What Food Expiry Dates Mean

What Food Expiry Dates Mean
What Food Expiry Dates Mean

Have you ever thrown away something because of the expiry date? Nearly everyone has at some point as some people are afraid the ‘expired’ food will result in food poisoning. It’s important to understand the differences between the terms best-before, use-by, and sell by date.

These dates are more to help the manufacturer than the consumer and you should not just blindly follow them. They are there to indicate a product’s peak freshness rather than food safety. Always keep this in mind before you waste food and money.

Sometimes tasting or smelling the food can be the ultimate test. This is a much better indicator than just looking at the date on the product. Find out the real meaning of expiration dates in this infographic from Lakeshore Convention Centre.

What are the world’s healthiest diets? Check this out this infographic

What are the world’s healthiest diets?

How these diets can help with cancer, Parkinson’s and strokes!

MEDIGO – The World

Five-a-day of fruit and veg is good, but ’10 is better’

10 portions of fruit and veg per day
10 portions of fruit and veg per day

“Forget five a day, eat 10 portions of fruit and veg to cut risk of early death,” The Guardian reports.

A major review found people who regularly ate 800g of fruit and veg a day – 10 portions – had a significantly lower risk of chronic diseases, such as heart disease.

Researchers looked at more than 350 studies from around the world that examined the impact of fruit and veg consumption on a range of health outcomes, such as cancer and stroke, as well as premature death.

They found eating more fruit and veg was linked to a lower risk of getting these diseases and dying early when eating up to 800g a day (around 10 portions), or 600g a day for cancer.

The specific types of fruit and veg associated with reducing the risk of developing different diseases were also listed.

So does that mean the 5 A DAY campaign that encourages people to have at least five portions of fruit and veg a day should be updated? Well, as Victoria Taylor of the British Heart Foundation argues: “There is no nutritional benefit in a guideline that is not followed.”

Having five portions of fruit and veg a day was chosen by public health campaigners because it was seen as an achievable target for most people.

Dr Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at Public Health England, explained to the BBC that, “Whilst consuming more than five portions of fruit and vegetables a day may be desirable … adding pressure to consume more fruit and vegetables creates an unrealistic expectation.”

Get tips on how to get your 5 A DAY.

Where did the story come from?

The study was carried out by researchers from various academic and medical institutions in Norway, Imperial College London and Leeds University in the UK, and Harvard University and the Icahn School of Medicine in the US.

The study was funded by Olav og Gerd Meidel Raagholt’s Stiftelse for Medisinsk Forskning, the Liaison Committee between the Central Norway Regional Health Authority and the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, and the Imperial College National Institute of Health Research Biomedical Research Centre. The funding body had no input into the design of the study.

The study was published in the peer reviewed International Journal of Epidemiology.

The UK media generally reported the story accurately. Some sources included quotes from independent experts, who explained 5 A DAY may not be the most optimal target, but was chosen for pragmatic reasons.

What kind of research was this?

This was a systematic review and meta-analysis of studies looking at fruit and veg intake.

The researchers looked at fruit and veg intake and health outcomes, such as coronary heart disease, cardiovascular disease, cancer, stroke and death.

While a meta-analysis is good at summarising all research from a particular area, it’s only as good as the studies it includes. Any limitations of the studies included will also be limitations of the meta-analysis.

In this case, all of the studies were prospective cohort studies. This means they are only able to show an association, and can’t prove cause and effect.

What did the research involve?

The researchers analysed data from 95 prospective cohort studies that monitored people over time, and looked at fruit and vegetable intake and the risk of various diseases.

The studies were mostly from Europe and the US, but also included research from Asia and Australia. These were large studies, so there was data available for from 226,910 to 2,123,415 people for each analysis.

The relative risks for getting or dying from certain diseases was calculated for:

coronary heart disease


total cardiovascular disease

total cancer

all-cause deaths

The researchers looked at how each increase of 200g a day of fruit and vegetables affected the risk of disease and death.

They also estimated the number of early deaths worldwide that may be the result of eating less fruit and veg.

This was based on the assumption that the association between fruit and veg intake and the diseases was causal – in other words, how much fruit and veg a person ate was responsible for whether or not they developed a disease.

They also looked at specific fruit and vegetables and their association with risk.

What were the basic results?

Risk for each disease and death – other than cancer – was reduced with each 200g a day increase in fruit and vegetables up to 800g a day, and 600g a day for cancer.

So eating 800g a day of fruit and vegetables indicated the biggest reduction in risk.

For each 200g a day increase in fruit and veg, the risk of getting each health outcome was decreased by:

8% for coronary heart disease (relative risk [RR] 0.92, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.90 to 0.94)

16% for stroke (RR 0.84, 95% CI 0.76 to 0.92)

8% for total cardiovascular disease (RR 0.92, 95% CI 0.90 to 0.95)

3% for total cancer (RR 0.97, 95% CI 0.95 to 0.99)

10% for all-cause death (RR 0.90, 95% CI 0.87 to 0.93)

Researchers estimated that globally, a total of 5.6 million early deaths in 2013 were down to eating less than 500g a day of fruit and vegetables.

Researchers estimated that when using 800g a day as the optimal intake of fruit and vegetables, 7.8 million early deaths could have been avoided by people eating this amount.

The following specific fruit and vegetables were found to help reduce the risk of:

coronary heart disease – apples or pears, citrus fruit, fruit juices, green leafy vegetables, beta carotene-rich vegetables such as carrots and sweet potato, and vitamin C-rich fruit and vegetables

stroke – apples or pears, citrus fruit, green leafy vegetables and pickled vegetables

cardiovascular disease – apples or pears, citrus fruit, carrots, green leafy vegetables and non-cruciferous vegetables such as butternut squash

total cancer – cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower and broccoli

all cause of death – apples or pears, berries, citrus fruit, cooked or raw vegetables, cruciferous vegetables, potatoes and green leafy vegetables or salads

How did the researchers interpret the results?

The researchers concluded that, “In this meta-analysis of 95 studies (142 publications), reductions in risk of cardiovascular disease and all-cause mortality were observed up to an intake of 800g/day of fruit and vegetables combined, whereas for total cancer no further reductions in risk were observed above 600g/day.

“Inverse associations were observed between intake of apples/pears, citrus fruits, green leafy vegetables/salads and cruciferous vegetables and cardiovascular disease and mortality, and between green-yellow vegetables and cruciferous vegetables and total cancer risk.”

They added that, “An estimated 5.6 and 7.8 million premature deaths worldwide in 2013 may be attributable to a fruit and vegetable intake below 500 and 800g/day, respectively, if the observed associations are causal.”


This research supports the idea that the more fruit and veg you eat the better – at least, up to 10 portions (800g) a day.

It also suggests the number of people who die early might be reduced if they were to eat more than the current recommended guideline daily amount.

However, before we take this at face value, there are some important considerations:

There are likely to be many confounding factors that may have affected the results. It might be that people who eat a lot of fruit and veg are also more likely to be physically active, consume less alcohol, not smoke and be a healthy weight, or other factors that might mean better health outcomes. It’s not just fruit and vegetable intake that influences the risk of getting certain diseases and dying early.

The study didn’t look at all diseases, such as infectious or respiratory conditions, so it might be the case that eating more fruit and veg than the guideline amount is not beneficial for reducing the risk of developing all diseases.

The studies included might have varied in several ways – for example, the country the research was conducted in might have influenced things like the way fruit and vegetables were prepared, the different types of fruit and vegetables available, and other dietary and lifestyle factors.

There were few studies looking at the specific types of fruits and vegetables, so it might be there are other fruit and vegetables that are also beneficial but not listed.

There were considerable differences between the studies. This means that when you pool their results together, you need to view the results with some caution. This was particularly true for cancer, stroke and all causes of death.

As with most studies assessing diet, they are reliant on accurate self-reporting of food intake, and may not take into account changes in diet over time.

Despite these limitations, this was a strong piece of research with good statistical methodology.

If you’re in the majority of the public who struggle to get their 5 A DAY, current advice may be a more realistic goal to aim for in the short term.

Purition – road testing a new wholefood protein shake! Is this a way to help you lose weight?

Purition - a wholefood protein shake
Purition – a wholefood protein shake

Purition is not a diet, it’s a nutritional upgrade” I was told.  Though, to be fair, I’m not 100% sure what that means.  But Purition deserves a hearing as they do have something interesting on offer.

However, a week or two ago, I received an email from a lady at Purition asking me if I’d like to try out the new their new protein shake.  Because it was a Friday afternoon I was feeling what might be called “PR friendly” so I said yes.

To my surprise a box arrived the next day.  This is not a comment about Purition by the dire standards of delivery services in the UK.  In it were six packets of their non-vegan Protein shake.  Purition do do a vegan product but I’ve not tried it so don’t want to comment.

Okay so what is Purition?  Just another protein shake?

Well the way Leanne their PR lady described it was as follow “Our product is a healthy, wholefood protein shake, that’s an alternative to junk filled meal replacements and artificial protein shakes. We only use clean and natural ingredients, absolutely no artificial nasties. 70% of the product is made from a blend of seeds and nuts, along with Madagascan vanilla pods and other natural ingredients for our flavours. It is much more than just a protein powder. The shakes provide a quick, low carb, low sugar breakfast smoothie or lunch when you don’t have time to cook. We care about nutrition and ensuring that people are aware about what they are eating, and what can be hidden in their food products.”

Which I translate from PRspeak to “If you have one for breakfast you won’t feel hungry till lunch”.  And as it weighs in at £12.99 for six packets seems quite reasonable price considering.  (For Americans it is about $16.00 at today’s rate while for those in the Eurozone would play around 15 Euros).  Though this is for what they describe as the trial box!  I expect it is more if you by on a regular basis.

Purition - bags of it
Purition – bags of it

Okay so does it work?   The answer has to be a resounding yes.  Both my wife and I had lunch late on both the days we tried the product and I can honestly say I felt no urge to eat for over five hours.  My wife backed this up and she had a morning of heavy meetings!

So yup it’s a winner from that point of view especially as it is seriously low in calories.

But there is a downside.

It tastes horrible and you get bits in your teeth.  My advice, for what’s worth, is to down it in one.  You can pretend you’re on a drinking bout somewhere just outside Tomsk rather than on a health kick.

So would I use it?  The answer is yes.  A few seconds of unpleasantness do help you lose a load of weight if used properly.   (They also tell me that it’s useful for recover after exercise).

I also asked if T2 diabetics can use Purition.  The answer came back “and I shall quote in full) “’Purition makes a great breakfast (or lunch) for anyone, not using insulin, to help regulate their blood sugar with their diet.

So for anyone diagnosed with a risk of developing type 2 diabetes or recently diagnosed with type 2 diabetes looking for a low-carb dietary intervention, widely regarded now as the only way to reverse T2 without medication.

Purition is safe to use if medicating with Metformin but should not be used by diabetics using insulin or insulin releasing tablets without medical supervision.

The slow release nutrients are low in sugar and carbs and will keep most people satisfied between meals without the need for snacking. Purition is all about setting the right foundations for a great food day.’

So there you have it.  I think it works.  If you have any question please use the comments section below and I’ll as Purition to reply!

Oh and if you want to try it you can pick it up here.

Many thanks!

Kimchee – What are the health benefits of kimchee!

Kimchee - what are the benefits to our health
Kimchee – what are the benefits to our health

Never heard of kimchee?  Then let me be the one to introduce you this really amazing (and healthy) food.

But before I start I should explain that my love of kimchee is about 25 years old now.  It started in a sadly long defunct restaurant in South Wimbledon, London whose name escapes me for the moment. (It was great and real shame it closed.)

The evening we went (a Saturday I think) my eating life changed.  For the first time I tried Kimchee – the spicy fermented cabbage which is the hallmark of Korean food.    Talking to the gentleman who ran the place I was told that there are around 100,000 different types of fermented and picked vegetable dishes on the peninsula.  It was then a decided (by my wife and I) that our next holiday had to be to Korea. When we went we find it was (and still was on subsequent visits) a paradise for those who love hot and tasty food, wonderful people, great scenery and some of the finest sights in Asia.  (Ad for Korea over but do go… you won’t regret it).

Back now to the discussion of kimchee and why it is good for you.

As you may have picked up fermented foods (such as sauerkraut) are the fashion of the moment.  Kimchee comes into this category of tasty things.

The first point is that kimchi (an alternative spelling) is low in calories and high in fibre which makes it a great part of a weight loss program!

Secondly it is very high in vitamins.  In particular vitamin A, vitamin B1, vitamin B2 and vitamin C.  I’m told that the vitamin C content is upped by the fermentation process.

Kimchee is also a great source of antioxidants.  You can read up about the benefits of anti-oxidants at our previous blog.

But most importantly it is probiotic.  According to the NHS “Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts promoted as having various health benefits. They’re usually added to yoghurts or taken as food supplements, and are often described as ‘good’ or ‘friendly’ bacteria.”  Again we have a whole blogful of data here on probiotics.

So what is Kimchi useful for health-wise?

  1. Diabetes comes to mind. Koreans, it seems, have a lower incidence than say the
    Kimchi - why it is great for you
    Kimchi – why it is great for you

    US and this has been attributed to the kimchi in the diet.  And it does help reduce blood sugar levels.

  2. Yes I was a bit surprised by this as well!  But again the great bacteria produced by eating kimchee do their job!
  3. Lowers cholesterol. Now kimchi has a high level of garlic which may well help reduce Cholesterol.
  4. Boost the immune system.
  5. General digestive health including bowel problems. Here both the fibre and the bacteria come into play.
  6. Aids weight loss and helps fight obesity!
  7. Anti-aging properties. Collagen produced by the bacteria helps keep you skin in tip top condition!

So where can I get kimchee?  Well these days a lot of supermarket chain sell it otherwise specialist Asian stores are your beast!

Otherwise you might even want to consider making your own.  Here is the recipe I use.

PS  I should mention that kimchi smells quite strong.  So both my wife and I have had complaints when we have taken it into work.

PPS It is not just vegetables which are fermented.  I once tried fermented fish guts.  You should too.