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Healthy Hints and Hacks

Which of these oils has the most kilojoules? Olive oil, sunflower oil or coconut oil?

It’s a trick question – they all have the same. These oils are all types of fats, and therefore have the same amount of kilojoules.

Three teaspoons (15mls) of any type of fat will contain 600kJ, be it olive oil, butter, coconut oil, lard or peanut oil. It is all the same.

There is a lot of debate about which fats and oils we should be cooking with, but what we do know is that switching from using one type of fat to another will not help with weight loss.

There may be other benefits though. We know that polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats have been shown to help your body balance the amount of cholesterol in your blood, which in turn is good for your heart and blood vessels.

If weight loss is your goal, then you should be aiming to consume foods and drinks that are lower in total fats.

The best way to work out how much fat is in an item is to read the food label carefully and pay close attention to the total fats.

  • Fat-free foods have 0g of fat and less than 250kJ per portion.
  • Low fat foods have 0 – 5g of fat and more than 250kJ per portion.
  • Medium fat foods have 5 – 20g of fat per portion.
  • High fat foods have 21 – 50g of fat per portion.
  • Very high fat foods have more than 50g of fat per portion.

To lose weight, avoid foods that have a high and very high fat content and try to cut back on the foods that have a medium fat content.

Want to learn more about building a healthier lifestyle? Do you live in the South West? Then sign up to to Let’s Prevent, a free health program run by Diabetes WA.


There are roughly 600kJ in two small choc chip biscuits. How long do you think you would have to walk to burn those kilojoules off?  18 minutes, 37 minutes or 54 minutes?

You would need to walk for 37 minutes.

Or you could do a slow jog for 18 minutes, play a game of squash for 11 minutes or do the ironing for 75 minutes. There are plenty of ways to burn off those calories – and they don’t all involve sweat.

Being physically active doesn’t necessarily mean pulling on a pair of runners and going for a run. It can mean pulling on a pair of gardening gloves and getting your hands dirty or pulling out the vacuum and giving the house the once over. It all counts – even your weekly food shop when you push a trolley around for half an hour.

The Australian Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines recommend that we should all be active on most days, for roughly 30 minutes.

If carving out 30 minutes a day sounds like a challenge, remember it doesn’t have to be all at once. You could walk for 15 mins and clean the house for 15 minutes.

Here’s some tips on how to build activity into your day without trying too hard:

  • Stand up during the ad breaks when watching television.
  • Walk around when talking on your mobile.
  • Get off the bus one stop earlier. Two stops if you’re running early.
  • Take the stairs, every time.
  • Walk over to your colleague’s desk to talk to them, rather than emailing.
  • Park your car further away from your destination.

The most important thing to remember about physical activity is that any activity is better than none. If you currently do no physical activity, start off by doing a small amount and then build it up.

Want to learn more about building a healthier lifestyle? Do you live in the South West? Then sign up to to Let’s Prevent, a free health program run by Diabetes WA.

Maltodextrin. Panela. Dextrose. Muscovado.
All of these names refer to the same ingredient – can you guess what it is?

It’s sugar. All of these names refer to sugar in its varying forms.

Most of us can easily spot a sugary drink or treat, but some products force us to do some detective work to establish how much sugar they contain.

Under Australian laws, food labels must include an ingredients list and a nutrition information panel, but food manufacturers don’t make it easy for us to quickly identify the sugars. In fact, there are nearly 50 different names that can be used to describe sugar.

Food labels must also include a nutrition information panel, which should include an entry telling you how much sugar there is in 100g of the product.

If it comes in a bag, box, carton or jar, try to aim for a sugar content of less than 15g per 100g.

And if you see the terms sucrose, glucose or fructose – or any of the other sneaky names for sugar – listed in the top three ingredients, it is likely that product contains a high proportion of sugar, so take a really close look.

This is not to say you can’t eat foods with a higher sugar content, but just be mindful of how much of those foods you are eating.

Here’s a few foods that will often have more sugar than you would expect:

  • sauces, marinades & dressings
  • flavoured yoghurts & smoothies
  • breakfast cereals
  • savoury crackers
  • museli bars
  • non-dairy milk alternatives.

Want to learn more about building a healthier lifestyle? Do you live in the South West? Then sign up to to Let’s Prevent, a free health program run by Diabetes WA.

Is coconut oil a healthier alternative to other oils?

Coconut oil is everywhere these days. It is a staple of the paleo diet and the raw food movement, and has been hailed as a super food. But what about the risk of heart disease?

Coconut oil is very high in saturated fat – in fact it has six times the amount of saturated fat as olive oil. Saturated fats are linked to high LDL cholesterol levels (the “bad” kind of cholesterol) and this in turn is associated with an increased risk of heart disease.

It is for this reason that the Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend we avoid foods high in saturated fats, and instead go for foods that are high in polyunsaturated or monounsaturated fats.

Unsaturated fats help to balance your cholesterol levels by decreasing the amount of LDL  cholesterol and boosting your HDL cholesterol (“good” cholesterol).

Of course, coconut oil is perfect in your Thai cooking or raw brownies, because it contributes a wonderful flavour. If your aim is to reduce your risk of heat disease, try one of these other oils instead:

  • olive oil
  • sunflower oil
  • peanut oil
  • grapeseed oil
  • linseed oil
  • canola oil

Want to learn more about building a healthier lifestyle? Do you live in the South West? Then sign up to to Let’s Prevent, a free health program run by Diabetes WA.

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