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Healthy Food Guide (Australia) - - CONTENTS -

Australia’s lead­ing nu­tri­tion ex­perts an­swer your nig­gling food and health ques­tions

Is fruc­tose fat­ten­ing? Only if you con­sume too much (like eat­ing dough­nuts by the dozen)

FRUC­TOSE FACTS

Q I’ve been see­ing low­fruc­tose prod­ucts at the su­per­mar­ket. Why should we avoid fruc­tose?

Si­mone, Edge­cli , NSW Ac­cred­ited Prac­tis­ing Di­eti­tian Glenn Card­well says:

A Like vir­tu­ally all pri­mates, hu­mans have been dining on sweet foods that con­tain fruc­tose for mil­len­nia. Clearly, we are de­signed to eat fruc­tose.

Through­out his­tory, our most com­mon and familiar sources of fruc­tose have been honey and fruit. But in re­cent times, over the past 50 years in par­tic­u­lar, cane sugar, or su­crose, has fea­tured widely in our food sup­ply. This sugar is 50 per cent fruc­tose and 50 per cent glu­cose. You may have heard that fruc­tose makes you fat. The source of this in­for­ma­tion is usu­ally based in the States, partly be­cause Amer­i­cans sweeten their foods with high-fruc­tose sug­ars. How­ever, re­views of the sci­en­tific re­search show that fruc­tose is fat­ten­ing only if you eat it in ex­cess.

For the past 30 years, Aussies’ con­sump­tion of both sugar and fruc­tose has been on the decline, ac­cord­ing to Uni­ver­sity of Syd­ney ex­perts. We’re also choos­ing diet soft drinks over sugar-sweet­ened va­ri­eties. De­spite this be­hav­iour, we’ve been gain­ing weight, so the link be­tween fruc­tose and weight gain re­mains un­con­vinc­ing.

That said, there are def­i­nitely a few folk whose health would ben­e­fit from eat­ing less sugar. I’ve seen some peo­ple buy dough­nuts by the dozen (and I bet they’re not go­ing home to a fam­ily with 10 kids!). In small amounts, sugar is pretty harm­less; I’m think­ing mar­malade on toast, the sugar we use in bak­ing or an oc­ca­sional choco­late bar.

But don’t think, for even a mo­ment, of ban­ning fruit from your diet just be­cause it con­tains fruc­tose. We di­eti­tians want you to eat two serves a day, and if you’re fit and ac­tive, even a lit­tle more.

HUNGER OR HABIT?

Q I eat well in gen­eral, but I can’t re­sist my 3pm sugar crav­ing. What can I do to fight this urge?

Jess, Brunswick, VIC Ac­cred­ited Prac­tis­ing Di­eti­tian Re­becca Lock says:

A Many of­fice work­ers find that when 3pm rolls around, their con­cen­tra­tion wanes, and their sugar and cof­fee crav­ings

kick in. This can be due to their seek­ing com­fort or be­ing bored, but sugar isn’t the an­swer.

We all have rou­tines, so if yours in­volves head­ing to the tea room ev­ery af­ter­noon for choco­late and a bit of a chat, your sugar ‘crav­ing’ is prob­a­bly more of a habit (and a wel­come chance to es­cape your desk!). The best way to fend off crav­ings for sweet foods? Start your day well from the get-go.

A healthy, bal­anced break­fast is vi­tal to help keep your en­ergy fir­ing through­out the day. Fol­low this with a whole­some lunch that in­cludes some lean pro­tein, such as tuna, chicken, tofu or egg. This will help you feel full and sta­bilise your blood sugar, min­imis­ing the af­ter­noon munchies.

Hav­ing an af­ter­noon snack is a great way to re­fuel for the rest of the day. So take that well-earned break to en­joy a nour­ish­ing bite that will give you the brain­power to work un­til quit­ting time. In fact, the best ad­vice I can give you is to keep healthy foods on hand at all times, whether you spend the day at home or in an of­fice.

Stash some of your favourite healthy snacks in your drawer or fil­ing cabi­net, and you’ll al­ways be able to grab some­thing that’s good for you at af­ter­noon tea. Some tasty op­tions in­clude: • fresh or dried fruit (which

is nat­u­rally sweet) • un­salted nut and seed mixes • re­duced-fat yo­ghurt • raisin toast spread with

cottage cheese or ri­cotta • grainy crack­ers topped with tomato and cottage cheese or sliced av­o­cado, or • a whole­grain muesli bar.

IRON WOMAN

Q My doc­tor has told me to take an iron sup­ple­ment, but it gives me stom­ach cramps that take a week to sub­side. Do you have any ad­vice?

San­dra, Padth­away, SA

HFG di­eti­tian Brooke Long­field says: Un­for­tu­nately, cer­tain iron sup­ple­ments can cause un­com­fort­able side ef­fects. Like you, some peo­ple suf­fer from stom­ach cramps, while oth­ers com­plain of nau­sea and vom­it­ing or con­sti­pa­tion. But be­fore you aban­don them al­to­gether, talk to your doc­tor about the dose, type and tim­ing of your par­tic­u­lar iron sup­ple­ment.

You may find a lower dose more tol­er­a­ble, and tak­ing the tablets over the course of the day (or on al­ter­nate days) can help as well. If con­sti­pa­tion be­comes a prob­lem, in­crease your fi­bre and flu­ids.

To pre­vent stom­ach up­set, you can take the tablets with meals, but some foods (es­pe­cially dairy prod­ucts) can slash iron ab­sorp­tion by up to 50 per cent. Tea, cof­fee and red wine can also in­hibit iron ab­sorp­tion, so avoid th­ese drinks one to two hours be­fore and af­ter tak­ing your tablet (or eat­ing iron-rich food). The best way to pump up your iron is through your diet. Your body ab­sorbs the haem iron in meat more read­ily than it does the non-haem iron in plant foods, so en­joy a wide range of iron-rich foods, such as red meat, chicken, oysters, nuts, leafy green veg­eta­bles, and whole­grain breads and ce­re­als.

Vi­ta­min C en­hances iron ab­sorp­tion, so try eat­ing cit­rus fruit with whole­grain ce­real at break­fast, and add C-rich red capsicum and broc­coli to your steak or chicken at din­ner time.

Tea and cof­fee in­hibit iron ab­sorp­tion, so avoid th­ese drinks be­fore and af­ter tak­ing your tablet

Glenn Card­well Ac­cred­ited Prac­tis­ing Di­eti­tian and award­win­ning ed­u­ca­tor in nu­tri­tion

Re­becca Lock Ac­cred­ited Prac­tis­ing Di­eti­tian at Nu­tri­tion Australia

Brooke Long­field Ac­cred­ited Prac­tis­ing Di­eti­tian at Healthy Food Guide mag­a­zine

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