Superfoods  – myth or magic?

Are you buying the superfood hype; either literally or figuratively?  These foods have been in the press for the last few years but recently new magic morsels have been added including lentils, quinoa, chills and green tea.

Its worth remembering there is no official definition of a “superfood” and the EU has banned health claims on packaging unless supported by scientific evidence.

So do certain foods deserve that badge of honour?

What makes a food ‘Super'; they often contain higher than average amounts of antioxidants or compounds that can keep the body healthy and potentially help fight some diseases.  In that respect foods like blueberries, broccoli, oily fish, beetroot juice, dark chocolate and to a lesser extent red wine all deserve praise as they have high levels of compounds like polyphenols and flavonoids

homemade chocolate bar

But so do blackberries, carrots, apples, oats, nuts, red cabbage, raspberries, flaxseeds, and most fruits and vegetables.  And importantly they are often cheaper than their ‘superfood’ cousins

The superfood debate got the attention of BBC radio Leicester, so I joined them for a discussion along with Sangita the owner of a local Leicester deli.

Click here to listen to the interview (15 minutes)


fruit-and-vegTo eat a ‘superfood’ rich diet we agreed that it should contain more fruit and veg than we currently eat.  Incidentally, did you know that only about 30% of the UK adult population get their 5-a-day.

cakesTry and reduce your level of processed foods; anything from ready meals, cured meats to pastries and cakes

Go for variety and moderation; the occasional treat is fine


Drink within safe alcohol limits (max 14 units a week) a small glass (125ml) of red wine can be beneficial

Stay hydrated with the original ‘superfood'; Water

In other words adopt a more Mediterranean diet that includes plenty of wholegrain, pulses, vegetables, fruit and olive oil and you will feel “SUPER




For Fat’s sake!

For more healthy eating advice please visit my website

IMG_6167Fat has been in the media recently; more precisely the row between Public Health England (PHE) and the National Obesity Forum (NOF) as to what foods should form part of a healthy balanced diet.  This is an important issue because more than half of all Britons are overweight or obese.

PHE believe “We are eating too many calories – if we want to tackle obesity people do need to eat fewer calories and that means less fat and less sugar.” So far so expected! But then NOF weighed in with “eating fat could help cut obesity and type 2 diabetes.” Not so expected

Where do you sit in this debate for or against fat?!

Let me tell you what I think, I’ve been working with clients for a long time and the consistent message I give to anyone seeking a healthy or healthier lifestyle is MODERATION.  It’s boring, it’s not sexy and its not headline grabbing. But, it does work.  

IMG_5896Our bodies are designed to eat a diverse range of foods, however some people for a number of reasons chose to exclude certain foods; I’m vegetarian for instance and coeliacs for medical reasons avoid gluten. But even within those constraints a healthy balance diet should be achieved and that means eating a wide variety of permitted foods, including fat.

Problems often occur within our diets when moderation and balance isn’t observed, for instance the over consumption one food type such as refined or simple carbs like potatoes, bread, pasta and rice (especially white versions) and sugars.

More than half of all Britons are overweight or obese. Photograph: Dominic Lipinski/PA

Photograph: Dominic Lipinski/PA

Does this look familiar?

Sugary cereal or white toast with jam for breakfast or grab a sausage roll  and syrupy coffee on the way to work; a biscuit or two for a mid-morning snack; a sandwich from the local deli for lunch on the go (accompanied by a packet of crisps and a chocolate bar); a piece of cake for a mid afternoon pick-me-up; homemade pasta dish with garlic bread for your evening meal followed by a little sweet treat

IMG_4640There will be elements of good nutrition within this diet; milk in the cereal and the coffee, salad in the sandwich, maybe some veggies and protein in the pasta dish.  But it is rich with refined and processed food and therefore out of balance.

And most certainly it will be oozing Fat.  Now according to NOF Fat is not the enemy and in that I agree.  However the fat in the above foods will predominately be highly refined (hydrogenated or trans fat). And that is where the problem lies.  Both sides in this row are actually saying a lot of similar things, limiting the amount of fat from highly processed foods is one of them.

I would suggest you regularly eat foods such as unsalted nuts, avocados, eggs, olive and nut oils, full fat diary, lean protein.  These are all deemed high in fat but in Moderation they should form part of a healthy balanced diet.  It’s about portion control!

Making slight adjustments to your diet now can have a big impact.  ‘One You’ , a new campaign believes that living healthily in midlife can double your chances of being healthy at 70 and beyond

What does moderation look like?

IMG_5321A portion of nuts is 28g or a small handful, an avocado a day is acceptable, 2 – 3 eggs a day is a great way to get good quality protein,  an ideal salad dressing is olive oil and balsamic vinegar, a portion of cheese is 28g, (if it’s a hard cheese grate it and it will look more!), 2 – 3 portions of oily fish a week – or lots of flaxseeds and nuts if you are veggie, a couple of squares of dark chocolate a day

Intersperse that with lots of vegetables and fruit, plenty of water, regular exercise, safe alcohol limits and no smoking and you achieve a healthy balanced diet

Talk radioIf there are folks out there who didn’t catch my chat on Talk radio a few weeks ago (there can’t be many of you surely!), then you can listen again  ‪#‎nutrition coach‬