Have you heard the controversy over calcium supplements? It’s a hot topic right now and one that might have left you feeling a little concerned. We’ll get to the heart of the issue and tell you the safest way to get your daily fill of this essential mineral. Stone fruit is at its peak in Australia and there are so many healthy reasons to load them into your shopping basket. We also have an exciting virtual supermarket tour and festive low GI cookshop you won’t want to miss. If you’re too shy to hit the gym, learn how you can do resistance exercise at home and still get the rewards. Find out how a one-on-one meeting with a dietitian can benefit you, and finally learn whether organic produce is really worth the extra cost.
Should you be Taking a Calcium Supplement?
Did you know that while adequate calcium is important for preventing bone loss, mounting evidence suggests taking additional calcium supplements could increase your risk of having a heart attack by up to 30%? (1,2,3).
Why the concern?
Research suggests that the large dose of calcium delivered to your blood through supplements – instead of the gradual release we get from eating high calcium foods – may contribute to calcium deposits in the arteries. Calcium supplementation could also affect your blood’s clotting ability and increase inflammation (4). Beyond your heart health, high calcium intakes via supplements are also thought to be linked with kidney stones and prostate cancer risk (5,6).
In February 2013, the US Preventive Services Task Force recommended postmenopausal women refrain from taking calcium and vitamin D supplements. After reviewing more than 135 studies it found little evidence that these supplements actually prevented fractures in healthy women. Moreover, the number of heart attacks and strokes potentially caused by calcium supplements would be greater than the number of fractures prevented, the taskforce concluded.
Closer to home, Osteoporosis Australia updated its statement on calcium supplements in June, recommending you obtain your calcium from food sources (either naturally high in calcium or calcium enriched). In circumstances where the RDI (see table 1) for calcium cannot be met by diet alone, Osteoporosis Australia recommends a daily supplement of just 500-600 mg of calcium. Note – this is the equivalent of taking only one Caltrate tablet!
Table 1 – Australian Recommended Dietary Intake (RDI): Calcium
Calcium: friend or foe?
What everyone seems to agree on is that there is no apparent increased heart risk from dietary calcium – that is, calcium that comes from food.
If you’re struggling to get enough daily calcium from food, why not see one of our friendly dietitians for some practical ideas? It’s also good to know there are many delicious ways to increase your calcium intake apart from dairy. Think almonds, low oxalate Asian greens (where a whopping 40-60% of the calcium contained is absorbed!), tofu or figs to name just a few.
It’s also important to incorporate other preventative strategies including: two days of weight bearing exercise each week; smoking cessation; moderation in alcohol intake if you drink; and keeping to a healthy weight. Calcium is only one part of the jigsaw puzzle for good bone health.
1. Bolland MJ et al, BMJ 2010.
2. Bolland MJ et al, BMJ 2011.
3. Li K et al, Heart 2012.
4. Reid IR et al, Maturitas 2011.
5. Favus MJ, AJCN 2011.
6. Datta M & Schwartz GG, Oncologist 2012.
"Do not spend your life daydreaming about health. Dream big, start small and live your dreams. And you will heal."
- Darina Stoyanova
Virtual Supermarket Tour – Coaching You to Read Food Labels & Understand the Fine Print
How do you determine the best food brands to buy at the supermarket? Do you spend hours ogling the options in the aisles? What levels of sugar, salt and fat should you look out for when checking labels?
Why not join us for a Virtual Supermarket Tour?
Rather than fight the crowds, we will take you through the aisles in the comfort of your chair with the help of food photography and a big screen. Learn what to look for and practise your own product comparisons.
Boost your confidence to make the best food choices available and become a supermarket sleuth.
When: Wednesday 27th November, 6:30 – 8:30 pm.
Where: Nutrition and Wellbeing Clinic, Castle Hill
This is an educational event and it’s heaps of fun so you won’t want to miss out! Find out more about our virtual supermarket tour.
Call NOW on (02) 9899 5208 to book a spot and bring your shopping partner.
What’s Fresh? – Stone Fruit
When did you last bite into a deep purple plum or a furry sun-coloured peach? If you’re a Sydneysider, the best time for salubrious stone fruits (especially peaches, nectarines, plums and cherries) is right now! Around Australia, stone fruits are in season between October and April, but peak at Sydney markets during October to November.
Peaches, nectarines, plums, apricots and cherries are all members of the prunus family, and are referred to as ‘stone fruits’ due to the large hard seed found inside them. Stone fruits are native to countries with warmer climates, as they tend to shy away from the cold.
Why are they so good? Stone fruits contain carotenoids (especially beta-carotene), which helps to boost your immune system and maintain good eyesight. Stone fruits are also loaded with Vitamin C (a powerful antioxidant), which improves your absorption of iron and destroys harmful substances that may be circulating around your body.
And both the skins and flesh of stone fruits are a good source of soluble and insoluble fibres that help keep you regular and ensure your gut bugs stay happy!
When buying stone fruits choose those with fresh colours and skin that is smooth and unblemished. They should be firm but give slightly when gentle pressure is applied. A fruity smell can be a good indication of flavour. Stone fruits should be handled with care and stored at room temperature. They should only be refrigerated once they are fully ripened as the cold can cause them to stay hard and stop them from reaching their fullest flavours.
7 ways with stone fruits:
- Slice some apricots or peaches onto your breakfast cereal.
- Make a stone fruit salad – cut ripe peaches, nectarines, plums and apricots into a bowl and serve with a low-fat yoghurt or homemade soy custard.
- Whiz your stone fruit into a smoothie; try our delicious Peach and Passionfruit Shake!
- Freeze with chopped bananas and put through a blender to make a healthy ice-cream.
- Place sliced plums and peaches on a baking dish, sprinkle with cinnamon, and bake for 15 minutes (on 180-200oC). Place into small dishes, add a dollop of natural yoghurt, toasted slivered almonds and a light drizzle of honey.
- Add apricots or peaches to your stir-fries or stews to give a sweet and sour taste.
- Brush with a small amount of olive oil and grill or BBQ for 2-3 minutes each side. Serve with a fresh garden salad.
What’s Cooking in December – Scrumptious Low-GI Dishes for the Festive Season
The festive season is just around the corner. But how will your waistline and blood sugars cope? And will you gain body fat?
Come along to our highly popular low-GI festive cookshop and learn to make delicious party food that will also support your health journey and keep your sugar readings under control.
Whether you’re planning a BBQ or a dinner party, we will show you easy ways to impress your guests while keeping on track with your health goals. From exotic but easy starter ideas to our famous smooth, dairy-free cheesecake with mixed berry sauce, you will go home inspired. This will be an evening to remember!
Don’t forget to invite your best friend.
Join us on the 10th December 6:30 – 8:30 pm and find out how to make your Christmas and New Year both fun and healthy!
Learn more about this exciting cookshop.
Food Matters with Sue Radd – Why Should You Visit a Dietitian?
Do you have a family history or risk factor for diseases like diabetes or cancer? Or do you want to sort out your food allergies or sports nutrition goals? No problem. A dietitian can help you adopt the best possible evidence-based eating pattern to lower your personal risk. Read Sue’s column and find out how a dietitian can help you eat smarter for your medical and genetic history.
Moving More - How to Do Resistance Exercises at Home
Learn three reasons why you would benefit from introducing some resistance exercise at home. Note: this is particularly beneficial if you are a middle-aged woman! Check out this 13 minute ‘how to’ video with Sue Radd’s (G’Day) mate and exercise physiologist Dr Darren Morton from the Australian CHIP Program.
Food InFocus – Organic vs. Conventional Produce
Should you be paying more to source organic fruit and vegetables? What can you expect to gain? Does regular produce still provide adequate health benefits? Watch this 4-minute TV segment with Sue Radd and get informed!
Kitchen Tip – Pressure Cooker
The Pressure is On! Once you start using a pressure cooker, you won’t want to stop!
It’s perfect for any time-poor household and can reduce your cooking time by 75%!
A modern pressure cooker is a very well sealed pot that doesn’t allow any food, fluid or steam to escape while it’s cooking. Once you seal the lid, the food (with liquid) starts to boil and steam begins to build. This ‘wet steam’ transfers heat more quickly (than dry steam) and penetrates the food; causing it to cook at a much faster rate than in a conventional pot.
Usually, the temperature of food is dependent on the boiling point of water (100oC), but in a sealed pot, temperatures can rise to 120oC, speeding up the cooking process.
What do you use it for? A pressure cooker can be used to cook soups, casseroles, and stews in just 15-20 minutes or less! It can also be a great way to significantly reduce your cooking time for legumes and grains. Just ask Sue – she has five!
How do you use it? Place your ingredients and fluid into the pressure cooker. Be careful not to add too much fluid as it can over boil; the pot should never be more than two thirds full. Seal the lid, choose your pressure of choice and switch on your hot plate to its highest heat. Once full pressure is reached (an electronic timer may sound or a pressure gauge may open and whistle as steam is released), reduce your heat to very low and this will maintain the pressure. Note: always follow the manual and instructions provided with your pressure cooker, as some cookers work differently to others.
Cost? The cost of a pressure cooker can vary anywhere between $150 and $300+. It might sound pricey but the initial expense is worth your time and the energy you can save in the long run. Cost variation depends on the volume of the pot, metals used and its level of sophistication. When choosing your volume, a 5-6 litre pot container is big enough for family meals and home cooking. When it comes to metals, choose stainless steel over aluminium – it’s a better quality metal and allows the food to cook more evenly. Also, it’s always good to check if the provider has any spare parts available or servicing if necessary. Pressure cookers are traditionally made for the stove top, but electric pressure cookers are now also available.
Safety? A lot of people steer clear of pressure cookers for fear of disaster. Although some explosions have been reported in the past, few people have been hurt, and when used appropriately, the pressure cooker is just as safe as any other kitchen gadget. Reassuringly, pressure cookers have evolved and manufacturing companies have ensured that they are much safer today than the rattling steam machine your grandmother used to have in her kitchen. When cooking, always make sure the pressure valves are working, and don’t open the lid until all the pressure inside the pot has been released.
A tip for quick release if you are in a hurry is to run cold tap water across the pressure cooker lid over the sink. Works a treat!
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Published by the Nutrition & Wellbeing Clinic, Copyright 2013.
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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