Health and Wellbeing Frequently Asked Questions
Health and wellbeing is not always straight forward, but our Regional Programme Team has you covered! We've built a list of frequently asked questions that we hear from you, our clients — if you have more questions, email them to firstname.lastname@example.org or ask your Programme Advisor.
Are fresh fruit and vegetables better than tinned and frozen?
Canned foods are often regarded as less nutritious than fresh or frozen products. This is not always the case, although there can be some differences. All fresh, frozen or canned fruit and vegetables count towards your five-a-day, however tinned and frozen products might contain more sodium (salt) and added sugar than fresh produce due to the way they have been processed. The fruit which is canned in water or in its own juice is a better option than fruit canned in syrup. To avoid excess sugar intake, drain and rinse the fruit if it is canned in syrup. Choose frozen vegetables without any added salt (you can add a little of your own as you cook) and aim to buy plain as often as possible.
If fresh produce is unavailable, inconvenient, out of season, or beyond your budget, tinned or frozen products provide plenty of nutrients and also have a longer shelf-life.
Butter or margarine?
Butter is always sold at a higher price than margarine, but does it mean that it is better for us?
Butter is made of fat from cow’s milk, which makes it high in saturated fats (a type of fat that is responsible for increasing the risk of heart disease), whereas margarine is made of vegetable oils, such as olive, canola, or sunflower. Vegetable oils are high in unsaturated fats, which are the types of fat that help reduce our cholesterol, blood pressure, and thus the risk of heart disease
It is better for our hearts to replace saturated fats with unsaturated fats. Making the simple swap from butter to margarine spreads is one way to do this.
What oil should I cook with?
While vegetable oils are great for our health, some oils are unsuitable to use for high-temperature cooking methods (like frying and deep-frying). For example, flaxseed oil and sunflower oil can become unstable when heated under high temperature and produce chemicals that are potentially harmful to our health.
When shallow frying, barbequing or stir-frying at home, the best choices from a nutrition, affordability, and availability perspective are olive, rice bran, and canola oils. You can be a lot more flexible with the type of oil you use for salad dressings, sauces or for drizzling over pasta because the oil isn't being heated—choose an oil that you like the taste of for these dishes.
And what about coconut oil? As opposed to other vegetable oils, the major component of coconut oil is saturated fat (the type of fat that we want to limit). Although using small amounts to add flavour is ok, it is a good idea to choose another oil like canola oil as the main cooking oil.
What is the Ketogenic diet? — Keto in a nutshell
The ketogenic diet is high-fat, adequate-protein, and low-carbohydrate. People who follow a keto diet only eat about 20-50g of carbohydrate per day, that's only one banana! The keto diet mainly relies on fat to supply energy, however, our body naturally prefers glucose (carbohydrate) as an energy source.
We recommend talking with your GP to find out if it's suitable for you and seeing a dietitian. Keto diet can cause harmful results such as raised blood cholesterol and constipation. In Green Prescription we follow the Ministry of Health nutrition recommendations which is suitable for around 95% of the population and backed by years of evidence.
What is hypertension? — What foods help reduce it?
Hypertension is a medical condition known as high blood pressure. The long-term force of the blood against your artery walls is high enough that it may eventually cause health problems, such as heart disease. The following factors can increase your risk of getting it:
• Smoking or vaping
• Eating food high in salt (e.g., chips, processed meat like salami, ham, sausage)
• Being sedentary
• Being stressed
A healthy diet can help us to lower our blood pressure. It's important for everyone to eat more heart-healthy foods, and less salt to protect ourselves from a rise in blood pressure:
• Whole grains
• Fruits and vegetables
• Legumes and lentils
• Nuts and seeds
• Oily fish, such as tuna, sardines, and salmon (canned fish is a great option)
How does exercising help with diabetes?
Ever wondered what does exercise have to do with diabetes? In both types of diabetes, type 1 or type 2, our body is not dealing well with the sugar coming from the food we eat and can increase the risk of developing other health conditions. All diabetes conditions benefit from exercises because:
• It makes your body's cells more sensitive to the action of insulin, which is the door for blood sugar
• It helps to reduce high insulin resistance, meaning it becomes more sensitive
• It helps to keep your heart healthy and helps to avoid long-term conditions like heart disease.