Eating for Brain Health

I’ve teamed up with Brain Changes Initiative, an organization devoted to funding ground-breaking research surrounding Traumatic Brain Injury recovery while providing education, awareness, and advocacy for healthcare professionals, families and survivors.

Recently  I crafted a post for their blog about the M.I.N.D diet which is designed for neuro-cognitive health that has been proven to decrease risk for Alzheimer’s, cognitive decline and can even help improve outcomes post-stroke.

You can visit the post on the Brain Changes website:

Or see a video summary on their Instagram:


Human touch meets nutrition

I recently encountered the following statement…

“Physician and author Abraham Verghese argues that the most important innovation to come in medicine in the next 10 years is human touch.”

…and was asked to discuss it. Here’s what I said:

I spent the last five years doing a PhD in nutrition with a goal to understand how diet can prevent disease. One thing I realized during this degree is that the most efficient way to prevent disease is to nourish optimally during the first 1000 days of life—a time when breast milk is the most important source of nutrition. Unfortunately, too many women can’t breastfeed, or choose not to, or have circumstances that prevent it. What I’ve learned is that technological innovation cannot fix this problem. Even if formula companies created a powder that perfectly matched the composition of breast milk, it wouldn’t matter. That’s because the nourishment an infant receives when it breastfeeds is only partially due to the physical constituents of the milk itself. Studies have shown that skin-to-skin contact…the touch between the mother and her child is the key. Touch is what enables the mother to produce the specific antibodies for the germs her baby has been exposed to. Touch is what enables optimal development of the baby’s jaw, teeth and facial structure. And most importantly, touch stimulates greater oxytocin release in the mother which makes her more confident, improves her mood, lessens her stress, strengthens her bond with her child and increases her desire to care for her baby. Therefore, innovation in formula technologies won’t fix the health issues that stem from the earliest days of life. Because the preventative health benefits of breastfeeding are as much due to touch as they are to nutrition.


My 5 Tenents of Healthy Eating

Having studied nutrition for more than ten years, I’ve reached the conclusion that the gist of healthy eating can be explained by five principles…the first two are borrowed from Plato

1)Know Thyself

Ultimately, everyone’s ideal diet is different.

Thus, there’s no secret to eating-well, it depends on you…and your genes, how much you exercise, your occupation, your culture, how much stress you’re under, what you like/dislike, and so much more.

Hence, what works for someone else, may or may not work for you. So try everything, self-experimentation is vital!

Also, it’s important to know that what works for you today, may not work for you tomorrow or six months from now, or six years from now. We are constantly changing and thus our diets must also change over time.

2)Nothing in Excess

We overeat. And there are two main reasons why.

First, we overeat because we don’t eat real food. Consider real food, like raw nuts, such as almonds.


Even if you were really hungry, how many almonds could you possibly eat? Ten…maybe fifteen? After all of the laborious chewing and the consistent earthy taste you eventually stop eating.

Now, contrast that with chips…when hungry, one could easily eat an entire bag and still crave more! This is the problem. Processed food is engineered to taste too good, and that a big part of the reason why we can’t stop eating it.

The second reason we overeat is that our meals lack balance…balance is the third principle of healthy eating.


The most important piece of advice that I can give anyone is this…when it comes to lunch and dinner, strive to fill half your plate with vegetables, then fill approximately one-quarter with carbohydrates (like bread, rice, pasta) and one-quarter with protein (like meat, fish and beans).

This is what healthy eating looks like…

And with respect to breakfast, you can leave off the vegetables and combine carbohydrates and protein. Like this…

breakfast pic

While every single meal doesn’t have to perfectly meet these proportions, every lunch and dinner should have all three components: carbs, protein and vegetables, plus some fat (1 tablespoon of oil/butter for every two cups) alongside the vegetables to enable the absorption of the nutrients they contain.

Too often, we eat unbalanced meals consisting of only one type food, such as a dish of pasta. The problem with a carb-only meal is that it is digested too quickly, and then leaves us feeling hungry again within hours. This can easily be solved by combining different types of foods (like carbs, protein and fat). The body has to work harder to digest all of these different types of food, and by making the job harder, we feel more satisfied in the long run.

Similarly, too often we eat unbalanced meals that leave out a food group, like carbohydrates, a classic dieter’s tactic. This is equally troublesome because many different signals need to be sent from our digestive system to our brain in order to feel full. These different signals are stimulated by different foods…so while some are released after the ingestion of carbs, others are stimulated by fat and protein. Thus, if you leave out a particular food group, certain signals never get sent and the brain keeps telling the body it’s hungry. Furthermore, leaving out carbs is one of the worst things you can do, because the satiety signals that are stimulated by carbohydrates amplify the signals stimulated by protein and fat. So the bottom line is, you won’t feel full unless you’ve got carbohydrates, protein and fat in each meal meal.


When you eat can be as important as what you eat. Ideally you should strive to maintain a consistent meal pattern throughout the day. Whether it’s three meals a day, or three meals plus two snacks, figure out what works for you and stick with it because one of the root causes of overeating is meal-skipping, which always leads to uncontrollable eating later on.

5)Make treats, treats

It’s perfectly okay to indulge yourself every once and a while, just don’t make a habit of it.

That’s it. That’s the gist of what you need to know. Too often we get caught up in the details, but in fact, eating-well is about the big picture. In order to be healthy, remember:

  • You’re the only one who can figure out what your ideal diet is
  • Create a meal schedule that works for you and stick to it
  • Balance your meals
  • Avoid overeating by eating real food instead of processed foods
  • Treat yourself, sometimes

The foundation of a healthy diet is that simple.

The Folate Fortification Story – How we fixed one problem…but may have created another

My latest blog for the American Society for Nutrition looks at folate fortification and how sometimes when you take one step forward, you inadvertently take two steps back…

VEGGIES + FAT = BETTER TOGETHER…a lesson in how to absorb the most nutrients from your vegetables

Did you know that when you eat raw carrots you only absorb 1-3% of the beta-carotene they contain?1


That’s right, eating vegetables, raw—with no dressing, no dip, or no oil—is the surest way to miss-out on some of the most important nutrients nature has to offer.

The best evidence of this comes from a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2004. In the experiment, they fed subjects three different salads and measured the amount of carotenoids (a specific class of nutrients, explained below) they absorbed.


The catch is…the first salad contained fat-free dressing, the second contained reduced-fat dressing, and the third contained full-fat dressing.


What did they find?

When people ate salad with full-fat dressing they absorbed FORTY-TIMES more beta-carotene compared to when they ate salad with fat-free dressing!

The morale of the story is, without fat, you simply can’t absorb certain nutrients!

So what are carotenoids anyway?

Carotenoids are antioxidant superstars that can improve cognition in older adults,2 stave off age-related macular degeneration,3 help prevent heart disease,4 and reduce risk for lung, stomach, colorectal, prostate and liver cancer.5

Chemically, they look like this…


…and they’re what give plants their colour. Hence, they can be found in vegetables that are red, orange or yellow…


…and they’re also abundant in dark leafy greens.


But fat is not the only way to maximize absorption…

Lycopene, a type of carotenoid found in tomatoes, is the perfect example of this. Lycopene came into the limelight in the early 2000s when it was linked with decreased risk for cancer. But the catch is you can’t reap the benefits of lycopene by simply eating raw tomatoes.

This is precisely why Bolognese sauce—a meat-based tomato sauce that originated in Bologna, Italy, and is the Sunday dinner staple in my home…no bias here—is a masterpiece of both culinary and nutritional merit.


Bolognese sauce exploits the tomato and maximizes your ability to absorb the lycopene it contains. Consider this:

  • By crushing tomato, lycopene absorption is increased6
  • By cooking tomato, lycopene absorption is increased even more(note: cooking usually produces a three-fold increase in absorbability)8
  • And by adding meat, you’re also adding fat; hence lycopene absorption is increased even more

Thus, everything about Bolognese sauce maximizes our absorption of the lycopene it contains, making it a delicious vehicle for maximum nutrient absorption.

Speaking of dishes that are both culinary and nutritional masterpieces, the Cobb salad is another perfect example…

In case anyone’s not familiar, the classic Cobb salad combines leafy greens with tomato, chives, avocado, cheese, chicken breast and its star ingredient…a boiled egg!

A study published in 2015 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showcased the genius of the Cobb salad by demonstrating that co-consuming cooked eggs with salad increases carotenoid absorption three to eight fold.

But let’s back up for a second to talk about eggs, because they’re one of those foods that makes a nutrition geek like me sit back in awe of the amazing synergistic nutrient combinations found in nature.


Remember how I said earlier that carotenoids are what give vegetables their colour? Well, carotenoids are also what make egg yolks orange/yellowish. As a result, egg yolk is one of the most easily absorbable sources of carotenoids because they contain carotenoids in combination with the fat necessary for absorption. And it doesn’t end there; yolks don’t contain just any-old kind of fat. In fact, they contain a special type of phospholipid that has been shown to specifically enhance carotenoid absorption.9, 10 Therefore, this is an example of how some nutrients are just meant to be together and how nature can be the best clue to finding these synergistic combinations.

And then there’s avocado…


Avocado is another food that contains carotenoids in combination with the ideal kind of fat to aid absorption. Furthermore, one study showed that adding a cup of avocado to salsa resulted in 4.4 times greater lycopene absorption and 2.4 times greater beta-carotene absorption.11 Hence, avocado with salsa—a staple of Mexican cuisine—is not just a flavor match made in heaven, but also a nutritionally wise pairing. Not to mention, the avocado in Cobb salad is another nod to that genius combination of ingredients.

But how much fat is needed to maximize absorption?

Presently, there’s no definitive answer. But after browsing the literature, it seems a 1:2 ratio…

ONE tablespoon of oil (or any kind of fat such as salad dressing, butter, etc.) for every TWO cups of vegetables

…is a good rule of thumb.

Keep in mind, we don’t always eat vegetables in isolation, and in the context of a meal, there’s probably going to be fat coming from elsewhere, in which case, you could potentially add less without compromising absorption.

Meanwhile, in the “egg study” they compared the effect of 3 eggs versus 1.5 eggs on absorption of carotenoids from approximately 3 cups of salad. They found with more eggs, more nutrients were absorbed. But in the context of a cobb salad, when you factor in the fat coming from the bacon, avocado and chicken, the standard one egg-per-salad is probably good enough.

In Conclusion…

I have to admit, I wrote this blog, because I was formerly guilty of eating raw vegetables solo…who among us has not eaten a salad, sans dressing, in an effort to lose weight?

Hopefully, this post will help you dip that carrot guiltlessly, and add a little more olive oil to your salad, because at the end of the day, health is about balance, and vegetables were meant to be consumed with fat!



  1. Hedren E, Diaz V, and Svanberg U. Estimation of carotenoid accessibility from carrots determined by an in vitro digestion method. Eur J Clin Nutr, 2002. 56(5):425-30.
  2. Johnson EV, R; Mohn, E; Haddock, J; Rasmussen, H; Scott, T;. Avocado consumption increases neural lutein and improves cognitive function. The FASED Journal, 2015. 29(1 Supp. 3.28).
  3. Piermarocchi S, Saviano S, Parisi V, Tedeschi M, Panozzo G, Scarpa G, et al. Carotenoids in Age-related Maculopathy Italian Study (CARMIS): two-year results of a randomized study. Eur J Ophthalmol, 2012. 22(2):216-25.
  4. Liu S, Lee IM, Ajani U, Cole SR, Buring JE, and Manson JE. Intake of vegetables rich in carotenoids and risk of coronary heart disease in men: The Physicians’ Health Study. Int J Epidemiol, 2001. 30(1):130-5.
  5. Ito Y, Suzuki K, Ishii J, Hishida H, Tamakoshi A, Hamajima N, et al. A population-based follow-up study on mortality from cancer or cardiovascular disease and serum carotenoids, retinol and tocopherols in Japanese inhabitants. Asian Pac J Cancer Prev, 2006. 7(4):533-46.
  6. Brown MJ, Ferruzzi MG, Nguyen ML, Cooper DA, Eldridge AL, Schwartz SJ, et al. Carotenoid bioavailability is higher from salads ingested with full-fat than with fat-reduced salad dressings as measured with electrochemical detection. Am J Clin Nutr, 2004. 80(2):396-403.
  7. Dewanto V, Wu X, Adom KK, and Liu RH. Thermal processing enhances the nutritional value of tomatoes by increasing total antioxidant activity. J Agric Food Chem, 2002. 50(10):3010-4.
  8. Priyadarshani AM. A Review on Factors Influencing Bioaccessibility and Bioefficacy of Carotenoids. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr, 2015:0.
  9. Baskaran V, Sugawara T, and Nagao A. Phospholipids affect the intestinal absorption of carotenoids in mice. Lipids, 2003. 38(7):705-11.
  10. Lakshminarayana R, Raju M, Keshava Prakash MN, and Baskaran V. Phospholipid, oleic acid micelles and dietary olive oil influence the lutein absorption and activity of antioxidant enzymes in rats. Lipids, 2009. 44(9):799-806.
  11. Unlu NZ, Bohn T, Clinton SK, and Schwartz SJ. Carotenoid absorption from salad and salsa by humans is enhanced by the addition of avocado or avocado oil. J Nutr, 2005. 135(3):431-6.

A new rationale for breastfeeding – the benefits for the Mom!

Did you know that breastfeeding your child for 2 years can cut your risk for breast cancer in half! My latest blog for the American Society for Nutrition explores the maternal benefits of breastfeeding…check it out!

Random Food Facts – The New York Edition

I recently visited New York City and let’s just say there were way too many great food facts to ignore. So here’s my montage entitled “Random Food Facts – The New York Edition”…

I Ate a Cricket!

Human instinct makes us fear the unknown. That’s precisely why my initial reaction to the idea of eating crickets was “no way!” But then I thought about it…and I read about the nutritional benefits of insects…and I considered how we humans foolishly recognize chemical-laden garbage-food cooked-up in a factory as being more palatable than many of the wholly organic foods of the earth. And so I thought, if I really care about health, and the environment, I should probably try one.

So I did. I ate a cricket. First a flavoured one. Then a plain one. And then even a mealworm! The thought of it is still a little unsettling, but I have to admit, they actually tasted good! In fact they tasted like chips!


Ryan Goldin, the co-owner/founder of Entomo Farms and purveyor of my first foray with insect nutrition, said “99% of people react positively and are surprised by how good they taste.”

Goldin has been farming insects for years. He originally bred insects as feed for pets but now breeds them as a superfood for humans. He says the idea came a few years ago after the WHO and FAO released a report highlighting edible insect’s potential as a solution to our planet’s food insecurity issues. The fact is, there are over 18 000 edible insects, and worldwide a large part of many people’s diets consist of insects.

Insects offer a number of health benefits. Crickets, for instance, are high in protein, calcium, prebiotics, vitamin B-12 and iron. They also have a highly desirable ratio of omega 3 to omega 6 fatty acids.


Beyond their nutritional benefits, insects are also a sustainable choice. If a family of four replaced one traditional meal a week with insect protein they’d save over 650 000 litres of fresh water each year.

From an anthropological point-of-view, it seems that humans were meant to eat insects, evidenced by the fact that humans contain the chitinase enzyme that’s needed to digest chitin, a fiber found in insect exoskeletons.

Goldin farms his insects through their full life cycle from egg to adult. At six weeks old, the crickets are harvested and taken to a health inspection facility, then roasted in an oven. After which they can be flavoured or crushed into powder. Goldin said he’d love to see insects in more kids’ snacks, he even said his son takes little bags to school as a snack. That being said, it’s important to realize that adding insects to your diet doesn’t mean you have to start eating whole insects. Cricket powder can be incorporated into breads, soups and stir frys (recipes for which can be found on Entomo Farms’ website), meaning you can easily benefit from the health benefits of insects without actually eating whole crickets.


Currently both whole insects and powders can be bought from the Entomo Farms website. They also distribute their products to a number of health food stores and to other food companies to be incorporated in various food products. Is this the future of food? Only time will tell, but Goldin says, he definitely “sees it becoming more mainstream.”

Sugar and Depression…They’re Linked and Now You Can Calculate Your Intake to Gauge your Risk

I know this makes me sound like a super-geek, but I often read old medical journals because I think that looking back can help us to see forward.

I came across a perfect example of this a few days ago when I read an article from 1940 that described how administering an insulin injection to a healthy person can result in a “mood of anxious depression.”

The idea that insulin could affect one’s mood immediately made me think of a recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. In the study, they found that postmenopausal women consuming 80 grams of added sugars per day were significantly more likely to suffer from depression, compared to women consuming only 18 grams per day.

Lo and behold, they attributed these depressive symptoms to the spike in insulin that results from excessive sugar intakes. The way I see it, the two articles mirror each other and are both pointing to the fact that an insulin spike produces a drastic decline in blood sugar, which then causes the release of stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol, which can cause feelings of anxiety and depression.

Unfortunately, this means there’s another reason to watch your sugar intake. Because sugar may not only contribute to excess weight gain, high triglycerides, high blood pressure, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, sugar could also have a detrimental effect on the state of our minds.


So what does this mean for YOU?

Well…what we learn from this study is that as little as 80 grams of added sugars could increase risk for depression in certain populations. But what does 80 grams look like? And how do you know if your intake is in that ball park?

Until recently, it was nearly impossible for the average person to calculate their added sugar intake. However, with the release of “One Sweet App”, calculating your free sugar intake (note: free sugar is a slightly more encompassing designation than added sugars) is easier than ever.


By entering your daily food choices, the app allows you to calculate your intake and assess your levels according to current recommendations. It’s easy, it’s free, and it can be downloaded here:


Scientific Note:

The AJCN study looked beyond sugar and also showed that high-glycemic index carbs in general are associated with depression. Hence, not only sugar, but also a diet high in white bread, white rice etc. could increase risk for depression.

High Sodium Warning Labels…NYC’s Latest Public Health Policy

Sodium Warning Label

In just one month’s time, this warning label will be seen on New York City restaurant menus to alert customers to meals that contain more than a day’s worth of sodium. I recently blogged about New York’s latest public health policy triumph on the American Society for Nutrition’s website. Here’s a link to the blog:


My Search for the Perfect Probiotic

Since Ancient Rome they’ve been prescribed for upset stomach, and today they’re clinically proven to treat numerous digestive issues. They can prevent allergies in infants, and have even been linked with decreased risk for anxiety and depression…wondering what I’m talking about? PROBIOTICS, of course!

The truth is, I’ve been thinking a lot about probiotics lately. And embarrassingly, it’s because I rarely eat them. Hence, I resolved to learn more about probiotics and incorporate them into my life…here’s what happened…

First, because of…let’s just call it my restricted dairy intake…I got excited about the idea of drinking Kombucha tea. Kombucha tea is an ancient beverage that has become somewhat of a health fad these days. Initially, I thought I could buy Kombucha tea at my local specialty tea store. And while they do sell Kombucha tea leaves, this isn’t the real deal, as it’s impossible for dry tea leaves to contain probiotics, because outside of a cool environment, probiotics die. While there are some “spore” varieties that will supposedly hatch after being heated, I couldn’t find any of those on stores shelves.

As for making Kombucha tea from scratch…it would definitely be a “dairy-less” way to get probiotics, however, without being able to verify which strains are in the starter culture, I wasn’t too eager to invest my time. Plus, I read too many case reports of people getting sick from “suspicious” starter culture. Hence, I decided to keep searching for another probiotic food choice.

There’s always yogurt, of course. But after some reading I realized that nearly all of the “big name” commercial probiotic yogurt brands only contain one or two specific strains, and none of them carried the strains that seemed to me to be the most beneficial, namely L. casei and L. rhamnosus.

Then I came across Kefir.


Kefir has been called the “champagne of probiotic milk beverages” and has been around since ancient times. Kefir is fermented milk, so it’s basically just like yogurt except it’s a little more “liquedy”.  But more importantly, unlike many probiotics yogurts, Kefir contains ten different strains of probiotics, including the two I was looking for!

So I bought it! And I tried it! I didn’t notice any immediate changes in how I felt, but coincidentally after I started drinking it someone told me that I looked different and specifically asked me if I had changed my probiotics routine! It was quite a shocking coincidence!

But then I sat down with a friend of mine, Richard You-Wu, an MD-PhD candidate who specializes in gastrointestinal health. He set me straight on some probiotic facts that initially changed how I felt about them.

First, while I thought that more strains meant more benefits, Richard said, “it’s not as simple as saying that more is better or diversity is better.” As a matter of fact, he explained that some probiotics can antagonize others, meaning mediocre probiotic strains may out-compete healthier probiotic strains. So with a mixed bag, there’s no guarantee that you’ll get a sufficient quantity of the kind you’re looking for.

The other thing that sold me on Kefir is that each half cup contain two billion probiotics, which is often the amount used in scientific studies. Interestingly, Richard explained that we don’t know enough about dosage. He even commented that no one even knows why we use the current dosages we use; they were just randomly picked at some point.

After hearing about all of the uncertainty surrounding the science of probiotics, I started to feel less thrilled about the whole idea of “health enhancing bacteria”. But when I asked Richard about the coolest thing he’s ever learned about probiotics, I was reassured of the miraculous ability of these microorganisms. Deep down inside me, my gut instinct (no pun intended) tells me they really do belong in our diets. And while we presently don’t have all the details sorted out, I think it’s hard to deny that they have some serious potential to heal people. Here’s what Richard told me…

“The coolest thing I’ve learned about probiotics, goes back to my second year when I was 19 and I was working in a research lab…I was looking at how the gut moves, (called) peristalsis… (which is) a wave motion that moves food down your gut. I had a sick animal (in whom) peristalsis did not happen, there was no movement and no stool passing down, which would result in harm for the animal. But I noticed that when I put a certain strain of probiotics inside their intestine, after about 5-10 minutes, I saw a full recovery of movement in the gut. It regained its function and you could see movement. Just one type of bacteria was able to do that! That was the first time that I saw how something as small as a probiotic could cause an organ to regain its function.”

I don’t know about you, but after hearing this, I think the future of probiotics looks bright!

Could eating “air” be the next diet craze?

Bubbly beverages may be a dieter’s best friend, according to a study which showed that humans are less hungry following the consumption of an aerated drink versus its non-aerated equivalent.

In the study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, participants were fed three milk-based drinks. Two were aerated into foams, via whipping, while the third was standard milk. The researchers used MRI technology to visualize the drinks inside their participant’s stomachs and found that compared to normal milk, aerated milk caused the stomach to stretch more, which resulted in decreased feelings of hunger.

Luca Marciani, an Assistant Professor at the University of Nottingham, School of Medicine, and senior author of the study, said he wasn’t surprised by the finding, “previous work (has shown) that the gastrointestinal mechanisms kicking in after a person has ingested (aerated) food will reduce appetite.” Nevertheless, he explained that the clever aspect of their experiment was the fact that they stabilized one of the drinks, via the addition of xantham gum—a type of fiber which functions as a scaffold for the bubbles and keeps the foam-like texture of the beverage intact post-swallowing. However, despite the fact that the stabilized milk (containing xantham gum) spent significantly more time in the stomach, there was no difference in the participant’s appetite when comparing the stabilized and non-stabilized beverages. Meaning, even without the “scaffold”, aeration could still be helpful. Not to mention, previous research using non-milk beverages (that were not stabilized) has similarly found that the more carbonated a beverage is, the more satiating it is.

But does this mean aerated beverages are the next best thing for dieters?

Registered Dietitian Christy Brissette said, “While this is an interesting finding…we would need a long-term, randomized controlled trial to see if carbonated drinks could impact weight over time.” Furthermore, she added that consumers should be careful about certain “zero calorie” flavoured drinks, which despite being carbonated, could have negative health implications: such as colas that contain phosphoric acid, and could lower bone density, as well as artificially sweetened drinks that could cause glucose intolerance. She also warned that for some individuals carbonated beverages could cause gas and bloating. Despite this, she commented, “I encourage my clients to drink plenty of water throughout the day and having some of this as carbonated water may improve satiety between meals.”

The scientific literature on carbonated beverages has been increasing in recent years, as this is not the first study to find this effect. Thus it’s no surprise that at-home sparkling water machines are quickly becoming a fixture in many homes. In 2013, Samsung introduced its first line of refrigerators with a carbonator built-in and companies like SodaStream, have been selling at-home water carbonation systems in Canada since 2012. According to Susie McRae, the Director of Marketing, “(SodaStream) has incurred double digit growth every year…(and) while it’s still a young business in Canada, it’s very established in Europe and the Middle East.”

SodaStream uses a carbon dioxide cylinder to turn plain old tap water in sparkling water, and its benefits extend beyond the potentially satiating effects of its product. SodaStream is environmentally-friendly (think of all the plastic bottles it eliminates), cost-effective and convenient, saving you from “schlepping” bottles and cans. Despite its short history in Canada, the company has been around since 1903, having originally created sparkling water machines for the British Upper Class including the royal household.

So will we see the food industry pumping more and more air into our food in the coming years? Only time will tell. Then again, have you ever noticed how low-fat ice cream is less dense than its regular counterpart? In fact, we’re probably already eating more air than we realize.



Random Food Fact #132 – Trans Fats are Solid at Room Temperature

A few weekends ago, company came over and brought donuts. While everyone was eating them, I noticed something… something that reminded me of one of the reasons trans fats—the villain that raises your bad cholesterol while simultaneously lowering your good cholesterol—was introduced into our food supply in the first place.

The thing I noticed is what I like to call “donut stain”…


The beauty of trans fat is that it’s solid at room temperature. So one of it’s advantages for food manufacturers is that it doesn’t produce “donuut stain.” Thus, because trans fats don’t melt at room temperature, the consumer doesn’t have a visible reminder that their donut is filled with fat.

Since their removal, trans fats have largely been replaced by vegetable oils that are liquid at room temperature. Being liquid at room temperature, these fats seep out of products and onto their containers causing the classic donut stain.

I learned about this fact from: A discussion with my supervisor during one of our weekly lab meetings!

Random Food Fact #131 – LESS FAT doesn’t always mean MORE SUGAR…

Ask any nutritionist and they’ll tell you…

be careful when buying low fat products, they often contain more sugar

While this is in fact true in many instances, every rule has exceptions. Consider Chapman’s Ice Cream. Like most brands, Chapman’s has a “Premium” full fat version and a “96% fat-free version”…
Chapmans Ice CreamWhile the 97% fat-free claim seems like a too good to be true fallacy, take a closer look at their Nutrition Facts tables…Chapmans Ice Cream NFtNot only does the “96% fat-free version” contain substantially less fat ( only 2.5 grams of fat versus 6 grams in the “Premium” variety), it compensates for the lack of fat with a negligible one additional gram of sugar (containing 15 grams, versus 14 grams in the “Premium” version).

What we learn from this example is that there are few “rules of thumb” that hold true in all circumstances, not only in nutrition, but in life in general. The moral of the story is…you have to read the label.

I learned about this fact from: a trip to the grocery store. Don’t ask me why I was spending so much time in the ice cream aisle 😉

RFF#117 – Eating fruits and vegetables with high levels of pesticides is linked with poor semen quality

A study by Harvard researchers showed that men with the highest intakes of pesticide-laden fruits and vegetables (2.1 servings/day) had a 49% lower total sperm count and a 32% lower percentage of morphologically normal sperm, when compared to men with lower intakes (<0.5 servings/day).

I learned about this fact from:



Video Blog Sign Off

It has been an honor, privilege, and an amazingly fun experience video blogging for the American Society for Nutrition at the 2015 Experimental Biology Conference.

Thank you to all of the people who helped me in this endeavor:
Mavra Ahmed
JoAnne Arcand
Jodi Bernstein
Mary Christoph
Mary L’Abbé
Lauren LeMay-Nedjelski
Chelsea Murray
Suzanne Price
Pete Scourboutakos
Carly Visentin

Also, thank you to the American Society for Nutrition for giving me this opportunity and for everyone who let me interview them!