Good Nutrition Advice

For a healthy body and mind

Month: May 2010

Health benefits of chickpeas

APART from tasting great in salads, stews and hummus, chickpeas – or garbanzo beans are low in saturated fat , cholesterol and sodium and are a great source of dietary fibre, protein and copper. Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, belong to the legume family along with lentils and peas.

Studies have shown that eating more legumes can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. They are also an excellent source of folate and manganese. Garbanzo beans are a great way to add fibre to your diet. One cup contains a respectable 12.5g which puts them in the same league as lentils which have 16g per cup.

Read more at Suite101: Chickpeas Health Benefits and Garbanzo Bean Recipe | Suite101
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Heart Healthy Cooking

This chickpea recipe is one of my favourites and is full of flavour along with plenty of fibre and packed with essential nutrients.

Chickpea Stew

English: Chick pea and Silene vulgaris stew. (...

English: Chick pea and Silene vulgaris stew. (Potaje de garbanzos y collejas) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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GT crops bring diseases and death

NEW research reveals the disastrous ecological impacts of the world’s top herbicide and GM crops made tolerant to it. Dr. Mae-Wan Ho and Brett Cherry believe Glyphosate tolerant (GT) crops and glyphosate herbicide (commercial formulation,Roundup) poison nitrogen fixing and other beneficial soil bacteria, increase fungal pathogens, undermine plant immunity to diseases, decrease plant micronutrients available in the soil, and more.

Research findings over the past decades paint a damning picture of the cropping system that has taken over 85 percent of the 134 million hectares of global agricultural land now growing genetically modified (GM) crops (see [1] Scientists Reveal Glyphosate Poisons Crops and Soil, SiS 47). The unprecedented rise in GT crops has been accompanied by a sharp increase in the use of the glyphosate herbicides worldwide, especially in the US [2] GM Crops Increase Herbicide Use in the United StatesSiS 45).

15 glyphosate herbicide injury coffee Coffea a...

15 glyphosate herbicide injury coffee Coffea arabica (Photo credit: Scot Nelson)

Read the whole story

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How to Read Food Labels

US Nutritional Fact Label

US Nutritional Fact Label (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

TO judge the quality of the food you are buying, take a close look at the Nutrition Facts panel which most foods have.

You can use the guide below to work out if the product contains high levels of fat, sugar or salt (sodium).

Fresh fruit makes a healthy, refreshing snack, but watch out for the processed fruit found in snacks. Processing concentrates fruit sugars until they become a sticky, calorie laden threat to teeth.

School Bars are over 60% sugar and Kellogg’s Fruit Winders are high in both sugar and saturated fat.

Fruit and vegetables are so essential to good health that we should all try to eat more than five portions of fruit and veg every day.

Fresh, frozen, chilled, canned (with no added sugar), freshly squeezed juice and dried fruit and vegetables all count.

Processed foods (such as ready meals) tend to contain low levels of fruit and vegetables and can also contain unhealthy levels of fat, sugar and salt.

Vitamin supplements (and many foods which contain added vitamins) do not have the same nutritional benefits as real fruit and vegetables.

Amount per 100g Amount per 100g
This is a lot This is a little
Total fat 20g 3g
Saturated fat 5g 1g
Sugar 10g 2g
Sodium 0.5g 0.1g

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Natural Choices

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Reading food labels – ‘farm fresh’ eggs

A CARTON of eggs can be called ‘farm fresh’ or ‘country-fresh’ and carry images of hens scratching in a farmyard, however these are probably eggs from caged battery hens.

The hens which lay ‘free-range’ eggs must have access to the outdoors, though in practice many are kept in such huge sheds that they rarely daylight.

‘Barn eggs’ are a halfway house between free range and battery systems.

The packaging on Class A ‘Lion Quality’ eggs says they come from ‘caged hens kept in carefully managed conditions’. These hens have to be ‘carefully managed’ because otherwise they would quickly die. In a typical cage, five fully-grown hens are crammed into a space only slightly larger than an A2 poster. Eggs from caged hens may be cheap, but the price in animal welfare is high.

‘Organic’ eggs are guaranteed to come from uncaged hens that are able to roam outside on organic pasture. They taste pretty good too!

Source: The Food Commission

The dubious health benefits of some coffees and teas

I RECENTLY wrote a couple of articles on the health benefits of coffee and green tea. Both contain antioxidants which are well-known to help prevent disease. But I just thought I’d also like to point out that all not all coffee and green teas are created equal…

First example is SoBe Green Tea. It comes in a lovely bottle with a nice fresh green label that subtley says ‘drink me’. Unlike Alice in Wonderland you’re unlikely to shrink if you drink this. However, you may just find yourself growing …

SoBe Green Tea (20 fl oz) contains 240 calories and a whopping 61g of sugar, equivalent to four slices of Sara Lee Cherry Pie.  Moving swiftly on …  Starbucks.

One Starbucks Vanilla Frappuccino (13.7 fl oz) has 290 calories, 4.5g of fat and 45g of sugar.  And if you think that is bad … Starbucks Peppermint White Chocolate Mocha with Whipped Cream contains a double whopping 660 calories, 22g of fat and 95g of sugar. Starbucks has managed to pack in more calories and saturated fat than two slices of deep-dish sausage and pepperoni pizza from Domino’s. That makes it the equivalent of dinner and dessert disguised as a cup of coffee.

If you want to reap the benefits of coffee just stick to the regular ground stuff.

Reading food labels

GOOD food labelling is essential if we’re to know what we’re actually buying. So many foods contain unhealthy levels of fat, sugar and salt, along with numerous additives and flavourings, but food labels often fail to make this clear and can sometimes even be deliberately deceptive.

What European Food Labels have to Tell you:

  • Weight or volume
  • Use by
  • Ingredients
  • Genetically modified (GM)
  • Place of origin
  • Nutrition information
  • Artificial sweeteners

Weight or Volume

An e symbol written next to the weight means that this is the average weight of the product, but that the weight of each pack may vary slightly. Use by dates are provided on highly perishable foods and it is illegal for shops to sell the food after this date. Best before dates are used on less perishable foods. Both use by and best before dates assume food has been correctly stored. Sell by or display-until dates are used by shops for stock control, and it is not an offence to sell food past its sell by date. However it wise to not eat foods that are older than their use by date because they could potentially be a health risk. Food eaten after its best before date may not be dangerous, but may no longer be at its best.

Genetically Modified (GM) Products

Products sold in Europe containing GM ingredients, derivatives or additives must be labelled as GM. But meat or dairy products from animals fed GM feed are not required to be labelled as such. Some foods may also be produced with GM enzymes (e.g. bakery products) but do not have to be labelled as GM.  Buying organic food will ensure you avoid GM ingredients, including those used in animal feed.

Place of Origin

There is no legal requirement for a product to display a place of origin except for beef, but labels should declare contact details for a manufacturer or importer. For beef cuts and mince, the country of origin, slaughter and processing must be shown.

Nutritional Information

Companies are not legally obliged to tell you the amount of nutrients such as calories, fat, sugar, fibre and salt (sodium) in their food – unless a claim is made e.g. low fat or high fibre.


Ingredients, including additives, must be listed in descending order of weight. Labels must state how much of a ‘characterising’ ingredient (such as the strawberry in a strawberry yogurt) is contained in the food (e.g. 5%). Some foods don’t have to declare their ingredients, such as sweets sold in small wrappers, food sold unwrapped from a bakery or delicatessen counter, and restaurant and take-away food. Alcoholic drinks do not need to list their ingredients either. Because ingredients are listed in descending order of weight you can quickly check what the main ingredients are in a product. For example, a chicken pie that lists chicken as the fifth ingredient probably doesn’t contain much chicken.

Artificial Sweeteners

If a product contains artificial sweeteners it must state ‘with sweeteners’ next to the product name. Many companies deliberately hide this information on the back of the packet, so always read the small print!

To judge the quality of the food which you buy, take a close look at the Nutrition Information panel which many foods display. You can use the guide below to work out if the product contains high levels of fat, sugar or salt (sodium). The servings marked in red are high – those in blue low. Figures are based on 100g. So 20g of fat per 100g serving is high while 3g of fat per 100g serving is low.

Nutrition Information

Total fat 20g 3g
Saturated fat 5g 1g
Sugar 10g 2g
Sodium 0.5g 0.1g

Jilly’s sweet potato falafel

WELL, after my Facebook posting saying how sweet potatoes are an excellent source of vitamin A, my friend Jilly, who is a fabulous cook came up with a wonderfully easy and healthy recipe for this traditional Middle Eastern dish. So, here it is.

Serves 4-6

  • 1 large or 2 small sweet potato
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tbsp fresh coriander, chopped
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 80g/23/4oz flour
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • A few sesame seeds

Heat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas5 and bake the sweet potato for about an hour. Meanwhile, toast the spices in the oven on a tray for a few minutes.

Peel the sweet potato and mash roughly. Stir all the other ingredients, including a couple of pinches of salt, into the potato and place in the fridge for an hour.

Lightly oil a non-stick baking tray and, using a spoon or a falafel scoop, make your mix into falafel shapes (small round balls) and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Heat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas6 and cook for 25 minutes.

Jilly serves these with a garlicky yoghurt sauce. Just chop a little garlic into a couple of tablespoons of thick yoghurt and whisk in an egg cup full of light olive oil with some seasoning. She also recommends a bit of chilli.

Pic: Jilly Ballantyne

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