Sweet prediction for 2013

It seems we may all have been hoodwinked.

We all understood that eating healthily would give us better lives.

But somehow we fixated on eliminating fats from our diet when we really needed to be giving some attention to the effects of sugar.

According to the Lovestrong health site:

Both carbohydrates and fats, though often cited as unhealthy dietary components, are macronutrients that play a vital role in maintaining your overall health. Added sugar, on the other hand, doesn’t provide much of a benefit to the body.

What does all this mean for 2013?

I think we can expect more sugar alternatives to come onto the market, so watch this space…
One such alternative already appearing is Sukrin – a natural sweetener developed in Norway from erytritol, a sugar alcohol fermented the from glucose found in pears, melons and mushrooms.
Most importantly: Sukrin has zero calroies and zero GI (ie. it doesn’t affect blood sugar – important for diabetics and dieters). And it can be used in baking too.
A delightful sugar alternative from Norway

Sukrin is in fact only 75% as sweet as sugar, it has not artificial sacharin taste and is totally safe for sonsumption. But what I really like about this product is the diversity of products available from Sukrin…

In addition to normal white Sukrin crystals, you can also get Sukrin + which is mixed with Stevia to give  a taste twice as sweet as sugar! (In other words you only have to use half as much.)
Also there is an icing sugar version called Sukrin Melis – very useful indeed… But,  my personal favourite is Sukrin Gold, wich is composed of several natural sweeteners to make a brown caramel flavoured sugar at less than 1 calorie per teaspoon. Perfect for coffee!

Walnuts a Good Bet for Would-Be Fathers

Men who eat walnuts see better signs of sperm vitality, motility, and morphology reports Suzanne Dixon, MPH, MS, RD

Efforts to understand the connection between nutrition and human reproduction have focused mostly on women. This makes sense, because women need to be in good health for a successful pregnancy. However, we shouldn’t ignore the men, especially when focusing on fertility. Health experts have found that something as simple as having a man eat more walnuts may aid couples wanting to start a family.

Walnut wonders

To study the effect of walnuts on semen quality, researchers randomly selected 117 young men to follow their usual diet, or their usual diet plus 75 grams of walnuts per day. For reference, 75 grams is 2.6 ounces, which translates into approximately two large handfuls of walnuts per day. The men were 21-to-35 years old, and their semen quality—sperm vitality, motility, and morphology—was measured before and after the 12-week study.

Vitality refers to the overall strength and health of sperm. Motility refers to how well the sperm move, or swim, and morphology refers to the structure of the sperm.

After 12 weeks, compared with men eating their usual diet, all three measures of semen quality improved in the men eating their usual diet plus walnuts. Sperm vitality, motility, and morphology were also significantly better in the men eating walnuts.

Focus on fertility

This small study found that eating walnuts improves semen quality, however, more research is needed to confirm these findings. Fortunately, walnuts are loaded with healthful fats, vitamins, and minerals, so for most men there are no downsides to eating more walnuts. And as noted by lead study author Wendie Robbins, PhD, associate professor in the UCLA Program on Genomics and Nutrition, for couples looking to start a family, “This study shows that what men eat is important, too.”

Our tips can help you make the most of your diet and lifestyle choices, for best total and reproductive health:

  • Start with the experts. The study included healthy young men, with normal fertility. It does not tell us whether walnuts improve semen quality in men with underlying fertility issues. If you, as a couple, have tried to get pregnant without success, see your doctor for a complete health work up. Adding walnuts can’t hurt, but you may need medical management to address other conditions that affect fertility.
  • Adjust accordingly. At 185 calories per ounce, walnuts are caloric; however, the men in the walnut group did not gain weight, suggesting they adjusted their diets to account for the extra calories. When adding in healthy new foods, make sure you do the same to avoid weight gain.
  • Tackle the total picture. Eating walnuts is a healthy choice, but for best health, which translates into better fertility, aim to reach a healthy body weight, exercise regularly, and improve total diet quality. This means eating less added sugar and fewer processed foods, and eating more vegetables, fruit, beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, and whole grains.

(Biol Reprod 2012;87:101, 1–8)

Suzanne Dixon, MPH, MS, RD, an author, speaker, and internationally recognized expert in chronic disease prevention, epidemiology, and nutrition, has taught medical, nursing, public health, and alternative medicine coursework. She has delivered over 150 invited lectures to health professionals and consumers and is the creator of a nutrition website acclaimed by the New York Times and Time magazine. Suzanne received her training in epidemiology and nutrition at the University of Michigan, School of Public Health at Ann Arbor.

Boost Memory Naturally with Fish Oil

Supplementation can help DHA and EPA increase significantly, according to Kimberly Beauchamp, ND

Taking an omega-3 fatty acid supplement from fish oil might improve your memory, says a study in the journal, PLOS ONE.

What’s the buzz about omega-3s?

DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil, may help lower triglycerides, reduce the risk of heart disease, improve painful menstrual periods, alleviate depression, lessen asthma severity, and help with ADHD symptoms. Studies have shown that omega-3s affect levels of neurotransmitters like dopamine in the brain. Dopamine influences thinking (cognitive) function and mood, and is the primary neurotransmitter involved in Parkinson’s disease. Omega-3-deficient animals have up to 80% less dopamine release in their brains than control animals.

Remember to remember your fish oil

Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh tested the effects of fish oil supplementation on dopamine transmission and memory in 11 healthy people (average age 22 years). Every day for six months, the participants took 2 grams of fish oil containing 750 mg of DHA and 930 mg of EPA. Before and after the study, the investigators measured blood levels of the fatty acids, did brain scans to determine the amount of dopamine release, and tested memory function in the participants. They found:

  • DHA and EPA increased significantly after supplementation.
  • Dopamine release did not seem to change with fish oil supplementation.
  • Working memory (in one of three tests) improved significantly over the course of the study, but was not related to changes in blood levels of DHA and EPA.
  • Working memory improved the most in people with the lowest DHA levels before taking the supplement.

“The fact that working memory performance was enhanced by omega-3 supplementation regardless of an effect on [dopamine transmission] suggests that its potential pro-cognitive effects are mediated via extrastriatal dopamine or other non-dopaminergic mechanisms such as effects on inflammation, cellular signaling and trafficking,” commented the researchers. In other words, omega-3’s effects on memory may or may not be related to dopamine in the brain; they could also be from fish oil’s anti-inflammatory actions or from changes in the ways that cells “talk” to each other in the body.

More studies are needed to confirm the results found in this one, and to determine just how fish oil improves memory.

Are there options to taking fish oil?

Some plant foods, such as chia seeds or flaxseed, contain omega-3s in the form of alpha-linolenic acid, but the body’s capacity to convert alpha-linolenic acid to EPA and DHA is limited. So a fish oil supplement might make a better choice.

(PLOS ONE 7(10):e46832;doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0046832)

For the party try Christine’s gluten free Roasted Pepper and Walnut Dip recipe

walnutdipNutritionist, Christine Bailey, has an easy store-cupboard dip or spread which takes just minutes to prepare. Perfect for the party!

Rich in antioxidants and essential fats this is packed full of protein and nutrients.  With a creamy sweet taste it combines omega rich walnut oil and balsamic vinegar to create a wonderful dairy free dip.

Suitable for Vegetarians and vegans, Gluten-free, Wheat-free, Dairy-free, Egg-Free

Serves 4-6

Pinch of smoked paprika
1 garlic clove, crushed
100g / 4oz walnuts, chopped
225g / 8oz roasted red peppers (from a jar)
1tbsp sun dried tomato puree
3tbsp organic cold pressed walnut oil
1-2tbsp Higher Nature’s Organic Wild Pomegranate Balsamic Vinegar to taste
2tsp xylitol
Salt and black pepper to taste

1.    Place the paprika, garlic, walnuts, peppers in a food processor or blender and process until finely chopped.
2.    Add the rest of the ingredients and blend until smooth.
3.    Adjust quantity of vinegar and xylitol according to taste.  Season with a little black pepper and sea salt.

Christine’s gluten free Butternut Squash and Pear Soup recipe

Butternut Squash and Pear Soup

Nutritionist, Christine Bailey, cooks up a flavoursome gluten free sweet soup, combining antioxidant rich vegetables with juicy pears.

Winter squashes and sweet potatoes are crammed with cancer fighting, cardio-protective nutrients.  Rich in carotenoids plus vitamins C and E – valuable antioxidants for the skin, eyes, lungs and immune system.  A great source of soluble fibre to aid digestion and full of anti-vital and antibacterial properties great for the immune system.  To make this more substantial add a tin of cooked butter beans and puree until smooth. Alternatively accompany with some additional protein such as lean ham or cheese.

Serves 4

Storage: Make in advance and store in the fridge for up to 3 days.  Freeze in batches for up to 1 month.

2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 butternut squash, peeled and chopped
1 sweet potato peeled and cubed
3 ripe pears, peeled and chopped
¼tsp garam masala
¼tsp cayenne pepper
450ml/16floz/2cups homemade vegetable stock or use low salt bouillon powder
5 tbsp low fat crème fraiche (omit if dairy intolerant or can add a little soy yogurt before serving).

1. Heat the oil in a large pan. Add the onion and cook until softened. Add the rest of the ingredients except the crème fraiche and simmer for 25 minutes until the squash is tender.

2. Puree in a food processor.  Return to the pan and stir in the crème fraiche. Season with black pepper and warm through to serve.

Christine is a qualified nutritionist and chef and author of numerous healthy recipe books.  One of her specialisms is digestive health and cooking for people with allergies including those sensitive to gluten and dairy.  When she’s not writing recipes she advises clients and companies. For additional recipes why not book on to one of Christine’s cookery days or purchase one of her e-books online (See www.advancenutrition.co.uk)

Enjoy dieting or don’t do it

Dr Karg Crispbread
Eat healthy and eat well

Here’s a tip for starting a diet in 2013.

Do a little physical exercise and EAT FOOD YOU LOVE!

(In moderation of course…)

When you deprive yourself you soon find yourself giving up or, even if you do lose weight, you then compensate by eating all the food you missed and put the weight back on.

A good plan is to stock up on all the healthy foods you enjoy and eat lots more of these, but limit fattening foods to the occasional treat. Make sure you still get a little fibre and calcium too (but not too much) as these are great boosters for weight loss. Other very useful tips include keeping a food diary and joining a slimming group.

When it comes to crispbread

If you’re going to eat crispbread then find one that doesn’t make you feel like you’re eating cardboard.

Dr Karg crispbread is a excellent choice. It’s organic, it tastes great and it comes in a variety of appealing flavours, such as olive and rosemary, emmental cheese and pumpkin seed or  tomato and mozzarella. It also comes in little bite sizes so you can portion it out.

But the taste is fantastic.

You only live once, so if you’re going to diet. Enjoy it!

A simple cranberry sauce recipe with Sweet Freedom

This is a simple, delicious, low GL cranberry sauce – don’t just reserve this for the turkey, it’s also lovely on natural yoghurt or toast. Enjoy.

serves 8ready in 30 minutescranberry sauce

400g cranberries
150g Sweet Freedom Original
1 tbsp butter
Zest and juice of 1 orange
50ml water

1. Take the cranberries off their stalks, rinse, and put in a pan with the rest of the ingredients.
2. On a high heat bring to a fast boil, and let the mix bubble for a minute or two, then reduce the heat and let it simmer for 10 – 15 minutes.
3. Allow to cool slightly and taste.
4. If you need more sweetness add a little more Sweet Freedom at this point and simmer for a couple more minutes.
5. Pour into the bowl or jar you will be serving it in and allow to cool.
6. If you wish to keep some for later store in the fridge once it has cooled completely.