Alligga Flaxseed Oil Joy TV Commercial

alligga interview

Dearest FoodMysteries Readers,

Thank you for all your continued support!

My first commercial with BG Health Group featuring Alligga Flaxseed Oil will be on Joy TV this week!

Ever wonder what health benefits omega 3s have to offer? Find out by tuning in simple-smile Alligga Flaxseed Oil Joy TV Commercial 

Air Date



Time Period

Sched Time


          Wind at My Back Health and Wellness/Alligga Flaxseed Oil 6a-6p

9:18:25 AM


          Family Feud Health and Wellness/Alligga Flaxseed Oil 6p-12a

7:26:35 PM


          Wind at My Back Health and Wellness/Alligga Flaxseed Oil 6a-6p

9:18:37 AM


          Movie 2 Hr Health and Wellness/Alligga Flaxseed Oil 6p-12a

8:45:36 PM


          Movie 2 Hr Health and Wellness/Alligga Flaxseed Oil 6p-12a

9:46:38 PM


          Unscripted Health and Wellness/Alligga Flaxseed Oil 6a-6p

8:28:15 AM


          Upstairs Downstairs Health and Wellness/Alligga Flaxseed Oil 6p-12a

8:56:30 PM


          Movie 2 Hr Health and Wellness/Alligga Flaxseed Oil 6p-12a

8:58:44 PM


          Wind at My Back Health and Wellness/Alligga Flaxseed Oil 6a-6p

9:46:46 AM


          The Zoomer Health and Wellness/Alligga Flaxseed Oil 6p-12a

9:41:39 PM

Here are the Channels across Canada:

Bell Satellite Ch. 656

Rogers – Ch. 173 • Toronto BC/Regional

National Bell Satellite Ch. 656 

Telus – Ch. 123 • Vancouver, Lower Mainland • Victoria • Whistler • Kamloops • Kelowna • Vernon • Prince George

Shaw – Ch. 10 & 7 • Vancouver -10 • Victoria – 7

Novus – Ch. 10 • Vancouver Delta Cable • North & South Delta

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Green Smoothie Recipes

green smoothie

Green smoothies are a great way to get more vegetables into your diet to help you reach your recommended number of servings according to Canada’s Food Guide. Vegetables and fruit are low in fat and calories, but rich in vitamins, minerals and fiber. They help to reduce the risk of heart disease and some types of cancer.  Green smoothie recipes using dark green vegetables such as spinach and kale are important sources of folate, a key nutrient responsible for cell division in developing babies.

Green Smoothie Recipes for Weight Loss

Green smoothie recipes are typically low in fat and calories depending on the ingredients. In contrast to high fat breakfasts such as eggs and bacon with buttered toast or pancakes, you’ll enjoy a fresher start to your day and some weight loss over time as you shave off calories every morning by making a healthy green shake versus eating out for breakfast. I don’t like using the term green smoothie diet and much prefer asking you to take the green smoothie challenge for the next 2 weeks to see how you feel and track whether you notice a difference on the scale as well.

As always, a good rule of thumb is to not weigh yourself daily and instead limit yourself to a weekly weigh-in. Our body weight fluctuates about 2 to 3 pounds a day depending on fluid shifts, and timing (before or after a meal or a bowel movement). Choose one day out of the week for your weigh-in. It’s best if you can weigh yourself in the morning after your first bathroom visit but before you eat or drink anything. Repeat on a weekly basis and record the number to track your trends.

Raw Green Smoothie Recipes

Try blending together the following combinations for a simple breakfast or snack:

Chocolate Jungle Monkey Shake

  • 2 dark kale leaves (green, purple, or black work just as well)
  • ¼ cup blueberries
  • 1 small banana
  • 2tbsp plain cacao powder
  • 1 cup milk (soy, almond, rice, or hemp milk are okay)
  • (optional) 1 tbsp honey or agave nectar for added sweetness

Forest Strawberry & Banana Shake

  • 2 cups loosely packed spinach leaves
  • ½ cup plain yogurt
  • 1 cup frozen or fresh strawberries
  • 1 banana
  • (optional) maple syrup for sweetness
  • Blend with water or milk to desired thickness.

Message for the Parents

For parents of young children, it’s important to remember that children model after what their caretakers eat. Even though we’re bombarded with messages on television and from peers and elders of what ‘normal food’ or kid-friendly foods are, ultimately you’ve got the power (and the responsibility) to encourage your kids to eat well. Why go the hard route of making separate foods for the adults and the kids? Use the same green smoothie recipes for kids! Consistently offering children the same foods gives them more opportunity to like it. Foster a commitment in your household to enjoy foods that are good for health, and not the mention, very tasty as well.


Plant Sterols Lowering Cholesterol – True or False?

plant sterol yogurt

Plant sterols, also known as phytosterols, are compounds that can lower “lousy” LDL cholesterol levels and improve heart health as a result. Plant sterols foods include fruits, vegetables, vegetable oils, nuts, seeds and whole grains. Health Canada has approved the addition of plant sterols to certain products, such as yogurt and margarine.

How do they work?

Research shows that plant sterols have a structure that is very similar to cholesterol. When they are in the body, plant sterols partially block cholesterol from being absorbed in the gut. The less cholesterol gets absorbed, the lower the blood cholesterol level, which is good news for your heart.

How much should be taken?

Current research suggests that taking 2 grams of plant sterols per day can lower LDL cholesterol on average by 10% starting within 3 weeks without making changes to eating habits. An additional 5% decrease can be achieved by making dietary changes toward healthier eating.

Please Note:

Take 2 grams of plant sterols consistently on a daily basis. More is not better.

It is very difficult to meet the 2 grams from foods containing plant sterols because the amount of plant sterols found naturally in these foods is minimal. Your best bet would be choose food products fortified with plant sterols or plant sterols supplements.

Which products are fortified with plant sterols?

  • Becel Proactiv® Margarine
  • Danacol Drinkable Yogurt
  • Astro BioBest with Plant Sterols
  • President’s Choice Blue Menu Yogurt Drink with Plant Sterols
  • And others…

Plant Sterols Supplements (i.e. Plant Sterols Pills)

Plant Sterols sources are not limited to that which can be found naturally or in fortified food products. While fortified foods can be a convenient choice for some individuals, others may prefer to ‘just get the plant sterols’ for their benefit, without needing to take in extra calories from margarine or yogurt.  If you feel the same way, try a plant sterol supplement, such as Centrum Cardio Multivitamin – 2 tab daily (total 1 gram of plant sterols). Alternatively, you can seek a dietitian’s advice to choose another appropriate plant sterols pill to achieve the clinically effective 2 gram dose for the proven heart health benefits.

Plant Sterols Side Effects

According to Health Canada, , there are “no safety concerns with intakes of plant sterols up to 3g (as free phytosterols) per day in adults and 1 gram per day in children.”

Should I take them?

If you have concerns regarding your cholesterol levels, it is always best to discuss with your doctor, who may run tests to check your blood cholesterol levels. Depending on your current health status, risk factors for heart disease, and/or past heart health issues, you may not need to supplement your diet with plant sterols.  However, if plant sterols are appropriate for you, you can always meet with a dietitian to ensure you’re on the right track with meeting the 2 gram per daily intake level.

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How Much Sodium Per Day is Healthy?

salt in foods

Deep down, I think we all know that having less salt in our diet is good for us. Having fewer processed foods, restaurant meals, and cooking with less salt all contribute toward better heart health. It helps to lower blood pressure in those with hypertension and reduces fluid accumulation for those with congestive heart failure or ascites (abnormal fluid accumulation in the body). So really, “how much sodium per day should I have?” is a loaded question. Let’s break it down into a bunch of smaller questions for simplicity and comprehension’s sake.

How much sodium per day with high blood pressure?

Guidelines are set depending on age range. For adults aged 14 and older, the Heart and Stroke Foundation recommends we set a target of 2,300 mg or less per day, which is the equivalent of 1 teaspoon of salt. Keep in mind that many foods that do not taste salty may contain (sometimes a lot of) salt as well.

Food Serving Size Sodium mg
Vegetables and Fruit Fresh and most frozen vegetables contain very little sodium.
Peppers (jalapeno, hot chilli), canned/bottled 30 mL (2 Tbsp) 720-843
Tomato sauce (plain or with vegetables), canned/bottled 125 mL (1/2 cup) 585-721
Sauerkraut, canned/bottled 125 mL (1/2 cup) 496
Pickles (sour, dill) 1 small 324-447
Vegetables, all varieties, canned 125 mL (1/2 cup) 209-439
Tomato juice and vegetable cocktail 125 mL (1/2 cup) 345
Stewed tomatoes, canned 125 mL (1/2 cup) 298
Sun-dried tomatoes 7 tomatoes 287
Olives, canned 4 olives 248
Pizza sauce 125 mL (1/2 cup) 246
Grain Products Grains such as rice, barley, quinoa, oats and wheat are low in sodium.
Cream of wheat, all types, cooked 175 mL (3/4 cup) 370
Breakfast cereal, dry, all varieties 30 g 242-332
Oatmeal, instant, cooked 175 mL (3/4 cup) 216-240
Other Grain Products    
Crackers, all varieties, salted 30 g 192-335
Bread roll (rye, french) 1 roll (35 g) 231-321
Bread, all types 1 slice (35 g) 228-238
Muffin (carrot, blueberry, chocolate chip) 1 small (66 g) 203-232
Soda crackers, unsalted 10 (30 g) 230
Bagel, all varieties ½ bagel (45 g) 199-226
Milk and Alternatives
Buttermilk 250 mL (1 cup) 223-272
Cottage cheese (1%, 2%) 250 mL (1 cup) 788-970
Blue 50 g (1 ½ oz) 698-904
Processed cheese slices (cheddar, Swiss) 50 g (1 ½ oz) 685-794
Feta 50 g (1 ½ oz) 558
Cheese spread 30 mL (2 Tbsp) 491-503
Cheddar, colby, edam, gouda, mozzarella, provolone, camembert 50 g (1 ½ oz) 208-482
Cottage cheese, fat free 250 mL (1 cup) 287
Meat and Alternatives Fresh and unprocessed frozen meat, poultry and fish contain very little sodium. Bagged dried peas, beans and lentils contain little sodium
Bacon, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 1555-1920
Bacon (back bacon/peameal, English style bacon), cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 982-1160
Ham, cured, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 621-1125
Beef jerky 75 g (2 ½ oz) 976
Corned beef, canned 75 g (2 ½ oz) 754
Ham, reduced sodium, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 727

Source: Dietitians of Canada

How much sodium per day to lose weight?

To be clear, cutting down on salt won’t directly lead to weight loss. However, many processed foods and restaurant dishes have a lot of salt, as well as calories from fat. By actively cutting down salt through a reduction of processed foods and cutting down on restaurant meals (or by making better choices), there is also a dramatic reduction in calories and fat intake. To reiterate, the answer to “How much sodium per day for weight loss,” it is the reduction in total calories that causes weight loss, not actually the reduction in salt.

How much sodium per day is too much?

According to Health Canada, healthy adults need only 1500 mg of sodium each day. People aged 14 and over should eat no more than 2300 mg of sodium each day. This is known as the Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL). A sodium intake above 2300 mg a day is likely to present a health risk. *See table below for exact figures.

How much sodium per day is healthy for kids and infants?

According to Health Canada, the amount of sodium we need each day is based on our life-stage.

Healthy… should aim for the Adequate Intake (AI) of Sodium without going over the Upper Limit (UL) of
Infants 0-6 months 120 mg/day No data
Infants 7-12 months 370 mg/day No data
Children 1-3 years 1000 mg/day 1500 mg/day
Children 4-8 years 1200 mg/day 1900 mg/day
Teens 9-13 years 1500 mg/day 2200 mg/day
Adults 14-50 years 1500 mg/day 2300 mg/day
Older adults 51-70 years 1300 mg/day
Older adults over 70 years 1200 mg/day
Pregnancy 1500 mg/day


Adequate Intake (AI) is the recommended average daily nutrient intake level based on observed or experimentally determined approximations or estimates of nutrient intake by a group (or groups) of apparently healthy people who are assumed to be maintaining an adequate nutritional state. The AI is expected to meet or exceed the needs of most individuals in a specific life-stage and gender group.

Upper Limit (UL) is also known as Tolerable Upper Intake Level. The UL is the highest average daily nutrient intake level likely to pose no risk of adverse health effects to almost all individuals in a given-life-stage and gender group. The UL is NOT a recommended level of intake. As intake increases above the UL, the potential risk of adverse effects increases.

Health Check Symbol – What Does it Mean?

The Health Check symbol is a not-for-profit, voluntary program created by the Heart and Stroke Foundation to help Canadians eat healthier at restaurants and shop smarter by making heart healthy choices. Specifically, the Health Check symbol indicates the following sodium standards have been met.

Food Product Current Health Check criteria New criteria effective Nov. 2010
Breads 480 mg or less 360 mg or less
Cereals 480 mg or less 240 mg or less
Vegetables 480 mg or less 240 mg or less
Canned tomato and vegetable juices and blends 650 mg or less 480 mg or less
Milk 480 mg or less 240 mg or less
Yogurt 480 mg or less 140 mg or less
Cheese and cheese products 480 mg or less 240 mg or less
Meats (including packaged deli meats, ground meat, canned meat, meatballs, sausages, burgers) 480 mg or less 360 mg or less
480 mg or less
480 mg or less
140 mg or less
240 mg or less
Canned soups 650 mg or less 480 mg or less
Dinner Entrees or mixed dishes 720 mg or less 720 mg or less
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Pregnant and Breastfeeding Women Need More of This Nutrient

omega 3

Many people have heard about the heart healthy effects of omega-3 fats. but not everyone knows that they also play an important role in a baby’s brain and eye development. For this reason, it is suggested that pregnant and breastfeeding women consume more omega-3 fats than those who are not pregnant or lactating.

There are three kinds of omega-3 fats: ALA (alpha-linoleic acid), DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid). ALA is found in plant foods including vegetable oils (such as flaxseed oil and canola oil), walnuts, flaxseeds, and soy products. Our bodies can make EPA and DHA from ALA, but the conversion rate is not very high. This is why the recommended intake level of ALA is much higher than that of EPA and DHA. EPA and DHA are found in fish, seafood, and fish oils. Just two servings of fish per week (total 150 grams or 5 ounces) would provide 0.3-0.45 grams of EPA and DHA per day, which is the general recommendation given to adults. For those who don’t enjoy fish, however, make sure you get enough ALAs for your baby’s healthy brain and vision development.

Recommended Intake Levels of ALA Omega-3 Fats

  • Women 19 and older – 1.1 grams per day
  • Pregnant Women 19 and older – 1.4 grams per day
  • Breastfeeding Women 10 and older – 1.3 grams per day
  • There is no upper limit established for ALA. (i.e. there is no maximum dose limit that has been set)

Getting Enough Omega-3 Fats

As mentioned earlier, not everyone likes eating fish and seafood, so it’s helpful to know plant based omega-3 fats (ALA) are available in many foods, including:

  • Walnuts
  • Flax seeds (Grind whole flaxseed or buy it ground so you absorb more of the omega-3 fats in flax. The seed as a whole is very hard to digest by the body and as a result, very little omega-3 fat is actually absorbed.)
  • Chia seeds (doubles as a great source of soluble fibre that helps alleviate constipation, especially if you’re taking iron supplements during your pregnancy)
  • Soy products
  • Vegetable oils (such as canola and flaxseed oil)
  • Omega-3 fortified foods: margarine, eggs, yogurt, juice, soy beverage

As with any nutrient that’s good for the  body, if you’re able to get it through food first, do so. Save supplements for when you absolutely cannot get it any other way. When nutrients, omega-3 fats included, are taken in it’s whole food form, it’s “packaged by nature” to contain other vitamins, minerals, and macronutrients that may play a synergistic role in improving overall health than what an isolated supplement can offer. Food first, supplement second.

Alligga Flaxseed Cooking Oil

Here’s a quick and simple way to add more omega-3s (ALA) into your diet.


Omega-3 Fat Content of Common Foods

(Courtesy of Dietitians of Canada website)

Food Serving size ALA (g) EPA/DHA (g)
Vegetables and Fruit Not a good source of omega-3 fats.
Edamame/baby soybeans, cooked 125 mL (½ cup) 0.29-0.34 0
Radish seeds, sprouted, raw 125 mL (½ cup) 0.42 0
Winter squash, cooked 125 mL (½ cup) 0.18 0
Grain products Products made with flax, soybean or canola oil provide ALA. Some grain products are now enriched with EPA/DHA.  Check food labels for details.
Wheat germ cereal, toasted 30 g 0.24 0
Milk and Alternatives Some dairy products now provide omega-3 fat. Check food labels for details.
Milk, fortified with DHA * 250 mL (1 cup) 0 0.01
Omega-3 soy beverage with flax and algal* 250 mL (1 cup) 0.67 0.03
Omega-3 yogurt * 175 g (¾ cup) 0.46 0
Soy beverage 250 mL (1 cup) 0.19 0
 Meat and Alternatives
Egg Products
Eggs, cooked 2 eggs 0.06-0.28 0.07
Omega-3 eggs fortified with DHA* 2 eggs 0.50-0.54 0.16-0.27
Fish and Seafood
Anchovies, canned with oil 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.01 1.54
Arctic char, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.08 0.68
Carp, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.26 0.56
Caviar (black, red), granular 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.01 1.96
Clams, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.01 0.21
Cod, Atlantic, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0 0.11
Cod, Pacific, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.04 0.79
Crab, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.01 0.36
Eel, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.42 0.14
Halibut, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.04-0.06 0.35-0.88
Herring, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.05-0.11 1.6
Lobster, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.01 0.42
Mackerel, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.03-0.08 0.90-1.39
Mackerel, salted 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.12 3.43
Mussels, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.03 0.59
Octopus, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0 0.13
Oysters, Eastern/Blue point, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.04-0.05 0.33-0.41
Oysters, Pacific, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.05 1.04
Pollock, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0 0.40
Salmon, Atlantic, farmed, raw or cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.08-0.11 1.48-1.61
Salmon, Atlantic, wild, raw or cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.22-0.28 1.08-1.38
Salmon, Chinook, raw or cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.06-0.08 1.31-1.47
Salmon, Coho, raw or cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.03-0.05 0.33-0.98
Salmon, pink/humpback, raw, cooked or canned 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.03-0.06 0.96-1.26
Salmon, sockeye/red, raw, cooked or canned 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.05-0.07 0.87-1.06
Sardines, canned 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.17-0.37 0.74-1.05
Scallops, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0 0.27
Shrimp, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.01 0.24
Snapper, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0 0.25
Sole or plaice, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.01 0.37
Tilapia, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.03 0.10
Trout, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.06-0.14 0.65-0.87
Tuna, light, canned with water 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0 0.21
Tuna, white, canned with water 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.05 0.65
Whitefish, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.17 1.20
Meat Alternatives
Beans (navy, pinto), cooked 175 mL (¾ cup) 0.17-0.24 0
Peas, black-eyed, cooked 175 mL (¾ cup) 0.11 0
Soybeans, mature, cooked 175 mL (¾ cup) 0.76 0
Tofu, cooked 150 g (¾ cup) 0.27-0.48 0
Meatless (fish sticks, chicken, meatballs), cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.39-0.78 0
Nuts and Seeds                  
Almonds, oil roasted, blanched 60 mL (¼ cup) 0.15 0
Chia seeds 15 mL (1 Tbsp) 1.9 0
Flaxseed, ground** 15 mL (1 Tbsp) 2.46 0
Hickory nuts 60 mL (¼ cup) 0.32 0
Pumpkin seeds, without shell 60 mL (¼ cup) 0.06 0
Pecans 60 mL (¼ cup) 0.25-0.29 0
Soy nuts 60 mL (¼ cup) 0.42 0
Walnuts, black 60 mL (¼ cup 0.64 0
Walnuts, English, Persian 60 mL (¼ cup) 2.30 0
Fats and Oils
Canola oil 5 mL (1 tsp) 0.42 0
DHA-enriched Omega-3 margarine made with fish oil 5 mL (1 tsp) 0.28 0.03
Flaxseed oil 5 mL (1 tsp) 2.58 0
Omega-3 margarine made with canola oil * 5 mL (1 tsp) 0.34 0
Soybean oil 5 mL (1 tsp) 0.31 0
Walnut oil 5 mL (1 tsp) 0.48 0
Herring oil supplement 5 mL (1 tsp) 0.04 0.48
Salmon oil supplement 5 mL (1 tsp) 0.05 1.44
Sardine oil supplement 5 mL (1 tsp) 0.06 0.96
Almond beverage 250 mL (1 cup) 0.10 0
Oat beverage 250 mL (1 cup) 0.30 0

Source: “Canadian Nutrient File 2010”

www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/nutrition/fiche-nutri-data/index-eng.php    [Accessed Dec. 2012]


Dash Diet Recipes & More

dash diet

Here is one diet that dietitians gladly stand behind and enforce to patients wishing to lower their blood pressure.  Many people have high blood pressure (also known as hypertension), but not everyone knows how to keep their blood pressure under control.


Dash Diet for High Blood Pressure Tips:

  • Aim for a healthy weight (Body Mass Index between 18-25)
  • Be physically active as often as you can
  • Enjoy less salt in your foods
  • If you drink alcohol, consume in moderation
  • Measure your blood pressure regularly (If your doctor said so)


You can also try following the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) Diet, which may work as well as medications do when it comes to lowering blood pressure.


A DASH Diet Meal Plan involves the following:

  • Focus on having fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Enjoy low fat dairy foods like milk and yogurt (versus their full fat counterparts)
  • Emphasize whole grains and high fiber foods
  • Choose foods low in saturated fat, cholesterol, and total fat
  • Consume more fish, poultry, legumes, nuts and seeds and less red meat
  • Keep sweets, sugar, and alcohol to a minimum
  • Have foods rich in minerals like potassium, magnesium and calcium, as well as protein and fiber
  • Maintain a daily sodium or salt intake between 1500mg (2/3 tsp) to 2300mg (1 tsp)


Other Benefits of the DASH Diet Menu:

  • Lowers LDL (“Lousy” cholesterol that sticks to your arteries and causes blockages)
  • Reduces your risk for developing heart disease (due to decreased blood pressure and LDL levels)


Tips to Get You Started on Your DASH Diet Plan:

  • Read the Nutrition Facts Label to select foods with low or no sodium
  • Avoid buying processed foods, smoked, cured, and processed meats
  • For sauces and seasonings, use small amounts to flavor food
  • Rinse canned beans, vegetables, and fish and drain well to remove excess sodium


For a sample Dash Diet Plan Recipes (including High Blood Pressure Recipes (Hypertension Recipes, also known as Low Sodium Diet Recipes) as well as a 1 week Dash Diet Plan, visit:



Tags: dash diet plan, dash diet menu, dash diet for high blood pressure, dash diet plan recipes, high blood pressure recipes, low sodium diet recipes, hypertension recipes

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Best Tea for Your Health


When it comes to drinking tea, every culture in the world has its own opinion of what’s the healthiest. So among all the varieties out there – black, green, white, red, herbal, oolong – plus the mixes and blends at gourmet tea shops, which one TRULY offers the most health benefits?

Overall, studies have found that different types of tea offer similar and unique health benefits. Here’s why:

Polyphenols – Some studies have shown that the polyphenols present in tea may reduce the risk of certain cancers, prevent blood clotting, and lower cholesterol levels. There’s also been support that drinking tea improves our body’s immune system, helping us to fight off colds and viruses.

Did You Know?

Black, Green, White, and Oolong teas are all derived from the same tree known as Camellia sinensis. The difference between these four varieties is simply the amount of processing it goes through. The more processing, the darker the leaves, the darker the tea. Not surprisingly then, white tea is the least processed and it is derived from young leaves that are silvery white because they are too young to have developed chorophyll, the component of plants responsible for their signature green color. Don’t be mistaken though, just because black, green, and oolong teas go through more processing that results in a different taste profile and color, all of them contain polyphenols. This means you’ll experience the same health benefits no matter which type you choose!

What About Matcha?

Personally, I LOVE Japanese matcha because of the rich depth of flavor and it’s vibrant color. And while a hot cup of traditionally brewed matcha green tea is incredible in its own way, I have welcomed the addition of matcha in modern delights such as lattes, ice-creams, and baked goods too. The unique health benefit of matcha is that is contains an antioxidant called epigallocatechin gallate (short name=EGCG). This EGCG compound is over 100 times greater in Japanese matcha than in brewed Chinese green tea because matcha powder is produced by grinding entire tea leaves from the Camellia sinesis plant. The EGCG compound not only performs as a free radical fighting antioxidant in our bodies, but it’s been shown in some studies to improve weight loss by increasing the body’s ability to metabolize fat.

How About Rooibos and Herbal Tea?

Interestingly, rooibos tea and herbal teas are not technically teas. This is because they are brewed infusions made with herbs, flowers, roots, spices, or other plant parts that are not derived from the leaves of the Camellia plant. Therefore, these two types of “tea” (actual technical name would be “tisane”) do not have polyphenols and their associated health benefits. Having said this, rooibos and herbal “teas” are plant-based, which means they have their own naturally occurring antioxidants that protect themselves against extended sun exposure. This means rooibos and herbal teas are still a great choice, especially in comparison to juice or pop when it comes to quenching thirst.

Decaf or Regular?

When it comes to caffeine, a healthy rule of thumb is to have no more than about 2 cups of coffee or tea a day (1 cup = 250mL = 8 ounces). The reason for this is because caffeine can interrupt sleep, make us pee more frequently (which can make us lose important minerals and electrolytes such as calcium, chloride, potassium, and sodium).

A cup of tea can provide about 20 – 87mg caffeine.
A cup of coffee provides about 173mg caffeine.
The recommended daily limit for caffeine is 300mg per day.
Note: Don’t forget that caffeine is present in chocolate, soft drinks, and energy drinks too. So if you’ve been told by your physician that it’s really important to watch your caffeine intake, always read the ingredients label of your food product to make sure. This is especially important if you’re pregnant and have been told by your doctor to limit your caffeine intake. (Caffeine can interfere with the mother and the fetus’ sleep and high intake has been associated with higher rates of miscarriage even though there’s not enough evidence to know for sure at this time.)

Iced Tea or Hot Tea?

Expert researchers have found that the healthful polyphenols in brewed tea are consistently many times higher than bottled tea beverages, which sometimes contain no polyphenols after processing. So whenever you can, choose to drink hot teas. And don’t wait until it cools too long because polyphenols degrade and disappear as it is steeped in hot water, so drink it while it’s hot (without burning your tongue, of course!) to enjoy the highest level of benefit.

This post is dedicated to Miss Iris Chau for her thoughtful question of “Which Tea is the Healthiest?” on our Facebook fanpage. Thanks Iris!

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Spice Up Your Health with Indian Food

traditional indian food

Traditional Indian food is filled with amazing spices and ingredients that are not only delicious, but may also carry health benefits as well! A little while ago, my colleagues and I did a project where we researched how common spices used in South Indian cooking may be beneficial to your health. Here’s a quick synopsis of common spices using in cooking Indian food.


Fenugreek is commonly used to flavor chutneys. It is thought by some to aid in digestion and hyperlipidemia as well as diabetes management. Some studies have shown that fenugreek may decrease blood glucose levels. It has also been shown in some studies to decrease triglycerides and increase HDL (healthy cholesterol). More studies are needed to be done to come to a conclusion about fenugreek and its health benefits.


The Bottom Line: There’s no harm in taking fenugreek, but there’s no hard science saying its beneficial. Flavor-wise though? Awesome.


Cinnamon is a spice that is often used in South Indian cuisine to flavor curries, not just Indian desserts! Traditionally cinnamon has been used to tackle gastrointestinal complaints. More recently, cinnamon’s claim to fame was in helping to manage type 2 diabetes by improving glucose and insulin metabolism. It has been shown that cinnamon may improve blood pressure, but this is more consistent in poorly controlled type 2 diabetics.


The Bottom Line: No harm in taking cinnamon, whether that’s in curry, baking, or beverages. As for how much to take daily, more research needs to be done to decide on an optimal dosage. Never take cinnamon in place of your usual diabetes and heart medications.


Garlic is used in the many traditional South Indian recipes to add flavor to dishes (i.e. rice dishes). Garlic is known for its heart healthy benefits. However, studies show that garlic may reduce total cholesterol only modestly and it cannot be recommended for management of hypertension (high blood pressure). Overall garlic is unlikely to prevent cardiovascular disease on its own. But adding garlic to your meals will help flavor your meals and result in lower salt intake, which WILL lower your blood pressure.


The Bottom Line: It is important to be aware that there are drug interactions (for example, with warfarin) when taking large doses of garlic. Ask your doctor if you’re a garlic lover or if you’re taking garlic supplements.


Not all Indian food menus or buffets will list the ingredients of each dish. So if you’re interested in what’s in the food and to get another perspective of spices that make up a huge part of Indian food history, ask a friendly server who is knowledgeable or at least willing to ask the chef for you.

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Vegetarian Food = Awesome Eats Without the Meats

protein rich vegetarian food

You don’t have to be a vegetarian to enjoy vegetarian food. Carnivores who enjoy vegetarian food at least once a week can reduce their risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, and cancer. Additional benefits include being earth friendly since copious amounts of fossil fuel and fresh water is used to process meat from farm to table. In fact, there’s an international movement called “Meatless Mondays” that encourage people to enjoy vegetarian food on Monday, because people will be more prone to make health conscious decisions for the rest of the week.


Easy Steps to Enjoying Vegetarian Food

  1. Create a vegetarian food list. Add pulses, a protein rich vegetarian food, that has twice as much protein as wheat, oats, barley, and rice. (see tips below)
  2. Search for vegetarian food recipes you’d like to try. For simple, delicious, and well tested recipes, visit www.pulsecanada.com/food-health/recipes or search your favorite website for recipes using beans, lentils, peas, tofu, soy, quinoa, nuts, and seeds.
  3. Reserve a spot on your fridge for a vegetarian grocery list to remind yourself of your commitment to go meatless at least once a week.


Tips on Cooking Pulses

  • “Pulse” is the term for edible seeds of legumes (plants with a pod), such as lentils, beans, dry peas, and chickpeas, but does not include fresh green beans or peas.
  • Similar to pasta, pulses can double or triple in size while cooking. Make sure you use a large enough pot when boiling legumes.
  • Pulses should be cooked slowly so their seed coats remain intact. Follow cooking time guidelines for the pulse you are cooking (see reference: www.pulsecanada.com)
  • Pulses are considered done when they are cooked until tender
  • Freely add fresh or dried spices, herbs, and seasonings while cooking
  • Avoid adding salt and acidic ingredients such as tomatoes, vinegar, balsamic, citrus until the pulses are fully cooked because acids slow the cooking process


More Tips on How to Add Pulses to Your Diet

  • Maintain a variety of legumes in your pantry – try different colors because we truly ‘eat with our eyes first!’
  • Store canned legumes on hand in case you’re in a hurry
  • Replace meat with legumes in soups, salads, rice and pasta dishes
  • Cook lentils into your favourite pasta sauce in addition to meat or as a substitute
  • Add hummus along with cheese and vegetables into a tortilla or place into pita
  • Season mashed legumes with spices to create low fat, high fibre spreads and dips

How to Lower Cholesterol Naturally Through Food

foods that lower cholesterol

When it comes to eating well for our hearts, everyone can start making better choices. The sad part is, most people don’t change their poor eating habits until after they start having heart pain, a heart attack or stroke. To be fair, I enjoy going for burgers and eggs benedict too, but I gotta tell you, working in a hospital has changed me for life. It shows me that the 80/20 rule is really important in life and when it comes to eating. It teaches me to make good food choices 80% of the time and save indulgences for the remaining 20%. Because no matter what anyone else tells you, having a heart attack or stroke will scare the living daylights out of you, and those you love and care about you.

Poor eating habits, abdominal obesity, stress, and physically inactivity are all risk factors that contribute to increased cholesterol. High cholesterol levels can lead to heart attack and stroke. If you have high cholesterol, or are on the high end of normal range, I’m glad you’re here because it means you’re interested in learning how to lower your cholesterol naturally through food. After all, who likes taking medications?

The Basics of Heart Health

  • Cholesterol is a waxy substance that carries fat through the blood for storage, and is involved in hormone production.
  • Our liver makes 80% of the cholesterol in our body; 20% comes from the food we eat.
  • There are two types of cholesterol:
    • LDL (lousy) leads to plaque build up and blockage in blood vessels.
    • HDL (healthy) helps remove LDL built up in arteries.
  • Food sources of cholesterol include egg yolks, organ meats, squid, shrimp, prawns, and whole fat dairy, including whole milk and high milk fat cheeses.


Foods that Lower Cholesterol

  • Increase your dietary fibre intake by choosing whole grain breads, pastas, and cereals

  • Having more than 5 servings of vegetables and fruit each day as per the Canada’s Food Guide serving sizes to increase your intake of beneficial phytochemicals

  • Enjoy more vegetarian protein foods such as beans, legumes, lentils, tofu and other soy products

How to Lower Cholesterol without Medication*


  • Decreasing your overall intake of fat, especially saturated fat. For a 2000 calorie diet, consuming less than 16 grams of saturated fat a day can lower LDL cholesterol levels by 16%.
  • Cut down on high cholesterol foods such as organ meats, squid, shrimp, and prawns
  • Switch solid fats such as butter and hydrogentated margarine to liquid oils (canola, olive, grapeseed, hemp, flax, & walnut), or soft margarine (non-hydrogenated)
  • Trim the visible fat off of your meats and choose skinless poultry and leaner cuts of red meat with less marbling (white fat streaks that run across the meat)
  • Limit egg yolks to no more than 2 per week
  • Choose lower fat milk (skim, 1%, or 2%), cheese (20% milk fat or less), sour cream (low fat or 0%), and replace cream with evaporated milk

How to Lower Triglycerides Naturally

  • Omega 3s can lower triglycerides, improve cardiac arrhythmias (irregular heart beat) and reduce the stickiness of our blood platelets (which helps our blood to flow nicely)
  • Increase your omega-3 fatty acid intake by eating 2-3 servings of fatty fish per week
  • Ask your doctor about taking a fish oil supplement instead if you’re not a fan of fish


How to Lower Blood Pressure Naturally

  • Limit your salt intake to less than 2000mg per day. That’s just under 1 teaspoon a day.
  • Take the salt shaker off the dining table and stop using it at restaurants
  • Switch your favorite salt-containing seasonings for salt substitutes such as Mrs.Dash
  • Eating out?
    • Ask for unsalted fries (trust me, your fries will ALWAYS be piping hot and fresh because they had to make a fresh batch for you).
    • Better yet, switch your side of fries for a salad
    • Ask for sauces and dressings on the side and use sparingly
  • Increase your physical activity and lose weight, if you are overweight