Sunday, 25 November 2012

Chia seeds: The next level SUPERFOOD

  Chia (pronounced “chee-ah”) seeds are collected from a plant that originated in Central America. These seeds are high in omega-3 fatty acids. Since they are seeds and not grains, chia is also a source of protein. However, in my opinion, chia’s claim to fame is definitely their fibre content. In only one tablespoon of chia, there are 5 grams of soluble and insoluble fibre! 

  In addition to not having much of a taste, the above characteristics make chia a fabulous addition to salads, shakes and even things like pancakes. The fibre will work to control blood sugar and promote healthy digestion. Chia kicks muffins up a notch and the seeds can be mixed with water and used as an egg “replacer” in baking! 
Give chia a try!
Fun Fact: Remember Chia pets? Yep, it’s the same chia!

Sunday, 18 November 2012

The Telling on Twinkies

  The big news on the internet block this weekend has been the closure of Hostess Brands aka the manufacturer of the  proposed apocalypse-surviving Twinkie. Although Twinkie production in Canada will still be ongoing, Saputo Inc. has the right to the product, many Americans mourned their loss of the sugar-filled cake snack with plenty of memes, tumblr posts, and twitter statuses on Friday. But is it really a bad thing that these snacks are soon to be  off the shelf? 

  Let's get real here. First off, were Twinkies ever really THAT good? Yes they gave a nice hit of sugar, but did I ever, or my friends/family, truly crave a Twinkie? Did I ever browse through the shelves and grab a box because I suddenly was reminded how delectable they were? No. Sure they hit the sweet spot occasionally, but I never truly was a fan. Secondly, they are the opposite of a NANS-friendly snack. Packing 150 calories and 18 grams of sugar per Twinkie, they are devoid of any nutritional goodness. 

  With the state of many Americans health right now I don't think they should be mourning this loss, I think they should be thankful it.

- Maggie


Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Optimizing Mental Performance

Whether you’re in the thick of midterm season, or just catching your breath before you have to dive into finals, you are probably feeling overloaded—like your brain can’t possibly store one more bit of information. Optimizing focus and mental performance isn’t as huge an undertaking as it might sound. You don’t have to go to the health food store to hunt down a supplement that claims it will turn you into Einstein by using rare extracts from the rain forest. Here are a few proven suggestions that can aid with the cranium crunches:

Get your omega-3s
                I know everyone probably saw this one coming, but I have to mention it. Omega-3 fatty acids are essential, concentrated in brain tissue, important for all things neurological, and potentially neuroprotective. Plus, they have far reaching health benefits beyond brain function!

Eat your protein
                Brain enzymes, neurotransmitters, proteins and peptides all need amino acids! Bourre states “The quality of dietary proteins influences the nature and the quantities of cerebral proteins and neurotransmitters.”

Fuel your brain with sugar...
                No wait! I didn’t mean skittles! The brain requires glucose—at rest, the adult brain consumes about 20% of dietary energy. The best thing to do for your brain (and the rest of your body) is to give it a constant, regular supply of energy. That means you should eat foods with a low glycemic index, so that the sugars are released slowly. Avoid crazy spikes and dips in blood sugar.

                Physical activity improves brain function, neurogenesis (yup, making new brain cells!), and memory. Get on that treadmill!

                I won’t even go into detail for this one; we all know how well our brains work after a looooong night. Please sleep.

Works Cited:
Exercise improves memory. Philadelphia Tribune. Sep 16 2007:19-19
van Praag H. Neurogenesis and exercise: Past and future directions. Neuromolecular Medicine. 2008;10(2):128-40
Bourre JM. Effects of nutrients (in food) on the structure and function of the nervous system: Update on dietary requirements for brain. part 2 : Macronutrients. J Nutr Health Aging. 2006;10(5):386-99.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Fall Food

With fall and school in full swing, many people are finding themselves making unhealthy eating decisions. These pointers are to help you check yourself before you wreck yourself!  

  • Soups are great for you if they're not made with cream or cheese. Just watch serving sizes--we tend to eat whatever's in our bowls.
  • Stews can be hearty and fattening. Use loads of fresh vegetables, and go light on the meat and potatoes.
  • Avoid unconscious eating while watching football and the new fall TV lineup. Never bring the whole bag or bowl of anything to the couch or coffee table--pre-measure it in the kitchen beforehand. When it comes to chips, make sure they're baked, not fried.
  • For pizza, watch the toppings--they can double the calories.
  • Celebrate the fall harvest in other ways besides making pies. Apples are low in calories when they're off the tree, not in a pie.
  • If it's gotta be pie, try making pumpkin pie with artificial sweetener, egg whites and low-fat milk. And of course, just have one piece. Keep in mind that pumpkin seeds have about 300 calories per 1/4 cup.
  • Turkey is healthy, as long as you keep it lean and white.
  • Get out and enjoy the fall weather. The air is cooler, the leaves are turning and the countryside becomes more scenic. It's the perfect time to go outdoors and do something: Take walks on the beach or by the lake; go to the zoo; or ride a bike.
  • Keep in mind that once we set the clocks back, it gets darker earlier, so there are fewer outdoor options for physical activities in the evening. Make adjustments by joining a gym, planning evening walks at the mall or becoming an early riser.

-Alexander Lazier

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Benefits of Pumpkin

Many of us consider pumpkins simply an aesthetic addition to our doorsteps throughout the month of October, but did you know pumpkins have many dietary and health benefits? Below are a few reasons why pumpkin can be a healthy addition to your October evening meals (or desserts!):

ANTIOXIDANTS: Pumpkins get their orange colour from beta-carotene, which is an immune boosting and cancer fighting antioxidant. Beta-cartotene can also be converted to vitamin A, which has a leading role in our vision.

FIBRE: 1 cup of pumpkin provides 3 grams of fiber. You use fibre to lower blood sugar, lower bad cholesterol and aid in weight loss.

LOW IN CALORIES AND FAT: One cup of pumpkin is only 49 calories!

VITAMINS: Pumpkins are high in vitamins C and E, magnesium, potassium and iron.
Don’t forget to save the seeds after carving your pumpkin! Pumpkin seeds also contain many vitamins and minerals.
See below for some easy and nutritious pumpkin recipes!

Roasted Pumpkin and Pomegranate Salad with Pumpkin Seed Oil Vinaigrette:

- Sabrina 

Sunday, 14 October 2012

The Sunshine Vitamin

As the days get shorter and the weather gets colder many of us start to spend more time indoors. Vitamin D is a key nutrient that helps the body to absorb ingested calcium, which is why a deficiency plays such a strong role in bone health!  Children and adults need between 600-800 IU of Vitamin D per day to keep their teeth and bones strong. The body naturally produces vitamin D when the skin is exposed to sunlight and since many of us are stuck indoors studying for upcoming midterms, here are some foods to increase your dietary levels of the sunshine vitamin!


Along with many other health benefits, fish is a great source of Vitamin D. Eating half of a sockeye salmon fillet contains 814 IU of Vitamin D! Other great fish sources include swordfish, trout, halibut, rockfish and tuna.


Certain dairy products can be a good source of Vitamin D. Dairy products such as cheese and yogurt is pretty low, between 2-15 IU while a single scrambled egg provides 44 IU. However a cup of reduced fat, low fat and non- fat milk can provide 115-124 IU of Vitamin D. And with the holidays coming up, don’t forget that 1 cup of eggnog provides 124 IU of Vitamin D!


Soy products are often fortified with added nutrients, however not all products are created equal so make sure to check the nutritional facts! 1 cup of fortified plain soy yogurt contains 124 IU of Vitamin D while a cup of plain soymilk can offer 120 IU.


A cup of fortified orange juice or a packet of fortified instant oatmeal and can provide 259 and 157 IU respectively of vitamin D. Try to choose a breakfast cereal with at least 50 IU of Vitamin D

Mushrooms are the only vegetable considered to be naturally rich in Vitamin D. Canned and fresh varieties are both rich sources at 168 and 164 IU respectively.

NANS Social Co-ordinator

Monday, 8 October 2012

Electives Night

Hi NANSers!

I hope you had a great weekend!

Do you have some questions about course selection? Maybe you're looking for some recommendations regarding electives? NNSSA would like to invite you to our "Electives Night" tomorrow (Tuesday) at 7 pm in SCIE 1511.

You'll have the chance to learn about different classes (restricted electives and many general electives) from upper year students who have taken the courses. Here's what we'll be discussing:

- Course structure (grading, lecture style, exam style, etc...)
- Who will benefit most from this course
- Hints about how to approach this course
- What classes graduate students and professions wish they had taken to during their undergraduate degrees (and which courses they took and are glad they did!)
- What electives complement other areas of interest (e.g. business minors)
- What courses you should take to keep your "doors open" for post-graduate opportunities (e.g. graduate studies, medical school, naturopathic medicine, industry)

Everyone is welcome! If you have friends who aren't in NANS but are interested in some of the courses we will be discussing, feel free to bring them along!

Hope to see you there!


Nutritional and Nutraceutical Sciences Student Association

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Super Foods!

Lost your focus? Try enhancing your cognitive function with these SUPER FOODS!

We can all admit that as students we sometimes tend to lose focus. We need to realize that we need to stay away from junk food or any foods that are high in saturated fats, which will increase the loss of focus and fatigue. There have been certain super foods (functional foods that are high in nutritional value and their ability to help against certain diseases) that have been found to improve cognitive function.

To counteract loss of focus, try adding these foods in some of your meals or as a snack.

  1.      Walnuts – contain alpha-linoleic acid, which increases blood flow, allowing more oxygen to reach the brain.   
  2.      Olive oil – good source of monounsaturated fat
  3.      Berries – berries are extremely healthy with high levels of antioxidants, vitamins, and much more.
  4.      Sardines – contain EPA and DHA Omega 3 Fatty Acids
  5.      Coffee – in moderate amounts can improve brain function due to its antioxidants
  6.      Spinach – contains the antioxidant lutein, which has been shown to improve brain function
  7.      Dark Chocolate – contains high levels of flavonoids
  8.      Avocados – also high in monounsaturated fats
  9.      Wheat Germ – high levels of choline which helps with the production of acetylcholine (a neurotransmitter)
  10.  Beets – good source of nitrate
  11.  Garlic – counteracts some types of brain tumours
  12.   WATER – most of the time we just lose focus due to dehydration

Check out the more detailed article at the following link:

Jaspreet B. 

Monday, 24 September 2012

Team Players in the Foods We Eat

    Nature has done an amazing job of providing us with the tools to truly benefit from the foods that we eat. The argument for a whole food diet in favour of one based on supplementation is a strong one.

    The advantages of taking a vitamin C supplement, as opposed to eating some fruits and veggies, are not always equal. As an example, popping a 500 mg vitamin C tablet may not be as efficient as simply eating some sweet red pepper. In a 1/2 cup of chopped, raw red pepper, there's 142 mg of vitamin C as well as a ton of bioflavonoids. Bioflavonoids are a group of compounds found in plants. They are found in high concentrations in the pith (the spongy white stuff) under the rind of citrus fruits and in vegetables like peppers. As well as having a plethora of their own uses (such as serving as antioxidants), these bioflavonoids play a huge role in the absorption and utilization of vitamin C.

     Next time you're cutting up some peppers, consider tossing the pith in the salad too!

Nutritional & Nutraceutical Sciences
President of Nutritional and Nutraceutical Sciences Student Association
HHNS Symposium Coordinator 2012/2013

University of Guelph

Sunday, 16 September 2012

New York City made headlines the past few weeks with its official ban on supersized soft drinks at restaurants, movie theatres and the like. Locations (except for grocery and convenient stores) who violate the ban by continuing to sell these supersized drinks (>16 oz/448 mL) will face a $200 fine.

As a NANS student I applaud Mayor Michael Bloomberg in heading, and seeing through, on this ban. I firmly believe that no person needs to consume more than 2 cups (in one sitting) of ANY beverage, save for water. The fact that stores sell drinks this size to begin with has always boggled my mind. 7-11’s Big Gulp, at 28 oz/784 mL, seems insane enough, but the fact that there is a Super Gulp (38 oz) size available just rattles me. That’s almost 1.5 L! 

The negative health implications of consuming large amounts of soft drink and sugary juices are well known. In fact, many sources say that it’s these extra “liquid calories” that are truly to blame for the obesity and metabolic syndrome epidemic North America currently faces. I mean the amount of sugar in a 20 oz (590 mL) bottle of Coca-Cola is equal to 65 g or 15.5 teaspoons! 

Even Canada has our own offenders like Starbucks with their seemingly popular venti (20 oz) beverage size and Tim Horton’s with their “new and improved” extra large size (24 oz). With current statistics showing that over 60% of Canadian adults over age 18 are overweight, with 25% of total Canadian adults being obese, do you think the Canadian market could benefit from a similar ban? 

Side note: This ban does not affect diet soft drinks. What does that have to say about how the government views these “offending” drinks? Discuss with your friends and fellow NANSers!


Vice-President of Nutritional and Nutraceutical Sciences Student Association 
HHNS Undergraduate Symposium Executive Member 

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Coconut water matches sports drinks?

If you’re thinking about grabbing a bottle of Powerade or Gatorade after a workout, try drinking coconut water instead. According to a study that involved rehydrating men after a 60-minue workout, pure coconut water was just as effective as coconut water from concentrate and a sport drink containing carbohydrates and electrolytes. With sales above $450 million worldwide, coconut water is one of the fastest growing new categories in sports beverages according to New Nutrition Business. The popularity of coconut water can be attributed to having the same isotonic benefits as sports drinks, but they are a natural product with no additives of any kind, including sweeteners. They are also a great source of calcium, magnesium, and potassium. However, it should be noted that this study was funded by VitaCoco Company who sells 100% pure coconut water. Remember to always see who’s funding the study before you make your own conclusions!

Check out this article at:

From Jessica P

Friday, 2 March 2012

Feeling blue? Try these mood-boosting foods!

Even though we haven’t had the typical Canadian season filled with short, cold and snowy days, the winter months still seem to come with a change in our mood to more of an anxious, agitated, sluggish or sad state. To combat this, maybe try a natural alternative like some of these delicious food items that will make you feel better and boost your brain activity!

Mussels: Loaded with the brain protecting vitamin B12, which can keep your mind sharp as you age. Mussels also contain trace nutrients like zinc, iodine and selenium that affect your thyroid, the master mood regulator.

Swiss Chard: This green vegetable is filled with magnesium, which is essential for biochemical reactions that occur in the brain to boost energy levels and could potentially aid in depression.

Blue Potatoes: Not a common vegetable, but the blue colour is due to the amount of anthocyanins (antioxidants that are in blueberries too!) that have neuro-protective benefits including improving short-term memory and enhancing your mood.  The potato skin also contains iodine, which again, helps to regulate the thyroid.

Asparagus: Contains loads of tryptophan, which is the basis for serotonin, the primary mood-regulating neurotransmitter. Asparagus also contains folate which can help combat against depression. And for those who enjoy drinking alcohol, the enzymes found in asparagus can also act as a hangover aid and effectively break down alcohol in your system.

Check out this website for the full list of foods! 

- Kendra!

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

No more need for low-carb diets?!

New research suggets that when trying to lose weight, as long as the calories are reduced, it doesn't matter where they come from! So many people cut back on fat and especially carbs but this study says you can have both, as long as you cut back on amounts. 

Researchers put people on either: 

1)average protein, low fat, and higher carbs;

2)high protein, low fat, and higher carbs; 

3)average protein, high fat and lower carbs; or 

4)high protein, high fat and lower carbs.

The reults may surprise you. There was no difference in weight loss or fat reduction across all 4 groups.

Check out the link for more info!

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Strokes in Canada!

The occurrence of strokes in Canada is astonishing - one stroke in every 10 minutes. Ischemic strokes being the most common cause of Canadian strokes are caused by blood clots restricting blood flow to the brain. Risk factors include the usual causes of many chronic diseases like obesity, heart disease and diabetes that most of us are familiar with: smoking, high weight, high cholesterol, excess alcohol, stress, and high blood pressure. 

However, Canadians may be able to drastically reduce their risk of getting an ischemic stroke by adjusting their diets to include more magnesium. This mineral helps maintain healthy blood pressure, and regulate blood sugar. Great sources of magnesium include beans, tofu, dark leafy greens, almonds, cashews, sunflower seeds and yogurt. Eat up!

- Maggie