Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Chia Invasion

Many of us have heard about the numerous benefits of Chia seeds – from drinks to desserts, these tiny seeds have found their way into many of our diets.

From the Salvia hispanica plant, these seeds have quite a long history and many experts claim that they were used by Mayan and Aztec cultures for their power to heal.

So what’s the big deal? What makes these seeds so great for us?

In each 1 oz serving of chia seeds there are;
  • 138 calories
  • 5 grams of protein
  • 9 grams of fat
  • 10 g of fiber
  • Significant amounts of calcium and omega 3s
These seeds can be eaten whole or ground – when combined with liquid the seeds swell and form a gel, and interestingly this gel can take the place of eggs in a recipe or of the ingredient pectin in jam!

Some claims out there imply that chia seeds have impact on controlling hunger and promotion of a healthy heart but there are still some inconsistencies. For example, only 3 of 4 published clinical trials showed health benefits (including weight loss, reduced blood sugar, and decreased triglyceride levels).

These seeds can be sprinkled on pretty much anything or added to puddings, yogurts, veggie patties, and can also be ground into flour to be used in baked goods etc.

There seem to be many potential benefits of these nutrient-packed seeds, so if there’s no harm in adding them to our diet then, why not?

Monday, 3 February 2014

The History of Canada’s Food Guide

When Canada was at war in 1942, the government implemented the first version of Canada’s Food Guide known as Canada’s Official Food Rules. The government felt it should give people guidance on how to eat to stay healthy in spite of food shortages. The original purpose of nutrition advice was to prevent nutrient deficiencies.

Today many Canadians are overweight and at risk for diseases. Therefore today the food guide is designed to help people reduce their risk of chronic disease and obesity. It has also been designed strategically to make sure people consume the right amount of micronutrients, while properly balancing macronutrients. You can easily obtain your own copy of Canada’s Food Guide from Health Canada’s website. You can even develop your own personal food guide tailored specifically to the types of foods you eat more often.

Even though the newest food guide has been designed in an era where there is much more nutritional knowledge, I think the original ‘Food Rules’ can still teach us all a valuable lesson.  The rules were developed to help people know which foods to eat in order to survive, and avoid nutrient deficiency diseases. They ate for survival! Simple as that. I think much of today’s obesity epidemic could be solved if we all learned how to eat for necessity. This includes a varied, moderated, balanced diet that is adequate for health.

Special thanks to Eric for the idea of “simply eating for survival.”