Red kiwi fruits – you can eat kiwi fruit skin!

I’ve been eating out a lot because of the busy work schedule (and lack of time to cook at home) for the past few years, and everyday I really need some fresh fruit to counteract that greasiness/saltiness. Kiwi fruits are one of my favourite fruits, although they’re pretty expensive in Singapore so they’re not always my go-to fruit. I was very eager to try the red kiwi fruit by Zespri at the local NTUC Fairprice last month, and got a pack before they ran out of stock. Indeed they are even better than the yellow flesh kiwi fruits!!! More sweet, juicy, softer, less astringent, with a nice strawberry flavour as well.

IMG_2113

The red kiwi is bred with a natural semi-transparent crimson coloured red flesh. I couldn’t find much information about the nutrient content, but according to this website it contains twice the amount of vitamin C as a regular kiwi. Sweeter, more delicious, and more nutritionally ideal, sounds good by my books! But, I couldn’t find it anymore after a while!!! While I was searching for its availability, I found on Zespri’s Facebook page (replying a fan’s comment) “Unfortunately the red kiwis typically have a smaller crop and therefore are no longer available. However, rest assured that we will keep our fans posted of any future updates via our Facebook page . So do check back, thanks! Meanwhile, the SunGold and Green kiwis are available in your local supermarkets for your enjoyment!”

I tried kiwi berries once last year; although again I think they are only seasonal as I haven’t seen them for the whole of 2015. I will blog about them some other day when I find the photo amongst my disorganised iPhoto!

All kiwi fruits are imported mainly from New Zealand, but contrary to its common name, the kiwi is native to China. Actually all kiwi fruits are originally from China; hence the name of Chinese Gooseberry. Historically, the Chinese were never overly fond of the kiwifruit (hmmm perhaps that says something about my non-traditional tastebuds?! :P), and used it mainly as a tonic for growing children and for women after childbirth. Other fascinating kiwi facts can be found here.

When cut, they release an enzyme (unique to kiwi fruits) that will soften other foods (and themselves) — so do only cut and serve until the last possible minute. Interestingly, this same enzyme actinidin has also been shown to help with protein digestion in the human digestive tract. So next time you’re feeling bloated from a meat-heavy meal or feeling creative for a natural tenderiser in cooking, why not give kiwis a go?

Another kiwi factoid: amazingly after 25 years of eating it the wrong way, I found out that just like furry peaches, kiwi skin is edible! It is much softer and thinner than you might think. But alas after 25 years of conditioning, I had trouble trying to down the skin; I thought it was too astringent and leathery. Although the SunGold and red kiwis are a bit better because of the lack of fur, the green ones can be taken with as well and you can scrape off the furs with the back of a knife. As with most other fruits, the skin is the portion that is highest in fibre (packed with other nutrients too), so I guess we are kind of throwing away much of the good stuff. No more peeling, wasted fruit flesh or handling a slippery green ovoid. I used to only like peeled apples, but after realising the health benefits of having it with the skin, I tolerated the toughness and now I would never think about peeling an apple again! Hmmm… food for thought. If you’re concerned about portion control, one serving of fruit is equivalent to about 2 medium kiwi fruits (150g); if you must be exact with carbohydrate counting for those with diabetes, one 15g CHO exchange would be about 1.5 kiwis. Kiwis are low GI too. Here’s a nutrient comparison between the green and gold kiwis from Zespri.  Screen Shot 2015-08-01 at 10.42.53 pm Do you eat kiwi fruit with the skin on? If not, would you start to for their health benefits?

Afterglow by Anglow – Clean eating at Keong Saik Road

As a dietitian, I don’t promote raw food eating exclusively as there are many benefits to cooking foods. However, there are indeed nutrients that are retained better when raw, and I feel it is something that Singaporeans can try to incorporate more of in their diet (as it’s typically a somewhat Western concept that many Singaporeans are averse to).

With the clean eating movement, Afterglow by Anglow is a raw food vegetarian restaurant offering inventive dishes made from scratch with a farm-to-table concept. Afterglow’s founders Carmen Low and Lionel Ang, created the menu in consultation with Czech nutritionist and raw food advocate, Adela Stoulilova. All the dishes are heat-free, sugar-free (although of course there is still sugar found naturally in fruits etc), and apparently using pink Himalayan salt and bamboo salt to substitute table salt (however as I tell all my patients, all salt contains sodium! Luckily the dishes here are bursting with natural seasonings rather than saltiness). The Singaporean couple lived in Shanghai for four years and became proponents of vegetarian raw cuisine because of the endless food scandals in China. Read more about their story here. I also found a recipe from Carmen that looks amazingly good for a raw matcha cashew tart that they will apparently be rolling out soon.

IMG_2914

The woody interior of the place reflects its natural raw philosophy well and I liked the relaxed and unpretentious vibe. The candlelit tables lit up a nice glow (pun intended) to the restaurant Unfortunately the light was very dim on the night I visited, making for terrible photography!

The Raw Zucchini Linguine with Walnut ‘Meat’-balls ($20) is made with Spiralized Zucchini, Dehydrated Cherry Tomato Sauce, Almond Crumble Cheese and Walnut, Shitake & Dates ‘Meat’-Balls

IMG_2907

Other than the ingredients listed on the menu, I could see bites of woodear fungus as well as the shiitake mushroom marinated with hints of sesame oil. The tangy and umami tomato sauce infused throughout to coat the thin strands of juicy zucchini, while the walnut meatballs were well-seasoned enough to be able to conceal the astringent phytic acid taste and a close replication of real meatballs. It was a delight to eat and a unique experience from typical wheat pastas.

Our dessert was the Raw chocolate salted caramel fudge ($12.50), with Raw Avocado and Raw Cacao Fudge, Rich Tahini Layer, Vanilla and Medjool Dates Infused Walnut Crust

IMG_2911

This is the highlight of the meal: the fudge tasted amazingly good yet clean, with a fair bit less saturated fat than its original (yes, I think it is slightly healthier, although still a sugar bomb!) – you wouldn’t even be able to tell it was avocado inside, because the chocolate and date taste was so intense. Yet it provided the creaminess of typical fudges, without the heavy feeling in the stomach like regular cream mousses do. The tahini layer lent a rich tone to the dessert, while the crunchy walnut crust provided textural contrast to the silky goo fudge. This was not in the ingredients but I could taste some coconut oil inside as well which lent a beautiful fragrance. Big thumbs up from me! However for non sweet-tooths, this dessert may be on the sweet side (from the dates).

To keep things interesting, the waiter took the initiative to inform us that there were seasonal specials that are chalked on the board, including the crispy raw lasagna ($22++, which differed from the regular raw lasagna in that it has an additional crispy layer from dehydrated tomatoes and macadamia cream cheese) and the coffee cheesecake ($15++, made from cacao beans and coffee). There is a bar serving alcoholic drinks too.

One thing I adored about the place was its heavy focus on nuts: a very good source of protein that most Singaporeans miss out on. It was interesting when I heard the lady next to me complain to the waiter “Hmm well I don’t eat nuts, so there’s not much I can choose from!” (I saw her eating some salad afterwards). Sometimes I go to vegetarian restaurants here and wonder “how is this a balanced meal! There is no protein! Mushroom with salad is not protein!” but rest assured that most of Afterglow’s dishes seem to have that covered. Another thing is that, as it is a raw food eatery, expect food to be served cold!

Service was authentic, polite and not intrusive; the waiter topped up our glasses of water consistently throughout the whole dinner without any reminder.

I liked the concept of Afterglow by Anglow even before I stepped in, and after having tried it I can attest it’s a place with good whole foods that indeed leaves an afterglow to your memory. The prices are steep but if you’re feeling like a treat after indulging in processed foods, this may be an option to consider. I’m personally feeling inspired to re-create some of the dishes myself considering how none of them require cooking (I need to get a blender though!)!!

See Afterglow’s menu here.

(Prices not inclusive of service charge)

Afterglow by Anglow 
24 Keong Saik Road
Phone: 6224 8921
Operating hours are 12pm – 11pm (Monday, Wednesday, Thursday) , 5pm – 11pm (Tuesday) 12pm – 12am (Friday and Saturday)

Website: http://afterglow.sg

Mook’s Thai Mookata BBQ at Bugis

Singapore has seen a growing trend of Mookata sprouting in even the smallest of coffee shops; it is one of the most popular get-together meals in Thailand and I can see why it’s getting popular in Singapore. I love Mookata, even more so than regular steamboat as the meat juices being grilled drips into the soup which adds to the richness, and the grilling beforehand enhances the meat’s natural sweetness. ‘Moo’ in Thai means pork, while ‘kata’ means skillet. Hence the pig imagery in so many Mookata restaurants, including Mook’s. Legend has it that the dome shaped hotpot came from a soldier in Chiang Mai who grilled meat using their helmet.

Opened on 7 April, 2015, Mook’s Thai Mookata BBQ is just opposite Bugis Junction near the ever popular Ah Chew Desserts. Mook’s has a down-to-earth interior with wallpaper in a brick design and plenty of space aligned between tables to facilitate comfortable groups. I believe I was lucky that there was no queue outside (because of all the Grouponers!), I have read that it could get quite nasty with the queuing but luckily I went at ~6pm sharp and there was still space available.

IMG_2864

When I first ate Mookata, I had no idea what the white pieces of chewiness were and was taken aback to discover it was lard! On first chew I thought it was squid but realised it was too chewy/greasy to be so. Luckily the waiter had been nice and helped place it on the skillet to grease it first. Eventually I took away the lard because the meats were already fatty enough, although I guess this may be one reason the surface of the grill became a bit browned due to slight sticking of the meat (I’ve heard that it happens regardless though unless a non-stick grill is used! So, no excuses not to healthify a meal!)! They use a gas stove and their hotpot doesn’t have any grill holes, allowing all the meat juices to roll into the narrow moat of broth. While this made the soup quite tasty, the tight moat made it difficult to scoop out the noodles or vegetables inside, and the tongs were quite difficult to manoeuvre as they were very tight!

There were a choice of two soups to be poured into the moat: chicken soup or tom yum (we chose tom yum, although we got a taste of the chicken soup when I requested a bit of plain soup when it started to evaporate out). The Thais traditionally use water but Singaporeans loving their strong-flavoured food of course opted for interesting soups instead. I thought the tom yum soup at Mook’s was quite nice, not too spicy. It was the tomato-based style one with less lemongrass inside; I felt it was not using the real ingredients itself but made from a paste, although I know many Thai restaurants also use a paste as the base. I personally prefer it to be more strong on the herbs/lemongrass though. The chicken soup was light and pleasant; it didn’t leave a strong MSG aftertaste in the mouth. Although they placed a whole metal jug of the soup on our table, the waiters were quite attentive and helped us pour in the soup every time they noticed the supply was evaporating too quickly or when the fire was out. I had adjusted the fire to try and get the lightest one possible as the heat was really blazing out intensely!

IMG_2856

The food itself came in platters of assorted meats: fatty pork collar and pork belly, garlic marinated chicken thigh, flower clams, fish ball and a few pieces of the lard (I requested for no hot dog and crab sticks because I prefer unprocessed foods more; they gave us more pork to substitute). On another basket was an array of cabbage, buk choy, enoki mushrooms, kang kong and tung hoon (bean thread vermicelli). It would have been nice if they had provided an egg to provide some dipping to smooth out the meat.

The food was fresh and decent with very tender meat, although I do prefer leaner pork. The wide variety of the vegetables was also a nice touch. I ordered an extra plate of tung hoon ($2) because it soaked up the yummy soup so nicely and also because the portion was too small for two hungry people. I’m not sure if it was really the two pax set meal or whether it was a slightly smaller version because I got the Groupon deal. Well I can’t say I’m unhappy considering I only paid $16.80 for the Groupon voucher ;). The original set meal is a reasonable $29.90 for two pax as well, not too bad considering the quality of the food but I do hope the portions would be bigger if paying full price.

The chilli sauce at Mook’s is apparently a specialty there, although I didn’t find it amazing… it tasted a bit like (according to RX who is quite the chilli expert) Yong Tau Fu sweet sauce, sesame and a bit of chilli. I found the meat was already very well-flavoured with the marinade (a bit too salty actually!) so I didn’t find any need to dip it into the sauce.

Other than the set meal, they have some a la carte finger food like pork nuggets ($5.90) and sotong balls ($5.90); or a customised DIY selection of different types of meat and veg to suit your tastes.

It was a fun experience and we enjoyed cooking the food together. The place was clean and neat, and importantly, air-conditioned (although not quite as strong as we wished as the stove’s heat was blazing outwards! I honestly don’t know how people manage to do it in hawker centres!) but there were no individual ventilation hoods for each table. Unfortunately, that means your clothes will stink after coming here!

Even without the coupon, Mook’s is a rather affordable and comfortable Mookata experience with good service and a good location, and with their late opening hours, I think they will become a popular dining spot with some fine-tuning of the recipes/equipment/portion sizes.

Mook’s – Thai Mookata BBQ
2 Liang Seah Street, Bugis, Singapore
Tel: 6334 6270
Website: https://www.facebook.com/mooksthaibbq
Mon – Sun: 3:00 pm – 11:00 pm

Closest MRT: Bugis

Relish by Wild Rocket at Cluny Court

Hello blogosphere!

My boyfriend has been encouraging me to get back into food blogging for a long time… and for some reason or another, I always find excuses not to. I guess it’s the intimidation of knowing that I will have to commit to this as a regular activity from now on, lest my food blog suffer the same fate that it did for the past few years…Since it’s the public holiday tomorrow (Selamat Hari Raya Aidil Fitri!), I have an excuse to stay up a bit later to complete a post. Tonight we had dinner at Relish by Wild Rocket, a cosy specialty burger restaurant with a sophisticated vibe at Cluny Court, a stone’s throw away from the Botanic Gardens MRT. There is another branch at Serangoon Gardens as well. Btw the Botanic Gardens just recently got named the first UNESCO Heritage Site in Singapore. Don’t be alarmed if you see hordes of people there from now on, rendering it not so much of a UNESCO site anymore haha :P.

Being the cheapo (read: frugal person!) I am, I have been getting quite a few groupon deals lately, and Relish was one of them (you can get it before it ends on 2 August Aw it’s sold out!). When we arrived at ~7.45pm, the cafe still had plenty of spaces and I enjoyed the laidback atmosphere away from the crowded malls we had been frequenting! Opened by lawyer-turned chef Willin Low, if there is one main outstanding feature about Wild Rocket, it’s that it serves innovative Western style food with a Singaporean twist. Burgers there are quirky and range from the breakfast burger ($20.80, with a homemade apple pork sausage patty); soft shell chilli crab burger ($19.80, with a black squid ink bun and chilli crab sauce); to the soft bone pork charsiew open burger ($21.40); and the Ram-Lee burger ($21.90, inspired from the famous Malaysian Ramly burgers in pasar malams).

The original classic burger: the Wild Rocket Beef Burger ($19.50) is the star item of what started Relish 8 years ago (according to their Facebook post), is a simple yet well-executed burger. It is made up of a generous 180g beef patty with rocket leaves (true to the joint’s name), Sarawak pepper cream and sun-dried tomato relish with a toasted sesame bun. I do get impressed when the burger joint puts in the extra effort to toast the bun; it really puts it up a notch. The patty was beefy, lean and juicy and well-seasoned with a nice twist. The waiter asked how I wanted the beef done; it is unheard of to have rare minced beef patties in Australia (thyrotoxicosis is one of the concerns!) but I know it is quite common in Singapore, so props to them for asking first.

The sauces were the highlight, and worked really well together with the tangy sundried tomato relish which provided a nice contrast to the creamy, woody notes of the Sarawak pepper sauce. The thick cut fries were crispy, the chilli sauce (the waiter asked us, and there was a choice of ketchup too) had a good spicy kick, and the salad greens were crisp and had a lovely smokey flavour to it; overall it was a nice meal. If there is one thing I can fault, it is that I wish that they were more generous with the fillings (e.g. cheese, other veggies), although I do admit the simplicity did make this dish enjoyable too. I noticed one of our neighbours was having their burger with sweet potato fries: the waiter said you can add extra $3 to upgrade your fries (a better deal than the extra $9.50 to order a separate sweet potato fries!).

IMG_2813

We ordered a brunch item (note: this place offers all-day brunch for those who crave breakfast during dinner!), the Pandan French Toast ($17.80), which is basically pandan chiffon cake dipped in egg batter, grilled, topped with gula melaka syrup served with a few rashers of crispy bacon and cream cheese. Good quality pandan chiffon was used (I’m not sure if it’s baked in-house, but we were secretly wondering whether it may have been the famous Bengawan Solo pandan chiffon – which hey, even if they were, I’m not complaining because it tastes awesome!); the egg batter made the cake so fluffy and luscious while the caramelised brown exterior was a delight (although it became a bit soggier under the aircon). I requested for gula melaka on the side, which was good not only because I could control the sweetness level, but secondly I had heard others say they couldn’t really taste it when it was drizzled on top. While it’s a winning combination (clever spin on Canadian bacon and maple syrup), I did feel like I was left wanting for more, perhaps because the dish was a bit too simple and a tad pricey for what it was.

IMG_2808

There are other interesting dishes if you’re not into burgers: polenta with onsen egg (which looks amazing in photos), onion rings with curry mayo, and linguine with shredded crabmeat (you can find more of their menu here)

I was happy with the service here; the waiters were mostly thoughtful, and although I didn’t realise it, the Groupon was not valid on a public holiday eve, yet the cashier endeavoured to redeem it. It’s always nice to have people who value your patronage and are willing to bend the red tape to provide better service. While not cheap, the quaint ambience, the interesting fusion cuisine, their pleasant service, one of the best burgers I’ve had in Singapore, I would be happy to visit a second time for a quiet evening meal.

Relish by Wild Rocket
501 Bukit Timah Road
#02-01 Cluny Court
Tel: 6763 1547
Mon: closed
Tues – Sun: 9am – 10pm (Last order: 9pm)
Website: www.wildrocket.com.sg

Closest MRT: Botanic Gardens

Prices do not include prevailing government tax and service charges.

My 15 seconds of fame!

Okay, so this is the first time I’ve ever been quoted as a dietitian and I’m going to flaunt it just this one time because I might not ever get quoted ever again…!

DAA quoted me on their Facebook page today!

DAA Facebook quote

I also just searched for my name together with ‘dietitian’, and it’s all over Google!

So here’s the tip to getting famous: fill out surveys from DAA! Just kidding :P

On DAA documents:

Australia’s Three Worst Diets Shunned by Nutrition Experts
http://daa.asn.au/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/Australias-three-worst-diets-shunned-by-nutrition-experts-FINAL.pdf

Top 50 Fad Free Diet Tips from DAA Members
http://daa.asn.au/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/Top-50-fad-free-diet-tips-from-DAA-members_2013.pdf

Healthy Cooking Tips
(another quote as a suggestion for healthy cooking tips, but isn’t quite as famous…!)
http://daa.asn.au/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/Background-Healthy-cooking-tips-FINAL.pdf

There are some other really good tips on healthy eating in the documents from other dietitians too.
External links that quoted DAA:

http://ahha.asn.au/news/australia-s-three-worst-diets-shunned-nutrition-experts
http://www.itsmyhealth.com.au/healthy-living/weight-management/worst-three-diets-of-2012
http://www.virtualmedicalcentre.com/news/worst-diets-shunned-by-nutrition-experts/18263
http://www.expertguide.com.au/news/article.aspx?ID=1505
http://www.motherpedia.com.au/article/62506/the-3-worst-diets-for-2013
http://tamborinedailystar.com/Home/OfftheHill/tabid/279/ArticleID/2007/Default.aspx
http://myhealthyfamily.com.au/5-ways-to-ditch-the-diet-in-2013/
http://www.yourlifechoices.com.au/news/three-diets-to-skip-in-2013
http://www.mumsdelivery.com.au/news/diets-to-avoid-in-2013/
http://marketing4models.com/Diets/worst-diets-shunned-by-nutrition-experts/
http://www.seniorau.com.au/index.php/more-seniorau-news/3431-three-worst-diets-shunned-by-nutrition-experts
http://go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?id=GALE|A319130348&v=2.1&u=c_hrca&it=r&inPS=true&prodId=HRCA&userGroupName=c_hrca&p=HRCA&digest=608852c2ef4f34aa0546455c9af7893d&rssr=rss
http://womanbuddy.com/content/unhealthiest-diets-revealed
http://www.sj-foodmachine.com/article.asp?id=63

Blogs:
http://www.fernwoodfitness.com.au/weight-loss—exercise/weight-loss/dodgey-diets-you-need-to-avoid/
http://femaleweight.com/?p=4416
http://besttruehealth.com/nutritional-supplements/long-term-high-protein-diet-increases-cvd-risk/
https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?id=266166676828833&story_fbid=269171406543409 (The Global Institute for Life & Leadership through Seafood)
http://dietsforhealth.net/worst-diets-shunned-by-nutrition-experts/

No names to the quotes but still quoted haha!

http://www.ausfoodnews.com.au/2013/01/15/australian-dietitians-label-the-%E2%80%98lemons%E2%80%99-in-list-of-worst-diets.html
http://www.sheknows.com.au/health-and-wellness/articles/961253/do-you-need-to-detox
http://www.destinationfood.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/Destination-Food-January-eBroadsheet-2013.pdf
http://www.lifestyle.com.au/health/why-nutrition-experts-are-shunning-detox-diets-and-cleanses.aspx
http://womansday.ninemsn.com.au/healthanddiet/diet/8590885/the-three-unhealthiest-diets-revealed

Okay, back to being humble again… so much to learn as a new graduate! I’m packing for Singapore and it’s quite a big move…

Hopefully this mass media will overtake the silly fad diets out there for a greater focus on healthy eating in 2013…

Congratulations QUT Nutrition and Dietetics Class of 2012!…and jobs!

I’d just like to take this opportunity to say a word of congratulations to all my fellow dietitians graduating from dietetics at QUT in 2012. Our graduation ceremony was on 12/12/12, a memorable date indeed!

I requested for a class photo after 4 yrs; the first and last one! But not everyone was there as it was the last class on the last day of our degree :P

I requested for a class photo after 4 yrs; the first and last one! But not everyone was there as it was the last class on the last day of our degree :P

This year has been a truly amazing one full of new experiences. I did my placements while juggling assignments in-between (two in Brisbane, Australia, another two overseas). I went to Auckland City Hospital (NZ) for my clinical placement and saw the quaint and beautiful sights around Auckland, went to Vietnam (Can Tho and Ho Chi Minh City) to do my research project on the prevalence of malnutrition in hospitals and enjoyed the delicious Vietnamese food. In September, I attended the International Congress of Dietetics in Sydney as one of the >2000 delegates from dietitians all over the world. And I made a lot of new friends I’ll never forget along the way.

Thanks to everyone for the support, and thank you to those who could make it to my graduation. Thank you to my family and friends, without whom I wouldn’t be here today. Thank you to everyone I’ve met throughout these four years of study, including my fellow dietitian colleagues, teachers, and everyone who’s shared some part of my life journey, as short as a few days or as long as decades. Whether we’re still on the same path or have diverged our own ways, you have all left footprints in my heart and shaped who I am today.

Photo credit to Chris Huang (amazing photographer friend!)

Photo credit to Chris (amazing photographer friend!)

Which nut is healthiest?

I think I’ll be doing a FAQ tag on the blog so I can answer some of the questions many of my friends ask me in relation to nutrition.

A friend asked me which nut is healthiest? Or the unhealthiest?

To answer the question, let’s take a look at what nuts are.

nut |nət|
noun
a fruit consisting of a hard or tough shell around an edible kernel (Oxford Dictionary, 2011).

Let’s not get finicky in botanical classification, so basically it’s just a seed. Peanuts are actually legumes, not nuts, but they are very similar in characteristics of other nuts. (the difference between nuts and legumes are also best left to the botanists. Both nuts and legumes are encased on a shell, but nuts contain one (or at most, two) seeds, while legumes contain multiple seeds, among other differences nicely summarised here).

Nuts have long been known to be healthy and a nutritional powerhouse, packed full of protein, healthy fats, vitamins, minerals and dietary fibre. Many people think that nuts are unhealthy as they are high in fat; while the latter is true, they are the mono- and polyunsaturated kind (good for your heart) and nuts are actually very healthy. Although they are high in fat, studies have shown that a moderate intake of nuts can actually lower the risk of weight gain and obesity. This is because nuts are very satisfying; just a handful, and all the fibre, protein and fat can help make you feel fuller. Research has also shown that about 10-15% of the energy in nuts are not absorbed in the gut, passing straight out of your body as stool (cell walls are resistant to the enzymatic breakdown in the GIT, so some cells don’t rupture and thus don’t release their fats; this is also why nut butters have greater bioavailability than whole nuts). I learned that yesterday when my supervisor (for a summer research project I’m involved in) was teaching a patient about weight management. But it’s really interesting. There are more mechanisms as to why nuts can help with weight management, which you can read further in the reference above.

Regular nut consumption can also lower your risk of other chronic diseases like cardiovascular (heart) disease, type 2 diabetes and some cancers. So, having a small handful of nuts everyday as a snack can be beneficial to your health. They’re also great as snacks because they’re small and handy to carry around, great to ward off the vending machine temptations!

Now to answer the question you’ve all been waiting for! Each different nut has their own unique nutritional profile that have different benefits to offer. Generally, unsalted, unroasted nuts of any kind are healthier. Salt can raise blood pressure (acting like a sponge in the kidney, so the more salt in your body, the more water is reabsorbed), whilst roasting nuts reduces their antioxidant content and alters the lipid profile, potentially raising the content of harmful chemicals (however, the effect is probably not enough to warrant complete exclusion of roasted nuts in your diet, especially if you enjoy roasted more, although it is best to have most of your nuts raw!). Roasted and salted nuts also make them tastier and harder not to overeat!.

Despite these answers, I wasn’t actually too certain of the specific answer. So I searched it up on Google (hehe..) and found that a study claimed that walnuts are the healthiest of the nuts (sorry about the newspaper link, I tried searching for the original article for 30 mins and couldn’t find it! Oh wait I finally found it!). The scientists found that walnuts contain twice the antioxidant content as other nuts (nine nuts were tested).

You can watch this video for a little more info on the study:

0,32068,868001661001_2062208,00.html

Antioxidants are the new buzz word going around in nutrition news, and rightly so. They are substances found in food that can help mop up free radicals in our bodies to prevent oxidative damage. Free radicals are molecules that have one or more unpaired electrons in their outer shell, making them unstable and highly reactive, formed when oxygen reacts with body compounds during metabolism. These free radicals will oxidise substances in the body, stealing their electrons to gain stability. The attacked molecule (that lost the electron/s) becomes a free radical itself, starting a chain reaction of electron-snatching, that produces more free radicals. This can cause oxidative damage of tissues, such as in phospholipids of cell membranes (disrupting the transport of substances across cells), DNA (creating mutations), and proteins (altering their functions).

 Antioxidants are substances in foods that inhibits this chain reaction of oxidative damage, protecting substances in the body from being oxidised by free radicals. Antioxidants neutralise free radicals by oxidising themselves (acting as a reducing agent): donating electrons to the free radical to stabilise their outer shell, whilst they don’t become free radicals themselves as they can receive electrons again to become reactivated. Examples of antioxidants include the vitamins A C E, as well as polyphenols.

Because that is a whole heap of science that I copy and pasted from revision I did for my exam last year (!), I shall sum it up using layman’s terms! An easy analogy of an ‘oxidative reaction’ is the rusting of iron (or the browning of apples, that’s how quickly oxidative reactions occur!). The iron naturally rusts, and if you do something to protect the iron from rusting, then the rusting won’t happen. Now imagine that’s what happens in our body, with oxidative reactions, which ultimately lead to damage to tissue. This can lead to diseases like cancer, heart disease, and accelerating the ageing of the eyes and brain. So if we can protect those oxidative reactions from occurring using antioxidants which mop up free radicals, we can protect the tissue from damage and help us stay healthier for longer.

Back to Vinson et al’s study, it found that walnuts contained 69.3 units of polyphenol/g walnut (and polyphenols are up to 15x the potency of vitamin E). Another suggestion was that walnuts are usually eaten raw, hence there is a higher chance that more antioxidants are eaten (vs. other nuts that are often roasted). Here is a graph of the total polyphenol content of different nuts, courtesy of TIME.

Brazil nuts come a close second, and hazelnuts third (it is also evident that raw nuts are generally higher in antioxidants than roasted counterparts). Of course, antioxidants aren’t the only factor in health, and it isn’t the only reason walnuts deserve the title of ‘healthiest nut’ (and this title is certainly not entirely true, since different nuts have different benefits!). Walnuts can also protect the elasticity of the arteries, which can reduce the risk of atherosclerosis (plaque forming on the arteries that blocks blood flow), and are rich in omega-3 fatty acids (alpha-linolenic acid; the only nut that contains this), those very hard-to-find fats, which can help with many functions in the body such as reducing inflammation and cholesterol, and promoting heart health).

However, the key is balance and variety. Even though walnuts are ‘healthiest’, each nut possesses a plethora of unique merits. By ensuring a varied intake, you can reap the benefits of other nuts too.

  • Almonds help stabilise blood sugar and are a great source of calcium.
  • Brazil nuts are excellent sources of selenium (a mineral that helps vitamin E (antioxidant!) operate). They also have more methionine than other nuts, making them of slightly higher protein quality (although still not excellent).
  • Cashews are high in magnesium which can help build strong bones. Cashews have a greater carbohydrate and lower fat content than most other nuts. And they taste so good. :)
  • Hazelnuts are a good source of vitamin E and beta-sitosterol which contributes to cardioprotection and chemoprevention.
  • Macadamia nuts are high in monounsaturated fat and thiamin (vit B1).
  • Peanuts are often victimised into being labelled the ‘bad/unhealthy nut’, but such a label is clearly unfair and untrue. Peanuts are healthy and high in monounsaturated fat, folate, and resveratrol (the phenolic antioxidant more famously known in red wine) which can help protect the heart. When buying peanut butter (which, in moderation, is perfectly fine), avoid any varieties that list “hydrogenated fat/oil” in the ingredients list. Buying the pure/organic type with nothing but pure peanuts (no sugar, oil, or salt) is the healthiest, but often a lot more expensive, and arguably unnecessary if you are on a budget and not consuming excessive amounts.
  • Pecans are high in vitamin E and regular consumption may help decrease LDL (bad) cholesterol in the blood.
  • Pistachios are rich sources of calcium, magnesium, vitamin A, and iron.

Just like how eating a variety of fruits and vegetables are recommended, to take advantage of all the different nutrients in different types, so too are nuts. Having a variety of nuts also confers benefits of factors that have not been studied or are less black-and-white (which is also true for fruit and vegetables). For example, some research shows that pine nuts can help suppress appetite, thus helping with weight management. So the answer to the question is, conventionally, walnuts are probably ‘best’, but the healthiest nut a mixture of nuts! So, while some nuts contain more cardioprotective nutrients than others, the type of nut you eat isn’t very important, and what’s important is that you do include a small amount of nuts in your regular diet (whatever nuts you choose). Nevertheless, most people don’t eat much walnut, preferring peanuts instead (I admit to being one of them!). So if you’d like to make the most out of the nuts you eat, consider trying a mix of walnuts and other tree nuts instead of just peanuts!

There is no nut that is the most ‘unhealthy’ or the ‘worst nut’. However, if you are watching your weight, macadamias and pecans are the most energy-dense, and although coconut is formally classified as a drupe, if classified as a nut, it is the least healthy due to its high saturated fat content .

I’ve been extolling the virtues of nuts throughout this whole post, but of course this doesn’t mean that you should eat a few cups a day! As with everything, you can overdo a good thing, and it’s all about moderation. Nuts are very energy-dense and too much can lead to weight gain, so the general rule is to have around a small handful each day (~1/3 cup is equivalent to a Meat & Alternative serve of the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating [AGHE]). And raw, unsalted nuts are best. Try them au naturel as snacks, sprinkled on pasta/stir-fries/cereal/yoghurt/ice-cream, baked into cakes, or blended to make butter or vegan cream (I have a yummy recipe for cashew cream for cakes, which I’ll post later!).