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Insight into new food & nutritional studies! Researched & written by dedicated writers,
edited by Registered Dietitian Renée Y. Chan.


There’s No Garlic like Black Garlic!

The Hero of the Week is Black Garlic

Have you ever heard about the amazing antioxidant properties of black garlic? Yes, that’s right – black garlic contains more antioxidants than white garlic (1, 2). Black garlic is a fermented form of white garlic. It is sweeter, and it has a milder flavour than white garlic. This magic plant is particularly rich in flavonoids, compounds that protect your cells from negative effects of free radicals and keep your heart healthy

(3). But wait, there’s more – by eating black garlic, you are potentially reducing the risk of cancer (4)!

Not sure what to eat with your black garlic? We’ve got you covered! Try our “Im-PULSE-able Black Bean” Sauce, “Oy! Stir the Sauce” Vegan Oyster-Style Sauce, and “The Sinless Hoi” Hoisin Sauce.

We use black garlic in these products to add sweetness without adding extra dried fruits to our already sugarless line. Enjoy them with your favourite dish while those powerful antioxidants are doing all the work!


Written by Vlada Klymenko

Edited by Iris Lopez and Renée Chan


  1. Kimura S, Tung Y, Pan M, Su N, Lai Y, Cheng K. Black garlic: A critical review of its production, bioactivity, and application. Journal of Food and Drug Analysis. 2017;25:62-70.
  2. Choi I, Cha H, Lee Y. Physicochemical and Antioxidant Properties of Black Garlic. Molecules. 2014;19:16811-16823.
  3. Kozłowska A, Szostak-Węgierek D. Flavonoids–food sources and health benefits. Roczniki Panstwowego Zakladu Higieny. 2014;65:79-85.
  4. Kumar S, Pandey A. Chemistry and Biological Activities of Flavonoids: An Overview. The Scientific World Journal. 2013;2013:1-16.

About the author:

Vlada studies Food, Nutrition, and Health at UBC and experiment with raw vegan desserts. At my spare time, I feast on home-made apple chips sandwiches with our blueberry compote. It’s addictive. You’ve been warned!



Be a Goji-Getter!

       You’ve probably already heard about the benefits of blueberries and their high antioxidant properties, but are you familiar with goji berries? Goji berries are abundant in beta-carotene, vitamin A, vitamin C, and selenium (1). On top of having their defining ability to stabilize free radicals in the body to prevent cellular damage, each antioxidant has specific functions that maximize their benefits. For example, selenium plays an important role of managing thyroid hormones, which regulates body metabolism, growth, and temperature (3). However, too much of anything is never a good idea; and having an excess intake of Selenium may cause nausea and irritability (2). Vitamin C enhances iron absorption and aids in collagen synthesis, while beta-carotene and vitamin A strengthen the immune system (2). Convinced but not sure how to incorporate goji berries to your diet? Try adding some dried goji berries to your granola bars or yogurt. Their subtle sweet taste, chewy texture, and high fibre content makes them a great addition to any snack. Or, you can make things super easy by grabbing our famous goji berry pumpkin seed granola!


Written By:  Nicole Huaung

Edited By: Renée Y. Chan, MS, RD, RDN



  1. Donno, D., Beccaro, G.L., Mellano, M.G., Cerutti, A.K., and Bounous, G. (2015). Goji berry fruit (Lycium spp.): antioxidant compound fingerprint and bioactivity evaluation. Journal of Functional Foods, 18(B), 1070-1085.
  2. Hammond, G. (2017). Antioxidants [PowerPoint slides].     
  3. Köhrle, J. and Gärtner, R. (2009). Selenium and thyroid. Best Practice & Research Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 23(6), 815-827.

About The Author:

Nicole is a second year student in the food, nutrition, and health program at UBC applying into dietetics this coming year. Her passion lies in helping others achieve a healthier lifestyle specific to themselves through the combination of a balanced diet, fun physical activity, and mental health awareness. She enjoys trying out new foods, baking, hiking, watching movies, and meeting new people!



The Amazing Tea

Boost your immune system naturally with the help of the perfect beverage for the winter season – tea! There is abundant research done on different types of tea that suggests many beneficial effects of tea on the body.

  • Green tea, for example, stimulates your body’s natural immune response and protects your nerves (1, 2).
  • Black tea is high in powerful antioxidants and anticarcinogenic compounds that fight away harmful substances. By sipping some black tea, you are actually reducing your risk of heart disease (3).
  • White tea is equally amazing – not only is it delicious, but it is also rich in flavonoids and compounds that can inhibit the growth of colon cancer cells isolated in a laboratory study published in Food Chemistry journal (4).
  • Those who enjoy herbal tea, great news! Chamomile tea can help control your blood sugar (5). Any new moms out there? Research suggests that one cup of chamomile tea can improve sleep quality in postpartum women (6)*.

Next time you brew yourself a cup of your favourite tea, take a moment to admire the benefits of this amazing drink!


In our newly available donation-based yoga classes, we always offer you some tea to warm you up after! Tea is a great way to relax after the practice!


*Always consult your health practitioner before choosing a tea to drink if you are pregnant.

Written by Vlada Klymenko

Edited by Iris Lopez and final edits by Renée Chan.


  1. Huynh N. The Immunological Benefits of Green Tea (Camellia sinensis). International Journal of Biology. 2016;9:10.
  2. Paulo Andrade J, Assuncao M. Protective Effects of Chronic Green Tea Consumption on Age-related Neurodegeneration. Current Pharmaceutical Design. 2012;18:4-14.
  3. Kumar D, Rizvi S. Health benefits of black tea. Progress in Health Sciences. 2014;4:135 – 143.
  4. Hajiaghaalipour F, Kanthimathi M, Sanusi J, Rajarajeswaran J. White tea (Camellia sinensis) inhibits proliferation of the colon cancer cell line, HT-29, activates caspases and protects DNA of normal cells against oxidative damage. Food Chemistry. 2015;169:401-410.
  5. Zemestani M, Rafraf M, Asghari-Jafarabadi M. Chamomile tea improves glycemic indices and antioxidants status in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus. Nutrition. 2016;32:66-72.
  6. Chang S, Chen C. Effects of an intervention with drinking chamomile tea on sleep quality and depression in sleep disturbed postnatal women: a randomized controlled trial. Journal of Advanced Nursing. 2015;72:306-315.

About the Author:

Vlada studies Food, Nutrition, and Health at UBC and experiment with raw vegan desserts. At my spare time, I feast on home-made apple chips sandwiches with our blueberry compote. It’s addictive. You’ve been warned!


Supplements vs. Real Food

What are Supplements?

Have you ever wandered into the supplement section in a store and been overwhelmed by the vast selection on the shelves?  Dietary supplements are defined as ingested substances intended to increase nutritional value in one’s diet to meet the daily requirements (1). In other words, supplements help prevent potential negative effects caused by deficiency in certain nutrients. Does this mean we should all be taking supplements by the handful?

Which populations are more susceptible to deficiency?

We tend to see supplements as a solution to our poor diet or stress. Research shows that supplements can be helpful but only if we also contribute to our health by exercising, sleeping, and eating healthy (2). The best way to eat healthy is to consume a wide variety of foods in adequate amounts, but this is easier said than done. We all live a lifestyle determined by our personal preferences and cultural background and it affects the way we eat along with what we eat. As you can imagine, those who have restricted diets such as vegetarians will be more prone to certain nutrient deficiencies since meat is an important source of important nutrients such as vitamin B12 (3). Because of this, it can be quite challenging for vegetarians to get sufficient amounts. This is where supplements come in as they can be a great way to help maintain health for these populations!


Pregnant women are also prone to nutrient deficiencies. Not only do they provide nutrients for themselves, but also enough nutrients to support the growth of their baby. The daily recommended intake is often higher for pregnant women.

Lastly, the elderly are also recommended to watch their nutrient intake.

When we age, our absorption of nutrients decreases so we must consume more to make up for the loss. Sometimes it can be difficult to eat enough of each nutrient, so in such cases, supplements may come in handy.

Supplements vs. the amount of food

A deficiency in B12 is uncommon amongst meat consumers as we often surpass the daily recommended intake (DRI) of 2.4 micrograms (4). This amount translates to about 3 ounces of beef, which is about the size of your palm, or 3 glasses of milk (5).

Some of the amazing health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids is highlighted in one of the previous blog entries, “Foods For Your Memory’s Sake”. Omega-3 is known to improve heart health and brain function. Eating salmon can get you similar benefits as if you take an omega 3 supplement (6). For those who do not eat fish, an alternative source is chia seeds. One tablespoon of chia seeds is enough to reach the recommended amount per day (6). Chia seeds are versatile and can be easily incorporated into breakfasts like oatmeal, yoghurt, and smoothies. Now before you decide to buy a bottle of fish oil supplements, you can also consider implementing these foods into your diet for the same health benefits! It may not be as hard as you think to get enough omega-3 from eating real foods.

To better visualize calcium content in everyday foods, 3-4 cups of milk per day are required to maintain

healthy bones (7). Of course, we do not have to solely depend on milk for calcium as other foods like leafy green vegetables and tofu are contributors to our calcium intake as well (8). For tofu, make sure you look at the ingredient list to make sure it is made with calcium sulfate. Eating one cup of tofu is about the same as drinking 3-4 cups of milk in terms of its calcium content (9). Just like omega-3, calcium has an abundant food source and can be easily added to your diet.

My Food Journal Experience

As an introductory course to nutrition at UBC, a 3 day dietary assessment is usually assigned. I was curious to see which nutrients I was not consuming enough of and it turns out I did not meet the requirements for vitamin B12, omega 3, or calcium. As a person who doesn’t have any restrictions in their diet, I was surprised to see these results. However, instead of turning to supplements I decided to incorporate some small changes in my diet to help me meet the requirements. Drinking a glass of milk each day will help me reach my vitamin B12 and calcium goals as well as adding a teaspoon of chia seeds in my oatmeal will increase my omega 3 intake.

So are supplements needed?

From my food journal experience, I realized a lot of nutrients go hand in hand when we consume them from real foods! A lot of the time a small changes and additions to our diet can solve the problem when we are not consuming enough of eat nutrient.

Hopefully, I shined some light on what supplements are and how they compare to real food. Supplements can provide us with health benefits and can be helpful for populations that are susceptible to deficiency. However, it may not be a good idea to rely solely on supplements to combat poor lifestyle choices! Going back to the basics and eating healthy whole foods is always  the best thing you can do for yourself!

By: Alison Chan
Edited by: Iris Lopez Ramirez

Final Edits by: Renée Chan, MS, MBA, RD, RDN, CDN


  1. Dietary supplement health and education act of 1994
  2. Bergstrom, L. (2009). The Use of Multiple Dietary Supplements. Journal of dietary supplements6(1), 1-8.
  3. Leischker, A. H., & Kolb, G. F. (2015). Vitamin B12 deficiency in the elderly. Zeitschrift für Gerontologie Und Geriatrie, 48(1), 73.
  4. Institute of Medicine (US) Standing Committee on the Scientific Evaluation of Dietary Reference Intakes. (1998). Institute of Medicine (US) Panel on Folate Other B Vitamins and Choline; Institute of Medicine (US) Subcommittee on Upper Reference Levels of Nutrients. Dietary Reference Intakes for Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Vitamin B12, Pantothenic Acid, Biotin, and Choline.
  5. Gille, D., & Schmid, A. (2015). Vitamin B12 in meat and dairy products. Nutrition Reviews, 73(2), 106-115.
  6. Simopoulos, A. P. (2002). Omega‐3 fatty acids in wild plants, nuts and seeds. Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition11(s6).
  7. Rogers, T. S., Garrod, M. G., Peerson, J. M., Hillegonds, D. J., Buchholz, B. A., Demmer, E., … & Van Loan, M. D. (2016). Is bone equally responsive to calcium and vitamin D intake from food vs. supplements? Use of 41 calcium tracer kinetic model. Bone reports5, 117-123.
  8. Nguyen, V. H. (2012). Osteoporosis prevention and motivation for weight-bearing physical activity and calcium consumption. Perspectives in public health132(6), 276.
  9. Zidenberg-Cherr, S. (2016). Nutrition and Health Info Sheet: Calcium.


About the author:

Alison Chan is a fourth year student studying Food and Nutritional Sciences. She loves expressing her creativity in various forms such as crafts, fine arts and food.


Foods for Your Memory’s Sake

In this fast-paced society, most of the working population is under great pressure and stress. With prolonged exposure to stress, it is likely they will experience decreased brain performance, such as declined memory and decreased attention span, earlier in life (1). Therefore, many people start taking nutritional supplements hoping that they will delay the onset of decreased brain function, particularly memory loss. Some popular supplements are gingko, ginseng, turmeric and omega-3 fatty acids. Let’s discover more about them below!

Ginseng and gingko are popular herbal supplements in Asia, especially in China and Korea. Due to the claims that they help improve cognitive functions like learning and memory, both have gained popularity in North America in recent years (2). Although research suggests that gingko and ginseng supplements may help improve memory function in healthy individuals between the ages of 20-50, it is still too early to draw conclusions on their effects since results are still inconsistent (3).

On the other hand, turmeric is a spice commonly found in curry powders and Indian cuisines. In recent years, turmeric extract has been used to produce supplements since it contains curcumin; a component suggested to prevent age-related dementia and cognitive decline (4). For example, one study showed that when a healthy older population consumed turmeric supplements for 4 weeks, their working memory and attention were improved significantly compared to the group not taking supplements (4). However, the researchers suggested that the effect of turmeric on preventing memory loss is still inconsistent and more research is required to provide a recommendation for supplement use.

Finally, omega-3 fatty acids, commonly found in fish oils, are the most popular choice amongst the above mentioned. A lot of research has been done to assess the effect of omega-3 supplements on cognitive

function. This is because omega-3 fatty acids such as DHA are important for normal brain function (7). Multiple studies have found that, in individuals ages 50 or above, long-term (>2 years) consumption of an omega-3 supplement can improve memory, even in the presence of declined cognitive function. For example, a study found that when participants of ages 55 or above consumed omega-3 supplements every day for half year, they had significantly less errors in recalling specific details in memory tests than participants that did not take supplements (5). Other studies also showed similar results, suggesting omega-3 supplements can help participants recall things more accurately, indicating improved memory and cognitive function (6,8). That said, there are studies suggesting that consuming omega-3 supplements in the long term will not improve or delay the onset of cognitive decline (9). However, most clinical trials tend to suggest that consuming

omega-3 supplements can help improve memory. One important thing to note is that most of these studies were done on people with mild or intermediate dementia. Thus, more research is required to further investigate the beneficial effects of omega-3 supplements on memory loss in healthy individuals.


For now, it is wise to include more fish in your diet if you want to increase omega-3 fatty acid intake. In fact, according to the Canada’s Food Guide, adults should have at least two servings of fish per week for this purpose (10). Some great sources are salmon, oysters and cod (11). If you are vegetarian or vegan, don’t worry! There are decent amounts of omega-3 fatty acids in flaxseed oil and edamame (11). As cliché as it sounds, having a balanced diet is always the key to good health!

Written by Stephanie Yu in collaboration with Renée Chan

Edited by Iris Lopez

Final edits by Renée Y. Chan, MBA, MS, RD(Can), RDN(US), CDN(NY)


  1. Sandi, C., & Pinelo-Nava, M. T. (2007). Stress and memory: Behavioral effects and neurobiological mechanisms.Neural Plasticity, 2007, 1-20. doi:10.1155/2007/78970


  1. Derek Ong Lai Teik, Lee, X. S., Lim, C. J., Low, C. M., Muslima, M., & Aquili, L. (2016). Ginseng and ginkgo biloba effects on cognition as modulated by cardiovascular reactivity: A randomised trial: E0150447.PLoS One, 11(3) doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0150447


  1. Persson, J., Bringlöv, E., Nilsson, L., Nyberg, L., Institutionen för integrativ medicinsk biologi (IMB), Samhällsvetenskapliga fakulteten, . . . Fysiologi. (2004). The memory-enhancing effects of ginseng and ginkgo biloba in healthy volunteers.Psychopharmacology, 172(4), 430-434. doi:10.1007/s00213-003-1675-8


  1. Cox, K. H., Pipingas, A., & Scholey, A. B. (2015). Investigation of the effects of solid lipid curcumin on cognition and mood in a healthy older population.Journal of Psychopharmacology, 29(5), 642-651. doi:10.1177/0269881114552744


  1. Yurko-Mauro, K., McCarthy, D., Rom, D., Nelson, E. B., Ryan, A. S., Blackwell, A., . . . MIDAS Investigators. (2010). Beneficial effects of docosahexaenoic acid on cognition in age-related cognitive decline. Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association, 6(6), 456-464. doi:10.1016/j.jalz.2010.01.013


  1. Sinn, N., Milte, C. M., Street, S. J., Buckley, J. D., Coates, A. M., Petkov, J., & Howe, P. R. C. (2012). Effects of n-3 fatty acids, EPA v. DHA, on depressive symptoms, quality of life, memory and executive function in older adults with mild cognitive impairment: A 6-month randomised controlled trial. British Journal of Nutrition, 107(11), 1-12. doi:10.1017/S0007114511004788


  1. Simopoulos, A. P. (2008). The importance of the omega-6/Omega-3 fatty acid ratio in cardiovascular disease and other chronic diseases.Experimental Biology and Medicine, 233(6), 674-688. doi:10.3181/0711-MR-311


  1. Kulzow, N., Witte, A., Kerti, L., Grittner, U., Schuchardt, J., Hahn, A., & Floel, A. (2016). Impact of omega-3 fatty acid supplementation on memory functions in healthy older adults. Journal of Alzheimers Disease, 51(3), 713-725. doi:10.3233/JAD-150886


  1. Quinn, J. F., Raman, R., Thomas, R. G., Yurko-Mauro, K., Nelson, E. B., Van Dyck, C., . . . Aisen, P. S. (2010). Docosahexaenoic acid supplementation and cognitive decline in alzheimer disease: A randomized trial. Jama, 304(17), 1903-1911. doi:10.1001/jama.2010.1510
  2. Government of Canada, Health Canada, Health Products and Food Branch. (2016, September 01). Retrieved May 14, 2017, from
  3. Food Sources of Omega-3 Fats. (2016, October 28). Retrieved May 14, 2017, from


About the Author:

Stephanie Yu is a student Studying Nutrition at The University of British Columbia


What It Means for Students to Eat Healthy

A healthy dietary intake is essential for proper brain functioning, and therefore is needed for optimal learning and academic performance (1). Yet, balancing a healthy lifestyle, studying, and a social life as a university student can seem impossible at times. After interviewing a few peers about their eating habits at university, I became aware of trends and barriers in regards to healthy eating as a student. Some students have no problem consuming a balanced diet, but others are challenged by it; due to the convenience of pre-made food, the lacking of cooking skills, and budget restrictions. With so many possibilities arising, I set out to find solutions to tackles these barriers and found why incorporating healthier food into your diet is crucial as a learning student.

Pre-made food is more convenient than home made meals

Grabbing a meal to go may seem like an easier option compared to cooking a healthy meal, especially if you are crunched for time between classes and studying. Yet, buying food on the go is associated with a poorer dietary intake (2). People who buy packaged foods tend to have higher intakes of fast food, soft drinks, total fat, and lower intakes of healthful foods (2),  which is definitely not ideal for a student that needs plenty of energy to keep up with their stressful schedules. Whereas, people who eat at home in the absence of distractors, such as TV, and in the presence of others, are likely to eat more fruits and vegetable and overall healthier foods (3). Although food on the go may be convenient and tasteful, one study has shown that increased consumption of energy-dense, low-fibre, high-fat foods is associated with lower academic performance (4). 

Preparing healthy meals ahead of time, such as at the beginning of the week, and refrigerating or freezing them is one way to combat not having to cook during busy times. For people who never have time to eat breakfast, try making overnight oats. Just stick oats with your favourite type of milk and fruit in the fridge overnight, and in the morning breakfast is ready when you are.    

Students lack cooking experience

University is a challenging transition, and not knowing how to cook for yourself can prove to be even harder when trying to consume a healthy diet. One study found that consumption of fruits and vegetables by young adults is inversely related to personal barriers such as lacking cooking skills (5).  Whether you are unsure of how to incorporate more vegetables or how to add protein, as a vegetarian/vegan, into your meals, attempting to cook a healthy, easy, and tasty recipe is a good place to start. By having a few go-to recipes that are healthy and easy to make, cooking at university will become that much easier. Although I personally had cooking experience before coming to university, I still stick to a few basic recipes that I think are delicious and that are an easy way to incorporate a nutritious meal into my day. A great way to find inspiration for meals is to follow healthy eating bloggers, Instagrams, or Youtube channels. Learning how to cook for yourself is a great skill to have, not only can you choose what is going into your body, studies have found that cooking your own meals is associated with a healthier dietary intake (6).  Developing culinary skills at this age proves to be beneficial for you in the long term as well. In a ten year study it was found that having food preparation skills as a young adult predicted a healthier dietary intake during mid-to-late twenties (7).  The increased diet quality after the 5 years included higher intakes of fruit, vegetables and dark green/orange vegetables, and less sugar-sweetened beverage and fast-food consumption (7).    

Healthy foods are more expensive

$10 smoothies may give healthy food a bad rep in terms of expenses, but most of the time buying pre-made food is more expensive than if the food was prepared at home. Many nutritious foods, such as vegetables, fruits, and plant sources of protein, such as legumes, can be bought for quite affordable prices. An abundance of vegetables and fruits in the diet decreases the chances of developing heart disease, certain types of cancers, and digestive problems (8) yet, many of the people I interviewed lacked an adequate amount of fruits and vegetables in their diets. Canada’s Food Guide recommends that female adults aged 19-50 should eat 7-8 servings, and males 8-10 servings, of fruits and vegetables in a day, with at least one dark green and one orange vegetable per day (9).  At UBC there are some great farmers markets that sell produce at affordable prices, such as the UBC Farm Market and Roots of the Roof. By finding the right places to buy affordable healthy food, and minimizing the amount of pre-made food you buy, buying nutritious food can be more affordable than you think.

Roots on the Roof market. (PC: Roots on the Roof, 2016)

Another way to stay healthy at university is to engage in regular physical activity. One study showed that students who did regular physical activity improved their sleep quality and decreased their emotional exhaustion and overall fatigue from study related stress (10). Endless health benefits are associated with regular physical activity and healthy eating, so by setting aside time each day for your health as a student, you are already on the path to success.

With all of that said, it is important to remember that we are not super humans. Amongst the endless assignments, midterms, and Netflix binging, consuming a healthy diet 24/7 plus exercising regularly is nearly impossible. Treat yourself, but more importantly, take care of yourself.
Written by: Sydney Verburg

Edited By: Renée Chan, MS, RD, RDN, CDN


  1. A. Gutierrez J, Benna N, Fernandez K, Shanahan A, Cruz D. A correlational investigation of the relationships among nutrition-related attitudes and behavior, body mass, and learning and verbal memory performance in college students. New School Psychol Bull. 2013;10:37–43.
  2. Larson NI, Nelson M.C., Neumark-Sztainer D, Story R, Hannan P.J. Making time for meals: meal structure and associations with dietary intake in young adults. J Am Diet Assoc. 2009. 109, 72–79.
  3. Laska, M. N., Graham, D., Moe, S. G., Lytle, L., & Fulkerson, J. Situational characteristics of young adults’ eating occasions: A real-time data collection using personal digital assistants. Public Health Nutrition. 2011. 14(3), 472-479.
  4. Correa-Burrows, P., Burrows, R., Blanco, E., Reyes, M., & Gahagan, S. (2016). Nutritional quality of diet and academic performance in chilean students. Bulletin of the World Health Organization, 94(3), 185-192. doi:10.2471/BLT.15.161315
  5. Graham, D. J., Pelletier, J. E., Neumark-Sztainer, D., Lust, K., & Laska, M. N. (2013). Perceived Social-Ecological Factors Associated with Fruit and Vegetable Purchasing, Preparation, and Consumption among Young Adults. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 113(10), 1366-1374. DOI: 10.1016/j.jand.2013.06.348
  6. Thorpe, M.G., Kestin, M., Riddell, L.J., Keast, R.S. and McNaughton, S.A. ‘Diet quality in young adults and its association with food-related behaviours’, Public Health Nutrition. 2014. 17(8), pp. 1767–1775
  7. Laska, M., Larson, N., Neumark-Sztainer, D., & Story, M. (2012). Does involvement in food preparation track from adolescence to young adulthood and is it associated with better dietary quality? Findings from a 10-year longitudinal study. Public Health Nutrition, 15(7), 1150-1158. doi:10.1017/S1368980011003004
  8. Willett, Walter. Eat, drink, and be healthy: the Harvard Medical School guide to healthy eating. Simon and Schuster. 2011. 1, 20-21.
  9. Health Canada. (2011). Eating well with Canada’s food guide. Retrieved from
  10. de Vries, J., van Hooff, M., Geurts, S., & Kompier, M. Exercise as an intervention to reduce study-related fatigue among university students: A two-arm parallel randomized controlled trial. 2016. Plos One, 11(3).

About the Author:

Sydney Verburg is a second year student in the Food, Nutrition and Health Program at the University of British Columbia. As an aspiring Dietitian, she hope to use nutrition education in a valuable way to inspire people to live healthfully and to their fullest.


Vegetables: Raw Vs. Cooked!

Ever wonder whether vegetables are healthier when they are raw versus cooked?   Some claim that vegetables are better raw because vitamins are lost during cooking. However, is that always true?

What Nutrients Are in Vegetables?

Before digging deeper, we should know what main nutrients are present in vegetables and why  they are healthy. Vegetables are known to contain phytonutrients where“phyto” means plants and these nutrients have anti-oxidizing effects (2). Therefore, they are commonly known as antioxidants and many of them are involved in protecting our cells from reacting with oxygen as well as fighting off  free radicals that are damaging them (1).

Antioxidants: Water Soluble Vs. Fat Soluble

Antioxidants slow down the deterioration of our cells and reduce our risks of getting chronic diseases like cancer and heart disease (1). In general, there are 2 main types of antioxidants, water-soluble and lipid-soluble. Ascorbic acid (vitamin C) and phenols are common water-soluble antioxidants in vegetables. Phenols are derived from the plant’s own metabolism that produce anti-oxidizing properties (1). Lipid-soluble types like carotenoids and vitamin E are in fruits and vegetables. Carotenoids are the red and orange pigments like carrots and red peppers and are required to produce vitamin A (1). These are more stable in cooking and some are actually absorbed better after cooking. Many people may over-generalize all nutrients in vegetables as water-soluble types and therefore believed that they can be lost while cooking especially with methods that involve water.

Some Facts:

It is indeed true that water-soluble antioxidants can deteriorate after cooking. Boiling and microwaving have detrimental effects on vitamin C levels in vegetables causing a 30-50% loss of antioxidant activity, depending on the types of vegetables (3, 4). However, for some antioxidants, heat is required to increase the availability of them to us. For example, heat can help soften the cell walls of the vegetables and extract the carotenoids that are trapped inside (5). Heat can help release the antioxidants from vegetables and increase their levels substantially.


Let’s discuss the effect of cooking on several common types of vegetables !

  1. Broccoli

Research suggested that steaming is the best method amongst microwaving, boiling and frying to cook broccoli since it retains the highest levels of ascorbic acid (vitamin C) in them (3,6,7). Broccoli contains high levels of carotenoids and many other phenols (3). Cooking broccoli help release the carotenoid’s availability and increase the overall antioxidant activity in it. Even though cooking broccolis may decrease the level of vitamin C, eating them cooked is still recommended due to the enhanced availability of the other antioxidants.


  1. Cauliflower

Similar to broccoli, steaming would be the best method to cook cauliflower to keep the vitamin C  and other phytonutrients intact (3). However, cauliflower does not contain that many carotenoids and they won’t be extracted from breaking down the cell walls, therefore, cooking them mean decreasing the level of total antioxidants(3). In this case, eating cauliflower raw is preferred over cooking them.


  1. Tomato/Red peppers

Both tomato and red peppers have ample amounts of lycopene, a type of pigment that gives them their bright red as well as providing antioxidizing power (8). Apart from lycopene, they also have high levels of carotenoids. Therefore, it is better to consume them cooked since heat increases the availability of both the lycopene and the carotenoids. Research suggests that boiling and grilling these veggies will extract their antioxidants (5). Microwaving is not suggested since it decreases the total antioxidant levels of both of these vegetables (5).


  1. Carrots

Carrots are full of carotenoids and you can tell because they are bright orange (6)! As mentioned, carotenoid availability can be enhanced with several cooking methods,  but in the case of carrots, carotenoids levels are enhanced only slightly (~5%) when they are  boiled (6). When carrots are steamed, fried or microwaved, carotenoids levels decreased by 20-40% (6). In fact for carrots, any kind of cooking decreases the levels of vitamin C by 10-40%, with the highest decrease noted when carrots are fried (4). Even though carrots do not contain very high levels of vitamin C, it is still wise to consume carrots raw. Since boiling carrots can only increase carotenoids levels slightly, it cannot offset the loss of vitamin C in the process.

As seen above, different types of vegetables react differently with cooking. We should not jump to a conclusion when deciding whether we should eat them raw or cooked. It is important for us to consume a variety of different vegetables and have them both raw and cooked in our diet. We need a balance the amount of water-soluble and fat-soluble antioxidants in our body.


Written by Stephanie Yu in collaboration with Renée Chan.

Edited by Renée Y. Chan, MBA, MS, RD, RDN, CDN



  1. Podsędek, A. (2007). Natural antioxidants and antioxidant capacity of Brassica vegetables: A review. LWT – Food Science and Technology, 40(1), 1–11. doi:10.1016/j.lwt.2005.07.023
  2. Phytonutrients – Nature’s Natural Defense. Retrieved December 30, 2016, from EatRight Ontario,–-Nature’s-Natural-Defense.aspx
  3. Pellegrini, N., Chiavaro, E., Gardana, C., Mazzeo, T., Contino, D., Gallo, M., … Porrini, M. (2010). Effect of different cooking methods on color, Phytochemical concentration, and Antioxidant capacity of raw and frozen Brassica vegetables. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 58(7), 4310–4321. doi:10.1021/jf904306r
  4. Jiménez-Monreal, A. M., García-Diz, L., Martínez-Tomé, M., Mariscal, M., & Murcia, M. A. (2009). Influence of cooking methods on Antioxidant activity of vegetables. Journal of Food Science, 74(3), H97–H103. doi:10.1111/j.1750-3841.2009.01091.x
  5. Ryan, L., O’Connell, O., O’Sullivan, L., Aherne, S. A., & O’Brien, N. M. (2008). Micellarisation of Carotenoids from raw and cooked vegetables. Plant Foods for Human Nutrition, 63(3), 127–133. doi:10.1007/s11130-008-0081-0
  6. Miglio, C., Chiavaro, E., Visconti, A., Fogliano, V., & Pellegrini, N. (2008). Effects of different cooking methods on nutritional and Physicochemical characteristics of selected vegetables. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 56(1), 139–147. doi:10.1021/jf072304b
  7. Turkmen, N., Sari, F., & Velioglu, Y. (2005). The effect of cooking methods on total phenolics and antioxidant activity of selected green vegetables. Food Chemistry, 93(4), 713–718. doi:10.1016/j.foodchem.2004.12.038
  8. Bramley, P. M. (2000). Is lycopene beneficial to human health? Phytochemistry, 54(3), 233–236. doi:10.1016/s0031-9422(00)00103-5


About the author:

Stephanie Yu is a student studying nutritional sciences at UBC.


Im-PULSE-able Foods To Resist!

The United Nation declared that 2016 is the Year of Pulses, while many people still don’t know what they actually are! The term “pulses” refer to the dried seeds of an ancient plant species that include legumes, beans, lentils, and chickpeas.

Ancient food across the globe

Pulses have been used in traditional cuisines around the world for centuries. Soups, spreads, snacks and breakfast items are only a few food items that come in mind, but there are many more ideas (1). In case you didn’t know, the common favourite snack dip, Hummus, is a blend of chickpeas (or other pulses) with olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and garlic.

The underappreciated crop

With nitrogen-fixation properties, pulse generate a sustainable harvest that leave behind nutrient rich soil for the next crop to grow while requiring very little water. Pulses also require half the nonrenewable energy inputs of similar crops , therefore, creating a low carbon footprint in the environment  (2).

We are packed full of nutrients!

While pulses are also low in fat and are gluten-free, they are high in fibre, complex carbohydrates, and protein. They also provide a good source of Iron, Potassium, Magnesium, and certain B vitamins (folate, thiamin, and niacin) (3).


Pulses can help prevent and manage chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart conditions and cancer (5). A 2014 meta-analysis shows that eating pulses reduce LDL-cholesterol levels, which can lower the risk of heart attack and stroke (4) because fibre binds to bile, a substance that helps digest fats and oils), which, pulls cholesterol out of the blood to produce more bile.  

Pulses have a low glycemic index meaning they do not cause a rapid increase in blood sugar after eating. Complex carbohydrates take longer to digest than simple carbohydrates, leaving you feeling fuller longer. This is a good way to help manage blood sugar levels for those  who are at risk for, or have diabetes.

Pulses as an alternative

As mentioned, pulses can help address obesity and coeliac disease (1). Having high protein content, the Canada Food Guide deems ¾ cup (175 mL) of cooked legume appropriate as a single serving of meat alternative.  If you are vegetarian, pulses are a good way to get protein in your diet.   Gluten-free pulses (dried peas, beans, lentils and chickpeas) are a great choice for those with any level of gluten intolerance (6).

As of now, there are no known cure to coeliac disease, so a strict gluten-free diet is the only way to manage the disorder.


Be Cautious!

Certain raw pulses are high in lectin, a carbohydrate-binding protein, where a  high dose is toxic to the body and prolonged exposure may damage our digestive systems. Without cooking, soaking, sprouting, and fermenting legumes,  the lectin can cause a “leaky gut” where unwanted substances may enter the bloodstream (7). The lectin can then interact with antibodies in blood and cause an autoimmune reaction where the immune system mistakenly starts attacking the body. Those who have an autoimmune disease should avoid consuming pulses.

As long as we prepare and cook pulses thoroughly, consuming them in moderate amounts are more beneficial than they are harmful.

Some carbohydrates in pulses produce gas and bloating, but consuming pulses often allows your gut to adapt, decreasing these effects over time (3).

Let it be a pulse of your life

By consuming pulses, not only are you benefitting from its high nutrient value but you are also making an impact in creating a more sustainable food system. Remember a healthy diet means eating in moderation and having a balance in a variety of foods. Speak with a dietitian to learn more about the ways you can incorporate pulses into your diet in a healthy, yet scrumptious way!


Written by Ariane Lai in collaboration with Renée Chan

Edited by Renée Y. Chan, MS, RD, RDN, CDN


  1. Sozer, N., Holopainen, U., & Poutanen, K. (2016). Traditional and new food uses of pulses. Cereal Chemistry Journal, doi:10.1094/CCHEM-04-16-0082-FI
  2. Pulses & Sustainability. (n.d.). Retrieved November 24, 2016, from
  3. Nutritional Benefits. (n.d.). Retrieved November 24, 2016, from
  4. Ha, V., Sievenpiper, J., de Souza, R., Jayalath, V., Mirrahimi, A., Agarwal, A., & Jenkins, D. (2014). Effect of dietary pulse intake on established therapeutic lipid targets for cardiovascular risk reduction: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Canadian Medical Association Journal, 186(8), E252-E262. doi:10.1503/cmaj.131727
  5. Suárez-Martínez, S. E., Ferriz-Martínez, R. A., Campos-Vega, R., Elton-Puente, J. E., de la Torre Carbot, Karina, & García-Gasca, T. (2016). Bean seeds: Leading nutraceutical source for human health. CyTA – Journal of Food, 14(1), 131-137. doi:10.1080/19476337.2015.1063548
  6. Pulses can help. (2012). Nutrition & Food Science, 42(2) doi:10.1108/nfs.2012.01742baa.007
  7. Hollander, D. (1999). Intestinal permeability, leaky gut, and intestinal disorders. Current Gastroenterology Reports, 1(5), 410-416. doi:10.1007/s11894-999-0023-5

About the author:

Ariane Lai is currently in her second year of Food, Nutrition, and Health degree at the University of British Columbia. Her interests include trying new cuisines and working with children and youths. She hopes to become a dietitian and spread the love that comes with food.


Getting Along With Sugar

We All Crave For Sweets!

What is that one food you crave after a long day or after accomplishing a difficult task? If you are thinking of that sweet apple pie or chocolate cake, many people would be on the same page! Eating too much sugar can cause weight gain, poor diet quality and various diseases (1-3). That is a well known phenomenon, but the real question is: Why do the sweet cravings continue?

From a study published in Nutrients in 2014, researchers showed that added sugars take up 11%–13% of the total energy intake in the diet of Canadians(4). Just a year after that, the World Health Organization (WHO) guideline suggests to reduce sugar intake to under 10% (1). From the beginning of time, we did  things for a reward. Our bodies  are conditioned to crave sugar because it can bring us  the sensory and functional rewards that come naturally after we ingest sweets(5).  After we taste something sweet, the information collected by our taste buds  reaches our brain, increasing the production of dopamine and opioids, which improve our mood, generate satisfaction and reduce the state of anxiety (6). The metabolic products of sugar will also provide us with energy that maintain the basic functions for life and provide fuels for further activities (7). Our brain secretes various proteins to regulate energy, osmotic balance, and feeding behavior (6). When our bodies require energy, our brain will send signals that make us crave for sugars and when we have enough energy, a set of different signals will be sent to  stop us from looking for food.


Artificial Sweeteners!

The impact of people suffering from obesity and diabetes have caused an influx of artificial sweeteners to come into the spotlight.  Products such as sugar free gum and diet soda aim to satisfy a sweet tooth claiming to have zero calories and in turn might decrease the effects of weight gain.  However, several research shows them to have no obvious effect or even lead to results opposite to their expectation (5). With artificial sweeteners, consumers may actually gain weight by dieting (5).  The truth is, most artificial sweeteners can only satisfy our sensory need, but not the functional part.  Since there is no signal to stop us from eating, we will keep looking for sweet things. In other words, artificial sweeteners actually encourage sugar cravings and sugar dependence (5).


Some Ways To Control Sugar Intake:

  • Eat fruits and vegetables that contain natural sweeteners.

Despite individual sensitivities to different sugars, fructose is slightly sweeter than most sugars such as sucrose and glucose (8), which can mean that you may consume less sugar and calories with foods higher in fructose. Also, the fiber and other nutrients in the fruits can help us slow the digestion of sugars in our bodies and, in the meantime, keep us full (9).

  • Do alternatives activities to improve your mood.

To avoid stress eating, we’d better come up with other healthier ways to cope with stress and improve mood.  Exercising is a good choice. It can boost dopamine levels as well as other neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and endorphins, which makes us happy(10). Exercise not only helps us relieve stress, but also develop our physical health and make us more productive as well. It also prevents us from thinking about food.

  • Eat regularly before you get hungry.

Keep healthy and low sugary snacks on hand to maintain your blood sugar level. By doing so, you can prevent yourself from irrationally seeking high fat and high sugar foods when you are extremely hungry.  Protein and fiber-rich foods are recommended, since they maintain your blood sugar levels for the long run (9,11).


Written by Yolanda Wang in collaboration with Renée Chan.

Edited by Renée Y. Chan, MS, MBA, RD(US), RDN(Can), CDN


  1. Dong D, Bilger M, van Dam R, Finkelstein E. Consumption Of Specific Foods And Beverages And Excess Weight Gain Among Children And Adolescents. HEALTH AFFAIRS. 2015;34:1940-1948.
  2. Louie JCY, Tapsell LC. Association between intake of total vs added sugar on diet quality: a systematic review. NUTRITION REVIEWS. 2015;73:837-857.
  3. Kell K, Cardel M, Brown M, Ferndandez J. Added sugars in the diet are positively associated with diastolic blood pressure and triglycerides in children. AMERICAN JOURNAL OF CLINICAL NUTRITION. 2014;100:46-52.
  4. Brisbois T, Marsden S, Anderson G, Sievenpiper J. Estimated Intakes and Sources of Total and Added Sugars in the Canadian Diet. NUTRIENTS. 2014;6:1899-1912.
  5. Yang Q. Gain weight by “going diet?” Artificial sweeteners and the neurobiology of sugar cravings: Neuroscience 2010. The Yale journal of biology and medicine. 2010;83:101-108.
  6. Ventura T, Santander J, Torres R, Contreras A. Neurobiologic basis of craving for carbohydrates. NUTRITION. 2014;30:252-256.
  7. O’Donnell K, Kearsley MW, Ebooks Corporation. Sweeteners and Sugar Alternatives in Food Technology. 2nd;2; ed. Ames, Iowa;Chichester, West Sussex, UK;: Wiley-Blackwell; 2012.
  8. Hall JE, ClinicalKey Flex. Guyton and Hall Textbook of Medical Physiology. 13th;Thirteenth;13th; ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016;2015.
  9. Skinner M, Hunter D, Wiley-Blackwell Online Books, Ebrary Academic Complete (Canada) Subscription Collection. Bioactives in Fruit: Health Benefits and Functional Foods. 1st ed. Chichester, West Sussex, UK: John Wiley & Sons; 2013.
  10. Hamilton G, Rhodes J. Exercise regulation of cognitive function and neuroplasticity in the healthy and diseased brain. In: Vol 135. SAN DIEGO: ELSEVIER ACADEMIC PRESS INC; 2015:381-406.
  11. Paterson MA, Smart CEM, Lopez PE, et al. Influence of dietary protein on postprandial blood glucose levels in individuals with Type 1 diabetes mellitus using intensive insulin therapy. Diabetic Medicine. 2016;2015;33:592-598.


About The Author:

Yolanda Wang is a first year student in the Food Nutrition and Health program at UBC.  She is interested in discovering the motivation behind peoples’ choices for food, and in turn, its impact on the consumers’ mental condition. She dedicates her time to enrich recipes for vegans, making them more enticing.  She is currently working as a Wednesday Night Dinner associate preparing vegan foods for students.


Creamy Dreamy Avocados !

Avocados have both literally and figuratively taken ahold of the hearts of so many health enthusiasts. The consumption of this voluptuous green fruit has increased for good reason; consumers just can’t get enough of its rich taste and its beneficial heart healthy nutrients that are placed on a pedestal by the media. 


So Good in FOOD!

The growth in popularity for avocados mainly comes from its versatility. Its creamy texture, satiating taste along with its high nutrient content makes it a wonderful spread or dip. Guacamole, a beloved condiment to many, is primarily made out of avocados and can be easily made economically at home without breaking your wallet at supermarkets or at restaurants. Avocados are less energy dense and have a higher nutrient content than mayonnaise and it comes with an added bonus, because it is also vegan! Store bought mayonnaise contains  ~7.1 calories in 1 gram, while avocados contain roughly 1.4 calories in a gram (1,2). Many recipes utilize avocados as a way to replace less healthy (more caloric or less nutrient dense) ingredients or to increase the nutrient value of a meal or snack, they can be found in brownies, chocolate pudding, egg salad, hummus and smoothies.


Good For Your Heart!

Avocados are different than most fruits as they are low in sugar and high in fat (2).  This characteristic is often a concern to consumers; however, the fat is primarily monounsaturated fatty acids (63%) (2).  Monounsaturated fatty acids have been shown to help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and can be included in a weight loss diet (2,3).  Avocados also contain significant levels of the antioxidant vitamins, E and C, and magnesium, which are also said to be beneficial for heart health (2). Also, half of an avocado contributes to approximately 15% of the recommended daily recommendation of dietary fiber for those following a 2,000 kcal diet (2)! As an addition to a dish or recipe, avocados contribute to the feeling of fullness and this can prevent overeating in those who want to manage their weight (2). When foods high in potassium are discussed the first food that often comes up are bananas, yet approximately half an avocado contains ~1.6 times more potassium than a banana (4)!


Withstands Higher Cooking Temperatures!

Extra virgin olive oil has a good reputation for its high monounsaturated fatty acid content(~74%), being slightly higher than avocado oil (~63%) (5).  However, extra virgin olive oil has a lower smoke point at ~210 degrees Celsius than avocado oil, which is above 250 degrees Celsius (6,7).  The smoke point is the temperature at which oil begins to burn, creating a burnt taste, lowering nutrient content and can produce potentially dangerous components within the food (8).  Avocado oil also has the highest smoke point when comparing canola, coconut, sunflower, corn and soybean oils (8).  Avocado oil can be used in various cooking methods without the worry of reaching the smoke point while containing the healthy monounsaturated fatty acids that extra virgin olive contains.


Go Ahead and Rub It On Yourself!

Not only is the fruit a huge food trend but it is also used in health care products. Avocado oil is easily absorbed into the skin and has properties that can help with the regeneration of the epidermis, making it useful as a moisturizing component of health care products (9).
Avocado oil can be used as an emulsifier, an important factor for making soaps and the oil holds in perfumes well, which both contribute to the application in soaps (9).


From being able to add avocados to recipes, cooking with the oil and using it in beauty products, it has shown is multifaceted features. If you haven’t tried incorporating avocado into your food life I highly suggest doing so!



Written by Leanne Perrich in collaboration with Renée Chan.

Edited by Renée Chan, MS, RD, RDN, CDN



  1. Hellmann’s Canada. Hellmann’s Real Mayonnaise 11.5 fl oz.
  2. Dreher M, Davenport, A. Hass Avocado Composition and Potential Health Effects, Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition. 2013; 53(7): 738-750.
  3. Wang, Li. The Effects of Monounsaturated Fatty Acid-Enriched Diets with and without Avocados on Cardio-Metabolic Risk Factors, ProQuest Dissertations Publishing. 2015.
  4. Rees, D., Farrell, G., Dr, & Orchard, J. E. Avocados, Crop post-harvest: Science and technology (Perishables). 2012; 3: 159-186.
  5. Peri, C. The extra virgin olive oil handbook. Chichester, West Sussex, UK: John Wiley & Sons. 2014.
  6. Palmer, S. EVOO’s smoke point suitable for cooking, Environmental Nutrition. 2013: 2.
  7. Costagli, G., and Betti, M. Avocado oil extraction processes: Method for cold-pressed high-quality edible oil production versus traditional production, Journal of Agricultural Engineering. 2015; 46 (3): 115-22.
  8. Beck, Leslie. 2015. ‘Smoke point’ matters in cooking with oil: It’s about more than flavour – overheating the oil you choose not only breaks down nutrients, it also creates harmful free radicals, The Globe and Mail. 2015.
  9. Duarte P, Chaves M, Borges C, Mendonça, C. Avocado: Characteristics, Health Benefits and Uses, Ciência Rural. 2016; 46(4): 747-754.


About the Author:

Leanne is a student at UBC studying food, nutrition and health with the goal of becoming a dietitian. She grew up having the rocky mountains close by for adventuring and also had a love for gymnastics, which she competed in for over 10 years; her love for an active and healthy lifestyle has continued into her adult life. Leanne’s love for food came later as she began appreciating whole foods and experimenting with them to make eating not only healthy, but enjoyable as well.