Q&A and New Product News

Prof Jennie Brand-Miller answers your questions. 

Everyone seems to be talking about “nutrient density” these days. Can you explain simply what this actually means and why it seems to matter so much?
Nutrient density is about quality over quantity. Nutrient-dense foods are those which contribute greater amounts of beneficial nutrients (vitamins and minerals) per calorie (kilojoule) to your overall diet. By selecting these foods first, it allows you to obtain all the nutrients you need in your diet without exceeding your energy needs. It is wise for everyone to opt for mostly nutrient-dense foods to maximise nutritional intake and manage their weight but this is particularly important during pregnancy when a Mum’s need for essential nutrients increases more than her energy (calorie/kilojoule) needs.

Fruit and nut mix

The produce aisles are where you’ll find nutrient-dense foods – fruits, vegetables, legumes (dried beans and lentils), whole grains, nuts, seeds, fish, lean meats and poultry and lower fat dairy products. Foods with a high nutrient density are largely those which tend to be less processed and most come from the plant kingdom. If they are rich in carbohydrate, they should have a low GI. These include:
Random House Australia has recently given me a review copy of Jerusalem by chefs Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi. I have to say this cookbook is like having a bible of nutrient-dense, low GI recipes. It makes eating the nutrient-dense, low GI way deliciously easy.

And it’s probably not hard to work out the nutrient-poor foods – this includes things like sweet biscuits, cakes, pastries, confectionery, chips/fries, crisps and other savoury snacks, and soft drinks – these foods are high in energy but provide little in the way of nutrition and are best kept for occasional treats rather than everyday choices.

Product News. 
Eating for Eye Health.
Macular degeneration (MD) is the name given to a group of degenerative diseases of the retina that cause progressive, painless loss of central vision, affecting the ability to see fine detail, drive, read and recognise faces. There’s no cure, but there are treatment options that can slow down its progression, depending on the stage and type of the disease (wet, dry, and other forms). The earlier it is detected, the more vision you are likely to retain. Exactly what causes MD is not fully understood, but it runs in families – if you have a parent with MD, you have a 50% risk of suffering from it yourself. You can’t change your genes but you may reduce the risk of macular degeneration as you age or slow down the progression of the disease by making positive diet and lifestyle changes. Here’s what the Macular Degeneration Foundation advises:
Eating for Eye Health

Eating for Eye Health (Ita Buttrose and Vanessa Jones ), a practical guide to cooking for nutrition and wellbeing, contains over 90 recipes to ensure that eating for good eye health comes with a great taste (New Holland Publishing).