Health Blog

Say no to Upsize!

“Will you like to upsize your meal? For 50 cents more?”…this is quite a standard question many people will be asked when buying a fast food meal.

Seems like a good deal because most upsizing cost only about $0.50 to a dollar and it comes with a bigger soft drink and a larger serving of fries.

In fact, this simple offer managed to world to boost sales volume for many fast-food restaurants around the world!

So why say no to upsizing?

This is because if you are a fast-food lover, every upsize will lead you to consume about extra 200 calories and 5grams of fat per meal.
This will work out to about 400 calories and 10 grams of fats, if you upsize twice a week.

So while 200 calories seems insignificant, it actually translates to eating two extra double chocolate chip cookiesor one-third plate of a chicken rice, with every bigger value meal.

Hence, on a long run, all these extra calories, fats and sodium content can creep in to cause gradual weight gain and even lead to many health diseases such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure and even diabetes.

Not worth it? So next time you are being asked to upsize your meal, learn to say no to a “good” deal!

SAY NO TO UPSIZE!

Share your mooncakes, share your calories!

While mooncake is an important celebratory food during the Mooncake festival, it also sets weight watchers fretting during this season.

In case you didn’t know, a traditional baked skin mooncake with lotus seed paste and 2 egg yolks provides approximately 957 calories! This is about 1.5 plate of chicken rice all in ONE mooncake.

In addition, this delectable dessert also contains copious amount of sugar. According to the World Health Organisation, the recommended daily sugar intake should be about 6 teaspoons of sugar. However, a traditional baked skin mooncake already contains around 16 teaspoons of sugar! This means you have already consumed more than TWICE the recommended amount of sugar for the day, just by eating ONE mooncake.

How about we choose the snow skin cousins? They should be healthier…RIGHT?

This is one common misconception that snow skin counterparts are healthier than traditional mooncakes because of a lighter texture. This is NOT true because the filling may also be made with a lot of sugar which amounts to higher calories.

Below are some tips on how we can enjoy this festive snack without feeling guilty or pilling on the weight:

If you are buying mooncakes:

  • Check the shelf life of the mooncakes. The longer the shelf life, the higher the amount of sugar or preservatives.
  • Choose mooncakes without yolk or single yolk to reduce your sodium and cholesterol intake.

If you are making your own mooncakes:

  • Reduce the amount of sugar used in the making of the filling. You may try adding dried fruits to give your mooncakes a natural sweetness.
  • Choose plant oils such as canola, peanut of sunflower instead of using lard or butter in the making of traditional mooncakes.
  • Make your mooncakes into bite size portion.

Lower your calories by:

  • Cutting the mooncakes into smaller slices and eat one or two small slices at a time. Also, share your mooncakes with people around you!
  • Reducing your rice, noodles or bread intake for the day if you are planning to have some mooncake. Mooncakes are high in sugar which is a form of simple carbohydrates which may lead to weight gain.
  • Drinking some tea, such as flower tea, green tea or oolong tea when eating mooncakes. They contain acetic acids which can help with digestion and prevents accumulation of body fat.

Sources:

https://www.raffleshealth.com/health-articles/how-to-turn-your-mooncakes-into-a-healthier-snack/

https://www.purelyb.com/be-nourished/nutrition/the-mooncake-dilemma-should-you-be-eating-them-our-expert-weighs-in-on-this

What? There is such a thing as…..Good Cholesterol?

Cholesterol has a bad name and we all know it. It is usually associated with ill side effects such as leading to high blood pressure, stroke and even heart attack.

But what I tell you that cholesterol has a better kind and it helps to battle the effects of the bad brother?

The High-Density lipoprotein is the good kind of cholesterol that we should increase more in our diet because it can help to reduce the effects of Low-Density Lipoprotein which is also known as bad cholesterol

Let us think of HDL as a broom. This broom goes to our arteries, sweeps away all the bad cholesterol and plaque deposits (oily substances) and then sends all of them to the liver, which in turn flush them out of the body.

As time goes by, this will greatly reduce your chances of developing heart diseases, heart attack, and stroke!

So what kind of food are high in HDL? Lets zoom in onto THREE main kinds!

  1. Wholegrains!

Wholegrains which refers to your brown rice, oats, whole meal spaghetti and beehoon contains soluble fiber which is shown to help lower LDL.

Examples of food high in wholegrains and when do you include them:

  • Two slices of wholemeal bread at breakfast
  • One bowl of brown rice/ wholegrain bee hoon/ wholegrain spaghetti for lunch or dinner.
  • Fruits!

Fruits of any kind contains a lot of soluble fibre which can lower your bad cholesterol and lower the good cholesterol!

Rule of the thumb is to eat the fruits with the peels on!

  • Grapes (approx. 10) with skin
  • Pear and apples with skin.
  • Fresh fruit juice (not processed kind)
  • Oily fishes

Oily fishes contains good amounts of omega-3 fatty acids which can lower your LDL!

Examples of good common and affordable oily fishes are salmon, mackerel and sardines! Include them in your meals as often as you can!

2 things you must know about your food labels!

Most of us knows that what a food label is, but I am sure many of us do not know how to use it efficiently.

Apart from the brand and expiry date on the food label, the other components on the label that you should take note should be the Nutritional Information Panel and the Ingredient list!

What is a Nutritional Information Panel?

Do not belittle this little box at the back of the box! It serves as an important tool if you know how to use this to compare between similar products!

How to use: E.g Comparing between brands of white bread at a supermarket

Place Brand A, Brand B (you can include other brands as well) side by side and look at the Per 100g column.

You should have a good comparison of the calories, fat content as well as other nutrients that is of concern for you. E.g sodium if you have hypertension or dietary fibre if you have constipation.

So even if Brand B is cheaper, Brand A will be a better choice because it contains lesser calories and lesser fat, higher fibre!

What is an Ingredient List?

This must be one of the most important part of the food label and everyone should learn how to read this!

The ingredient list states all the ingredients that is used in the production of the product and they are listed from the ingredients used in the largest amount to the smallest amount.

Hence, in the above ingredient list, sugar is used as the most amount in the making of the product and the glucose syrup (a.k.a sugar syrup) is used as the least amount. This suggest that the whole food product is highly laden with sugar! Reduce your consumption of such food products as much as possible!

Scan the above QR code to complete a quiz on food labels! ONE lucky winner will get a chance to win two Pasta Cucina vouchers! Deadline will be on the 3rd Sept, 12pm.

Carbon foot print. One of the culprits why Earth is getting warmer!

Have you heard that Mother earth Is getting warmer? Do you know that ice glaciers in the artic regions are melting at an enormous speed? There have been increasing reports of mega-droughts, wildfires, flooding and extreme heat episodes around the world and this could mean that, in decades to come, our planet may become more and more uninhabitable.

So what has it got to do with Carbon Foot Print? Well, for a simple introduction, carbon footprint is the measurement of one’s greenhouse emissions and carbon dioxide is one of the greenhouse gases that absorbs radiation and prevents heat from escaping our atmosphere.

Hence, this means that, when there is more and more carbon dioxide generated, the global temperature will INCREASE, making Mother earth a hotter planet to live in.

And how does making different food choices helps in reducing carbon foot print?

One needs to understand that food production is strongly related to carbon emissions. For diets that contain higher proportions of meat, more carbon footprint will result because  greater amount of energy and nutrients is needed to rear the livestock such as cows and sheeps than to produce than vegetables and grains.

Hence, the carbon emissions to produce one piece of steak or one hamburger is definitely more than a bowl of salad.

Ways to reduce Carbon Foot Print:

  • Reducing one’s consumption of meat (especially red meat such as beef and mutton) and choose more plant-based protein sources such as tofu, beans, peas and nuts as they have a lower carbon footprint than meat and dairy. The latter also contains no cholesterol which is good for the heart!
  • Say no to plastics! Choose more reusable crockery and cutlery as burning down plastics will also cause enormous amount of carbon dioxide and toxic fumes being emitted.
  • Choose local produce as much as possible (choose homegrown vegetables and eggs!). Import of food products from overseas will also result in carbon emission from the transportation carriers such as planes and cargo ships.
https://www.britannica.com/science/carbon-footprint

Sources:

https://climate.nasa.gov/news/2865/a-degree-of-concern-why-global-temperatures-matter/

https://climate.nasa.gov/news/2865/a-degree-of-concern-why-global-temperatures-matter/

Is BMI a good indicator for your health status?

BMI is a common health tool to indicate if one is in the healthy weight range and calculated by a simple method: Weight (kg) divided by Height X Height (m).

While it is a screening tool, it does not consider OTHER factors of health. It does not take into consideration of a person’s age, gender, eating habits, FAT and CHOLESTEROL levels which will give a better gauge at a person life’s expectancy.

BMI cannot distinguish if the weight comes from fats or muscles. Muscles are heavier than fats, hence a more muscular man (e.g weightlifter) can exceed his BMI range than an overweight man which can lead to inaccurate analysis of the health report. 

Hence, the best way to determine if you are generally healthy is, to align your BMI reading to  your cholesterol levels, fat levels and blood sugar levels (do a health check once a year!). This can help you make a better interpretation and adjustments to your eating habits and lifestyle.

BMI Health Risk of developing health problems such as coronary heart diseases, diabetes and stroke
18.5 to 22.9 Low risk  
23 to 27.4 Moderate risk  
27.5 and above High risk  

Sources:

  1. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/is-bmi-accurate#effectiveness
  2. https://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/assessing/bmi/adult_bmi/index.html
  3. https://www.runsociety.com/bmi-calculator
https://www.healthhub.sg/live-healthy/1351/add-a-healthy-pop-to-your-favourite-dishes
https://www.healthhub.sg/live-healthy/1048/sneak-tweaks-for-healthy-baked-treats

What is Visceral Fat?

What is V.fat?

Visceral fat (or V.fats) are fats that are stored in your vital organs in your body. They are dangerous because you cannot feel them or see them…unlike the glistening oil on your curry or the beautiful deep fried chicken wings.

It doesn’t just affect overweight or obese people. Skinny people or people with a flat tummy can still have a thick layer of V.fats in their body.  This syndrome is known as TOFI, or “thin outside fat inside.”

High amounts of V.fats can also cause heart diseases, Alzheimer’s, type 2 diabetes and stroke.

Food that causes accumulation of V.fats

  • high intake of fatty meats, full fat dairy, animal innards as well as deep-fried or processed foods.
  • soft drinks, candy, processed baked goods, and other high sugar food.
  • ingredients like “partially hydrogenated oils” or “high-fructose corn syrup. (time to start reading your food labels!)

How to detect V fats?

  • Waist line- good gauge will be below 31.5 inches for women or 35.5 inches for men
  • Body shape- People with apple shape (a big trunk and slimmer legs) have more upper body fat compared to pear-shaped people (bigger hips and thighs). This might be one reason why women usually live longer than men!
  • Some weighing scales has the function to measure body fats and visceral fats.

How to reduce V.fats?

The same rules apply.. always eat in moderation and keep fit by exercising daily!

Maximise your air-fryer, minimise your calories!

Air-fried Har Cheong Gai

Preparation time: 10 minutes          Marination time: 2 hrs or overnight

Air-frying time; 10 minutes     Servings: 2

Deep fried version- Calories: 750 kcal per serving   Fats: 60g per serving

Air fried version- Calories: 450 kcal per serving   Fats 31g per serving

Ingredients:

8 medium sized chicken wings, 2 tbsp cornflour

Marinade:

1 tbsp Shrimp paste, 1 tsp sesame oil, 1 tsp finely grated ginger , ½ tbsp cooking wine and ½ tsp sugar

Method:

  1. Trim chicken wings and marinate them using the marinade mixture for at least 2 hours or overnight in the fridge.
  2. Pre-heat air-fryer at 180oC. Lightly dust the wings with cornflour and arrange them on the air-fryer basket and proceed to cook for about 8-10 minutes till crispy!

Air-fried sweet potato fries

Preparation time: 10 minutes          Air-frying time; 10 minutes           Servings: 2

Deep fried version- Calories: 400 kcal per serving   Fats: 32g per serving

Air-fried version- Calories: 221 kcal per serving       Fats: 5g per serving

Ingredients:

2 medium peeled sweet potatoes, 2 tsp cooking oil, 1/2 tsp salt, ½ tsp garlic powder, ¼ tsp sweet paprika and a dash of black pepper

Method:

  1. Pre-heat air-fryer at 200oC. Lightly brush the air-fryer basket with cooking oil.
  2. Slice the sweet potatoes into even ¼ inch thick fries.
  3. Coat the sliced sweet potato fries with remaining oil, salt, garlic powder, paprika and black pepper.
  4. Proceed to air-fry the fries for about 10 minutes. You may need to cook them in 2-3 batches so that you do not overcrowd the basket.

Recipe sources:

http://www.ellenaguan.com/2016/04/recipes-using-philips-airfryer.html

https://www.skinnytaste.com/crispy-air-fryer-sweet-potato-fries/

The 6th sense… in your tastebud!

More and more people are familiar with the word, umami which is a word to describe brothy and savoury food such as miso soup or barbeque meat. While umami is the 5th taste sense, there is a newly minted taste concept known as kokumi!

This “sixth sense” expands and enhances the other five previous tastes senses (sweet, sour, salty, spicy and of course, umami). Kokumi is widely associated with textures that are hearty, thick and “coats the mouth” such as dairy products (milk, butter, cheese), fats, salad dressings, as well as fermented foods such as fish sauce, soya sauce, wine and shrimp paste.

Interestingly, this “latest” food sensation was actually discovered by Japanese researchers way back in 1989. Research shows that kokumi-rich food generally taste more robust and it makes reduced-sugar food products taste sweeter! (wow!)

This important identification of the “sixth sense” created much excitement in the food industry as companies want to find how to create healthy dishes without giving up that satisfying taste.

Sources:

  1. https://www.fooddive.com/news/kokumi-the-sensation-that-makes-tasting-better/553761/
  2. https://sciencemeetsfood.org/umami-kokumi-flavor-profile/

Title: Sleep Better with these Nutrition Hacks

5,000+ Best Sleep Photos · 100% Free Download · Pexels Stock Photos
Gaining quality sleep

Quality sleep is important for better productivity, concentration, skin health and overall wellbeing. Establishing a healthy sleep routine is essential. The following are a few nutrition-related tips to consider that may help your routine.

1. Adjust the time that you eat before bed

Eating before sleeping might disrupt your sleep may not be a good idea. This is especially if it is high in calories or spicy. You might find yourself to bloated to fall asleep. In contrast going to bed hungry as well might not be very wise. If you do feel hungry, opt for light snacks like milk, fruits or a low-fat yoghurt.

2. You might want to do a caffeine and alcohol check

Alcohol may make you feel drowsy and sleepy at the start, but if might dehydrate you, leaving the next day feeling tired. Caffeinated drinks like coffee, tea, energy drinks and even bubble tea may interfere with the sleep process. You might find it tough to sleep if you have them in the evening. If you really need a cuppa or tea, try decaffeinated options like herbal tea to calm yourself and promote restful sleep.

3. Include selenium in your diet

Selenium is essential to metabolism and thyroid hormone production.  Evidence-based studies have pointed that selenium intake is associated with difficulty in falling asleep. Including more selenium-rich foods may be a great way to keep sleep interruptions at bay. Selenium can be found in food sources like meats, seafood, dairy products, grains and nuts. Next time, have a glass of warm milk to hit that selenium aid.