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 Issue 65, April 2015  

Hello <<First Name>>,  

Do you love autumn as much as we do, with its delicious array of produce to keep you motivated to eat well?  In this issue we’ll tell you about…

  • The NEW Health Star Rating tool
  • A delicious ancient grains and legumes cookshop
  • Why now is the perfect time for pumpkins
  • Tofu and why it isn’t as tricky as you might think
  • Our coaching supermarket tour opportunity
  • Whether you should use liquid aminos to season your food.

The NEW Health Star Rating - What Does it Mean for You?

Deciphering food labels is tricky business! Many shoppers become frustrated with the complex numerical information on the back of food labels. With the recent addition of the industry-driven Daily Intake Counter, there has been another element to wrap your head around. Now, the government has released a brand new strategy called the Health Star Rating (HSR), to help make healthier choices easier.

What do people seek on food labels? Studies show consumers are most concerned with price and taste in products. But time constraints are also a concern when reading packaging. It often takes a long time to interpret the fine print on the wrapper, let alone figure out what it is you should be looking for in a healthy product!

What is the Health Star Rating?

The Health Star Rating (HSR) is a government-led initiative that provides an overall evaluation of packaged food products, based on their nutrient profile per 100 g or 100 ml.  It uses star graphics and numbers to display a rating out five on the front of pack.

Basically, more stars mean a healthier product.

The HSR system comprises three elements:

  • The health star rating
  • The energy (calorie) declaration (per 100 g or 100 ml)
  • The nutrient content declaration

You may notice the HSR resembles the white goods energy rating system. But there are a few ways it can be displayed on packaging.

  1. The star rating
  2. The star rating + energy icon
  3. The star rating + energy icon + 3 nutrient icons (saturated fat, sugar, sodium)
  4. The star rating + energy icon + 3 nutrient icons + 1 optional nutrient icon (e.g. fibre)

Some products are exempt from displaying the stars. These include herbs, spices, vinegar, salt, pepper, tea, coffee, herbal infusions, gelatine and setting compounds, infant formula, catering products, alcohol and foods for special medicinal purposes. Food products in small packages are also excused as they do not have enough space to display the graphic.

How are the star values determined?

Each star value rating is determined using a calculation that has been developed, based on key nutrient components of the product – energy, protein, saturated fat, total sugars, dietary fibre and sodium. The content of fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes is also given some consideration before the overall score is produced.  However, the level of important phytonutrients cannot be not taken into account using this simple tool.

How can I use the Health Star Rating?

The HSR provides a quick and easy way to compare products at a glance. The healthiest options (from among processed packaged foods!) can simply be identified by the number of stars. The more stars the healthier the choice.

Our concern is that the system falls down when considering certain whole foods or minimally processed products, known to provide amazing health benefits. For instance, a good quality extra virgin olive oil, known for its anti-inflammatory properties only has a HSR of 3.5.  This is the same as processed margarine and ½ a star less than the more refined canola oil!  Does this mean margarine is just as healthy as olive oil?  Absolutely not.  This highlights the limitation of using such a simple system, which is unable to take into account the complexity of food and all it’s nutrients and phytonutrients for which we don’t yet have a recommended daily intake level.

The initiative will be voluntary for manufacturers for the first five years.  But the government has said that if the food industry has not adopted the HSR system adequately, it will become mandatory in the future.  So far, 11 companies have signed up to the voluntary system with seven already displaying the HSR.  Three popular brands using the food labeling strategy include Sanitarium, SPC and Coles.  You can expect to see more and more stars on your food labels over the next few years!

Still confused?

Will the new Health Star Rating system be a useful tool for healthy eating?  Or just add another confusing element to our food packaging?  Time will tell.

We believe it may help level the playing field for brands (especially highly processed foods) but it’s fair to say it’s not perfect and there are limitations.  You will still need to understand the big picture and your dietitian will still be the best person to show you which foods and dietary patterns are actually linked to lower disease rates and a healthy waistline.  Read on for our upcoming Virtual Supermarket Tour where you can get coached to understand food labels in their entirety like a pro! 


"You are successful the moment you start moving toward a worthwhile goal."
- Charles Carlson

What’s Cooking? – How to Cook Legumes & Ancient Grains + Learn to Master the Pressure Cooker

Trying to better manage a chronic medical condition? Then you’ve probably heard you should eat more legumes and wholegrains.  But how do you prepare them easily and make them taste good?

Sue Radd is running our super popular cookshop to show you how to cook these ancient superfoods from scratch using kitchen shortcuts.  If you’re keen to save time you will also see how to confidently use a pressure cooker so you can try it at home!

Find out why eating a greater variety of legumes and wholegrains can improve your health and boost your intake of protein, iron, zinc, calcium and fibre.  Plus learn about some unique disease-fighting phytonutrients, called isoflavones and lignans, and how these interact with your gut flora to keep you well.

Discover why South Americans enjoy drinking chia – you will too!  Wise up on ways with fava beans you can dish up for a quick lunch.  Learn how to make a winning split pea stew with Persian lime and a buckwheat and quinoa pilaff with exotic spices. Plus, a surprise dessert idea using an ancient fruit!

If you have diabetes or pre-diabetes, need to lower your cholesterol or blood pressure, tone down chronic systemic inflammation or just get a better handle on weight control, then this is perfect for you!

Wholegrains and legumes should be on most people’s daily diet prescription.  Are they on yours?

When: Tuesday, 5th May 2015, 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm   

Don’t eat before coming as you will enjoy a delicious four-course tasting menu and receive recipes and handouts too!

Learn more about our cookshops

More than half of the seats are already gone!  If you have any interest in this exciting topic call NOW on (02) 9899 5208 to book your place.

What’s Fresh? – Pumpkin

The humble pumpkin was made popular by the fairytale Cinderella.  People also tend to think of pumpkins in relation to American traditions, such as Halloween and Thanksgiving. The pumpkin, or squash as it is sometimes called, is native to North America and has extremely versatile culinary uses.

Pumpkins have a smooth ribbed hard outer skin with yellowish-orange moist flesh and a cluster of large flat seeds at the centre. The perfect chariot for a pauper turned princess like Cinderella! There are many varieties available in Australia, including the Queensland Blue, Jap and Butternut to name a few.

Apart from their sweet delicious flavour, pumpkins have many properties that are beneficial for your health. They provide a good source of vitamin C and an excellent source of vitamin A to assist with good eye health.  Pumpkins are low in fat, cholesterol and sodium and provide a source of dietary fibre and potassium. These gourds have a medium- to low-GI value (51-66), meaning they help to keep your blood sugar controlled and help to fill you up at meal times.

Pumpkins are available in Australia all year round and are sold by variety and colour. It is best to choose a pumpkin with a thick skin that feels heavy to hold. If you are buying a pre-cut pumpkin, look for a bright yellow-orange flesh for a higher beta-carotene content (this phytonutrient is converted to vitamin A) and sweeter flavour.

5 perfect ways with pumpkin:

  1. Make yourself an Autumn pumpkin soup. The perfect 3 pm snack or quick convenience meal.

  2. Try Sue Radd’s Chickpea Curry with Pumpkin & Baby SpinachSo easy and delicious!

  3. Bake your own healthy homemade pumpkin scones to enjoy with a cup of herbal tea.

  4. Roast pumpkin seeds and add your own mix of herbs and spices for a tasty snack.

  5. Throw some roasted pumpkin in a salad with wholegrain cous cous, roasted capsicum, roasted zucchini and pine nuts.

Food Matters with Sue Radd – Demystifying Tofu

You’ve heard it’s good for you, but how do you use tofu and what are the different types available?  Read Sue Radd’s enlightening article to discover the delights of this simple protein food enjoyed throughout history by emperors and peasants alike!

Virtual Supermarket Tour – Understand Food Labels Better to Lose More Weight & Improve Your Health

Do you spend hours in the supermarket not knowing which are the best products to choose?  Are you confused by the multiple claims, logos and nutrition panels vying for your attention? 

If the answer is yes to any of these questions, this event is for you!

To take control of your health, you need to understand how product labels work to compete for a share of your stomach. It’s more than just comparing figures to see what is highest or lowest for a given nutrient.  You need independent benchmarks you can carry in your wallet so you won’t be duped by stars, logos and clever marketing.

Join us for a virtual supermarket tour.  Over our two-hour session you will be coached on how to read the fine print and learn what to look out for, and gain the confidence you need to shop smarter for your whole family.  We’ll also get hands-on so you can pick up boxes, cans and other packaging to practise what you learn on the spot!

And you get to take home our pocket shopping guide and list of best brands!

When: Wednesday, 27thMay 2015             
Time: 6.30 pm – 8:30 pm

What people who attended previous events said:

“Loved it. Learned heaps. Can’t wait to go shopping!”
“The ‘Best Brands’ section answered a lot of questions I've wanted answers to.”
“Thank you for opening my eyes a little wider.”

Call today on (02) 9899 5208 to book and take charge of your health!

Food InFocus – Greening Your Diet

Good for you and good for the planet?  Watch this TV episode with Sue Radd to see how your food choices can make a world of difference to planetary health and your wellbeing.

Kitchen Tips – What are Bragg’s Liquid Aminos?

You’re getting ready to make a stir-fry and are suddenly stumped by what to add for flavour. Bored of the same old sauces, you gaze at the many options on offer and spot Liquid Aminos. Is this a good choice?  What is Liquid Aminos anyway?

For those who have never heard of it, Bragg’s Liquid Aminos is a certified NON-GMO “all purpose seasoning” made from soybeans.  It is promoted as a replacement for soy sauce as it is not fermented and it is gluten free. It also boasts having no preservatives.

But what the label doesn’t tell you is that it is made by treating the soybeans with hydrochloric acid to release their amino acids – so it is chemically produced rather than naturally brewed! The product also claims to provide 16 essential and non-essential amino acids, but the levels per serve are so low, you would never use it as a protein supplement – even if you were vegan!

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