Annica Rust educates us on how simple food switches can benefit your overall health while you still enjoy your meal.
Nutrition plays an integral role in your well-being and the management of chronic diseases, such as diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, and fatty liver disease. By only making a few simple food switches to your diet, you can significantly decrease the risk for developing these chronic diseases. The added bonus is these simple food switches will also assist in the nutritional management of chronic diseases.
Making simple food switches
The following five points will assist with making healthier choices:
1. Carbohydrates & sugar
Focus on replacing refined carbohydrates with high-fibre carbohydrates and limit the intake of food items that are high in sugar.
|Eat more high-fibre carbohydrates||Eat less refined carbohydrates|
|Brown/whole grain bread or rolls||White bread or rolls|
|Brown roti/bharkhri/paratha||White roti|
|Potatoes with skin, cooked||Chips|
|Oats and whole grain cereal (Weet-Bix, All Bran)||Sugar cereal (Corn Flakes, Coco pops)|
|Fruits||Cookies and cake|
|Brown rice||White rice|
|Whole grain pasta||White pasta|
|Whole grain crackers & Provitas||White crackers|
|Plain popcorn||Potato crisps|
|Eat food in moderation||Limit food high in sugar|
|Sugar-free products||Sweets and chocolates|
|Dried fruit without added sugar||Dried fruit with added sugar|
It’s important to replace unhealthy fats (saturated- and trans fats) with healthy fats, such as monounsaturated- or polyunsaturated fats, to decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease. Use a non-stick pan with a cook and spray or little oil when frying or consider air-frying instead of deep-frying food items.
Make part of a healthy diet, but limit:
|Trans Fat and Saturated Fats
Try to avoid:
|Soft margarine with the heart health logo or margarines with added plant sterols.||Hard margarine/butter|
|Low-fat mayonnaise||Regular mayonnaise|
|Canola, Sunflower and Olive oil||Palm, Palm kernel and Coconut oil|
|Nuts and seeds||Cheese|
|Avocados||Ghee and Lard|
|Baked products like cakes or biscuits|
Choose lean meat cuts and ensure that you further cut off any visible fat from the meat. Additionally, you can also remove the skin from the chicken, before cooking. Also try and avoid crumbed protein options, such as chicken schnitzel and crumbed fish.
Try to consume at least two portions of fish per week and no more than three portions of red meat per week. Focus on having more fatty fish. For example: mackerel, salmon, trout and sardines. Legumes can be eaten regularly, however, the starch portion on the plate should be reduced if legumes are eaten.
Limit the intake of processed meat and cheeses (high in salt and fat), which includes meat that is cured, smoked, salted, fermented, or where preservatives are added (viennas, polony, russians and smoked chicken). Limit meat products high in cholesterol like shrimp and organ meat (liver, brain, sweetbreads).
Low in fat dairy products are a better choice than full-cream products as they are lower in saturated fat. Look for lower fat options in yoghurt, evaporated milk and cheese. Choose soft cheeses (cottage cheese, ricotta, feta cheese) above hard cheese (cheddar and gouda) and processed cheese.
Be mindful of what you are drinking. Full cream milk is high in saturated fat, while soft drinks are high in sugar. Alcoholic beverages are also high in fat and sugar, and should accordingly be consumed in moderation. The general recommendation is that women should only have one drink per day and men only two drinks per day. Focus on having more lite beer or wine as an alternative.
A general guideline is that 1 portion of alcohol = 125 ml wine, 330 ml beer, 45 ml spirits.
|Drink more:||Drink less:|
|Low-fat or fat-free milk||Full cream milk|
|Sugar-free soft drinks||Soft drinks with sugar|
|100% fruit juice diluted with water||100% fruit Juice|
5. Reduce your salt intake
Gradually add less salt when cooking, preparing, and or marinating food. Do not add raw salt when food is dished up; a general guide is to rather taste first, before adding any extra. A good tip is to try and avoid salt being visible on the table when eating and tasting your food.
It’s useful to rinse canned food before consumption, to reduce the salt content.
|Use the following healthier alternatives to flavour food||Use less of the following|
|Lemon juice or vinegar||Spices (chicken, BBQ or meat) or Aromat|
|Spice like curry, paprika, peppers or chilli||Soup powders and stock cubes|
|Herbs like parsley, mixed herbs or rosemary||Sauces|
|Garlic and onions||Processed food – smoked, cured, canned, fermented and processed|
|Ginger or cinnamon||Liquorice|
It’s important to remember that meals don’t always have to be perfect, however, making the healthier swap options as mentioned above and eating a wide variety of food items in a balanced manner is seen as the internationally accepted recommendation for being healthy. For individualised dietary guidelines, it remains important to consult with a dietitian.
MEET THE EXPERT
Annica Rust is a registered dietitian practicing at the Breast Care Unit in Netcare Milpark Hospital as well as in Bryanston. She assists with medical nutritional therapy for cancer prevention, treatment, survivorship and palliation. She gives individualised nutritional care to prevent or reverse nutrient deficiencies, nutrition-related side effects and malnutrition to maximise quality of life.
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