Top 5 food myths busted

By | September 12, 2016

Low-fat dairy is healthier than full fat

Goat cheese, served with fresh basil, bread and glass of white wine on wooden cutting board over turquoise wooden table.

You know by now just how much I love dairy and the thought that eating my beloved cheese and butter is doing me harm just doesn’t sit well at all.  Did you know that studies have shown that eating full-fat diary products is not linked to an increased risk of heart disease or obesity (cue angels singing here)  In fact, full-fat dairy from grass fed cows is associated with a decreased risk of heart disease.

Low-fat dairy is more processed than it’s full-fat sister so that alone is a red flag for anyone trying to follow a real food diet, where the less processed the better.  Plus the fatty acids in the dairy help us feel more statisfied and send the signal to stop eating, not so the low-fat variety so we can end up consuming more calories overall, leading to weight gain. The fat also carries vitamins A and D so these need to be added back in when the low-fat milk is skimmed.   Psychology also kicks in, if I gave you a bowl of icecream and told you it was low fat I am willing to bet you would eat a larger helping than if I told you it was full fat, in which case you would savour and enjoy a smaller portion.   Low-fat cheese is pretty tasteless so you need to use more to get any flaovour into the dish.

Taste definitely comes into it and some people simply prefer the taste of low-fat milk in tea or coffee totally fine if that’s your reason but don’t do it bevause you think it’s healthier.  I give you full permission to enjoy real butter, full-fat yoghurt and cheese just remember that full-fat dairy is calorie dense so watch your portion sizes.


Fresh is always better than frozen

I love frozen peas, spinach, broad beans and raspberries for their convenience and so I can enjoy them all year round, but is buying fresh nutritionally better?

This can be a tricky one, if you are able to buy your produce directly from the farmer or at a farmers market then fresh is definitely best.  However if like most of us your produce comes from a supermarket then consider this.  As soon as that head of broccoli or tomato is picked it begins to slowly loose nutrients, it travels sometimes thousands of kilometers then gets stored in a coolroom somewhere before being packed on a truck and sent to the store, where it may sit again for several days on display before you take it home.

Frozen produce on the other hand is flash frozen very shortly after harvesting, hopefully when said product is in season so naturally more nutrient dense, this means more nutrients are retained.  There also tends to be less waste with frozen as you can store it longer without it going limp and sad.



health-712980_1280Nuts need to be activated

Whats the deal with activated nuts?
Most of us had never heard of “activates” nuts prior to Paleo Pete announcing to the world via the SMH that he only ate activated nuts a few years ago.

So what the heck are they? Basically, they are any nut or seed that has been soaked in either plain water or water with a little vinegar added for 12 – 24 hours and then slowly dried in a dehydrator or very low oven to crisp them up again

Why do we need to “activate” nuts? All nuts and seeds contain phytic acid (phytates) which stores the phosphorus for the plant to use as it grows, adding water tricks the nut and sends a signal that it’s ok to sprout (release nutrients). Phytates are sometimes referred to as anti-nutrients as they can bind to minerals, particularly iron, zinc and calcium making them less available in the body. It’s important to note that this binding occurs when the foods are consumed together, so if you eat some almonds at lunch and then oysters the next day, the lovely zinc in the oysters is freely available,
It’s worth noting that Phytic acid is also an antioxidant and has been linked to reduced risk of colon cancer so it’s not all bad.

Bottom line: Are activate nuts the only way forward – HELL NO!!!!! Yes if you have time or stacks of cash go right ahead and make or buy activated nuts, they are yummy but if you are eating a few nuts here and there as part of a balanced diet, carry on. However, if you follow a raw food or vegan diet and consume high amounts of nuts it may be worth thinking about. Also if you have a compromised gut and digestion is an issue then soaking can make all nuts, seed, legumes and grains easier on your gut.

I reckon we call the “activated” nuts are healthier myth totally BUSTED. What do you think?

Kale is a superfood

So Kale is something of a superstar in the Nutrition world but is it all it’s cracked up to be?

Yes Kale scores really well on the Orac scale, which measures antioxidant capacity, it also has good levels of Vitamins A, C, and K and plenty of fibre (it’s a tough little green). But so do things like watercress, cos lettuce, spinach, broccoli, cauliflower etc.

Kale is also high in Oxalates, which when consumed in excess can lead to the formation of kidney stones. Beware of the studies around ranking the nutrient density of leafy greens, I got all excited (because kale scores way down the list) but what you need to know is that these studies are comparing the percentage your daily intake of certain nutrients per 100 calories of the green. Kale is, in fact, more calorie dense than other greens so scores less.

My take on this is that there is certainly room in a balanced diet for Kale, but don’t treat it as something more special than it is, and mix your greens up.


Chia Seeds are a good source of Omega 3vanilla chia seed pudding with blueberries and almonds

I love chia seeds for all their glupy goodness, chia puddings are on high roation here as they are a great way to get in some good fats that feel like a naughty dessert.  They certainly tick a lot of boxes nutritionally: they are gluten free,  super high in dietary fibre, making it great for healing digestive issues,  boast about 20% protein by weight, high in antioxidants (It has four times the ORAC value of blueberries). Chia makes a great egg replacement. Just combine with water to form a gel, and add it to recipes that call for egg.  But are they a good source of Omega 3 fats? Not in my opinion as the Omega 3 in Chia is in the ALA format and doesn’t convert efficiently into DHA and EPA. Ideally for any food to be a good source of Omega 3, it should contain all 3 types of like fish. Also, they are fairly high in phytates which can lead to reduced absorption of the other nutrients as the phytate binds to the minerals.  It’s also worth noting that most of the information claiming incredible quantities of nutrients is based on 100gm of chia, so you’d have to eat a whole lot to get the benefits. Having said all that I still love a chia pudding.




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