Confused by all the hype out there about what foods to eat and what to avoid? You’re not alone. Take coconut oil. One minute it’s a super food and the next it’s not good for you.
Well, lets clear this one up for you.
What exactly is it about coconut oil that makes it so healthy? And which type is best?
Let’s dive into some of the fascinating research and find out.
Coconut oil is a special kind of fat
Coconut oil is fat and contains the same 9 calories per gram as other fats.
It is extracted from the “meat” of the coconut. Coconut oil is a white solid at room temperature and easily melts into a clear liquid on a hot day.
The idea of adding coconut oil to your diet is NOT to add on to what you already eat but to substitute it for some of the (possibly) less healthy fats you may be eating now.
And here’s why – Because not all calories or fats are created equal.
Coconut oil contains a unique type of fat known as “Medium Chain Triglycerides” (MCTs). In fact, 65% of the fat in coconut oil are these MCTs.
What makes MCTs unique is how your body metabolizes them. They’re easily absorbed into the bloodstream by your gut, where they go straight to the liver to be burned for fuel or converted into “ketones.”
This metabolic process, unique to MCTs, is what sets coconut oil apart from other fats.
Coconut oil MCTs may help with fat loss
Coconut oil’s MCTs have been shown to have a few different fat loss benefits.
First, it can help to increase feelings of fullness, which can lead to a natural reduction in the amount of food you eat.
Second, because of their unique metabolic route, MCTs can also increase the number of calories you burn; this happens when you compare the calories burned after eating the same amount of other fats.
In fact, a few studies show that coconut oil may increase the number of calories you burn by as much as 5%.
Third, some studies show that eating coconut oil can help reduce belly fat (a.k.a. “waist circumference”).
Just remember not to add coconut oil to your diet without reducing other fats and oils! Calories are calories and you still need a deficit if you want to lose weight.
How much coconut oil should I eat?
Many of the studies that showed increased fullness, increased metabolism, and reduced belly fat only used about 2 tablespoons per day.
Using our simple portion control methods, use one thumb sized portion per meal and see how that goes in terms of moving towards your goals.
What kind of coconut oil is the best?
There are so many coconut oil options available in grocery stores these days that it can make it difficult to know which is best.
Our recommendation would be to stay away from “refined” ones, and opt for “virgin” coconut oil. That is because it is processed at lower temperatures and avoids some of the chemical solvents used in the refining process; this helps to preserve more of the oil’s natural health-promoting antioxidants.
Pro Tip: Always (and we mean ALWAYS) avoid “hydrogenated” coconut oil. It can be a health nightmare because it contains the infamous “trans fats.”
One thing you should also consider is that each oil has a specific high temperature that you should avoid surpassing (e.g. its “smoke point”). For virgin coconut oil, that temperature is 350F. That means you can safely use it on the stovetop on a low-medium setting, as well as in most baking.
Substitute some of the fat you eat with virgin coconut oil. This could help you to lose weight and belly fat by naturally helping you to eat less, as well as slightly increasing your metabolism.
Oh, and it tastes great too!
Without doubt you’ll be aware of the negative health effects of eating too much sugar, especially “added sugars” like in fizzy drinks, sweets, baked goods, and many commercially-available cereals, just to name a few. Added sugar is hiding just about everywhere in the grocery store as you’ll already know if you did our recent “Sugar Free Me” 7 day challenge.
Ingesting too much refined sugar spikes your blood sugar and insulin and increases your risk for a whole host of issues including type II diabetes and obesity.
One of the food industry’s responses to the demand for lower-calorie foods that still satisfy our tastebuds was artificial sweeteners.
The idea behind them is that you can still get the sweetness, without the calories; like when you have a “diet drink” versus a regular one. Theoretically, this was going to help people maintain a healthy body weight, and hopefully not increase anyone’s risk of heart disease, diabetes, or obesity.
But, it doesn’t always work out the way we think it will…
Types of artificial sweeteners
Sugar substitutes fall into several categories, but what they all have in common is that they have a sweet taste and fewer calories than plain sugar.
Today we’ll specifically discuss “artificial sweeteners,” which are synthetic chemicals where a tiny bit tastes very sweet.
They’re also known as “non-nutritive sweeteners,” and include things like:
Health effects of artificial sweeteners
Negative health effects from artificial sweeteners are cited all over the place, and while many studies show effects, there are others that don’t. Cancer? Maybe yes, maybe no. Heart disease? Maybe yes, maybe no. Personally, I’d prefer not to take the risk but everyone has to make their own decision on this.
There is one ironic thing though, to do with artificial sweeteners and weight.
One study found that people who tend to drink diet drinks have double the risk of gaining weight than those who didn’t.
Another study has shown an increased risk for metabolic syndrome and diabetes for those who consume diet drinks every day.
While these results don’t apply equally to everyone, they are concerning and somewhat ironic aren’t they?
How do artificial sweeteners affect our bodies?
Now that’s a million-dollar question!
There are so many ideas out there to try to explain it, but the reality is we don’t know for sure; plus, it might play out differently in different people.
Understand that added sugar is not good for you, but the solution may not be to replace with artificial sweeteners.
I highly recommend reducing your sugar intake, so you naturally re-train your palate and start enjoying the taste of real food that isn’t overly sweet. This way you’re reducing your intake of added sugar, as well as not needing to replace it with artificial sweeteners.
Try to stick as much as possible to whole-foods and avoid processed foods. Read food labels and avoid added sugars whenever possible. Try having ½ teaspoon less of sugar in your hot morning drink. Try reducing a ¼ cup of the sugar called for in some recipes. Try diluting juice with water.
Your body will thank you!
Fed up of cooking every day? Then perhaps you like what the advocates of a raw food lifestyle suggest, that we should be eating all our food raw to get the most nutrition from it and that cooking destroys some of the goodness.
So, let’s have a bit of a closer look at the debate of raw vs. cooked.
Of course, in the grand scheme of a well-balanced, nutrient-dense, varied, whole foods diet, the cooked vs. raw debate isn’t that critical for most people because they’ll be reaching their nutrition targets anyway.
Where this can become a consideration is for vitamin and mineral deficiencies (or “insufficiencies”). These may be due to digestion or absorption issues, for instance in an older person, or where there is avoidance of certain foods (due to allergies, intolerances, or choice).
And, as you probably suspect, the answer isn’t as simple as “raw is always better” or “cooked is always better.” As with most nutrition science, it depends on several factors. Some vitamins are destroyed in cooking, while others become easier to absorb (a.k.a. more “bioavailable”).
Here’s a bit more info on vitamins and minerals in raw foods versus cooked foods.
Foods to eat raw
As a rule, water soluble nutrients, like vitamin C and the B vitamins, found mostly in fruits and vegetables, are best eaten raw.
The reason why is two-fold.
First, when these nutrients are heated, they tend to degrade; this is from any heat, be it steaming, boiling, roasting, or frying. Vitamin C and the B vitamins are a bit more “delicate” and susceptible to heat than many other nutrients.
Of course, the obvious way to combat these nutrient losses is to eat foods high vitamin C and B vitamins in their raw form (like in an awesome salad) or to cook them for as short a time as possible (like quickly steaming or blanching).
Fun fact: Raw spinach can contain three times the amount of vitamin C as cooked spinach. (Although that’s not the whole story so keep reading!)
The second reason why foods high in vitamin C and the B vitamins are best eaten raw is that they’re “water soluble.” So, guess where the vitamins go when they’re cooked in water? Yes, they’re dissolved right into the water; this is particularly true for fruits and veggies that are boiled and poached but even for foods that steamed as well.
Of course, if you’re a savvy health nut, you’ll probably keep that liquid to use in your next soup or sauce to preserve those nutrients that are left after cooking. Just don’t overheat it or you may lose what you were aiming to keep.
And the losses can be significant, sometimes as low as 15% but you can lose up to 50%.
To sum up, the water soluble vitamins like C and the B degrade with heat and some of what’s left over after they’re heated dissolves into the cooking water. So be sure to cook your fruits and veggies as little as possible and keep that cooking water to use in your next recipe.
Soaking nuts and seeds
Regarding raw nuts and seeds, it may be beneficial to soak them. Soaking nuts and seeds (for several hours at room temperature) allows some of the minerals to become “unlocked” from their chemical structure, so they’re more absorbable.
Foods to eat cooked
Cooking certain orange and red “beta-carotene rich” veggies (e.g. tomatoes, carrots, & sweet potatoes) can help make this pre-vitamin A compound more absorbable.
Fun fact: One study found that absorption of beta-carotene was 6.5 times greater in stir-fried carrots than in raw carrots!
Of course, eating your fat-soluble vitamins with a bit of fat will help you to absorb more of them, so that’s another factor to consider.
One vegetable that’s great both raw and cooked
And I’m not just saying this to get everyone to eat it any way possible (although, I would love for this to happen…unless you’re allergic, of course).
Spinach contains so many beneficial compounds that it’s really beneficial eaten both raw and cooked.
Eating raw spinach preserves the water-soluble vitamins C & the B vitamins we’ve said.
But eating spinach cooked allows the pre-vitamin A, as well as some of the minerals like iron, to be better absorbed. Not to mention how much spinach reduces in size when it’s cooked, so it’s easier to eat way more cooked spinach than raw spinach.
The old nutrition philosophy of making sure you get a lot of nutrient-dense whole foods into your diet holds true. Feel free to mix up how you eat them, whether you prefer raw or cooked just make sure you eat them.
Yes, I’m serious! (And don’t you sometimes wonder anyway?)
Lots of things change as we age including our digestive system and unfortunately for many people this particular change can lead to discomfort and sometimes life-affecting outcomes. Keeping an eye on your pooh generally will give you a heads up if there’s trouble brewing so that you can do something about it early.
Your pooh shows the health of your digestive system which can reflect your physical, and sometimes even emotional, health.
You may get constipation or have diarrhoea when you eat something that “doesn’t agree with you,” or when you’re super-nervous about something.
And what about fibre and water? If you’re not getting enough, it’ll probably show in your poop.
What about the all-important gut microbes? If they’re not happy, it’ll probably show in your pooh.
Here’s a trivia question for you:
Did you know there is an “official” standard for pooh? I mean a university-created chart! One that is used to help diagnose conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)?
Meet the Bristol Stool Scale
The Bristol Stool Scale was created at the prestigious University of Bristol in the UK back in 1997.
You can see the chart here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bristol_stool_scale
The scale breaks down type of pooh into seven different categories ranging from type 1 which is very constipated, to type 7 which is diarrhoea:
1 – Separate hard lumps (very constipated).
2 – Lumpy and sausage-like (slightly constipated).
3 – Sausage shaped with cracks in the surface (normal)
4 – Smooth, soft sausage (normal).
5 – Soft blobs with clear-cut edges (lacking fibre).
6 – Mushy consistency with ragged edges (inflammation).
7 – Liquid consistency with no solid pieces (inflammation).
Other “pooh” factors to consider
You probably guessed that the shapes described in the Bristol Stool Scale are not the only thing to consider for pooh health.
Think about how often you go. At least once per day, up to 3 times per day is pretty good. Less than one, or more than three can mean there is something going on.
What about how hard you have to try to go? You want it to be as effortless as possible.
And the colour? It should be brown from the bile that you need to break down the fats you ingest.
And if it’s green after a day of massive veggies, or red after that large glass of beet juice, you’re just fine.
But if you see an abnormal colour, like red or even black, that you can’t explain based on what you ate or drank in the last day or two, you probably want to get that checked out.
What do you do when you have “imperfect” pooh?
Well, the first thing to consider is how imperfect it is, and how often it is like that? Once in a while things aren’t going to be perfect, and that’s OK.
If you know you need to get more fibre or water, then try increasing that.
If you haven’t had enough probiotic foods, then try getting more of them such as fermented foods or start taking a probiotic supplement but make sure it’s a quality multi-strain version.
If you’re super-stressed, then try deep breathing, meditating, or having a warm bath.
Oh, and don’t forget the two most basic pieces of nutrition advice:
These are good habits for anyone and everyone, even when you have perfect pooh!
Of course, long-term issues might require a more thorough review with a qualified health care practitioner. Don’t suffer from pooh issues for too long before seeking help.
Transforming your snacking habits can transform your body!
The words “weight-loss” and “snacks” don’t often appear in the same sentence unless they conjure up thoughts of “tasteless,” “cardboard,” and “completely unsatisfying” too!
But you can snack and lose weight, in fact, if you’re going long periods between meals then it’s a good idea or your hunger signals will be firing so loudly that you’ll probably end up reaching for the nearest edible item and usually that won’t be a good thing for any weight loss plans
To be suitable snacks when you’re trying to lose weight though they have to be nutrient-dense whole foods where a little goes a long way; foods that contain protein and/or fibre.
So here’s a few ideas –
1 – Nuts
It’s true – nuts contain calories and fat, but they are NOT fattening!
Well, I’m not talking about the “honey roasted” ones, of course. Those are fattening.
Studies show that people who eat nuts tend to be healthier and leaner.
By the way, nuts also contain protein and fibre, which means a small amount can go pretty far in terms of filling you up. Not to mention the vitamins and minerals you can get from nuts.
Did you know that almonds have been shown to help with weight loss? At least 10% of the fat in them is not absorbed by the body, and almonds can also help to boost your metabolism!
Tip: Put a handful of unsalted/unsweetened nuts into a small container and throw it in your purse or bag.
2 – Fresh Fruit
As with nuts, studies show that people who tend to eat more fruit, tend to be healthier. (I’m sure you’re not too surprised!)
Yes, fresh fruit contains sugar so don’t go mad. One or two pieces a day at most, but whole fruits (I’m not talking juice or sweetened dried fruit) also contain a fair bit of water and fibre; not to mention their nutritional value with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. And fresh fruit is low in calories.
Fibre is something that not only helps to fill you up (known as the “satiety factor”) but also helps to slow the release of the fruit sugar into your bloodstream and reduce the notorious “blood sugar spike.”
Try a variety of fruit (apples, pears, berries, etc.) and pair that with a handful of nuts.
Tip: Can’t do fresh? Try frozen. Plus, they’re already chopped for you. In fact, stick some sweet grapes in the freezer and you’ve got a simple, healthy go to when you fancy chowing down on a packet of sweets.
3 – Chia seeds
Chia is not only high in fibre (I mean HIGH in fibre), but it also contains protein and omega-3 fatty acids (yes THOSE omega-3s!). As well as antioxidants, calcium, and magnesium.
How awesome are these tiny powerhouses?
They also absorb a lot of liquid, so by soaking them for a few minutes, they make a thick pudding.
Tip: Put two tablespoons in a bowl with ½ cup of nut milk and wait a few minutes. Add in some berries, chopped fruit or nuts, and/or cinnamon and enjoy! This solves any pudding cravings you might have.
4 – Boiled or poached eggs
Eggs are packed with nutrition and most of it is in the yolk.
They contain a lot of high-quality protein and a good amount of vitamins and minerals.
And recent research shows that the cholesterol in the yolks is NOT associated with high elevated cholesterol or heart disease risk.
Yup, you read that right!
Tip: Boil a bunch of eggs and keep them in your fridge for a super-quick (and nutritious) snack!
5 – Vegetables
I don’t need to tell you how great these are for you, but just maybe I need to sell you on the delicious “snackability” of these nutrition powerhouses.
Veggies contain fibre and water to help fill you up, and you don’t need me to tell you about their vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, right?
You can easily open a bag of baby carrots and/or cherry tomatoes and give them a quick rinse (they’re already bite-sized).
Tip: Use a bit of dip. Have you put almond butter on celery? How about trying out a hummus recipe?
Go ahead and try one, or more, of these healthy snacks. They’re so quick and easy to prepare and so much better for you than anything you’ll get out of a packet! They will not be “tasteless,” like “cardboard,” or “completely unsatisfying”
Makes about 2 cups
1. Put all ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth. You may need to thin it out with a bit of water, so add it 1 or 2 tablespoons at a time and blend.
Serve & enjoy!
Tip: Don’t like sesame? Use an avocado in place of the tahini, and olive oil in place of the sesame oil.
Our last blog post was all about digestive enzymes and we touched on the subject of food intolerances, so I wanted to discuss these in a bit more depth and talk about ways you can monitor and address them.
Food intolerances or “sensitivities” can affect you in so many ways.
And they’re a lot more common than most people think.
I’m not talking about anaphylaxis or immediate allergic reactions that involve an immune response. Those can be serious and life-threatening. If you have any allergies, you need to steer clear of any traces of foods you are allergic to and speak with your doctor or pharmacist about emergency medication, if necessary.
What I’m talking about, is an intolerance, meaning you do not tolerate a specific food very well and it causes immediate or chronic symptoms anywhere in the body. Symptoms can take hours or even days to show themselves. And symptoms can be located just about anywhere in the body.
This is what makes them so tricky to identify.
Symptoms of food intolerances
There are some common food intolerances that have immediate and terribly painful gastrointestinal symptoms, such as lactose intolerance or celiac disease. These can cause stomach pain, gas, bloating, and/or diarrhoea. Symptoms can start immediately after eating lactose or gluten.
On the other hand, other more insidious symptoms may not be linked to foods in an obvious way.
If your body has trouble digesting specific foods, it can affect your hormones, metabolism, or even cause inflammation and result in any of the symptoms listed above. And these can affect any (or all) parts of the body, not just your gastrointestinal system.
How to prevent these intolerances
The main thing you can do is to figure out which foods or drinks you may be reacting to and stop ingesting them.
I know, I know…this sounds so simple, and yet it can be SO HARD.
The best way to identify your food/drink triggers is to eliminate them.
Yup, get rid of those offending foods/drinks. All traces of them, for three full weeks and monitor your symptoms.
If things get better, then you need to decide whether it’s worth it to stop ingesting them, or if you want to slowly introduce them back one at a time while still looking out to see if/when symptoms return.
Start Here: Two common food intolerances
Here are two of the most common triggers of food intolerances:
This is by no means a complete list, but it’s a good place to start because lactose intolerance is thought to affect up to 65% of all people world-wide, while “non-celiac gluten sensitivity” can affect up to 13% of people.
So, if you can eliminate all traces of lactose and gluten for three weeks, it can confirm whether either, or both of these, are a source of your symptoms.
Aim to replace the dairy with nutrient-dense foods to ensure you get all the nutrients you need while you’re eliminating them from your diet.
A reliable way to monitor how you feel after eating certain foods is to track it. After every meal or snack, write down the foods you ate, and any symptoms so you can more easily spot trends. Keep a small notepad with you and jot things down as soon as possible so you don’t forget what you’ve eaten. Also make a note of how you’re feeling and any symptoms that appear and when they happen.
As mentioned earlier, symptoms may not start immediately following a meal. You may find, for example, that you wake up with a headache the morning after eating bananas.
You might be surprised what links you can find if you track your food and symptoms well!
IMPORTANT NOTE: When you eliminate something, you need to make sure it’s not hiding in other foods, or the whole point of eliminating it for a few weeks is lost. Restaurant food, packaged foods, and sauces or dressings are notorious for adding ingredients that you’d never think are there. You know that sugar hides in almost everything, but did you also know that wheat is often added to processed meats and soy sauce, and lactose can even be found in some medications or supplements?
When in doubt ask the server in a restaurant about hidden ingredients, read labels, and consider cooking from scratch.
What if it doesn’t work?
If eliminating these two common food intolerances doesn’t work, then you can go one step further to eliminate all dairy (even lactose-free) and all grains (even gluten-free) for three weeks. There are quite a few elimination diet meal plans available that will help make life easier and remember, it’s not forever… unless of course you discover you’re intolerant to something and you’d rather live without the symptoms.
Other common trigger foods are:
At a time of year when many of us have over-indulged it’s important to think about our gut-health. During this season we often eat to excess and include large quantities of foods that we would normally be much more restrictive of. The result can be a tummy that doesn’t always feel comfortable. You might suffer with bloating, flatulence or worse.
At Inspire we often talk to our members about the benefits of taking probiotic supplements and including prebiotics in their diet, but what about digestive enzyme supplements. They’re definitely not for everyone and they’re not created equal either.
So, let’s dive into a few of the common digestive enzymes, what they do, and who should NOT take them.
What are digestive enzymes?
Technically, “enzymes” are compounds that help critical biochemical reactions to happen in your body. These reactions can be anything, from making neurotransmitters like serotonin, to burning food for energy, to breaking down food we eat into smaller pieces that our guts can absorb.
Oh, and their names all end with “ase”.
As you’ve probably guessed, “digestive enzymes” are specifically those enzymes we use for digestion. They’re enzymes that our digestive system naturally makes and secretes when we eat.
It’s important to know that all the “macronutrients” we eat (carbs, protein & fat) need to be broken down into their individual (smaller) parts so that we can properly absorb and digest them. They’re just too big otherwise, and if we don’t absorb them properly, we can get symptoms of fatigue, malnutrition, digestive distress, or a host of other symptoms.
It is these individual (smaller) parts that our body amazingly rearranges and uses to create other larger molecules that our body needs.
The most common digestive enzymes you’ll see on product labels are:
Who should consider taking digestive enzymes?
In general, the most common digestive symptoms that enzymes *may* help with are bloating, cramping, and/or diarrhoea. Particularly if it happens after eating certain foods (think lactose-intolerance symptoms after eating dairy). If you often suffer with any of these symptoms it might be worth keeping a food diary for a while to see if there’s a common trigger.
One reason for these symptoms can be that food particles are not broken down properly, and the larger pieces travel further down the digestive tract to the gut microbiome where those little critters start breaking them down themselves. And this can be troublesome for some people.
A healthy gut microbiome is absolutely essential for good health but often our lifestyles throw the balance of our gut microbiota out so that the “bad” bacteria outweigh the good. Poor diet, lack of activity or sleep and antibiotics will all affect the balance of your gut bacteria.
More and more research is showing just how it can affect not only our digestion, but also our immune system, and even our mood.
What do I need to know? – Medical conditions
Of course, you should read the label of any products you take, and take them as directed, especially if they’re not specifically recommended for you by a health care practitioner who knows your history.
Here are two critical things to be aware of:
1 – Digestive enzymes that break down carbohydrates into sugars are not recommended for diabetics, or pregnant/breastfeeding women.
This is because taking them breaks down more carbohydrates into sugars than your body normally would; so, anyone at risk of blood sugar issues should take with caution.
2 – When it comes to enzymes that break down proteins into amino acids, there are a few people who should avoid them because of potential interactions. That is if you have an ulcer, or are taking blood-thinners or anti-inflammatories, or if you’re having surgery.
The reason is because the digestive enzymes that break down protein are thought to cause or worsen ulcers, as well as have the ability to “thin” the blood and prevent normal clotting.
What do I need to know? – Possible Side effects
Using digestive enzyme supplements for a prolonged period of time may well justify an appointment with a knowledgeable practitioner. There may be strategies other than daily supplementation that can serve you better.
If you find that your symptoms get worse, or even if they don’t get better, you should probably stop using them.
Allergies are also a possiblity, so if you know or suspect you’re allergic, then you should avoid them.
And, as always, keep supplements away from children.
Before considering a digestive enzyme supplement
You shouldn’t just jump to supplementing with digestive enzymes without a proper diagnosis or at least trying a few strategies first.
My first recommendation for digestive distress would be to relax more, eat slower, and chew more thoroughly. Chewing signals the release of natural digestive enzymes within the digestive tract. This helps to break down food and can put less stress on your digestive tract.
The second step would be to try eliminating certain troublesome foods from your diet (dairy & gluten, for example) and see if that helps.
While many supplements are safe products, they’re not all for everyone.
Make sure you:
Natural Medicines Database, Bromelain, Papain, Retrieved January 21, 2017 from https://naturalmedicines.therapeuticresearch.com
If you’re trying to lose weight then you should be at least glancing at the nutrition labels on the side of food packets when you go shopping to help you make healthier, more nutritious food choices but it’s not always easy to get the information you want from them. You’d think being able to see the number of calories, carbs, sodium etc. would help you eat better but there’s often a bit of manufacturing trickery going on that you should be aware of.
The Nutrition label is on the side of most packaged foods. It’s often found close to the ingredient listing.
Here’s a four-step crash course on reading the Nutrition Labels
Step 1: Serving Size
The absolute most important part of the Nutrition Facts table is to note the serving size. Here’s where manufacturers get a bit tricky. They often strategically choose the serving size to make the rest of the table look good. Small serving = small calories/fat/carbs. Sneaky huh?
All the information in the label rests on the amount chosen as the serving size. And, since every manufacturer chooses their own, it’s also often difficult to compare two products.
In the next few years there are plans to try and bring a bit more consistency in serving sizes between similar foods and also to make them more realistic about what someone might actually sit down to eat. This should make it easier to compare between similar foods.
Here’s an example – plain, unsalted walnuts from Costco.
As you can see, right under the Nutrition Facts header is the serving size. That is a ¼ cup or 30g. This means that all the numbers underneath it are based on this amount.
Stop reading now and go see how big ¼ cup is. Not very big is it? Most of us would generally eat more walnuts than that in one sitting. Just watch those serving sizes if weight loss is your goal.
Step 2: % Daily Value
The % Daily Value (%DV) is based on the recommended daily amount of each nutrient the average adult needs. Ideally but unlikely, you’ll get 100% DV for each nutrient every day. This is added up based on all of the foods and drinks you have throughout the day.
NOTE: Since children are smaller and have different nutritional needs if a type of food is intended solely for children under the age of 4, then those foods use a child’s average nutrition needs for the %DV.
The %DV is a guideline, not a rigid rule.
You don’t need to add your entire %DV up for everything you eat all day. Instead, think of anything 5% or less to be a little; and, anything 15% or more to be a lot.
NOTE: Not every nutrient has a %DV. You can see it’s missing for things like cholesterol, sugar, and protein. This is because there isn’t an agreed “official” %DV for that nutrient although some new labels will include a %DV for sugar. Keep your eyes out for that.
Step 3: Middle of the table (e.g. Calories, fat, cholesterol, sodium, potassium, carbohydrates, and protein)
Calories are pretty straight forward. Here, a ¼ cup (30 g) of walnuts has 200 calories.
Fat is bolded for a reason. That 19 g of fat (29% DV) is total fat. That includes the non-bolded items underneath it. Here, 19 g of total fat includes 1.5 g saturated fat, (19 g – 1.5 g = 17.5 g) unsaturated fat, and 0 g trans fat. (Yes, unsaturated fats including mono- and poly-unsaturated are not on the label, so you need to do a quick subtraction).
Cholesterol, sodium, and potassium are all measured in mg. Ideally, aim for around 100% of potassium and sodium each day. It’s easy to overdo sodium, especially if you grab pre-made, restaurant foods, or snacks. Keep an eye on this number if sodium can be a problem for you (e.g. if your doctor mentioned it, if you have high blood pressure or kidney problems, etc.).
Carbohydrate, like fat, is bolded because it is total carbohydrates. It includes the non-bolded items underneath it like fiber, sugar, and starch (not shown). Here, 30 g of walnuts contain 3 g of carbohydrates; that 3 g are all fiber. There is no sugar or starch. And as you can see, 3 g of fiber is 12% of your daily value for fiber.
Proteins, like calories, are pretty straight forward as well. Here, a ¼ cup (30 g) of walnuts contains 5 g of protein.
Step 4: Bottom of the table (e.g. vitamins & minerals)
The vitamins and minerals listed at the bottom of the table are also straightforward. New labels tend to also list potassium, calcium, and iron. Yes, potassium will drop from the middle of the table to the bottom, and both vitamins A & C will become optional.
Manufacturers can add other vitamins and minerals to the bottom of their Nutrition labels if they wish. You’ll notice that some foods contain a lot more vitamins and minerals than others do.
Hopefully this will be helpful information for you when you next go shopping. The best way to lose weight is to eat foods that don’t have nutrition labels on them and come in unprocessed forms but if you are buying foods that come in bags and packets the keeping an eye on the labels and serving sizes will help you manage your intake and get a balanced diet.
A deficiency in selenium can affect your thyroid and slow down your metabolism so enjoy this selenium rich pudding.
½ cup Brazil nuts
2 cups water
nut bag or several layers of cheesecloth (optional)
½ cup chia seeds
¼ cup unsweetened cacao powder
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon maple syrup
Blend Brazil nuts in water in a high-speed blender until you get smooth, creamy milk. If desired, strain it with a nut bag or several layers of cheesecloth.
Add Brazil nut milk and other ingredients into a bowl and whisk until combined. Let sit several minutes (or overnight) until desired thickness is reached.
Serve & Enjoy!
Tip: Makes a simple delicious breakfast or dessert topped with berries.