news & trends

Navigating the Changing Landscape: Labelling Regulations in the Supplement Industry

As the world becomes more and more health-conscious, the interest and use of dietary supplements has increased. From vitamins and minerals to herbal remedies, these products promise to enhance well-being and fill nutritional gaps, but they are not without risks. As a result, the supplement industry faces scrutiny over its labelling practices, and recent changes aim to address these concerns. In this blog post, we’ll highlight the changing landscape of supplement labelling regulations and discuss their impact.

The Natural Health Products Dilemma

What Are Natural Health Products (NHPs)?

Natural Health Products (NHPs) encompass a wide range of products, including herbal medicines, vitamins, minerals, and other natural remedies. Unlike prescription drugs, NHPs are available without a prescription and are often self-administered by consumers.

The Regulatory Framework

In Canada, NHPs fall under the Natural Health Products Regulations. These regulations recognize the lower-risk nature of NHPs compared to prescription drugs. Companies that manufacture, package, label, or import NHPs must adhere to specific guidelines, including holding valid product and site licenses and following good manufacturing practices (GMP).

The Need for Improved Oversight

While NHPs are generally considered safe, they are not without risks. Health Canada continually strives to create a safer marketplace for Canadians. Here are some key initiatives aimed at enhancing NHP oversight:

  1. Improved NHP Labelling: Clear and accurate labelling is crucial. Consumers need to know what they’re ingesting, potential interactions, and proper usage. Recent changes focus on ensuring that NHP labels provide comprehensive information.
  2. Extending Vanessa’s Law to NHPs: The Protecting Canadians from Unsafe Drugs Act (Vanessa’s Law) has been effective in enhancing drug safety. Extending its provisions to NHPs would strengthen reporting requirements, adverse reaction monitoring, and recall procedures.
  3. NHP Inspection Program: Regular inspections of NHP manufacturers and distributors help maintain quality standards. Rigorous inspections ensure compliance with GMP and identify potential risks.
  4. NHP Cost Recovery: Funding NHP oversight requires resources. Implementing a cost recovery mechanism ensures sustainable regulatory efforts.

Balancing Safety and Accessibility

Critics argue that stricter regulations may lead to price increases and reduced availability of certain NHP brands. However, the trade-off between safety and accessibility is a delicate one. As healthcare professionals, we must weigh the risks and benefits. While some products may become scarcer, essential supplements like vitamins and minerals will likely remain accessible.

Bottom Line

As the supplement industry evolves, so must our regulatory approach. Striking the right balance ensures that Canadians have access to safe and effective NHPs. Let’s continue the dialogue, advocate for evidence-based practices, and work towards a healthier future.

Feel free to share your thoughts! If you have any questions or need further information, please reach out.

Written by: Lucia Weiler, BSc, RD, PHEc – Award-winning dietitian and Owner, n4nn

Top 5 Tips for Safe & Innovative Recipe Development

In today’s food-conscious world, consumers are more vigilant than ever about safe food handling. Did you know that approximately 1 in 8 people (4 million Canadians) falls ill due to foodborne illnesses each year? Health Canada’s statistics underscore the importance of food safety awareness. As consumers scrutinize their food and recipes – from its origin to preparation – they seek reassurance that it’s safe for consumption.

But here’s the good news: Health Canada is stepping up its prevention efforts, focusing not only on preventing foodborne illnesses but also on heading off food spoilage. In collaboration with the Partnership for Food Safety Education, Health Canada has identified key messages to incorporate into recipe development. These messages aim to enhance food safety practices and empower Canadians to handle and prepare food safely at home.

As recipe developers, writers, food journalists, bloggers, dietitians, and chefs, you play a pivotal role in shaping culinary experiences. Let’s explore five essential tips for creating safe, innovative, and enticing recipes. Whether you’re a seasoned recipe creator or a curious home cook, these insights will help elevate your culinary work.

  1. Incorporate Food Safety Instructions into Recipes

    Research shows that when food safety instructions are seamlessly integrated into recipes, consumers are more likely to follow them. As recipe creators, your mission is to encourage everyone to practice food safety steps at home. Consider weaving essential food safety practices directly into your recipe instructions.

  2. Emphasize Handwashing and Clean Surfaces

    Prioritize hand hygiene and cleanliness. Begin your recipes by emphasizing the importance of washing hands thoroughly with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. Highlight this step as the first step before handling food. You can even create a tip box at the start of each recipe, drawing attention to proper handwashing practices.

  3. Ensure Proper Cooking Temperatures with Food Thermometers

    Guide readers on cooking food to the correct internal temperature. Visual cues (such as color or texture) can be misleading. Encourage the use of food thermometers to accurately determine doneness. Embed the internal temperature message within your recipe instructions and refer to Health Canada’s safe cooking temperatures chart. Cooking food using proper temperatures is a great message for everyone, especially those who are just learning to cook. (Health Canada)

  4. Use Authentic Recipe Names and Cultural Appreciation

    In the culinary landscape of 2024, cross-cultural cuisine is trending. When naming your recipes, appreciate their cultural origins. Thoughtfully borrow from diverse culinary traditions, paying homage to roots and backgrounds. Celebrate flavor, experience, and cuisine by mindfully integrating regional and traditional elements. (McCormick Flavour Forecast 2024)

  5. Create Nutritious and Flavorful Options

    When it comes to nutrition, a balanced eating pattern is key. While plant-based eating is on the rise, it doesn’t mean eliminating animal-based foods entirely. Consider incorporating plant-based protein sources such as soy (tofu, edamame, tempeh), legumes, nuts, and seeds. Explore balanced meal patterns from Canada’s Food Guide and the Mediterranean diet to inspire wholesome and delicious recipes.

Feel free to reach out to us if you have any questions about innovative recipe development services or nutrition analysis support! 🌱🍽️

For more detailed insights, you can explore the following sources:

Written by: Lucia Weiler, BSc, RD, PHEc – Award-winning dietitian and Owner, n4nn

Key Nutrition Trends for 2024 & Beyond

After examining forecasts, here are the 10 key trends in food and nutrition for 2024 and beyond. These trends have enduring impact that will influence food and nutrition businesses and shape the way we shop and eat.

  1. One Health

    One Health promotes a balanced and healthy future by integrating the well-being of people, animals, and ecosystems. The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the interconnectedness of humans, animals, and the environment. One Health is a collaborative approach, aiming for optimal health outcomes at local, regional, and global levels by recognizing the ecosystem connections.

    Opportunity: Innovations in food production are pivotal for ensuring food security, nutrition, and animal welfare. The WHO supports advancing One Health approaches.  (WHO 2017, 2021)

  2. Sustainability

    Consumers increasingly prioritize sustainability in food choices, seeking options that benefit both people and the planet. Principles of stewardship and responsibility of humans to change behavior and adopt solutions underscore the importance sustainable practices for future generations.  (Dvorin, 2022)

    Opportunity:  Many Canadian companies stepped up with eco-friendly packaging, but much more can be done to communicate clearly and credibly about sustainable choices that are affordable, available and desirable.

  3. Plant Forward

    The plant-forward trend continues to evolve, accommodating various dietary preferences. It encompasses vegan and vegetarian and flexitarian eating, reflecting a shift towards more plant -based eating while allowing animal foods too. “Think omnivores on their way to becoming flexitarians.” (Culinary Institute of America, 2020)

    Opportunity: Consumers seek great tasting and convenient plant based foods both in grocery stores and restaurants. Plant proteins present ongoing opportunities for innovation.

  4. Year of the Fibre

    Fibre is part of the ‘healthy halo’ yet many people only get half the amount of fibre they need. Fiber-rich eating patterns offer many benefits, including improved digestive health, and reduced risks of chronic conditions like heart disease, diabetes and some types of cancer. Fibre-containing foods include whole grains, vegetables, fruit, legumes and nuts. (Dietitians of Canada, 2018)

    Opportunity: Looking for ways to add more fibre to consumers’ eating plan can positively impact overall health. Fibre messages are easy to understand and have strong positive association to digestive wellness.

  5. Snackification

    Snackification reflects a trend towards consuming larger size snacks throughout the day rather than traditional main meals such as breakfast, lunch and dinner. For example, instead of a morning meal, people may eat a snack right after waking up, then eat another snack mid-morning. Other names for snackification have been “grazing”, eating a “little bit at a time but more often” or simply just “snacking”.  This pattern aligns with busy lifestyles, offering convenient and portable food options. (Ceyland, 2023)

    Opportunity: Snackification presents an opportunity for diverse, nutrient-dense food offerings that cater to on-the-go consumers. Balanced budget wise snacks could have the edge in these times of rising food costs.

  6. Positive Relationship with Food

    A balanced eating pattern involves nourishing and optimal food choices.  How and why individuals choose the foods they eat reflects their relationship with food. Encouraging a positive relationship with food is essential as consumers move away from restrictive diet culture and discover more about their body’s natural hunger cues. Embracing intuitive and mindful eating approaches fosters balanced eating characterized by lower stress around food and more freedom in food choices. (Turner, 2021)

    Opportunity: Supporting individuals in building positive food habits with no restrictions and providing resources for mindful eating can facilitate a shift towards healthier relationships with food.

  7. Mood and Mind

    Awareness is growing regarding the impact of food choices on mood and cognitive function. Nutrient-dense foods support gut and brain health, with emerging research highlighting the role of the gut-brain axis in overall well-being. (Bending, 2021)

    Opportunity: Promoting diverse, nutrient-rich eating patterns can optimize mental function and overall well-being.

  8. Successful Aging

    Successful ageing emphasizes quality of life beyond the age of 60, focusing on physical, psychological, and social well-being. Research identifies 4 key behaviors, including regular physical activity, balanced nutrition, moderate alcohol consumption, and avoidance of smoking, to promote health in later years. (Willcox, 2012)

    Opportunity: Promoting evidence-based behaviors like balanced meals and staying active significantly enhances health beyond 60.

  9. Processed Food Controversy

    Processing food is a method of production and includes any kind of alteration. Debate surrounds the classification of foods based on level of processing versus nutrition or other food attributes and their impact on health. The levels of food processing—from minimally processed to ultra-processed—influences consumers choices. (British Health Foundation , 2023)

    Opportunity:  Consumers expect simpler and less processed foods, yet great taste, convenience and affordability are also important factors. Explore options for processing foods and consider nutritional contributions.  Offer information on ways to balance convenient foods and boost nutrient density.

  10. Technology and AI

    Artificial intelligence (AI) is revolutionizing food-related processes, from production to consumption. AI-driven data analytics optimize operations for grocers, while mobile applications assist consumers in navigating food choices, comparing prices and delivery options thereby enhancing convenience and efficiency. AI’s impact is increasingly felt in education and health care, including dietetic practice.

    Opportunity: AI tools can help fine-tune processes and provide real-time data to act efficiently and cost-effectively. Further research into the effectiveness and safety of AI-powered nutrition interventions is essential for realizing its full potential. (Bond, 2023)

Contact us for comments or questions.

Written by: Lucia Weiler, BSc, RD, PHEc – Award-winning dietitian and Owner, n4nn

References:

 

 

The Importance of Protein Webinar with Osteoporosis Canada

 

I had the pleasure of collaborating with Osteoporosis Canada on December 7th to present a webinar on “The Importance of Protein.” Protein is a hot topic and there is much to discover about why protein is needed for good overall health. In the webinar, I explored the significance of protein for bone and muscle health, compared animal and plant proteins, highlighted the vital role of amino acids and offered practical tips for easily integrating protein into a balanced eating pattern.

For those who missed it, the webinar recording is available at these links:

Osteoporosis Canada Replay
YouTube – The Importance of Protein with Lucia Weiler RD

Consider partnering with n4nn! As a dedicated health professional, I am committed to bringing credible nutrition science to your audience. Let’s collaborate to create opportunities for positive change in health.

If you have questions or comments about the webinar, please contact us. 

This article was written by Lucia Weiler, BSc, RD, PHEc – Award-winning dietitian and Owner, n4nn.

 

 

Navigating Health Canada’s New Supplemented Food Facts Table

Health Canada aims to enhance your awareness of the revised labelling on supplemented foods, providing valuable information for making informed dietary choices.

Understanding Supplemented Foods: Supplemented foods are prepackaged items with added specific ingredients, such as vitamins, minerals, amino acids, or caffeine, for purposes beyond basic nutrition. Some may have consumption limits or may not be suitable for certain individuals, especially when combined with other supplemented foods or supplements containing similar ingredients. Examples include – beverages or bars with added vitamins and minerals and beverages with added caffeine (for example, caffeinated energy drinks).

What’s Changing? Starting in 2024, a standardized Supplemented Food Facts table will replace the nutrition facts table on all supplemented foods, with full implementation required by December 31, 2025. Some supplemented foods will also carry a caution identifier on the front of the package and related caution box on the back or side of the package. This is because certain supplemented foods contain supplemental ingredients that can pose a risk to health if you consume too much of them or are pregnant, breastfeeding, under the age of 14 or sensitive to caffeine.

Be on the lookout when you go grocery shopping – some foods already carry these new labels!

Help Spread the Word: Join us in sharing this important information with your family, friends, and colleagues. Health Canada has developed messages and resources, including a new factsheet, to aid in distinguishing supplemented foods from other products and interpreting cautionary information accurately.

Connect with Us: For any questions or comments, please contact us! You may also reach out to Health Canada or contact Health Canada’s Supplemented Foods team with the subject line: Supplemented Foods Awareness Initiative. Let’s work together to ensure everyone stays well-informed!

If you have questions or comments about this story, please contact us. 

References:
Health Canada, Supplemented Foods (2023)

This article was written by Lucia Weiler, BSc, RD, PHEc – Award-winning dietitian and Owner, n4nn.

Insights from ‘Wellbeing Through Cooking’ Gallup Research – a Brief Overview

I’m excited to share with you a just released research that brings together my expertise as both a Gallup Certified Strengths Coach and a Registered Dietitian. The report on Wellbeing Through Cooking, done by Gallup and the Ajinomoto Group explores the connection between two simple things: cooking and eating together regularly with people you know. The report looks at this connection across different cultures and backgrounds. It also asks an interesting question: What kind of cook are you?

You can get a taste of some answers in this summary blog. [1] If you want all the details and global insights, check out the full report.

Cooking Enjoyment in North Americans

Nearly three in four North Americans reported enjoying cooking in the past seven days, surpassing other global regions. In Canada 75% of people indicated they enjoyed cooking in the past seven days, with women (79%) slightly outnumbering men (68%).

Cooking Enjoyment and Subjective Wellbeing

Globally, those why enjoyed cooking in the past week were significantly more likely to be “thriving” in their life evaluation compared to those who didn’t.  The research findings suggest that cooking can positively impact social life and can help improve various aspects of an individual’s well being.

Importance of Eating with Others  

Aligning with Canada’s food Guide recommendation  recommendation[2] “Eat meals with others’ and Gallup’s research this survey highlights a positive link between subjective wellbeing and regularly sharing a meal with someone you know. By contrast, habitually dining alone was associated with a lower quality of life in some circumstances.

Identifying Your Cooking Style

Have you ever wondered what type of a cook you might be and the level of enjoyment it brings? The final section of the research offers a demographic breakdown of five types of home cooks globally. This insight may be valuable for personal reflection and business building for those in recipe development and meal planning.

Summary:

Enjoying cooking aligns with enjoying life. As more people globally live alone, there’s an opportunity for policymakers, community advocates and other stakeholders to support the goals of ‘Cook more often’ and “Eat meals with others” to enhance the overall wellbeing of communities. ( Gallup, Health Canada)

If you’re wondering how this report might affect your personal and business success, I’m offering a free 15-minute Gallup Certified Coaching check-in with me. This personalized session is a chance for us to chat about the report’s insights and see how they align with your goals and strengths. Let’s connect!

If you have questions or comments about this story, please contact us. 

References:
[1]  Gallup & Ajinomoto Group(2023)
[2] Health Canada, Canada’s Food Guide Healthy Eating Recommendations (2019)

This article was written by Lucia Weiler, BSc, RD, PHEc – Award-winning dietitian and Owner, n4nn.

New Food Label Reading Tool – Health Canada Update

Health Canada recently unveiled an updated food label reading resource on it’s website, featuring clear graphics and simple 3 step process to understand food labels. Those who completed our n4nn course have gained valuable insights into interpreting food labels, empowering them to make healthier dietary choices. Using food labels can help you compare and choose products so you can make an informed choice. Below is the information on Health Canada’s new 3 step method to interpret food labels.

If you are interested in learning more about label reading, our n4nn tutorials cater to lunch and learns and professional development activities. Additionally, the n4nn online course is an invaluable resource for further exploration and understanding. If you’re interested in expanding your nutrition knowledge, please reach out to us.

Use these three steps to understand food labels

  1. Find the amount of food: 

The amount of food listed in the nutrition facts table is called serving size. The information in the nutrition facts table is based on this amount of food.

  1. Use % daily value:

The % daily value (% DV) tells you if a food product has a little or a lot of a certain nutrient:

  • 5% DV or less is a little
  • 15% DV or more is a lot
  1. Read the list of ingredients: 

The list of ingredients lists all of the ingredients in a food product in order of weight. This means that the food product contains:

  • more of the ingredients found at the beginning of the list
  • less of the ingredients at the end of the list

 

Make a healthier food choice

When making a food choice or comparing two similar food products, choose those with less:

  • sugars
  • sodium
  • saturated fats

Some nutrients you may want more of include:

  • iron
  • fibre
  • calcium
  • potassium

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

Source Heath Canada (2023) https://food-guide.canada.ca/en/tips-for-healthy-eating/use-food-labels-make-healthier-choices/

E. coli Epidemic Update: Insights and 5 Professional Prevention Tips

E-Coli infection – NEWS UPDATE

On October 31, 2023, Alberta Health Services reported that an E. coli outbreak in Calgary daycares is over, eight weeks after it started. The outbreak was connected to hundreds of infections, mostly children, and was linked to a central kitchen used by several daycares. Health officials said that meat loaf and vegan loaf meals served for lunch on Aug. 29 was most likely contaminated with E. coli bacteria that led to the outbreak.

Alberta’s government is now focused on ensuring Albertans never experience another E. coli outbreak. The company’s directors also face 12 charges under municipal bylaws and will appear in court in November.

Several important lessons have been gleaned from this E. coli outbreak, and we touch on a few key takeaways.

What is the issue with E-coli?

E. coli, short for Escherichia coli, is a type of bacteria naturally found in the intestines of humans and animals. While many strains of E. coli are harmless and even beneficial, some can cause illness. Harmful strains of E. coli can contaminate various food products, typically through improper food handling or contaminated water. Harmful E-coli infections can lead to diarrhea, cramps, nausea and vomiting with possible further complications especially in in young children, older adults, or individuals with weakened immune systems. The good news is that E. coli infections are mostly preventable with proper precautions and following sound food safety practices.
Now What?

Ensuring adherence to government-required food safety standards is critical in restaurants, food production facilities, and even at home. This demands continuous food safety training of staff and ongoing reminders. For example, proper food handling, cooking meats thoroughly, practicing good hygiene, and ensuring proper sanitation in food preparation are essential to prevent E. coli contamination and the potential onset of foodborne illnesses.

5 Essential Tips from Our Food Safety Pros to Prevent E. coli Infection

  1. Cook and reheat food thoroughly. Use a food thermometer to ensure safe temperature has been reached. (e.g., 165°F or 74°C for meat and poultry (Health Canada).
  2. Rinse fruits and vegetables in running water before eating or cooking them.
  3. Avoid raw milk and unpasteurized dairy products.
  4. Separate raw meat from ready-to-eat foods like fruits and vegetables. Use separate cutting boards and utensils for raw and cooked foods, and wash your hands, utensils, and surfaces frequently with soap and water.
  5. Clean your hands. Practice proper handwashing using soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds before handling food, after using the restroom.

Are you looking for additional professional food safety training tips for your foodservice team or home cooks? Reach out to us for your food safety training needs.

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

References:

– The Canadian Press, Oct. 31, 2023. Available at: https://www.timescolonist.com/alberta-news/calgary-daycare-e-coli-outbreak-over-after-eight-weeks-alberta-health-services-7764918
– Health Canada (2021) Available at E. coli (Escherichia coli) infection – Canada.ca

 

5 Tips to Meet Diverse Dietary Needs

In the dynamic world of culinary professionals, menus and service are at the heart of the business. They not only reflect the essence of the establishment but also guide the guest experience. As a dietitian collaborating with chefs, I appreciate the challenges, opportunities and legal requirements to meet and accommodate diverse dietary needs. Here, I’m thrilled to share with you five top tips to help meet your guests’ diverse dietary needs.

#1 Recognize the importance of food allergies

Food allergies are more common than you may think! Over 3 million Canadians are affected by food allergy, and 1 in 2 Canadian households are impacted by it. The most common food allergens are peanuts, tree nuts, sesame seeds, milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, soy, wheat, sulphites and mustard. Food allergies can cause serious illness and even death and can’t be taken lightly. The only way to prevent an allergic reaction is to COMPLETELY AVOID the offending allergen. It’s also important to recognize the significance of avoiding cross-contact and know that cooking or freezing does NOT remove an allergen.

#2 Understand food intolerances and preferences

Food intolerance is an unpleasant reaction to food but it is not the same as a potentially deadly food allergy.  One of the most common food intolerances is to dairy products. Gluten intolerance is linked to the protein found in grains like wheat, rye, triticale and barley. Dietary preferences may be related to personal lifestyle choices or religious practice. For example, vegetarian and vegan foods are common dietary preferences. Vegetarian foods do not include meat or fish but do include dairy, eggs and honey. Vegan foods exclude all ingredients sourced from animals such as meat, fish, eggs, dairy, honey and gelatin.

#3 Communicate clearly to customers

 Ask your guests about their dietary needs and clearly communicate your ability to accommodate their dietary restrictions. Customers who are allergic to foods such as nuts, shellfish, wheat or eggs want ingredients to be identified. Because of the increased interest in nutrition and food ingredients, many foodservice operators provide information about options for dietary preferences on their menu, social media and website.

#4 Make simple menu swaps to accommodate dietary preferences

 Create your menu keeping in mind the common food allergies and dietary restrictions. For example, using oil instead of butter means that the vegans and those with dairy allergies can enjoy the dish too. Offer customizable options to meet different dietary needs. For example, building their own salad or pizza allows people to choose ingredients to meet their individual preferences.

#5 Invest in training and professional development

Train staff to handle request for dietary modifications. Restaurants can reduce the risk of food allergy reactions by training staff on food allergies, using separate equipment and areas to prepare food, and providing ingredients list for menu items. If you’re not familiar with dietary restrictions and related labelling, consider consulting with a registered dietitian to ensure your menu meets the necessary criteria and your customers’ needs.

If you have questions or comments about this story, please contact us. 

References: Health Canada, Food Allergy Canada, Centre for Disease Control

This article was written by Lucia Weiler, BSc, RD, PHEc – Award-winning dietitian and Owner, n4nn. First published by Takeout Canada

 

 

Aspartame Controversy

What’s the issue?

On July 26, 2023, The World Health Organization (WHO) International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) declared aspartame a potential carcinogen based on a hazard evaluation with the mention that more research is needed to understand the health impacts. Another WHO agency named the Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) focused on risk assessment considering exposure, and concluded that ‘there was no convincing evidence from experimental animal or human data that aspartame has adverse effects after ingestion.’ (WHO/JECFA) JECFA and Health Canada state the acceptable daily intake (ADI) for aspartame as  0–40 mg/kg body weight. According to Francesco Branca, WHO’s director of nutrition and food safety, the ‘safe’ limit is roughly equivalent to nine to 14 cans of soda a day for an average-sized adult and the “occasional consumption of aspartame is probably not going to be associated with a health risk for most individuals.” Reactions to WHO’s reports have been mixed, with some experts saying that aspartame is largely safe while others argue there are still potential concerns about its health risks and that more research is needed.

Here are some news clips with credible spokespersons for deeper insights into the issues:

Now what?

Health Canada’s online statement on Aspartame says that ‘there is no evidence to suggest that the consumption of foods containing this sweetener, according to the provisions of the Food and Drug Regulations and as part of a well-balanced diet, would pose a health risk to consumers.  Health Canada is also reviewing the summary assessments by the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and JECFA published on July 13, 2023, and will review the full reports for each assessment once they are released. The department will determine whether action on aspartame is needed to protect Canadians, taking into consideration the scientific details from the full reports and information specific to the Canadian context for aspartame. Action Health Canada could take, if necessary, includes reducing one or more maximum levels of use for aspartame, further restricting which foods it may be used in, or no longer permitting it to be used as a food additive.’ (Health Canada/Aspartame July 25, 2023)

Although food makers and regulators can show science on aspartame containing products as safe and demonstrate how they can be part of a balanced diet, consumers are hearing more in the media about aspartame being a potential carcinogen. This makes many people wonder about why eat foods/drink beverages that contain aspartame and start looking for alternative options. In my practice I see clients reading ingredients list more often than before to identify what’s in the foods they purchase. The opportunity for food makers is to better understand people’s perceptions, provide credible information and offer choices that meet their needs and preferences.

Please reach out to us for more information about translating the science to unlock food’s potential to support healthy living.

BMI Controversy & Rethinking in Dietetics

 

What is the body mass index (BMI)?

The BMI is a ratio of weight-to-height. BMI is calculated as weight in kilograms divided by height in metres squared. BMI is also a commonly used as a method of classifying body weight and identifying people with excessive body fat.

What is the issue with BMI?

Researchers find BMI is unreliable and can lead to misdiagnosis or mistreatment. For example, the BMI does not recognize culturally diverse bodies and varied presentations of body weight including gender differences. The BMI system may underestimate or overestimate health risks in certain adults who are highly muscular, or adults who naturally have a very lean body build, young adults who have not reached full growth, and adults over 65 years of age. (Health Canada)

Now what?

At the May 2023 Dietitians of Canada Conference the opening keynote speaker addressed ‘Weight-Inclusive Care’. Their recommendation was to stop using BMI as a criterion in nutrition assessments and diagnosis. The American Medical Association (AMA) resolution published in 2023 also supports the removal of BMI as a stand alone measure in medicine. (AMA June 14, 2023) Healthcare professionals, including dietitians are rethinking the way they care for patients. Consensus is that BMI should not be used as a tool to evaluate health. Weight inclusive dietitians focus on the health issues rather than body size.

Here is the link to the media coverage featuring health care experts on BMI.

Contact us if you have questions or comments on weight inclusive care in dietetics.

International Congress of Nutrition and Dietetics (ICND) – Toronto June 12-14, 2024

“Dietitians of Canada (DC) is excited to be the host of the 19th International Congress of Nutrition and Dietetics (ICND) 2024, taking place in Toronto in June 2024. The ICND offers a global platform for dietetics and nutrition, sharing the best of applied science, practice and training experiences. Every four years the ICND hosts the world’s largest and most diverse representation of dietetics globally. This will be an incredible opportunity and experience for Canadian dietitians to engage with colleagues from all over the world.

The theme for ICND 2024 is “Rise to the Challenge” and focuses on the key challenges, opportunities and learning needs faced by dietitians in all areas of practice.”   Dietitians of Canada

Lucia is honoured to have been chosen to join the International Congress of Nutrition & Dietetics (ICND) 2024 abstract review team & help shape the future of nutrition! By becoming an abstract reviewer, she will play a crucial role in contributing to the development of a robust program that showcases relevant and engaging topics for the dietetic community at ICND2024

🖐️🖐️🖐️What are your thoughts on key challenges, opportunities and learning needs for dietitians? Contact Lucia by Sept 19th to let your voice be heard as she reviews and score papers & posters that will be presented at ICND2024.

 

 

 

A farewell message from Sue

Sue Mah sitting on a red chair

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It has been almost 17 years to the day when a national food company called me, requesting a day-long nutrition training workshop for their 50-member marketing team. That significant phone call planted the seed for Nutrition for NON-Nutritionists (n4nn), which I co-founded with Lucia Weiler.

With a vision to inspire and elevate the nutrition knowledge of food / beverage professionals worldwide, I’ve had the absolute pleasure to meet you at our n4nn training workshops and work on innovative nutrition projects with many of you.

After leading three consulting businesses for decades, it’s time for me to make space for professional and personal growth. I’ll be “retiring” from n4nn on June 30, 2023. I’ll continue to be very active in my other businesses Nutrition Solutions Inc, offering nutrition writing, brand activation strategies, speaking opportunities, social media collaborations and ambassador work, as well as Media Training Boot Camp, providing media and communications training to corporate executives / health professionals. And to squeeze in a little “me” time over the summer, I’ll be working on my swim strokes and SUP yoga.

Thanks for a fantastic 17 years! Let’s keep in touch!

Warm regards,
Sue

SIAL 2023 Innovation Winners

SIAL Canada is the largest food innovation trade show in North America. Each year, new products are featured and judged for their novelty. ICYMI, here were this year’s winners that highlight health and sustainability trends.

bag of frozen tea cubes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Frozen Superfood Tea – by Millennia Tea

This product is a raw organic tea made from camelia sinesis leaves. Instead of drying the tea, the leaves are first picked, washed and flash frozen to preserve nutrients. The frozen tea cubes can then be added to smoothies and recipes.

 

packages of powdered egg substitutes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yumgo Plant-based, Vegan Egg Substitutes – by Alternative Kitchen

These allergen-free powdered egg substitutes are a 1:1 vegan replacement for chicken whole eggs, egg whites and egg yolks. Available in a resealable package, the powder can be used in sweet and savoury recipes for foodservice applications.

 

bottles of frozen cocktails

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cold-pressed Cocktail Mixers – by La Presserie 

From Blood Marys to Mojitos and Strawberry Daiquiris, these frozen alcohol-free cocktail mixers are made using cold-pressed ingredients. Each bottle makes two cocktails.

 

unique aluminum bottles

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alumishape Custom Shaped Aluminum Bottles – by Kingston Aluminum Technology Inc

Aluminum is used for sustainable packaging. While most plastics can only be recycled twice, aluminum can be recycled repeatedly back into aluminum bottles. These unique beverage bottles are created with a blow molding machine, are 3D printed and require 30% less aluminum than a typical aluminum bottle or can.

 Congratulations to all of the finalists and winners!

  

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

SIAL Inspires Food Business in Toronto May 9-11, 2023 at the Enercare Centre.

Sial Canada

SIAL Canada inspires food business. The 2023 theme is “Own the Change’ with discussions that aim to positively shape the future of food. Research shows that consumers are increasingly aware about how eating impacts their community and that the products they choose have an impact on the environment. The issues of 2023 “have serious implication on supply chains, raw materials, energy, and more, and directly impact the price of food. Climate change and its effects (early harvests, shortages, etc.) are also having a major impact on the way we eat.” (SIAL)

Canadian Grocer Magazine says “Innovation is the DNA of SIAL Canada. For more than 15 years, hundreds of companies from all over the world have been taking part in passionate competitions that encourage, celebrate and showcase the most innovative products in the industry.” (Canadian Grocer) We look forward to discovering the 2023 winners at the show!

Registration is open for attending the exhibits only or the full conference package and additional networking events. Benefit 50% off on your registration thanks to Canadian Grocer!

Use the promo code: CGSIAL23  Get your visitor badge at this link:  SIAL Inspire Food Business Visitors registration

We look forward to connecting with you at this in-person event!

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

Food Trends Spotted at the One of A Kind Show

article title with images of 5 trending foods

At the One of a Kind Show in Toronto this past week, I was impressed by the number of Canadian food innovations as well as the people and stories behind them. Here are a few products that caught my eye.

 

Trend #1: Healthy Food Choices 24/7

Daily Blends vending machine

It can be challenging to find healthy food choices while on the go, at work or at school. Daily Blends is an innovative Toronto-based food tech company that operates automated vending machines stocked with wholesome on-the-go meals and snacks. Some of the offerings include Spicy Tofu with Japchae and Kimchi (I taste tested this and can say it’s absolutely delicious!), Jerk Chicken with Mango Salsa and a Strawberry Chia Pudding.

After immigrating to Canada from India in 2020, sisters and Co-founders Shriya and Purva Gupta recognized a need for fresh, healthy and delicious food 24/7 whether it be available at hospitals, college campuses, malls, office buildings or transit hubs. Combining Shriya’s tech background with Purva’s culinary expertise, the company uses AI software to power Daily Blends smart vending machines and capture real-time inventory / consumer data. Their chef-style meals are made from scratch every day in their Toronto kitchen facility. All unsold food is donated to local food banks and charities.

You can find Daily Blends vending machines at numerous locations including Union Station Bus Terminal (level 2), Highway 407 GO Bus Terminal, University of Toronto (Mississauga and Scarborough campuses), St. Joseph’s Health Care and St. Michael’s Hospital.

Trend #2: Next Level Hummus

Date Hummus

In 1980, Yohannes Petros immigrated to Canada with his family from East Africa. As a student, Petros started making hummus for himself and was constantly praised for his delicious recipes. Today, he’s the creator and owner of Hanes Hummus, a line of gourmet, artisan hummus locally made in Saskatchewan.

Hanes Hummus is available in 3 flavours: Moroccan 7 Spice; Roasted Garlic and Dill; and Hot Date – which is my favourite. When I taste tested the Hot Date Hummus, I immediately noticed the sweetness of the dates followed by a kick of heat from the serrano peppers. What a lovely combination and a great product name!

Trend #3: Culinary Lavender

lavender shortbread cookies can of lavender lemon soda

The delicate floral flavour of lavender is trending in both food and drinks.

Well known for their classic sweet and savoury shortbread cookies, Sprucewood is now testing a new flavour – lavender!  Founder Chef Mark Pollard sources the culinary lavender from Niagara region.

In the beverage category, County Bounty Artisanal Sodas are created by Dodie Ellenbogen, a former farmer originally from Prince Edward County. When gifted with a large flat of strawberries that were about to spoil, Dodie started making cordials and later began creating bottled / canned sodas with unique combinations of local flavours. The Lavender & Lemon Herbs Soda combines culinary lavender with lemon basil or lemon balm.

Trend #4: Beet It!

bottle of beet ketchupBeets weren’t a big part of Anan Palanichamy’s diet growing up in India. But when the food processing engineer moved to Winnipeg Manitoba, he discovered their great taste and nutritional properties. The beet ketchup is made with beets grown in Portage la Prairie. Ingredients include beets, chia seeds and garlic. The sugar content of the beet ketchup is comparable to tomato ketchup, but is low sodium with only 5 mg per 1 tablespoon serving compared to about 150 mg in ketchup. The company also offers beet hummus, beet chips and beet chutney.

 

Trend #5: On-the-go Breakfast  

bag of chiamigos breakfast mix

It all started with a desire to have an easy, delicious breakfast while camping. Driven by their love of the outdoors, siblings Peter, Chris and Katie Phillips created Chiamigos – a convenient plant-based breakfast or snack. Unlike typical chia pudding which needs to set overnight, Chiamigos is ready in 5 minutes and can be made with hot or cold water, milk or plant-based beverage. The Crunchy Peanut Butter flavour contains 10 grams of fibre, 14 grams of protein and 6 grams of sugar per serving.

 

 

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

5 Food & Nutrition Trends for 2023

Aerial image of friends eating with various dishes on the dinner table

What are the trends that will be shaping the way we shop, cook and eat?  We’ve scanned the research and share these top 5 trends.

1. Foods with benefits

According to the Mintel 2023 Global Food and Drink Trends report, 57% of Canadian consumers value food and drinks which offer health benefits such as heart health, gut health, stress management or immune support. Another growing health issue is sleep. Data from McKinsey research, cited in the 2023 Trend Report by Nourish Food Marketing, shows that better sleep is in fact, a higher health priority than better nutrition, fitness, mindfulness or appearance.

Do you have a product with unique benefits? This year’s National Nutrition Month theme for March focuses on unlocking the potential of food and ingredients. Work with us! Leverage our expertise to share the nutritional and health benefits of your product in the media, social media, and at events.

 2. Technology

Move over Alexa. Adam is in the house. Showcased at this year’s CES tech event (formerly known as the Consumer Electronics Show), Adam is an interactive, two-armed robot, bartender or barista, making coffee, boba tea or other drinks. Canadian Grocer magazine predicts we’re entering an automation nation driven by innovative technology and labour shortages. Smart home faucets and appliances as well as self-service or smart cart checkout systems are already in use. Automation is also used for stocking merchandise and fulfilling orders at distribution centres.

What’s next? The tech savvy Gen Alpha population (born in 2010 and onwards, the same year that the Apple ipad was invented), AI (artificial intelligence) and trending #FoodTok recipes on TikTok will all be major factors shaping the future of food and beverage, according to Datassential.

3. Budget-wise eating

The cost of groceries will continue to rise. Canada’s Food Price Report predicts that food prices will increase by an average of 5 to 7 percent this year. Vegetables will take the biggest hit, with prices expected to go up 6 to 8 percent. For a family of four, this could mean an extra cost of over $1,000 over the year. For a two-adult household, it’s an extra $500. Eating out at restaurants will also cost an extra 4 to 6 percent. On top of this, natural gas and electricity bills will hike up between 50 to 100 percent for most Canadians!

To cope with inflated prices, consumers will turn to money-saving strategies such as reducing food waste, cooking from scratch and making copycat recipes at home instead of going to restaurants. The food budget will include more economical ingredients such as frozen veggies, cheaper cuts of meat and plant-based proteins. Ready-to-eat foods requiring little or no cooking and energy-efficient air fryer recipes will continue to be popular.

 4. Trending Foods

Seaweed – The term ‘seaweed’ actually refers to many different species of marine plants and algae that grow in oceans, rivers and lakes. Green algae, kelp, nori, seaweed snacks and wakame salad are just a few examples. Containing a range of nutrients such as beta-carotene, calcium, folate and vitamin K, seaweed is especially popular among Millennials and Gen Xers.

Mushrooms – With their meaty texture and umami-flavour, mushrooms are a perfect meat extender to stretch the food budget. Mushroom coffee and even mushroom-based cocktails are examples of the food’s versatility. Some mushrooms may have adaptogenic properties.

Tinned fish / canned fish – Thanks to a few viral TikTok reels about tinned fish date nights, eating canned mussels on corn chips is a trendy thing! Chalk up convenience, cost and nutrition too. We’re not sure exactly how long this trend will last.

5. Trending Flavours

Ube – Food experts predict that Filipino will be the cuisine of the year, with special attention to ube, a beautiful purple coloured yam. Ube has a sweet, nutty, earthy flavour and is used in chips, fries and baked goods.

Yuzu – This small citrus fruit looks like a mandarin orange and has a tart taste similar to a grapefruit. It’s used in Japanese ponzu sauce, drinks and baked goods.

‘Swicy’ – Think sweet plus spicy. Swicy is a flavour combo appearing in products such as chili dark chocolate, hot honey chicken, barbecue sauces and nut mixtures. Can’t wait to try it!

Stay tuned to our blog for more food, nutrition and health trends throughout the year!

 

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

Meet three passionate Ontario food producers who make our food

At a time when consumers have more questions than ever about where their food comes from and how it’s produced, Dietitians are finding answers. Once again, we were invited to go behind the behind the scenes to learn more about farming and food production. Here is a brief story of the three local Ontario farmers we met, who are passionate about what they do – which is to grow Ontario food that we enjoy so much.

Disclosure Statement: This event was hosted by Farm and Food Care Ontario  and Canadian Agricultural Partnership 

Pristine Gourmet

 We met Jason, a 4th generation farmer who wanted to add value to the farm operation. He and his wife Linda bought another farm and built a grain drying and storage facility. Pristine Gourmet was formed with the vision of supplying the food industry and restaurants with quality, local artisan foods. Today through the brand Pristine Gourmet Pure Virgin Oils, the Persall family provides cold pressed products including canola, soybean and sunflower oils, all of which are 100% pure Canadian from field to table. https://www.pristinegourmet.com/

Image: Lucia and Sue tour seed oil production facility

Roanoke Farm

 Scott Persall shared his story where along with his father, Doug, and his wife, Sara, they grow corn, soybeans, and wheat on 400 acres near Waterford, Ontario. They also have 18,000 egg laying hens. At this stop, we learned about the day-to-day operation of grain and oilseed production including the hard work that goes into planting, growing and harvesting Ontario’s crops.

Image: Lucia in a soybean field

 

P & H Milling Group

We had a rare opportunity to tour a state-of-the-art flour making facility and grain terminal elevator owned by Parrish and Heimbecker Ltd., (P&H) on the Port of Hamilton.  P&H is a Canadian, family-owned agribusiness, with roots in the agriculture industry since 1909. P&H are manufacturers of the high quality of wheat and pulse-based products including hard and soft flour, durum semolina, bran, wheat germ, organic hard and soft flours, organic pea starch and a variety of pulses. https://phmilling.com/

Images: P & H Grain terminal elevator and mill.

Thanks to the event sponsors for hosting an informative day and introducing us to farmers who shared insights and knowledge on food and farming. Farm and Food Care Ontario  and Canadian Agricultural Partnership

Written by Lucia Weiler, RD, PHEc, 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.

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