Food & Wine

Placeholder Content Image

Cost of living: if you can’t afford as much fresh produce, are canned veggies or frozen fruit just as good?

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/evangeline-mantzioris-153250">Evangeline Mantzioris</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-south-australia-1180"><em>University of South Australia</em></a></em></p> <p>The cost of living crisis is affecting how we spend our money. For many people, this means tightening the budget on the weekly supermarket shop.</p> <p>One victim may be fresh fruit and vegetables. Data from the <a href="https://www.abs.gov.au/media-centre/media-releases/australians-consuming-fewer-vegetables-fruit-and-less-milk#:%7E:text=Paul%20Atyeo%2C%20ABS%20health%20statistics,278%20to%20267%20to%20grams.%E2%80%9D">Australian Bureau of Statistics</a> (ABS) suggests Australians were consuming fewer fruit and vegetables in 2022–23 than the year before.</p> <p>The cost of living is likely compounding a problem that exists already – on the whole, Australians don’t eat enough fruit and vegetables. <a href="https://www.eatforhealth.gov.au/guidelines/australian-guide-healthy-eating">Australian dietary guidelines</a> recommend people aged nine and older should consume <a href="https://www.eatforhealth.gov.au/food-essentials/five-food-groups/fruit">two</a> serves of fruit and <a href="https://www.eatforhealth.gov.au/food-essentials/five-food-groups/vegetables-and-legumes-beans">five</a> serves of vegetables each day for optimal health. But in 2022 the <a href="https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/health/health-conditions-and-risks/dietary-behaviour/latest-release">ABS reported</a> only 4% of Australians met the recommendations for both fruit and vegetable consumption.</p> <p>Fruit and vegetables are crucial for a healthy, balanced diet, providing a range of <a href="https://theconversation.com/were-told-to-eat-a-rainbow-of-fruit-and-vegetables-heres-what-each-colour-does-in-our-body-191337">vitamins</a> and minerals as well as fibre.</p> <p>If you can’t afford as much fresh produce at the moment, there are other ways to ensure you still get the benefits of these food groups. You might even be able to increase your intake of fruit and vegetables.</p> <h2>Frozen</h2> <p>Fresh produce is often touted as being the most nutritious (think of the old adage “fresh is best”). But this is not necessarily true.</p> <p>Nutrients can decline in transit from the paddock to your kitchen, and while the produce is stored in your fridge. Frozen vegetables may actually be higher in some nutrients such as <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25526594/">vitamin C and E</a> as they are snap frozen very close to the time of harvest. Variations in transport and storage can affect this slightly.</p> <p><a href="https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/jf504890k">Minerals</a> such as calcium, iron and magnesium stay at similar levels in frozen produce compared to fresh.</p> <p>Another advantage to frozen vegetables and fruit is the potential to reduce food waste, as you can use only what you need at the time.</p> <p>As well as buying frozen fruit and vegetables from the supermarket, you can freeze produce yourself at home if you have an oversupply from the garden, or when produce may be cheaper.</p> <p>A <a href="https://www.growveg.com.au/guides/freezing-vegetables-and-herbs-the-garden-foodie-version/">quick blanching</a> prior to freezing can improve the safety and quality of the produce. This is when food is briefly submerged in boiling water or steamed for a short time.</p> <p>Frozen vegetables won’t be suitable for salads but can be eaten roasted or steamed and used for soups, stews, casseroles, curries, pies and quiches. Frozen fruits can be added to breakfast dishes (with cereal or youghurt) or used in cooking for fruit pies and cakes, for example.</p> <h2>Canned</h2> <p>Canned vegetables and fruit similarly often offer a cheaper alternative to fresh produce. They’re also very convenient to have on hand. The <a href="https://nchfp.uga.edu/how/can#gsc.tab=0">canning process</a> is the preservation technique, so there’s no need to add any additional preservatives, including salt.</p> <p>Due to the cooking process, levels of heat-sensitive nutrients <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/jsfa.2825">such as vitamin C</a> will decline a little compared to fresh produce. When you’re using canned vegetables in a hot dish, you can add them later in the cooking process to reduce the amount of nutrient loss.</p> <p>To minimise waste, you can freeze the portion you don’t need.</p> <h2>Fermented</h2> <p><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6723656/">Fermentation</a> has recently come into fashion, but it’s actually one of the oldest food processing and preservation techniques.</p> <p>Fermentation largely retains the vitamins and minerals in fresh vegetables. But fermentation may also enhance the food’s nutritional profile by creating new nutrients and allowing existing ones to be <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9352655/">absorbed more easily</a>.</p> <p>Further, fermented foods contain probiotics, which are beneficial for our <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC10051273/">gut microbiome</a>.</p> <h2>5 other tips to get your fresh fix</h2> <p>Although alternatives to fresh such as canned or frozen fruit and vegetables are good substitutes, if you’re looking to get more fresh produce into your diet on a tight budget, here are some things you can do.</p> <p><strong>1. Buy in season</strong></p> <p>Based on supply and demand principles, buying local seasonal vegetables and fruit will always be cheaper than those that are imported out of season from other countries.</p> <p><strong>2. Don’t shun the ugly fruit and vegetables</strong></p> <p>Most supermarkets now sell “ugly” fruit and vegetables, that are not physically perfect in some way. This does not affect the levels of nutrients in them at all, or their taste.</p> <p><strong>3. Reduce waste</strong></p> <p>On average, an Australian household throws out <a href="https://www.ozharvest.org/food-waste-facts/">A$2,000–$2,500</a> worth of food every year. Fruit, vegetables and bagged salad are the <a href="https://www.ozharvest.org/food-waste-facts/">three of the top five foods</a> thrown out in our homes. So properly managing fresh produce could help you save money (and benefit <a href="https://endfoodwaste.com.au/why-end-food-waste/">the environment</a>).</p> <p>To minimise waste, plan your meals and shopping ahead of time. And if you don’t think you’re going to get to eat the fruit and vegetables you have before they go off, freeze them.</p> <p><strong>4. Swap and share</strong></p> <p>There are many websites and apps which offer the opportunity to swap or even pick up free fresh produce if people have more than they need. Some <a href="https://www.charlessturt.sa.gov.au/environment/sustainable-lifestyles/community-fruit-and-vege-swaps">local councils are also encouraging</a> swaps on their websites, so dig around and see what you can find in your local area.</p> <p><strong>5. Gardening</strong></p> <p>Regardless of how small your garden is you can always <a href="https://www.gardeningaustraliamag.com.au/best-vegies-grow-pots/">plant produce in pots</a>. Herbs, rocket, cherry tomatoes, chillies and strawberries all grow well. In the long run, these will offset some of your cost on fresh produce.</p> <p>Plus, when you have put the effort in to grow your own produce, <a href="https://mdpi-res.com/sustainability/sustainability-07-02695/article_deploy/sustainability-07-02695.pdf?version=1425549154">you are less likely to waste it</a>.<img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/229724/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/evangeline-mantzioris-153250"><em>Evangeline Mantzioris</em></a><em>, Program Director of Nutrition and Food Sciences, Accredited Practising Dietitian, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-south-australia-1180">University of South Australia</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/cost-of-living-if-you-cant-afford-as-much-fresh-produce-are-canned-veggies-or-frozen-fruit-just-as-good-229724">original article</a>.</em></p>

Food & Wine

Placeholder Content Image

Why a cold beer is best – chemically speaking

<p>A quiet moment in a bar has led two researchers to study how alcohol tastes at different temperatures. No, this is real science.</p> <div class="copy"> <p>“Two years ago, Xiaotao Yang and I were drinking beer together. He had just finished his doctorate degree thesis and asked me, ‘what should we do next?’” says Lei Jiang, lead author of a new study <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.matt.2024.03.017" target="_blank" rel="noopener">published</a> in the materials science journal <em>Matter</em>.</p> <p>Yang and Jiang are material scientists at the Chinese Academy of Sciences.</p> <p>“At the time, I was a scientific committee member of one of the biggest Chinese alcoholic beverage companies, and I had the idea to ask the question ‘why does Chinese baijiu have a very particular concentration of alcohol, either 38%–42%, 52%–53%, or 68%–75%?’”</p> <p>Baijiu is a clear grain liquor from East Asia. It’s typically distilled from fermented sorghum (a type of grass), though it is also sometimes made from rice, wheat, barley or millet.</p> <p>“Then we decided, let’s try something, so I put a drop of beer on my hand to see the contact angle,” says Jiang.</p> <p>Contact angle is a measure of surface tension. For example, water has a low contact angle which is why it appears bead-like when placed on a surface. Solutions with high <a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/health/body-and-mind/debunks-vices-alcohol/">alcohol</a> concentration, however, have a higher contact angle meaning they flatten and spread out.</p> <p>Contact angle also reveals how molecules within the droplet interact with each other and the surface below.</p> <p>After plotting the concentration of ethanol (alcohol) against contact angle, the scientists were surprised with what they found. There is no linear relationship between alcohol concentration and contact angle.</p> <p>Instead, increasing the amount of alcohol leads to a series of plateaus and sharp rises in the plot. Further experiments showed that this arises out of the formation of clusters of ethanol and water in the solutions.</p> <p>At low concentrations, ethanol forms pyramid-like structures around the water molecules. At high concentrations, the ethanol molecules arrange end-to-end in a chain.</p> <p>They also found that these structures change depending on temperature.</p> <p>For example, 38%–42% and 52%–53% ethanol solutions have distinct cluster structures at around room temperature, but this difference disappears at higher temperatures, like 40°C.</p> <p>“Although there is only 1% difference, the taste of baijiu at 51% and 52% is noticeably different; the taste of baijiu at 51% is similar to that of lower alcohol content, such as 38%–42%. So, in order to achieve the same taste at a lower alcohol content, the distribution of baijiu products ranges most within the 38%–42% and 52%–53% categories,” says Jiang.</p> <p>The researchers also found that there is an increase in ethanol chains at 5°C in 5% and 11% ethanol solutions – the concentration range of beer – giving it a more “ethanol-like” taste which is generally preferred.</p> <p>“At low temperature, the tetrahedral (pyramid-shaped) clusters become the low concentration amount, and this is why we drink cold beer,” says Jiang.</p> <p>The researchers say their research could help beverage companies produce the best flavour with the lowest alcohol concentration.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock </em></p> <div> <p align="center"> </p> </div> <p><em><img id="cosmos-post-tracker" style="opacity: 0; height: 1px!important; width: 1px!important; border: 0!important; position: absolute!important; z-index: -1!important;" src="https://syndication.cosmosmagazine.com/?id=303282&amp;title=Why+a+cold+beer+is+best+%E2%80%93+chemically+speaking" width="1" height="1" loading="lazy" aria-label="Syndication Tracker" data-spai-target="src" data-spai-orig="" data-spai-exclude="nocdn" /></em></div> <div id="contributors"> <p><em><a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/science/chemistry/beer-taste-temperature/">This article</a> was originally published on <a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com">Cosmos Magazine</a> and was written by <a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/contributor/evrim-yazgin/">Evrim Yazgin</a>. </em></p> </div>

Food & Wine

Placeholder Content Image

I can’t afford olive oil. What else can I use?

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/lauren-ball-14718">Lauren Ball</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-queensland-805">The University of Queensland</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/emily-burch-438717">Emily Burch</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/southern-cross-university-1160">Southern Cross University</a></em></p> <p>If you buy your olive oil in bulk, you’ve likely been in for a shock in recent weeks. Major supermarkets have been selling olive oil for up to A$65 for a four-litre tin, and up to $26 for a 750 millilitre bottle.</p> <p>We’ve been hearing about the health benefits of olive oil for years. And many of us are adding it to salads, or baking and frying with it.</p> <p>But during a cost-of-living crisis, these high prices can put olive oil out of reach.</p> <p>Let’s take a look at why olive oil is in demand, why it’s so expensive right now, and what to do until prices come down.</p> <h2>Remind me, why is olive oil so good for you?</h2> <p>Including olive oil in your diet can reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes and improve heart health through more favourable <a href="https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/12/6/1548">blood pressure</a>, <a href="https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/7/9/5356">inflammation</a> and <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0939475319302662">cholesterol levels</a>.</p> <p>This is largely because olive oil is high in <a href="https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/4/12/1989">monounsaturated fatty acids</a> and <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8300823/">polyphenols</a> (antioxidants).</p> <p>Some researchers have suggested you can get these benefits from consuming up to <a href="https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fnut.2022.1041203/full">20 grams a day</a>. That’s equivalent to about five teaspoons of olive oil.</p> <h2>Why is olive oil so expensive right now?</h2> <p>A European heatwave and drought have <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/rural/2024-04-27/olive-oil-alternatives-what-you-can-use-in-cooking/103761718">limited</a> Spanish and Italian producers’ ability to supply olive oil to international markets, including Australia.</p> <p>This has been coupled with an unusually cold and short growing season for Australian <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/rural/2023-08-02/record-olive-oil-price-set-to-increase-again/102675452">olive oil suppliers</a>.</p> <p>The lower-than-usual production and supply of olive oil, together with heightened demand from shoppers, means prices have gone up.</p> <h2>How can I make my olive oil go further?</h2> <p>Many households buy olive oil in large quantities because it is cheaper per litre. So, if you have some still in stock, you can make it go further by:</p> <ul> <li> <p><strong>storing it correctly</strong> – make sure the lid is on tightly and it’s kept in a cool, dark place, such as a pantry or cabinet. If stored this way, olive oil can typically last <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6218649/">12–18 months</a></p> </li> <li> <p><strong>using a spray</strong> – sprays distribute oil more evenly than pourers, using less olive oil overall. You could buy a spray bottle to fill from a large tin, as needed</p> </li> <li> <p><strong>straining or freezing it</strong> – if you have leftover olive oil after frying, strain it and reuse it for other fried dishes. You could also freeze this used oil in an airtight container, then thaw and fry with it later, without affecting the oil’s <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00217-022-04078-9">taste and other characteristics</a>. But for dressings, only use fresh oil.</p> </li> </ul> <h2>I’ve run out of olive oil. What else can I use?</h2> <p>Here are some healthy and cheaper alternatives to olive oil:</p> <ul> <li> <p><strong>canola oil</strong> is a good alternative for frying. It’s relatively <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/agricultural-and-biological-sciences/canola-oil">low</a> in saturated fat so is generally considered healthy. Like olive oil, it is high in <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23731447/">healthy monounsaturated fats</a>. Cost? Up to $6 for a 750mL bottle (home brand is about half the price)</p> </li> <li> <p><strong>sunflower oil</strong> is a great alternative to use on salads or for frying. It has a mild flavour that does not overwhelm other ingredients. Some <a href="https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/british-journal-of-nutrition/article/conjugated-linoleic-acid-versus-higholeic-acid-sunflower-oil-effects-on-energy-metabolism-glucose-tolerance-blood-lipids-appetite-and-body-composition-in-regularly-exercising-individuals/6C035B5C6E9FD7C9D6D7F806ADA56983">studies</a> suggest using sunflower oil may help reduce your risk of heart disease by lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol and raising HDL (good) cholesterol. Cost? Up to $6.50 for a 750mL bottle (again, home brand is about half the price)</p> </li> <li> <p><strong>sesame oil</strong> has a nutty flavour. It’s good for Asian dressings, and frying. Light sesame oil is typically used as a neutral cooking oil, while the toasted type is used to flavour sauces. Sesame oil is <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ptr.6428">high in</a> antioxidants and has some anti-inflammatory properties. Sesame oil is generally sold in smaller bottles than canola or sunflower oil. Cost? Up to $5 for a 150mL bottle.</p> </li> </ul> <h2>How can I use less oil, generally?</h2> <p>Using less oil in your cooking could keep your meals healthy. Here are some alternatives and cooking techniques:</p> <ul> <li> <p><strong>use alternatives for baking</strong> – unless you are making an olive oil cake, if your recipe calls for a large quantity of oil, try using an alternative such as apple sauce, Greek yoghurt or mashed banana</p> </li> <li> <p><strong>use non-stick cookware</strong> – using high-quality, non-stick pots and pans reduces the need for oil when cooking, or means you don’t need oil at all</p> </li> <li> <p><strong>steam instead</strong> – steam vegetables, fish and poultry to retain nutrients and moisture without adding oil</p> </li> <li> <p><strong>bake or roast</strong> – potatoes, vegetables or chicken can be baked or roasted rather than fried. You can still achieve crispy textures without needing excessive oil</p> </li> <li> <p><strong>grill</strong> – the natural fats in meat and vegetables can help keep ingredients moist, without using oil</p> </li> <li> <p><strong>use stock</strong> – instead of sautéing vegetables in oil, try using vegetable broth or stock to add flavour</p> </li> <li> <p><strong>try vinegar or citrus</strong> – use vinegar or citrus juice (such as lemon or lime) to add flavour to salads, marinades and sauces without relying on oil</p> </li> <li> <p><strong>use natural moisture</strong> – use the natural moisture in ingredients such as tomatoes, onions and mushrooms to cook dishes without adding extra oil. They release moisture as they cook, helping to prevent sticking.<img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/228788/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /></p> </li> </ul> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/lauren-ball-14718">Lauren Ball</a>, Professor of Community Health and Wellbeing, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-queensland-805">The University of Queensland</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/emily-burch-438717">Emily Burch</a>, Accredited Practising Dietitian and Lecturer, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/southern-cross-university-1160">Southern Cross University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/i-cant-afford-olive-oil-what-else-can-i-use-228788">original article</a>.</em></p>

Food & Wine

Placeholder Content Image

Not all ultra-processed foods are bad for your health, whatever you might have heard

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/gary-sacks-3957">Gary Sacks</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/deakin-university-757">Deakin University</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/kathryn-backholer-10739">Kathryn Backholer</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/deakin-university-757">Deakin University</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/kathryn-bradbury-1532662">Kathryn Bradbury</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-auckland-waipapa-taumata-rau-1305">University of Auckland, Waipapa Taumata Rau</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/sally-mackay-1532685">Sally Mackay</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-auckland-waipapa-taumata-rau-1305">University of Auckland, Waipapa Taumata Rau</a></em></p> <p>In recent years, there’s been <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC11036430/">increasing</a> <a href="https://theconversation.com/ultra-processed-foods-heres-what-the-evidence-actually-says-about-them-220255#:%7E:text=Hype%20around%20ultra%2Dprocessed%20food,or%20worry%20about%20their%20health.">hype</a> about the potential health risks associated with so-called “ultra-processed” foods.</p> <p>But new evidence published <a href="https://www.bmj.com/content/385/bmj-2023-078476">this week</a> found not all “ultra-processed” foods are linked to poor health. That includes the mass-produced wholegrain bread you buy from the supermarket.</p> <p>While this newly published research and associated <a href="https://www.bmj.com/content/385/bmj.q793">editorial</a> are unlikely to end the wrangling about how best to define unhealthy foods and diets, it’s critical those debates don’t delay the implementation of policies that are likely to actually improve our diets.</p> <h2>What are ultra-processed foods?</h2> <p><a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30744710/">Ultra-processed foods</a> are industrially produced using a variety of processing techniques. They typically include ingredients that can’t be found in a home kitchen, such as preservatives, emulsifiers, sweeteners and/or artificial colours.</p> <p>Common examples of ultra-processed foods include packaged chips, flavoured yoghurts, soft drinks, sausages and mass-produced packaged wholegrain bread.</p> <p>In <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7719194/#CR13">many other countries</a>, ultra-processed foods make up a large proportion of what people eat. A <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31676952/">recent study</a> estimated they make up an average of 42% of total energy intake in Australia.</p> <h2>How do ultra-processed foods affect our health?</h2> <p>Previous <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33167080/">studies</a> have linked increased consumption of ultra-processed food with poorer health. High consumption of ultra-processed food, for example, has been associated with a <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/38418082/">higher risk</a> of type 2 diabetes, and death from heart disease and stroke.</p> <p>Ultra-processed foods are typically high in energy, added sugars, salt and/or unhealthy fats. These have long been <a href="https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/healthy-diet">recognised</a> as risk factors for a range of diseases.</p> <p>It has also been suggested that structural changes that happen to ultra-processed foods as part of the manufacturing process <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31105044/">may</a> lead you to eat more than you should. Potential explanations are that, due to the way they’re made, the foods are quicker to eat and more palatable.</p> <p>It’s also <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35952706/">possible</a> certain food additives may impair normal body functions, such as the way our cells reproduce.</p> <h2>Is it harmful? It depends on the food’s nutrients</h2> <p>The <a href="https://www.bmj.com/content/385/bmj-2023-078476">new paper</a> just published used 30 years of data from two large US cohort studies to evaluate the relationship between ultra-processed food consumption and long-term health. The study tried to disentangle the effects of the manufacturing process itself from the nutrient profile of foods.</p> <p>The study found a small increase in the risk of early death with higher ultra-processed food consumption.</p> <p>But importantly, the authors also looked at diet quality. They found that for people who had high quality diets (high in fruit, vegetables, wholegrains, as well as healthy fats, and low in sugary drinks, salt, and red and processed meat), there was no clear association between the amount of ultra-processed food they ate and risk of premature death.</p> <p>This suggests overall diet quality has a stronger influence on long-term health than ultra-processed food consumption.</p> <p>When the researchers analysed ultra-processed foods by sub-category, mass-produced wholegrain products, such as supermarket wholegrain breads and wholegrain breakfast cereals, were not associated with poorer health.</p> <p>This finding matches another recent <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/38417577/">study</a> that suggests ultra-processed wholegrain foods are not a driver of poor health.</p> <p>The authors concluded, while there was some support for limiting consumption of certain types of ultra-processed food for long-term health, not all ultra-processed food products should be universally restricted.</p> <h2>Should dietary guidelines advise against ultra-processed foods?</h2> <p>Existing national <a href="https://www.eatforhealth.gov.au/sites/default/files/2022-09/n55_australian_dietary_guidelines.pdf">dietary</a> <a href="https://www.health.govt.nz/system/files/documents/publications/eating-activity-guidelines-new-zealand-adults-updated-2020-oct22.pdf">guidelines</a> have been developed and refined based on decades of nutrition evidence.</p> <p>Much of the recent evidence related to ultra-processed foods tells us what we already knew: that products like soft drinks, alcohol and processed meats are bad for health.</p> <p>Dietary guidelines <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35184508/">generally</a> already advise to eat mostly whole foods and to limit consumption of highly processed foods that are high in refined grains, saturated fat, sugar and salt.</p> <p>But some nutrition researchers have <a href="https://www.bmj.com/content/384/bmj.q439">called</a> for dietary guidelines to be amended to recommend avoiding ultra-processed foods.</p> <p>Based on the available evidence, it would be difficult to justify adding a sweeping statement about avoiding all ultra-processed foods.</p> <p>Advice to avoid all ultra-processed foods would likely unfairly impact people on low-incomes, as many ultra-processed foods, such as supermarket breads, are relatively affordable and convenient.</p> <p>Wholegrain breads also provide important nutrients, such as fibre. In many countries, bread is the <a href="https://www.health.govt.nz/system/files/documents/publications/a-focus-on-nutrition-ch3_0.pdf">biggest contributor</a> to fibre intake. So it would be problematic to recommend avoiding supermarket wholegrain bread just because it’s ultra-processed.</p> <h2>So how can we improve our diets?</h2> <p>There is strong <a href="https://www.foodpolicyindex.org.au/_files/ugd/7ee332_a2fa1694e42f423195caf581044fccf1.pdf">consensus</a> on the need to implement evidence-based policies to improve population diets. This includes legislation to restrict children’s exposure to the marketing of unhealthy foods and brands, mandatory Health Star Rating nutrition labelling and taxes on sugary drinks.</p> <p>These policies are underpinned by <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/37659696/">well-established systems</a> for classifying the healthiness of foods. If new evidence unfolds about mechanisms by which ultra-processed foods drive health harms, these classification systems can be updated to reflect such evidence. If specific additives are found to be harmful to health, for example, this evidence can be incorporated into existing nutrient profiling systems, such as the <a href="http://www.healthstarrating.gov.au/internet/healthstarrating/publishing.nsf/content/home">Health Star Rating</a> food labelling scheme.</p> <p>Accordingly, policymakers can confidently progress food policy implementation using the tools for classifying the healthiness of foods that we already have.</p> <p>Unhealthy diets and obesity are among the <a href="https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/burden-of-disease/burden-of-disease-study-2018-key-findings/contents/key-findings">largest contributors</a> to poor health. We can’t let the hype and academic debate around “ultra-processed” foods delay implementation of globally recommended policies for improving population diets.<img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/229493/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/gary-sacks-3957">Gary Sacks</a>, Professor of Public Health Policy, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/deakin-university-757">Deakin University</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/kathryn-backholer-10739">Kathryn Backholer</a>, Co-Director, Global Centre for Preventive Health and Nutrition, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/deakin-university-757">Deakin University</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/kathryn-bradbury-1532662">Kathryn Bradbury</a>, Senior Research Fellow in the School of Population Health, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-auckland-waipapa-taumata-rau-1305">University of Auckland, Waipapa Taumata Rau</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/sally-mackay-1532685">Sally Mackay</a>, Senior Lecturer Epidemiology and Biostatistics, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-auckland-waipapa-taumata-rau-1305">University of Auckland, Waipapa Taumata Rau</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/not-all-ultra-processed-foods-are-bad-for-your-health-whatever-you-might-have-heard-229493">original article</a>.</em></p>

Food & Wine

Placeholder Content Image

Julie Goodwin shares her top tips for perfect potatoes every time

<p dir="ltr">Who doesn't love a good, hearty, delicious serving of fluffy and decadent potatoes?</p> <p dir="ltr">Original <em>MasterChef Australia</em> champion Julie Goodwin has shared her ultimate hacks for cooking the perfect potatoes every time, whether they’re mashed, roasted or baked.</p> <p dir="ltr">According to Julie, there are three key things every home cook needs to keep in mind the next time potatoes are on the menu. </p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Make sure you have the right potatoes </strong></p> <p dir="ltr">Depending on whether you want baked, mashed, roasted, or any other way you want to prepare your potatoes, it all starts in the supermarket. </p> <p dir="ltr">"I find that for things like mashed potatoes and gnocchi and rostis you want a floury potato, so the general rule is dirty potatoes for those things," Julie told <em><a href="https://kitchen.nine.com.au/latest/julie-goodwin-top-three-tips-to-cook-potatoes-robertson-potato-festival/4d16ba12-bf14-4af2-990e-dcf0e89c30ee">9Honey</a></em>.</p> <p dir="ltr">"And then for stuff like potato salads, boiled baby potatoes, and potato bake, it's better to have a waxy potato because they hold their substance better. And those are the ones that are sold clean, so things like the Pontiac and Desiree with the pink skin or the washed potatoes with the white skin."</p> <p dir="ltr">"If you want to use them in an Irish stew to break down and thicken the sauce you've got to use a floury potato," she says. "So tend to your dirty ones."</p> <p dir="ltr">She says that if you're buying a clean, waxy potato, you won't have to peel them since the skin is supposed to be edible.</p> <p dir="ltr">However, if you're buying a dirty, floury potato, then you're going to want to peel the dirt off first and then wash off the residue.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Get those crispy edges </strong></p> <p dir="ltr">As every home cook knows, the key to the perfect roasted potato is for the inside to be soft and fluffy while the outside stays crispy. </p> <p dir="ltr">It can be a tricky balance to master, but Goodwin says there's a simple way to get it right every time.</p> <p dir="ltr">"I like to par boil them before I roast them. Just so that they go a bit fluffy around the edges," she explains. "What happens is those bits go really crispy and lovely."</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Let the flavour flow </strong></p> <p dir="ltr">When it comes to seasoning your potatoes, it's hard to know what flavours will suit your dish best. </p> <p dir="ltr">According to Goodwin, more is less when you season potatoes, so it's best to close the spice cabinet.</p> <p dir="ltr">"Salt is absolutely the number one, pepper's beautiful [but] it depends on what the meal is," she says. "So if you're doing a bit of a Portuguese or Spanish inspired meal you might put some paprika on there.”</p> <p dir="ltr">"But I really love rosemary and that's beautiful if you pound that up with your salt and put it on the potatoes that makes it really nice."</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image credits: Getty Images / Instagram</em></p>

Food & Wine

Placeholder Content Image

People in the world’s ‘blue zones’ live longer – their diet could hold the key to why

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/justin-roberts-1176632">Justin Roberts</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/anglia-ruskin-university-1887">Anglia Ruskin University</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/joseph-lillis-1505087">Joseph Lillis</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/anglia-ruskin-university-1887">Anglia Ruskin University</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/mark-cortnage-438941">Mark Cortnage</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/anglia-ruskin-university-1887">Anglia Ruskin University</a></em></p> <p>Ageing is an inevitable part of life, which may explain our <a href="https://time.com/4672969/why-do-people-want-to-live-so-long/">strong fascination</a> with the <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2726954">quest for longevity</a>. The allure of <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26566891/">eternal youth</a> drives a <a href="https://www.alliedmarketresearch.com/longevity-and-anti-senescence-therapy-market-A14010">multi-billion pound industry</a> ranging from anti-ageing products, supplements and <a href="https://www.everydayhealth.com/diet-nutrition/longevity-diet">diets</a> for those hoping to extend their lifespan.</p> <p>f you look back to the turn of the 20th century, average life expectancy in the UK was around 46 years. Today, it’s closer to <a href="https://population.un.org/wpp/">82 years</a>. We are in fact <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27706136/">living longer than ever before</a>, possibly due to medical advancements and improved <a href="https://www.health.org.uk/publications/reports/mortality-and-life-expectancy-trends-in-the-uk">living and working conditions</a>.</p> <p>But living longer has also come at a price. We’re now seeing higher rates of <a href="https://www.who.int/data/gho/data/themes/mortality-and-global-health-estimates/ghe-leading-causes-of-death">chronic and degenerative diseases</a> – with heart disease consistently topping the list. So while we’re fascinated by what may help us live longer, maybe we should be more interested in being healthier for longer. Improving our “<a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4632858/">healthy life expectancy</a>” remains a global challenge.</p> <p>Interestingly, certain locations around the world have been discovered where there are a high proportion of centenarians who display remarkable physical and mental health. The <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15489066/">AKEA study of Sardinia, Italy</a>, as example, identified a “blue zone” (named because it was marked with blue pen), where there was a higher number of locals living in the central-eastern mountainous areas who had reached their 100th birthday compared with the wider Sardinian community.</p> <p>This longevity hotspot has since been expanded, and now includes several other areas around the world which also have greater numbers of longer-living, healthy people. Alongside Sardinia, these blue zones are now <a href="https://www.netflix.com/gb/title/81214929">popularly recognised</a> as: Ikaria, Greece; Okinawa, Japan; Nicoya, Costa Rica; and Loma Linda, California.</p> <p>Other than their long lifespans, people living in these zones also appear to share certain other commonalities, which centre around being <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3874460">part of a community</a>, having a <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4224996/">life purpose</a>, eating <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33514872/">nutritious, healthy foods</a>, keeping <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41398-021-01735-7">stress levels</a> low and undertaking purposeful daily <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30202288/">exercise or physical tasks</a>.</p> <p>Their longevity could also relate to their <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9010380/">environment</a>, being mostly rural (or less polluted), or because of <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22253498/">specific longevity genes</a>.</p> <p>However, studies indicate genetics may only account for <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8786073">around 20-25% of longevity</a> – meaning a person’s lifespan is a complex interaction between lifestyle and genetic factors, which contribute to a long and healthy life.</p> <h2>Is the secret in our diet?</h2> <p>When it comes to diet, each blue zone has its own approach – so one specific food or nutrient does not explain the remarkable longevity observed. But interestingly, a diet rich in <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3662288">plant foods</a> (such as locally-grown vegetables, fruits and legumes) does appear to be reasonably consistent across these zones.</p> <p>For instance, the Seventh-day Adventists of Loma Linda are <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10641813/">predominately vegetarian</a>. For centenarians in Okinawa, <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20234038/">high intakes of flavonoids</a> (a chemical compound typically found in plants) from purple sweet potatoes, soy and vegetables, have been linked with <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11710359/">better cardiovascular health</a> – including lower cholesterol levels and lower incidences of stroke and heart disease.</p> <p>In Nicoya, consumption of locally produced rice and beans has been associated with <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34444746/">longer telomere length</a>. Telomeres are the structural part at the end of our chromosomes which protect our genetic material. Our telomeres get shorter each time a cell divides – so get progressively shorter as we age.</p> <p>Certain <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21102320/">lifestyle factors</a> (such as smoking and poor diet) can also shorten telomere length. It’s thought that telomere length acts as a <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31728493/">biomarker of ageing</a> – so having longer telomeres could, in part, be linked with longevity.</p> <p>But a plant-based diet isn’t the only secret. In Sardinia, for example, meat and fish is consumed in moderation in addition to locally grown vegetables and <a href="https://journalofethnicfoods.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s42779-022-00152-5">traditional foods</a> such as acorn breads, pane carasau (a sourdough flatbread), honey and soft cheeses.</p> <p>Also observed in several blue zone areas is the inclusion of <a href="https://www.jacc.org/doi/10.1016/j.jacc.2021.10.041">olive oil</a>, <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33669360/">wine</a> (in moderation – around 1-2 glasses a day), as well as <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3830687/">tea</a>. All of these contain powerful antioxidants which may help <a href="https://ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC10049696/">protect our cells</a> from damage <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6273542/">as we age</a>.</p> <p>Perhaps then, it’s a combination of the protective effects of various nutrients in the diets of these centenarians, which explains their exceptional longevity.</p> <p>Another striking observation from these longevity hot spots is that meals are typically <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7232892">freshly prepared at home</a>. Traditional blue zone diets also don’t appear to contain <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6538973/">ultra-processed foods</a>, fast foods or sugary drinks which may <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32330232/">accelerate ageing</a>. So maybe it’s just as important to consider what these longer-living populations are not doing, as much as what they are doing.</p> <p>There also appears to be a pattern of eating until 80% full (in other words partial <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9036399/">caloric reduction</a>. This could be important in also supporting how our cells deal with damage as we age, which could mean a longer life.</p> <p>Many of the factors making up these blue zone diets – primarily plant-based and natural whole foods – are associated with <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35706591/">lower risk of chronic diseases</a> such as <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28728684/">heart disease</a> and <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/37589638/">cancer</a>. Not only could such diets contribute to a <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/37836577/">longer, healthier life</a>, but could support a more <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33397404/">diverse gut microbiome</a>, which is also associated with healthy ageing.</p> <p>Perhaps then we can learn something from these remarkable centenarians. While diet is only one part of the bigger picture when it comes to longevity, it’s an area we can do something about. In fact, it might just be at the heart of improving not only the quality of our health, but the quality of how we age.<img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/221463/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/justin-roberts-1176632">Justin Roberts</a>, Professor of Nutritional Physiology, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/anglia-ruskin-university-1887">Anglia Ruskin University</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/joseph-lillis-1505087">Joseph Lillis</a>, PhD Candidate in Nutritional Physiology, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/anglia-ruskin-university-1887">Anglia Ruskin University</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/mark-cortnage-438941">Mark Cortnage</a>, Senior Lecturer in Public Health and Nutrition, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/anglia-ruskin-university-1887">Anglia Ruskin University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/people-in-the-worlds-blue-zones-live-longer-their-diet-could-hold-the-key-to-why-221463">original article</a>.</em></p>

Food & Wine

Placeholder Content Image

Here’s why having chocolate can make you feel great or a bit sick – plus 4 tips for better eating

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/saman-khalesi-366871">Saman Khalesi</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/cquniversity-australia-2140">CQUniversity Australia</a></em></p> <p>Australians are <a href="https://www.retail.org.au/media/sweet-spending-boon-predicted-for-easter-retail">predicted</a> to spend around A$1.7 billion on chocolates, hot cross buns and other special foods this Easter season.</p> <p>Chocolate has a long history of production and consumption. It is made from cacao beans that go through processes including fermentation, drying, roasting and grounding. What is left is a rich and fatty liquor that is pressed to remove the fat (cocoa butter) and the cacao (or “cocoa”) powder which will then be mixed with different ingredients to produce dark, milk, white and other types of chocolates.</p> <p>There are several health benefits and potential problems that come in these sweet chocolatey packages.</p> <h2>The good news</h2> <p>Cacao beans contain <a href="https://foodstruct.com/food/cocoa-bean">minerals</a> like iron, potassium, magnesium, zinc and phosphorus and some vitamins. They are also rich in beneficial chemicals called <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23150750/">polyphenols</a>.</p> <p>These are great antioxidants, with the potential to <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5465250/">improve heart health</a>, increase <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25164923/">nitric oxide</a> (which dilates blood vessels) and <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3488419/">reduce blood pressure</a>, provide food for gut microbiota and <a href="https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/12/7/1908">promote gut health</a>, boost the <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5465250/">immune system</a> and reduce inflammation.</p> <p>However, the concentration of polyphenols in the chocolate we eat depends largely on the cocoa solid amounts used in the final product.</p> <p>In general terms, the darker the chocolate, the more cocoa solids, minerals and polyphenols it has. For example, dark chocolates may have around <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/10942912.2011.614984">seven times more polyphenols</a> compared to white chocolates and <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/10942912.2011.614984">three times more polyphenols</a> compared to milk chocolates.</p> <h2>But also some bad news</h2> <p>Unfortunately, the <a href="https://theconversation.com/treat-or-treatment-chocolate-is-good-but-cocoa-is-better-for-your-heart-3084">health benefits of cocoa solids</a> are easily offset by the high sugar and fat content of modern-day chocolates. For example, milk and white chocolate eggs are on average 50% sugar, 40% fat (mostly saturated fats) – which means a lot of added kilojoules (calories).</p> <p>Also, there may be some side effects that come with ingesting chocolate.</p> <p>Cocoa beans include a compound called theobromine. While it has the anti-inflammatory properties responsible for some of the health benefits of chocolate, it is also a mild brain stimulant that acts in a similar way to caffeine. The mood boost it offers may also be partly responsible for how much we <a href="https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fphar.2015.00030/full?crsi=662496658&amp;cicada_org_src=healthwebmagazine.com&amp;cicada_org_mdm=direct">like chocolate</a>. Dark chocolate has higher theobromine compared to milk and white chocolate.</p> <p>But accordingly, overindulging in chocolate (and therefore theobromine) may lead to feeling restless, <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3672386/">headaches</a> and nausea.</p> <h2>What else is in your chocolate?</h2> <p>Milk and dairy-based chocolates may also cause stomach upset, abdominal pain and bloating in people with <a href="https://dietitiansaustralia.org.au/health-advice/lactose-intolerance">lactose intolerance</a>. This happens when we don’t produce enough lactase enzymes to digest milk sugar (lactose).</p> <p>People with lactose intolerance can usually tolerate up to 6 grams of lactose without showing symptoms. Milk chocolate can have around <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK310258/">3 grams of lactose</a> per 40 grams (the size of a standard chocolate bar). So two chocolate bars (or the equivalent in milk chocolate eggs or bunnies) may be enough to cause symptoms.</p> <p>It’s worth noting that lactase enzyme activity dramatically declines as we age, with the highest activity in newborns and children. So lactose sensitivity or intolerance may not be such an issue for your kids and your symptoms may increase over time. Genetics also plays a major role in how sensitive people are to lactose.</p> <p><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6815241/">Allergic reactions</a> to chocolate are usually due to the added ingredients or cross-contamination with potential allergens such as nuts, milk, soy, and some sweeteners used in the production of chocolate.</p> <p>Symptoms can be mild (acne, rashes and stomach pain) or more severe (swelling of the throat and tongue and shortness of breath).</p> <p>If you or your family members have known allergic reactions, make sure you read the label before indulging – especially in a whole block or basket of the stuff. And if you or your family members do experience symptoms of an allergic reaction after eating chocolate, <a href="https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/allergic-reactions-emergency-first-aid">seek medical attention</a> immediately.</p> <h2>4 take home tips</h2> <p>So, if you are like me and have a weakness for chocolate there are a few things you can do to make the experience a good one.<img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/202848/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /></p> <ol> <li>keep an eye out for the darker chocolate varieties with higher cocoa solids. You may notice a percentage on labelling, which refers to how much of its weight is from cocoa beans. In general, the higher this percentage, the lower the sugar. White chocolate has almost no cocoa solid, and mostly cocoa butter, sugar and other ingredients. Dark chocolate has 50–100% cocoa beans, and less sugar. Aim for at least 70% cocoa</li> <li>read the fine print for additives and possible cross-contamination, especially if allergies might be an issue</li> <li>the ingredients list and nutrition information panel should tell you all about the chocolate you choosing. Go for varieties with lower sugar and less saturated fat. Nuts, seeds and dried fruits are better ingredients to have in your chocolate than sugar, creme, syrup, and caramel</li> <li>finally, treat yourself – but keep the amount you have within sensible limits!</li> </ol> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/saman-khalesi-366871">Saman Khalesi</a>, Postdoctoral Fellow of the National Heart Foundation &amp; Senior Lecturer and Discipline Lead in Nutrition, School of Health, Medical and Applied Sciences, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/cquniversity-australia-2140">CQUniversity Australia</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/heres-why-having-chocolate-can-make-you-feel-great-or-a-bit-sick-plus-4-tips-for-better-eating-202848">original article</a>.</em></p>

Food & Wine

Placeholder Content Image

How bad is junk food for you, really?

<p>Consuming more junk foods, such as soft drinks, packaged snacks, and sugary cereals, is associated with a higher risk of more than 30 different health problems – both physical and mental – according to researchers.</p> <p>A study, known as an umbrella review, combined the results of 45 previous meta-analyses published in the last three years, representing about 10 million participants.</p> <p>Thirty-two different poor health outcomes were found to be linked to the consumption of ultra-processed foods (UPFs), with varying levels of evidence supporting the findings.</p> <p>The researchers found the most convincing evidence around higher ultra-processed food intake, which was associated with a 50% increased risk of cardiovascular disease-related death, a 48-53% higher risk of anxiety and common mental disorders, and a 12% greater risk of type 2 diabetes.</p> <p>Evidence marked as ‘highly suggestive’ included a 21% increase in death from any cause, a 40-66% increased risk of a heart disease related death, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and sleep problems, as well as a 22% increased risk of depression.</p> <p>The review also found there may be links between ultra-processed food and asthma; gastrointestinal health; some cancers; and other risk factors such as high blood fats and low levels of ‘good’ cholesterol, but the researchers note this evidence is limited.</p> <p>Dr Daisy Coyle from the George Institute for Global Health in Sydney, who was not involved in the research, says the statistics are “staggering.”</p> <p>“Ultra-processed foods, laden with additives and sometimes lacking in essential nutrients, have become ubiquitous in the Australian diet,” she says.</p> <p>“In fact, they make up almost half of what we buy at the supermarket. While not all ultra-processed foods are linked to poor health outcomes, many are, particularly sugary drinks and processed meats.”</p> <div> </div> <p>While the findings are in line with other research that highlights the health risks associated with UPFs, some experts have pointed out that the study is observational, and therefore can’t prove the ultra-processed foods cause these health issues. It can only show an association.</p> <p>“While these associations are interesting and warrant further high-quality research, they do not and cannot provide evidence of causality,” The University of Sydney’s Dr Alan Barclay told the AusSMC.</p> <p>“By their very nature, observational studies are renowned for being confounded by numerous factors – both known and unknown.”</p> <p>Clare Collins, Laureate Professor at the University of Newcastle agreed, but added that it’s difficult to conduct dietary studies like this in a different way.</p> <p>“The studies are observational, which means cause and effect cannot be proven and that the research evidence gets downgraded, compared to intervention studies,” she says.</p> <p>“The problem is that it is not ethical to do an intervention study lasting for many years where you feed people lots of UPF every day and wait for them to get sick and die.”</p> <p>For now, researchers seem to agree that it can’t be a bad thing to minimise UPF intake.</p> <p>The review suggests a need for policies that pull consumers away from ultra-processed foods, such as advertising restrictions, warning labels, bans in schools and hospitals. It also calls for measures that make healthier foods more accessible and affordable.</p> <p>Dr Charlotte Gupta from Central Queensland University suggests that this is issue of accessibility is particularly relevant for shift workers such as doctors, nurses, firefighters, taxi drivers, miners, and hospitality workers.</p> <p>“There is a lack of availability of fresh foods or time to prepare any food, and so ultra-processed foods have to be relied on (e.g. from the vending machine in the hospital),” she said.</p> <p>“This highlights the need for not only individuals to try reducing ultra-processed foods in our diet, but also for public health actions to improve access to healthier foods.”</p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><em><a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/health/how-bad-is-junk-food-for-you-really/">This article</a> was originally published on <a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com">Cosmos Magazine</a> and was written by <a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/contributor/olivia-henry/">Olivia Henry</a>. </em></p>

Food & Wine

Placeholder Content Image

I want to eat healthily. So why do I crave sugar, salt and carbs?

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/hayley-oneill-1458016">Hayley O'Neill</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/bond-university-863">Bond University</a></em></p> <p>We all want to eat healthily, especially as we reset our health goals at the start of a new year. But sometimes these plans are sabotaged by powerful cravings for sweet, salty or carb-heavy foods.</p> <p>So why do you crave these foods when you’re trying to improve your diet or lose weight? And what can you do about it?</p> <p>There are many reasons for craving specific foods, but let’s focus on four common ones:</p> <h2>1. Blood sugar crashes</h2> <p>Sugar is a key energy source for all animals, and its taste is one of the most basic sensory experiences. Even without specific sweet taste receptors on the tongue, a strong preference for sugar can develop, indicating a mechanism beyond taste alone.</p> <p>Neurons <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41593-021-00982-7">responding to sugar</a> are activated when sugar is delivered to the gut. This can increase appetite and make you want to consume more. Giving into cravings also drives an appetite for more sugar.</p> <p>In the long term, research suggests a high-sugar diet can affect <a href="https://www.bmj.com/content/369/bmj.m2382">mood</a>, digestion and <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33339337/">inflammation</a> in the <a href="https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/scitranslmed.aay6218?url_ver=Z39.88-2003&amp;rfr_id=ori:rid:crossref.org&amp;rfr_dat=cr_pub%20%200pubmed">gut</a>.</p> <p>While there’s a lot of <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0149763402000040?via%3Dihub#aep-section-id23">variation between individuals</a>, regularly eating sugary and high-carb foods can lead to <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30951762/">rapid spikes and crashes</a> in blood sugar levels. When your blood sugar drops, your body can respond by craving quick sources of energy, often in the form of sugar and carbs because these deliver the fastest, most easily accessible form of energy.</p> <h2>2. Drops in dopamine and serotonin</h2> <p>Certain neurotransmitters, such as <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30595479/">dopamine</a>, are involved in the reward and pleasure centres of the brain. Eating sugary and carb-rich foods can trigger the release of dopamine, creating a pleasurable experience and reinforcing the craving.</p> <p>Serotonin, the feel-good hormone, suppresses <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1569733910700886">appetite</a>. Natural changes in serotonin can influence daily fluctuations in mood, energy levels and attention. It’s also associated with eating more <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5829131/">carb-rich snacks in the afternoon</a>.</p> <p><a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21985780/">Low carb diets</a> may reduce serotonin and lower mood. However, a recent systematic review suggests little association between these diets and risk for <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0165032722013933?via%3Dihub">anxiety and depression</a>.</p> <p>Compared to men, <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4189179/">women tend to crave more carb rich foods</a>. Feeling irritable, tired, depressed or experiencing carb cravings are part of premenstrual <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29218451/">symptoms</a> and could be <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK560698/">linked to</a> reduced <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9928757/">serotonin levels</a>.</p> <h2>3. Loss of fluids and drops in blood sugar and salt</h2> <p>Sometimes our bodies crave the things they’re missing, such as hydration or even salt. A low-carb diet, for example, <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK537084/">depletes</a> insulin levels, decreasing sodium and water retention.</p> <p><a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1933287419302673">Very low-carb diets</a>, like ketogenic diets, induce “ketosis”, a metabolic state where the body switches to using fat as its primary energy source, moving away from the usual dependence on carbohydrates.</p> <p>Ketosis is often associated with increased urine production, further contributing to potential fluid loss, electrolyte imbalances and salt cravings.</p> <h2>4. High levels of stress or emotional turmoil</h2> <p><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4214609/">Stress</a>, boredom and emotional turmoil can lead to cravings for comfort foods. This is because stress-related hormones can impact our appetite, satiety (feeling full) and food preferences.</p> <p>The stress hormone <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3425607/">cortisol</a>, in particular, can drive cravings for <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0306453000000354">sweet comfort foods</a>.</p> <p>A <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0306453000000354">2001 study</a> of 59 premenopausal women subjected to stress revealed that the stress led to higher calorie consumption.</p> <p><a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/37295418/">A more recent study</a> found chronic stress, when paired with high-calorie diet, increases food intake and a preference for sweet foods. This shows the importance of a healthy diet during stress to prevent weight gain.</p> <h2>What can you do about cravings?</h2> <p>Here are four tips to curb cravings:</p> <p><strong>1) don’t cut out whole food groups.</strong> Aim for a well-balanced diet and make sure you include:</p> <ul> <li> <p><em>sufficient protein</em> in your meals to help you feel full and reduce the urge to snack on sugary and carb-rich foods. Older adults should aim for 20–40g protein per meal with a particular focus on <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1111/jhn.12838">breakfast and lunch</a> and an overall daily protein intake of at least <a href="https://apps.who.int/iris/handle/10665/43411">0.8g</a> per kg of body weight for <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35187864/">muscle health</a></p> </li> <li> <p><em>fibre-rich foods</em>, such as vegetables and whole grains. These make you feel full and <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32142510/">stabilise your blood sugar</a> levels. Examples include broccoli, quinoa, brown rice, oats, beans, lentils and bran cereals. Substitute refined carbs high in sugar like processed snack bars, soft drink or baked goods for more complex ones like whole grain bread or wholewheat muffins, or nut and seed bars or energy bites made with chia seeds and oats</p> </li> </ul> <p><strong>2) manage your stress levels.</strong> Practise stress-reduction techniques like meditation, deep breathing, or yoga to manage emotional triggers for cravings. Practising <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30570305/">mindful eating</a>, by eating slowly and tuning into bodily sensations, can also reduce daily calorie intake and curb cravings and stress-driven eating</p> <p><strong>3) get enough sleep.</strong> Aim for <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33054337/">seven to eight</a> hours of quality sleep per night, with a minimum of seven hours. <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9031614/">Lack of sleep</a> can disrupt hormones that regulate hunger and cravings</p> <p><strong>4) control your portions.</strong> If you decide to indulge in a treat, control your portion size to avoid overindulging.</p> <p>Overcoming cravings for sugar, salt and carbs when trying to eat healthily or lose weight is undoubtedly a formidable challenge. Remember, it’s a journey, and setbacks may occur. Be patient with yourself – your success is not defined by occasional cravings but by your ability to manage and overcome them.<img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/212114/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/hayley-oneill-1458016">Hayley O'Neill</a>, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Health Sciences and Medicine, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/bond-university-863">Bond University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/i-want-to-eat-healthily-so-why-do-i-crave-sugar-salt-and-carbs-212114">original article</a>.</em></p>

Food & Wine

Placeholder Content Image

We looked at 700 plant-based foods to see how healthy they really are. Here’s what we found

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/laura-marchese-1271636">Laura Marchese</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/deakin-university-757">Deakin University</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/katherine-livingstone-324808">Katherine Livingstone</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/deakin-university-757">Deakin University</a></em></p> <p>If you’re thinking about buying plant-based foods, a trip to the supermarket can leave you bewildered.</p> <p>There are plant-based burgers, sausages and mince. The fridges are loaded with non-dairy milk, cheese and yoghurt. Then there are the tins of beans and packets of tofu.</p> <p>But how much is actually healthy?</p> <p>Our nutritional audit of more than 700 plant-based foods for sale in Australian supermarkets has just been <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0889157524000516">published</a>. We found some products are so high in salt or saturated fat, we’d struggle to call them “healthy”.</p> <h2>We took (several) trips to the supermarket</h2> <p>In 2022, we visited two of each of four major supermarket retailers across Melbourne to collect information on the available range of plant-based alternatives to meat and dairy products.</p> <p>We took pictures of the products and their nutrition labels.</p> <p>We then analysed the nutrition information on the packaging of more than 700 of these products. This included 236 meat substitutes, 169 legumes and pulses, 50 baked beans, 157 dairy milk substitutes, 52 cheese substitutes and 40 non-dairy yoghurts.</p> <h2>Plant-based meats were surprisingly salty</h2> <p>We found a wide range of plant-based meats for sale. So, it’s not surprising we found large variations in their nutrition content.</p> <p>Sodium, found in added salt and which contributes to <a href="https://www.heartfoundation.org.au/bundles/healthy-living-and-eating/salt-and-heart-health">high blood pressure</a>, was our greatest concern.</p> <p>The sodium content varied from 1 milligram per 100 grams in products such as tofu, to 2,000mg per 100g in items such as plant-based mince products.</p> <p>This means we could eat our entire <a href="https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/salt">daily recommended sodium intake</a> in just one bowl of plant-based mince.</p> <p>An <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/09637486.2022.2137786">audit</a> of 66 plant-based meat products in Australian supermarkets conducted in 2014 found sodium ranged from 316mg in legume-based products to 640mg in tofu products, per 100g. In a <a href="https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/11/11/2603">2019 audit</a> of 137 products, the range was up to 1,200mg per 100g.</p> <p>In other words, the results of our audit seems to show a consistent trend of plant-based meats <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/09637486.2022.2137786">getting saltier</a>.</p> <h2>What about plant-based milks?</h2> <p>Some 70% of the plant-based milks we audited were fortified with calcium, a nutrient important for <a href="https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/calcium">bone health</a>.</p> <p>This is good news as a <a href="https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/12/5/1254">2019-2020 audit</a> of 115 plant-based milks from Melbourne and Sydney found only 43% of plant-based milks were fortified with calcium.</p> <p>Of the fortified milks in our audit, almost three-quarters (73%) contained the <a href="https://www.eatforhealth.gov.au/food-essentials/five-food-groups/milk-yoghurt-cheese-andor-their-alternatives-mostly-reduced-fat">recommended amount of calcium</a> – at least 100mg per 100mL.</p> <p>We also looked at the saturated fat content of plant-based milks.</p> <p>Coconut-based milks had on average up to six times higher saturated fat content than almond, oat or soy milks.</p> <p><a href="https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/12/5/1254">Previous audits</a> also found coconut-based milks were much higher in saturated fat than all other categories of milks.</p> <h2>A first look at cheese and yoghurt alternatives</h2> <p>Our audit is the first study to identify the range of cheese and yoghurt alternatives available in Australian supermarkets.</p> <p>Calcium was only labelled on a third of plant-based yoghurts, and only 20% of supermarket options met the recommended 100mg of calcium per 100g.</p> <p>For plant-based cheeses, most (92%) were not fortified with calcium. Their sodium content varied from 390mg to 1,400mg per 100g, and saturated fat ranged from 0g to 28g per 100g.</p> <h2>So, what should we consider when shopping?</h2> <p>As a general principle, try to choose whole plant foods, such as unprocessed legumes, beans or tofu. These foods are packed with vitamins and minerals. They’re also high in dietary fibre, which is good for your gut health and keeps you fuller for longer.</p> <p>If opting for a processed plant-based food, here are five tips for choosing a healthier option.</p> <p><strong>1. Watch the sodium</strong></p> <p>Plant-based meat alternatives can be high in sodium, so look for products that have <a href="https://www.eatforhealth.gov.au/eating-well/how-understand-food-labels/food-labels-what-look">around</a> 150-250mg sodium per 100g.</p> <p><strong>2. Pick canned beans and legumes</strong></p> <p>Canned chickpeas, lentils and beans can be healthy and low-cost <a href="https://www.heartfoundation.org.au/getmedia/71522940-decf-436a-ba44-cd890dc18036/Meat-Free-Recipe-Booklet.pdf">additions to many meals</a>. Where you can, choose canned varieties with no added salt, especially when buying baked beans.</p> <p><strong>3. Add herbs and spices to your tofu</strong></p> <p>Tofu can be a great alternative to meat. Check the label and pick the option with the highest calcium content. We found flavoured tofu was higher in salt and sugar content than minimally processed tofu. So it’s best to pick an unflavoured option and add your own flavours with spices and herbs.</p> <p><strong>4. Check the calcium</strong></p> <p>When choosing a non-dairy alternative to milk, such as those made from soy, oat, or rice, check it is fortified with calcium. A good alternative to traditional dairy will have at least 100mg of calcium per 100g.</p> <p><strong>5. Watch for saturated fat</strong></p> <p>If looking for a lower saturated fat option, almond, soy, rice and oat varieties of milk and yoghurt alternatives have much lower saturated fat content than coconut options. Pick those with less than 3g per 100g.<img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/222991/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/laura-marchese-1271636">Laura Marchese</a>, PhD Student at the Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/deakin-university-757">Deakin University</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/katherine-livingstone-324808">Katherine Livingstone</a>, NHMRC Emerging Leadership Fellow and Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/deakin-university-757">Deakin University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/we-looked-at-700-plant-based-foods-to-see-how-healthy-they-really-are-heres-what-we-found-222991">original article</a>.</em></p>

Food & Wine

Placeholder Content Image

Run out of butter or eggs? Here’s the science behind substitute ingredients

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/paulomi-polly-burey-404695">Paulomi (Polly) Burey</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-southern-queensland-1069">University of Southern Queensland</a></em></p> <p>It’s an all too common situation – you’re busy cooking or baking to a recipe when you open the cupboard and suddenly realise you are missing an ingredient.</p> <p>Unless you can immediately run to the shops, this can leave you scrambling for a substitute that can perform a similar function. Thankfully, such substitutes can be more successful than you’d expect.</p> <p>There are a few reasons why certain ingredient substitutions work so well. This is usually to do with the chemistry and the physical features having enough similarity to the original ingredient to still do the job appropriately.</p> <p>Let’s delve into some common ingredient substitutions and why they work – or need to be tweaked.</p> <p><iframe id="IitfH" class="tc-infographic-datawrapper" style="border: none;" src="https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/IitfH/1/" width="100%" height="400px" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <h2>Oils versus butter</h2> <p>Both butter and oils belong to a chemical class called <a href="https://chem.libretexts.org/Bookshelves/Introductory_Chemistry/Map%3A_Fundamentals_of_General_Organic_and_Biological_Chemistry_(McMurry_et_al.)/23%3A_Lipids/23.01%3A_Structure_and_Classification_of_Lipids">lipids</a>. It encompasses solid, semi-solid and liquid fats.</p> <p>In a baked product the “job” of these ingredients is to provide flavour and influence the structure and texture of the finished item. In cake batters, lipids contribute to creating an emulsion structure – this means combining two liquids that wouldn’t usually mix. In the baking process, this helps to create a light, fluffy crumb.</p> <p>One of the primary differences between butter and oil is that butter is only about 80% lipid (the rest being water), while <a href="https://www.nutritionadvance.com/types-of-cooking-fats-and-oils/">oil is almost 100% lipid</a>. Oil creates a softer crumb but is still a great fat to bake with.</p> <p>You can use a wide range of oils from different sources, such as olive oil, rice bran, avocado, peanut, coconut, macadamia and many more. Each of these may impart different flavours.</p> <p>Other “butters”, such as peanut and cashew butter, aren’t strictly butters but pastes. They impart different characteristics and can’t easily replace dairy butter, unless you also add extra oil.</p> <h2>Aquafaba or flaxseed versus eggs</h2> <p>Aquafaba is the liquid you drain from a can of legumes – such as chickpeas or lentils. It contains proteins, kind of how egg white also contains proteins.</p> <p>The proteins in egg white include albumins, and <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5912395/">aquafaba also contains albumins</a>. This is why it is possible to make meringue from egg whites, or from aquafaba if you’re after a vegan version.</p> <p>The proteins act as a foam stabiliser – they hold the light, airy texture in the product. The concentration of protein in egg white is a bit higher, so it doesn’t take long to create a stable foam. Aquafaba requires more whipping to create a meringue-like foam, but it will bake in a similar way.</p> <p>Another albumin-containing alternative for eggs is <a href="https://foodstruct.com/compare/seeds-flaxseed-vs-egg">flaxseed</a>. These seeds form a thick gel texture when mixed with a little water. The texture is similar to raw egg and can provide structure and emulsification in baked recipes that call for a small amount of egg white.</p> <h2>Lemon plus dairy versus buttermilk</h2> <p>Buttermilk is the liquid left over after churning butter – it can be made from sweet cream, cultured/sour cream or whey-based cream. Buttermilk mostly <a href="https://www.journalofdairyscience.org/article/S0022-0302(06)72115-4/fulltext">contains proteins and fats</a>.</p> <p>Cultured buttermilk has a somewhat tangy flavour. Slightly soured milk can be a good substitute as it contains similar components and isn’t too different from “real” buttermilk, chemically speaking.</p> <p>One way to achieve slightly soured milk is by adding some lemon juice or cream of tartar to milk. Buttermilk is used in pancakes and baked goods to give extra height or volume. This is because the acidic (sour) components of buttermilk interact with baking soda, producing a light and airy texture.</p> <p>Buttermilk can also influence flavour, imparting a slightly tangy taste to pancakes and baked goods. It can also be used in sauces and dressings if you’re looking for a lightly acidic touch.</p> <h2>Honey versus sugar</h2> <p>Honey is a <a href="https://resources.perkinelmer.com/lab-solutions/resources/docs/APP_Analysis-of-Sugars-in-Honey-012101_01.pdf">complex sugar-based syrup</a> that includes floral or botanical flavours and aromas. Honey can be used in cooking and baking, adding both flavour and texture (viscosity, softness) to a wide range of products.</p> <p>If you add honey instead of regular sugar in baked goods, keep in mind that honey imparts a softer, moister texture. This is because it contains more moisture and is a humectant (that is, it likes to hold on to water). It is also less crystalline than sugar, unless you leave it to crystallise.</p> <p>The intensity of sweetness can also be different – some people find honey is sweeter than its granular counterpart, so you will want to adjust your recipes accordingly.</p> <h2>Gluten-free versus regular flour</h2> <p>Sometimes you need to make substitutions to avoid allergens, such as gluten – the protein found in cereal grains such as wheat, rye, barley and others.</p> <p>Unfortunately, gluten is also the component that gives a nice, stretchy, squishy quality to bread.</p> <p>To build this characteristic in a gluten-free product, it’s necessary to have a mixture of ingredients that work together to mimic this texture. Common ingredients used are corn or rice flour, xanthan gum, which acts as a binder and moisture holder, and tapioca starch, which is a good water absorbent and can aid with binding the dough. <!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/202036/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/paulomi-polly-burey-404695">Paulomi (Polly) Burey</a>, Associate Professor (Food Science), <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-southern-queensland-1069">University of Southern Queensland</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/run-out-of-butter-or-eggs-heres-the-science-behind-substitute-ingredients-202036">original article</a>.</em></p>

Food & Wine

Placeholder Content Image

“Completely tacky”: Bride slammed for asking for dinner payment

<p dir="ltr">A bride has caused a stir online after asking if it is appropriate to ask her wedding guests to pay for their meal when they RSVP to the big day. </p> <p dir="ltr">The woman took to a popular wedding Facebook page to ask the opinions of other brides, sharing an example of her invitation created by her wedding planner. </p> <p dir="ltr">The invitation asks guests to confirm whether or not they will be attending the nuptials, before asking if the guest intends to eat at the wedding ceremony, and which meal they would prefer. </p> <p dir="ltr">The price of each meal was also included: $20 for grilled chicken with rice, mashed potatoes and green beans and $25 for a salmon alternative.</p> <p dir="ltr">“We invite you to eat with us but ask for you to provide your own payment. Please select which meal you'd prefer,” the invite stated. </p> <p dir="ltr">“My wedding venue requires me to purchase food through them for the reception, but has said people sometimes choose this option,” the woman wrote on Facebook. </p> <p dir="ltr">“Nothing about my reception is very typical anyway, SO I'm wondering how insane or rude or cost-effective/smart this is.”</p> <p dir="ltr">“The planner set me this as an example of how to present it to guests.”</p> <p dir="ltr">But when the post was quickly criticised by others, the bride clarified the event was more of a “fun dinner party” rather than a “wedding” as she and her partner had already legally married five months prior. </p> <p dir="ltr">“Ultimately I'll do what I want BUT I did not choose this option. It was only a suggestion from the venue that I was curious about others' opinions on,” she added. </p> <p dir="ltr">“This is for the reception. I'm most definitely not asking for money or gifts and by the time they come to the reception, we will have already been married for five months.”</p> <p dir="ltr">The post was shared in another wedding shaming Facebook group and critiqued by dozens of wedding experts.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Oh hell no! This is completely tacky!” one wrote, another said, “So she asks if it is rude then gets offended when people say it's rude?”</p> <p dir="ltr">“I am a veteran pro planner and would NEVER suggest this!” another said. </p> <p dir="ltr">Someone else wrote, “I'm especially shaming the venue for suggesting that people often pawn off the cost of dinner to their guests. Encouraging rude behaviour.”</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image credits: Getty Images / Facebook</em></p>

Food & Wine

Placeholder Content Image

5 ways to avoid weight gain and save money on food this Christmas

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/nick-fuller-219993">Nick Fuller</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a></em></p> <p>As Christmas approaches, so does the challenge of healthy eating and maintaining weight-related goals. The season’s many social gatherings can easily tempt us to indulge in calorie-rich food and celebratory drinks. It’s why we typically <a href="https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMc1602012">gain weight</a> over Christmas and then struggle to take it off for the <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0031938414001528">remainder of the year</a>.</p> <p>Christmas 2023 is also exacerbating cost-of-living pressures, prompting some to rethink their food choices. Throughout the year, <a href="https://dvh1deh6tagwk.cloudfront.net/finder-au/wp-uploads/2023/03/Cost-of-Living-Report-2023.pdf">71% of Australians</a> – or 14.2 million people – <a href="https://retailworldmagazine.com.au/rising-cost-of-living-forces-aussies-to-change-diets/">adapted</a> their eating behaviour in response to rising costs.</p> <p>Fortunately, there are some simple, science-backed hacks for the festive season to help you celebrate with the food traditions you love without impacting your healthy eating habits, weight, or hip pocket.</p> <h2>1. Fill up on healthy pre-party snacks before heading out</h2> <p>If your festive season is filled with end-of-year parties likely to tempt you to fill up on finger foods and meals high in fat, salt, and sugar and low in nutritional value, have a healthy pre-event snack before you head out.</p> <p><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5015032/#sec-a.g.atitle">Research</a> shows carefully selected snack foods can impact satiety (feelings of fullness after eating), potentially reducing the calories you eat later. High-protein, high-fibre snack foods have the strongest effect: because they take longer to digest, our hunger is satisfied for longer.</p> <p>So enjoy a handful of nuts, a tub of yoghurt, or a serving of hummus with veggie sticks before you head out to help keep your healthy eating plan on track.</p> <h2>2. Skip the low-carb drinks and enjoy your favourites in moderation</h2> <p>Despite the marketing promises, low-carb alcoholic drinks <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/hpja.531">aren’t better for our health or waistlines</a>.</p> <p>Many low-carb options have a similar amount of carbohydrates as regular options but lull us into thinking they’re better, so we drink more. A <a href="https://www.vichealth.vic.gov.au/sites/default/files/K-013_Low-carb-beer_FactSheet_FINAL.pdf">survey</a> found 15% of low-carb beer drinkers drank more beer than they usually would because they believed it was healthier for them.</p> <p>A typical lager or ale will contain less than 1.5 grams of carbohydrate per 100 ml while the “lower-carb” variety can range anywhere from 0.5 grams to 2.0 grams. The calories in drinks come from the alcohol itself, not the carbohydrate content.</p> <p>Next time you go to order, think about the quantity of alcohol you’re drinking rather than the carbs. Make sure you sip lots of water in between drinks to stay hydrated, too.</p> <h2>3. Don’t skimp on healthy food for Christmas Day – it’s actually cheaper</h2> <p>There’s a perception that healthy eating is more expensive. But studies show this is a misconception. A <a href="https://southwesthealthcare.com.au/swh-study-finds-eating-a-healthier-diet-is-actually-cheaper-at-the-checkout/#:%7E:text=A%20recent%20study%20from%20the,does%20not%20meet%20the%20guidelines">recent analysis</a> in Victoria, for example, found following the Australian Dietary Guidelines cost the average family A$156 less a fortnight than the cost of the average diet, which incorporates packaged processed foods and alcohol.</p> <p>So when you’re planning your Christmas Day meal, give the pre-prepared, processed food a miss and swap in healthier ingredients:</p> <ul> <li> <p>swap the heavy, salted ham for leaner and lighter meats such as fresh seafood. Some seafood, such as prawns, is also tipped to be cheaper this year thanks to <a href="https://www.smh.com.au/goodfood/lobsters-up-prawns-stable-a-buying-guide-to-seafood-this-christmas-20231208-p5eq3m.html">favourable weather conditions</a> boosting local supplies</p> </li> <li> <p>for side dishes, opt for fresh salads incorporating seasonal ingredients such as mango, watermelon, peach, cucumber and tomatoes. This will save you money and ensure you’re eating foods when they’re freshest and most flavoursome</p> </li> </ul> <ul> <li> <p>if you’re roasting veggies, use healthier cooking oils like olive as opposed to vegetable oil, and use flavourful herbs instead of salt</p> </li> <li> <p>if there’s an out-of-season vegetable you want to include, look for frozen and canned substitutes. They’re cheaper, and <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0889157517300418">just as nutritious</a> and tasty because the produce is usually frozen or canned at its best. Watch the sodium content of canned foods, though, and give them a quick rinse to remove any salty water</p> </li> <li> <p>give store-bought sauces and dressings a miss, making your own from scratch using fresh ingredients.</p> </li> </ul> <h2>4. Plan your Christmas food shop with military precision</h2> <p>Before heading to the supermarket to shop for your Christmas Day meal, create a detailed meal plan and shopping list, and don’t forget to check your pantry and fridge for things you already have.</p> <p><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4586574/">Eating beforehand</a> and shopping with a plan in hand means you’ll only buy what you need and <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8206473/">avoid impulse purchasing</a>.</p> <p>When you’re shopping, price check everything. Comparing the cost per 100 grams is the most effective way to save money and get the best value. Check prices on products sold in different ways and places, too, such as nuts you scoop yourself versus prepacked options.</p> <h2>5. Don’t skip breakfast on Christmas Day</h2> <p>We’ve all been tempted to skip or have a small breakfast on Christmas morning to “save” the calories for later. But this plan will fail when you sit down at lunch hungry and find yourself eating far more calories than you’d “saved” for.</p> <p><a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32073608/">Research</a> shows a low-calorie or small breakfast leads to increased feelings of hunger, specifically appetite for sweets, across the course of the day.</p> <p>What you eat for breakfast on Christmas morning is just as important too – choosing the right foods will <a href="https://theconversation.com/im-trying-to-lose-weight-and-eat-healthily-why-do-i-feel-so-hungry-all-the-time-what-can-i-do-about-it-215808">help you manage your appetite</a> and avoid the temptation to overindulge later in the day.</p> <p><a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24703415/">Studies</a> show a breakfast containing protein-rich foods, such as eggs, will leave us feeling fuller for longer.</p> <p>So before you head out to the Christmas lunch, have a large, nutritionally balanced breakfast, such as eggs on wholegrain toast with avocado.</p> <p><em>At the Boden Group, Charles Perkins Centre, we are studying the science of obesity and running clinical trials for weight loss. You can <a href="https://redcap.sydney.edu.au/surveys/?s=RKTXPPPHKY">register here</a> to express your interest.</em> <img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/219114/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/nick-fuller-219993"><em>Nick Fuller</em></a><em>, Charles Perkins Centre Research Program Leader, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/5-ways-to-avoid-weight-gain-and-save-money-on-food-this-christmas-219114">original article</a>.</em></p>

Food & Wine

Placeholder Content Image

5 ways to make Christmas lunch more ethical this year

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/rebecca-reynolds-141045">Rebecca Reynolds</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/unsw-sydney-1414">UNSW Sydney</a></em></p> <p>What we eat matters - not just for our health, but for the planet and other living things too.</p> <p>Most of us know meat consumption <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s43016-021-00358-x.epdf">contributes to global warming</a> and many of us are aware of animal cruelty and human exploitation in global food supply chains.</p> <p>So what are some ways we can use our “fork power” to make our Christmas lunch more ethical this year?</p> <h2>1. Replace your turkey or ham with a vegetarian dish</h2> <p>Vegetarian options are not boring or tasteless — just look at this <a href="https://annajones.co.uk/recipe/squash-chestnut-roast">festive squash and chestnut roast</a>.</p> <p>A plant-focused diet has strong <a href="https://eatforum.org/eat-lancet-commission/the-planetary-health-diet-and-you/">environmental benefits</a>. Livestock not only <a href="https://theconversation.com/cop28-begins-4-issues-that-will-determine-if-the-un-climate-summit-is-a-success-from-methane-to-money-218869">produce greenhouse gas</a> when they burp, they take up huge amounts of <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9024616/">land and fresh water</a>.</p> <p>Reducing the number of animal products on your plate also reduces the likelihood you are contributing to the suffering of animals. Even though many countries have <a href="https://www.agriculture.gov.au/agriculture-land/animal/welfare/standards-guidelines">ethical standards</a> for the treatment of farm animals, these are not always followed, and many of the practices considered legal <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/rural/2023-03-28/pig-slaughter-methods-defended-by-pork-industry/102153822">still cause pain and suffering to animals</a>.</p> <p>While cutting out all animal products can be difficult, any reduction in consumption makes a difference. For example, consider swapping out the brie on your Christmas platter for hummus this year.</p> <h2>2. Choose ‘good fish’</h2> <p>Many of us don’t realise fish and other seafood is often sourced unsustainably, negatively impacting ocean ecosystems and wildlife. An Australian organisation called GoodFish produces a <a href="https://goodfish.org.au/">Sustainable Seafood Guide</a>, where you can find out how ethical the fish you buy is.</p> <p>Unfortunately, many salmon products are <a href="https://goodfish.org.au/sustainable-seafood-guide/?q=salmon">not as sustainable</a> as companies claim them to be. In comparison, farmed Australian barramundi, Murray cod, prawns, oysters and mussels, and wild-caught Australian Eastern and Western rock lobsters are classified as better choices.</p> <p>Additionally, an international not-for-profit organisation called the <a href="https://www.msc.org/en-au">Marine Stewardship Council</a> has an “MSC blue fish tick label” certification scheme, which endorses products from well-managed and sustainable fisheries. Have a look for MSC-certified frozen crumbed fish in your next shop.</p> <h2>3. Choose at least one organic item, such as your roast potatoes</h2> <p><a href="https://www.fao.org/organicag/oa-faq/oa-faq6/en/">Organic agriculture</a> aims to produce food while establishing an ecological balance to prevent soil infertility or pest problems over the longer term. It strengthens the dynamics and carbon storage of soil, stops freshwater pollution with synthetic fertilisers and pesticides, reduces the use of fossil fuels needed to produce these chemicals, and promotes biodiversity.</p> <p>Yes, organic products are more expensive, but you will hopefully now feel they are worth it (you could also look out for organic produce that is reduced in price during “on special” promotions).</p> <h2>4. Choose Fairtrade chocolate</h2> <p>Of course, humans are heavily involved in the production, packaging and transport of the food we eat every day. Organisations such as <a href="https://fairtradeanz.org/">Fairtrade Australia and New Zealand</a> and <a href="https://www.rainforest-alliance.org/">Rainforest Alliance</a> aim to improve the lives of rural farmers and workers in developing countries – who otherwise might get unfair deals for their produce and work (these organisations also target environmental issues).</p> <p>You can buy Fairtrade- and Rainforest Alliance-certified products in supermarkets (and elsewhere), such as chocolate, coffee, tea – and even ice cream.</p> <p>Similarly, there are companies called <a href="https://bcorporation.com.au/find-b-corps/">B Corps</a>, or Certified B Corporations. These are organisations that also care about social and environmental issues. B Corp food products can also be found in supermarkets (and elsewhere), and include things like peanut butter and seaweed snacks.</p> <h2>5. Make friends with your freezer</h2> <p>When we waste food, we are wasting the energy, land, water and chemicals that were used during the <a href="https://www.un.org/en/climatechange/science/climate-issues/food">long process</a> of getting it into your home.</p> <p>Lots of us worry at Christmas about “having enough food for everyone”, and consequently buy too much. Why not talk through your menu plan with someone else before you go shopping, to check that you are not anxiety-buying to feed 50 people (instead of your extended family of ten).</p> <p>But even with calm planning, you may still have leftover food. If this happens, you can get creative with using leftovers on Boxing Day (OzHarvest has some recipes online, including <a href="https://www.ozharvest.org/use-it-up/tips/">Christmas rockyroad</a>), or you can preserve food to eat at a later date using your cool friend, the freezer.<img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/218351/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/rebecca-reynolds-141045">Rebecca Reynolds</a>, Adjunct lecturer and nutritionist, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/unsw-sydney-1414">UNSW Sydney</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/5-ways-to-make-christmas-lunch-more-ethical-this-year-218351">original article</a>.</em></p>

Food & Wine

Placeholder Content Image

Genius Christmas hack divides viewers

<p>Christmas, a time when the kitchen becomes a battlefield and culinary warriors seek ingenious hacks to conquer the chaos!</p> <p>Thankfully, Janelle from @thedailynelly on Instagram, armed with the wisdom of her grandma, has unveiled a potato-cleaning strategy that has shaken the very foundations of traditional holiday prep.</p> <p>Enter "Grandma's best Thanksgiving secret" – a cryptic title that foreshadows a culinary revelation of epic proportions. And yes, we know it's for Thanksgiving – but we are just going to give some thanks and use it for Christmas prep anyway.</p> <p>Janelle took to Instagram to showcase her revolutionary potato-cleaning hack for her followers and – spoiler alert – it involves a dishwasher, and things are about to get wild.</p> <p>As Janelle stacks unwashed potatoes into the dishwasher, she confidently claims that this unorthodox method saves her both time and effort. The video unfolds like a suspenseful thriller, with the person behind the camera questioning her every move. "This is the best way to do it. It saves you so much time," Janelle declares with the conviction of someone who has cracked the Da Vinci Code of holiday cooking.</p> <p>In a daring move, she populates not only the top rack with filthy potatoes but also the lower shelf, even utilising the cutlery holder – because who needs spoons when you can have spuds? Janelle defends her potato-loading strategy, pointing out that traditional methods in a bowl are impractical when faced with three bags of potatoes. Practicality, meet pandemonium.</p> <p>Janelle also points out – a little redundantly, but to be honest you never really know the caliber of person watching Instagram videos – that it's crucial not to use any dishwashing tablets or soap in this peculiar cleaning ritual, because, you know, that would be weird. We wouldn't want our spuds to taste like lavender-scented detergent, now would we?</p> <p>The climax arrives when the four-minute rinse cycle is over – a pivotal moment in this culinary odyssey. Janelle gleefully showcases the now pristine potatoes, claiming victory over the tedious hand-washing process. "They're clean, you didn't have to hand wash them. I'm telling you – it saves time on Christmas when you're hosting a tonne of people," she declares triumphantly.</p> <p>However, the internet, ever the skeptic, has of course reacted with horror and disbelief. Some commenters expressed their disgust, labelling the dishwasher technique as "gross" and "nasty". </p> <blockquote class="instagram-media" style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" data-instgrm-captioned="" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/reel/Cz7Af8oulYb/?utm_source=ig_embed&utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="14"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"> </div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <div style="padding: 12.5% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; margin-bottom: 14px; align-items: center;"> <div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(0px) translateY(7px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; height: 12.5px; transform: rotate(-45deg) translateX(3px) translateY(1px); width: 12.5px; flex-grow: 0; margin-right: 14px; margin-left: 2px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(9px) translateY(-18px);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: 8px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 20px; width: 20px;"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 2px solid transparent; border-left: 6px solid #f4f4f4; border-bottom: 2px solid transparent; transform: translateX(16px) translateY(-4px) rotate(30deg);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: auto;"> <div style="width: 0px; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-right: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(16px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; flex-grow: 0; height: 12px; width: 16px; transform: translateY(-4px);"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-left: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(-4px) translateX(8px);"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center; margin-bottom: 24px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 224px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 144px;"> </div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" href="https://www.instagram.com/reel/Cz7Af8oulYb/?utm_source=ig_embed&utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank" rel="noopener">A post shared by The Daily Nelly (@thedailynelly)</a></p> </div> </blockquote> <p>Concerns about dishwasher residue and the efficiency of the method compared to traditional hand washing also echo through the comments. The naysayers argue that the time spent stacking potatoes in the dishwasher outweighs the alleged time saved.</p> <p>In the end, @thedailynelly's dishwasher potato video has become something of a cautionary tale, a reminder that not all culinary shortcuts are created equal. But here at OverSixty we are firmly on Team Janelle. At least she is out there giving it a go, listening to her grandma, and sharing her wisdom with the world.</p> <p><em>Images: Instagram / <span style="font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, Oxygen, Ubuntu, Cantarell, 'Open Sans', 'Helvetica Neue', sans-serif;">@thedailynelly</span></em></p>

Food & Wine

Placeholder Content Image

Bring a plate! What to take to Christmas lunch that looks impressive (but won’t break the bank)

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/lauren-ball-14718">Lauren Ball</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-queensland-805">The University of Queensland</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/amy-kirkegaard-1401256">Amy Kirkegaard</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-queensland-805">The University of Queensland</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/breanna-lepre-1401257">Breanna Lepre</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-queensland-805">The University of Queensland</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/emily-burch-438717">Emily Burch</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-queensland-805">The University of Queensland</a></em></p> <p>Christmas lunch is at your friend’s house this year, and they’ve asked you to bring a plate. Money is tight. So, you find yourself wondering, “What’s cheap, healthy but also looks impressive?”</p> <p>While a tray of mangoes would certainly be a cheap, healthy and colourful contribution, you want to look as if you’ve put in a bit of effort.</p> <p>If you’re struggling for inspiration, here are some tried and tested ideas.</p> <h2>First, choose your ingredients</h2> <p>Check your pantry for inspiration or ingredients. Crackers, dried fruit or nuts are great ideas for a charcuterie board. You can use herbs and spices to add flavour to dishes, or you could use up packets of dried pasta to make a <a href="https://nomoneynotime.com.au/healthy-easy-recipes/salmon-and-pasta-salad">pasta salad</a>. This is also a great way to clean out your pantry.</p> <p>Focus on fruit and vegetables that are in season, so are cheaper and more readily available. Keep an eye out at your local fruit and veggie shop or market as it will usually have in-season fruit and vegetables in bulk quantities at reduced prices. Check out <a href="http://seasonalfoodguide.com/australia-general-seasonal-fresh-produce-guide-fruits-vegetables-in-season-availability.html">this seasonal food guide</a> to help you plan your Christmas menu.</p> <p>Ask around for deals by chatting to your local butcher, fishmonger or grocer and let them know your budget. They may suggest cheaper cuts of meat (such as, <a href="https://www.australianbutchersguild.com.au/the-blog/the-abg-blog/underrated-cuts-of-beef/">oyster</a>, <a href="https://www.australianbeef.com.au/know-your-meat/beef-cuts/">blades, rump caps</a>). Try cooking <a href="https://www.bestrecipes.com.au/recipes/slow-cooker-corned-beef-mustard-sauce-recipe/z47lwrbv?r=entertaining/9clz7475&amp;h=entertaining">corned beef</a> or <a href="https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/slow-cooker-roast-chicken">roast chicken</a> in a slow cooker with lots of vegetables. Slow-cooked meals can be frozen and can come in handy for left-overs.</p> <p>Lean into <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4608274/">legumes</a>. These are packed with fibre, protein, vitamins and minerals. They are also budget-friendly and a great way to add texture to salads. Tinned chickpeas, or cannellini, kidney, or butter beans are quick and easy additions that can make filling dishes go further. You could even turn tinned chickpeas into homemade hommus for a healthy and delicious side dish. Check out these healthy legume <a href="https://nomoneynotime.com.au/healthy-easy-recipes/filter/keywords--legumes">recipes</a>.</p> <h2>7 ways to keep food costs down this Christmas</h2> <p><strong>1. Plan ahead</strong></p> <p>Plan your menu by asking how many people are coming and checking for any food preferences or dietary requirements. Check for items you already have at home, and make a shopping list for only what you <a href="https://www.emerald.com/insight/content/doi/10.1108/BFJ-12-2017-0726/full/html">need</a>.</p> <p><strong>2. Use free recipes</strong></p> <p>Use free online recipe collections and e-books tailored for budget cooking that can help you design your Christmas menu to meet your budget. This <a href="https://nomoneynotime.com.au/uploads/Our-Guide-to-the-Perfect-Christmas-Feast.pdf">one</a> was created by a group of <a href="https://dietitiansaustralia.org.au/working-dietetics/standards-and-scope/role-accredited-practising-dietitian">accredited practising dietitians</a> and has healthy, budget friendly recipes and ideas. You could also try this budget friendly collection of Christmas recipes from <a href="https://www.taste.com.au/recipes/collections/budget-christmas-recipes">taste</a>.</p> <p><strong>3. Involve the family</strong></p> <p>Get together with other family members and make it a challenge to see who can make the cheapest, most delicious dish. Get the kids involved in fun activities, such as making a DIY gingerbread house or putting together mixed skewers for the barbecue.</p> <p><strong>4. Pool your resources</strong></p> <p>Larger quantities of a single dish will be cheaper than multiple different dishes (and easier to prepare).</p> <p><strong>5. Frozen is fine</strong></p> <p>Use frozen fruits and vegetables if you need to. These can have just as <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25526594/">many vitamins and minerals</a> as fresh, are often cheaper than fresh produce and last longer. Try using frozen berries to decorate the pavlova or add them to your favourite cake, muffin or pie.</p> <p><strong>6. Make your own drinks</strong></p> <p>You could make your own drinks, such as home-brewed iced tea. See if anyone in your family has a soda stream you can borrow to make sparkling mineral water. Add some freshly squeezed lemon or lime for extra flavour.</p> <p><strong>7. Reduce waste</strong></p> <p>Use your own crockery and re-use leftovers to reduce waste. After all, washing up is cheaper than buying plastic or paper plates and better for the environment. Remember to save any leftovers and re-use them. Leftover fresh vegetables could be used to make a hearty soup or chutney.</p> <h2>It doesn’t have to be perfect</h2> <p>Christmas comes and goes quickly. If your cooking ideas don’t work out, it’s not the end of the world. Choosing healthy foods on a budget is important all year around, so you may like to think about trying these tips throughout the years to come. <img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/196565/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/lauren-ball-14718"><em>Lauren Ball</em></a><em>, Professor of Community Health and Wellbeing, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-queensland-805">The University of Queensland</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/amy-kirkegaard-1401256">Amy Kirkegaard</a>, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, School of Human Movement and Nutrition Sciences, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-queensland-805">The University of Queensland</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/breanna-lepre-1401257">Breanna Lepre</a>, Research Fellow, Mater Research Institute, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-queensland-805">The University of Queensland</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/emily-burch-438717">Emily Burch</a>, Dietitian and Researcher, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-queensland-805">The University of Queensland</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/bring-a-plate-what-to-take-to-christmas-lunch-that-looks-impressive-but-wont-break-the-bank-196565">original article</a>.</em></p>

Food & Wine

Placeholder Content Image

How to make the perfect pavlova, according to chemistry experts

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/nathan-kilah-599082">Nathan Kilah</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-tasmania-888">University of Tasmania</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/chloe-taylor-1400788">Chloe Taylor</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-tasmania-888">University of Tasmania</a></em></p> <p>The pavlova is a summer icon; just a few simple ingredients can be transformed into a beautifully flavoured and textured dessert.</p> <p>But despite its simplicity, there’s a surprising amount of chemistry involved in making a pavlova. Knowing what’s happening in each step is a sure-fire way to make yours a success.</p> <p>So exactly what does it take to make the perfect pavlova? Let us break it down for you.</p> <h2>Egg whites</h2> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/eight-cracking-facts-about-eggs-150797">Egg white</a> is basically a mixture of proteins in water. Two of these proteins, ovalbumin and ovomucin, are the key to forming a perfect foamy meringue mixture.</p> <p>Whipping the egg whites agitates the proteins and disrupts their structure, causing them to unfold so the protein’s interior surface is exposed, in a process <a href="https://theconversation.com/sunny-side-up-can-you-really-fry-an-egg-on-the-footpath-on-a-hot-day-172616">known as denaturing</a>. These surfaces then join with one another to trap air bubbles and turn into a stable foam.</p> <p>Egg yolk must be completely removed for this process to work. Yolk is mostly made of fat molecules, which would destabilise the protein network and pop the air bubbles. It only takes a trace amount of fat, or even just a greasy bowl, to disrupt foam formation.</p> <p>You should always whip your egg whites in a clean glass or metal bowl. Plastic bowls are more likely to hold leftover grease.</p> <h2>Sugar</h2> <p>A traditional pavlova uses sugar – a lot of it – to provide texture and flavour. The ratio of sugar to egg white will differ between recipes.</p> <p>The first thing to remember is that adding more sugar will give you a drier and crispier texture, whereas less sugar will lead to a softer and chewier pavlova that won’t keep as long.</p> <p>The second thing is the size of the sugar crystals. The larger they are, the longer they’ll need to be whipped to dissolve, and the greater the chance you will overwork the proteins in your meringue. Powdered icing sugar (not icing mixture) is preferable to caster or granulated sugar.</p> <p>If you do happen to overbeat your meringue (which may end up looking clumpy and watery) you can try to save it by adding another egg white.</p> <h2>Acid</h2> <p>Many pavlova recipes call for adding cream of tartar or vinegar. Cream of tartar is also known as potassium hydrogen tartrate, which you may have seen in the form of crystals at the <a href="https://theconversation.com/louis-pasteurs-scientific-discoveries-in-the-19th-century-revolutionized-medicine-and-continue-to-save-the-lives-of-millions-today-191395">bottom of a wine glass</a>.</p> <p>These acids act as a stabilising agent for the meringue by aiding in the unfolding of the egg white proteins. More isn’t always better, though. Using too much stabiliser can affect the taste and texture, so use it sparingly.</p> <h2>Heat</h2> <p>Cooking a pavlova requires a very slow oven for specific chemical reasons. Namely, egg white proteins gel at temperatures above 60°C, setting the meringue.</p> <p>At higher temperatures a chemical reaction known as the <a href="https://theconversation.com/kitchen-science-from-sizzling-brisket-to-fresh-baked-bread-the-chemical-reaction-that-makes-our-favourite-foods-taste-so-good-58577">Maillard reaction</a> takes place in which proteins and sugars react to form new flavourful compounds. We can thank the Maillard reaction for many delicious foods including <a href="https://theconversation.com/brewing-a-great-cup-of-coffee-depends-on-chemistry-and-physics-84473">roasted coffee</a>, toast and <a href="https://theconversation.com/what-makes-smoky-charred-barbecue-taste-so-good-the-chemistry-of-cooking-over-an-open-flame-184206">seared steak</a>.</p> <p>However, excessive Maillard reactions are undesirable for a pavlova. An oven that’s too hot will turn your meringue brown and give it a “caramelised” flavour. Recipes calling for pavlova to be left in the oven overnight may actually overcook it.</p> <p>At the same time, you don’t want to accidentally undercook your pavlova – especially since uncooked eggs are often responsible for <a href="https://theconversation.com/how-to-avoid-food-borne-illness-a-nutritionist-explains-153185">food poisoning</a>. To kill dangerous bacteria, including salmonella, the pavlova’s spongy centre must reach <a href="https://foodsafety.asn.au/eggs/">temperatures above 72°C</a>.</p> <p>An alternative is to use pasteurised egg whites, which are briefly heated to a very high temperature to kill any pathogens. But this processing may also affect the egg white’s whippability.</p> <h2>Substitute ingredients</h2> <p>People love pavlova, and nobody should have to miss out. Luckily they don’t have to.</p> <p>If you want to <a href="https://theconversation.com/a-taste-for-sweet-an-anthropologist-explains-the-evolutionary-origins-of-why-youre-programmed-to-love-sugar-173197">limit your sugar intake</a>, you can make your meringue using sweeteners such as <a href="https://theconversation.com/whats-the-difference-between-sugar-other-natural-sweeteners-and-artificial-sweeteners-a-food-chemist-explains-sweet-science-172571">powdered erythritol or monk fruit</a>. But, if you do, you may want to add some extra stabiliser such as cornflour, arrowroot starch, or a pinch of xanthan gum to maintain the classic texture.</p> <p>Also, if you want a vegan pavlova, you can turn to the chickpea instead of the chicken! <a href="https://review.jove.com/t/56305/composition-properties-aquafaba-water-recovered-from-commercially">Aquafaba</a> – the water collected from tinned or soaked beans – contains proteins and carbohydrates that give it emulsifying, foaming and even thickening properties. Egg-free pavlova recipes typically replace one egg white with about two tablespoons of aquafaba.</p> <p>And for those of you who don’t do gluten, pavlova can easily be made <a href="https://theconversation.com/gluten-free-diet-is-expensive-socially-challenging-for-those-with-celiac-disease-and-wheat-allergy-155861">gluten-free</a> by using certain stabilising agents.</p> <p>All that’s left is to get creative with your toppings and decide what to do with those leftover yolks!<img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/196485/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/nathan-kilah-599082"><em>Nathan Kilah</em></a><em>, Senior Lecturer in Chemistry, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-tasmania-888">University of Tasmania</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/chloe-taylor-1400788">Chloe Taylor</a>, Research Fellow - PhD candidate, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-tasmania-888">University of Tasmania</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/how-to-make-the-perfect-pavlova-according-to-chemistry-experts-196485">original article</a>.</em></p>

Food & Wine

Placeholder Content Image

Meal kits are booming – but how do they stack up nutritionally?

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/kylie-fraser-1483094">Kylie Fraser</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/deakin-university-757">Deakin University</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/alison-spence-720195">Alison Spence</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/deakin-university-757">Deakin University</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/karen-campbell-224857">Karen Campbell</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/deakin-university-757">Deakin University</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/penny-love-1060241">Penny Love</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/deakin-university-757">Deakin University</a></em></p> <p>Meal kits are a <a href="https://www.statista.com/outlook/dmo/online-food-delivery/meal-delivery/australia">billion dollar industry</a> selling the promise of convenience while cooking healthy meals at home. Delivering ingredients and step-by-step recipes to the doorstep, meal kits reduce the time and energy to plan, shop and prepare meals. But do they deliver on their promise of health?</p> <p>While people may <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0195666321007236">think</a> meal kits are healthy, <a href="https://academic.oup.com/heapro/article/38/6/daad155/7441372?searchresult=1">our new research</a> suggests this varies.</p> <p>The range and quantity of vegetables in a meal is a great indicator of how healthy it is. So we assessed the <a href="https://academic.oup.com/heapro/article/38/6/daad155/7441372?searchresult=1&amp;login=false">vegetable content</a> of recipes from six Australian meal kit providers. We found when it comes to nutrition, whether it be budget friendly or high-end, it’s more about the meals you choose and less about what company to use.</p> <h2>What we found</h2> <p>For our <a href="https://academic.oup.com/heapro/article/38/6/daad155/7441372?searchresult=1&amp;login=false">new research</a> we purchased a one-week subscription to nine Australian-based meal kit companies to access weekly recipes. Six companies provided their full week of recipes. The vegetable content of these recipes were analysed.</p> <p>Of the 179 meals analysed, we found recipes use a median of three different types of vegetables and provide a median of 2.5 serves of vegetables per person. At first glance, this looks promising. But on closer inspection, the number and types of vegetables vary a lot.</p> <p>Some recipes provide less than one serve and others more than seven serves of vegetables per person. Not surprisingly, vegetarian recipes provide more vegetables, but almost one-third of these still include less than two vegetables serves per person.</p> <p>The variety of vegetables included also varies, with recipes providing between one and six different types of vegetables per meal.</p> <h2>What’s for dinner?</h2> <p><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC10200412/">Dinner</a> is the time when we’re most likely to eat vegetables, so low levels of vegetables in meal kit meals <a href="https://theconversation.com/food-as-medicine-why-do-we-need-to-eat-so-many-vegetables-and-what-does-a-serve-actually-look-like-76149">matter</a>.</p> <p>Eating vegetables is known to <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5837313/">reduce the risk</a> of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6266069/">obesity</a> and some cancers. What’s more, food preferences and eating habits are <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17367571/">learned</a> in childhood. So being exposed to a wide range of vegetables from a young age is important for future health.</p> <p>But few Australians eat enough vegetables. According to the <a href="https://www.eatforhealth.gov.au/guidelines/australian-dietary-guidelines-1-5">Australian Dietary Guidelines</a>, children should be eating 2.5 to five serves and adults at least five serves of vegetables each day. Currently children eat an average of <a href="https://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/4364.0.55.012main+features12011-12">less than</a> two serves and adults less than three serves of vegetables per day.</p> <p>So there’s room for improvement and meal kits may help.</p> <h2>Meal kits have advantages</h2> <p>The good news is that using meal kits can be a healthier alternative to ordering takeaway delivery or prepared ready-to-heat meals. When we cook at home, we have much more say in what’s for dinner. We can use healthier cooking methods (think grilled rather than deep-fried), healthier fats (olive or canola oil) and add in plenty of extra veg. All make for better nutrition and better health.</p> <p>Meal kits might also build your cooking confidence to cook more “from scratch” and to learn about new ingredients, flavour combinations and time-saving techniques. Cooking with meal kits may even <a href="https://theconversation.com/cooking-from-meal-boxes-can-cut-household-food-waste-by-38-new-research-192760">cut household food waste</a> by providing the exact amount of ingredients needed to prepare a meal.</p> <h2>5 tips for getting the most out of meal kits</h2> <p><strong>1) Select some vegetarian options</strong></p> <p>This way you can have <a href="https://meatfreemondays.com/about/">meat-free</a> dinners during the week. Vegetarian recipes are more likely to help you meet daily vegetable intakes and to eat a wider variety of vegetables</p> <p><strong>2) Choose recipes with at least 3 different types of vegetables</strong></p> <p>Eating a range of vegetable types and colours will help maximise nutritional benefits. <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7195662/">Research</a> shows eating a variety of vegetables at dinner can increase our vegetable intakes. Exposing children to “<a href="https://theconversation.com/how-to-get-children-to-eat-a-rainbow-of-fruit-and-vegetables-97546">eating the rainbow</a>” can also increase their willingness to eat vegetables</p> <p><strong>3) Choose recipes with unfamiliar or new vegetables</strong></p> <p>Research tells us that learning to prepare and cook vegetables can increase cooking <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20399299/#:%7E:text=Households%20bought%20a%20greater%20variety,at%20least%20one%20minor%20(difference%3A">confidence</a> and skills. This can influence our willingness to buy a wider range of vegetables. Worried about fussy eaters? Add your child’s favourite cooked or raw veg to their plate (one familiar, one new)</p> <p><strong>4) Look for ways to add more vegetables</strong></p> <p>It’s OK to tweak the recipe! Adding vegetables from your fridge – maybe some lettuce on the side or chopped up carrots to a cooked sauce – to meal kit meals will help reduce household <a href="https://www.dcceew.gov.au/environment/protection/waste/food-waste">food waste</a>. You can also extend meals by adding a can of lentils or beans to mince-based meals, or frozen peas or chickpeas to a curry. This adds valuable fibre to the meal and also bulks up these recipes, giving you leftovers for the next day</p> <p><strong>5) Use less</strong></p> <p>While vegetables are important for health, it’s also important to consider the <a href="https://academic-oup-com.ezproxy-b.deakin.edu.au/heapro/article/36/3/660/5908259">salt</a>, <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31694291/">fat and energy</a> content of meal kit recipes. When using meal kits, you can <a href="https://www.heartfoundation.org.au/bundles/healthy-living-and-eating/salt-and-heart-health">use less</a> seasoning, spice mix or stock cubes and add more herbs instead.<img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/218339/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/kylie-fraser-1483094">Kylie Fraser</a>, PhD Candidate, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/deakin-university-757">Deakin University</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/alison-spence-720195">Alison Spence</a>, Senior Lecturer in Nutrition and Population Health, Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition (IPAN), <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/deakin-university-757">Deakin University</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/karen-campbell-224857">Karen Campbell</a>, Professor Population Nutrition, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/deakin-university-757">Deakin University</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/penny-love-1060241">Penny Love</a>, Senior Lecturer and Research Fellow, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/deakin-university-757">Deakin University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/meal-kits-are-booming-but-how-do-they-stack-up-nutritionally-218339">original article</a>.</em></p>

Food & Wine

Placeholder Content Image

Trying to spend less on food? Following the dietary guidelines might save you $160 a fortnight

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/emily-burch-438717">Emily Burch</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/southern-cross-university-1160">Southern Cross University</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/lauren-ball-14718">Lauren Ball</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-queensland-805">The University of Queensland</a></em></p> <p>A rise in the <a href="https://www.aph.gov.au/About_Parliament/Parliamentary_departments/Parliamentary_Library/pubs/BriefingBook47p/CostOfLiving#:%7E:text=Consumer%20Price%20Index%20over%20time,but%205.1%25%20in%20the%20second">cost of living</a> has led many households to look for ways to save money.</p> <p>New research suggests maintaining a healthy diet, in line with the <a href="https://www.eatforhealth.gov.au/guidelines/guidelines">Australian Dietary Guidelines</a>, is cheaper than an unhealthy diet and <a href="https://southwesthealthcare.com.au/wp-content/uploads/SWH-HP-Healthy-Diets-ASAP-Protocol-Warrnambool-Report-2023.pdf">could save A$160</a> off a family of four’s fortnightly shopping bill.</p> <p>Poor diet is the most common preventable risk factor contributing to chronic disease in <a href="https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(20)30752-2/fulltext">Australia</a>. So improving your diet can also be an important way to reduce the chance of developing chronic disease.</p> <h2>First, what are the dietary guidelines?</h2> <p>The guidelines provide information on the quantity and types of foods most Australians should consume to promote overall health and wellbeing.</p> <p>Recommendations include eating a wide variety of nutritious foods from the main five food groups:</p> <ul> <li>vegetables and legumes</li> <li>fruit</li> <li>grains</li> <li>lean meats and meat alternatives such as tofu, nuts and legumes</li> <li>dairy products.</li> </ul> <p>The guidelines recommend limiting our intake of foods high in saturated fat, added salt, added sugars and alcohol.</p> <h2>What are Australians eating?</h2> <p>Fewer than <a href="https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/health/health-conditions-and-risks/dietary-behaviour/latest-release">7%</a> of Australians eat sufficient vegetables, in line with the Australian Dietary Guidelines. In fact, Australians have an average healthy diet score of <a href="https://www.csiro.au/-/media/News-releases/2023/Total-Wellbeing-Diet-Health-Score/Diet-score-2023-Report_September.pdf">55 out of 100</a> – barely passing.</p> <p>Foods that aren’t part of a food group are known as “discretionary” items, which includes alcohol, cakes, biscuits, chocolate and confectionery and most takeaway foods. Because they’re typically high in kilojoules, saturated fat, sodium and added sugars, the Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend they only be eaten occasionally and in small amounts (ideally zero serves).</p> <p>For many households, discretionary items make up a big portion of their grocery shop. Australians consume an average of <a href="https://www.csiro.au/-/media/News-releases/2023/Total-Wellbeing-Diet-Health-Score/Diet-score-2023-Report_September.pdf">28 serves</a> of discretionary choices per week (equal to 28 doughnuts, 28 slices of cake, or 28 cans of soft drink or beer). This is an increase of ten serves since 2015.</p> <p>One recent <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1186/s12966-022-01389-8">study</a> estimated 55% of Australians’ total energy intake was from discretionary items.</p> <h2>What did the researchers find?</h2> <p>Researchers from the Health Promotion Team at South West Healthcare <a href="https://southwesthealthcare.com.au/wp-content/uploads/SWH-HP-Healthy-Diets-ASAP-Protocol-Warrnambool-Report-2023.pdf">recently</a> visited four local supermarkets and takeaway stores in Warrnambool, Victoria, and purchased two baskets of groceries.</p> <p>One basket met the Australian Dietary Guidelines (basket one), the other aligned with the typical dietary intake of Australians (basket two).</p> <p>They compared prices between the two and found basket one would cost approximately $167 less per fortnight for a family of four at the most affordable supermarket. That’s equal to $4,342 a year.</p> <p>Basket one was sufficient to supply a family of four for a fortnight, and aligned with the Australian Dietary Guidelines. It cost $724 and included:</p> <ol> <li>fruit and vegetables (made up 31% of the fortnightly shop)</li> <li>grains and cereals (oats, cornflakes, bread, rice, pasta, Weet-bix)</li> <li>lean meats and alternatives (mince, steak, chicken, tuna, eggs, nuts)</li> <li>milk, yoghurt and cheese</li> <li>oils and spreads (olive oil).</li> </ol> <p>Basket two reflected the current average Australian fortnightly shop for a family of four.</p> <p>In the project, the team spent over half of the fortnightly shop on processed and packaged foods, of which 21% was spent on take-away. This is based on actual dietary intake of the general population reported in the 2011-2012 <a href="https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/health/health-conditions-and-risks/australian-health-survey-nutrition-first-results-foods-and-nutrients/latest-release#:%7E:text=Food%20consumption,across%20the%20major%20food%20groups.">Australian Health Survey</a>.</p> <p>Basket two cost $891 and included:</p> <ol> <li>fruit and vegetables (made up 13% of the fortnightly shop)</li> <li>grains and cereals (oats, cornflakes, bread, rice, pasta, Weet-bix)</li> <li>lean meats and alternatives (mince, steak, chicken, tuna, eggs, nuts)</li> <li>milk, yogurt and cheese</li> <li>oils and spreads (olive oil, butter)</li> <li>drinks (soft drink, fruit juice)</li> <li>desserts and snacks (muffins, sweet biscuits, chocolate, ice cream, potato chips, muesli bars)</li> <li>processed meats (sausages, ham)</li> <li>convenience meals</li> <li>fast food (pizza, meat pie, hamburger, fish and chips)</li> <li>alcohol (beer, wine).</li> </ol> <h2>But a healthy basket is still unaffordable for many</h2> <p>While this piece of work, and other <a href="https://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/15/11/2469">research</a>, suggests a healthy diet is less expensive than an unhealthy diet, affordability is still a challenge for many families.</p> <p>The Warrnambool research found basket one (which aligned with guidelines) was still costly, requiring approximately 25% of a median household income.</p> <p>This is unaffordable for many. For a household reliant on welfare, basket one would require allocating 26%-38% of their income. This highlights how the rising cost of living crisis is affecting those already facing financial difficulties.</p> <p>Around 3.7 <a href="https://reports.foodbank.org.au/foodbank-hunger-report-2023/">million</a> Australian households did not have access to enough food to meet their basic needs at some point in the last 12 months.</p> <p>Policy action is needed from the Australian government to make recommended diets more affordable for low socioeconomic groups. This means lowering the costs of healthy foods and ensuring household incomes are sufficient.</p> <h2>What else can you do to cut your spending?</h2> <p>To help reduce food costs and support your health, reducing discretionary foods could be a good idea.</p> <p>Other ways to reduce your grocery bill and keep your food healthy and fresh include:</p> <ul> <li> <p>planning for some meatless meals each week. Pulses (beans, lentils and legumes) are nutritious and cheap (a can is <a href="https://coles.com.au/product/coles-chick-peas-420g-8075852?uztq=46abcbb7e16253b0cdc3e6c5bbe6a3f0&amp;cid=col_cpc_Generic%7cColesSupermarkets%7cPLA%7cCatchAll%7cAustralia%7cBroad&amp;s_kwcid=AL!12693!3!675842378376!!!g!326304616489!&amp;gad_source=1&amp;gclid=CjwKCAjwkY2qBhBDEiwAoQXK5SceYhU2VtKepNLXWN218GH8Cp8Vs9cnYynCBwRqQPaW3UYNX2SVIBoC_6EQAvD_BwE&amp;gclsrc=aw.ds">less than $1.50</a>. Here are some great pulse recipes to <a href="https://nomoneynotime.com.au/healthy-easy-recipes/filter/keywords--vegetarian/p2">try</a></p> </li> <li> <p>checking the specials and buy in bulk (to store or freeze) when items are cheaper</p> </li> <li> <p>making big batches of meals and freezing them. Single-serve portions can help save time for lunches at work, saving on takeaway</p> </li> <li> <p>Australian supermarkets are <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/datablog/2023/jul/27/cost-of-living-grocery-store-price-rises-cheapest-fresh-produce-australia-woolworths-coles#:%7E:text=The%20results%20showed%20independent%20and,best%20place%20for%20affordable%20groceries">almost never</a> the cheapest place for fresh produce, so shop around for farmers markets or smaller local grocery shops</p> </li> <li> <p>buying generic brands when possible, as they are <a href="https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/public-health-nutrition/article/streamlined-datagathering-techniques-to-estimate-the-price-and-affordability-of-healthy-and-unhealthy-diets-under-different-pricing-scenarios/872EA6396533166E0C6FA94C809D9CAC#r">notably cheaper</a>. Supermarkets usually <a href="https://theconversation.com/the-science-that-makes-us-spend-more-in-supermarkets-and-feel-good-while-we-do-it-23857">promote</a> the items they want you to buy at eye-level, so check the shelves above and below for cheaper alternatives.<img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/216749/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /></p> </li> </ul> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/emily-burch-438717">Emily Burch</a>, Dietitian &amp; Academic, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/southern-cross-university-1160">Southern Cross University</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/lauren-ball-14718">Lauren Ball</a>, Professor of Community Health and Wellbeing, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-queensland-805">The University of Queensland</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty </em><em>Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/trying-to-spend-less-on-food-following-the-dietary-guidelines-might-save-you-160-a-fortnight-216749">original article</a>.</em></p>

Food & Wine

Placeholder Content Image

Taste depends on nature and nurture. Here are 7 ways you can learn to enjoy foods you don’t like

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/nicholas-archer-181464">Nicholas Archer</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/csiro-1035">CSIRO</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/astrid-poelman-1481227">Astrid Poelman</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/csiro-1035">CSIRO</a></em></p> <p>You’re out for dinner with a bunch of friends, one of whom orders pizza with anchovies and olives to share, but you hate olives and anchovies! Do you pipe up with your preferred choice – Hawaiian – or stay quiet?</p> <p>This scene plays out every day around the world. Some people ferociously defend their personal tastes. But many would rather expand their palate, and not have to rock the boat the next time someone in their friend group orders pizza.</p> <p>Is it possible to train your tastebuds to enjoy foods you previously didn’t, like training a muscle at the gym?</p> <h2>What determines ‘taste’?</h2> <p>Taste is a complex system we evolved to help us navigate the environment. It helps us select foods with nutritional value and reject anything potentially harmful.</p> <p>Foods are made up of different compounds, including nutrients (such as proteins, sugars and fats) and <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2P_0HGRWgXw">aromas</a> that are detected by sensors in the mouth and nose. These sensors create the <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MZn2PMUWO-Y">flavour of food</a>. While taste is what the tastebuds on your tongue pick up, flavour is the combination of how something smells and tastes. Together with texture, appearance and sound, these senses collectively influence your food preferences.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/MZn2PMUWO-Y?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe><figcaption><span class="caption">Flavour is the overall impression you get when eating.</span></figcaption></figure> <p>Many factors influence food preferences, including age, genetics and environment. We each live in our own sensory world and no two people will have the same <a href="https://theconversation.com/curious-kids-why-do-some-people-find-some-foods-yummy-but-others-find-the-same-foods-yucky-77671">experience while eating</a>.</p> <p>Food preferences also change with age. Research has found young children have a <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24452237/">natural preference</a> for sweet and salty tastes and a dislike of bitter tastes. As they grow older their ability to like bitter foods grows.</p> <p>Emerging evidence shows bacteria in saliva can also produce enzymes that influence the taste of foods. For instance, saliva has been shown to cause the release of sulphur aromas in cauliflower. The <a href="https://www.acs.org/pressroom/presspacs/2021/acs-presspac-september-22-2021/childrens-dislike-of-cauliflower-broccoli-could-be-written-in-their-microbiome.html">more sulphur that is produced</a>, the less likely a kid is to enjoy the taste of cauliflower.</p> <h2>Nature versus nurture</h2> <p>Both genetics and the environment play a crucial role in determining food preferences. Twin studies estimate genetics have a moderate influence on food preferences (between 32% and 54%, depending on the food type) in <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S000291652305027X?via%3Dihub">children</a>, <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27385609/">adolescents</a> and <a href="https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/twin-research-and-human-genetics/article/dietary-patterns-and-heritability-of-food-choice-in-a-uk-female-twin-cohort/8507AAF01330C599BAC62BCC0EF4CF06">adults</a>.</p> <p>However, since our cultural environment and the foods we’re exposed to also shape our preferences, these <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24452237/">preferences are learned</a> to a large degree.</p> <p>A lot of this learning takes place during childhood, at home and other places we eat. This isn’t textbook learning. <a href="https://www.cabidigitallibrary.org/doi/10.1079/9780851990323.0093">It’s learning</a> by experiencing (eating), which typically leads to increased liking of the food – or by watching what others do (modelling), which can lead to both positive or negative associations.</p> <p><a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S000291652305027X?via%3Dihub">Research</a> has shown how environmental influences on food preferences change between childhood and adulthood. For children, the main factor is the home environment, which makes sense as kids are more likely to be influenced by foods prepared and eaten at home. Environmental factors influencing adults and adolescents are more varied.</p> <h2>The process of ‘acquiring’ taste</h2> <p>Coffee and beer are good examples of bitter foods people “acquire” a taste for as they grow up. The ability to overcome the dislike of these is largely due to:</p> <ul> <li> <p>the social context in which they’re consumed. For example, in many countries they may be associated with passage into adulthood.</p> </li> <li> <p>the physiological effects of the compounds they contain – caffeine in coffee and alcohol in beer. Many people find these effects desirable.</p> </li> </ul> <p>But what about acquiring a taste for foods that don’t provide such desirable feelings, but which are good for you, such as kale or fatty fish? Is it possible to gain an acceptance for these?</p> <p>Here are some strategies that can help you learn to enjoy foods you currently don’t:</p> <ol> <li> <p>eat, and keep eating. Only a small portion is needed to build a liking for a specific taste over time. It may take 10–15 attempts or more before you can say you “like” the food.</p> </li> <li> <p><a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0950329302001106">mask bitterness</a> by eating it with other foods or ingredients that contain salt or sugar. For instance, you can pair bitter rocket with a sweet salad dressing.</p> </li> <li> <p>eat it repeatedly in a positive context. That could mean eating it after playing your favourite sport or with people you like. Alternatively, you could eat it with foods you already enjoy; if it’s a specific vegetable, try pairing it with your favourite protein.</p> </li> <li> <p>eat it when you’re hungry. In a hungry state you’ll be more willing to accept a taste you might not appreciate on a full stomach.</p> </li> <li> <p>remind yourself why you want to enjoy this food. You may be changing your diet for health reasons, or because you’ve moved countries and are struggling with the local cuisine. Your reason will help motivate you.</p> </li> <li> <p>start young (if possible). It’s easier for children to learn to like new foods as their tastes are less established.</p> </li> <li> <p>remember: the more foods you like, the easier it’ll become to learn to like others.</p> </li> </ol> <p>A balanced and varied diet is essential for good health. <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0195666315003438?ref=pdf_download&amp;fr=RR-2&amp;rr=82a5fd5069821f63">Picky eating</a> can become a problem if it leads to vitamin and mineral deficiencies – especially if you’re avoiding entire food groups, such as vegetables. At the same time, eating too many tasty but energy-dense foods can increase your risk of chronic disease, including obesity.</p> <p>Understanding how your food preferences have formed, and how they can evolve, is a first step to getting on the path of healthier eating.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/215999/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/nicholas-archer-181464"><em>Nicholas Archer</em></a><em>, Research Scientist, Sensory, Flavour and Consumer Sciences, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/csiro-1035">CSIRO</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/astrid-poelman-1481227">Astrid Poelman</a>, Principal Researcher, Public Health &amp; Wellbeing Group, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/csiro-1035">CSIRO</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/taste-depends-on-nature-and-nurture-here-are-7-ways-you-can-learn-to-enjoy-foods-you-dont-like-215999">original article</a>.</em></p>

Food & Wine