Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

It can be tough to navigate the nutrition maze

Here's a quick quiz to help your quest to eat well

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Rainbow chard has vitamin rich, mild-flavored leaves.


Rainbow chard has vitamin rich, mild-flavored leaves.

Are you proud of your nutrition knowledge? Are you certain that you know everything about what you should eat?

It's time for a pop quiz that will put your knowledge to the test.

Here are some of my favourite questions (and answers) about food and health:


1. "Eating clean" is a diet term tossed around in certain circles. Which is the most accurate example of the phrase?

A. Miso soup

B. Banana nut muffin made without sugar

C. A banana and some walnuts

D. None of the above

The term "eating clean" probably first gained momentum in the 1990s and many continue to use the phrase when describing their quest to eat whole, unprocessed foods. There is no official definition for the phrase. Of the above list, the banana and walnuts option most falls into the "eating clean" category since both banana and walnuts are whole, unprocessed foods -- especially if you eat raw nuts freshly out of the shell. (Miso is high in sodium and some may view the fermented bean paste as too far removed from the soybean from which it is derived.)


2. Which of the following sweeteners is better for your blood-sugar levels?

A. Honey

B. Fructose

C. White sugar

D. Brown sugar

This is a trick question. Despite the reputation of honey, brown sugar and even fruit-derived fructose as being more "natural," they all have the same effects on your blood-sugar levels. Sugar is sugar, regardless of its colour and source. It enters your bloodstream quickly, triggers a hormonal response and delivers calories lacking in nutrients.


3. Which of the following foods is least likely contribute to plaque buildup in your arteries?

A. Cheese

B. Steak

C. The white meat of chicken

D. Olive oil

Olive oil is the answer. Traditional thinking says saturated fats -- or those derived from animal sources -- are what contribute to dietary cholesterol. This, in turn, tends to line and narrow your arteries with plaque, thereby increasing your risk of heart attack. Researchers believe sources of unsaturated fat such as olive oil raise your so-called good cholesterol and have a protective effect on your heart.


4. Which of the following iced-coffee drinks packs the fewest calories?

A. Starbucks venti iced chai tea latte made with whole milk

B. Tim Hortons large original iced cappuccino with heavy cream

C. Second Cup's 20-ounce vanilla bean latte made with whole milk

D. McDonald's medium vanilla chai tea iced frappe with whipped cream

The Second Cup option contains the fewest calories at 370. But you might want to think twice before downing too many iced-coffee beverages of any variety. Most contain more calories, fat and sugar than a burger and contribute to mystery pounds that tend to creep up in the summer. Here's how the above options break down nutritionally: The Starbucks chai latte: 380 calories, 63 grams of sugar, 9 grams of fat; the Tim Hortons iced cap: 470 calories, 20 grams of fat, 62 grams of sugar; the Second Cup latte: 370 calories, 47 grams of sugar, 12 grams of fat; the McDonalds's medium frappe: 580 calories, 75 grams of sugar and 26 grams of fat.


5. Greek yogurt is good for you because:

A. It's made in Greece, where western civilization as we know it began

B. It's higher in protein than regular yogurt

C. It's richer, yet lower in saturated fat than regular yogurt

D. It contains more probiotics than regular yogurt

If you chose B, you're correct. Greek yogurt is higher in protein than regular yogurt. Regular yogurt can contain 9 grams of protein in a 3/4-cup serving; the same amount of Greek yogurt could contain more than 20. You can get it with various fat counts, but even the non-fat version of Greek yogurt has a creamy texture and is high in muscle-building protein. That's because of the process of making Greek yogurt. (The Greek term refers to the way it's made, not necessarily where it's made.)

After the milk and/or cream to make yogurt is heated and enriched with live bacterial cultures, it is strained in a fine filter. This removes the water and the whey. The result is a yogurt that contains double the protein, just because it's more concentrated. It's also extra thick and doesn't require added thickeners such as gelatin and carrageenan that are sometimes found in other yogurts.

Choose plain Greek yogurt over flavoured varieties. It's low in sugar, has an appealing, thick texture and like most yogurt, it is full of probiotics -- good bacteria that will boost your gut health.


6. With the St. Norbert Farmers' Market now open, you're looking forward to preparing some locally grown vegetables for you and your family. Which cooking method will best retain your veggies' nutrients?

A. Steaming in microwave

B. Boiling in water

C. Roasting/baking in oven

D. All of the above

Researchers say water is the worst enemy of cooked veggies; in most cases, it leaches the nutrients out of them. So instead of boiling them, cook them in the microwave with a minimal amount of water and only until they are just tender. According to a study published in the Journal of Food Science, baking in the oven and grilling also help retain nutrients. Both are methods that require no water. If you need to cook your veggies in water, consume the water they were cooked in. That's where many of their nutrients will be lurking.


7. You've heard that most North Americans consume too many carbs, so now you've decided to cut them from your diet. Which of the following foods does not contain carbohydrates?

A. Almonds

B. Broccoli

C. Steel-cut oatmeal

D. Beans

This is a trick question. All of the above options contain carbohydrates, or foods that when digested, break down into glucose. (Fibre is the exceptional carbohydrate; your body can not digest it, so it's not broken down into glucose.) Keep in mind that all of the above options are complex carbs -- the health-enhancing kind that take longer to break down in your digestive system than less nutritious carbs, such as white bread, table sugar or fruit juice.


Have an interesting story idea you'd like Shamona to write about? Contact her at

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 26, 2014 A1


Updated on Monday, May 26, 2014 at 6:44 AM CDT: Replaces photo, changes headline

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