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5 DIETITIAN-APPROVED FESTIVAL FOODS FOR THE HOLIDAY SEASON

By Sally Shi-po POON (Registered Dietitian)

Eating healthily during the holiday season must be one of the most difficult challenges for many people as we’re often surrounded by lots of delicious food and drink. Although there is no reason to feel guilty about enjoying yourself on those special days of the year, it’s worth remembering that people gain about 0.4 to 0.9 kg during the festive period due to over-eating. But don’t despair — this year can be different! Here are my recommended festival foods and healthy eating tips to help you get in shape this season:

1. Turkey
Turkey is the culinary star of Thanksgiving and Christmas. It is a good source of lean protein, iron, zinc, and B vitamins. Enjoy turkey baked or roasted – place turkey on a rack while cooking so fat will drain off and use a paper towel to soak up fat. Best to remove the skin before you cook as most of the fat is found in the skin and the vegetables tend to absorb the fat easily. When making gravy, try to use vegetable broth or remove the fat if using meat juices.

2. Cranberries
Cranberries are an excellent source of proanthocyanidins which helps maintain a healthy urinary tract. Cranberries are harvested and sold fresh in the fall, but they’re processed and sold year-round frozen, dried, canned, or as juice. Try turkey with cranberry stuffing or cranberry sauce. Alternatively, add cranberries to Christmas pudding or mince pies; or use unsweetened cranberry juice for making mulled wine or mocktails.

3. Brussels sprouts
Brussels sprouts are a rich source of vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin K, folate, and fibre. They are classified as cruciferous vegetables, which may help protect against cancer and cardiovascular disease. Brussels sprouts can be roasted, sautéed or steamed. Boiling Brussels sprouts will lead to significant loss of vitamin C so is less preferred. Use olive or canola oil instead of butter or grease from meats, try using oil spray or brush to control the amount of oil added, and roast on a non-stick tray or foil.

4. Pumpkin
Pumpkin is the most popular food for Halloween and pumpkin pie is an American tradition for Thanksgiving. This colorful starchy vegetable is rich in carbohydrates, vitamin A, potassium, and fiber. To make a healthy version of pumpkin pie, choose low-fat milk or soymilk, and real pumpkin or unflavored canned pumpkin. Avoid serving with whipped cream or ice cream on top. The seeds of pumpkin are a good source of protein, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids. Enjoy a small handful of roasted pumpkin seeds as a healthy snack over chocolates and crisps.

5. Pies (no, really)
Christmas pudding and mince pies are packed with fruits so they are rich in fibre and antioxidants. Serve Christmas pudding with low-fat custard or crème fraiche, and try lighter version of mince pies made with filo pastry. Don’t forget to control the portion too – always share the dessert with your friend to cut the calories.

 

Bonus tips to control your weight during the holiday season:

Get moving
Being active can help you burn off the extra treats you couldn’t resist. Why not dance the night away at the parties and go for a brisk walk after a meal.

Drink in moderation
Don’t forget drinks have calories too! Try alternate your alcoholic drinks with non-alcoholic beverages such as sparkling water, diet sodas or diluted unsweetened juice. Offer to drive so you can stay away from alcohol and always put a jar of water on the table at mealtimes.

Ultimately, the most important thing is to enjoy the holiday and have a wonderful time with your loved ones. Remember weight maintenance is a success, and following my tips above will help you have a good time without overindulging.

 

Sally’s Nutrition Blog @ Hong Kong Tatler: https://hk.asiatatler.com/life/5-dietitian-approved-festival-foods-for-the-holiday-season#page-5

5 DIETITIAN-APPROVED FOODS FOR HEALTHY BONES AND JOINTS

Sally Shi-po POON (Registered Dietitian)

 

We are using our bones and joints every day for body movements, but they can deteriorate over time. Therefore, it is essential to keep our bones and joints healthy in order to stay active and prevent osteoporosis. The best strategy is to have a balanced diet with adequate intake of calcium, vitamin D, and vitamin C.  Here are five foods to keep your bones and joints in the best shape possible:

 

  1. Milk

Dairy products such as milk, cheese, and yogurt are naturally rich in calcium. A glass of milk contains about 300mg calcium. Healthy eating guidelines recommend skim or semi-skim milk in order to limit the intake of saturated fat. If you have lactose intolerance, you can choose lactose-free milk, soy milk, rice milk, oat milk or almond milk. However, their nutrition profiles are not equal. Only soy milk can provide a similar amount of protein to cow’s milk whereas rice, oat or almond milk provides very little protein.  When you choose milk alternatives, please read the nutrition labels and choose one that is listed “high calcium” and “low sugar/ unsweetened”.

 

  1. Chinese broccoli

Green vegetables such as Chinese broccoli, Chinese cabbage and kale and are moderately high in calcium and vitamin C. Spinach provides calcium, but the absorption is poor because it is also high in oxalic acid. One cup of cooked Chinese broccoli contains 88mg calcium and 24.8mg vitamin C. Our body requires Vitamin C for making collagen, which helps strengthen our bones and cartilage. Fruits and vegetables are the best sources of vitamin C, particularly oranges, grapefruits, red and green peppers, and kiwifruits.

 

  1. Tofu

Tofu can have a high calcium content if calcium sulfate is used for coagulation. The nutrient content of tofu varies widely depending on how it is made. Generally, the firmer the tofu, the higher it is in calcium, protein, and fat. Research found that calcium absorption from calcium-set tofu is comparable to that from cow’s milk.

 

  1. Sardines

A 3-ounce serving of oil-canned sardines contains 325 mg calcium and 164 IU vitamin D. Majority of the calcium is found in their soft, edible bones. Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium and therefore play a key role in bone health. Sardines are also rich in omega-3 which can reduce inflammation in joints and may help control joint pain and morning stiffness in rheumatoid arthritis. Try to eat oily fish (e.g. salmon, albacore tuna, herring, lake trout, mackerel, and sardines) at least twice a week. Alternatively, consume chia seed, flaxseed, walnuts or canola oil as plant sources of omega-3.

 

  1. Mushrooms

Mushrooms can produce vitamin D when exposed to sunlight, similar to how our skin synthesises the vitamin in response to sun exposure. According to the USDA Food Composition Database, white mushrooms with UV exposure contain 1046 IU of vitamin D per 100g, while those without UV exposure contained just 7 IU. Research found that vitamin D in mushrooms can be boosted by at least 150 IU (over 600 IU in many cases) after 15 minutes of sun exposure. When UV intensity is lower, similar increases can be achieved after 30 to 60 minutes. Might be a good idea to start putting your mushrooms in the sun before consuming them for better bone health

 

Extra tips:

  • Majority of the vitamin D in our body is made when the skin is exposed to sunlight. Generally, 5 to 15 minutes of casual sun exposure two to three times a week during the summer months is sufficient for most people.
  • Maintain a healthy body weight is important as being overweight raises your risk for developing osteoarthritis, and being underweight increases your risk for developing osteoporosis.

 

Sally’s Nutrition Blog @ Hong Kong Tatler: https://hk.asiatatler.com/life/5-dietitian-approved-foods-for-healthy-bones-and-joints

 

 

5 FOODS TO EAT FOR HEALTHY SKIN

By Sally Shi-Po Poon (Dietitian)

 

Everyone wants glowing and flawless skin. Unfortunately, as we age, extrinsic skin damage develops due to exposure to UV radiation, stress, poor nutrition, alcohol intake and environmental pollution. Although good skin is partially influenced by our genes, having a balanced diet that is packed with antioxidants can help your skin glow and maintain its youthful appearance for as long as possible. Here are my top five favourite “beauty foods”.

 

(1) Guava

Guava is super rich in vitamin C, a crucial antioxidant for wrinkle prevention as it promotes collagen formation and skin regeneration. One guava (55g) contains 125.6mg vitamin C which meets the daily requirement for adults – 75mg for women and 90mg for men. Fruits and vegetables are the best sources of vitamin C, including red and green peppers, raw tomatoes, broccoli, grapefruits, kiwis, strawberries and oranges. The level of vitamin C can be diminished by prolonged storage and cooking because it is water soluble and can be destroyed by heat. Steaming may lessen cooking losses. In general, consuming five varied servings of fruits and vegetables a day can provide adequate amount of vitamin C to meet our daily needs.

 

(2) Salmon

Salmon is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids such as EPA and DHA, which help to regulate inflammation, maintain skin moisture and prevent dryness. The American Heart Association recommends eating fish at least two servings a week and each serving is 3.5 ounces cooked. Preferably oily fish like salmon, sardines, herring, mackerel, eel, and albacore tuna.  Vegetarians or individuals who don’t eat fish or seafood can choose flaxseeds, walnuts and canola oil.

 

(3) Germinated brown rice

When brown rice is germinated, its nutrient content is greatly increased, such as GABA (gamma aminobutyric acid), lysine, vitamin E, niacin, magnesium, vitamin B1 and B6, ferulic acid and zinc. All these nutrients contribute to healthy skin due to their antioxidant and skin-protecting properties. Research shows that GABA can improve sleep and its amount in germinated brown rice was found to be ten times more as compared to white rice and two times more than that of brown rice.

 

(4) Seaweed

Edible seaweeds are good sources of dietary fibre, vitamins A and B, iron, zinc, omega-3 fatty acids, and phenolic compounds.  These nutrients have remarkable anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Enjoy seaweeds in moderation such as in noodles, salad, soup or sushi. However, seaweeds are rich in iodine, particularly kelp; and overeating for a prolonged period of time can affect the thyroid function adversely. It is recommended to consume kelp no more than once a week.

 

(5) Turmeric

Turmeric has long been known to have anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antioxidant and wound healing properties. The active ingredient in turmeric is curcumin, which works by scavenging free radicals that can damage our skin cells. Fresh or dried turmeric can be added as a spice during cooking; and it goes well with soup, seafood, chicken, rice, lentils, and vegetable dishes. Other herbs and spices such as cloves, oregano, ginger, and cinnamon are also good sources of antioxidants. Whatever you like, the key is to consume a variety.

 

Extra tips for skin health:

  • Drink at least 6 to 8 glasses of fluids daily to keep your skin hydrated.
  • Limit sugar intake – sugar can speed up the signs of skin ageing by producing advanced glycation end products (AGEs). Accumulation of AGEs can affect the structure of the skin, leading to increased stiffness and reduced elasticity.
  • Drink sensibly – drinking too much alcohol can lead to skin dehydration and form wrinkles.
  • Quit smoking – smoking can fasten the ageing process of skin and contribute to wrinkles.
  • Sleep 7 to 9 hours each night to let your skin rest and regenerate.

 

Sally’s Nutrition Blog @ Hong Kong Tatler: https://hk.asiatatler.com/life/5-foods-to-eat-for-healthy-skin-1#slide-1

 

5 FLAT-BELLY FOODS TO EAT THIS SUMMER

By Sally Shi-Po Poon (Dietitian)

You’ve been exercising hard and eating clean for weeks to get a flat belly this summer. However, you may wake up some days feeling bloated and miserable. Whatever the reason is – it can be the menstrual cycle, eating too much salt or something else; here are foods and dietary tips that can reduce bloating!

 

  1. Yoghurt

Yoghurt is rich in protein, calcium and potassium. It also contains probiotics which help maintain a healthy digestive system. Among low-fat, fat-free, plain, flavoured and Greek — the choices can be overwhelming when you are doing the grocery shopping! In general, it is better to choose low-fat or fat-free yoghurts as they contain less saturated fat which can help improve blood cholesterol profiles. Added sugar is a common ingredient in fruited or flavoured yoghurt. Instead, choose plain yoghurt and add your own fruits or flavours such as vanilla, cinnamon or a drizzle of honey. Greek yoghurt is strained so its texture is thicker and creamier than regular yoghurt. Yoghurt contains less lactose than milk so is easier to digest for people who are lactose intolerant. You can use yoghurt to make yoghurt parfaits, smoothies, ice cream/ ice lollies, and dips.

 

  1. Kiwis

Kiwis are very rich in vitamin C, potassium and fibre. Regular consumption of kiwis has proven to have beneficial effects on immune function and gastrointestinal function. Research found individuals with constipation had their bowel function improved after consuming two green kiwis a day for 4 weeks.

 

  1. Bananas

Many people thought bananas are high in carbohydrates and therefore fattening.  In fact, one medium banana contains only 105 kcal and 3.1 grams dietary fibre. It is a great source of potassium, a mineral that helps regulate your body’s sodium level and remove the excessive amount of water.  It’s an excellent way to counteract the excessive consumption of sodium from frequent takeaways!

 

  1. Flaxseeds

If you have constipation, try dietary supplementation of flaxseeds of up to 2 tablespoons a day for a 3-month trial. Try adding flaxseeds to breakfast cereal, yoghurt, soup or salad. Have a small glass (150ml) of fluid with each tablespoon of flaxseeds taken. Flaxseed oil does not contain any dietary fibre; however is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids that are beneficial to heart health.

 

  1. Tomatoes

Tomatoes contain fibre and potassium which can relieve bloating. Tomatoes are also a source of lycopene, which is a powerful antioxidant. Research found that lycopene may help protect skin from sun damage and reduce the risk of prostate cancer. The absorption of lycopene is greater from processed tomatoes (such as canned tomatoes, tomato paste, ketchup, soup and juice) than fresh tomatoes. This is because the food processing breaks down the tomato cell matrix and makes the lycopene more available. Addition of oil to tomatoes during cooking also greatly increases the absorption of lycopene.

 

Extra dietary tips that can help you feel less constipated and bloated:

  • Aim for 5 or 6 small meals/ snacks each day on a regular schedule. Do not skip meals!
  • Slowly increase the amount of fibre you eat to 25 to 35 grams per day. Choose whole grains (such as whole wheat, rye, oats, bran, and brown rice), seeds, nuts, and fruits and vegetables.
  • Drink plenty of fluids – aim at least 8 cups per day. You may need even more with higher amounts of dietary Fluid helps your body process fibre without discomfort.
  • If you experience a lot of bloating and wind, limit intake of gas-producing foods such as legumes and lentils, onion, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, leeks, sugar-free candies or chewing gum, and beverages sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup or sorbitol.

 

Sally’s Nutrition Blog @ Hong Kong Tatler: http://hk.asiatatler.com/wellness/5-foods-to-eat-for-a-flat-belly

DIETICIAN EXPLAINS HOW TO EAT YOUR WAY TO A HEALTHIER BODY

Summer is nearly here, which means most people are now beach body ready. However, for those of you who have left it a bit late to get into shape and live a healthier lifestyle, help is at hand.

One of the most important aspects of leading a healthier life is ensuring you have a healthy, well-balanced diet. And this is where a dietician comes in.

We spoke to registered dietician Sally Poon to find out how people in Hong Kong can eat healthier and how she helps her customers with their diet.

Sally also shared two easy-to-make, healthy dishes.

 

Broccoli soup (Serves 6)

4 cups of chopped broccoli

1 chopped onion

3 cloves garlic, chopped

1 chopped potato

3 cups low-sodium broth or water

1 cup skim milk or unsweetened soy milk

Fat-free natural Greek yogurt to serve (optional)

2 tablespoons olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

– Heat the oil in large saucepan, add the onion and garlic, cook until soft.

– Stir in potato and broccoli. Add broth, bring to the boil and reduce to a simmer for about 8 minutes until very tender.

– Stir in milk and cook for 2 minutes. Remove from heat.

– Blend the vegetable mixture until smooth.

– Serve soup with a swirl of Greek yogurt. Add salt and pepper to taste.

 

 

Smoothie (serves 2)

1 ripe banana, peeled and chopped

1 small ripe papaya, peeled, seeded and chopped

100g fat-free natural Greek yogurt

1 cup skim milk or unsweetened soy milk

1 tablespoon chia seed or ground flaxseed

– Combine all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Ready to serve.

 

10 WAYS TO EAT HEALTHY WHEN DINING OUT

By Sally Shi-Po Poon (Dietitian)

Hong Kong is known for its gluttonous cuisine; there are just so many unhealthy options for dining out. But when you do eat out, are you actually thinking about whether it’s good for your diet too?

Restaurant dishes are often higher in fat, sugar and salt—they’re also served in much larger portions than at home. So, if you’re not careful, dining out regularly can eventually lead to extra pounds.

To help combat this effect, here are some tips on eating healthy when dining out:

1. Choose fish and lean meats
Go with meats that are labelled loin or round—they’re leaner. Avoid fatty meats such as brisket, ribs, rib eye and jowl, and always remove the fat and skin from chicken and other poultry.

2. Go veggie
Substitute beans, eggs, tofu, or textured vegetable protein products for meat. And don’t forget about real vegetables! Always order a plate of salad or boiled vegetables with your meal, or choose dishes that have vegetables in them like stir-fried celery with chicken.

3. Cut back on oil
Limit oil or salt added to dishes, such as table salt, chilli oil, ketchup, oyster sauce, soy sauce, curry sauce and gravy. Substitute salad dressings with vinegar or lemon juice with a small amount of olive oil. Limit the use of creamy dressings and always ask for the dressing on the side.

4. Choose low-fat cooking methods
Steaming, boiling, baking, grilling or stir-frying with small amount of oil are the best ways to go. Also, try to ask the kitchen to use less oil when ordering your dishes.

5. Limit processed foods
Processed foods that are high in fat and/or salt include bacon, ham, sausages, preserved eggs or pickled vegetables, so try to avoid them.

6. Drink more water
Drink water, plain tea or clear broth with your meals. When it comes to cold beverages like lemon tea, milk tea or coffee, ask for less sugar or none at all—or request restaurants to serve the sugar separately.

7. Have fruit for dessert
Fruits have plenty of natural sugars that will still give you a sugar high, without all of the man-made, often chemical ingredients.

8. Eat slowly
Although you might be hungry at first, try not to scarf everything down in one go. Allow at least 20 minutes to finish your meal, and only eat until you are 70 to 80 percent full.

9. Don’t over order
Although it might be tempting, try not to order more than you can eat. When it comes to buffets, try a bit of everything; it’s a nice way to explore without overindulging.

10. Pack it to go
Don’t feel like you have to clean your plate. You can always take the leftovers home, and split your meal into two.

So there you have it—10 practical tips on how to eat healthy when dining out in Hong Kong. Now, there should be no more excuses… right?

Sally’s Nutrition Blog @ Hong Kong Tatler: http://hk.asiatatler.com/wellness/how-to-eat-healthy-when-dining-out

5 DIETITIAN-APPROVED NUTRITION TIPS TO GET FIT FOR SUMMER!

By Sally Shi-Po Poon (Dietitian)

 

With summer coming up, everybody would love to have a slim body shape ready to hit the beach! Here are some practical tips to help you get fit and healthy:

 

  1. Very often people go straight on a low-carbohydrate diet when they want to lose weight. However many of them experience weight rebound once they have gone off the diet. Comparing the a low carbohydrate (Zone), a very low-fat diet (Ornish) , and a very low carbohydrate (Atkins) diets to each other and to a typical calorie-restricted (Weight Watchers) diet, research found them all to have a similar impact on weight. The Ornish diet and the Atkins diet had the poorest compliance rates. The study concluded that compliance and caloric deficits are keys to successful weight loss.

 

  1. There are 9 calories in every gram of fat, regardless of what type of fat it is. Consuming high levels of calories – regardless of the source – can lead to weight gain. Consuming high levels of saturated or trans fats (e.g. full fat dairy, animal products, butter and pastries) can lead to heart disease and stroke. For good health, the majority of the fats that you eat should be monounsaturated or polyunsaturated (e.g. fish, olive oil, avocado, nuts and seeds). However, you still need to control your portions; for example, 100g avocado (half piece) provides 160 kcal and 15g fat; and 1 oz. of almonds (23 kernels) provides 164 kcal and 14g fat!

 

  1. Go low GI (Glycaemic Index)! Wholegrains such as brown rice, quinoa, barley, rye, whole wheat pasta, buckwheat noodles, wholegrain bread, and oatmeal, carry lower GI values that make you feel fuller for longer. So you experience fewer cravings for junk foods!

 

  1. If you drink alcohol, moderate your consumption to no more than 2 alcohol units a day as alcohol is high in calories and harmful to health. Alcohol contains 7 calories per gram, almost the same calories as fat. For example, 175ml glass of wine (13%) provides 159 calories and that’s equivalent to 2.3 alcohol units. So it’s definitely not only the beer that makes your belly grow!

 

  1. Is it hunger or craving? Be aware of how your emotions affect what you want to eat. For example, do you eat more when you’re feeling angry, upset, lonely or bored? Use distractions to help control craving. For example, go for a walk, phone a friend, take a bath or apply a face mask.

 

Remember there is no quick fix and making changes to your lifestyle can require a lot of effort. When you achieve the target, reward your success with a gift that is non-food-related… maybe new clothing for this summer?

 

Sally’s Nutrition Blog @ Hong Kong Tatler: http://hk.asiatatler.com/wellness/get-fit-for-summer-5-dietitian-approved-nutrition-tips