Put away your pout and eat some sprouts…

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It’s a divisive topic in most households – some of us (like me) are firmly in the I love sprouts group, yet others are strangely repulsed by these little green nutritional powerhouses.

Here’s why you should load up on sprouts on Christmas Day…

They’re packed with disease-fighting phytonutrients glucosinolates and anti-cancer properties including sulforaphane. Even the occasional serving can have significant benefits.

Sprouts also contain more vitamin C than broccoli or strawberries to give you a great immune boost to wave away festive colds.

Come on, what’s not to love?

Merry Christmas!

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Is your dairy intolerance self-diagnosed?

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If you answered yes to the above, you could be at risk of nutritional deficiency, warns Allergy UK.

New research from Alpro has revealed 44% of people that class themselves as dairy intolerant are relying on the internet and general guess work to self-diagnose. 72% of those suffering from dairy intolerance symptoms have removed all sources of dairy from their diet, the main source of calcium in the UK. A further 25% have cut out some dairy food groups. Gut problems including stomach pain, bloating and diarrhoea were cited as the most common reasons for cutting out dairy: eczema and nasal/sinus congestion were listed fourth and fifth.

Calcium is essential for the development and maintenance of healthy bones and teeth; it also regulates muscle contractions including the heartbeat. Calcium is particularly vital for women as low levels can increase your risk of osteoporosis. It’s found in foods including milk, cheese, butter, yoghurt, green leafy vegetables such as kale, broccoli and cabbage, dried fruits such as apricots, tofu and sesame seeds.  

Over half of the people surveyed felt there was not enough advice out there for dairy intolerance sufferers. They would like to see more information on calcium, recipes, suitable dairy swaps and ideas for eating out. A huge 75% said they would prefer to be diagnosed by a face-to-face consultation.

If you are concerned you may have symptoms that indicate dairy intolerance, Allergy UK advises: “to help identify whether a food is a cause of symptoms, a food/symptoms diary can help to identify a pattern. We would always recommend taking the diary to your GP or allergy specialist who can diagnose what may be causing the symptoms or refer you to a dietitian.”

Whether you are dairy intolerant or a dairy lover, make sure you maintain a good calcium intake in your diet…

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos

Five reasons why we should eat more Marmite

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Apparently we all either love or hate Marmite. I don’t actually love or hate it, I’m very much in the ‘it’s okay but I don’t eat it very often’ camp.

My GP recommended I eat more Marmite to try and increase my iron levels, I’m prone to anaemia you see. This provided a catalyst for this post as I wondered what else Marmite can help with and as it is vegetarian-friendly too, it could be a good health boost for many of us. Here’s why…

1. Boosts brain power – as it’s rich in vitamin B12 and folic acid, Marmite can help to improve memory and focus.

2. Tackles anaemia – Marmite is not only a rich source of iron, it also contains iodine which helps our bodies to absorb iron.

3. Can help combat depression – a lack of B vitamins can lead to anxiety and depression. Marmite is loaded with B vitamins and could help to improve low mood.

4. Great hangover fix – we feel so rough after a night on the sauce as a result of our bodies lacking essential nutrients such as B vitamins. Marmite’s sodium content can also help to replenish lost salts.

5. Makes skin glow – vitamin B1, more commonly known as thiamin, helps our bodies to get the most out of the energy and nutrients in our food. This in turn helps our skin to look good. Marmite also contains riboflavin (vitamin B2) which is essential for healthy hair, skin and nails.

I’m making a pact to increase my weekly (currently non-existent) quota of Marmite, who’s with me?!

 

Image courtesy of Press Loft/Prezzybox.

Predictable lunch, anyone?

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When it comes to lunch us Brits can be pretty unadventurous and stuck in our foodie ways. In a recent poll by Whole Foods Market, one in three people admitted to eating the same food for lunch, every day.

The delectable and dependable cheese sandwich was named the most popular option, followed by the equally easy-peasy-to-prepare ham sandwich.

Half of the 2000 people surveyed, confessed to eating the same lunch option every day, with many confessing they had been munching on the same lunchtime fodder for over SIX years. Four out of ten said they stick to the same food because it’s easy and one in ten simply because it’s cheap.  A frank seven out of ten of those people were also quite happy to admit their lunches are dull.

If you’re perfectly happy with your predictable lunches, you’re not alone. But, if you are stuck in a routine and crave a little lunchtime variety, take a look at Love Sarnies, a site dedicated to celebrating 250 years of sandwiches. On there you will find a wealth of mouth-watering ideas for vegetarian, vegan and meat-eating tastebuds.

Lunch need never be dull again, unless you would prefer to keep it that way, of course.

Get healthy: The eat well factor

 

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As part of her role as a mentor on The X Factor, Kelly Rowland brings with her a huge breadth of experience in the music industry and knows all too well that success is not all down to vocal talent, looking good is also key. The superfit star, who leads a focused healthy lifestyle, wants to help her acts look and feel their best by giving advice on nutrition and introducing a strict diet and exercise plan.

By the time the live shows roll around next month, the star wants her acts to be in the best possible shape, mentally and physically, and to help this happen, all fast food is banned. Kelly will be keeping a close eye on them to ensure no naughty snacking takes place.

For advice on how to get your food balance right, the Eatwell Plate is a great at-a-glance guide that shows how much of what you eat should come from each food group. It is suitable for most people – whether healthy, overweight, meat eaters or vegetarian, regardless of ethnic origin. It does not apply, however, to young children as they have different nutritional needs.

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The British Dietetic Association, have very kindly offered Ms Rowland the services of a dietitian to help advise her acts on healthy eating that will give them the nutrition and energy they need to make it through the live shows.

For the rest of us, here is some very helpful advice from Sian Burton, spokesperson for the BDA: “Eating a variety of foods can help you manage your weight, improve general wellbeing and reduce the risk of conditions including: heart disease, stroke, some cancers, diabetes and osteoporosis. All you need to do is eat sensibly, choose a range of foods in the correct proportions and have a variety of foods and fluids.”

Veggie Percy – Big up the new gelatine free sweet treat

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As I’m in a sweet-toothed frivolous frame of mind as it’s a Friday afternoon, I thought I’d share some super news with fellow vegetarians – M&S has revealed Percy Pigs are soon to be available in a gelatine free option!

It’s a royal pain in the bottom that so many sweets are off limits to us vegetarians as they are produced using beef and pork gelatine, a protein made from animal tissue and gruesome stuff.

Veggie Percy uses a pea protein which has been specially developed just for him. M&S has spent over three years developing a veggie solution which maintains both flavour and the must-have bouncy texture.

Now M&S have found a way to produce sweets without using gelatine, will other sweet manufacturers take the hint and start looking into vegetarian alternatives? I really do hope so.

Meanwhile, Veggie Percy, who has the green ear vegetarian-friendly guarantee, will go on sale nationwide from Tuesday 2nd August for the purse-friendly sum of £1.25 for a 70g portion.

See you at the checkout!

Beware of the huge barbecue calorie splurge this summer

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Summer is here, the sun is shining (well, most of the time!) and it’s impossible not to love this time of year. One of our most favourite seasonal outdoor activities is to get together with friends and family over a barbecue and eat and drink to our hearts content.

The bad news? New research has revealed the average person consumes a whopping 2,030 calories per barbecue due to the high in fat/high in calories food staples such as burgers and sausages that we crave. This is an additional 3oz of fat – nearly an ounce more than a woman’s recommended daily intake and 30 more calories than a woman on a normal diet should be consuming.

Portion control can very easily fall by the wayside as we just can’t help popping back for more high calorie food while often washing it all down with alcohol. And, as barbecues tend to roll on for hours as we idly chat, eat, drink and be merry, many of us are unaware of just how much food we do consume.  

A woman will, on average, eat two sausages, two burgers, a rib, a chicken leg, a kebab and a jacket potato, which pushes their calorie intake over the recommended healthy limit. While men can put away: two burgers, two ribs, one and a half chicken legs, two kebabs and one and a half jacket potatoes in one sitting, according to the survey.

So, what can you do to continue enjoying barbecues but keep your calorie intake more in check?

British Dietetic Association spokesperson, Anna Raymond says: “Make sure your guests can pack out their plates with lots of fresh salads. Try to limit your portion to just one plate and fill up with salad rather than bread and try to alternate each alcoholic drink with a glass of water.”

Nutritionist Jayne Wilson says: “As Brits are becoming heavier, summer is a good time to change your eating habits, but this doesn’t mean you cannot still enjoy a barbecue. Fish, chicken, seafood or turkey marinated in plain yoghurt, herbs, spices or chilli, is a great alternative to burgers and sausages or sugar-laden marinades. Snacking on vegetable crudites or fruit kebabs at social occasions rather than crisps and dips will also help avoid hidden fats.”

Alternatively, go vegetarian at barbecues! Veggie burgers and sausages are naturally lower in fat as are vegetable kebabs.