It seems that as an industry we’re always on the back-foot being blamed for making people fat and shortening their lives, but here’s our chance to get on the front-foot and run with a really good way-of-eating which ticks all the health boxes and is delicious and convenient.
So why The Mediterranean Diet and why now … because our researchers tell us that The Mediterranean Diet is a perfect point where scientific understanding meets consumer needs.
And when it makes headlines like Mediterranean Diet can add 15 years to life” we know it’s something worth looking into.
Consumers already know a healthy diet means eating more salad, fruit, veg, beans, fish and white meat.
They also think they should eating less red meat, dairy and carbs … but they don’t yet realise that these life-style trends are the essence of The Mediterranean Diet.
And they also don’t know that really robust euro-science is proving that eating and drinking the Mediterranean way reduces cancer, stroke, diabetes and heart problems.
Not only that but a Mediterranean Diet is easy to follow, tastes wonderful and has a lower impact on the planet so it’s bang on trend.
- How a food smells can affect how big the portion being eaten is
- Combining flavour control with portion control can trick the body into thinking more is being eaten
The smell of food can affect how much of it you eat, according to research carried out in the Netherlands.
Published in BioMed Central's open access journal Flavour, launched today, the findings show that strong aromas lead to smaller bite sizes and suggests that aroma may be used as a means to control portion size.
Bite size depends on the familiarly and texture of food. Smaller bite sizes are taken for foods which need more chewing and smaller bite sizes are often linked to a sensation of feeling fuller sooner.
The aroma experience of food is linked to its constituents and texture, but also to bite size. Smaller bites sizes are linked towards a lower flavour release which may explain why we take smaller bites of unfamiliar or disliked foods.
In order to separate the effect of aroma on bite size from other food-related sensations researchers from the Netherlands developed a system where a custard-like dessert was eaten while different scents were simultaneously presented directly to the participants nose.
The results showed that the stronger the smell the smaller the bite. Dr Rene A de Wijk, who led the study, explained, 'Our human test subjects were able to control how much dessert was fed to them by pushing a button.
Bite size was associated with the aroma presented for that bite and also for subsequent bites (especially for the second to last bite).
'Perhaps, in keeping with the idea that smaller bites are associated with lower flavour sensations from the food and that, there is an unconscious feedback loop using bite size to regulate the amount of flavour experienced.'
This study suggests that manipulating the odour of food could result in a 5-10 per cent decrease in intake per bite.
Combining aroma control with portion control could fool the body into thinking it was full with a smaller amount of food and aid weight loss.
BioMed Central's open access journal Flavour, launched today is a peer-reviewed, open access, online journal that publishes interdisciplinary articles on flavour, its generation, perception, and influence on behaviour and nutrition.
Flavour aims to understand the psychophysical, psychological and chemical aspects of flavour, which include not only taste and aroma, but also chemesthesis, texture, and all the senses.
Many people in the UK won't have heard of the chia seed, but if regulators give their backing this US superfood craze could be on the way.
Goji berries, kombucha, wheatgrass, acai berries. It seems rarely a year passes without at least one new health-food frenzy.
Everything from handfuls of strange seeds to bacteria-infested yoghurts to espresso-style shots of odd-tasting green juices are touted as a shortcut to wellbeing.
Chia will soon be joining the list. So what exactly is it?
Chia, or Salvia hispanica L, is a member of the mint family from Mexico and South America. The flowering plant can sprout in a matter of days, but chia's appeal is in the nutritional punch of its tiny seeds.
With more omega-3 fatty acids than salmon, a wealth of antioxidants and minerals, a complete source of protein and more fibre than flax seed, the seeds have been dubbed a "dieter's dream", "the running food", "a miracle", and "the ultimate super food", by advocates and athletes.
What's in 100g of chia?
- Protein: 20.7g
- Fat: 32.8g
- Carbohydrate: 41.8g
- (of which fibre is 41.2g)
- Calcium: 714mg
- Iron: 16.4mg
- Niacin (B3): 613mg
- Thiamine (B1): 0.18mg
- Riboflavin (B2): 0.04mg
Source: Nutritional Science Research Institute
To some the seeds taste utterly bland, but to others there is a slight nutty flavour. It also can seem expensive compared with other seeds and nuts.
In the UK, the seeds are only currently allowed for sale as a bread ingredient, but over the next few weeks, the Advisory Committee on Novel Foods and Processes is poised to allow chia seeds in a wide variety of products including baked goods, breakfast cereals and nut and seed mixes.
Elsewhere in the world, chia-seed products have been springing up over the past few years. In 2011, 72 new chia products hit the market and 28 new chia foods are already out this year, according to research group Mintel. Compare that with only seven new chia products for all of 2006 and you get a sense of its growing popularity.
The US is particularly infatuated with the seed, introducing 21 new chia items in 2011 and 13 in 2012. It's in sweets, snack foods, seasonings, yogurt and even baby food.
To chia cheerleaders the seeds do no wrong. They claim chia reduces inflammation, improves heart health, and stabilises blood sugar levels. A few tablespoons are touted as remedying just about anything - without any ill effects
Health food crazes
- Goji berries: The Himalayan fruit is hyped as a "fruit Viagra" and "cellulite-busting" superfood
- Kombucha: The fermented tea is touted as a tonic for digestion problems, hair loss and other ailments
- Acai berries: Advocates claim the palm tree fruit cleanses the colon, prevents cancer and boosts weight loss
- Wheatgrass shots: The concentrated juice made of young wheat plant shoots is purported to have curative properties, particularly for digestion
So is this new superfood all it's cracked up to be?
"In terms of nutritional content, a tablespoon of chia is like a smoothie made from salmon, spinach and human growth hormone," writes Christopher McDougall in Born to Run, the bestselling book about an ultra-distance running tribe in Mexico who fuel their epic jaunts with the seeds. The book is credited with shining the spotlight on chia as food for athletes.
"If you had to pick just one desert-island food, you couldn't do much better than chia, at least if you were interested in building muscle, lowering cholesterol, and reducing your risk of heart disease; after a few months on the chia diet, you could probably swim home," McDougall adds.
Wayne Coates, co-author of Chia: Rediscovering a Forgotten Crop of the Aztecs, agrees. The University of Arizona professor started experimenting with the seeds in South America more than 20 years ago as part of a project to identify alternative crops for farmers in Argentina. He then started cultivating the seeds commercially.
"I hate to call it a miracle food because there are too many miracles that turn out not to be, but it almost is. Literally, you could live on this stuff because it's pretty much everything you need," Coates says.
Elisabeth Weichselbaum of the British Nutrition Foundation admits she had not heard of chia, but she says the foundation doesn't buy into the idea of a single superfood.
"It is true that some foods are higher in vitamins and minerals, but no single food provides us with everything we need. So the best way to be healthy is to eat a variety of foods," she says.
As an avid runner, Coates relies on the seeds to power his way through 50 and 100-mile races.
"I actually carry it in a film canister on my runs, I down a half a canister and wash it down with water."
Jeffrey Walters of the chia producer Omega 3 Chia is also a firm believer. He says the company has received inquiries from the United Nations World Food Programme to bump up the nutrient content of their rice dole.
How chia is eaten
- Mixed in couscous
- Added to bread or muffin mix
- Sprinkled over salad
- Chia gel - seeds are soaked in water to form a gel-like substance added to jelly, jam, yoghurt or salad dressing
- Agua fresca de chia - seeds are stirred with water, lime juice and sugar to make a cold drink
Walters says he has also been contacted by schools looking to sneak nutritional value into canteen fare and doomsdayers searching for a nutrient-dense food to stockpile in the event of a catastrophe.
David Nieman, director of the Human Performance Labs at Appalachian State University, has analysed the nutritional content of chia and its impact on health in a series of studies. Nieman says the seeds "as a nutritional package are wonderful", but they're no "magic pill".
"If you grind it up and sprinkle it on cereal and put it in yogurt, or put it in juice then you are giving yourself a nutritional boost. You're definitely adding to your mineral, fibre, protein, and omega-3 intake, but will it magically cure disease or take away risk factors? It's almost like a cult following for some of these chia people, they claim everything under the sun.
"But after 10 to 12 weeks we don't see anything happening to disease risk factors in free-living people."
Walters says business has doubled each year for the past four years.
In the UK, chia is permitted in bread products at concentrations up to 5%, according to the Advisory Committee on Novel Foods and Processes.
But that's set to change. The ACNFP recently released a largely positive draft opinion on the expanded use of chia seeds in other foodstuffs.
Walters has already seen a drive toward the UK market. One of his clients requested a huge quantity of chia for UK products for 2013.
Health food chain Holland & Barrett already offers whole and milled chia seeds online, ostensibly as a bread ingredient.
"Interest in chia has been building for the last two years, but it is only in the last six months that the product has been readily available in the UK," according to Holland & Barrett's nuts and seeds manager Douglas Thompson.
Although the hype may be new in the UK, the seeds have been around for hundreds of years. The Aztecs relied on chia as a staple food and revered it enough to use for religious ceremonies and medicinal purposes, according to Coates.
"It disappeared for 500 years and the only place you could find it is in a few little villages in Mexico and Guatemala," Coates says.
But even before Coates and his team picked up on the seeds, chia had something of a cult following in the US.
Until recently, most Americans would recognise it as the cheesy Christmas gift of choice circa 1990. Chia Pets, terracotta figurines which sprout chia in place of hair, grow from the same seeds.
As with any other "miracle food", it's important not to see chia as a panacea, says Dr Catherine Ulbricht, founder of the Natural Standard Research Collaboration.
"People think with natural therapies that they can take as much as they want because it's natural, but they do have potential side effects just like any therapy," she says.
"Anything that can have an action in your body can also have a reaction. Nothing is 100% spot-on all benefit."
Suspended mid-air on a hammock with your feet in stirrups, looking like a puppet on strings or a flying trapeze.
This is floating yoga, the latest form of yoga in Malaysia and Singapore. It joins a long list of other yoga fads that include hot yoga, lunar flow yoga and even baby yoga.
Offered exclusively at the Celebrity Fitness gym, floating yoga is an exercise programme developed by the gym's Fitness Development Director, John J Sweeney.
It was first launched in the Jakarta branch of the fitness chain in June 2011.
A cross between Cirque du Soleil's aerial silks and a country hammock, floating yoga includes a wide piece of parachute-strength nylon, 12 handles (6 on each side) and 2 foot cradles to place your feet, you can practice various yoga poses, including inversions, with full support.
According to Sweeney, floating yoga brings a unique fusion technique that is revolutionary in relieving compressed joints and at the same time aligns the body from head to toe.
"The new fitness and wellness workout works best in toning and getting you in shape while realigning your body from the compression of gravity," said Sweeney. "It also helps to increase one’s health and physical agility in a fun and creative way."
Classes for floating yoga are divided into beginners, intermediate and advance levels.
For more details, click www.celebrityfitness.com
Want a banana? Can’t find one. Supposedly bananas are harder to find by 12 noon in Japan. They get sold out. The morning diet is eat a banana with room temperature water and then eat a lunch and dinner or any size, no dessert and sleep by midnight. Yes, do you think it’s really going to work? Who’s behind these diets and how do they get started? It’s usually a “quack” who makes a statement of some sort, has very thin proof, and off to the races the idea goes. If they could do this often with paying scams, they’d be richer than they probably already are. How about “Banana Pills”? It’s a fad, and like many diets in Japan, it’ll pass. (Time – Banana Diet)