Eat Smarter

Capsicum: which colour is better?

You are in the produce aisle and you are faced with a choice of red, yellow or green capsicums – possibly even orange too. Which one gives you the most nutritional bang for your buck?

Firstly, it is good to know that these are all the same vegetable: red, yellow and orange capsicums are just riper versions of green capsicums. They all have the same macronutrients, as in fibre, protein, carbohydrates.

However, the micronutrients do vary.

In a battle of the capsicums, red would win on phytonutrients and vitamins. Compared to green capsicums, red capsicums have almost 11 times more beta-carotene and one and a half times more vitamin C.

The yellow ones still have more vitamin C than the green ones, but less than the red version.

In short, red, yellow and orange capsicums have higher levels of vitamins and antioxidants, but they are often more expensive. Green capsicums are still a very good source of fibre along with vitamins A, C and E, plus iron and zinc.

Not sure what a capsicum is? They are also known as bell peppers, sweet peppers or peppers in many places.

7 Ways to Sleep Better in the Heat

Hot, humid nights do not have to spell disaster for your sleep.

To get deep, restorative sleep your body needs to cool down before bedtime and stay cool. But hot temperatures make this much harder, leaving you waking unrefreshed and irritable. Here are some simple tips to help you beat the heat.

1. Keep curtains and blinds closed. Stop your bedroom getting too hot during the day by closing your curtains or blinds when it is forecast to be hot.

2. Do not exercise close to bedtime.

Exercise during the morning or day can benefit your sleep, as it expends energy, which helps you feel more tired in the evening. But exercise too close to bedtime and it can cause your body temperature to spike, making it more difficult to fall asleep when you need to.

3. Take a shower. Cool your body with a cool or tepid shower before bed. If you wake in the night and cannot fall back asleep, have another cool shower.

4. Use a fan. The ideal sleeping temperature is around 17 to 19 degrees Celsius, says the Sleep Health Foundation. Unless you have air-conditioning, this is hard to achieve, so you will need to have air flowing over your skin to offload heat from your body. Ceiling fans are useful here, but any type of small or pedestal fan will make a difference.

5. Open a window. An open window can help circulate the air as it cools overnight, but unless you have a flyscreen it can also let in mosquitoes and flies. Hanging a wet sheet in front of an open window will cool the air entering your bedroom (and may prevent mozzies from entering too).

6. Reduce bedding and bed clothes. Expose as much of your skin to the air as possible with light clothing such as sleeveless tops, loose-fitting shorts, underwear or nothing at all if that is comfortable.

Invest in sheets and pillowcases made from natural fibres like cotton, linen or bamboo, which are more breathable than those made from synthetic fabric.

If you like sleeping with a sheet, have it loosely draped over the bed so you can stick your feet out in the middle of the night – this can actually cool you down!

Your temperature reaches a low point between 3am and 5am, so keep a light blanket close by.

7. Stay hydrated. If you cannot lower the temperature of your room your body will cool you down through sweating. Make sure you go to bed well hydrated, and keep some water near your bed to make sure you can replenish the liquid you are losing.

How to Support a Struggling Mate

When you notice a friend is going through a tough time, it can be hard to know how to help them. What do you say? What if it opens up a whole can of worms that you cannot cope with? What if they get offended?

Here are two expert tools you can use:


ALEC was developed by R U OK? Day, and is recommended by Movember.

It is a four-step process to help you navigate a conversation with a friend who might be doing it tough.

This explanation of ALEC comes from Movember.

A stands for Ask

Start by asking how he is feeling. It is worth mentioning any changes you have picked up on.

Use a prompt like, “You have not seemed yourself lately – are you feeling OK?”

You might have to ask twice. People often say “I’m fine” when they are not, so do not be afraid to ask twice. You can use something specific you have noticed, like, “It is just that you have not been replying to my texts, and that is not like you.”

L is for listen

Give him your full attention. Let him know you are hearing what he is saying and you are not judging. You do not have to diagnose problems or offer solutions.

Ask questions along the way, such as, “That cannot be easy – how long have you left this way?”

R U OK? adds this suggestion: Remind them whilst the distress they are feeling at this point in time may be overwhelming, it would not be permanent, and having a plan and support network is a great way of handling the distress.

E is for encourage action

Help him focus on simple things that might improve how he feels. Is he getting enough sleep? Is he exercising and eating well? Maybe there was something that had helped in the past – it is worth asking.

Suggest that he share how he is feeling with others he trusts, including his GP or a mental health professional. This will make things easier for both of you.

C is for check in

Suggest you catch up soon – in person if you can. If you cannot manage a meet-up, make time for a call, or drop him a message. This helps to show that you care; plus, you will get a feel for whether he is feeling any better.

2. The conversation practice tool

On their website, Movember offers a tool that allows you to practise a conversation ahead of time. You can use suggested prompts, or practise conversations for particular situations such as a relationship breakup.

The Problem with Salt

You need it to survive, but too much and you risk major health issues. We look at where salt is, and how to use less.

Salt is made up of sodium and chloride. Of these two elements, it is the sodium that is the problem. We need a small amount of sodium to stay alive – to conduct nerve impulses, contract and relax muscles, and maintain the proper balance of water and minerals.

But because most of us eat twice the recommended amount of salt, we end up with too much sodium in our blood. The body then holds onto water to dilute the sodium, increasing the volume of blood in the bloodstream. This can lead to high blood pressure, a major risk factor for heart disease, stroke, kidney disease and premature death.

“High blood pressure is the biggest cause of death in the world,” said Graham MacGregor, a UK professor of cardiovascular medicine and chair of the campaigning group Action on Salt, in the Guardian online.

“Sixty per cent of strokes are due to high blood pressure, and 50 per cent of all heart disease is due to raised blood pressure.”

Even if high blood pressure is not a concern for you, MacGregor explains that a high salt diet can cause you to excrete more calcium. This makes it more likely that your bones will thin as you age, putting you at risk of osteoporosis.


How to eat less salt

  • Cut back on overly processed and packaged foods. This is where you will find 75 per cent of the salt we consume. The worst offenders are salty snack foods, packaged ‘ready meals’, burgers and pizza, processed meats such as ham and bacon, and certain sauces and condiments.
  • Read labels. Surprisingly, foods we do not think of as salty can contain high amounts too, such as bread and breakfast cereals, so it pays to compare products. Food labels in many countries list total sodium content, so choose products with less than 400mg sodium per 100g, ideally less than 120mg per 100g.
  • Cook your own meals. Cooking with fresh, unprocessed ingredients means you can control the amount of salt you use, and eating fewer takeaway and pre-packaged meals will automatically lower your salt intake.
  • Use salt alternatives. Herbs, spices, lemon juice and vinegars in your cooking can add flavour with less sodium. You can also buy low-sodium versions of traditional high-salt products, like soy sauce. Over time your tastebuds adapt to less salt, and food starts to taste better.