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Autumn is upon us in Australia and has brought with it an abundance of new fruits and veggies. This month we zoom in on zucchinis and tell you why you should eat more. We’ll also separate fact from fiction on high protein, low-carb diets that are being promoted for weight loss. Plus learn all there is to know about gene smart foods at our unique, upcoming anti-inflammatory cookshop; download a new app to help you source local fresh produce in the Sydney area; and clean up your wooden chopping board using a simple natural method. Read on...

The Truth about Carbs: Good or Bad?

With all the recent hype about low-carb, high-protein diets for weight loss it would be easy to believe that all carbohydrates are bad or fattening. But is this really true? And are all carbohydrates created equal?

In short: no. Carbohydrates or ‘carbs’ as they are affectionately known, are actually essential for your body. They provide the preferred fuel source for your brain, kidney and central nervous system to run on. By restricting carbs you are essentially starving yourself of your body’s premium energy source. To make matters worse, research is now suggesting that low carb diets don’t work any better in the long term for weight loss than any other diets and may in fact increase your risk of serious health problems, such as heart attack, kidney disease and even cancer.

The concern that carbs always lead to weight gain can also be misleading. Did you know that, gram for gram, carbs actually have the same energy value (calories) as protein and half that of fat? At the end of the day, weight gain occurs from an overall excess of calories that we eat, which can come from fat, protein, carbs or alcohol. It is when your energy input exceeds what you are burning up on a regular basis that weight gain can creep up on you.

Are all carbs equal?

It’s important to understand that not all carbs are equal in how they are digested and how they can affect the hormones in your body which deal with weight regulation. The truth is some types of carbs can more readily encourage you to develop the ‘middle age spread’ while others can help curb this, which is particularly important as you get older.

Everyone knows that eating large amounts of sugar and sugary foods (and drinks!) is not a smart idea. But many people are unaware that highly refined carbs, such as white bread, jasmine rice or puffed corn/rice cakes or crackers (frequently used by dieters), can be just as quickly or even more quickly digested than white sugar, leading to a rapid rise in your blood sugar levels. The result? Surges of a hormone called insulin (whose job is to regulate blood sugar levels, among other duties), which is now linked with multiple chronic diseases. In short, if you can prevent blood sugar excursions and insulin spikes on a day to day level, you can greatly reduce your risk of many killer conditions. It’s no surprise then that researchers have consistently found that a regular intake of refined grains is associated with larger waistlines, more weight gain over time and an increased risk of chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes.

On the other hand, unrefined wholegrain foods, such as heavily seeded and grainy breads, barley or long grain brown rice have been associated with health benefits over time. These wholegrains, which also tend to be lower in GI and packed in satisfying fibre, are therefore the perfect carbs to help keep you more slender and better manage risk factors like high cholesterol and sugar levels.

However, now there’s a new kid on the block that gives even wholegrains a run for their money! The latest research has uncovered that legumes can surpass the carb benefits of even low GI wholegrains – very useful news for people with diabetes!

Legumes are the best carbs

These humble but powerful plant foods don’t just deliver good amounts of protein and iron, they keep on surprising us with additional health benefits. Legumes include all dried beans, peas, lentils, chickpeas, kidney beans and lima beans.

A study conducted recently at the University of Toronto by the research group of Dr David Jenkins (who developed the GI concept 30 years ago) also found that legumes are the best source of carbs. The study of 121 type 2 diabetics, which were split into two groups – one consuming a low-GI, legume-based diet and the other group a low-GI, high-wheat fibre diet – found that the legume-based diet resulted in greater improvements in many health outcomes. While both low-GI groups experienced improvements in their health, the legume group scored far greater benefits for body weight, fasting blood sugar levels, triglycerides, total cholesterol and blood pressure.

How legumes work to keep you well

Legumes are packed full of dietary fibre and resistant starch (carbs unable to be broken down in your body by digestive enzymes, which go on to be fermented by the bugs that live in your gut to produce beneficial products). It is these types of ‘indigestible carbs’ that give so many health benefits. Both fibre and resistant starch can help reduce the blood sugar raising effect of the food you eat, which is great news for your waistline!

Soluble fibre (one type of fibre in legumes, so called because it dissolves in water and is readily fermented in your gut) has also been separately proven to help reduce your cholesterol levels.

What’s also great about legumes (as hinted above) is that they are fantastic for keeping your gut happy. When resistant starch and soluble fibre reach your intestines, they act as an ideal food source for growing healthy gut bacteria. During the process of fermentation, these bugs produce multiple fermentation products, including short chain fatty acids (SCFA), which have strong anti-cancer properties, reduce inflammation generally (they’re even good for asthma!), and protect against heart disease.

Eat your way to weight loss

Indigestible carbs are therefore not just great for your blood sugar and cholesterol management but are required if you are overweight. There is no need to starve yourself again if you’re trying to lose weight. Just learn to eat the right carbs! Enjoy plentiful amounts of deliciously cooked legumes and always feel full.

Ways to increase your legume intake

Try adding chickpeas to curries or stir-fries or add kidney beans, lentils or cannellini beans to spaghetti bolognaise or chilli con carne – you can also halve or omit the meat and save money! Or for a quick and easy Sunday night meal, add a four-bean mix to fresh salad or enjoy baked beans on toast. If you’re not sure how to cook legumes from scratch, come along to one of our monthly cookshops and we’ll show you how to easily cook these little gems from scratch to create even more delicious recipes your family is sure to love!

What about the flatulence factor?

By this stage, you may be wondering about the flatulence connection to legumes. If you do not currently eat legumes, we suggest you increase them gradually into your diet, say, over several weeks. When you add in legumes to your diet, your gut flora will adapt, and you will build a greater diversity of species that live there. Researchers believe gut flora diversity is also very important in fighting chronic disease.

How much should you eat?

The amount of carbs required each day varies from person to person. It depends on your age, gender, body size and activity levels. Introducing as little as ¼ cup of legumes at a meal will deliver benefits. If you would like to know the appropriate amount for your unique health concerns, please see one of our friendly dietitians.

Whether you are trying to better manage your diabetes, cholesterol or waistline, adding legumes to your diet can go a long way to improving your health.


“You who dare insult lentil soup, sweetest of delicacies”. Aristophanes, Greek playwright (c. 448-380 B.C).

What’s Cooking – Gene Smart Foods to Fight Inflammation & Chronic Disease

TIME magazine has named inflammation ‘The Silent Killer’. 

Because inflammation is an insidious process that affects multiple disease pathways, bringing on early sickness and death. 

The good news is that there are ways to dampen inflammation in your body to stay well.

Phytonutrients from plant foods, such as legumes and wholegrains, can talk to your genes to boost your body’s anti-inflammatory defense systems. They act as the control switch to turn off and on multiple genes that regulate the process of inflammation. Your genes don’t have to be your destiny!

Join us at this fascinating cookshop to learn more about delicious anti-inflammatory wholefoods and discover pro-inflammatory ingredients that might be hiding in your fridge or pantry. Hear about the safest cooking methods that avoid the formation of nasty inflammatory chemicals.

If you have a family history of heart attack, stroke, diabetes or cancer, your food choices now are even more important than you think!

This cookshop will open your eyes so you can better protect your whole family. 

It’s a must if you already have diabetes, arthritis, asthma, psoriasis, gout, inflammatory bowel disease, heart disease or obesity – conditions which are all fuelled by inflammation. 

Learn how small changes in your kitchen can make a big difference to your health. 

When: Tuesday, 6th May, 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm             

Learn more about our cookshops

Enjoy a delicious 4 course tasting menu and take home recipes and handouts!

Call NOW on (02) 9899 5208 to book your place.  Bring a friend and make it a date!

What’s Fresh? – Zucchini

The zucchini is a humble vegetable without much flare or fame, yet it can be very versatile in your kitchen to fill, extend and bulk up many dishes.  

Zucchinis (the Italian name) or courgettes (the French name) are actually a type of squash, believed to have originated from Italy. They have been used and loved in the Mediterranean for centuries.

The traditional ‘black’ zucchini (which looks dark green) has a smooth skin with white flesh and tiny edible seeds. It's usually harvested at 10-15 cm, as bigger zucchinis tend to become more watery and bitter. The ‘black’ zucchini is great in a stir-fry or a zucchini slice. The ‘grey’ zucchini is smaller in shape and has a light grey-green colour. It tends to have a sweeter taste and is used more for stuffing or stews.

Did you know a medium zucchini (250 g) contains only 182 kilojoules (42 calories)? It’s very low in calories because it has high water content, making it a great food extender for any weight loss plan.

Zucchinis are also a good source of vitamin C – a powerful antioxidant, which boosts your immune system and protects your body from free radical damage. In addition, zucchini’s contains small amounts of folate and potassium.

In Australia, zucchinis are in season throughout summer (November to February) and in autumn (March to May), but they are available all year round.

When choosing a zucchini, pick one with a smooth, firm and glossy skin. Try to avoid zucchini’s with a spongy texture or soft wrinkly ends as this shows that they’re dehydrated. When storing, place in a plastic bag or container and refrigerate.

If possible, go for organically grown zucchini’s as these are believed to have a richer taste and are better for the environment.

6 ways to eat your zucchini:

  • Grate raw into salads or use to make fritters or patties
  • Chop and add to stews, soups or curries
  • Slice and toss through a stir-fry
  • Bake a zucchini slice
  • BBQ or grill zucchini strips, together with some capsicum and eggplant to make a delicious vegetable side
  • Mix into healthy muffin recipes to add moisture: try Sue Radd’s ‘Carrot, Rosemary & Zucchini Muffins’

Food Matters with Sue Radd – Beets Lower Blood Pressure

Looking for a delicious and low cost way to lower your blood pressure? Or improve exercise endurance and recovery? Read Sue Radd’s article to discover why beetroot is one of the best foods to drop your pressure and how you can get more into your daily routine.

New App – The Farm Gate

Want to discover local, farm-fresh produce in NSW? Now there’s an app for that. Discover farm gate trails where you can visit and pick-your-own produce, nearby farmers markets, farm stays, and what’s in season and available right now. Get informed about your local food bowl. It’s free!

Food InFocus – How High-Protein Low-Carb Diets Can Damage Your Health

If you’re middle aged and want to focus on extending longevity, watch this TV episode with Sue Radd first before trying a high-protein, low-carb diet.

Kitchen Tip – Cleaning your Wooden Chopping Board

Chopping boards are cut and bruised on a daily basis, especially if you have a busy kitchen. While their groves and chips can give them a rustic look, being an essential piece of kitchen equipment they require some regular tender loving care.

When was the last time you took 5 minutes to care for your boards?

Even if you have a spotless kitchen, where tables and chopping boards are washed, wiped and cleaned every day, it’s still recommended you give your wooden board a spa treatment every 4-6 weeks. You’ll be surprised how much dirt and grime your chopping board can collect despite your general cleanliness.

The key ingredients are some rock salt and a lemon. The grittiness of the salt helps to remove any stains on the board and the lemon acts as a natural anti-bacterial agent.

Easy steps to give your wooden board the best spa treatment:

  1. Wipe over your board to remove any food scraps.
  2. Spread a small handful of rock salt on your board.
  3. Cut a lemon in half and rub the salt into the board, using the lemon facedown, squeezing slightly to allow the lemon juice to come out.
  4. Leave the salt and lemon juice on the board for at least 5 minutes then rinse with water.
  5. To give your board an extra special finish, allow it to dry and then treat it with a coat of nut oil, like macadamia or walnut oil. Rub the oil in with a clean dry cloth, using a circular motion.
  6. Leave it to sit for at least 20-30 minutes and your wooden board should be restored to its former glory.

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Published by the Nutrition & Wellbeing Clinic, Copyright 2014.

Suite 10, 80 Cecil Avenue, Castle Hill NSW 2154 Ph: +61 2 9899 5208 Fx: +61 2 9899 2848 www.nwbc.com.au

We are a boutique Dietitians clinic in Sydney, Australia, offering one-on-one consultations, culinary medicine cooking workshops, motivational health seminars and nutrition advisory services to businesses in the local and global area.

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