news & trends

Good things grow in Ontario!

Lucia and Sue on the strawberry farm

When I was a kid, I remember singing the tune ‘Good things grow in Ontario!’ And that lyric still holds true today.

Lucia and I were recently invited by Farm Food Care Ontario to attend a farm tour in beautiful Norfolk County where we had the chance to learn more about food and agriculture!

 

First stop: Strawberry Tyme Farms

Dalton and John Cooper standing in a high tunnel strawberry field

Meet Dalton Cooper, a 4th generation berry farmer and his dad John. Originally an apple farm since 1939, the family now grows berries using innovative varieties and growing techniques. Traditionally, strawberries harvest in June but a new ‘day-neutral’ strawberry fruits for 5-6 months, extending the typical strawberry season from June / July well into October.

John gave us a little strawberry physiology lesson to understand how this works. ‘June strawberries’ are named as such because they fruit in June. These berries are planted in the Fall when the days are short, and bear fruit in June when the days are long. On the other hand, ‘day-neutral’ strawberries are an annual variety planted in the spring with berries ready to pick about 12 weeks later. The berries continue fruiting regardless of the length of the day, which is why they’re called ‘day-neutral’!

The strawberries are grown on table tops in high tunnels which protect the berries from damaging heavy rains and maintains a moderate temperature. Not to mention, it’s much easier to pick these berries! The Cooper family also grows long cane raspberries, a growing technique where the berries are grown in pots and produce fruit in their second year.

Fun facts: There are 675 farms across Ontario which grow strawberries. Ontario growers produce between 6,000-7,000 tonnes of strawberries each year!

 

Next stop: Suncrest Orchards

Farmers Amanda and Hayden with their family of Jamaican workers

Image: Facebook Suncrest Orchards

Farmers Amanda and Hayden Dooney have owned the Suncrest Orchards since 2019 and work with a wonderful Jamaican family of eight employees including Raymond and George.  They’re seasonal agricultural workers who come up to the farm as early as March and stay until the end of October or longer. The farm grows and harvests seven different varieties of apples: Paula Red, Ginger Gold, Sunrise, Golden Delicious, Honey Crisp, Royal Gala and Ambrosia.

Red gala apples growing on a bush

At lunch, we had the wonderful opportunity to chat with some of the workers. Amanda says, “We have huge respect and appreciation for the sacrifice they make to come up and help with our orchard.”  Livian, (pictured front left below), for example, has worked seasonally on farms for 25 years and is proud to have supported his four kids through university. Indeed, let’s all give our thanks to the amazing farmers and seasonal agricultural workers who work so hard to grow delicious and nutritious food!

Are you hosting an educational tour? Contact us to cover the event and share our insights.

 

Thanks to the event sponsors for hosting a truly inspiring and heart-warming event: Farm and Food Care Ontario, GreenBelt, More than a Migrant Worker, Ontario Apple Growers, Ontario Berries and the Ontario Produce Marketing Association.  This event was sponsored travel and this blog reflects my own learning experiences.

Written by: Sue Mah, MHSc, RD, PHEc, FDC ~ Award-winning dietitian and Co-Founder, n4nn

Ask a RD – How much caffeine is too much?

A person holding a the handle of a coffee mug. An image of Sue's face in the overlay.

Health Canada has set recommended maximum daily amounts of caffeine depending on your age. For children and teens under the age of 18, the recommended caffeine intake depends on their body weight. Consuming too much caffeine can lead to insomnia, irritability, nervousness and headaches. If you’re sensitive to caffeine, consider having less.

chart with caffeine recommendations for age groups

Caffeine is found naturally in coffee, tea, chocolate and certain flavourings such as guarana and yerba mate. Check out the caffeine content of some common foods and beverages to see where you’re at with your caffeine intake for the day. Keep in mind that many mugs and store bought drinks are larger than a standard cup.

chart with caffeine intake of foods and beverages

Do you have a food or nutrition question? Ask us and we’ll feature the answer in one of our next newsletters.

Written by: Sue Mah, MHSc, RD, PHEc, FDC ~ Award-winning dietitian and Co-founder, n4nn

What’s the benefit of eating locally and in season?

vegetables and fruit displayed at a market

Have you ever wondered if buying local food is a better choice? You’re not alone as more people want to know how and where their food and other products are grown and handled. Local food is also trending in the mainstream of grocers, restaurants, health care facilities and schools. In this article we consider what the term local really means and look at some of the benefits of eating local food.

What does the term ‘local food’ mean?

Most people think that ‘local’ refers to a short geographic distance between where the food was grown and sold. Since the term ‘local’ is largely unregulated and undefined, the area could mean 1 kilometer or 1,000 kilometers away from the point of purchase. Some advocates promote the ‘100-mile (160 km) diet’ as the geographic limit of local, but local food does not have to be such a short a distance.  The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) says local food claims are valid for food produced within in the province or territory in which it is sold, or if sold across provincial borders it’s within 50 km of the originating province or territory.  The best way to find out what local means for a specific product is to ask the food seller – be that a grocery store retailer, the farm stand supplier or restaurant owner. You may get some different answers.  How would you define local food?  For the purpose of this article, we’ll go with the CFIA term local food, that is grown within your province or territory.

What are the benefits of buying local food?

Local food is fresh and tastes great

Local food is often harvested a few hours before it’s sold so food produced close to home is usually the freshest it can be.  Local fruits and vegetables are also harvested close to peak ripeness and flavour. When food is picked and eaten at the peak of freshness, it retains more nutrients and tastes better.  Check online what grows in season in your region. You can also eat local food during the winter months because root vegetables, pulses, grains, meats, dairy products are available year-round.

Local food offers seasonal variety

Local farmers may grow a variety of unique foods such as heirloom produce, which you might not find at the grocery store. Look for various types of your favourite vegetables and fruit and try different products.  Seasonal eating may mean eating in step with the agricultural harvest calendar and enjoying foods at peak flavour and ripeness. Embracing foods that are in season may also increase the variety of foods you’re eating. Dietitian’s tip: If raw produce is not in season locally then it probably is not locally produced.

Buying local can save money

Food produced close to home is often sold at a good price, and seasonal produce may be sold for even less. For example, if all the farmers have a lot of tomatoes, they may be willing to lower prices to sell them all. Planning meals around what’s in season also helps you save money. Canning or freezing well-priced seasonal vegetables and fruit is a good way to take advantage of lower prices and eating local all year long!

Local food supports communities

Local food creates community and connections. As we emerge from a long, socially isolating pandemic, loneliness is a rising problem. Meeting local growers, discussing foods unique to your region, discovering how your food is grown and harvested counters this trend.  Local food is a great experience and offers a place for people to meet each other and build meaningful human connections. Local food can also spark healthy conversations, whether at the farmers’ market, grocery store, local restaurant or farm-to-table gathering with family and friends.

Buying local preserves farms

Choosing local food aids your local economy. It helps keep local producers in business, creates jobs and promotes economic growth. When you buy local food, you are also helping to preserve valuable farmland. This also helps protect green space and habitats for wildlife to exist locally your communities.

Where to find local food in your region?

Farmers market

Farmers markets help meet the growing demand for locally produced food by providing a retail hub intended to sell foods directly by farmers to consumers. They’ve become an important connection between rural and urban communities with benefits that are felt throughout the community. At a farmers’ market you may discover products you can’t find elsewhere such as different variety of vegetables and fruits, unique cheeses, fresh or potted herbs, cut flowers, oven fresh baked goods, meat, fresh fish, poultry, or eggs from nearby producers.

Farmers markets are also a place where you get a chance to directly talk food growers, producers and vendors. Many small farmers are eager to talk about their growing methods and how they care for their animals. Take time to connect with them and discover more about the foods you buy and enjoy.

With more farmers markets opening every year, check online and with your local community associations to find out where they are in your region. In Ontario you can find a farmers’ market at this link Find a Farmers’ Market – Farmers’ Markets Ontario (farmersmarketsontario.com)

Pick your own

Some farmers may invite you to pick your own produce at the farm. By making a trip to a local farm you’re treating yourself to an experience of choosing your food from the field where it’s grown. Pick your own is especially valuable during the peak growing season and harvest times.  Check online for local farms that open their gates to pick your own customers.  In Ontario you can find an on-farm market or pick-your-own operation near you to purchase Ontario food at this link: Find a Farm – Farm Fresh Association (farmfreshontario.com)

Grocery stores

Some grocers are offering more local food.  Many of these foods will be clearly labeled in the store so you know what you’re buying and where it came from. At the grocery store, identify the area of origin for foods you buy and look for ‘local’ when possible.

Restaurants

When dining out, consumers are attracted to local foods especially while on vacation. Check out the menus online and look for menu items with local and seasonal ingredients. Some regions have government co-ordinated ‘eat local’ initiatives that include participating restaurant listings. In Ontario, the Culinary Tourism Alliance created the FeastON Certification. You can find a restaurant serving Ontario food on their menu at this link https://ontarioculinary.com/restaurants/

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)

CSA provide a way to buy local seasonal vegetables and fruits directly from Farmers – often at a more affordable price. Farmers sell a set of number of shares, or memberships, to customers. The shares usually provide a container of vegetables or other seasonal farm products on a weekly or bi-weekly schedule during the growing season, depending on the growing conditions. CSA’s provide a market for local farmers, and both raw product and a farm connection for consumers.  You can find CSA’s near you by visiting your local community centre, municipal office or searching online.

Bottom Line:

Canadians increasingly value supporting a thriving local agricultural system. There are many benefits to exploring local food for individuals and the community.  Let’s start a conversation about the benefits of including some local foods in the diet and in menus.  Dietitians share credible information and can help find ways to maximize this opportunity and navigate around challenges.

Further Reading and more information:

Written by Lucia Weiler, BSc, RD, PHEc – Award-winning dietitian and Co-Founder, n4nn

Contact us for comments or questions.

Cool News about World Refrigeration Day!

A cartoon refrigerator surrounded by images of fruits and veggies, and the earth.

Did you know that June 26 is World Refrigeration Day?

Refrigeration is one of the most important engineering initiatives of the last century and is at the very heart of modern day life. Just think of the many ways in which this technology improves our lives:

  • Food safety: Bacteria can grow quickly in food at temperatures between 4°C to 60°C, potentially causing foodborne illness. But the cooling provided by refrigerators and freezers in our homes, restaurants and retailers slows bacterial growth, keeping foods safe to eat. Not to mention the cooling technology that allows perishable foods to be harvested and transported to their final destination.
  • Food waste reduction: One way to reduce food waste at home is to use up leftovers. Thanks to refrigeration and freezing, most cooked meals can keep about 3-4 days in the fridge and between 2-6 months in the freezer. For a detailed guide to storing leftovers, check out Health Canada’s info about Leftovers: How Long Will They Last? or this Cold Food Storage Chart.  
  • Food availability and nutrition: Freezing allows fruits and vegetables to be picked at their peak ripeness and then frozen – often within hours – to lock in maximum nutrition and flavour. When fresh, seasonal produce is not available, frozen is an excellent, nutritious and affordable option. 
  • Planetary health: Cooling reduces one of the largest contributors to climate change – the emission of greenhouse gases from food that is lost due to spoilage and waste.

Dr. Leslie Oliver sitting at his desk.

Dr. Leslie Oliver (pictured), a member of the HVACR Heritage Centre Founding Committee and his father T.H. (Howard Oliver) were pioneers of early refrigeration in Canada.

The HVACR Heritage Centre is a volunteer driven heritage organization whose mandate is to preserve and record the history of heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration technologies and how they’ve changed our lives. Dr. Leslie Oliver, a professional engineer, appraised historic artifacts as well as documented the contributions of the industry’s work since its early years. By 1928, his father Howard became one of Canada’s first high tech workers in the field of internal combustion, radio and refrigeration. Howard started the family business T.H. Oliver Ltd. which Leslie later took over as Vice President and General Manager. Read the inspiring stories behind cooling technology and its impacts on society at their virtual museum.

 

 

Written by Sue Mah, MHSc, RD, PHEc, FDC – Award-winning dietitian and Co-Founder, n4nn

 

 

Meet the McKennas!

The McKenna family photo

The McKenna family

Last month, I was kindly invited by CropLife Canada to meet the McKenna family who are 4th generation farmers in beautiful Prince Edward Island (PEI)! Gordie and Andrea McKenna shown above with their family, grow potatoes, carrots and turnips on the red, iron-rich soil which helps to retain the right amount of moisture for the crops.

But it takes so much more than just perfect soil and climate to grow food. Along with hard work and perseverance, the McKennas must navigate issues such as:

  • Land management – Preparation for this year’s potato planting actually began 3 years ago with a SWAT analysis (soil, water, air and topography), crop rotation and pest management.
  • Soil health – Grid sampling is conducted to test soil samples for nutrients.
  • Impact of world events on supply and cost of resources – For example, much of the fertilizer was previously sourced from Russia. With the world events, the cost of fertilizer has risen by 85%!
  • Technology – Modern day farmers need to invest in technology and digital tools.
  • Labour shortage – It’s a challenge to find staff who understand the machinery and technology required for farming. The shortage of truck drivers in our country is escalating a competitive marketplace between Canadian and European farmers.
  • Weather –  Climate uncertainties such as early frost or heat domes can pose major challenges.

Gordie McKenna describes the precision needed in growing carrots.

I had a chance to ask Gordie, “What’s one thing you would like to say to Canadians?”

His reply, “I want Canadians to know just how challenging it is to produce perfect food. It’s a constant pressure on a food producer in Canada to try to be perfect every step of the way. Farmers need more respect from consumers, better understanding and more education in the classrooms for children to see what farming is like today.”

The bottom line is that farming is incredibly hard work. Farmers take pride in growing safe and nutritious food that feed us and families around the world. Watch the Real Farm Lives documentary series to peek into the daily lives of our amazing Canadian farmers!

Other Fun Facts I Learned on My Trip to PEI

  • Prince Edward Island is the largest grower of potatoes in Canada, supplying about 25% of all potatoes grown in Canada. There are 200 potato producers in PEI, and 96% of them are multi-generational farmers.
  • Plant science includes tools that protect crops from insects / weeds / diseases as well as innovations to develop stronger varieties of crops. Farmers use these innovations to grow food sustainably.
  • Cavendish Farms were the first potato producer in North America to convert solid waste to bio-methane gas for energy. The Cavendish Farms plant processes 4 million pounds of potatoes every day and produces 270 bags of French fries every MINUTE – that’s 388,800 bags of French fries each and every day! It can take 9 years to clone a new potato variety. The Cavendish team of researchers developed the Russet Prospect potato which requires less fertilizer and soil fumigation.
  • Harrington Research Farm houses a field and greenhouse research facility as part of the Charlottetown Research and Development Centre. Scientists conduct research on integrated crop systems with a focus on crop rotations, soil health, water quality, agronomy of new crop species, crop nutrient cycles and pest / disease management.

Thanks again to CropLife Canada, Farm and Food Care PEI and the PEI Federation of Agriculture for organizing this fantastic trip and educational event! Until next time!

Group photo on a farm

Friends and colleagues on the McKenna farm.

Written by Sue Mah, MHSc, RD, PHEc, FDC, Award-winning dietitian and Co-Founder, n4nn. The event was sponsored travel and this blog reflects my own learning experiences.

 

Does diet affect erectile function?

A man in a blue shirt sitting on a couch and talking to a health professional

It’s the question you may have always wondered, but were too shy to ask!

June is Men’s Health Month, so let’s take a look at some of the research on this topic.

A study published in the Journal of the American Association Network Open journal suggests that a healthy dietary pattern may play a role in maintaining erectile function in men. Researchers from the University of California and Harvard University looked at the food and nutrient data from over 21,000 healthy men aged 40 to 75 who had no previous diagnosis of erectile dysfunction or diabetes or heart disease. The men were part of the Health Professionals Follow-up Study. The researchers found that men at all ages who followed a Mediterranean-style diet had the lowest risk of erectile dysfunction. A Mediterranean-style diet focuses on fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes and fish.

Fruits and vegetables contain special plant nutrients called flavonoids.  Researchers in Greece found that eating fruits and vegetables lowered the risk for erectile dysfunction by 32% in men aged 18 to 40 years.

Another study from researchers in Spain looked at 83 healthy men aged 18-35. For 14 weeks, these men were asked to follow their usual diet and were divided into 2 groups – one group also ate 60 grams (about ½ cup) of nuts a day such as walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts; the other group of men did not eat nuts. The study found that a healthy diet supplemented with mixed nuts may help to improve erectile and sexual desire.

Bottom line: Fruits, vegetables and nuts are the foundation of an overall healthy diet that can benefit not only your heart health but also your sexual health.

 

Does Eating Veggies Protect Your Heart? Trending Research Translated for Wellness

Image Source: Bigstock, Canva

A recent study made media headlines questioning whether eating veggies really protected your heart. Since eating ‘lots of veggies’ has been the mainstream nutrition recommendation for promoting health and wellness, we thought a closer look into this new research was warranted. Here we bring you the Dietitians’ translation of the science into meaningful advice to support healthy living.

The Study [1]

Published in the Frontiers of Nutrition, a new study by researchers from the University of Oxford, the University of Hong Kong, and the University of Bristol involved nearly 400 000 British adults and 12 years of follow up. There are strengths in the diverse team and sample size. The study initially found that the people who consumed the highest amount of vegetables had a 10% lower incidence of cardiovascular disease compared to the people with the lowest vegetable intakes. However, when they adjusted for socioeconomic and lifestyle factors (including physical activity, body weight, high blood pressure, smoking and other nutrients) any protective effect of vegetable intake became much less important. [2]  This surprising finding resulted in the headlines ‘Eating vegetables may not protect against heart disease.’

Low quality evidence

  • Very low vegetable intakes
    The study says the “Mean intakes of raw and cooked vegetables were 2.3 and 2.8 tablespoons/day, respectively”. This amount is very low, less than half a serving per day!  Healthy dietary guidelines recommend much more than this. For example, the WHO suggests consuming at least 400 g (i.e., five portions) of fruit and vegetables per day excluding potatoes, sweet potatoes, cassava and other starchy roots to improve overall health and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. [3]
  • Observational study errors
    One of the limitations of this observational study was that all data was self reported and vegetable intakes may not have been reported accurately, causing measurement errors. It is possible that the study participants had difficulty visualizing their vegetable intakes as their number of “heaping tablespoons”, which the questionnaire asked them to estimate for their vegetable intakes.1
  • Inconsistent with current evidence
    This is one surprising study whose findings are not supported by the significant amount of existing data. Current mainstream evidence shows higher vegetable consumption promotes health and reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Our Recommendations

Keep eating plenty of vegetables and fruit for health including your heart health! Make veggies and fruit half your plate at each meal. Pile your plate with colour and eat at least one dark green and one orange vegetable each day.

Do you have a food or nutrition question? Ask us! Registered Dietitians look beyond fads to deliver reliable, life-changing advice.

Written by Lucia Weiler, BSc, RD, PHEc, Award-winning dietitian and Co-Founder, n4nn

[1] Feng Q, Kim JH, Omiyale,  Bešević j, Conroy M, May M, et al. Raw and cooked vegetable consumption and risk of cardiovascular disease: a study of 400,000 adults in UK biobank. Front Nutr. 2022 Feb; 9:831470. doi: 10.3389/fnut.2022.831470. Available at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fnut.2022.831470/full

[2] Dietitians of Canada, PEN Nutrition (2022) Available at: https://www.pennutrition.com/TrendingTopic.aspx?id=29382 (PEN registration required to access)

[3] Diet, nutrition and the prevention of chronic diseases: report of a Joint WHO/FAO Expert Consultation. WHO Technical Report Series, No. 916. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2003. Available at: WHO_TRS_916.pdf

Why Does Magnesium Matter for Health?

Image Source: Bigstock, Canva

Magnesium is a hot topic and clients are asking what does it do?

Magnesium is an important mineral in the body. It plays a role in over 300 body enzyme reactions. Its many functions include producing energy, making body protein, and building bones and teeth. Magnesium also supports muscle and nerve function by helping our muscles relax and contract. Magnesium has a role in regulating blood pressure, blood sugar levels and may help protect against heart disease. Magnesium helps maintain a healthy immune response.

Magnesium is becoming a hot topic lately because research shows that many people are not getting enough magnesium in their diet. More than 34% of Canadians over the age of 19 consume less magnesium that would meet their nutrient requirement. [1] Although a true deficiency is rare in healthy people, because the body can compensate for lower magnesium intakes by reducing its loss in the urine and taking magnesium from deposits stored in your bones.  If you don’t consume enough magnesium, a concern is that you may not have enough of this important mineral stored to keep yourself healthy and protect your body against heart disease and immune disorders. [2]

How much magnesium do you need?[3]

Adult men need 400-420 milligrams daily and adult women need 310-320 milligrams magnesium every day.

Supplements provide non-food sources of magnesium. The tolerable upper intake level for non-food sources of magnesium is 350 milligrams / day. This amount would be in addition to the magnesium provided by food. Consult with your doctor or dietitian if you have any questions about non-food sources of magnesium in your diet. This is especially important because magnesium supplements can interact with some medications, so do discuss supplements with a health care provider before taking one.

Where is magnesium found in food? [4]

Magnesium is found in many foods.

The best sources of magnesium are nuts and seeds. Here are some examples:

  • Pumpkin seeds, ¼ cup (60 mL) of has 317 mg magnesium (about 10 medium nuts) [5]
  • Brazil nuts ¼ cup (60 mL) has 133 mg magnesium
  • Nuts (almonds, pine nuts, cashews, mixed nuts etc.) ¼ cup (60 mL) have 79-98 mg magnesium
  • Soybeans (edamame) frozen or prepared ¾ cup (175mL) has 73 mg magnesium

Other magnesium-rich foods are dark green leafy veggies including spinach and Swiss chard with
½ cup (125 mL) cooked dark greens delivering about 80 mg magnesium.

Magnesium is also found in legumes (dried beans, peas, lentils), grain foods like fortified breakfast cereals, bread, rice; soy foods like soymilk and tofu; peanut butter, avocados, potatoes, dairy yogurt and milk.

Bottom line

About one third of Canadians consume less than the average requirement for magnesium. Be sure to include plenty of magnesium rich foods in your diet. Inadequate nutrient intake can lead to nutrient deficiencies that may negatively affect the quality of your life.

Do you have a food or nutrition question? Ask us and we’ll feature it in our Ask a Dietitian posts. Registered Dietitians are the most trusted food and nutrition experts who are committed to helping Canadians enjoy nutritious, sustainable, and affordable and healthy eating.

Written by Lucia Weiler, BSc, RD, PHEc, Award-winning dietitian and Co-Founder, n4nn

 

[1] Health Canada (2012) Do Canadian Adults Meet Their Nutrient Requirements Through Food Intake Alone? Available at

art-nutr-adult-eng.pdf (canada.ca)

[2] Duyff Academy of Food and Nutrition (2017) Complete Food & Nutrition Guide

[3] Dietitians of Canada-UnlockFood.ca (2019) What You Need to Know About Magnesium Available at What You Need to Know About Magnesium – Unlock Food

[4] Alberta Health Services (2019) Magnesium and Your Diet. Available at Magnesium and Your Diet (albertahealthservices.ca)

[5] Government of Canada, Health Canada, Canadian Nutrient File https://food-nutrition.canada.ca/cnf-fce/serving-portion.do?id=2544

What are plant sterols?

A heart shaped bowl filled with broccoli, blueberries and kiwi. A small headshot of Sue is in the photo with the caption reading "What are plant sterols?"

Plant sterols are also called “phytosterols” (phtyo means plant). They’re like cousins to cholesterol because they have a similar structure, and are found naturally (in tiny amounts) in plant-based foods – such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains and vegetable oils.

If you have high blood cholesterol, plant sterols may be beneficial because they’ve been shown to decrease the levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol (Low Density Lipoprotein cholesterol) – this is the type of cholesterol that is a risk factor for heart disease.

In the body, plant sterols partially block the absorption of cholesterol. The cholesterol gets removed as waste (i.e. in our feces) which then results in an overall lower level of LDL cholesterol in your blood.

So, how much plant sterol is needed for this benefit? Research shows that eating 2 grams (2,000 milligrams) of plant sterols every day can lower LDL cholesterol levels by 8-10%. This amount is nearly impossible to get with regular foods since a typical healthy diet only contains about 200-400 milligrams of plant sterols.

To get 2,000 milligrams of plant sterols a day, you’ll need to consume foods and beverages that are fortified with plant sterols. In Canada, foods fortified with plant sterols include mayonnaise, margarine, salad dressing, yogurt, yogurt drinks, vegetable juice and fruit juice. A serving of these foods may contain up to 1 gram (1,000 milligrams) of plant sterols, so read package labels to check the exact amount. Plant sterol supplements are another option.

Plant sterols from food and / or supplements are not a substitute for a heart healthy diet or cholesterol-lowering medications. Always check with your doctor first before consuming foods or supplements with plant sterols because your medications may need to be adjusted.

Want to learn more about heart health?

What’s the difference between cholesterol and trigylcerides?

World Health Organization tackles salt reduction with first ever global benchmarks

Written by Sue Mah, MHSc, RD, PHEc, FDC – Award-winning dietitian and Co-Founder, n4nn

2022 Product of the Year Canada Awards!

A red square announcing the 2022 Product of the Year award winners. A display of winning products including Vector cereal, Sol Cuisine chick'n wings, Heinz wasabioli mayo and maple syrup flavoured popocorn.

Now in its 13th year nationally and 35th year globally, Product of the Year is the world’s largest consumer-voted award for innovation in product function, design, packaging and ingredients. For the Canada awards, products are voted on by a nationally representative sample of 4,000 Canadians. Here are a few winners that are on trend and caught our eye!

Product Trend #1 – Plant-based ingredients

Plant-based eating is here to stay according to our 2022 trends blog. These products combine a variety of ingredients to offer consumers more choice.

a package of Sol Cuisine cauliflower burgers

Cauliflower Burgers – by Sol Cuisine: Cauliflower continues to be a trendy, versatile and gluten-free ingredient used an alternative to bread, pizza crusts and rice. This veggie burger is made with cauliflower, sweet potato and chickpeas. Each patty contains 6 grams of protein and 4 grams of fibre. Gluten-free, soy-free and an excellent source of iron.

a package of chickpea tortillas

Chickpea Tortillas – by Dempster’s: We’re seeing more bean-based product innovations. This limited edition tortilla is made with a blend of chickpea flour and Canadian wheat flour. Interestingly, the product carries a company-created “V” logo to signify vegan. Note, at the time of writing this blog, the product was not available in stores.

The Laughing Cow Mix Chickpea with Herbs – by Bel Canada Group: This is the first product on the Canadian market that mixes real cheese with legumes. Portion packed in 8 single serve triangles, it’s yet another example of a product blending animal and plant-based ingredients. These products may appeal to “flexitarians” who wish to add more legumes into their diet without becoming completely vegetarian or vegan.

Product Trend #2 – Make it with Maple

Maple is a trending flavour profile that’s still going strong. Last fall, we noticed the launch of a maple brown sugar flavoured non-dairy creamer (by Silk) and a classic maple glazed doughnut at Krispy Kreme.

a package of maple and aged white cheddar popcorn

Compliment’s Maple & Aged White Cheddar Popcorn Mix – by Sobeys Inc.: A sweet and cheesy popcorn mix coated with sweet maple (made with real Grade A Canadian maple syrup) and savoury, sharp aged white cheddar flavour.

 

a package of salted maple popcorn

Angie’s BoomChickaPop Salted Maple Flavoured Kettle Corn – by Conagra Foods: Another ready-to-eat whole grain popcorn that combines salty with sweet. I guess we love popcorn!

Vector Maple Crunch Cereal – Kellogg Canada: First launched in 1999, Vector is a high protein cereal. This new flavour is made with crunchy maple syrup pieces and offers 10 grams of protein per 44 gram serving.

Product Trend #3 – Turn up the Heat!
It appears that Canadians like it hottt! These new products are sure to tantalize our taste buds.

a bottle of wasabioli mayo

Heinz CrowdSauced – by the Kraft Heinz Company: You guessed it! This is a combo of wasabi and garlic aioli. Other flavour pairings in the CrowdSauced line-up include TarChup (tartar sauce plus ketchup) and Hanch (hot sauce and ranch).

a box of sol cuisine chikn wings

Hot & Spicy Chik’n Wings – by Sol Cuisine: This meat-alternative is soy-based and a new option for vegans, vegetarians and are plant-curious consumers.

a package of tortilla chips in a bright purple bag with yellow lettering

Takis Dragon Sweet Chili – by Bimbo Canada: Sweet meets spicy in this rolled tortilla chip! While this flavour is a limited edition, the chips also come in Fuego Spicy Chili Pepper and Lime.

Now tell us, which product are you excited to try first?

 

Written by Sue Mah, MHSc, RD, PHEc, FDC – Award-winning dietitian and Co-Founder, n4nn

 

Images Sources:
https://solcuisine.com/product/cauliflower-burger/
https://productoftheyear.ca/winners-2022/
https://www.thelaughingcow.ca/products/triangles-en-ca/mix-chickpeas-with-herbs/
https://www.compliments.ca/en/products/maple-aged-white-cheddar-popcorn-200-g/
https://www.boomchickapop.com/ready-eat-popcorn/salted-maple-flavored-kettle-corn
https://www.kelloggs.ca/en_CA/products/vector-cereal-maple.html
https://www.heinzcrowdsauced.ca/
https://solcuisine.com/product/hot-spicy-chikn-wings/

 

 

 

 

Ingredients for a healthier tomorrow – Nutrition Month 2022

Image Source: Dietitians of Canada

 

Canadians are looking for healthier ways of eating, a healthier planet and affordable food. To celebrate the 40th annual Nutrition Month, dietitians are focusing on the connection between food, public health and the environment. The sustainability movement has been growing in Canada and around the world. In this blog we define some key ingredients for a healthier tomorrow and sustainable food system.

Key Ingredients for a healthier tomorrow [1]

You probably know that dietitians provide life changing advice on nutrition and food choices to manage illness and promote health. But many dietitians are also involved in these areas of sustainability that could help create a healthier tomorrow.

  • Improved Food Security
    • “Food and nutrition security exists when all people at all times have physical, social and economic access to food, which is safe and consumed in sufficient quantity and quality to meet their dietary needs and food preferences, and is supported by an environment of adequate sanitation, health services and care, allowing for a healthy and active life.”[2]
  • Food Literacy
    • “Food literacy includes five main interconnected components: food and nutrition knowledge; food skills; self-efficacy and confidence; food decisions; and external factors such as the food system, social determinants of health, and socio-cultural influences and eating practices.”[3]
  • Food Sovereignty
    • “Food Sovereignty is the right of peoples to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods, and their right to define their own food and agriculture systems.”[4]
  • Sustainable Food Choices (Diets)
    • “Sustainable Diets are those diets with low environmental impacts which contribute to food and nutrition security and to healthy life for present and future generations. Sustainable diets are protective and respectful of biodiversity and ecosystems, culturally acceptable, accessible, economically fair and affordable; nutritionally adequate, safe and healthy; while optimizing natural and human resources”[5]
  • Sustainable Food Systems
    • A food system that delivers food and nutrition security for all in such a way that the economic, social and environmental bases to generate food security and nutrition for future generations are not compromised.”[6]  Figure 1 summarizes what sustainable food systems look like in Canada.

Figure 1. Source: Dietitians of Canada (2022) Nutrition Month Activity Guide

How to join the conversation and support action  

It can be challenging to know where to start with change towards a healthier you and a healthier planet. The Dietitians of Canada share 5 tips for reducing the environmental footprint of your diet:

  1. Reduce food waste
    Check out our tips to Double down on reducing food waste, Put the freeze on food waste, and
  2. Eat to satisfy your hunger and support your health
    Read more tips on 5 smart snacks and What’s Your Food Personality? 
  3. Buy local products
    Read more about the meaning of local!
  4. Choose a healthy and balanced diet
    Read our highlights from a sustainable eating conference
  5. Talk to a dietitian for credible, life changing advice
    Read more about Why work with a dietitian?

Do you have a food or nutrition question? Ask us and we’ll feature it in our Ask a Dietitian posts. Registered Dietitians are the most trusted food and nutrition experts who are committed to helping Canadians enjoy nutritious, sustainable, and affordable and healthy eating.

 

Written by Lucia Weiler, BSc, RD, PHEc, Award-winning dietitian and Co-Founder, n4nn

[1] Dietitians of Canada (2022) Nutrition Month Activity Guide https://www.dietitians.ca/News/2022/Nutrition-Month-2022-Ingredients-for-a-Healthier-T

[2] Committee on World Food Security, Food and Agriculture Organization (2012) https://www.fao.org/3/MD776E/MD776E.pdf

[3] Nutrition Connections. Effective education strategies to increase food and nutrition knowledge in children and youth (2019) https://nutritionconnections.ca/resources/effective-education-strategies-to-increase-food-and-nutrition-knowledge-in-children-and-youth/

[4] What is Food Sovereignty. Food Secure Canada (Accessed 2022) https://foodsecurecanada.org/who-we-are/what-food-sovereignty

[5] Burlingame B, Dernini S. Sustainable Diets and Biodiversity: Directions and Solutions for Policy, Research and Action. (2012) https://www.fao.org/3/i3004e/i3004e.pdf

[6] Nutrition and Food Systems. A report by the High Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition of the Committee on World Food Security (2017) https://www.fao.org/fileadmin/user_upload/hlpe/hlpe_documents/HLPE_Reports/HLPE-Report-12_EN.pdf

What are your thoughts on the Dirty Dozen?

 

A women shopping for veggies at a grocery store. A headshot of Sue is overlayed with the text.

Have you heard about the Dirty Dozen? Let’s take a closer look at this and what it means for you and your family.

What exactly is the Dirty Dozen?

The Dirty Dozen is an annual list created by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a United States-based environmental advocacy organization. The list ranks the top 12 conventionally grown fruits and vegetables in the United States that they claim should be avoided due to pesticide residues.

But what the Dirty Dozen list doesn’t tell us is how much residual pesticide is actually on the produce. We need this information to figure out if the amount we’re eating is at a level that could harm our health.

So what about pesticides?

Pesticides are substances that can be from either synthetic or natural sources, and are used on foods to protect them from diseases and pests such as insects and weeds. With the help of pesticides, farmers are able to grow safe, affordable and abundant food for Canadians.

As a dietitian, I worry that the Dirty Dozen list may cause food fear. The fact is both organic and conventional farmers use pesticides to control pests. Just because a pesticide residue is present, doesn’t mean that it poses a risk to our health. In fact, detection technology is now so sophisticated that it can detect parts per billion (think a drop of water in an Olympic size swimming pool). And, Canada has one of the most stringent regulatory systems in the world for pesticides. Before a pesticide can even be used on a food product, Health Canada assesses the health impact of any pesticide residues that may be in or on the food. It even takes into account the sensitivities of specific subsets of the population like infants, children and pregnant women.

Health Canada also sets Maximum Residue Limits (MRLs), which is the maximum amount of pesticide residue that is allowed to remain on a product when it is used according to the pesticide label – and these residue limits are typically set at least 100 times or more below levels that would have any impact on human health.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency inspects domestic and imported foods for pesticide residues. Over 99% of the food that is tested is below the MRLs. And in rare cases where the residue level is above the MRL, it does not pose a health risk as the MRL is set significantly below any level of concern.

My advice

We all want and deserve safe, nutritious and affordable food for ourselves and our families. Here are some things to consider if you’re concerned about pesticides.

  • Put the Dirty Dozen list in perspective. Health Canada states that there is no health risk from eating conventionally grown foods because of pesticide residues. Use this Pesticide Residue Calculator which shows you the number of servings of different fruits and vegetables that we could eat and still not have any adverse effects from pesticide residues. For example, a child could eat 181 servings of strawberries a day (or 1,448 strawberries) without any adverse effects from pesticide residues!
  • Wash fruits and veggies very well under cold water. This helps to remove dirt, bacteria, and any tiny amounts of residues which may be on the outer layers of the produce. There’s no need to use soap or detergent. You can also peel the skin on fruits and veggies, however keep in mind that you’d also be peeling away some fibre and nutrients, as well as contributing to food waste.
  • Feel good about the food you eat! Enjoy a variety of fruits and vegetables every day that are tasty and affordable. Whether they’re organic or conventionally grown, both options are safe, nutritious and important for good health.

 

Written by Sue Mah, MHSc, RD, PHEc, FDC – Award-winning dietitian & Co-Founder, n4nn

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post with CropLife Canada. The information shared in the blog are my opinions based on my review of this topic. I consult only with companies which align with my personal and professional values.

 

Why work with a dietitian?

DIETITIANS SERVICES (SOURCE DIETITIANS OF CANADA)

Nutrition is a hot topic. You may have a growing desire for better nutrition as a way to improve your healthy and productivity.  Research shows that nutrition counselling with a dietitian is a good investment for your health and wellness. Here are some common questions we get asked about working with a dietitian.

Why should I consult a dietitian?

Dietitians translate scientific research into practical solutions. They work with you to help you feel your best. Dietitians can provide:

  • Tips and healthy recipes to help you plan, shop for and cook healthy meals for your family
  • Information to help you interpret food labels, the latest food trends and diets
  • Support to improve your relationship with food and be mindful of your eating habits
  • Individualized Counselling to help you:
    • manage your weight, food allergies and intolerances or digestive issues
    • get the most from your workouts
    • prevent and manage chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer and kidney disease
  • Guidance on how to feed your baby, a “picky” eater, or an active teenager
  • Advice on whether you need a vitamin or mineral supplement based on your health needs.

Why are nutrition services important?

Health concerns are on the rise

  • 44% of Canadians over age 20 have at least 1 chronic health condition
  • 11 million Canadians live with diabetes or prediabetes
  • More than 2.6 million Canadians suffer from food allergies

Canadians want better nutrition

Canadians are increasingly more aware of their food choices, shopping smarter, and opting for better nutrition now more than ever before.  Although provincial health plans don’t provide adequate coverage, many employee and private health insurance plans cover Registered Dietitian led Nutrition Counselling sessions.

Manage your Health

Good nutrition improves health and reduces health risks that can lead to illness or high prescription drug use.

  • Lowers risk for and helps manage type 2 diabetes
  • Improves weight, blood pressure, cholesterol levels
  • Controls digestive issues and food allergies

Your best choice for nutrition services are Registered Dietitians…hands down!

Dietitians are Specialized

Dietitians must pass university and licensing exams, undergo rigorous practical training, and commit to staying on top of emerging research, skills and techniques in food, nutrition and health.

Dietitians are Regulated

Dietitians are the only nutrition practitioners that are licensed and regulated in every province in Canada. Just like a nurse or physiotherapist, dietitians hold a protected designation. Look for the letters RD (registered dietitian) or PDt (professional dietitian) DT.I or Dt.P, after your health care professional’s name depending on the province.

Dietitians are Health Care Professionals

Dietitians belong to a national association that promotes the highest level of professional standards through extensive training, knowledge sharing and a powerful evidence-based nutrition database – a leading resource for nutrition professionals around the world.

A Dietitian can unlock the power of food for your healthy living. Ask us how. Connect with us

What’s the difference between cholesterol and triglycerides?

Ask the dietitian image of Lucia Weiler RD over a heart shaped bowl with berries and stethoscope

You’ve probably heard of high blood cholesterol, but have you heard of high blood triglycerides?

Cholesterol and triglycerides are important measures of heart health.  Both cholesterol and triglycerides are different types of lipids that circulate in the blood, but elevated levels of both can raise your risk for heart disease. Here is a rundown of the difference between cholesterol and triglycerides, and why they matter for your heart health.

Definitions & Why it Matters

Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance found in some foods and in your blood. Your liver makes most of the blood cholesterol and it produces enough for your needs. Cholesterol is part of every cell in your body and some hormones. Cholesterol is needed to help your body digest and absorb fat.

Too much cholesterol in the blood can build up inside arteries, forming what is known as plaque. Large amounts of plaque increase your chances of having a heart attack or stroke.

Triglycerides are a type of fat found in some foods as well as in your body. Triglyceride is a term that describes the structure of a fat, which is made up of 3 fatty acids and a glycerol backbone. (See summary chart for diagram). When you eat, your body converts any excess calories you don’t need to use right away into triglycerides for a longer-term energy source. Triglycerides are mostly stored in your fat cells and are commonly deposited beneath the skin and around some internal organs. Some triglycerides circulate in the blood.

You need some triglycerides for good health. But high triglycerides might raise your risk of heart disease. High blood triglycerides may contribute to hardening of the arteries or thickening of the artery walls (arteriosclerosis) — which increases the risk of stroke, heart attack and heart disease.

What’s the best way to lower your blood cholesterol and triglycerides?

Healthy lifestyle choices are KEY low lower the risk of heart disease.  Bringing your blood cholesterol and triglyceride numbers down takes effort and commitment. Here are some things you can do.

Top 5 ways to lower cholesterol:

  • Choose foods that are lower in saturated fats like fish, lean cuts of meat and poultry, and lower fat milk and dairy products.
  • Eat a variety of heart healthy foods. Choose more vegetables, fruit, high fibre whole grains, beans, chickpeas, lentils, soy products, nuts and seeds.
  • If you smoke – quit all types of smoking.
  • Be physically active on most, preferable all days of the week.
  • Maintain a body weight that is healthy for you.

Top 5 ways to lower triglycerides:

  • Limit fast releasing carbohydrates like candy, sweet snack foods, and baked goods made with highly refined white flours.
  • Limit how much alcohol you drink. Even small amounts of alcohol can raise triglycerides.
  • Include heart healthy fats such as olive oil, fatty fish, nuts, seeds and avocados.
  • Focus on boosting veggies and high fibre foods such as beans, lentils, chickpeas, seeds and whole grains every day.
  • Enhance your fitness routine. Find moderate to vigorous activities you enjoy (such as cycling, running, brisk walking, swimming, etc.) and aim for at least 150 minutes per week which is about 40 minutes 4 times a week or 50 minutes 3 times a week.

Talk with your registered dietitian or contact us to discuss your blood lipid numbers and develop a personalized plan for keeping a healthy heart.

summary chart cholesterol and triglycerides

References:

 

Written by: Lucia Weiler, BSc, RD – Award-winning dietitian and Co-Founder, n4nn

 

Food & Nutrition Trends 2022

A paper grocery bag filled with lettuce, red pepper and a carton of eggs

Food prices, sustainability and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic will be the key influences on our eating habits and practices this year. Here’s our roundup of the top 10 food and nutrition trends to watch in 2022.

1. Pantry to Plate

Who can forget the sourdough baking craze in 2020? The cooking and baking skills we built at the beginning of the pandemic will stick with us. With food prices expected to rise 5 to 7% this year, an average family of four can expect to pay an extra $966 in groceries this year according to the annual Canada’s Food Price Report. Consumers will be looking for creative ways to use up those ingredients at the back of the pantry and fridge. What’s more, this trend will help to tackle food waste in our kitchens.

 

2. Streamlined Menus

Look for smaller menus as restaurant operators are adapting with potential supply chain snags. They’ll be innovating with local ingredients already on hand and opting for simple prix fixe menus rather than bringing in new SKUs. Food and Wine magazine reports that with rising food prices, chefs will be taking creative approaches to minimize waste and streamlining their menus to effectively manage their costs.

 

3. Plant based – The Next Generation

While sales of plant-based burgers appear to be declining, food giants such as Unilever are still committed to offering plant-based options to help reduce the environmental impact of the global food chain. In fact, the company is calling for public health strategies that facilitate the transition to a balanced diet with more diverse nutrient-dense plant foods through consumer education, food fortification and possibly supplementation. Insights from the 2022 Trend Report by Nourish suggests that there are gaps in plant-based categories like snacks, desserts and bakery. Keep your eyes out for novel plant-based ingredients and offerings.

 

4. Bye Bye Plastics

­Not only are sustainability and climate concerns driving our food choices, but they’re also inspiring positive changes in the use of plastics. Just last month, Walmart Canada officially announced the elimination of single use plastic bags from in-store shopping as well as online grocery pickup and delivery orders from each of their 400 stores across the country. This would amount to eliminating almost 750 million plastic bags each year. Biodegradable, compostable cucumber wraps are already on the market, and we can expect to see more innovations from grocers and food manufacturers.

 

5. Packaging

With a move towards take-out and meal delivery, chefs surveyed in the “What’s Hot 2022 Culinary Forecast” by the National Restaurant Association have actually ranked packaging four times in their top 10 trends for 2022:

  • Trend #1 – Packaging that is sustainable / reusable / recyclable
  • Trend #2 – Packaging that travels intact to maintain food quality
  • Trend #3 -Packaging that retains temperature
  • Trend #9 – Packaging that is tamper proof for food security

 

6. Immunity Support

As the pandemic continues, immunity remains top of mind. Findings from the 10th annual “What’s Trending in Nutrition” survey commissioned by Today’s Dietitian and Pollock Communications predicts that immunity support will remain a key purchase driver for 2022. Instead of “boosting” the immune system, consumers will realize that daily nutrition is important to keep the immune system strong and functioning well. Key supports for the immune system include protein, probiotics, selenium, zinc and vitamins A, C and D. Other purchase drivers identified from the dietitian survey are: affordable and value-based items, as well as food and beverages which offer comfort and emotional well-being.

 

7. Digital Do’s and Don’ts

Digital ordering capabilities, QR menus and touchless payment options will continue to become mainstream in restaurants and food service. In the survey of almost 1,200 dietitians, 90% of them cited online food shopping as the biggest trend from the pandemic that they believe will continue. This will compel marketers to reimagine ways to reach consumers on virtual shopping platforms, such as online promotions, digital coupons and immersive virtual branding experiences. On the other hand, the digital world is fuelling false nutrition news and dietitians say that social media is the top source of nutrition misinformation, with friends / family coming in second, and celebrities a close third.

 

8. Fuel for Remote Working & Learning

Working remotely from home, hybrid work models and even online schooling mean that more breakfasts and lunches will be made and enjoyed at home. Nestle USA predicts that consumers will be on the lookout for more at-home breakfast and lunch options such as heat-and-eat meals. According to top chefs, breakfast trends will include non-traditional proteins such as chorizo or vegan bacon, plant-based breakfast sandwiches and egg-base breakfast bowls. For lunch, trends point to globally inspired salads and grain-based bowls.

 

9. Non-alcoholic Beverages

Research from Whole Foods and The Hartman Group are noticing a growing community of “sober curious” millennials and Gen Z-ers. During pandemic lockdowns and restrictions on indoor gatherings, consumers are taking a more mindful approach to enjoying alcohol and embracing a world of “dry-solation”. Enter beverages without the buzz such as dealcoholized wines, low-alcohol beers, mocktails, and drinks with functional ingredients and adaptogens to enhance mood and relaxation.

 

10. Top 5 Regional Cuisines

Chefs surveyed by The National Restaurant Association and the American Culinary Federation predict that these top 5 regions and cuisines will influence the menus of 2022:

  1. Southeast Asian – Vietnamese, Singaporean, Philippine
  2. South American – Argentinian, Brazilian, Chilean
  3. Caribbean – Puerto Rican, Cuban, Dominican
  4. North African – Moroccan, Algerian, Libyan
  5. Western African – Nigerian, Ghanan, Western Saharan

 

Which of these trends are you most excited about? How can you leverage these trends for your business and product innovations? Connect with us at info@n4nn.ca and let’s shape the future of food and nutrition together!

 

– Written by Sue Mah, MHSc, RD, PHEc, FDC – Award-winning Registered Dietitian & Co-Founder, n4nn

What are postbiotics?

 

postbiotic foods in with ask a dietitian title and lucia's image

Postbiotics are one of the hottest topics and the newest member of the ‘biotic’ family! You have heard of prebiotics which are the food for bacteria and probiotics which are beneficial live bacteria. Now we have postbiotics which are the substances that live bacteria produce. The news around postbiotics is how these end products of bacterial metabolism can have therapeutic benefits.

Bacteria with benefits – PRE, PRO, and POST biotics

Like all living things, bacteria need the right environment to survive and produce something. You may be wondering how prebiotics, probiotics and now postbiotics are related to each other. And how are postbiotics connected to the trending business of fermented foods and supplements?

  • Pre-biotics are FOOD for the bacteria. In the food we eat, prebiotic compounds are not digested but provide fuel for gut bacteria to grow to support health. Some foods naturally high in prebiotics are also a source of fibre such as whole grains, fruit, vegetables, beans and legumes. Examples include Jerusalem artichokes, chicory, garlic, onion, asparagus, cabbage, chickpeas, lentils, red kidney beans and soybeans.
  • Pro-biotics are LIVE organisms that have scientifically proven health benefits if consumed in adequate amounts. Foods that contain probiotics (live friendly bacteria) include fermented dairy (yogurt, kefir) and fermented vegetables (uncooked sauerkraut, traditional kimchi). Probiotics are also available as dietary supplements.
  • Post-biotics are compounds that bacteria produce as part of their life cycle and metabolism. For example, bacteria and yeast strains used in fermentation generate postbiotic compounds. These include short-chain fatty acids, functional proteins along with discarded matter from the microorganisms themselves, which include cell wall components. Postbiotics also include nutrients such as vitamins B and K, amino acids and substances called antimicrobial peptides that help to slow down the growth of harmful bacteria.

Postbiotics are studied closely for potential health benefits. They may help reduce digestive symptoms, optimize gut flora and advance the immune response of the colon’s lining by improving gut barrier function. Researchers are also looking at anti-inflammatory, antiobesogenic, antihypertensive, hypocholesterolemic, antiproliferative and antioxidant activities.

Although scientists and gut experts have known about postbiotics and their benefits for years, no regulators have provided a definition for postbiotics or a framework specific to postbiotic-containing foods or food supplements. However, a proposed definition was recently published by a team of experts who defined postbiotics as a “preparation of inanimate microorganisms and/or their components that confers a health benefit on the host.”  The expert panel determined that a definition of postbiotics is useful so that scientists, industry, regulators and consumers have common ground for future activity in this area. It’s hoped that a generally accepted definition will lead to regulatory clarity and promote innovation and the development of new postbiotic products (Salmien et al.).

What can you say about biotics?

Terms such a prebiotic and probiotic may suggest a food provides a specific health benefit and are therefore considered health claims. Health claims are subject to the Canadian Food and Drugs regulations and must not be false, misleading or deceptive. These implied health claims are only acceptable when accompanied by a statement of the specific and measurable health benefit conferred by the prebiotic substance, as demonstrated in humans (Health Canada).

Postbiotics are likely to be the next health-boosting compound for digestive health and more. They have the advantage of longer shelf life in comparison to live, active probiotics.  However postbiotics are not yet regulated in many countries. Consult a food labelling expert for guidance.

Bottom line: 

The biotic family supports a healthy gut. For optimal health, scientists recommend a combination approach—prebiotic fiber to feed gut bacteria as well as live probiotics to provide specific health benefits and create postbiotic compounds.

Connect with us (Info@n4nn.ca) and let’s work together for your innovation journey.  As dietitians, we can support you and your business in taking meaningful steps toward health and wellness.

 

References:

  1. Salminen, S.,et al. (2021). The International Scientific Association of Probiotics and Prebiotics (ISAPP) consensus statement on the definition and scope of postbiotics. Nature reviews. Gastroenterology & hepatology18(9), 649–667. Accessed  Dec 9, 2021 from  https://doi.org/10.1038/s41575-021-00440-6
  2. Golen, T., Riccotti H. (2021). What are postbiotics? Harvard Health Publishing. Accessed Dec 9, 2021 from https://www.health.harvard.edu/nutrition/what-are-postbiotics
  3. Hermann, M. (2020). Discover the World of Postbiotics, Today’s Dietitian Vol. 22 (6):20.
  4. Health Canada (2019). Health claims on food labels / Prebiotic claims, Probiotic claims. Accessed Dec 9, 2021 from Health claims on food labels – Food label requirements – Canadian Food Inspection Agency (canada.ca)

 

 

How Healthy is the Canadian Preschoolers’ Diet?

 

We know that good nutrition in the pre-school years is important to help develop good eating habits that can last a lifetime. A study from the University of Guelph suggests that 86% of the preschoolers in their study could benefit from dietary improvements.  These results point to an opportunity to support families with young children.

Preschool nutrition

Around the age of 4, toddlers explore the word though all their five senses and food is no exception.  They may not be able to control much in their lives, but they can decide whether to eat or not, and how much. Toddlers are masters of expressing their desire for independence at mealtimes. Many parents worry about their children’s daily intakes; however health professionals recognize that at this age it helps to think of a balanced diet as something a child eats over a few days, even a week, not necessarily daily. Mealtimes are excellent opportunities for parents and caregivers to provide healthy food choices for children and create a positive atmosphere where healthy food attitudes can develop (Sizer et al.).

Evaluating healthy eating

Many researchers focused on studying the daily intake of specific nutrients or foods. In addition to recommendations about eating specific foods and nutrients, a measure of overall diet quality is useful.  Few studies have looked at the overall quality of the diet in children 2-6 years of age which makes this study a valuable reference. University of Guelph researchers used the Healthy Eating Index (HEI) as a measure of diet quality to assess how well the preschoolers’ foods aligned with key dietary guidelines and recommendations. The overall HEI score is made up of 13 dietary components that reflect different food groups and key public health recommendations. The scores range from 0 to 100 maximum, and a higher total score reflects that the set of foods aligns better with dietary guidelines. For this study, three-day food records were collected to calculate HEI scores for 117 children from 83 families as an indicator of diet quality.

Healthy eating results

The mean Healthy Eating Index score reported in this study was about 68% which falls under the ‘needs improvement category (56-80 out of 100). This can be attributed to lower than recommended values in ‘adequacy components’ such as fruits, vegetables, protein foods, seafood and plant proteins and dairy.  Also, ‘moderation components’ that were higher than recommended scores included refined grains and sodium. The 2021 Guelph Study’s HEI score of 68% is similar to findings of a 2004 Canadian preschool study, but higher than the 60% diet quality score found among US preschoolers published in 2019.

University of Guelph researchers also reported that parental education was positively associated with HEI scores. Children of higher educated parents tended to have a higher diet quality that aligned more with public health recommendations such as including adequate vegetables, fruit and protein foods. Specifically, the study highlighted that parents’ socioeconomic status was positively associated with total fruit score. One limitation of this study was that it looked at a relatively small sample of mostly Caucasian families. However, other studies have reported similar findings that fruit intake scores were lower in families with lower income status. Researchers suggest that fruit intake may be particularly sensitive to income status.

Researchers’ recommendations

‘These results underscore the importance of dietitians in supporting families with young children in establishing healthy eating habits early in life. Dietary intervention and additional supports are indicated to improve the diet quality of children with parents with lower socioeconomic status and education’ (Leme et al).

n4nn & healthy eating support

Are you interested in discussing professional nutrition guidance for children so they can grow into healthy adults? At n4nn we offer services to support families with the development of healthier eating habits. We also work with foodservice providers and can help evaluate how well the mix of foods made available to kids (and adults) align with dietary recommendations. Contact us @ info@n4nn.ca  to evaluate diet quality and receive valuable expert advice to inform your food purchases, programs and menus.

References

  • Leme et al., (2021). Diet Quality of Canadian Preschool Children: Associations with Socio-demographic Characteristics, Canadian Journal of Dietetic Practice and Research. 82(3): 131-135. Accessed December 12, 2021 from https://doi.org/10.3148/cjdpr-2021-009
  • Sizer et al., (2021). Nutrition Concepts and Controversies, Fifth Canadian Edition,  Nelson
  • USDA, Food and Nutrition Service (2020 update) Healthy Eating Index (HEI). Accessed December 12, 2021 from https://www.fns.usda.gov/healthy-eating-index-hei

Food Innovation – SIAL looks 20 years into the future

In September, Canada’s largest agrifood tradeshow SIAL hosted an event dedicated entirely to food innovation! With a focus on the future, we heard featured talks from Canada’s leading industry experts. Here are the lasting mega-trends that caught our eye on the future of food innovation!

  1. Convenience
  2. Health and Wellness
  3. Sustainability

It was interesting to see the audience response to the trend ranking questions posed by speakers Isabelle Marquis RD, and food innovation expert Dana McCauley. How would you answer these questions?

  • Which of these three core trends do you think was the most influential over the past 20 years?
  • Which of these three core trends do you think is the most important to food businesses today?

Convenience

In our fast paced world, the ‘anything, anytime, anywhere’ convenience is on the rise. Consumers are looking for solutions and the industry will have to change to remain relevant. McCauley says, ‘Instead of buying ingredients, people are buying fully prepared meals at the grocery store. We have come a long way from microwave meals.’  Innovations in convenience stores offer online and in-store features that create an ultra-convenient experience. Consider the mobile product recommendations, in-store product scanning codes (Quick Response Matrix)  that tell you much more about a product than what fits on the packaging. Convenience is an important trend that will continue to drive future innovation.

Health and Wellness

Health and wellness was ranked as the top trend by event participants. It came out as ‘most influential in the past 20 years’ and ‘most important in business today’. Not surprising, consumers are expecting food products that are nutrient rich, support a healthy lifestyle and taste great! Long gone are the days of ‘no fat’ where taste and texture of modified foods were underwhelming. Food makers are boosting the beneficial ingredients with proven health benefits including omega-3 fats, probiotics and other functional ingredients.  Protein continues to lead food innovation from snacks to meals with focus on nutrient quality and source.  Besides nutrients, the ingredients list is in the spotlight. Consumers are choosing to follow an individualized eating pattern that’s good for their personal health and fits their schedule. McCauley observed that more often, the question around meal times may be ‘What will I eat?’ instead of ‘What’s the family dinner?’ The ‘clean label’ trend is here to stay too with no artificial ingredients and no additives. This back to basics and want for naturalness is going to be part of the future of a very strong health and wellness trend.

Sustainability

In addition to looking for foods that are good for the body, consumers are also considering what’s good for the planet. People – especially millennials – are asking questions about where their food comes from and how it was grown / raised and processed. Simple, minimally processed, sustainable foods that are healthy for people and the planet are promising to lead us into the future.  Responsibly grown and processed food is a very important aspect of innovation and it also has a direct impact on the global food supply chain. Buying products considered to be ‘green’ and made with ‘clean ingredients’ is a lifestyle choice that more consumers and communities will be embracing. Another sustainability pillar is around packaging. ‘Plastic attack’ was alive and well pre-Covid pandemic and is likely to return before too long, predicts Marquis. Eco-friendly packaging is what consumers will expect when choosing groceries. Sustainability is a concern to everyone on the planet and we all have a chance to do something about it.

Bottom Line

The challenge of the times for the food business according to McCauley, is ‘integrating the most relevant trends with your brand identity and your consumers’ needs.’ The three key trends driving the way we will be eating in the decades to come include convenience, health and wellness and sustainability.

Connect with us (Info@NutritionForNonNutritionists.com) and let’s work together for your innovation journey.  As dietitians, we can support you and your business in taking meaningful steps toward healthier communities and a more sustainable agri-food industry.

Food, Your Gut and Lower Blood Pressure – What’s the Connection?

Cardiovascular disease remains the world’s number one cause of death. With World Heart Day just around the corner on September 29th, new research points to the beneficial effects of flavonoid-rich foods on blood pressure.

A study just released reveals a link between flavonoids and the gut microbiome in improving blood pressure.

Researchers at the Institute for Global Food Security at Queen’s University in Belfast, Northern Ireland found that consuming higher levels of flavonoid rich foods including berries, apples, pears, and red wine may be associated with a reduction in blood pressure levels. This can be explained in part by the characteristics of the gut microbiome.

The gut microbiome are the good bacteria that live in the digestive tracts. The gut microbiome has been studied for its role in gut health, immunity and behavior and now heart health can be added to the list! There is mounting evidence to the importance of a healthy and diverse gut microbiome. This research suggests that the composition of the gut microbiome can play a key role in metabolizing flavonoids to enhance their benefits on heart health.

This study looked at over 900 adults and was published in Hypertension, the scientific journal of the American Heart Association. Those who had the highest intakes of flavonoid-rich foods had lower systolic blood pressure levels as well as a greater variety of bacteria in their gut compared to participants who consumed the lowest levels of flavonoids.

Lead researcher, Professor Aedín Cassidy explains that ‘These blood pressure lowering effects are achievable with simple changes to the daily diet. Eating  160 g of berries a day (which is about 1 cup sliced berries) was associated with a 4.1 mm Hg reduction in systolic blood pressure, and 12% of the association was explained by gut microbiome factors. Drinking 700 mL red wine per week (which is about one glass of red wine 3 times a week, where a glass is 233 ml), was associated with a 3.7 mm Hg drop in systolic blood pressure levels, of which 15% could be explained by the gut microbiome.’

Researchers say that the ‘strength of their study was that they could examine the association between the intake of flavonoid rich foods, blood pressure and the composition of the microbiome concurrently.’

Are you interested in leveraging World Heart Day for your business?  Check out their 2021 playbook for information and ideas.  Let’s connect to help make a difference.

References

 

5 Common Dietary Restrictions You Should Know About When Hosting an Event

Planning a dinner party now that pandemic restrictions are easing? Enjoying a meal with your friends and family is one of life’s simple joys! As you prepare for your event, you may have some worries about what to make especially if some of your guests have dietary restrictions, which can make things feel more complicated.

What are dietary restrictions?

A dietary restriction means the person has limitations to certain foods which they cannot or will not eat. There are many reasons for dietary constraints and they differ from person to person. Some of the more common ones include dietary restrictions based on a medical condition such as a food allergy, sensitivity or disease management. Other restrictions are based on religious practice while some are based on personal lifestyle choices.

Here are 5 of the most common dietary restrictions you should know about and tips for hosting an event that is safe and enjoyable for everyone at the table.

1.         Food allergies
2.         Intolerances
3.         Medical nutrition therapy
4.         Vegetarian / vegan
5.         Religious dietary practices

1. Food Allergies

Food allergies are more common than you may think! Over 3 million Canadians are affected by food allergy, that’s 7.5% of the population. Allergic reactions involve the body’s immune system and can happen very quickly and in the worst cases cause anaphylactic shock or death. Watch for symptoms such as changes to skin, shortness of breath, nausea, cramps, vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness and anxiety. Right now, there is no cure for food allergies so the only way to prevent allergic reactions is to completely avoid the specific foods responsible. In Canada, the most common allergens in food are known as the priority allergens and listed as:

  • Peanuts
  • Tree Nuts
  • Fish
  • Shellfish
  • Eggs
  • Milk
  • Soy
  • Wheat
  • Sesame seeds
  • Mustard

Sources:
Food Allergy Canada – Food Allergy Canada’s mission – Food Allergy Canada
Health Canada–  Food allergies – Canada.ca  and Allergens and gluten sources labelling – Canada.ca

2. Food intolerances and sensitivities

Food intolerance is an unpleasant reaction to food but it is not a food allergy. It does not involve the immune system and is not life-threatening. Symptoms of food intolerance can be inconvenient and painful and often involve the gastrointestinal system.  For example, nausea, pain or cramps, vomiting and diarrhea are just a few of the typical symptoms. Some chemicals may cause reactions such as headaches.  Food intolerance occurs when the body has difficulty digesting or absorbing certain foods or components of those foods. For example, intolerance to lactose, which is found in milk and other dairy products, is the one of the most common food intolerances. Food sensitivities can also be related to ingredients such as sulphites, gluten and some simple carbohydrate containing foods (FODMAPS).

Sources:
Health Canada Food Allergies and Intolerances – Canada.ca
Dietitians of Canada – Food Allergies and Intolerances – Unlock Food

3. Medical nutrition therapy

Medical nutrition therapy is a nutrition-based treatment provided by a registered dietitian or doctor.  It includes a nutrition diagnosis as well as therapeutic and counseling services to help manage medical conditions such as celiac disease and diabetes.

Celiac disease: Gluten-free versus Gluten sensitivity

Celiac disease is a common disorder that affects about one percent of the population. It is a condition where the small intestines are damaged by gluten containing foods. Gluten is a group of proteins found in many grains including wheat (couscous, bulgur, spelt, kamut), triticale, barley and rye and foods that are made with them. Foods that contain gluten include breads, pastas, crackers, baked goods, many grains, and some beverages too. A person with celiac disease needs to stay on a gluten-free diet.

Some people do not have celiac disease but find that they are sensitive to gluten and develop symptoms such as bloating, abdominal pain and diarrhea.  They find that avoiding gluten-containing foods is helpful in relieving their symptoms.

Source: Canadian Celiac Association – Gluten Related Disorders https://bit.ly/3C7Esb4

Diabetes: Carbohydrate balance

Rates of diabetes continue to rise and it’s estimated that one in three Canadians has diabetes or prediabetes. People with diabetes have an impaired ability to metabolize carbohydrates either because they produce little to no insulin (type 1 diabetes) or can’t absorb insulin (type 2 diabetes). Food is the key to managing diabetes and healthy meal planning plays an important role. Focusing on foods with a low glycemic index can help keep blood sugar levels balanced.

Source: Diabetes Canada About diabetes – Diabetes Canada

4. Vegetarian / Vegan

Vegetarian diet varies widely depending on the person’s choice.  These choices may be based on ethical restrictions or sustainability. A combination of plant and animal foods may be included, such as dairy and eggs, or only plant foods. Here is a list of restrictions for your reference:

  • Lacto-ovo Vegetarian – eats dairy, eggs and plant foods
  • Ovo Vegetarian – eats only eggs and plant foods
  • Lacto Vegetarian – eats dairy and plant foods
  • Vegan – eats only plant foods and avoids all animal products
  • Semi-vegetarian or flexitarian – eats mostly vegetarian but occasionally consumes meat, meat products, poultry, and fish

5. Religious Dietary Practices

Many religions have special dietary laws or practices. While not an exhaustive list, here are a few religions and their dietary practices to keep in mind when hosting an event.

  • Christian – Some may not eat meat on Fridays during lent.
  • Judaism (Kosher) – Kosher meat products need to be butchered in a certain manner and cannot include shellfish and pork. Guests keeping kosher will also refrain from eating dairy and meat at the same time.
  • Muslim (Halal) – Halal meat is prepared in a specific manner.
  • Hindu – Eating beef is prohibited
  • Buddhist – follows a primarily a vegetarian approach

Source: The Business of Dietetics, Dietary Restrictions of Other Religions – Journal of the American Dietetic Association (jandonline.org)

TIPS to deal with dietary restrictions

  • Ask your guests about their dietary needs
    To accommodate our guest’s needs, you first need to uncover what their dietary preferences are. Ask them! When you invite people for a meal, be sure to check with your guests about their special dietary needs and be especially mindful of food allergies.  Once you know, you can discuss the menu with them ahead of time and ask how they can best be accommodated.
  • Make simple swaps to your menu to accommodate dietary preferences
    Build your menu with food allergies and dietary restrictions in mind. Steering clear of them will minimize the chance of an emergency, and increase the peace of mind of guests.  There are easy ways to swap ingredients to accommodate dietary preferences. For example, using olive oil instead of butter means that the vegans and those with dairy allergies can enjoy the dish too. Use vegetable stock instead of chicken or beef stock so more people can enjoy them.
  • Have Fun
    Remember that you don’t have to accommodate your guests for every single dish. Be sure you have a well-planned meal with a variety of foods that all of your guests can enjoy and feel well fed.

Dietitians can help

Want to discover more ways to accommodate your guests’ dietary needs? Connect with a dietitian to make healthy choices. Dietitians look beyond fads to deliver reliable, life-changing advice.

Speak to a registered dietitian to manage your menu for dietary restrictions, religious dietary laws, nutritional choices and requirements, and food allergies you need to know to provide an exceptional, respectful, and safe experience for all your guests.

Do you have a question you’d like to ask a dietitian? If so, please send it along to us at Lucia@WeilerNutrition.com

Please note: The information in this series answers questions on general topics, please talk to your health care provide if you have questions about your own health.

World Health Organization tackles salt reduction with first ever global benchmarks

Sodium background

Did you know that you’re likely consuming significantly more than enough sodium every day?  According to Health Canada, we eat about 3400 milligrams (mg) of sodium each day. This is more than double the amount we need, yet most people don’t know how much sodium they consume or the risks it poses, says the World Health Organization (WHO).

Sodium is an essential nutrient found in salt and many foods but our bodies need only a small amount of sodium to be healthy.  Due to its link to high blood pressure and other illnesses, sodium is a nutrient of public health concern. Too much sodium can lead to high blood pressure, a major risk factor for stroke, heart disease and kidney disease. High sodium intake has also been linked to an increased risk of osteoporosis, stomach cancer and severity of asthma. (Health Canada)

Sodium in the diet

Research shows that processed food contribute 75% of the sodium in the Canadian diet. Here’s a quick pop quiz: Which of these food groups do you think contributes THE MOST sodium to the Canadian diet?

  • a) Fruit and vegetables
  • b) Breads
  • c) Soups
  • d) Processed meats

This is a tricky question, and the answer is b) breads. Breads are the food group that contributes the most sodium in the Canadian diet. This not because breads are high in sodium, but the sodium adds up since we eat breads in high amounts.  Soups and processed meats tend to be high in sodium but we consume them in lower amounts, hence they contribute less sodium to the total diet.

In the new global benchmarks, the WHO identified ‘processed and packaged bread, savory snacks, meat products and cheese among the categories of high-sodium food products.’  In the detailed Global Sodium Benchmarks report, the WHO targets 18 categories of processed and packaged food products that contribute significantly to sodium in diets.

Sodium reduction focus on processed foods

National guidelines and sodium reduction recommendations have been in place for a while, but these are the first ever published “global sodium benchmarks” according to the WHO. This is because sodium reduction a global issue!   WHO stresses that “reducing sodium content by reformulating processed foods is a proven strategy to reduce population sodium intake, particularly in places where consumption of processed foods is high. Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO’s Director-General also states “we need the food and beverage industry to cut sodium levels in processed foods,”

Sodium – recommended intakes for health and wellness

Sodium and Salt intake Guidelines (Sizer 2021)
2019 Dietary Reference Intakes (DRI) Recommendations 1500 mg/day
Chronic Disease Risk Reduction (CDRR) level 2300 mg/day
Canada’s food guide ‘Choose foods with little or no added sodium’… Compare Nutrition Facts table on foods to choose product that are lower in sodium. NOTE: 5% DV is a little, 15% DV or more is a lot.

When you are shopping for food products, look at the Nutrition Facts table and choose foods that have the lowest amounts of sodium.  Consider the  % Daily Value (%DV) on the Nutrition Facts table to compare similar products and see if the food has a little or a lot of sodium. Here is a good guide:

5% DV or less is a little and 15% DV or more is a lot. Look for products with a sodium content of less than 15% DV per serving.

Bottom line

Too much sodium raises blood pressure. Diets rarely lack sodium and most Canadians eat more than double the amount of sodium they need. You can make healthier choices when grocery shopping, cooking and eating out to help lower the amount of sodium you and your family eats.

Would you like more information? Contact us for guidance on lowering the sodium levels in your diet and in your processed foods. As dietitians we are trusted and credible food and nutrition experts on raising awareness and providing education to support sodium reduction as an important public health priority.

What to Eat Before and After the COVID-19 Vaccine

Health professional wearing blue gloves and about to give a needle to a patient

Are you ready to get your jab? You don’t need a special diet before getting your COVID-19 vaccine. But there are a few extra food considerations at this time. Here’s what you can do to get ready and manage potential side effects.

BEFORE getting the COVID vaccine:

  • Take your regular medications as usual. Get a good night’s sleep.
  • Have a snack or light meal depending on the time of your vaccine. The goal is to avoid going for your vaccine on an empty stomach, especially if you have a fear of needles or a history of feeling lightheaded / faint with needles.
  • Eat familiar foods. As a former sports dietitian, I always advised athletes to avoid eating any new foods on “game day.” Consider vaccine day as your “game day” and stick to foods you know so that you don’t trigger any stomach upset.
  • Make some meals made in advance in case you’re too tired or unwell to cook dinner for the next few days after getting the vaccine.

AFTER getting the COVID vaccine:

  • Stay hydrated. You might have a mild fever after getting the vaccine. Keep your mug or water bottle nearby to remind you to get enough fluids throughout the day.
  • Take in some comfort food. Some common symptoms after the vaccine are like chills, fatigue and muscle aches. Try a bowl of chicken noodle soup or your favourite soup to offer some comfort. And cuddle up with a cozy blanket.
  • Hold off on the alcohol. It can dehydrate you even more. Chances are you may not be in the mood for a drink anyway, and less so if you’re feeling headache, chills or the aches.
  • Continue eating a wholesome diet to keep your immune system strong. Think of your immune system as a team with different players. Each player has a role to play. Nutrients like vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin E, protein and zinc are just some of the key players on Team Immune System. Fill half your plate or bowl with a variety of colourful veggies and fruit. Get vitamin D from eggs, fatty fish, milk, mushrooms, fortified beverages and supplements if needed. Look for whole grains, lean meats / fish / poultry and plant-based foods like tofu, nuts and seeds.

 Keep well everyone!

Double Down on Reducing Food Waste


Image Source: Shutterstock

Addressing food waste at home is a priority issue for the National Zero Waste Council.  Did you know that Canadian households waste more food than they realize?

Think for a moment – What foods do you throw away most often?  Fruits & Veggies?  or Milk?  or Meat? or Cereals?  If you said ‘fruit and veggies’ you’re not alone! So much is wasted each year! Recent research in Canada tells us that almost two thirds of food scraps that end up as kitchen waste could have been eaten. (National Zero Waste Council 2017)

The good news is that there are many things you can do help ensure that the energy, water, and land resources that go into growing our food are not wasted. Here are 5 tips to help you save your food, money and reduce waste:

  1. Think differently about food waste
    Because fruit and vegetables have the highest rate of waste, think differently about the food you would usually toss out. How can you use up the broccoli stems, cilantro stems, and maybe even banana peels in recipes that taste great and reduce waste?  Use all the edible parts of produce – leaves, peels, seeds, stalks and stems. For some creative and fresh ideas, check out a new IKEA cookbook filled with recipes that use kitchen scraps.
  2. Make sustainable food decisions
    Caring for the environment is everyone’s responsibility. Consider ways you can bring food to your table while protecting some natural resources. Can you build a healthy relationship with food, and value its origin and quality? Can you buy foods with less packaging or recyclable packaging when possible? Learn more about making impactful choices from credible sources like Dietitians of Canada , 2020, Advocacy /Priority Issues and Actions/ Food and Nutrition Policy and Health Canada 2021, Health Canada Departmental Sustainable Development Strategy.
  3. Talk to farmers
    Take a moment to remember farmers who work to produce our food every day. If you get a chance, talk to farmers at farmers’ markets or farm stands to discover more about the food they produce and how they manage resources and care for their environment.  Farmers can tell you the story behind the foods they grow. Take a farm tour either virtually or in person to meet the farmers and see things first hand. Be curious and open minded – you’ll be amazed at how much you’ll learn to support your informed and confident food choices. In the meantime if you’d like to discover more about Canadian food and farming stories check out Canadian Food Focus at https://canadianfoodfocus.org/about-us/ where we share our food and nutrition blogs.
  4. Plan out your meals
    Buy and eat the amount of food that you need to help reduce waste. Resist the urge to overbuy fresh produce because it’s the food that’s most likely to get tossed.  Plan a weekly ‘Must-Go’ meal that cleans out your fridge. In a recent study by Hellmann’s, food waste was reduced by one- third when participants planned just one weekly meal that used up soon-to-expire ingredients.  In your meal plan you can also use perishable foods and leftovers to create ‘planned over’ meals.  Cook and eat once then create an entirely different second meal with the same ingredients for your next meal or two.  For some quick and tasty examples of “cook once, eat twice” recipes that will help you reduce food waste, check out the Guelph Family Health Study’s cookbook: Rock What You’ve Got Recipes for Preventing Food Waste.
  5. Minimize wasted food at your table
    Serve sensible, smaller portions. This way, you’re not scraping uneaten food into the waste bin or encouraging overconsumption as a way to reduce food waste. Alternatively, consider serving food family style where everyone can serve themselves and take the amount they wish to eat. If you cooked too much food you can repurpose it or freeze leftovers for another meal.

Let’s reduce food waste together! Contact us to discover more! We also offer virtual workshops and cooking demos on how to minimize food waste at your organization and your family table.

Ask a Dietitian – What’s the Difference between Free Run and Free Range Eggs?

Small headshot of Sue Mah over-layed on a background of brown and white eggs. The Ask a Dietitian question is typed within a green box.

This is such a common question, thanks for asking us!

Eggs are a nutrient-packed food, and with so many choices these days, it can be confusing to know what they all mean.

Free run and free range describe the type of housing for the hens which laid the eggs.

Free run eggs come from hens that roam the entire barn floor, and some of these barns may have multi-tired aviaries.

Free range eggs come from hens that also roam the entire barn floor. And when the weather permits, the hens also have access to outdoors.

You may have seen these other types of eggs at the grocery store too:

Organic eggs come from hens which are raised free range and they’re also fed a certified organic feed.

Omega-3 eggs are nutritionally-enhanced or vitamin-enhanced eggs. The hens were fed a special diet with certain nutrients or ingredients (such as flaxseed), so that their eggs actually contain higher amounts of these healthy omega-3 fats.

Whichever eggs you choose, know that they all contain essential nutrients such as protein, iron, folate, choline, vitamin A and vitamin D.

What would you like to ask a dietitian? Comment below or send us an email, and we’ll answer it in a future blog.

 

– By Sue Mah, MHSc, RD, PHEc, FDC

 

 

 

Find Your Healthy with Cultural Cuisines

chicken lettuce wraps on a long white platter

Happy Nutrition Month!

This year, dietitians want you to know that healthy eating looks different for everyone. There’s no one-size-fits-all eating plan. Instead, the food we eat depends on so many different factors such as our culture, age, activity level, personal circumstances and health conditions.

Let’s learn about food and culture! Sue and Lucia celebrate the diversity of cuisines and share the meaning of food in their Chinese and Hungarian cultures.

Sue in her kitchen, squeezing lemon over a salad

Sue Mah, Co-Founder n4nn

1. What’s your cultural background? 

I am Chinese.

2. What is the meaning of food in your culture? / How is food used in celebrations or traditions?

Food is a huge part of Chinese celebrations and traditions! For example, chicken, fish and lettuce are enjoyed during the Lunar New Year because they are homonyms for prosperity, abundance and wealth. Special birthdays and weddings are celebrated with a delightful 8-course menu including significant foods like Peking duck and noodles for longevity. My paternal grandfather was a medical acupuncturist, so we also used foods, herbs and special soups for healing and health.

3. What is your favourite cultural ingredient or food or recipe?

It’s probably a tie between Har Cheung which is a steamed shrimp rice noodle roll, and Zongzi, which is a sticky rice dumpling with meat wrapped in bamboo leaves. These recipes are trickier to make, so my go-to cultural recipe are these Chicken Lettuce Wraps – see recipe below  – even my chef Dad eats these, so you know they must be good!

4. What would you like to say to Canadians during National Nutrition Month?

Food is delicious, nourishing and brings us together. Take time to embrace your own cultural foods as well as explore new flavours and ingredients.

 

1. What’s your cultural background?

I am Hungarian.

2. What is the meaning of food in your culture? / How is food used in celebrations or traditions?

Food is family – and food is love. Hungarians know how to cook everything – snout to tail, farm to table. Many like my grandmother and sister are excellent bakers too though that’s not my forte.

3. What is your favourite cultural ingredient or food or recipe?

Hungarian Cuisine in short! Paprika is the heart of Hungarian cuisine and the traditions go all the way back to the first Hungarians, and some of the dishes have been cooked the same way for hundreds of years.

4. What would you like to say to Canadians during National Nutrition Month?

Enjoy and explore how your culture, food traditions, personal circumstances & nutritional needs all contribute to what healthy looks like for you. Reach out to a registered dietitian to support your healthy eating journey.

Sue’s Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Chicken lettuce wraps on a long white platter

Sue’s Chicken Lettuce Wraps

This is an easy and delicious recipe that’s fun to eat. The secret is the hoisin sauce!

Ingredients
4 – 5 T hoisin sauce
2 T light soy sauce
2 T rice wine vinegar
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp cornstarch
1 pound ground chicken (or diced chicken breast)
2 teaspoons canola oil
1/2 onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
1 8-ounce can water chestnuts, drained and diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 T ginger, minced
1 head Bibb, Boston or romaine lettuce
Red pepper, julienned (for garnish)
Green onions, julienned (for garnish)

Directions
1. In a small bowl, mix the hoisin sauce, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar and sesame oil. Whisk in cornstarch. Set aside.

2. Heat 1 tsp of canola oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the ground chicken and crumble it with a spoon or spatula as you are cooking it. Cook for about 8 minutes or until the internal temperatures reaches 165 F. Transfer the cooked chicken to a clean bowl.

3. Heat 1 tsp of canola oil in the frying pan. Add the onions and carrots, and cook until tender. Add water chestnuts, garlic and ginger. Cook for about 30 seconds.

4. Add the chicken back to the pan. Stir in the sauce and continue cooking until the sauce begins to bubble and the chicken is thoroughly coated with sauce.

5. Gently separate the lettuce leaves. Wash and pat the leaves dry. Place a large spoonful of the chicken mixture in the centre of the lettuce leaf. Garnish with red pepper and green onions. Roll it up and eat it with your hands! Enjoy!

Makes 6 servings.

 

Lucia’s Chicken Paprikás

Serve some veggies on the side such as steamed broccoli or green beans. A fresh cucumber or tomato salad is also fitting. Enjoy! Jó étvágyat!

Chicken Paprikas on a plate with broccoli and red pepper

Lucia’s Chicken Paprikás

Ingredients: 

2 1/2 – 3 lbs chicken thighs or drumsticks
2 onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tbsp Hungarian ground paprika
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
2 bell peppers, chopped
2 tomatoes, chopped
2 cups water or low sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tbsp flour

Directions:

1. In a large skillet, heat oil and brown chicken on all sides – remove chicken to a plate.

2. Next, add onion to the skillet and cook till golden brown. Add garlic, pepper and tomatoes and cook for another 3 minutes.

3. Turn off heat and stir in the paprika and ground black pepper.

4. Return chicken to the skillet and mix well. Add water or chicken broth until chicken is mostly covered. Bring to boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.

5. In a small bowl, mix sour cream and flour until the mixture is smooth. Add the sour cream mixture to the chicken paprikas and simmer for 5 minutes until sauce is thickened.

6. Serve with Hungarian nokedli (small dumplings) or penne or rotini. [For a vegetarian version, replace chicken with tofu cubes and reduce cooking time to 10 minutes].

Makes 6 servings.

 

9 Traditional Treats to Enjoy During the Lunar New Year 

Round tin box with dried fruits, nuts, roasted melon seeds, crackers with best wishes inscription and tangerines for Lunar New Year celebration
The Chinese Tray of Togetherness – a round tin box with dried fruits, roasted watermelon seeds and other treats for the Lunar New Year celebration. 

 

The Spring Festival, also known as the Lunar New Year, is the most celebrated holiday in Chinese communities worldwide. This year, the first day of the two-week celebration falls on February 12. Many activities are part of the celebration, such as putting up decorations, having a reunion dinner with family, and giving “lucky money” red envelopes.

Aside from these primary activities, assembling the Tray of Togetherness is also an important ritual. The Tray of Togetherness is a red or a black box comprised of six or eight compartments.

Traditionally, sweets are part of the box to bless one to have a sweet life. Like many celebratory foods eaten during this time, each food included in the box bears a homophonic pun with a specific good omen.

The box is presented to guests when they visit the host’s home as a way for the host to pass on luck and blessings. While the pandemic prohibits people from visiting one another, the box is still put together because it also implies luck and fortune will come to the home the year ahead.

What’s inside the Tray of Togetherness

To assemble the box, families generally choose treats related to fortune, family ties and health. Some examples are:

Red watermelon seeds – Red symbolizes happiness, and the word ‘seed’ in Chinese stands for fertility.

dried red watermelon seeds

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dried candied lotus seed – Also related to fertility, the white lotus seeds carry an additional symbolic meaning: to have many descendants.

dried candied lotus seeds

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dried candied coconut – Come in the forms of strips and chunks; these imply togetherness, where a family of generations are bonded together.

dried candied coconut

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dried candied lotus root – The homonym for lotus root is abundance year after year.

dried candied lotus root

 

 

 

 

 

Dried candied winter melon – The dried candied winter melon pieces are rectangular strips as if they represent an individual from head to toe. They are a symbol of good growth for children and good health for all.

dried candied winter melon

 

 

 

 

 

Dried kumquats – In Chinese, the word kumquat is translated as “gold orange,” which symbolizes luck and wealth.

dried kumquats

 

 

 

 

 

Other Lunar New Year Foods 

Along with the sweets eaten in the Tray of Togetherness, other traditional snacks are part of the celebration, including:

Year Cake (Nian Gao or Chinese Glutinous Rice Cake) – The year cake implies prosperity year after year. It can be enjoyed as a sweet or a savoury item, as a New Year dish, or as an all-year-round food, depending on regional culture.

Nian Gao or Chinese glutinous rice cake

In Cantonese cuisine, the year cake is enjoyed explicitly during the New Year. Comprised of glutinous rice flour and brown sugar, the year cake is sliced into pieces before serving. Generally, the slices are steamed or pan-fried.

For the pan-fried method, specifically, the year cake slices are dipped into an egg wash before cooking for a crispy exterior and a chewy interior.

Crispy triangles – Like the year cake, crispy triangles can be savoury or sweet, depending on the fillings typically used in the regional culture. From the umami-flavoured filling with Chinese sausages, pork and shitake mushrooms to the sweetness offered by the peanut, sesame and sugar filling, these fillings are wrapped inside a glutinous rice dough before they are deep-fried in a wok.

crispy triangle pastries

 

The crispy triangles resemble the gold-coloured, boat-shaped ingots, a currency used in ancient China. Eating these symbolizes wealth will come generously to one.

 

Sesame doughnuts – Finally, sesame doughnuts, also known as “laughing dates,” are deep-fried, wheat flour-based crunchy balls. When one takes a bite, the balls look like a laughing mouth, depicting bringing happiness and laughter to the family.

sesame donut pastries

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wishing you and your families a happy and prosperous New Year!

headshot of Novella LuiGuest blog written by Novella Lui, RD, MHSc – Novella is a registered dietitian and a nutrition communications strategist who is passionate about creating engaging content for a wide array of audiences.  You can find her at www.novellard.com or on Instagram @LiveToNourishRD.

 

Image sources: Adobe Stock, 699pic.com, gotrip.hk, pixtastock.com

 

 

February signals Black History Month and Heart Month

L.Weiler, Canva

Every February is Black History Month and also Heart Month. Do you think this is a coincidence or is there more to consider?

As dietitians and health care professionals, especially this year, we reflected deeper. We are taking the time to recognize health disparity and reflect on what is happening in our health care community. Now is the time to double down on efforts to listen and learn from our colleagues in the Black community and act accordingly.

When people think about heart health, it’s important to consider what this could mean in terms of things we can and cannot change.  Research shows that people of African descent are at higher risk of developing heart disease and stroke. This is because they are more likely to have high blood pressure (hypertension), diabetes or other risk factors for heart disease at a younger age (Heart and Stroke Foundation Canada, 2021).

Studies also confirm that there are Black-White health inequalities in Canada (Veenstra, 2016). For example, Black women and men were more likely than their White counterparts to report diabetes and hypertension. The authors of this study concluded that high rates of diabetes and hypertension among Black Canadians may stem from experiences of racism in everyday life. University of Ottawa Heart Institute’s prevention and wellness experts explain that ‘people of the same ethnicity share many of the same genes, which is why family history and ethnicity are so closely linked.’  Studies also indicate that ‘people from minority populations are less aware that smoking, high cholesterol, and family history increase their risk for heart disease. Awareness levels can impact a person’s decision about whether to start making healthy lifestyle changes’ (Ottawa Heart Institute, 2021).

We are committed to continue navigating through these changing times with an open mind, positivity, compassion and hope for a better future. We are reading the science, listening to colleagues in the Black community at conferences and on their media and social media channels.

Here are some resources we found informative:

As we journey to do better, you can rely on us as Registered Dietitians to bring you trusted food and nutrition information to help you make informed choices about your health and wellness. We love food – it unites us all.

Reference List:

Veenstra (2016)  Black-White Health Inequalities in Canada. Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25894533/
Ottawa Heart Institute (2021) Heart Health Education. Available at:  http://pwc.ottawaheart.ca/education/heart-health-education/risk-factors/ethnicity)
Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada (2021) Risk & Prevention Available at: https://www.heartandstroke.ca/stroke/risk-and-prevention/risk-factors-you-cannot-change

International Year of Fruits & Vegetables 2021

 

colourful fruits and veggies arranged in a circle to create an image of a person's face. This is the logo for the IYFV 2021.

 

IYFV 2021. It stands for the International Year of Fruits and Vegetables 2021, declared by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations (UN).

IYFV 2021 is dedicated to raising global awareness about the important role of fruits and vegetables in human nutrition, food security and health as well as in achieving the UN’s sustainable development goals.

Here’s a summary of the key messages:

Harness the goodness

Fruits and vegetables have multiple health benefits, including the strengthening of the immune system, that are essential for combating malnutrition in all its forms and overall prevention of non-communicable diseases. This is becoming increasingly important during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Live by it, a diverse diet

Fruits and vegetables should be consumed in adequate amounts daily as part of a diversified and healthy diet. The FAO recommends eating 400 grams (about 5 servings) of fruits and vegetables every day.

Respect food from farm to table

The high perishability of fruits and vegetables needs special attention to maintain their quality and safety through appropriate treatment and handling across the supply chain from production to consumption in order to minimize loss and waste.

Innovate, cultivate, reduce food loss and waste

Innovation, improved technologies and infrastructure are critical to increase the efficiency and productivity within fruits and vegetables supply chains to reduce loss and waste.

Foster sustainability

Sustainable and inclusive value chains can help increase production, help to enhance the availability, safety, affordability and equitable access to fruits and vegetables to foster economic, social, and environmental sustainability.

Growing prosperity

Cultivating fruits and vegetables can contribute to a better quality of life for family farmers and their communities. It generates income, creates livelihoods, improves food security and nutrition, and enhances resilience through sustainably managed local resources and increased agrobiodiversity.

 

As business dietitians, we are skilled in translating the science of nutrition into practical advice for consumers and businesses. Contact us to discuss how you can leverage IYFV 2021 for your product marketing and communications.

 

Introducing the NEW Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025

On December 29, 2020, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released the latest U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans for 2020-2025. Every five years, these science-based guidelines are updated to offer the most current advice on “what to eat and drink to promote health, reduce risk of chronic disease, and meet nutrient needs.”

Key message – Make every bite count!

Americans’ health is suffering.  According to the USDA, 6 in 10 adults are living with chronic illness, including type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis that are often related to poor-quality diets. Following the Dietary Guidelines can help improve Americans’ health and it’s never too late to start dietary improvements.  People at any stage of life can make every bite count and benefit from changing to more nutrient-dense forms of foods and beverages.

How are Dietary Guidelines used?

The US Dietary Guidelines have a significant impact on nutrition in the United States.  The Dietary Guidelines form the basis of all federal nutrition policy and programs including nutrition resources. They also guide local, state, and national health promotion and disease prevention initiatives. The Dietary Guidelines are adapted by health professionals to meet specific needs of groups and individuals.

What’s new and what’s the same?

Here’s a snapshot of what’s new and what’s not in the USDA Dietary Guidelines 2020-2025 and what it means to people and businesses.

  1. NEW – 4 overarching Guidelines in the 2020-2025 edition
    • Follow a healthy dietary pattern at every life stage.
    • Customize and enjoy nutrient-dense food and beverage choices to reflect personal preferences, cultural traditions, and budgetary considerations.
    • Focus on meeting food group needs with nutrient-dense foods and beverages, and stay within calorie limits.
    • Limit foods and beverages higher in added sugars, saturated fat, and sodium, and limit alcoholic beverages.
  2. NEW – Guidance across all life stages now includes infants and toddlers.

    From pregnant and breastfeeding mothers to older adults, nutrition advice is provided in the Dietary Guidelines for all life stages. The edition also emphasizes that it is never too early or too late to eat healthy!

    • For first time ever the guidelines include advice for children less than 2 years of age. This will help parents know how to start their infants and toddlers out with a healthy diet. Specific recommendations include:
    • Introduce potential food allergens including eggs, peanuts and dairy to children early to help reduce the risk of developing food allergies.
    • Avoid added sugars for infants and toddlers.
  3. NEW – Call to action: ‘Make every bite count’ with same 5 food groups and ‘MyPlate’ model 

    USDA continues to use 5 food groups including dairy, unlike the Canadian Food Guide. Both Food guides recommend half the plate be filled with vegetables and fruit.  Here is how the key consumer messages appear based on the new guidelines ‘Small Changes Matter, Start Simple’ resource:

  4. SAME – Key recommendations limit saturated fat, added sugars, sodium and alcohol
    • Limit saturated fat to less than 10% of calories per day starting at age 2.
    • Limit added sugars to less than 10% of calories per day for ages 2 and older; Avoid added sugars for infants and toddlers.
    • Limit sodium intake to less than 2,300 mg per day (or even less if younger than age 14).
    • If consumed by adults, alcoholic beverage guidance remains the same as previous years:
    • 2 drinks or less per day for men and 1 drink or less a day for women. Pregnant women should not drink alcohol. Some experts are disappointed because the Scientific Advisory? Committee recommended further limiting alcohol intakes to just one drink a day for both men and women however this was not reflected in the final guidelines.
  5. SAME – Lack of mention about food insecurity and food systems.

Some food and nutrition advocates were hoping to see guidance on sustainably, climate change and information about food systems including activities involving the production, processing, transport in addition to the consumption of food.  The Dietary Guidelines received some criticism for these exclusions.

The bottom line:

This is a comprehensive 164-page guidance document on what the average American should eat and drink to promote health and prevent chronic disease. For most people the takeaway from these guidelines should be forming healthy dietary patterns. “For lifelong good health, make every bite count with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans”.

Consult with Registered Dietitian to discover what the guidelines mean for your nutritional requirements, personal health and wellness or your food and nutrition business.

Want to discover more about how to make the Food Guide work for you and your business? Contact us now for a presentation / workshop.

Written by: Lucia Weiler, BSc, RD, PHEc, Co-Founder Nutrition for NON-Nutritionists

Five growing trends in food innovation

Our world is facing disruption and uncertainty. Yet in this changed world people seek to nourish their bodies to the best of their ability. Consumers have re-evaluated their food and nutrition priorities and in this post we take a closer look at what this means for your business. We joined virtual global conferences including SIAL 2020 and reviewed top notch research articles to study the future of food innovation.  Here is our translation of the 5 growing trends in food innovation that will impact all food and nutrition professionals for the next 5-10 years to come.

  1. Covid 19 disruption in food purchasing
  2. Clean label
  3. Plant based
  4. Food safety
  5. Well-being and immunity

1 Covid 19 disruption in food purchasing

Consumers are looking for new ways to meet their food needs. Less time spent in grocery stores and restaurants means convenience and personalized shopping is essential.

Digital-age solutions are transforming the way grocery stores, food retailers and restaurants operate. Pandemic-impacted brands must adapt and power through by branching out of traditional platforms to sustain consumer engagement.  Discount chains are offering more food brands and premium brands at better value. Have you seen groceries in dollar stores yet? They are priced as close to a dollar as possible.

The line between retail and restaurants continues to blur.  A completely new restaurant concept dubbed as a ‘dark kitchen’ or ‘virtual kitchen’ is rising. These kitchens sell meals exclusively through delivery – no eating in, seating or serving is involved.  Virtual kitchens cook purely for delivery so the food that is produced there must be transported and enjoyed elsewhere.  Third party delivery and distribution channels enable these food businesses to connect with consumers quickly and effectively.

2 Clean labels

Consumers continue to seek clean labels. Although undefined by regulators, shoppers consider ‘clean label foods’ to have familiar sounding ingredients and made simply using fewer ingredients.  Various claims are also sought after including ‘organic’, ‘free from’ and health-related benefits like reduced sugars. Product innovations across all categories are now sharing messages about minimal processing and fewer chemicals as consumers don’t want to see labels packed with additives to extend shelf life.  Some consumers are also evaluating foods’ environmental impact based on climate change and land / water use.

In our work with clients we collaborate with them to simplify food labels and provide meaningful, legally sound claims that address clean-label project goals.

3 Plant based

Gone are the days when plant based was just an ‘alternative’.  Plant-based foods are successfully crossing over into the mainstream and becoming a regular part of people’s diet.  More and more consumers are looking to limit meat or dairy intake based on deeply held values such as ‘eco-health’ or ethical reasons.

This macro trend is driving innovation for dairy and meat substitutes and fish/shellfish alternatives are expected to follow. The key ingredient of interest in food innovation for plant-based foods and beverages is protein, a trend that continues to remain strong.  Consider the variety and diversity of plant based sources of protein including a larger selection of grains and cereals. Consumers are also expecting great taste and an eating experience that is beyond imitation.

What’s holding your plant-based food innovation back from crossing over to the mainstream? As dietitians and food experts we empower our clients to make plant-based foods an everyday healthy choice.

4 Food safety*

Ensuring high food safety standards is becoming a greater concern as people focus on keeping illnesses at bay.  Although there is no evidence to suggest that food is a likely source of transmission of the Covid19 virus it’s critical that all stakeholders protect food safety, animal health, plant health and market access. Everyone has a role to play to bolster and safeguard food. Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is committed to appropriate oversight of domestic production and imported food products. Agri-food stakeholders, including farmers are providing safe food for consumers and managing the supply chain. Culinary professionals and consumers should continue to follow good hygiene practices during food handling and preparation including:

  • Wash your hands regularly
  • Clean and sanitize food preparation surfaces including chopping boards and countertops
  • Clean fruit and vegetables before eating, cutting, cooking and wash them under running water. (Do NOT use soap or detergents or other chemicals on food.)
  • Keep fruits and vegetables separate from raw foods that come from animals such as meat poultry and seafood. Avoid potential cross-contamination between cooked and uncooked foods
  • Cook meat thoroughly and use a meat thermometer to ensure safe cooking temperatures

More information about food safety is available at our previous post here or consult Health Canada’s website for food safety tips.

* Source: Health Canada, CFIA, CDC

5 Well-being & immunity

Research shows that many consumers have at least one health goal they are looking to reach and are actively seeking healthier foods.  Well-being is a common goal and functional ingredients, like prebiotic fiber and slow-release carbohydrates are setting the stage for wellness foods.  This is good news and we applaud food makers to evaluate and re-formulate as needed to provide healthier food choices and optimise nutrient density.
During the pandemic many consumers are seeking functional ingredients to boost immunity. Good nutrition is essential along the journey towards supporting immunity. There are many articles about how this claim will be growing in the future and we caution food makers in the way they approach immunity. Careful consideration must be given to maintaining the integrity and credibility of the statements as food makers formulate food and drinks to empower consumers’ lives. Contact us for credible and legally sound advice on food labelling and claims.

 

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