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Category Archives: In the news

Categories Healthy eating, In the news, Latest Research, Soya

Cut Your Risk of Cancer by Reducing Red Meat Consumption

An independent report by the Scientific Advisory Committee reviewed the links between meat consumption and bowel cancer. It suggested those who eat at least 90g of red or processed meat a day faced higher levels of the disease. This is significant as bowel cancer kills around 16,500 people in the UK every year.

The DoH has now recommended that consumers cut their consumption to eat  2.5 oz (70g) of red or processed meat a day – the equivalent of three rashers of bacon. The weekly recommended limit is likely to be 1.1 lb (500g), the same as eating a large pack of minced beef, two 8oz steaks or four 4oz pork chops.

With the British classic ‘meat and 2 veg’ dinner plate it can be easy to forget that there is a whole variety of protein sources to choose from to obtain a balanced diet, limiting reliance on red meat.

Lean White meat
Chicken, turkey and game are great sources of protein. When you can opt for organic meat to reduce your exposure to pesticides and to help keep your intake of saturated fat low don’t eat the skin and remove this before cooking. Eating more turkey is also good for the waist line as it is so low in fat plus it can boost mood as it contains the amino acid tryptophan which is needed by the body to make serotonin which hep to lift mood.

Organ meat
These  include liver, kidney and heart. As well as a protein source liver also contains iron, copper, B vitamins, Vitamin A & C. Pregnant women should avoid too much Vitamin A and therefore should avoid Liver unless advised to eat this by their GP.

A great source of very digestible and absorbable protein along with being a great source of Iron and B vitamins.  Eggs make great breakfasts, scrambled or poached, easy snacks when boiled and great lunches when added to quiche or as a simple quick and nutritious dinner  stuffed with veggies of your choice an omelette is a winner.

Beans & Pulses
Beans and pulses are good sources of vegetable protein as well as providing plenty of fibre and being rich in the minerals calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium and folic acid. Add any of the following to soups, stews, curries or salads – lentils, chickpeas, aduki beans, pinto beans, haricot beans, butter beans, kidney beans, mung beans, cannellini beans, soya beans and split peas.

Although this is classed as a grain Quinoa is also a good complete protein source. You can sue quinoa grain like couscous or rice or quinoa flakes make a great porridge of savoury crumble topping.

Tofu (Soya bean curd) also contains potassium, calcium, magnesium, vitamin A and vitamin K as well as being a complete protein. It works well if you marinade it with strong flavours and add it to stews, curries, soups and personally I like it grilled until a little bit crispy and then and added to salad.

Categories Alzheimers, In the news, Latest Research, Memory, Mental health, Uncategorized

Study shows raised homocysteine levels are linked to dementia

An article in Nature Journal confirms previous evidence that raised homocysteine levels are a likely primary predictor and potential cause of the brain damage that identifies Alzheimer’s.  ‘homocysteine is associated with an increase in the risk of cognitive impairment and dementia’ Levels of Homocysteine area associated with a lack of Vitamin B6, B12 and Folic acid.

Good dietary sources of these foods rich in B6, B12 and folic acid

Dark green leafy vegetables, Whole grains, Fortified breakfast cereals and fortified refined white flour. Whole grain flour. rice, black-eyed peas, lentils, bananas, avocado, broccolli, wheatgerm, peanuts, eggs, tuna, salmon.

More information about homocysteine and its effect on health

Test for high homocysteine levels

Categories Children, Elderly, Healthy eating, In the news, Nutrient deficiencies, Nutrition, Uncategorized

Nutrient deficiencies are sweeping across Britain

Millions of adults and children in the UK are risking poor health and even serious illness because of major shortfalls in their nutrition, according to an important new report out today

The researchers found that a quarter of women have inadequate intakes of iron, more than 50% lack the antioxidant selenium and nearly one in 10 men are low in magnesium. Intakes of iron, magnesium, zinc, iodine and selenium are woefully low in adolescent girls and one in five pre-school children have abnormally low iron stores. A significant number of elderly people are also iron deficient. The team discovered that blood levels of vitamin D are too low to sustain normal bone health in a quarter of adults while fish intakes have declined in the last decade and are now too low to meet recommendations for omega-3 essential fatty acids.

The new report- ‘Towards a Healthier Britain 2010’ – reviewed the key areas where nutrition could be improved, with independent nutrition experts Dr Carrie Ruxton and Dr Pamela Mason examining the evidence from national dietary surveys. In addition, more than 70 scientific papers were explored looking at the potential role of vitamin supplementation.

Time to think about a multivitamin?

Categories Healthy eating, In the news, Latest Research, Nutrition, Save money, Uncategorized, Weight management

Save money, Ditch the credit card and eat more healthily

A study published this week showed that when we pay for food with cash we make healthier choices and steer clear of junk food and impulse purchases. Cash should also keep your weight down as researchers suggested that there is a link between rising obesity and the use of cash cards in America. Great news for those of us worried about the recent cuts and for those wanting to cut their waist line down too!

Categories Heart disease, Hypertension, In the news

Chilli may be hot news for blood pressure?

Research carried out in China has demonstrated that rats fed capsaicin (the chemical that makes chillis hot) had more relaxed blood vessels and lower blood pressure than mice given a diet without capsaicin. The researchers suggest that eating chillis may be a promising lifestyle intervention for people with hypertension.

Until further research is done, people should not try substituting their blood pressure medication with chillis, but including them in the diet is beneficial for several reasons. Research in the laboratory has shown that capsaicin may be beneficial in reducing cancer rates, chillis are high in vitamin C and vitamin A. They help to ward off colds and flu by boosting the bug fighting properties of mucous membranes lining the nose and throat. Chillis have also been shown to reduce cholesterol and to balance blood sugar by modulating insulin response.

Why not try some of these dishes to boost immunity, help ward off cancer, balance blood sugar and have a positive effect on  blood pressure?

Chilli con carne by Jamie Oliver, taken from’ Jamie’s Ministry of Food’

Serves 6


  • 2 medium onions
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 medium carrots
  • 2 sticks of celery
  • 2 red peppers
  • Olive oil
  • 1 heaped teaspoon chilli powder
  • 1 heaped teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 heaped teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 x 400g tin of chickpeas
  • 1 x 400g tin of red kidney beans
  • 2 x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes
  • 500g good-quality minced beef
  • 1 small bunch of fresh coriander
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 400g basmati rice
  • 1 x 500g tub of natural yoghurt
  • 1 x 230g tub of guacamole
  • 1 lime

Method: How to make good old chilli con carne

1. Peel and finely chop the onions, garlic, carrots and celery – don’t worry about the technique, just chop away until fine.

2. Halve the red peppers, remove the stalks and seeds and roughly chop.

3. Place your largest casserole-type pan on a medium high heat.

4. Add 2 lugs of olive oil and all your chopped vegetables.

5. Add the chilli powder, cumin and cinnamon with a good pinch of salt and pepper.

6. Stir every 30 seconds for around 7 minutes until softened and lightly coloured.

7. Add the drained chickpeas, drained kidney beans and the tinned tomatoes

8. Add the minced beef, breaking any larger chunks up with a wooden spoon.

9. Fill one of the empty tomato tins with water and pour this into the pan.

10. Pick the coriander leaves and place them in the fridge.

11. Finely chop the washed stalks and stir in.

12. Add the balsamic vinegar and season with a good pinch of salt and pepper.

13. Bring to the boil and turn the heat down to a simmer with a lid slightly askew for about an hour, stirring every now and again to stop it catching.

Serve with brown rice and a large green salad.

Vegetarian chilli, adapted from a recipe by the vegetarian society


For the sauce

  • 175g/6oz green lentils
  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1-2 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 red and 1 green pepper, stalk and seeds removed, and chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 x 400g/14oz cans chopped tomatoes
  • 1 heaped tbsp tomato purée
  • 300ml/½ pint vegetable stock (make with bouillon powder)
  • 100g/4oz frozen peas
  • 3 tbsp vegetarian pesto
  • 175g/6oz mushrooms, wiped and quartered
  • 1 courgette, chopped
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 can kidney beans, drained and cooked

Preparation method

  1. Place the green lentils in a large bowl and pour boiling water over them. Leave to soak for 30 minutes. (Alternatively, buy a tin of pre soaked lentils.) Drain.
  2. Heat the oil in a large saucepan and fry the onion and garlic together with the chilli and cumin, until the onions are softening.
  3. Add the peppers, carrots and drained green lentils and cook for 5 minutes, stirring all the time. Add the tomatoes, purée, stock, peas and pesto, bring to the boil and simmer until the lentils are tender (about 30 minutes). Add the mushrooms and courgettes and simmer for 5 minutes more.
  4. Season to taste.
  5. Add the cooked kidney beans and simmer for 5 more minutes.
  6. Serve with cooked brown rice and a large green salad.
Categories Chocolate, Heart disease, In the news

Flavonoids in chocolate cut heart risks

Recent research carried out in Sweden has been widely reported in the media because it claims that chocolate can reduce the risk of heart failure in elderly and middle-aged women. The researchers asked thousands of people to complete questionnaires listing which foods they commonly eat and found that older women who eat one to two portions of chocolate once or twice a week had a lower incidence of heart failure than those who ate chocolate more or less frequently. The portion size was not stated, but was estimated by the researchers to be 19-30g of chocolate that contains 30% cocoa solids.

The researchers acknowledge that the health benefits of chocolate are likely to be gained from the flavonoids that it contains. Flavonoids are compounds that are synthesised by plants and they are therefore prevalent in fruits, vegetables and legumes. Research has shown that red wine and tea are also high in flavonoids but, like chocolate, these substances can be harmful to health and so they should be limited in the diet.

Common food sources of flavonoids include red, blue and purple berries, red and purple grapes, apples, citrus fruits, onions, broccoli, apples, parsley, thyme, celery, hot peppers, soybeans and legumes. Research has shown that flavonoids may act as antioxidants. They may also reduce inflammation, cut cancer risks and decrease neurodegeneration in addition to cutting cardiovascular disease.

No adverse effects have been associated with high dietary intakes of flavonoids from plant-based foods, wheres side-effects have been observed from drinking tea, red wine and chocolate due to the caffeine, alcohol, saturated fat and sugar in these products. This research demonstrates that benefits are only seen with small intakes of chocolate – a small bar once or twice a week. Intakes above this are likely to reduce health due to the fat and sugar content of chocolate. A small bar each week may be a great way to gain flavonoids whilst having a treat, but far greater health benefits can be gained from eating a diet rich in a variety of fruit, vegetables and legumes.

For more information about flavonoid rich diets, why not call Emma at Smart Nutrition or make an appointment today?

Categories In the news

Coco pops now just under one third sugar!

Kellogg’s announced yesterday that they had invested millions of pounds to reduce the sugar content of Coco pops in order to meet the needs of mums who want a lower sugar cereal that their children will eat. In so doing they have reduced the sugar content from 35 per 100 grammes to 29.75 per 100 grammes. This is a 15% decrease, but the cereal has gone from being just over one third sugar to just under one third sugar. The Food Standards Agency label would give any product containing over 15% sugar a red light under the traffic light labelling system. Not surprisingly, as it would almost be eligible for a double red light if it existed, Kellogg’s have opted merely to list the sugar content instead of going with the traffic light system.

Amazingly, Coco Pops are not Kellogg’s highest sugar cereal; they are trumped by Kellogg’s Frosties, which contain 37% sugar. Luckily, there are lower sugar alternatives marketed for children; Kellogg’s Raisin Wheats are a much more acceptable 13% sugar and they contain 9g fibre. Weetabix contain an impressive 4.4% sugar. Of course many children will add sugar to their weetabix, but at least parents can get involved at this stage.

One in six children go without breakfast, despite studies demonstrating that going without it can impair concentration and lead to obesity in later life. Most children have gone more than 12 hours since their last meal when they leave the house in the morning, so it is important to break the fast and enjoy a nutritious meal. For many, a pre-packaged cereal saves time, just be sure to check the labels and choose something with wholegrain, natural ingredients and not too much sugar. When time allows, or at the weekend, why not try some of these low sugar alternatives?

  • Natural yogurt with fresh fruit.
  • Toast with marmite, peanut butter or low sugar spreads such as Dalfour jam.
  • Scrambled eggs with smoked salmon.
  • A bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich.
  • Porridge sprinkled with seeds and a spoon of xylitol (natural sugar extracted from berries).
  • Greek yogurt with agave syrup and unsalted pistachio nuts.
  • Grilled tomatoes on rye.
  • Home-made muesli with oats, chopped nuts and dried fruit such as unsulphured apricots, raisins and dried bluberries.
  • A mushroom omelette.
  • A wholemeal muffin with ham and cheese.
  • A poached egg with wholemeal bread.
  • Wholemeal or buckwheat pancakes with blueberries and a drizzle of maple syrup.
Categories In the news, Latest Research, Mental health

Balance blood sugar to keep aggression at bay

Research published this week suggests that  a sweet drink allowed students to remain calmer under stressful provocation than their counterparts who had been given an artificially sweetened drink. Student volunteers performed tasks such as preparing a speech to be read to a stranger; this speech was then criticised as boring and disappointing. Those who had drunk a sugary lemonade responded to this provocation leading the Australian researchers to conclude that the brain may need glucose for functions such as controlling behaviour.

The researchers are correct in concluding that the brain needs glucose to function correctly. However, they fail to acknowledge that sugary drinks will provide the brain with glucose for only a short time because insulin will be produced in order to reduce the high blood sugar. This will ultimately result in a lowering of blood sugar to levels below the consumption of the sugary drink, and an increased likelihood of poor stress control and aggressive responses.

The study involved the students fasting for 3 hours. After three hours, most people would have a falling blood sugar that may make them susceptible to mood changes. The study did not report what the students had eaten prior to the fast, but if it was a meal low in protein, complex carbohydrates and essential fats (these are students!), it is likely that their blood sugar was quite low. The students drinking the sugary drink would have increased their blood sugar, but only for a short time.

In order to avoid these dips in blood sugar that can cause mood swings and a reduced ability to deal with stressful situations and remain calm under provocation, it is important to eat regular meals and snacks containing protein, essential fats and low glycaemic carbohydrates that are digested slowly. The brain will then have a constant source of glucose without the need for hormonal involvement that may cause stress. Avoiding simple sugars reduces the production of insulin that can ultimately result in low blood sugar. Eating three meals and at least two snacks daily, going no more than three or four hours without food, can help to regulate blood sugar and hormones. 

Why not try some of these meal and snack ideas to balance blood sugar, or call Emma at Smart Nutrition to get more advice?

Breakfast suggestions: 

*Porridge with milk and berries and/or cinnamon to sweeten 

*Muesli with nuts and seeds and milk or yogurt 

*Fresh fruit salad with yogurt, nuts and seeds 

*Grilled bacon with tomatoes 

*Scrambled, boiled or poached eggs on a slice wholemeal toast 

*Peanut butter on wholemeal toast 

Snack suggestions: 

*Nuts, seeds or natural yoghurt with some fruit. Low-sugar fruits include apples, pears, plums and berries, while high sugar fruits are dried fruits (the dehydration process means the fruit sugar is more concentrated), bananas, grapes and melon. Fruit’s high nutrient content outweighs the negative sugar impact in most cases, but be aware that if you’re going to eat a banana, for example, it might be wise to also have some nuts in order to keep things balanced.

 *Oatcakes with nut or seed butter eg tahini, peanut butter, almond butter 

*Vegetable crudités with hummus 

*1-2 squares dark chocolate with nuts to balance the sugar. This way you can still have chocolate as a snack, but just make sure you are balancing the sugar if you do. Same goes for biscuits/cake etc. If you do have these foods (try to limit them as much as you can), ensure you also have some protein to counter-balance the negative effects. 

Lunch suggestions: 

*Wholemeal sandwich/pitta/roll etc or salad centred around a protein source such as chicken, tuna, salmon, cheese, lentils, tofu, nuts, hummous etc 

*Soup with meat or lentils with a wholemeal roll and soft cheese/peanut butter instead of butter 

*Egg/beans/peanut butter on toast (beans are a mixture of complex carb and protein) 

*…and follow with nuts/yoghurt/fruit (if well tolerated). Following with refined foods will just make you crash and burn and heading for a mid-afternoon slump! 

Dinner suggestions: 

*Grilled or roasted meat or fish with seasonal vegetables and brown rice, pasta or potatoes with skin (boiled, mashed or baked) 

*Stir-fry including chicken, prawns, cashew nuts, tofu etc and vegetables served with wholemeal rice or egg noodles. (Brown basmati rice is the lowest GI rice) 

*Meat or lentil curry with brown rice 

*Spaghetti bolognaise with wholemeal spaghetti 

*Salmon fillet with steamed broccoli, courgette and peppers and sweet potato mash (sweet potato is lower GI than regular potato) 

Or any protein with or without a small amount of wholegrain rice, pasta or bread, quinoa, noodles or potato with skin (boiled, mashed or baked) and lots of salad, fruit or veg for vitamins and minerals.

Categories Heart disease, In the news, Latest Research, Mental health

High fat diets may cause emotional disturbance

Research to be presented at the Annual Meeting of the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behaviour (SSIB) has found that a prolonged high fat diet is associated with changing levels of a brain chemical called dopamine. This chemical conducts signals in the brain that control movement, emotional responses and the ability to feel pleasure or pain. Low dopamine levels adversely affect comfort, satisfaction and a sense of fullness after eating.

The research was carried out in Chicago on rats that has consumed a high fat diet for 2 or 6 weeks. Compared to rats consuming a standard low fat diet, high fat rats released lower levels of dopamine and had reduced reuptake of dopamine by dopamine transporters in the brain.

The research ties in with previous studies that  have linked obesity and high fat diets with reduced dopamine transporter numbers. The authors conclude that diet may have an important impact on brain neurochemistry.

Cutting out saturated fat from the diet is also important to reduce the risks associated with obesity and developing heart disease. However, it is important to include essential polyunsaturated fats found in oily fish, nuts and seeds as these are beneficial for brain chemicals and they can keep depression at bay. Replacing fatty meats, cakes, biscuits, cheese and full fat dairy products with low fat options and foods that are high in polyunsaturated fats can boost health and emotional well being.

Try these top ten swaps:

  • Swap fatty cuts of beef, pork or lamb for chicken breasts or trim the fat from lean chops or steak.
  • Use chicken, turkey or soya mince instead of minced beef, or grind your own mince from lean steak.
  • Swap butter for olive oil on bread; try rubbing toast with a little garlic before drizzling with extra virgin olive oil.
  • Grill, bake, poach or steam instead of frying.
  • Snack on nuts and seeds with fresh fruit instead of cakes and pastries.
  • Choose nairns oatcakes or oat biscuits instead of biscuits containing hydrogenated oils – these trans fats are the fast track to heart disease.
  • Try cottage cheese instead of full fat options – if you find it bland choose one flavoured with onions and chives or add your own herbs.
  • Soya or tofu sausages make a wonderful alternative to traditional sausages. If you prefer meat, choose an organic pork sausage and prick the skin before grilling.
  • Swap pork pies for smoked mackerel fillets when picnicking. Prepare crudités of peppers, carrots, celery and cucumbers instead of crisps.
  • Swap ice creams for homemade sorbets or ice lollies made from blended fruits.

To discuss other ways of cutting out fat and making choices that boost neurotransmitter production, why not call Emma at Smart Nutrition?

Categories Heart disease, In the news, Latest Research, Uncategorized

Nitrate content of beetroot juice lowers blood pressure

Researchers at the Queen Mary University of London and UCL have published a study that found that the high nitrate content of beetroot causes blood vessels to dilate, lowering blood pressure. Healthy volunteers who were given beetroot juice or nitrate tablets had their blood pressure reduced within 24 hours.

Beetroot is a good source of fibre, potassium, manganese, iron, calcium and vitamin C. It also acts as a liver cleanser and has powerful antioxidant properties for cancer protection. Beetroot can be juiced with any fruits and vegetables, but works particularly well with orange, carrot, apple or cucumber.

Why not try these recipes to add a little beetroot to your diet?


500gm Raw Beetroot – raw, peeled and chopped

2 tbsp olive oil

1 onion, peeled and finely chopped

2 celery sticks, trimmed and finely chopped

1 large carrot, peeled and finely chopped

1 thyme sprig, leaves stripped

sea salt and black pepper

1/4 red cabbage

800 ml vegetable stock or water

1 tbsp red wine vinegar to taste

1 tsp xylitol or caster sugar

A handful of dill, chopped

4 tbsp natural yogurt to serve

1.       Heat the olive oil in a large pan and add the onion, celery, carrot, thyme leaves and seasoning. Cook over a medium heat, stirring frequently, for 8-10 minutes.

2.       Add the beetroot and cabbage with a splash of water. Stir, cover and cook for 10-12 minutes until the vegetables are just tender. Stir a few times to prevent the vegetables from catching and burning on the bottom of the pan.

3.       Pour in the stock or water to cover the vegetables. Add the vinegar, bring to the boil and simmer for 5-10 minutes until the vegetables are soft. Skim off any froth and adjust the seasoning to taste with salt, pepper and xylitol or sugar.

4.       Puree the soup if desired and serve with chopped dill and a dollop of yogurt.

Beetroot, carrot and chicory salad

3 heads of chicory

2 medium carrots

250g cooked beetroot in natural juices

handful of lightly toasted hazelnuts


1 pomegranate

1 orange

2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

3-4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

sea salt and black pepper

1. Trim the chicory and shred the leaves into matchsticks. Peel the carrots and cut into ribbons using a vegetable peeler. Roughly cut the beetroot. Place these ingredients in a bowl.

2. Make the dressing by halving the pomegranate and scooping out the seeds into another bowl. Squeeze the juice of the orange into the bowl and add vinegar, olive oil and seasoning to taste. Blend until the pomegranate seeds are finely crushed and then sieve.  Spoon the dressing over the salad and scatter with lightly crushed toasted almonds.

Recipes taken from ‘Healthy Appetite’ by Gordon Ramsay