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Cost of living: if you can’t afford as much fresh produce, are canned veggies or frozen fruit just as good?

<div class="theconversation-article-body"> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/evangeline-mantzioris-153250">Evangeline Mantzioris</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-south-australia-1180"><em>University of South Australia</em></a></em></p> <p>The cost of living crisis is affecting how we spend our money. For many people, this means tightening the budget on the weekly supermarket shop.</p> <p>One victim may be fresh fruit and vegetables. Data from the <a href="https://www.abs.gov.au/media-centre/media-releases/australians-consuming-fewer-vegetables-fruit-and-less-milk#:%7E:text=Paul%20Atyeo%2C%20ABS%20health%20statistics,278%20to%20267%20to%20grams.%E2%80%9D">Australian Bureau of Statistics</a> (ABS) suggests Australians were consuming fewer fruit and vegetables in 2022–23 than the year before.</p> <p>The cost of living is likely compounding a problem that exists already – on the whole, Australians don’t eat enough fruit and vegetables. <a href="https://www.eatforhealth.gov.au/guidelines/australian-guide-healthy-eating">Australian dietary guidelines</a> recommend people aged nine and older should consume <a href="https://www.eatforhealth.gov.au/food-essentials/five-food-groups/fruit">two</a> serves of fruit and <a href="https://www.eatforhealth.gov.au/food-essentials/five-food-groups/vegetables-and-legumes-beans">five</a> serves of vegetables each day for optimal health. But in 2022 the <a href="https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/health/health-conditions-and-risks/dietary-behaviour/latest-release">ABS reported</a> only 4% of Australians met the recommendations for both fruit and vegetable consumption.</p> <p>Fruit and vegetables are crucial for a healthy, balanced diet, providing a range of <a href="https://theconversation.com/were-told-to-eat-a-rainbow-of-fruit-and-vegetables-heres-what-each-colour-does-in-our-body-191337">vitamins</a> and minerals as well as fibre.</p> <p>If you can’t afford as much fresh produce at the moment, there are other ways to ensure you still get the benefits of these food groups. You might even be able to increase your intake of fruit and vegetables.</p> <h2>Frozen</h2> <p>Fresh produce is often touted as being the most nutritious (think of the old adage “fresh is best”). But this is not necessarily true.</p> <p>Nutrients can decline in transit from the paddock to your kitchen, and while the produce is stored in your fridge. Frozen vegetables may actually be higher in some nutrients such as <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25526594/">vitamin C and E</a> as they are snap frozen very close to the time of harvest. Variations in transport and storage can affect this slightly.</p> <p><a href="https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/jf504890k">Minerals</a> such as calcium, iron and magnesium stay at similar levels in frozen produce compared to fresh.</p> <p>Another advantage to frozen vegetables and fruit is the potential to reduce food waste, as you can use only what you need at the time.</p> <p>As well as buying frozen fruit and vegetables from the supermarket, you can freeze produce yourself at home if you have an oversupply from the garden, or when produce may be cheaper.</p> <p>A <a href="https://www.growveg.com.au/guides/freezing-vegetables-and-herbs-the-garden-foodie-version/">quick blanching</a> prior to freezing can improve the safety and quality of the produce. This is when food is briefly submerged in boiling water or steamed for a short time.</p> <p>Frozen vegetables won’t be suitable for salads but can be eaten roasted or steamed and used for soups, stews, casseroles, curries, pies and quiches. Frozen fruits can be added to breakfast dishes (with cereal or youghurt) or used in cooking for fruit pies and cakes, for example.</p> <h2>Canned</h2> <p>Canned vegetables and fruit similarly often offer a cheaper alternative to fresh produce. They’re also very convenient to have on hand. The <a href="https://nchfp.uga.edu/how/can#gsc.tab=0">canning process</a> is the preservation technique, so there’s no need to add any additional preservatives, including salt.</p> <p>Due to the cooking process, levels of heat-sensitive nutrients <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/jsfa.2825">such as vitamin C</a> will decline a little compared to fresh produce. When you’re using canned vegetables in a hot dish, you can add them later in the cooking process to reduce the amount of nutrient loss.</p> <p>To minimise waste, you can freeze the portion you don’t need.</p> <h2>Fermented</h2> <p><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6723656/">Fermentation</a> has recently come into fashion, but it’s actually one of the oldest food processing and preservation techniques.</p> <p>Fermentation largely retains the vitamins and minerals in fresh vegetables. But fermentation may also enhance the food’s nutritional profile by creating new nutrients and allowing existing ones to be <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9352655/">absorbed more easily</a>.</p> <p>Further, fermented foods contain probiotics, which are beneficial for our <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC10051273/">gut microbiome</a>.</p> <h2>5 other tips to get your fresh fix</h2> <p>Although alternatives to fresh such as canned or frozen fruit and vegetables are good substitutes, if you’re looking to get more fresh produce into your diet on a tight budget, here are some things you can do.</p> <p><strong>1. Buy in season</strong></p> <p>Based on supply and demand principles, buying local seasonal vegetables and fruit will always be cheaper than those that are imported out of season from other countries.</p> <p><strong>2. Don’t shun the ugly fruit and vegetables</strong></p> <p>Most supermarkets now sell “ugly” fruit and vegetables, that are not physically perfect in some way. This does not affect the levels of nutrients in them at all, or their taste.</p> <p><strong>3. Reduce waste</strong></p> <p>On average, an Australian household throws out <a href="https://www.ozharvest.org/food-waste-facts/">A$2,000–$2,500</a> worth of food every year. Fruit, vegetables and bagged salad are the <a href="https://www.ozharvest.org/food-waste-facts/">three of the top five foods</a> thrown out in our homes. So properly managing fresh produce could help you save money (and benefit <a href="https://endfoodwaste.com.au/why-end-food-waste/">the environment</a>).</p> <p>To minimise waste, plan your meals and shopping ahead of time. And if you don’t think you’re going to get to eat the fruit and vegetables you have before they go off, freeze them.</p> <p><strong>4. Swap and share</strong></p> <p>There are many websites and apps which offer the opportunity to swap or even pick up free fresh produce if people have more than they need. Some <a href="https://www.charlessturt.sa.gov.au/environment/sustainable-lifestyles/community-fruit-and-vege-swaps">local councils are also encouraging</a> swaps on their websites, so dig around and see what you can find in your local area.</p> <p><strong>5. Gardening</strong></p> <p>Regardless of how small your garden is you can always <a href="https://www.gardeningaustraliamag.com.au/best-vegies-grow-pots/">plant produce in pots</a>. Herbs, rocket, cherry tomatoes, chillies and strawberries all grow well. In the long run, these will offset some of your cost on fresh produce.</p> <p>Plus, when you have put the effort in to grow your own produce, <a href="https://mdpi-res.com/sustainability/sustainability-07-02695/article_deploy/sustainability-07-02695.pdf?version=1425549154">you are less likely to waste it</a>.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/229724/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/evangeline-mantzioris-153250"><em>Evangeline Mantzioris</em></a><em>, Program Director of Nutrition and Food Sciences, Accredited Practising Dietitian, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-south-australia-1180">University of South Australia</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/cost-of-living-if-you-cant-afford-as-much-fresh-produce-are-canned-veggies-or-frozen-fruit-just-as-good-229724">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

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Why a cold beer is best – chemically speaking

<p>A quiet moment in a bar has led two researchers to study how alcohol tastes at different temperatures. No, this is real science.</p> <div class="copy"> <p>“Two years ago, Xiaotao Yang and I were drinking beer together. He had just finished his doctorate degree thesis and asked me, ‘what should we do next?’” says Lei Jiang, lead author of a new study <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.matt.2024.03.017" target="_blank" rel="noopener">published</a> in the materials science journal <em>Matter</em>.</p> <p>Yang and Jiang are material scientists at the Chinese Academy of Sciences.</p> <p>“At the time, I was a scientific committee member of one of the biggest Chinese alcoholic beverage companies, and I had the idea to ask the question ‘why does Chinese baijiu have a very particular concentration of alcohol, either 38%–42%, 52%–53%, or 68%–75%?’”</p> <p>Baijiu is a clear grain liquor from East Asia. It’s typically distilled from fermented sorghum (a type of grass), though it is also sometimes made from rice, wheat, barley or millet.</p> <p>“Then we decided, let’s try something, so I put a drop of beer on my hand to see the contact angle,” says Jiang.</p> <p>Contact angle is a measure of surface tension. For example, water has a low contact angle which is why it appears bead-like when placed on a surface. Solutions with high <a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/health/body-and-mind/debunks-vices-alcohol/">alcohol</a> concentration, however, have a higher contact angle meaning they flatten and spread out.</p> <p>Contact angle also reveals how molecules within the droplet interact with each other and the surface below.</p> <p>After plotting the concentration of ethanol (alcohol) against contact angle, the scientists were surprised with what they found. There is no linear relationship between alcohol concentration and contact angle.</p> <p>Instead, increasing the amount of alcohol leads to a series of plateaus and sharp rises in the plot. Further experiments showed that this arises out of the formation of clusters of ethanol and water in the solutions.</p> <p>At low concentrations, ethanol forms pyramid-like structures around the water molecules. At high concentrations, the ethanol molecules arrange end-to-end in a chain.</p> <p>They also found that these structures change depending on temperature.</p> <p>For example, 38%–42% and 52%–53% ethanol solutions have distinct cluster structures at around room temperature, but this difference disappears at higher temperatures, like 40°C.</p> <p>“Although there is only 1% difference, the taste of baijiu at 51% and 52% is noticeably different; the taste of baijiu at 51% is similar to that of lower alcohol content, such as 38%–42%. So, in order to achieve the same taste at a lower alcohol content, the distribution of baijiu products ranges most within the 38%–42% and 52%–53% categories,” says Jiang.</p> <p>The researchers also found that there is an increase in ethanol chains at 5°C in 5% and 11% ethanol solutions – the concentration range of beer – giving it a more “ethanol-like” taste which is generally preferred.</p> <p>“At low temperature, the tetrahedral (pyramid-shaped) clusters become the low concentration amount, and this is why we drink cold beer,” says Jiang.</p> <p>The researchers say their research could help beverage companies produce the best flavour with the lowest alcohol concentration.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock </em></p> <div> <p align="center"><noscript data-spai="1"><em><img decoding="async" fetchpriority="high" class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-198773" src="https://cdn.shortpixel.ai/spai/q_lossy+ret_img+to_auto/cosmosmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/11/Cosmos-Catch-Up-embed_728x150-1.jpg" data-spai-egr="1" alt="Sign up to our weekly newsletter" width="600" height="154" title="why a cold beer is best – chemically speaking 2"></em></noscript></p> </div> <p><em><!-- Start of tracking content syndication. Please do not remove this section as it allows us to keep track of republished articles --> <img id="cosmos-post-tracker" style="opacity: 0; height: 1px!important; width: 1px!important; border: 0!important; position: absolute!important; z-index: -1!important;" src="https://syndication.cosmosmagazine.com/?id=303282&amp;title=Why+a+cold+beer+is+best+%E2%80%93+chemically+speaking" width="1" height="1" loading="lazy" aria-label="Syndication Tracker" data-spai-target="src" data-spai-orig="" data-spai-exclude="nocdn" /> <!-- End of tracking content syndication --></em></div> <div id="contributors"> <p><em><a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/science/chemistry/beer-taste-temperature/">This article</a> was originally published on <a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com">Cosmos Magazine</a> and was written by <a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/contributor/evrim-yazgin/">Evrim Yazgin</a>. </em></p> </div>

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I can’t afford olive oil. What else can I use?

<div class="theconversation-article-body"> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/lauren-ball-14718">Lauren Ball</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-queensland-805">The University of Queensland</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/emily-burch-438717">Emily Burch</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/southern-cross-university-1160">Southern Cross University</a></em></p> <p>If you buy your olive oil in bulk, you’ve likely been in for a shock in recent weeks. Major supermarkets have been selling olive oil for up to A$65 for a four-litre tin, and up to $26 for a 750 millilitre bottle.</p> <p>We’ve been hearing about the health benefits of olive oil for years. And many of us are adding it to salads, or baking and frying with it.</p> <p>But during a cost-of-living crisis, these high prices can put olive oil out of reach.</p> <p>Let’s take a look at why olive oil is in demand, why it’s so expensive right now, and what to do until prices come down.</p> <h2>Remind me, why is olive oil so good for you?</h2> <p>Including olive oil in your diet can reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes and improve heart health through more favourable <a href="https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/12/6/1548">blood pressure</a>, <a href="https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/7/9/5356">inflammation</a> and <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0939475319302662">cholesterol levels</a>.</p> <p>This is largely because olive oil is high in <a href="https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/4/12/1989">monounsaturated fatty acids</a> and <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8300823/">polyphenols</a> (antioxidants).</p> <p>Some researchers have suggested you can get these benefits from consuming up to <a href="https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fnut.2022.1041203/full">20 grams a day</a>. That’s equivalent to about five teaspoons of olive oil.</p> <h2>Why is olive oil so expensive right now?</h2> <p>A European heatwave and drought have <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/rural/2024-04-27/olive-oil-alternatives-what-you-can-use-in-cooking/103761718">limited</a> Spanish and Italian producers’ ability to supply olive oil to international markets, including Australia.</p> <p>This has been coupled with an unusually cold and short growing season for Australian <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/rural/2023-08-02/record-olive-oil-price-set-to-increase-again/102675452">olive oil suppliers</a>.</p> <p>The lower-than-usual production and supply of olive oil, together with heightened demand from shoppers, means prices have gone up.</p> <h2>How can I make my olive oil go further?</h2> <p>Many households buy olive oil in large quantities because it is cheaper per litre. So, if you have some still in stock, you can make it go further by:</p> <ul> <li> <p><strong>storing it correctly</strong> – make sure the lid is on tightly and it’s kept in a cool, dark place, such as a pantry or cabinet. If stored this way, olive oil can typically last <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6218649/">12–18 months</a></p> </li> <li> <p><strong>using a spray</strong> – sprays distribute oil more evenly than pourers, using less olive oil overall. You could buy a spray bottle to fill from a large tin, as needed</p> </li> <li> <p><strong>straining or freezing it</strong> – if you have leftover olive oil after frying, strain it and reuse it for other fried dishes. You could also freeze this used oil in an airtight container, then thaw and fry with it later, without affecting the oil’s <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00217-022-04078-9">taste and other characteristics</a>. But for dressings, only use fresh oil.</p> </li> </ul> <h2>I’ve run out of olive oil. What else can I use?</h2> <p>Here are some healthy and cheaper alternatives to olive oil:</p> <ul> <li> <p><strong>canola oil</strong> is a good alternative for frying. It’s relatively <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/agricultural-and-biological-sciences/canola-oil">low</a> in saturated fat so is generally considered healthy. Like olive oil, it is high in <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23731447/">healthy monounsaturated fats</a>. Cost? Up to $6 for a 750mL bottle (home brand is about half the price)</p> </li> <li> <p><strong>sunflower oil</strong> is a great alternative to use on salads or for frying. It has a mild flavour that does not overwhelm other ingredients. Some <a href="https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/british-journal-of-nutrition/article/conjugated-linoleic-acid-versus-higholeic-acid-sunflower-oil-effects-on-energy-metabolism-glucose-tolerance-blood-lipids-appetite-and-body-composition-in-regularly-exercising-individuals/6C035B5C6E9FD7C9D6D7F806ADA56983">studies</a> suggest using sunflower oil may help reduce your risk of heart disease by lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol and raising HDL (good) cholesterol. Cost? Up to $6.50 for a 750mL bottle (again, home brand is about half the price)</p> </li> <li> <p><strong>sesame oil</strong> has a nutty flavour. It’s good for Asian dressings, and frying. Light sesame oil is typically used as a neutral cooking oil, while the toasted type is used to flavour sauces. Sesame oil is <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ptr.6428">high in</a> antioxidants and has some anti-inflammatory properties. Sesame oil is generally sold in smaller bottles than canola or sunflower oil. Cost? Up to $5 for a 150mL bottle.</p> </li> </ul> <h2>How can I use less oil, generally?</h2> <p>Using less oil in your cooking could keep your meals healthy. Here are some alternatives and cooking techniques:</p> <ul> <li> <p><strong>use alternatives for baking</strong> – unless you are making an olive oil cake, if your recipe calls for a large quantity of oil, try using an alternative such as apple sauce, Greek yoghurt or mashed banana</p> </li> <li> <p><strong>use non-stick cookware</strong> – using high-quality, non-stick pots and pans reduces the need for oil when cooking, or means you don’t need oil at all</p> </li> <li> <p><strong>steam instead</strong> – steam vegetables, fish and poultry to retain nutrients and moisture without adding oil</p> </li> <li> <p><strong>bake or roast</strong> – potatoes, vegetables or chicken can be baked or roasted rather than fried. You can still achieve crispy textures without needing excessive oil</p> </li> <li> <p><strong>grill</strong> – the natural fats in meat and vegetables can help keep ingredients moist, without using oil</p> </li> <li> <p><strong>use stock</strong> – instead of sautéing vegetables in oil, try using vegetable broth or stock to add flavour</p> </li> <li> <p><strong>try vinegar or citrus</strong> – use vinegar or citrus juice (such as lemon or lime) to add flavour to salads, marinades and sauces without relying on oil</p> </li> <li> <p><strong>use natural moisture</strong> – use the natural moisture in ingredients such as tomatoes, onions and mushrooms to cook dishes without adding extra oil. They release moisture as they cook, helping to prevent sticking.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/228788/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> </li> </ul> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/lauren-ball-14718">Lauren Ball</a>, Professor of Community Health and Wellbeing, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-queensland-805">The University of Queensland</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/emily-burch-438717">Emily Burch</a>, Accredited Practising Dietitian and Lecturer, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/southern-cross-university-1160">Southern Cross University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/i-cant-afford-olive-oil-what-else-can-i-use-228788">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

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Culinary legend closing famous restaurant

<p>Australian chef and TV presenter Kylie Kwong is closing the doors of her famous restaurant after three years. </p> <p>The Sydney-based chef has been in the culinary industry for 30 years and is known for her unique blend of Cantonese cuisine and native Australian ingredients.</p> <p>Her restaurant, Lucky Kwong in South Eveleigh, will close on June 26, a tough decision that she had to make amid the high costs of running a business. </p> <p>“Everyone is feeling it. I have never seen the restaurant industry in such tough times as it is right now,” she told the <em>Sydney Morning Herald</em>. </p> <p>Despite this, Kwong said she was lucky to have been in the hospitality industry and that she plans to "relax and reflect" during her break from the restaurant business. </p> <p>"For all the many challenges that come with being in the hospitality industry, I consider myself fortunate for I have had far more positive experiences than negative," she said.</p> <p>Kwong opened her restaurant in 2021, after she shut the doors on her previous Sydney venue, Billy Kwong in 2019.</p> <p>She said that she also planned to further her work with charities focused on First Nations and multicultural communities, as she looks for more opportunities to  “amplify other people’s stories”. </p> <p>“I’ll still be very much connected to the food industry, but just I’ll be doing it in a different way,”  she told the<em> ABC</em>. </p> <p>She also announced that she's "hanging up my restaurateur hat" on <a href="https://www.instagram.com/p/C7KkTNgSXw9/?img_index=1" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Instagram</a>, and thanked everyone who has supported her throughout this journey. </p> <p>Celebrity chefs, Nigella Lawson and Darren Robertson shared their well-wishes on her post. </p> <p>“I feel a pang knowing that the next time I come back to Sydney there won’t be your restaurant to make a beeline for, but I’m so happy for you to have the time to do what’s right for you,” Lawson said.</p> <p>Robertson said he had massive respect for her contribution to Australian food and added: “Now try and get some bloody rest before your next adventures!" </p> <p><em>Image: Instagram</em></p>

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Not all ultra-processed foods are bad for your health, whatever you might have heard

<div class="theconversation-article-body"> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/gary-sacks-3957">Gary Sacks</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/deakin-university-757">Deakin University</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/kathryn-backholer-10739">Kathryn Backholer</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/deakin-university-757">Deakin University</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/kathryn-bradbury-1532662">Kathryn Bradbury</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-auckland-waipapa-taumata-rau-1305">University of Auckland, Waipapa Taumata Rau</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/sally-mackay-1532685">Sally Mackay</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-auckland-waipapa-taumata-rau-1305">University of Auckland, Waipapa Taumata Rau</a></em></p> <p>In recent years, there’s been <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC11036430/">increasing</a> <a href="https://theconversation.com/ultra-processed-foods-heres-what-the-evidence-actually-says-about-them-220255#:%7E:text=Hype%20around%20ultra%2Dprocessed%20food,or%20worry%20about%20their%20health.">hype</a> about the potential health risks associated with so-called “ultra-processed” foods.</p> <p>But new evidence published <a href="https://www.bmj.com/content/385/bmj-2023-078476">this week</a> found not all “ultra-processed” foods are linked to poor health. That includes the mass-produced wholegrain bread you buy from the supermarket.</p> <p>While this newly published research and associated <a href="https://www.bmj.com/content/385/bmj.q793">editorial</a> are unlikely to end the wrangling about how best to define unhealthy foods and diets, it’s critical those debates don’t delay the implementation of policies that are likely to actually improve our diets.</p> <h2>What are ultra-processed foods?</h2> <p><a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30744710/">Ultra-processed foods</a> are industrially produced using a variety of processing techniques. They typically include ingredients that can’t be found in a home kitchen, such as preservatives, emulsifiers, sweeteners and/or artificial colours.</p> <p>Common examples of ultra-processed foods include packaged chips, flavoured yoghurts, soft drinks, sausages and mass-produced packaged wholegrain bread.</p> <p>In <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7719194/#CR13">many other countries</a>, ultra-processed foods make up a large proportion of what people eat. A <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31676952/">recent study</a> estimated they make up an average of 42% of total energy intake in Australia.</p> <h2>How do ultra-processed foods affect our health?</h2> <p>Previous <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33167080/">studies</a> have linked increased consumption of ultra-processed food with poorer health. High consumption of ultra-processed food, for example, has been associated with a <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/38418082/">higher risk</a> of type 2 diabetes, and death from heart disease and stroke.</p> <p>Ultra-processed foods are typically high in energy, added sugars, salt and/or unhealthy fats. These have long been <a href="https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/healthy-diet">recognised</a> as risk factors for a range of diseases.</p> <p>It has also been suggested that structural changes that happen to ultra-processed foods as part of the manufacturing process <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31105044/">may</a> lead you to eat more than you should. Potential explanations are that, due to the way they’re made, the foods are quicker to eat and more palatable.</p> <p>It’s also <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35952706/">possible</a> certain food additives may impair normal body functions, such as the way our cells reproduce.</p> <h2>Is it harmful? It depends on the food’s nutrients</h2> <p>The <a href="https://www.bmj.com/content/385/bmj-2023-078476">new paper</a> just published used 30 years of data from two large US cohort studies to evaluate the relationship between ultra-processed food consumption and long-term health. The study tried to disentangle the effects of the manufacturing process itself from the nutrient profile of foods.</p> <p>The study found a small increase in the risk of early death with higher ultra-processed food consumption.</p> <p>But importantly, the authors also looked at diet quality. They found that for people who had high quality diets (high in fruit, vegetables, wholegrains, as well as healthy fats, and low in sugary drinks, salt, and red and processed meat), there was no clear association between the amount of ultra-processed food they ate and risk of premature death.</p> <p>This suggests overall diet quality has a stronger influence on long-term health than ultra-processed food consumption.</p> <p>When the researchers analysed ultra-processed foods by sub-category, mass-produced wholegrain products, such as supermarket wholegrain breads and wholegrain breakfast cereals, were not associated with poorer health.</p> <p>This finding matches another recent <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/38417577/">study</a> that suggests ultra-processed wholegrain foods are not a driver of poor health.</p> <p>The authors concluded, while there was some support for limiting consumption of certain types of ultra-processed food for long-term health, not all ultra-processed food products should be universally restricted.</p> <h2>Should dietary guidelines advise against ultra-processed foods?</h2> <p>Existing national <a href="https://www.eatforhealth.gov.au/sites/default/files/2022-09/n55_australian_dietary_guidelines.pdf">dietary</a> <a href="https://www.health.govt.nz/system/files/documents/publications/eating-activity-guidelines-new-zealand-adults-updated-2020-oct22.pdf">guidelines</a> have been developed and refined based on decades of nutrition evidence.</p> <p>Much of the recent evidence related to ultra-processed foods tells us what we already knew: that products like soft drinks, alcohol and processed meats are bad for health.</p> <p>Dietary guidelines <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35184508/">generally</a> already advise to eat mostly whole foods and to limit consumption of highly processed foods that are high in refined grains, saturated fat, sugar and salt.</p> <p>But some nutrition researchers have <a href="https://www.bmj.com/content/384/bmj.q439">called</a> for dietary guidelines to be amended to recommend avoiding ultra-processed foods.</p> <p>Based on the available evidence, it would be difficult to justify adding a sweeping statement about avoiding all ultra-processed foods.</p> <p>Advice to avoid all ultra-processed foods would likely unfairly impact people on low-incomes, as many ultra-processed foods, such as supermarket breads, are relatively affordable and convenient.</p> <p>Wholegrain breads also provide important nutrients, such as fibre. In many countries, bread is the <a href="https://www.health.govt.nz/system/files/documents/publications/a-focus-on-nutrition-ch3_0.pdf">biggest contributor</a> to fibre intake. So it would be problematic to recommend avoiding supermarket wholegrain bread just because it’s ultra-processed.</p> <h2>So how can we improve our diets?</h2> <p>There is strong <a href="https://www.foodpolicyindex.org.au/_files/ugd/7ee332_a2fa1694e42f423195caf581044fccf1.pdf">consensus</a> on the need to implement evidence-based policies to improve population diets. This includes legislation to restrict children’s exposure to the marketing of unhealthy foods and brands, mandatory Health Star Rating nutrition labelling and taxes on sugary drinks.</p> <p>These policies are underpinned by <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/37659696/">well-established systems</a> for classifying the healthiness of foods. If new evidence unfolds about mechanisms by which ultra-processed foods drive health harms, these classification systems can be updated to reflect such evidence. If specific additives are found to be harmful to health, for example, this evidence can be incorporated into existing nutrient profiling systems, such as the <a href="http://www.healthstarrating.gov.au/internet/healthstarrating/publishing.nsf/content/home">Health Star Rating</a> food labelling scheme.</p> <p>Accordingly, policymakers can confidently progress food policy implementation using the tools for classifying the healthiness of foods that we already have.</p> <p>Unhealthy diets and obesity are among the <a href="https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/burden-of-disease/burden-of-disease-study-2018-key-findings/contents/key-findings">largest contributors</a> to poor health. We can’t let the hype and academic debate around “ultra-processed” foods delay implementation of globally recommended policies for improving population diets.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/229493/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/gary-sacks-3957">Gary Sacks</a>, Professor of Public Health Policy, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/deakin-university-757">Deakin University</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/kathryn-backholer-10739">Kathryn Backholer</a>, Co-Director, Global Centre for Preventive Health and Nutrition, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/deakin-university-757">Deakin University</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/kathryn-bradbury-1532662">Kathryn Bradbury</a>, Senior Research Fellow in the School of Population Health, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-auckland-waipapa-taumata-rau-1305">University of Auckland, Waipapa Taumata Rau</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/sally-mackay-1532685">Sally Mackay</a>, Senior Lecturer Epidemiology and Biostatistics, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-auckland-waipapa-taumata-rau-1305">University of Auckland, Waipapa Taumata Rau</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/not-all-ultra-processed-foods-are-bad-for-your-health-whatever-you-might-have-heard-229493">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

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A tax on sugary drinks can make us healthier. It’s time for Australia to introduce one

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/peter-breadon-1348098">Peter Breadon</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/grattan-institute-1168">Grattan Institute</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/jessica-geraghty-1530733">Jessica Geraghty</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/grattan-institute-1168"><em>Grattan Institute</em></a></em></p> <p>Sugary drinks cause weight gain and <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41574-021-00627-6">increase the risk</a> of a range of diseases, including diabetes.</p> <p>The <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamanetworkopen/fullarticle/2792842">evidence shows</a> that well-designed taxes can reduce sugary drink sales, cause people to choose healthier options and get manufacturers to reduce the sugar in their drinks. And although these taxes haven’t been around long, there are already signs that they are making people healthier.</p> <p>It’s time for Australia to catch up to the rest of the world and introduce a tax on sugary drinks. As our new Grattan Institute <a href="https://grattan.edu.au/report/sickly-sweet/">report</a> shows, doing so could mean the average Australian drinks almost 700 grams less sugar each year.</p> <h2>Sugary drinks are making us sick</h2> <p>The share of adults in Australia who are obese has tripled since 1980, from <a href="https://theconversation.com/mapping-australias-collective-weight-gain-7816">10%</a> to more than <a href="https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/health/health-conditions-and-risks/waist-circumference-and-bmi/latest-release">30%</a>, and diabetes is our <a href="https://www.diabetesaustralia.com.au/about-diabetes/diabetes-in-australia/">fastest-growing</a> chronic condition. The costs for the health system and economy are measured in the billions of dollars each year. But the biggest costs are borne by individuals and their families in the form of illness, suffering and early death.</p> <p>Sugary drinks are a big part of the problem. The more of them we drink, the greater our risk of <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41574-021-00627-6">gaining weight</a>, <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2963518/">developing type 2 diabetes</a>, and suffering <a href="https://academic.oup.com/eurpub/article/31/1/122/5896049?login=false">poor oral health</a>.</p> <p>These drinks have no real nutrients, but they do have a lot of sugar. The average Australian consumes <a href="https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/health/health-conditions-and-risks/apparent-consumption-selected-foodstuffs-australia/latest-release">1.3</a> times the maximum recommended amount of sugar each day. Sugary drinks are responsible for more than one-quarter of our daily sugar intake, more than any other major type of food.</p> <p>You might be shocked by how much sugar you’re drinking. Many 375ml cans of soft drink contain eight to 12 teaspoons of sugar, nearly the entire daily recommended limit for an adult. Many 600ml bottles blow our entire daily sugar budget, and then some.</p> <p>The picture is even worse for disadvantaged Australians, who are more likely to have <a href="https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/health/health-conditions-and-risks/diabetes/latest-release">diabetes</a> and <a href="https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/health/health-conditions-and-risks/waist-circumference-and-bmi/latest-release">obesity</a>, and who also consume the most sugary drinks.</p> <h2>Sugary drink taxes work</h2> <p>Fortunately, there’s a proven way to reduce the damage sugary drinks cause.</p> <p>More than <a href="https://ssbtax.worldbank.org/">100 countries</a> have a sugary drinks tax, covering most of the world’s population. <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamanetworkopen/fullarticle/2792842">Research</a> shows these taxes lead to higher prices and fewer purchases.</p> <p>Some taxes are specifically designed to encourage manufacturers to change their recipes and cut the sugar in their drinks. Under these “tiered taxes”, there is no tax on drinks with a small amount of sugar, but the tax steps up two or three times as the amount of sugar rises. That gives manufacturers a strong incentive to add less sugar, so they reduce their exposure to the tax or avoid paying it altogether.</p> <p>This is the best result from a sugary drinks tax. It means drinks get healthier, while the tax is kept to a minimum.</p> <p>In countries with tiered taxes, manufacturers have slashed the sugar in their drinks. In the United Kingdom, the share of products above the tax threshold <a href="https://journals.plos.org/plosmedicine/article?id=10.1371/journal.pmed.1003025">decreased dramatically</a>. In 2015, more than half (52%) of products in the UK were above the tax threshold of 5 grams of sugar per 100ml. Four years later, when the tax was in place, that share had plunged to 15%. The number of products with the most sugar – more than 8 grams per 100ml – declined the most, falling from 38% to just 7%.</p> <p>The Australian drinks market today looks similar to the UK’s before the tax was introduced.</p> <p>Health benefits take longer to appear, but there are already promising signs that the taxes are working. Obesity among primary school-age girls has fallen in <a href="https://journals.plos.org/plosmedicine/article?id=10.1371/journal.pmed.1004160">the UK</a> and <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapediatrics/fullarticle/2786784">Mexico</a>.</p> <p>Oral health has also improved, with studies reporting fewer children going to hospital to get their teeth removed in <a href="https://nutrition.bmj.com/content/6/2/243">the UK</a>, and reduced dental decay <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33853058/">in Mexico</a> and <a href="https://www.ajpmonline.org/article/S0749-3797(23)00069-7/abstract">Philadelphia</a>.</p> <p>One <a href="https://www.ajpmonline.org/article/S0749-3797(23)00158-7/fulltext">study from the United States</a> found big reductions in gestational diabetes in cities with a sugary drinks tax.</p> <h2>The tax Australia should introduce</h2> <p>Like successful taxes overseas, Australia should introduce a sugary drink tax that targets drinks with the most sugar:</p> <ul> <li>drinks with 8 grams or more of sugar per 100ml should face a $0.60 per litre tax</li> <li>drinks with 5–8 grams should be taxed at $0.40 per litre</li> <li>drinks with less than 5 grams of sugar should be tax-free.</li> </ul> <p>This means a 250ml Coke, which has nearly 11 grams of sugar per 100ml, would cost $0.15 more. But of course consumers could avoid the tax by choosing a sugar-free soft drink, or a bottle of water.</p> <p>Grattan Institute <a href="https://grattan.edu.au/report/sickly-sweet/">modelling</a> shows that under this tiered tax, Australians would drink about 275 million litres fewer sugary drinks each year, or the volume of 110 Olympic swimming pools.</p> <p>The tax is about health, but government budgets also benefit. If it was introduced today, it would raise about half a billion dollars in the first year.</p> <p>Vested interests such as the beverages industry have fiercely resisted sugary drink taxes around the world, issuing disingenuous warnings about the risks to poor people, the sugar industry and drinks manufacturers.</p> <p>But our new report shows sugary drink taxes have been introduced smoothly overseas, and none of these concerns should hold Australia back.</p> <p>We certainly can’t rely on industry pledges to voluntarily reduce sugar. They have been <a href="https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/public-health-nutrition/article/trends-in-sugar-content-of-nonalcoholic-beverages-in-australia-between-2015-and-2019-during-the-operation-of-a-voluntary-industry-pledge-to-reduce-sugar-content/EE662DE7552670ED532F6650C9D56939">weak</a> and misleading, and <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2024/apr/10/sugar-increase-in-fanta-and-sprite-prompts-calls-for-new-tax-on-australia-food-and-drinks-industry">failed to stick</a>.</p> <p>It will take many policies and interventions to turn back the tide of obesity and chronic disease in Australia, but a sugary drinks tax should be part of the solution. It’s a policy that works, it’s easy to implement, and most Australians <a href="https://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/9/6/e027962">support it</a>.</p> <p>The federal government should show it’s serious about tackling Australia’s biggest health problems and take this small step towards a healthier future.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/228906/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/peter-breadon-1348098">Peter Breadon</a>, Program Director, Health and Aged Care, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/grattan-institute-1168">Grattan Institute</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/jessica-geraghty-1530733">Jessica Geraghty</a>, Senior Associate, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/grattan-institute-1168">Grattan Institute</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/a-tax-on-sugary-drinks-can-make-us-healthier-its-time-for-australia-to-introduce-one-228906">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

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Julie Goodwin shares her top tips for perfect potatoes every time

<p dir="ltr">Who doesn't love a good, hearty, delicious serving of fluffy and decadent potatoes?</p> <p dir="ltr">Original <em>MasterChef Australia</em> champion Julie Goodwin has shared her ultimate hacks for cooking the perfect potatoes every time, whether they’re mashed, roasted or baked.</p> <p dir="ltr">According to Julie, there are three key things every home cook needs to keep in mind the next time potatoes are on the menu. </p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Make sure you have the right potatoes </strong></p> <p dir="ltr">Depending on whether you want baked, mashed, roasted, or any other way you want to prepare your potatoes, it all starts in the supermarket. </p> <p dir="ltr">"I find that for things like mashed potatoes and gnocchi and rostis you want a floury potato, so the general rule is dirty potatoes for those things," Julie told <em><a href="https://kitchen.nine.com.au/latest/julie-goodwin-top-three-tips-to-cook-potatoes-robertson-potato-festival/4d16ba12-bf14-4af2-990e-dcf0e89c30ee">9Honey</a></em>.</p> <p dir="ltr">"And then for stuff like potato salads, boiled baby potatoes, and potato bake, it's better to have a waxy potato because they hold their substance better. And those are the ones that are sold clean, so things like the Pontiac and Desiree with the pink skin or the washed potatoes with the white skin."</p> <p dir="ltr">"If you want to use them in an Irish stew to break down and thicken the sauce you've got to use a floury potato," she says. "So tend to your dirty ones."</p> <p dir="ltr">She says that if you're buying a clean, waxy potato, you won't have to peel them since the skin is supposed to be edible.</p> <p dir="ltr">However, if you're buying a dirty, floury potato, then you're going to want to peel the dirt off first and then wash off the residue.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Get those crispy edges </strong></p> <p dir="ltr">As every home cook knows, the key to the perfect roasted potato is for the inside to be soft and fluffy while the outside stays crispy. </p> <p dir="ltr">It can be a tricky balance to master, but Goodwin says there's a simple way to get it right every time.</p> <p dir="ltr">"I like to par boil them before I roast them. Just so that they go a bit fluffy around the edges," she explains. "What happens is those bits go really crispy and lovely."</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Let the flavour flow </strong></p> <p dir="ltr">When it comes to seasoning your potatoes, it's hard to know what flavours will suit your dish best. </p> <p dir="ltr">According to Goodwin, more is less when you season potatoes, so it's best to close the spice cabinet.</p> <p dir="ltr">"Salt is absolutely the number one, pepper's beautiful [but] it depends on what the meal is," she says. "So if you're doing a bit of a Portuguese or Spanish inspired meal you might put some paprika on there.”</p> <p dir="ltr">"But I really love rosemary and that's beautiful if you pound that up with your salt and put it on the potatoes that makes it really nice."</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image credits: Getty Images / Instagram</em></p>

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Here’s why having chocolate can make you feel great or a bit sick – plus 4 tips for better eating

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/saman-khalesi-366871">Saman Khalesi</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/cquniversity-australia-2140">CQUniversity Australia</a></em></p> <p>Australians are <a href="https://www.retail.org.au/media/sweet-spending-boon-predicted-for-easter-retail">predicted</a> to spend around A$1.7 billion on chocolates, hot cross buns and other special foods this Easter season.</p> <p>Chocolate has a long history of production and consumption. It is made from cacao beans that go through processes including fermentation, drying, roasting and grounding. What is left is a rich and fatty liquor that is pressed to remove the fat (cocoa butter) and the cacao (or “cocoa”) powder which will then be mixed with different ingredients to produce dark, milk, white and other types of chocolates.</p> <p>There are several health benefits and potential problems that come in these sweet chocolatey packages.</p> <h2>The good news</h2> <p>Cacao beans contain <a href="https://foodstruct.com/food/cocoa-bean">minerals</a> like iron, potassium, magnesium, zinc and phosphorus and some vitamins. They are also rich in beneficial chemicals called <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23150750/">polyphenols</a>.</p> <p>These are great antioxidants, with the potential to <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5465250/">improve heart health</a>, increase <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25164923/">nitric oxide</a> (which dilates blood vessels) and <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3488419/">reduce blood pressure</a>, provide food for gut microbiota and <a href="https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/12/7/1908">promote gut health</a>, boost the <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5465250/">immune system</a> and reduce inflammation.</p> <p>However, the concentration of polyphenols in the chocolate we eat depends largely on the cocoa solid amounts used in the final product.</p> <p>In general terms, the darker the chocolate, the more cocoa solids, minerals and polyphenols it has. For example, dark chocolates may have around <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/10942912.2011.614984">seven times more polyphenols</a> compared to white chocolates and <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/10942912.2011.614984">three times more polyphenols</a> compared to milk chocolates.</p> <h2>But also some bad news</h2> <p>Unfortunately, the <a href="https://theconversation.com/treat-or-treatment-chocolate-is-good-but-cocoa-is-better-for-your-heart-3084">health benefits of cocoa solids</a> are easily offset by the high sugar and fat content of modern-day chocolates. For example, milk and white chocolate eggs are on average 50% sugar, 40% fat (mostly saturated fats) – which means a lot of added kilojoules (calories).</p> <p>Also, there may be some side effects that come with ingesting chocolate.</p> <p>Cocoa beans include a compound called theobromine. While it has the anti-inflammatory properties responsible for some of the health benefits of chocolate, it is also a mild brain stimulant that acts in a similar way to caffeine. The mood boost it offers may also be partly responsible for how much we <a href="https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fphar.2015.00030/full?crsi=662496658&amp;cicada_org_src=healthwebmagazine.com&amp;cicada_org_mdm=direct">like chocolate</a>. Dark chocolate has higher theobromine compared to milk and white chocolate.</p> <p>But accordingly, overindulging in chocolate (and therefore theobromine) may lead to feeling restless, <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3672386/">headaches</a> and nausea.</p> <h2>What else is in your chocolate?</h2> <p>Milk and dairy-based chocolates may also cause stomach upset, abdominal pain and bloating in people with <a href="https://dietitiansaustralia.org.au/health-advice/lactose-intolerance">lactose intolerance</a>. This happens when we don’t produce enough lactase enzymes to digest milk sugar (lactose).</p> <p>People with lactose intolerance can usually tolerate up to 6 grams of lactose without showing symptoms. Milk chocolate can have around <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK310258/">3 grams of lactose</a> per 40 grams (the size of a standard chocolate bar). So two chocolate bars (or the equivalent in milk chocolate eggs or bunnies) may be enough to cause symptoms.</p> <p>It’s worth noting that lactase enzyme activity dramatically declines as we age, with the highest activity in newborns and children. So lactose sensitivity or intolerance may not be such an issue for your kids and your symptoms may increase over time. Genetics also plays a major role in how sensitive people are to lactose.</p> <p><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6815241/">Allergic reactions</a> to chocolate are usually due to the added ingredients or cross-contamination with potential allergens such as nuts, milk, soy, and some sweeteners used in the production of chocolate.</p> <p>Symptoms can be mild (acne, rashes and stomach pain) or more severe (swelling of the throat and tongue and shortness of breath).</p> <p>If you or your family members have known allergic reactions, make sure you read the label before indulging – especially in a whole block or basket of the stuff. And if you or your family members do experience symptoms of an allergic reaction after eating chocolate, <a href="https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/allergic-reactions-emergency-first-aid">seek medical attention</a> immediately.</p> <h2>4 take home tips</h2> <p>So, if you are like me and have a weakness for chocolate there are a few things you can do to make the experience a good one.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/202848/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <ol> <li>keep an eye out for the darker chocolate varieties with higher cocoa solids. You may notice a percentage on labelling, which refers to how much of its weight is from cocoa beans. In general, the higher this percentage, the lower the sugar. White chocolate has almost no cocoa solid, and mostly cocoa butter, sugar and other ingredients. Dark chocolate has 50–100% cocoa beans, and less sugar. Aim for at least 70% cocoa</li> <li>read the fine print for additives and possible cross-contamination, especially if allergies might be an issue</li> <li>the ingredients list and nutrition information panel should tell you all about the chocolate you choosing. Go for varieties with lower sugar and less saturated fat. Nuts, seeds and dried fruits are better ingredients to have in your chocolate than sugar, creme, syrup, and caramel</li> <li>finally, treat yourself – but keep the amount you have within sensible limits!</li> </ol> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/saman-khalesi-366871">Saman Khalesi</a>, Postdoctoral Fellow of the National Heart Foundation &amp; Senior Lecturer and Discipline Lead in Nutrition, School of Health, Medical and Applied Sciences, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/cquniversity-australia-2140">CQUniversity Australia</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/heres-why-having-chocolate-can-make-you-feel-great-or-a-bit-sick-plus-4-tips-for-better-eating-202848">original article</a>.</em></p>

Food & Wine

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How bad is junk food for you, really?

<div> <p>Consuming more junk foods, such as soft drinks, packaged snacks, and sugary cereals, is associated with a higher risk of more than 30 different health problems – both physical and mental – according to researchers.</p> <p>A study, known as an umbrella review, combined the results of 45 previous meta-analyses published in the last three years, representing about 10 million participants.</p> <p>Thirty-two different poor health outcomes were found to be linked to the consumption of ultra-processed foods (UPFs), with varying levels of evidence supporting the findings.</p> <p>The researchers found the most convincing evidence around higher ultra-processed food intake, which was associated with a 50% increased risk of cardiovascular disease-related death, a 48-53% higher risk of anxiety and common mental disorders, and a 12% greater risk of type 2 diabetes.</p> <p>Evidence marked as ‘highly suggestive’ included a 21% increase in death from any cause, a 40-66% increased risk of a heart disease related death, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and sleep problems, as well as a 22% increased risk of depression.</p> <p>The review also found there may be links between ultra-processed food and asthma; gastrointestinal health; some cancers; and other risk factors such as high blood fats and low levels of ‘good’ cholesterol, but the researchers note this evidence is limited.</p> <p>Dr Daisy Coyle from the George Institute for Global Health in Sydney, who was not involved in the research, says the statistics are “staggering.”</p> <p>“Ultra-processed foods, laden with additives and sometimes lacking in essential nutrients, have become ubiquitous in the Australian diet,” she says.</p> <p>“In fact, they make up almost half of what we buy at the supermarket. While not all ultra-processed foods are linked to poor health outcomes, many are, particularly sugary drinks and processed meats.”</p> <div> </div> <p>While the findings are in line with other research that highlights the health risks associated with UPFs, some experts have pointed out that the study is observational, and therefore can’t prove the ultra-processed foods cause these health issues. It can only show an association.</p> <p>“While these associations are interesting and warrant further high-quality research, they do not and cannot provide evidence of causality,” The University of Sydney’s Dr Alan Barclay told the AusSMC.</p> <p>“By their very nature, observational studies are renowned for being confounded by numerous factors – both known and unknown.”</p> <p>Clare Collins, Laureate Professor at the University of Newcastle agreed, but added that it’s difficult to conduct dietary studies like this in a different way.</p> <p>“The studies are observational, which means cause and effect cannot be proven and that the research evidence gets downgraded, compared to intervention studies,” she says.</p> <p>“The problem is that it is not ethical to do an intervention study lasting for many years where you feed people lots of UPF every day and wait for them to get sick and die.”</p> <p>For now, researchers seem to agree that it can’t be a bad thing to minimise UPF intake.</p> <p>The review suggests a need for policies that pull consumers away from ultra-processed foods, such as advertising restrictions, warning labels, bans in schools and hospitals. It also calls for measures that make healthier foods more accessible and affordable.</p> <p>Dr Charlotte Gupta from Central Queensland University suggests that this is issue of accessibility is particularly relevant for shift workers such as doctors, nurses, firefighters, taxi drivers, miners, and hospitality workers.</p> <p>“There is a lack of availability of fresh foods or time to prepare any food, and so ultra-processed foods have to be relied on (e.g. from the vending machine in the hospital),” she said.</p> <p>“This highlights the need for not only individuals to try reducing ultra-processed foods in our diet, but also for public health actions to improve access to healthier foods.”</p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><em><a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/health/how-bad-is-junk-food-for-you-really/">This article</a> was originally published on <a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com">Cosmos Magazine</a> and was written by <a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/contributor/olivia-henry/">Olivia Henry</a>. </em></p> </div>

Food & Wine

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Restaurant sparks outrage for "ridiculous" fee

<p>As inflation rates continue to rise it is not surprising that restaurants are charging extra fees, but one disgruntled customer was particularly shocked to see this "ridiculous" fee on their bill. </p> <p>The customer, who dined at restaurant and cocktail bar in Georgia, USA shamed the restaurant for charging their customers a $20 fee for “live band entertainment”.</p> <p>They shared their complaints on Reddit with a copy of their receipt and an unexpected fee at the bottom which read: “Two Live Band Entertainment Fee — $20”.</p> <p>Most people in the comments were equally annoyed and called the fee "ridiculous". </p> <p>“This is one of those leave money on the table, hand the waiter a tip and leave, sorry but if I didn’t order it, I’m not paying for it,” one wrote. </p> <p>“Great way to not have repeat customers,” said another.</p> <p>“This will backfire for them, just be honest and upfront," a third added. </p> <p>Other commenters were less sympathetic and did not understand why the customer was complaining when it looked like they could afford it. </p> <p>“When you’re paying seven dollars for a bottle of water, you really don’t get to complain about ‘unexpected costs.’ You knew what you signed up for," one commenter wrote. </p> <p>“Imagine a live band getting paid, huh,” another added. </p> <p>“They’re buying $7 bottles of water, they can probably afford it,” added a third.</p> <p><em>Image: Getty/ Reddit</em></p> <p> </p>

Money & Banking

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I want to eat healthily. So why do I crave sugar, salt and carbs?

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/hayley-oneill-1458016">Hayley O'Neill</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/bond-university-863">Bond University</a></em></p> <p>We all want to eat healthily, especially as we reset our health goals at the start of a new year. But sometimes these plans are sabotaged by powerful cravings for sweet, salty or carb-heavy foods.</p> <p>So why do you crave these foods when you’re trying to improve your diet or lose weight? And what can you do about it?</p> <p>There are many reasons for craving specific foods, but let’s focus on four common ones:</p> <h2>1. Blood sugar crashes</h2> <p>Sugar is a key energy source for all animals, and its taste is one of the most basic sensory experiences. Even without specific sweet taste receptors on the tongue, a strong preference for sugar can develop, indicating a mechanism beyond taste alone.</p> <p>Neurons <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41593-021-00982-7">responding to sugar</a> are activated when sugar is delivered to the gut. This can increase appetite and make you want to consume more. Giving into cravings also drives an appetite for more sugar.</p> <p>In the long term, research suggests a high-sugar diet can affect <a href="https://www.bmj.com/content/369/bmj.m2382">mood</a>, digestion and <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33339337/">inflammation</a> in the <a href="https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/scitranslmed.aay6218?url_ver=Z39.88-2003&amp;rfr_id=ori:rid:crossref.org&amp;rfr_dat=cr_pub%20%200pubmed">gut</a>.</p> <p>While there’s a lot of <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0149763402000040?via%3Dihub#aep-section-id23">variation between individuals</a>, regularly eating sugary and high-carb foods can lead to <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30951762/">rapid spikes and crashes</a> in blood sugar levels. When your blood sugar drops, your body can respond by craving quick sources of energy, often in the form of sugar and carbs because these deliver the fastest, most easily accessible form of energy.</p> <h2>2. Drops in dopamine and serotonin</h2> <p>Certain neurotransmitters, such as <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30595479/">dopamine</a>, are involved in the reward and pleasure centres of the brain. Eating sugary and carb-rich foods can trigger the release of dopamine, creating a pleasurable experience and reinforcing the craving.</p> <p>Serotonin, the feel-good hormone, suppresses <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1569733910700886">appetite</a>. Natural changes in serotonin can influence daily fluctuations in mood, energy levels and attention. It’s also associated with eating more <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5829131/">carb-rich snacks in the afternoon</a>.</p> <p><a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21985780/">Low carb diets</a> may reduce serotonin and lower mood. However, a recent systematic review suggests little association between these diets and risk for <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0165032722013933?via%3Dihub">anxiety and depression</a>.</p> <p>Compared to men, <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4189179/">women tend to crave more carb rich foods</a>. Feeling irritable, tired, depressed or experiencing carb cravings are part of premenstrual <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29218451/">symptoms</a> and could be <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK560698/">linked to</a> reduced <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9928757/">serotonin levels</a>.</p> <h2>3. Loss of fluids and drops in blood sugar and salt</h2> <p>Sometimes our bodies crave the things they’re missing, such as hydration or even salt. A low-carb diet, for example, <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK537084/">depletes</a> insulin levels, decreasing sodium and water retention.</p> <p><a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1933287419302673">Very low-carb diets</a>, like ketogenic diets, induce “ketosis”, a metabolic state where the body switches to using fat as its primary energy source, moving away from the usual dependence on carbohydrates.</p> <p>Ketosis is often associated with increased urine production, further contributing to potential fluid loss, electrolyte imbalances and salt cravings.</p> <h2>4. High levels of stress or emotional turmoil</h2> <p><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4214609/">Stress</a>, boredom and emotional turmoil can lead to cravings for comfort foods. This is because stress-related hormones can impact our appetite, satiety (feeling full) and food preferences.</p> <p>The stress hormone <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3425607/">cortisol</a>, in particular, can drive cravings for <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0306453000000354">sweet comfort foods</a>.</p> <p>A <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0306453000000354">2001 study</a> of 59 premenopausal women subjected to stress revealed that the stress led to higher calorie consumption.</p> <p><a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/37295418/">A more recent study</a> found chronic stress, when paired with high-calorie diet, increases food intake and a preference for sweet foods. This shows the importance of a healthy diet during stress to prevent weight gain.</p> <h2>What can you do about cravings?</h2> <p>Here are four tips to curb cravings:</p> <p><strong>1) don’t cut out whole food groups.</strong> Aim for a well-balanced diet and make sure you include:</p> <ul> <li> <p><em>sufficient protein</em> in your meals to help you feel full and reduce the urge to snack on sugary and carb-rich foods. Older adults should aim for 20–40g protein per meal with a particular focus on <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1111/jhn.12838">breakfast and lunch</a> and an overall daily protein intake of at least <a href="https://apps.who.int/iris/handle/10665/43411">0.8g</a> per kg of body weight for <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35187864/">muscle health</a></p> </li> <li> <p><em>fibre-rich foods</em>, such as vegetables and whole grains. These make you feel full and <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32142510/">stabilise your blood sugar</a> levels. Examples include broccoli, quinoa, brown rice, oats, beans, lentils and bran cereals. Substitute refined carbs high in sugar like processed snack bars, soft drink or baked goods for more complex ones like whole grain bread or wholewheat muffins, or nut and seed bars or energy bites made with chia seeds and oats</p> </li> </ul> <p><strong>2) manage your stress levels.</strong> Practise stress-reduction techniques like meditation, deep breathing, or yoga to manage emotional triggers for cravings. Practising <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30570305/">mindful eating</a>, by eating slowly and tuning into bodily sensations, can also reduce daily calorie intake and curb cravings and stress-driven eating</p> <p><strong>3) get enough sleep.</strong> Aim for <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33054337/">seven to eight</a> hours of quality sleep per night, with a minimum of seven hours. <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9031614/">Lack of sleep</a> can disrupt hormones that regulate hunger and cravings</p> <p><strong>4) control your portions.</strong> If you decide to indulge in a treat, control your portion size to avoid overindulging.</p> <p>Overcoming cravings for sugar, salt and carbs when trying to eat healthily or lose weight is undoubtedly a formidable challenge. Remember, it’s a journey, and setbacks may occur. Be patient with yourself – your success is not defined by occasional cravings but by your ability to manage and overcome them.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/212114/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/hayley-oneill-1458016">Hayley O'Neill</a>, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Health Sciences and Medicine, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/bond-university-863">Bond University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/i-want-to-eat-healthily-so-why-do-i-crave-sugar-salt-and-carbs-212114">original article</a>.</em></p>

Food & Wine

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Run out of butter or eggs? Here’s the science behind substitute ingredients

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/paulomi-polly-burey-404695">Paulomi (Polly) Burey</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-southern-queensland-1069">University of Southern Queensland</a></em></p> <p>It’s an all too common situation – you’re busy cooking or baking to a recipe when you open the cupboard and suddenly realise you are missing an ingredient.</p> <p>Unless you can immediately run to the shops, this can leave you scrambling for a substitute that can perform a similar function. Thankfully, such substitutes can be more successful than you’d expect.</p> <p>There are a few reasons why certain ingredient substitutions work so well. This is usually to do with the chemistry and the physical features having enough similarity to the original ingredient to still do the job appropriately.</p> <p>Let’s delve into some common ingredient substitutions and why they work – or need to be tweaked.</p> <p><iframe id="IitfH" class="tc-infographic-datawrapper" style="border: none;" src="https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/IitfH/1/" width="100%" height="400px" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <h2>Oils versus butter</h2> <p>Both butter and oils belong to a chemical class called <a href="https://chem.libretexts.org/Bookshelves/Introductory_Chemistry/Map%3A_Fundamentals_of_General_Organic_and_Biological_Chemistry_(McMurry_et_al.)/23%3A_Lipids/23.01%3A_Structure_and_Classification_of_Lipids">lipids</a>. It encompasses solid, semi-solid and liquid fats.</p> <p>In a baked product the “job” of these ingredients is to provide flavour and influence the structure and texture of the finished item. In cake batters, lipids contribute to creating an emulsion structure – this means combining two liquids that wouldn’t usually mix. In the baking process, this helps to create a light, fluffy crumb.</p> <p>One of the primary differences between butter and oil is that butter is only about 80% lipid (the rest being water), while <a href="https://www.nutritionadvance.com/types-of-cooking-fats-and-oils/">oil is almost 100% lipid</a>. Oil creates a softer crumb but is still a great fat to bake with.</p> <p>You can use a wide range of oils from different sources, such as olive oil, rice bran, avocado, peanut, coconut, macadamia and many more. Each of these may impart different flavours.</p> <p>Other “butters”, such as peanut and cashew butter, aren’t strictly butters but pastes. They impart different characteristics and can’t easily replace dairy butter, unless you also add extra oil.</p> <h2>Aquafaba or flaxseed versus eggs</h2> <p>Aquafaba is the liquid you drain from a can of legumes – such as chickpeas or lentils. It contains proteins, kind of how egg white also contains proteins.</p> <p>The proteins in egg white include albumins, and <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5912395/">aquafaba also contains albumins</a>. This is why it is possible to make meringue from egg whites, or from aquafaba if you’re after a vegan version.</p> <p>The proteins act as a foam stabiliser – they hold the light, airy texture in the product. The concentration of protein in egg white is a bit higher, so it doesn’t take long to create a stable foam. Aquafaba requires more whipping to create a meringue-like foam, but it will bake in a similar way.</p> <p>Another albumin-containing alternative for eggs is <a href="https://foodstruct.com/compare/seeds-flaxseed-vs-egg">flaxseed</a>. These seeds form a thick gel texture when mixed with a little water. The texture is similar to raw egg and can provide structure and emulsification in baked recipes that call for a small amount of egg white.</p> <h2>Lemon plus dairy versus buttermilk</h2> <p>Buttermilk is the liquid left over after churning butter – it can be made from sweet cream, cultured/sour cream or whey-based cream. Buttermilk mostly <a href="https://www.journalofdairyscience.org/article/S0022-0302(06)72115-4/fulltext">contains proteins and fats</a>.</p> <p>Cultured buttermilk has a somewhat tangy flavour. Slightly soured milk can be a good substitute as it contains similar components and isn’t too different from “real” buttermilk, chemically speaking.</p> <p>One way to achieve slightly soured milk is by adding some lemon juice or cream of tartar to milk. Buttermilk is used in pancakes and baked goods to give extra height or volume. This is because the acidic (sour) components of buttermilk interact with baking soda, producing a light and airy texture.</p> <p>Buttermilk can also influence flavour, imparting a slightly tangy taste to pancakes and baked goods. It can also be used in sauces and dressings if you’re looking for a lightly acidic touch.</p> <h2>Honey versus sugar</h2> <p>Honey is a <a href="https://resources.perkinelmer.com/lab-solutions/resources/docs/APP_Analysis-of-Sugars-in-Honey-012101_01.pdf">complex sugar-based syrup</a> that includes floral or botanical flavours and aromas. Honey can be used in cooking and baking, adding both flavour and texture (viscosity, softness) to a wide range of products.</p> <p>If you add honey instead of regular sugar in baked goods, keep in mind that honey imparts a softer, moister texture. This is because it contains more moisture and is a humectant (that is, it likes to hold on to water). It is also less crystalline than sugar, unless you leave it to crystallise.</p> <p>The intensity of sweetness can also be different – some people find honey is sweeter than its granular counterpart, so you will want to adjust your recipes accordingly.</p> <h2>Gluten-free versus regular flour</h2> <p>Sometimes you need to make substitutions to avoid allergens, such as gluten – the protein found in cereal grains such as wheat, rye, barley and others.</p> <p>Unfortunately, gluten is also the component that gives a nice, stretchy, squishy quality to bread.</p> <p>To build this characteristic in a gluten-free product, it’s necessary to have a mixture of ingredients that work together to mimic this texture. Common ingredients used are corn or rice flour, xanthan gum, which acts as a binder and moisture holder, and tapioca starch, which is a good water absorbent and can aid with binding the dough. <!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/202036/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/paulomi-polly-burey-404695">Paulomi (Polly) Burey</a>, Associate Professor (Food Science), <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-southern-queensland-1069">University of Southern Queensland</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/run-out-of-butter-or-eggs-heres-the-science-behind-substitute-ingredients-202036">original article</a>.</em></p>

Food & Wine

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“Completely tacky”: Bride slammed for asking for dinner payment

<p dir="ltr">A bride has caused a stir online after asking if it is appropriate to ask her wedding guests to pay for their meal when they RSVP to the big day. </p> <p dir="ltr">The woman took to a popular wedding Facebook page to ask the opinions of other brides, sharing an example of her invitation created by her wedding planner. </p> <p dir="ltr">The invitation asks guests to confirm whether or not they will be attending the nuptials, before asking if the guest intends to eat at the wedding ceremony, and which meal they would prefer. </p> <p dir="ltr">The price of each meal was also included: $20 for grilled chicken with rice, mashed potatoes and green beans and $25 for a salmon alternative.</p> <p dir="ltr">“We invite you to eat with us but ask for you to provide your own payment. Please select which meal you'd prefer,” the invite stated. </p> <p dir="ltr">“My wedding venue requires me to purchase food through them for the reception, but has said people sometimes choose this option,” the woman wrote on Facebook. </p> <p dir="ltr">“Nothing about my reception is very typical anyway, SO I'm wondering how insane or rude or cost-effective/smart this is.”</p> <p dir="ltr">“The planner set me this as an example of how to present it to guests.”</p> <p dir="ltr">But when the post was quickly criticised by others, the bride clarified the event was more of a “fun dinner party” rather than a “wedding” as she and her partner had already legally married five months prior. </p> <p dir="ltr">“Ultimately I'll do what I want BUT I did not choose this option. It was only a suggestion from the venue that I was curious about others' opinions on,” she added. </p> <p dir="ltr">“This is for the reception. I'm most definitely not asking for money or gifts and by the time they come to the reception, we will have already been married for five months.”</p> <p dir="ltr">The post was shared in another wedding shaming Facebook group and critiqued by dozens of wedding experts.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Oh hell no! This is completely tacky!” one wrote, another said, “So she asks if it is rude then gets offended when people say it's rude?”</p> <p dir="ltr">“I am a veteran pro planner and would NEVER suggest this!” another said. </p> <p dir="ltr">Someone else wrote, “I'm especially shaming the venue for suggesting that people often pawn off the cost of dinner to their guests. Encouraging rude behaviour.”</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image credits: Getty Images / Facebook</em></p>

Food & Wine

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South Australian Government's sprinkles ban sparks outrage

<p>New guidelines for school canteens in South Australia have sparked outrage for "taking all the enjoyment away from children". </p> <p>Sprinkles of any kind, including 100s and 1000s - which are an essential ingredient for the iconic fairy bread - have been categorised as “red 2", meaning that they “should not be promoted or encouraged in schools on any occasion”.</p> <p>The ban comes after processed meats including ham would be limited at canteens in Western Australia, with similar restrictions now in place for South Australian canteens. </p> <p>Processed meats fall into the “red 1” or “amber” categories in South Australia, which means that products featuring them would be limited depending on nutritional criteria. </p> <p>These restrictions mean that children will no longer be able to regularly enjoy Australian staples like ham and cheese toasties and fairy bread at school. </p> <p>“Why are they taking all the enjoyment away from children?” one person told 7News. </p> <p>Dieticians have also questioned the decision, saying that it might only cause further problems in the future. </p> <p>“All your brain wants to do is eat that food, and eventually, you can restrict it for a little bit, until you get to that point where you just give in, you want to eat it, and then you binge,” dietitian Mattea Palombo said. </p> <p>Another expert suggested changing the foods we associate with good times. </p> <p>“Celebration foods aren’t so much about the foods that we have at the time of the celebration, but the friends and family we have around at the time of celebrating,” dietitian Dr Evangeline Mantzioris said.</p> <p>“So I think we probably need to balance it out a bit, so healthy foods are available at those celebrations.” </p> <p>Although the changes impact canteens, parents are still free to pack whatever they want in their kids' lunchboxes. </p> <p><em>Images: Getty</em></p> <p> </p> <p> </p>

Food & Wine

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Supermarket worker finds 2000 Olympics relic between the shelves

<p dir="ltr">A worker at an Aussie supermarket has discovered a relic of Australian culture that is over two decades old. </p> <p dir="ltr">While moving some old shelves in the grocery store as they prepared for renovations, the supermarket worker was shocked to discover a long-expired chocolate bar that was released for the 2000 Sydney Olympics. </p> <p dir="ltr">Posting about the discovery on a Facebook page called Old Shops Australia, a man posted about his wife’s unusual find. </p> <p dir="ltr">“My wife works in a supermarket and they were moving the shelving around and this was stuck between two shelves. Still wrapped up with chocolate inside,” the man said. </p> <p dir="ltr">The 'Sydney 2000 Games Story Block' had the three characters, Syd the platypus, Millie the echidna and Olly the Kookaburra on the front. </p> <p dir="ltr">It also had one of six collectable Olympic Games story book inside the wrapper, with the chocolate expiring on July 30th 2001. </p> <p dir="ltr">Images of the almost-forgotten treat have been circulating online triggering old memories in thousands of Aussies. </p> <p dir="ltr">One person noted the wrapper was made out of paper and foil rather than the plastic used today. </p> <p dir="ltr">Others pointed out the generous size of the chocolate block which is 250g compared to the 180g bars available now. </p> <p dir="ltr">“Oh wow!! This brings back memories!! A near 24 year old block of chocolate!! Would anyone be up for tasting it?! Wonder how much it's worth?! How long since the supermarket had a good clean and update?! So many questions!” one woman asked. </p> <p dir="ltr">“Partly want this to go to a museum, partly just wanna see it unwrapped,” a second wrote.    </p> <p dir="ltr">“Oof, right in the nostalgia,” a third said and another chimed in, “Mouldy as hell. I wonder what the story book looks like.”</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image credits: Facebook</em></p>

Food & Wine

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The best diet for 2024

<p>Over years of research and diet rankings, there is one regimen that scientists have crowned the "Best Diet Overall" for seven years in a row. </p> <p>The Mediterranean diet has topped the list in <a href="https://health.usnews.com/best-diet/best-diets-overall" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><em>US News and World Reports’</em></a> annual ranking for 2024, followed by the DASH diet, and the MIND diet coming in third.  </p> <p>The ranking is based off the findings of a panel of leading medical and nutrition experts, who analyse the nutritional completeness, health risks and benefits, long-term sustainability and  effectiveness of the diet in addressing its goals. </p> <p><strong>What sets it apart from other diets? </strong></p> <p>The Mediterranean diet emphasises multiple servings of fruits and vegetables daily, alongside whole grains, legumes, nuts, olive oil and seafood. </p> <p>Red meats, dairy and poultry are consumed occasionally and in moderation, and highly processed foods and added sugars are generally avoided. </p> <h4><strong>What are its benefits?</strong></h4> <p>The experts found that following the diet long term can increase the odds of living a longer, healthier life, with a few other studies suggesting it lowers the risk of heart disease and Type 2 diabetes, while potentially slowing cognitive decline.</p> <p>“It’s a way of life, it’s a cuisine, it dates back thousands of years, and in the last five to six decades, it is the most highly researched cuisine in the world,” said Dr Catherine Itsiopoulos, a professor of nutrition and dietetics at RMIT University in Melbourne.</p> <p><strong>Lowers risk of heart disease</strong></p> <p>A 2021 research review found that the diet has been shown to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease in women by 29 per cent and stroke by 13 per cent. </p> <p>A 2017 analysis found that on average it lowers the risk of coronary heart disease, heart attacks and strokes by 40 per cent. </p> <p>Experts suggest that this may be because  the fats in olive oil, seeds, fish and nuts are monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats aka healthy fats. </p> <p>Additionally, because of its emphasis on fruits, vegetables and legumes, which contain antioxidants and other beneficial compounds, it is believed to combat chronic inflammation. </p> <p><strong>Lowers chances of developing type 2 diabetes </strong></p> <p>Because this diet relies heavily on honey and cinnamon as sweeteners, and fruits as a primary source of sugar, it reduces the risk of developing this disease. </p> <p>One study conducted on 300,000 participants found that those who were on the Mediterranean diet had a nearly 30 per cent lower risk of Type 2 diabetes. </p> <p><strong>Good for your gut</strong></p> <p>The diet contains a lot of fibre which are associated with more regular bowel movements, lower blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels, according to the Food and Drug Administration.</p> <p>This is because good bacteria in our stomachs feed off fibre, which creates a stronger lining in the intestines. </p> <p>There are a few other potential health benefits including reducing risk of dementia among seniors by almost 25 per cent, and lowering the risk of death from cancer including breast, colorectal, head and neck and lung cancers. </p> <p>See the full list <a href="https://health.usnews.com/best-diet/best-diets-overall" target="_blank" rel="noopener">here</a>. </p> <p><em>Image: Getty</em></p> <p> </p>

Body

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Restaurant's kind act for struggling Aussies

<p>As Aussies continue to adapt to the rising cost-of-living, one restaurant owner took it upon herself to give back to the "struggling" community. </p> <p>Aleeya Hamidan the owner of Manoosh & Co in Eagle Vale, southwest of Sydney, realised that a lot of people in the community are struggling to afford food.</p> <p>"Prices are going up in rent, and there are a lot of large families that live here as well. They don't have much spare money to go out and eat with their kids after school,"  she told <em>Yahoo News Australia</em>.</p> <p>So, she decided to implement a system where customers in need can get a free meal that has been paid for by other customers. </p> <p>The text: "Please take one if [you're] in need!! Already paid for from our beautiful customers" is written on a whiteboard, with six receipts containing various orders valued at around $10-$12 attached to it. </p> <p>Hamidan was the first to put up an order on the board a few weeks ago to encourage other customers to do the same, and the system has grown in popularity since. </p> <p>"One man came in a few weeks ago and took one of the free meals, but the following week when he did have money, he purchased one for someone else," she said. </p> <p>"We just didn't want it to be intimidating for people who can't afford our products.</p> <p>"It was just something we started doing for a little but have now continued to do. We've had such amazing feedback on it."</p> <p>The restaurant owner's kind deed was praised after local woman Amanda Mauga posted a picture of the board on social media. </p> <p>"If you are having a hard time and need a meal or coffee, go down to Manoosh Eagle Vale," she shared in a community Facebook page. </p> <p>"People buy food for people who need it. So if you're in need head down there, I have left you a coffee. Enjoy."</p> <p>Mauga said that she "felt inspired to help" after seeing the thoughtful gesture, and wanted to help those who were homeless and struggling in their community "in some small way". </p> <p>The post racked up thousands of likes and comments from people impressed by the "great initiative". </p> <p>"What a great idea! We need more like this. So many people are struggling, bravo," one wrote. </p> <p>"Well done folks... nice there are caring people around," another commented</p> <p>"What an amazing shop for even doing this," a third commented.</p> <p><em>Images: Manoosh & Co</em></p> <p> </p>

Domestic Travel

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Better Homes and Gardens unveils new celebrity chef

<p>Last November, <em>Better Homes and Gardens </em><a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/entertainment/tv/better-homes-and-gardens-star-announces-exit-after-20-years" target="_blank" rel="noopener">farewelled</a> chef "Fast" Ed Halmagyi, after 20 years on the show. </p> <p>Fans have since been left wondering who will replace him, but the wait is now over. </p> <p>Celebrated chef and <em>My Kitchen Rules</em> judge Colin Fassnidge is set to join the cast  from Friday, 2 February 2024. </p> <p>The Irish TV personality will share his much-loved family recipes as the show celebrates it's 30th anniversary.</p> <p>“Working on Better Homes and Gardens really feels like coming home,” he told<em> 7Life</em>. </p> <p>“I’ve been friends with Johanna Griggs ever since I started at Channel 7, and the rest of the cast and I get on like a house on fire.</p> <p>“I can’t wait to get out on the road and travel around this beautiful country, cooking with some of the best and freshest produce in the world.”</p> <p>He also added that he is a bit intimidated as he has big shoes to fill in after Fast Ed's departure. </p> <p>“It’s a little bit scary, but it’s a good challenge and a lot of fun as well,” he said.</p> <p>Fassnidge also shared what he is planning to bring to the table in the coming year. </p> <p>“This show means a lot of things to a lot of people. I’m going to bring a bit of Irish spice to the table!</p> <p>“I want to do fun, affordable cooking — I’m a chef, but I’ve also got kids as well, so I know how hard it is to put food on the table in this day and age with the cost of living and interest rate rises.</p> <p>“I want to show people how they can use cheaper cuts of meat, how to save time, how to feed the family on a budget, but still make delicious meals.”</p> <p><em>Better Homes and Gardens </em>executive producer Russell Palmer said he was excited to welcome the <em>MKR</em> star to the team, saying it marked the beginning of a new chapter for the show. </p> <p>“He’s a talented and well-respected chef and brings his own charm and innovation, which is sure to inspire our audience,”  he said. </p> <p><em>Images: 7News</em></p>

Food & Wine

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5 ways to avoid weight gain and save money on food this Christmas

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/nick-fuller-219993">Nick Fuller</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a></em></p> <p>As Christmas approaches, so does the challenge of healthy eating and maintaining weight-related goals. The season’s many social gatherings can easily tempt us to indulge in calorie-rich food and celebratory drinks. It’s why we typically <a href="https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMc1602012">gain weight</a> over Christmas and then struggle to take it off for the <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0031938414001528">remainder of the year</a>.</p> <p>Christmas 2023 is also exacerbating cost-of-living pressures, prompting some to rethink their food choices. Throughout the year, <a href="https://dvh1deh6tagwk.cloudfront.net/finder-au/wp-uploads/2023/03/Cost-of-Living-Report-2023.pdf">71% of Australians</a> – or 14.2 million people – <a href="https://retailworldmagazine.com.au/rising-cost-of-living-forces-aussies-to-change-diets/">adapted</a> their eating behaviour in response to rising costs.</p> <p>Fortunately, there are some simple, science-backed hacks for the festive season to help you celebrate with the food traditions you love without impacting your healthy eating habits, weight, or hip pocket.</p> <h2>1. Fill up on healthy pre-party snacks before heading out</h2> <p>If your festive season is filled with end-of-year parties likely to tempt you to fill up on finger foods and meals high in fat, salt, and sugar and low in nutritional value, have a healthy pre-event snack before you head out.</p> <p><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5015032/#sec-a.g.atitle">Research</a> shows carefully selected snack foods can impact satiety (feelings of fullness after eating), potentially reducing the calories you eat later. High-protein, high-fibre snack foods have the strongest effect: because they take longer to digest, our hunger is satisfied for longer.</p> <p>So enjoy a handful of nuts, a tub of yoghurt, or a serving of hummus with veggie sticks before you head out to help keep your healthy eating plan on track.</p> <h2>2. Skip the low-carb drinks and enjoy your favourites in moderation</h2> <p>Despite the marketing promises, low-carb alcoholic drinks <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/hpja.531">aren’t better for our health or waistlines</a>.</p> <p>Many low-carb options have a similar amount of carbohydrates as regular options but lull us into thinking they’re better, so we drink more. A <a href="https://www.vichealth.vic.gov.au/sites/default/files/K-013_Low-carb-beer_FactSheet_FINAL.pdf">survey</a> found 15% of low-carb beer drinkers drank more beer than they usually would because they believed it was healthier for them.</p> <p>A typical lager or ale will contain less than 1.5 grams of carbohydrate per 100 ml while the “lower-carb” variety can range anywhere from 0.5 grams to 2.0 grams. The calories in drinks come from the alcohol itself, not the carbohydrate content.</p> <p>Next time you go to order, think about the quantity of alcohol you’re drinking rather than the carbs. Make sure you sip lots of water in between drinks to stay hydrated, too.</p> <h2>3. Don’t skimp on healthy food for Christmas Day – it’s actually cheaper</h2> <p>There’s a perception that healthy eating is more expensive. But studies show this is a misconception. A <a href="https://southwesthealthcare.com.au/swh-study-finds-eating-a-healthier-diet-is-actually-cheaper-at-the-checkout/#:%7E:text=A%20recent%20study%20from%20the,does%20not%20meet%20the%20guidelines">recent analysis</a> in Victoria, for example, found following the Australian Dietary Guidelines cost the average family A$156 less a fortnight than the cost of the average diet, which incorporates packaged processed foods and alcohol.</p> <p>So when you’re planning your Christmas Day meal, give the pre-prepared, processed food a miss and swap in healthier ingredients:</p> <ul> <li> <p>swap the heavy, salted ham for leaner and lighter meats such as fresh seafood. Some seafood, such as prawns, is also tipped to be cheaper this year thanks to <a href="https://www.smh.com.au/goodfood/lobsters-up-prawns-stable-a-buying-guide-to-seafood-this-christmas-20231208-p5eq3m.html">favourable weather conditions</a> boosting local supplies</p> </li> <li> <p>for side dishes, opt for fresh salads incorporating seasonal ingredients such as mango, watermelon, peach, cucumber and tomatoes. This will save you money and ensure you’re eating foods when they’re freshest and most flavoursome</p> </li> </ul> <ul> <li> <p>if you’re roasting veggies, use healthier cooking oils like olive as opposed to vegetable oil, and use flavourful herbs instead of salt</p> </li> <li> <p>if there’s an out-of-season vegetable you want to include, look for frozen and canned substitutes. They’re cheaper, and <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0889157517300418">just as nutritious</a> and tasty because the produce is usually frozen or canned at its best. Watch the sodium content of canned foods, though, and give them a quick rinse to remove any salty water</p> </li> <li> <p>give store-bought sauces and dressings a miss, making your own from scratch using fresh ingredients.</p> </li> </ul> <h2>4. Plan your Christmas food shop with military precision</h2> <p>Before heading to the supermarket to shop for your Christmas Day meal, create a detailed meal plan and shopping list, and don’t forget to check your pantry and fridge for things you already have.</p> <p><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4586574/">Eating beforehand</a> and shopping with a plan in hand means you’ll only buy what you need and <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8206473/">avoid impulse purchasing</a>.</p> <p>When you’re shopping, price check everything. Comparing the cost per 100 grams is the most effective way to save money and get the best value. Check prices on products sold in different ways and places, too, such as nuts you scoop yourself versus prepacked options.</p> <h2>5. Don’t skip breakfast on Christmas Day</h2> <p>We’ve all been tempted to skip or have a small breakfast on Christmas morning to “save” the calories for later. But this plan will fail when you sit down at lunch hungry and find yourself eating far more calories than you’d “saved” for.</p> <p><a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32073608/">Research</a> shows a low-calorie or small breakfast leads to increased feelings of hunger, specifically appetite for sweets, across the course of the day.</p> <p>What you eat for breakfast on Christmas morning is just as important too – choosing the right foods will <a href="https://theconversation.com/im-trying-to-lose-weight-and-eat-healthily-why-do-i-feel-so-hungry-all-the-time-what-can-i-do-about-it-215808">help you manage your appetite</a> and avoid the temptation to overindulge later in the day.</p> <p><a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24703415/">Studies</a> show a breakfast containing protein-rich foods, such as eggs, will leave us feeling fuller for longer.</p> <p>So before you head out to the Christmas lunch, have a large, nutritionally balanced breakfast, such as eggs on wholegrain toast with avocado.</p> <p><em>At the Boden Group, Charles Perkins Centre, we are studying the science of obesity and running clinical trials for weight loss. You can <a href="https://redcap.sydney.edu.au/surveys/?s=RKTXPPPHKY">register here</a> to express your interest.</em> <!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/219114/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/nick-fuller-219993"><em>Nick Fuller</em></a><em>, Charles Perkins Centre Research Program Leader, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/5-ways-to-avoid-weight-gain-and-save-money-on-food-this-christmas-219114">original article</a>.</em></p>

Food & Wine

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5 ways to make Christmas lunch more ethical this year

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/rebecca-reynolds-141045">Rebecca Reynolds</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/unsw-sydney-1414">UNSW Sydney</a></em></p> <p>What we eat matters - not just for our health, but for the planet and other living things too.</p> <p>Most of us know meat consumption <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s43016-021-00358-x.epdf">contributes to global warming</a> and many of us are aware of animal cruelty and human exploitation in global food supply chains.</p> <p>So what are some ways we can use our “fork power” to make our Christmas lunch more ethical this year?</p> <h2>1. Replace your turkey or ham with a vegetarian dish</h2> <p>Vegetarian options are not boring or tasteless — just look at this <a href="https://annajones.co.uk/recipe/squash-chestnut-roast">festive squash and chestnut roast</a>.</p> <p>A plant-focused diet has strong <a href="https://eatforum.org/eat-lancet-commission/the-planetary-health-diet-and-you/">environmental benefits</a>. Livestock not only <a href="https://theconversation.com/cop28-begins-4-issues-that-will-determine-if-the-un-climate-summit-is-a-success-from-methane-to-money-218869">produce greenhouse gas</a> when they burp, they take up huge amounts of <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9024616/">land and fresh water</a>.</p> <p>Reducing the number of animal products on your plate also reduces the likelihood you are contributing to the suffering of animals. Even though many countries have <a href="https://www.agriculture.gov.au/agriculture-land/animal/welfare/standards-guidelines">ethical standards</a> for the treatment of farm animals, these are not always followed, and many of the practices considered legal <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/rural/2023-03-28/pig-slaughter-methods-defended-by-pork-industry/102153822">still cause pain and suffering to animals</a>.</p> <p>While cutting out all animal products can be difficult, any reduction in consumption makes a difference. For example, consider swapping out the brie on your Christmas platter for hummus this year.</p> <h2>2. Choose ‘good fish’</h2> <p>Many of us don’t realise fish and other seafood is often sourced unsustainably, negatively impacting ocean ecosystems and wildlife. An Australian organisation called GoodFish produces a <a href="https://goodfish.org.au/">Sustainable Seafood Guide</a>, where you can find out how ethical the fish you buy is.</p> <p>Unfortunately, many salmon products are <a href="https://goodfish.org.au/sustainable-seafood-guide/?q=salmon">not as sustainable</a> as companies claim them to be. In comparison, farmed Australian barramundi, Murray cod, prawns, oysters and mussels, and wild-caught Australian Eastern and Western rock lobsters are classified as better choices.</p> <p>Additionally, an international not-for-profit organisation called the <a href="https://www.msc.org/en-au">Marine Stewardship Council</a> has an “MSC blue fish tick label” certification scheme, which endorses products from well-managed and sustainable fisheries. Have a look for MSC-certified frozen crumbed fish in your next shop.</p> <h2>3. Choose at least one organic item, such as your roast potatoes</h2> <p><a href="https://www.fao.org/organicag/oa-faq/oa-faq6/en/">Organic agriculture</a> aims to produce food while establishing an ecological balance to prevent soil infertility or pest problems over the longer term. It strengthens the dynamics and carbon storage of soil, stops freshwater pollution with synthetic fertilisers and pesticides, reduces the use of fossil fuels needed to produce these chemicals, and promotes biodiversity.</p> <p>Yes, organic products are more expensive, but you will hopefully now feel they are worth it (you could also look out for organic produce that is reduced in price during “on special” promotions).</p> <h2>4. Choose Fairtrade chocolate</h2> <p>Of course, humans are heavily involved in the production, packaging and transport of the food we eat every day. Organisations such as <a href="https://fairtradeanz.org/">Fairtrade Australia and New Zealand</a> and <a href="https://www.rainforest-alliance.org/">Rainforest Alliance</a> aim to improve the lives of rural farmers and workers in developing countries – who otherwise might get unfair deals for their produce and work (these organisations also target environmental issues).</p> <p>You can buy Fairtrade- and Rainforest Alliance-certified products in supermarkets (and elsewhere), such as chocolate, coffee, tea – and even ice cream.</p> <p>Similarly, there are companies called <a href="https://bcorporation.com.au/find-b-corps/">B Corps</a>, or Certified B Corporations. These are organisations that also care about social and environmental issues. B Corp food products can also be found in supermarkets (and elsewhere), and include things like peanut butter and seaweed snacks.</p> <h2>5. Make friends with your freezer</h2> <p>When we waste food, we are wasting the energy, land, water and chemicals that were used during the <a href="https://www.un.org/en/climatechange/science/climate-issues/food">long process</a> of getting it into your home.</p> <p>Lots of us worry at Christmas about “having enough food for everyone”, and consequently buy too much. Why not talk through your menu plan with someone else before you go shopping, to check that you are not anxiety-buying to feed 50 people (instead of your extended family of ten).</p> <p>But even with calm planning, you may still have leftover food. If this happens, you can get creative with using leftovers on Boxing Day (OzHarvest has some recipes online, including <a href="https://www.ozharvest.org/use-it-up/tips/">Christmas rockyroad</a>), or you can preserve food to eat at a later date using your cool friend, the freezer.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/218351/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/rebecca-reynolds-141045">Rebecca Reynolds</a>, Adjunct lecturer and nutritionist, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/unsw-sydney-1414">UNSW Sydney</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/5-ways-to-make-christmas-lunch-more-ethical-this-year-218351">original article</a>.</em></p>

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