Eat Smarter

Red Cabbage

It’s cheap and readily available. So it can’t be a superfood can it?

No food is actually a ‘superfood’ as this is purely a marketing term, but if one food does punch above its weight in terms of nutritional benefits, it’s the humble red cabbage.

Red cabbage is one of cruciferous vegetables, which also include rocket, bok choy, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, radish and turnips. All these vegetables are low in kilojoules, and rich in folate, vitamins C, E and K, and fibre.

They also all contain phytonutrients, plant-based compounds that may help lower inflammation, and research suggests may reduce the risk of developing cancer.

Choose red cabbage and you will get added value in the form of phytonutrients called anthocyanins. These are the pigments that give red, purple and blue plants their rich colouring. They act as strong antioxidants in your body. Research indicates anthocyanins may protect against many chronic conditions, such as type 2 diabetes, certain cancers and heart disease.


What to do with red cabbage:

  • Shred and use as a base for a coleslaw with grated carrot, shredded baby spinach or kale and chopped walnuts.
  • Make a warm side dish. Braise a small shredded red cabbage for 10 minutes with 2 tablespoons olive oil, sliced red onion, peeled grated apple, ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon, and ¼ cup apple juice.

Whenever you cook with red cabbage, add an acidic liquid such as vinegar, apple juice or wine, otherwise the cabbage will lose its colour and turn blue.

Clean Air Means Clear Lungs

Not all workplace hazards are visible. Dust, gas, fumes and vapours that you can’t see may be harming your lungs.

During a day at work, you will breathe in almost 8000 times. Every breath may be potentially damaging, putting you at risk of occupational lung diseases (OLD). These are conditions of the respiratory system caused by workplace exposure to hazardous chemicals and dusts, and include work-related asthma, asbestos-related conditions, silicosis, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Who is at risk?

1. Manufacturing workers: can be exposed to invisible hazards in the air, such as fumes and dust.

2. Construction workers: are often in contact with dust from concrete and fumes from welding.

3. Engineered stone workers: are exposed to silica dust in all parts of their work process – from preparing and working on the slab, to cleaning up the workplace and disposing of waste.

4. Agricultural workers: may come into contact with a range of hazards in the air, including pesticides, chemicals and fuels.

What can you do?

Workplace Health and Safety legislation means your employer must ensure that standards are in place to protect your lung health.

You can help by ensuring you use your PPE that is designed for the hazardous agent you’re working with. You may need training in how to use it, as well as undergo fit-testing.

Some recommendations:

  • Quit smoking. Smoking or vaping of any kind increases your risk of many lung diseases.
  • Practise good hygiene. Wash your hands and face before eating and drinking and put clothes in a separate wash basket.
  • Talk to your doctor. Have regular check-ups with your doctor, even if you’re not experiencing symptoms.

Should We Stop Giving So Much Weight to BMI

Are you a healthy weight? To get an answer, you’re likely to measure your body mass index or BMI. But how helpful is this?

Your health can be gauged by a simple formula we are told. Divide your weight in kilograms by your height in metres squared (kg/m2) and you have your BMI.

This can be then used by your doctor, nutritionist, or your fitness instructor to assess if your weight is ‘normal’ or ‘healthy’ for your height or whether you are hovering close to being classified as ‘overweight’, ‘obese’ or ‘underweight’.

BMI is used around the world to measure obesity and give an estimate of our overall disease risk. There is an assumption that a normal BMI equates to good health, while scores in the ranges above or below suggest your health is at risk.


Is there a link between BMI and health?

BMI does have value. Being quick, simple and cheap, it can quickly identify people who may be at risk of conditions such as type 2 diabetes or heart disease and be a useful starting point for further investigations.

But many health professionals, backed by a growing body of evidence, are now questioning the reliability of BMI as a marker of health.

A 2016 study published in the International Journal of Obesity looked at BMI as an indicator of heart health. The research team checked individual BMI results against other indicators, including cholesterol levels, blood pressure and insulin resistance. What they found was surprising:

  • 30 per cent of people in the normal BMI range were at above-average risk of heart disease.
  • 48 per cent of ‘overweight’ and 29 per cent of ‘obese’ people were heart-healthy.

What else can’t BMI tell you?

  • The amount of fat on your body

In adults who have stopped growing, an increase in BMI is usually caused by an increase in body fat, but there are many exceptions to this.

“Having a high ratio of muscle to fat is liable to put you into the ‘overweight’ category,” says Canadian dietician Abby Langer. “Muscle weighs more than fat, and if you’re solid and muscular – think athletes or weightlifters – BMI won’t recognise that; it will just categorise you as overweight when you’re not.”

Body composition, including your per cent body fat or muscle mass, can also vary by race and ethnic group.

  • Where that fat is stored

Where you store your fat is critical to your health. Body fat stored around the abdomen (an ‘apple’ shape) is more dangerous than fat on your hips or thighs, but BMI won’t tell you where your fat is located. The ‘apple’ shape is associated with an increased risk of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes, and you can have a BMI in the ‘normal’ range but carry risky amounts of belly fat.

  • Your individual risk

Your risk of disease doesn’t automatically increase with weight. The normal ranges don’t work so well for predicting health risks in older adults, who don’t appear to have a greater risk of death when their BMI is in the ‘overweight’ category.


What are the alternatives?

Your waist circumference is a better predictor of health risk than BMI, because it can indicate how much fat is stored around your abdomen, where it is potentially more dangerous.

Both waist circumference and BMI can be good starting points, but other measurements will give a fuller picture of health risk. Lifestyle factors such as smoking, activity levels, diet and stress, along with blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol levels should all be considered.

What’s The Big Deal About a Strong Core?

When you’ve only got limited time in your day to exercise, it can be tempting to go straight for the stress-busting cardio or heavy weights and skip your core muscles. Find out why you need a strong core to thrive in your everyday life.


What are core muscles?

Your core is a group of muscles which wraps all the way around your torso, both front and back. Muscles include the transverse abdominis, multifidus, internal and external obliques, erector spinae, diaphragm, pelvic floor muscles, and the rectus abdominis – you ‘abs’.


Why you need strong core muscles

We often don’t realise how important our core is until causes problems.

You might have experienced this if you’ve had sore abs after a workout, or if you’ve had an operation such as a c-section.

We use our core to do basic things like stand up or sit up. When you bend over to pick up a wrapper from the ground, or reach up to get a mug from a high shelf, you’re using your core muscles. Even sitting in an office chair requires core muscles activation. In fact, you need your core (especially your transverse abdominal muscles) every time you move a leg or an arm.


What happens when core muscles are weak

If you get back pain from standing too long or find yourself all hunched over when working on the computer, you may find that a weak core is exacerbating the problem.

When your core muscles aren’t strong enough, you can often find your overall posture suffers. It can be difficult to keep a straight spine, whether you’re sitting or standing. It can even affect how well you can use your hands for tasks like writing, typing or using hand-tools.

It can even cause shortness of breath, especially if you’re standing for long periods of time.

The connection with back pain

A growing amount of evidence suggests back pain may be partly caused by weak core abdominal muscles over time.

At least 84 percent of us will experience back pain at some stage in our lives. By strengthening your core muscles, you can help protect and strengthen your back, and potentially reduce the risk of back pain.


How to strengthen your core

Forget the old sit-ups that your school Physical Education teacher made you do. There’s no single core exercise that’s ideal for everyone because we all have different issues and needs.

A good starting point is the plank. Or at least, to work up to the plank. It doesn’t require equipment and you can do it pretty much anywhere.

Here’s an easy explanation:

  1. Plant hands directly under shoulders (slightly wider than shoulder width) like you’re about to do a push-up. A variation is placing your forearms on the floor instead, with your elbows is placing your forearms on the floor instead, with your elbows aligned below shoulders and your arms parallel to your body.
  2. Ground your toes into the floor and squeeze your glutes to stabilise your body. Your legs should be working, too – be careful not to lock your knees.
  3. Neutralise your neck and spine by looking at a spot on the floor about a foot beyond your hands. Your head should be in line with your back.
  4. Hold the position for 20 seconds. As you get more comfortable with the move, hold your plank for as long as possible without compromising your form or breath.