar cheese, as well as many fruits and vegetables.

It is a fat-soluble vitamin, which means that if you eat more than your body needs it can be stored away for later. So don’t panic, there’s no need to go out and buy a kilo of carrots every day!!

Caution: Whilst rare, excessive intakes of Vitamin A have been recorded in individuals who regularly consume liver or liver pâté (more than once a week) and do not achieve Vitamin D requirements. Excess Vitamin A can lead to weak and easily fractured bones in later life. To top up your Vitamin D stores try to expose your face and arms to the sun for 20 minutes per day in the summer months (be sure to use sunscreen). Children, the elderly, and individuals with darker skin are the groups least likely to meet Vitamin D requirements and should include eggs, fish, and fortified cereals and spreads/ margarines in their diet where possible.  

See your doctor if you have any concerns about your Vitamin A intake.

Have any food follies you would like me to investigate? Comment below and you may be featured!!!

NEXT TIME: Spinach makes you big and strong – FACT or FICTION?

Almonds are all mine.


English: Linseed on the plate Suomi: Pellavans...

English: Linseed on the plate Suomi: Pellavansiemeniä lautasella (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Do you struggle to achieve your 2-3 weekly servings of oily fish? Are you vegan or vegetarian? Want to improve your mobility and oil up those joints? Or do you just fancy trying something new?

Welcome to the world of linseed! It is super versatile, can maximise flavour and texture, and can be picked up cheaply if you’re willing to shop around! One of its greatest selling points is that it only needs to be used in small quantities, making your money go a long way…

So, what is linseed?

Linseed, or flaxseed as it is often known, is a seed from the flax plant that can be eaten whole, and as an oil, but is most easily digestible when ground down to milled form. It is an excellent source of both fibre and the essential fatty acid Omega 3.

What is Omega 3 and why do we need it?

Omega 3 is an essential fatty acid that scientists believe helps to reduce the risk of developing heart disease. It is also recommended in pregnancy and while breastfeeding to help with the growth of the baby’s nervous system. It is most commonly found in oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, and fresh tuna.

When we describe a nutrient as ‘essential’ we mean that the body cannot produce it itself and so it must be obtained from the diet. Many people find it easier to take supplements to achieve their Omega 3 requirements but taking fish oil supplements can put you at risk of developing liver damage because they contain high levels of vitamin A.

This is where our linseed comes in!

Each tablespoon of ground linseed/flaxseed contains almost 2g of Omega 3.

How can I realistically get linseed into my diet?

Well, there are many ways you can improve your Omega 3 intake with linseed:

  •  Add a teaspoon or two into your breakfast cereal
  •  Mix 1-2 tablespoons into your yogurt or smoothies (you won’t even know it’s there!!)
  • Sprinkle over salads for extra texture and colour
  • Stir into soups, stews, and sauces.
  • Combine with flour when making pancakes or baking bread and cakes
  • And my favourite: coat your meat or fish with milled linseed to create a breadcrumb-style crust!

Any more ideas or suggestions??


Piece ‘Oat-Cake Pizza

A healthy spin on the traditional pizza base (no oven required!):

  • 1 cup dried oats
  • 1/2 cup egg whites (you can also use 2 whole eggs)
  • 1 tablespoon milled linseed
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup water (approximate)
  1. Mix together in a bowl and let sit for 5 minutes while you prep some toppings*.
  2. Pour base mix into a lightly oiled pan over a medium heat, creating a circular (or heart!) shape as you go.
  3. Let the base set and then flip over to brown both sides.
  4. Add your toppings and cover – leave cooking over a low heat until the cheese melts.

If  you have a panini maker or sandwich toaster you could also make a square pizza on here – just don’t leave the lid down too long if you’re using cheese and be sure to apply a little oil to that lid!!

*Top with any combination of the following: salsa/pasta sauce/passata, pesto, sliced tomato, red onion, mushrooms, green/red capsicum, tuna, sliced hard boiled egg, sweetcorn, cooked chicken pieces, chopped ham, pineapple, any cheese esp. blue cheese or light mozzarella, and finish with fresh or dried herbs like basil and oregano. Or anything else you like really!

Serve and enjoy!

Banana Me Happy Cookies

(makes approx 12 cookies)

  • 1 medium-large banana
  • 1 cup dry oats
  • 1 tablespoon of milled linseed
  • handful of raisins or craisins (optional)
  1. Combine all of the ingredients together in a bowl with your hands.
  2. Create small patties and arrange on a baking tray.
  3. Pop in the oven for 15-20 mins at 350F.*

*Alternatively you can cook them in the microwave in just 1 minute!!! (warning: they won’t be super crunchy).

Allow to cool then serve and enjoy!

Can’t See Carbs Pancakes

(makes around 8 large, or 12 small pancakes)

  • 1 medium banana
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons of milled linseed
  1. Mash the banana with a fork, then beat in the eggs.
  2. Add in the linseed and give the mixture a good whisk.
  3. Heat a frying pan over a high heat, then turn down low.
  4. If you don’t have a non-stick pan simply use a little spray oil to prevent sticking.
  5. Pour in the mixture to make two medium sized or three small sized pancakes (per batch).

Serve and enjoy!

The best thing about this recipe is you can eat them all to yourself for under 300 calories!

I hope you enjoyed the article and please feel free to share your own recipes!!!

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