Tips on which fruit and vegetables to eat if you are taking a stanol or sterol supplement

Posted by on Aug 5, 2012 in Healthy heart | 0 comments

Beta carotene rich pumpkin

Plant stanol and sterol supplements can change the way you absorb some of the nutrients found in fruits and vegetables. If you are taking one of these supplements to lower your cholesterol, it’s worth taking a little more care with the quantity and type of fruits and vegetables that you eat.

Stanols and Sterols such as Flora Proactive and Benecol are a popular choice for lowering cholesterol. There is little doubt that they are effective and many people find the drinks in particular are convenient.  A downside to taking stanols and sterols is that they are so good at stopping our bodies from absorbing cholesterol that they can also stop us from absorbing some of the fat soluble vitamins from our food.  The absorption of vitamins A, D, E and K is reduced by around 10 to 15% and levels of beta carotene in the blood can become lower (beta carotene is a pre-cursor to Vitamin A and also an anti-oxidant in its own right).

The level of loss isn’t life threatening or likely to result in a serious nutritional deficiency, but as some of the nutrients lost are heart protecting anti-oxidants it makes sense to take some easy steps to replace them.


Practical advice for people taking a stanol or sterol to keep up their fat soluble vitamin levels:


This is the advice the UK Advisory Committee on Novel Foods and Processes recommend for people taking a stanol or sterol regularly:

1. Eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables every day

This is always important but particularly important if you are taking a stanol or sterol to reduce your risk of heart disease

2. Make sure that at least one of these fruits and vegetables is rich in carotenes

Beta carotene rich fruits and vegetables are usually dark green or at the red, yellow, orange end of the colour spectrum.  Good sources include:

  • Red, yellow and orange peppers
  • Carrots
  • Squash and pumpkin
  • Green leafy vegetables such as spinach, chard and kale
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Sweetcorn
  • Apricots
  • Mango
  • Peaches and nectarines
  • Orange-fleshed melons
  • Pink and red grapefruits, tangerines, satsumas and oranges



Low FODMAP diet advice in Oxford

Posted by on Jul 15, 2012 in Irritable Bowel Syndrome | 1 comment

There was a good article on the low FODMAP diet as a treatment for IBS in the Daily Mail at the weekend. The article particularly highlighted the role of Registered Dietitians as the profession to go to for advice on how to follow the diet for best results and support to make sure that your diet is healthy and balanced as well as low FODMAP.

‘Advice from a registered dietician – with whom patients are likely to need up to three one-hour sessions – is crucial for good results, and should be obtained after appropriate assessment by a GP or gastroenterologist.

Last year I completed the course with Heidi Staudacher at Kings College London course mentioned in the article and can testify to the excellent results their approach provides for those suffering from IBS.   If you have IBS and would like to try the low FODMAP diet I would be delighted to work with you.

You can read more about my Oxford clinic here or get in touch to book an appointment

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Last chance to visit Asthall Manor for tea and sculpture

Posted by on Jul 14, 2012 in Oxfordshire life | 0 comments


I am a dietitian but I’m also an Oxford resident and eater too.  Alongside the latest nutrition news and information about the services I offer, you’ll find me highlighting some of my favourite (nearly but not always) food and health related finds around Oxford on this web site.

This year sees Asthall Manor’s biennial On Form sculpture exhibition, a rare opportunity to explore the wonderful gardens at the Manor and to see the largest exhibition of stone sculpture in the UK.  It’s well worth a visit; the sculptures mingle among the summer flowers and the garden in turn blends seamlessly into the Windrush Valley beyond.


Asthall Manor On Form Scupture exhibition


This weekend, Saturday the 14th and 15th of July is the last chance to visit this year’s exhibition which is at Asthall near Burford. I can’t recommend it enough. If you fancy dashing out between the showers the full details are available on the exhibition website.

Food shouldn’t just be about nutrition – it’s also about enjoyment, socialising and sharing and I strongly believe that there is room in a good diet for the occasional slice of cake. As part of the exhibition Thyme at Southrop country retreat and cookery have set-up shop in the Manor’s old potting shed to provide delicious tea and cakes (we recommend the Victoria sponge made with strawberry and rose petal jam). All in all the perfect English afternoon out.

Confused about carbs?

Posted by on Jun 19, 2012 in Eating well | 0 comments

It can be hard work keeping up with the many stories in the press about the humble carbohydrate. Should we be eating high carb or no carb, low glycaemic index or simply wholegrain?

Last night a big group of knowledgeable and foodie dietitians got together on Twitter to share their opinions on these five carb-themed questions:

Q1 We’ve had no carb diets, low carb, & carb curfews. How much #carbs should we be eating each day for overall health? #rduk

Q2 Are #carbs the enemy? Is there such a thing as good carbs, bad carbs and complex carbs? #rduk

Q3 Is there a role for sugar in health? #carbs #rduk

Q4 How practical is #glycaemic index (GI)? Is the science strong enough? #rduk #carbs

Q5 What are your favourite #carb recipes? Any tasty ideas on using unusual grains such as buckwheat, bulgur wheat & quinoa? #rduk

If you missed out but would like to learn more about carbs, check out the archive from yesterday’s chat at