woman cooking in the kitchen Our resident nutritionist provides us with some tips and needs info on your health.

Is cooking with Canola or vegetable oil healthy?

You can significantly reduce your risk of heart disease — the leading cause of death –  by changing your diet, particularly by lowering your intake of saturated fats (which can raise artery-clogging cholesterol levels) and by increasing your intake of healthier unsaturated fats and essential fatty acids.

One way to reshape your diet is by choosing heart-healthy oils. Canola oil, which is made from the crushed seeds of the canola plant, is among the healthiest of cooking oils. It has the lowest saturated fat content of any oil commonly consumed, at just 7%. By comparison, sunflower oil has 12% saturated fat, corn oil has 13%, and olive oil has 15%.

Although it’s low in saturated fat, canola oil is very high in healthy unsaturated fats. It’s an excellent source of omega-6 fatty acid, linolenic acid, and it is higher in omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) than any other oil commonly used. These fats are particularly important in the diet because the human body can’t produce them.

Studies show that alpha-linolenic acid, or ALA, may help protect the heart by its effect on blood pressure, cholesterol, and inflammation. Substituting canola oil for other fats in your diet is an easy way to help you eat healthier. One study shows that completely substituting canola oil and canola oil-based margarine for other oils and spreads can help adults meet the daily dietary recommendations for saturated and unsaturated fat. Switching to only canola-based products could reduce your saturated fat intake by almost 10%, and increase your ALA intake by nearly 73%, shows the study, published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.


Stories have been circulating on the Internet claiming that canola oil is made from the rapeseed plant, and contains substances that are toxic to humans. The rumour claims that these toxins can lead to ailments ranging from respiratory distress to blindness in humans.

Canola is often confused with rapeseed. The rapeseed plant contains high levels of erucic acid, a substance that in large quantities can be toxic to humans. However, canola is produced from the canola plant, which contains low levels of erucic acid.


Because of its light flavour and smooth texture, canola oil is one of the most versatile cooking oils. You can use it in a number of dishes and cooking methods. Here are a few ideas for cooking with canola oil:

Use as cooking oil for sauteing, stir-frying, grilling, and baking.

Add it to salad dressings, sauces, and marinades.

Use it to coat your pans for nonstick baking.

Replace it with solid fats (such as margarine and butter) in recipes.


woman of colour laughing Why has my weight loss slowed down?  I’ve been doing it for 23 weeks I weighed in at 161kg have lost 20kg so far. I can only do exercise for short times had a knee op and shoulder op use walking machine and bike. I don’t want this to stop as I have a lot of Heath issues. please help

You have done remarkably well. You have obviously made the correct changes to your lifestyle. Your body cannot continue to lose weight at such a rapid speed. You have lost 21kg in 23 weeks – that is remarkable. It is normal for the body to average losing 2 – 2 ½ kg per month. You must remember that what you are doing is a lifestyle, not a diet. Stop focusing on your weight and think of how much fitter and healthier you are feeling.

Ensure that your portion sizes do not creep up, so occasionally measure your food or weigh it. Maintain your exercise regime. Interval training is recommended where you do intense exercise training on the bike or treadmill for a few minutes, and then more moderate walking or cycling. You should be doing about an hour of aerobic exercise per day.  Resistance exercise is also recommended – depending on what you can do with your knee and shoulder.

Snacking and picking are common mistakes that can creep into your intake. You do not realise you are eating. Everything you eat goes on a plate and you are sitting down to eat it. Chew you food well and eat slowly! Be patient. Remember ‘Rome was not built in a day!’


Why is it ok to drink a salty drink but need a low salt diet? My blood pressure is high so I was told to have minimal salt. When I was in the hospital they told me to have the salty drink because of my diarrhoea and some removal of my insides previously. Why is it ok for me to drink the salt but not eat it? Will drinking the salt put my blood pressure up? should I ask my doctor to test the salt level in my blood?

With high blood pressure, you should keep your intake of salt as low as possible. However, if you had diarrhoea you have to replace the electrolytes which your body lost due to the diarrhoea.  They probably gave you re-hydration drinks which have the necessary salts and electrolytes your body needs – not just salt. Your doctor will not recommend you continue to drink salty drinks unless the diarrhoea persists. These drinks provide the correct balance of water, sugar and salt that your body needs, but you should not take these drinks unless directed by your doctor. You normally drink re-hydration drinks after every large episode of diarrhoea or vomiting, as well as drinking water.  Always try to drink water after each episode of vomiting or diarrhoea, even if you don’t feel like it. A little is better than none at all.

Your doctor will not give you too many ‘salty’ drinks that will affect your blood pressure.


rainbow cakesWhat is the current treatment for gestational diabetes?

If you have been diagnosed with gestational diabetes you should be under the care of an endocrinologist because gestational diabetes can hurt you and your baby, you need to start treatment quickly. Treatment for gestational diabetes aims to keep blood glucose levels equal to those of pregnant women who don’t have gestational diabetes. Treatment for gestational diabetes always includes special meal plans and scheduled physical activity, these should be planned for you by a specialist. It may also include daily blood glucose testing and medication or insulin injections.

You will probably be testing your blood glucose to achieve stringent glycaemic goals which are appropriate for each individual. You normally test before a meal (preprandial) and 1-hour after a meal (postprandial).

You will need help from your doctor diabetic educator, and other members of your health care team so that your treatment for gestational diabetes can be changed as needed. For you as the mother-to-be, treatment for gestational diabetes helps lower the risk of a caesarean section birth that very large babies may require. Sticking with your treatment for gestational diabetes will give you a healthy pregnancy and birth, and may help your baby avoid future poor health. Try not to worry while gestational diabetes is a cause for concern, the good news is that you and your health care team – your doctor, obstetrician, diabetic educator, and dietitian – work together to lower your high blood glucose levels. And with this help, you can turn your concern into a healthy pregnancy for you, and a healthy start for your baby.


Gestational diabetes usually goes away after pregnancy. But once you’ve had gestational diabetes, your chances are 2 in 3 that it will return in future pregnancies. In a few women, however, pregnancy uncovers type 1 or type 2 diabetes. It is hard to tell whether these women have gestational diabetes or have just started showing their diabetes during pregnancy. These women will need to continue diabetes treatment after pregnancy. Many women who have gestational diabetes go on to develop type 2 diabetes years later. There seems to be a link between the tendency to have gestational diabetes and type 2 diabetes. Gestational diabetes and type 2 diabetes both involve insulin resistance. Certain basic lifestyle changes may help prevent diabetes after gestational diabetes. Lower your risk for diabetes by losing weight

Losing even a few kilos can help you avoid developing type 2 diabetes. Making healthy food choices Follow simple daily guidelines, like eating a variety of foods including fresh fruits and vegetables, limiting fat intake to 30% or less of daily calories, and watching your portion size. Healthy eating habits can go a long way in preventing diabetes and other health problems. Regular exercise allows your body to use glucose without extra insulin. This helps combat insulin resistance and is what makes exercise helpful to people with diabetes. Never start an exercise program without checking with your doctor first.


Is there any truth behind not eating protein with carbohydrates, and only eating fruit in the morning till midday, and also not eating carbohydrates at night?  I find it so difficult to stick to all this advice – it makes me diet one minute and binges the next.  Either I am being strict or I am eating everything.  What is your opinion of all this?

When you read the diet books advising food combining they seem to make a lot of sense.  However, look a little deeper, almost every food contains a mixture of nutritional components, consequently it is impossible to avoid combining proteins and carbohydrates.  Different enzymes in the gut are responsible for digesting the different food groups – it is a perfectly designed system to deal with the “mixed” nature of food.  Many people are convinced that it is the food combining that has made them lose weight and feel more energetic when all they have done is replace a high-fat breakfast of fried eggs, bacon and buttered toast with a fresh fruit breakfast!