Health

Tuesday 23 September 2014

Nutrition Q&A

Is it okay to eat frozen vegetables?

Take cheese for nutrition

When possible, fresh vegetables are the best form of vegetable to eat, but there is nothing wrong with eating frozen from time to time. They are particularly convenient during the winter months when fresh varieties are unavailable, or in short supply and therefore overpriced. You should choose varieties of frozen vegetables that have been picked and frozen close to harvest (you'll have to trust the label on this), and have nothing added to them (sugar and/or salt).

Avoid brands and packaging that contain large chunks of ice or where the vegetables have clumped together – in this instance, they have likely melted and refrozen. This means they have not been stored correctly, and are likely to be soggy when cooked.

QUESTION: I KNOW I NEED TO ADD MORE FIBRE TO MY DIET BUT I DON'T KNOW WHAT ARE THE BEST OPTIONS, COULD YOU SUGGEST SOME?

To briefly recap from my article on fibre, dietary fibre – which is also commonly known as roughage – is the part of food that we eat (predominantly from plants) that cannot be digested or absorbed by the body. People who consume a diet higher in fibre have a significantly lower risk of developing coronary heart disease, stroke, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, and certain gastrointestinal diseases, compared with those with lower-fibre intakes.

The following foods will dramatically increase your daily intake of fibre: jumbo oats and pinhead oats; seeds such as flaxseed, chia seeds and pumpkin seeds; fruits such as berries, apples, kiwis and pears; fibrous vegetables such as broccoli, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and cabbage; and legumes, beans, and lentils. There are many, many more but these are some simple and tasty foods to get you started.

QUESTION: I LOVE CHEESE BUT I KNOW IT IS HIGH IN FAT, IS IT OKAY TO EAT?

Cheese is a food that raises a lot of questions for nutritionists. For instance, some perceive cheese as a healthy food because of its calcium and protein content, while others suggest it should be avoided because of the high saturated fat content (although, as I have discussed many times, there are growing doubts about how 'bad' saturated fat actually is for us).

Cheese is a dairy product so, first and foremost, if you are allergic or lactose-intolerant then you should avoid it. On the other hand, if cheese does not result in an adverse digestive reaction when you eat it, my opinion is that cheese can be consumed in moderate amounts.

I don't think that it should be a frequent part of the diet but it certainly can be used to provide extra flavour and enjoyment to meals. For example, feta cheese is something I recommend using in my salads, goat's cheese with chopped apple is a nice snack and mozzarella can be used when making shepherd's pie or aubergine lasagne.

What you might notice about those three cheeses is that they are minimally processed cheeses.

Those such as creamed cheese, cheese singles and cheese strings are vastly different to the soft cheeses above or the many hard cheeses such as aged cheddar or Gouda.

The simple advice is that cheese can be consumed in moderate amounts to flavour fresh vegetables or salads, or to combine with fruit as a snack, but make sure that it is a minimally processed variety with few if any added ingredients.

Irish Independent

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