x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Shortcuts for separating fact from fiction

Allrecipes.com offers recipes based on ingredients, preparation time, meal type and nutrient content.
Allrecipes.com offers recipes based on ingredients, preparation time, meal type and nutrient content.

With an estimated 2.3 million internet users in the UAE, we are certainly a country that likes to stay connected. And it's no surprise to learn that people the world over are increasingly relying on the internet to seek health and nutrition information for themselves and their families. In fact, one study published in the journal CyberPsychology and Behavior found that almost five per cent of all online searches are for health-related information.

When it comes to nutrition, the internet can be a valuable resource to help you eat healthier. Between meal plans, personalised recommendations and recipes, many of the tools you need to eat healthier are just a click away. While health and nutrition information on the web can be convenient, it is not always reliable. Turning to the internet for health information means you have to sort plenty of fiction from fact. When evaluating online resources, keep a few things in mind, such as who sponsors the site, who wrote the information and when it was posted.

Generally, health sites funded by universities, governments, hospitals and non-profit organisations provide the most reliable information. Such sites will disclose their sources and often include contact details. Beware of sites that offer quick fixes, claims that sound too good to be true, or those trying to sell a product. As for nutrition-related sites, here are five that are reliable, credible and practical. They're bound to have you eating healthier in no time.

The official consumer advice and information site of the Food Standards Agency in the UK, www.eatwell.gov.uk, is an excellent resource for healthy eating. It prvides a wide range of information, from tips on reading labels to advice on safe food handling. Perhaps most useful for anyone trying to shed unwanted kilos is the section that includes a body mass index (BMI) calculator, as well as an activity calculator - a tool that helps you keep track of the calories you're burning through daily activities. There are tips and strategies on maintaining a healthy weight and you can even assess your health risks by using the body shape comparison chart.

The Dieticians of Canada website, www.eatracker.ca, provides credible and personalised information designed by health professionals. After completing a quick general online assessment, you will receive recommendations on improving your eating habits and activity level. Registering with the site allows you to track your progress over time to help keep you motivated. If you like to cook, there is a handy recipe analysis programme. All you have to do is enter the ingredients (with quantities) from your favourite recipe to find out the nutritional information per serving, including the amount of calories and grams of fat.

The Mayo Clinic website, www.mayoclinic.com, is the place to go to get a broad range of credible, timely and accurate health information, including in-depth nutrition recommendations. With an extensive section on both healthy eating and weight loss, it sets the record straight on many nutrition misconceptions. Wonder how many calories you need every day? There is a useful tool that lets you calculate your daily requirement based on age, gender, weight and activity level. What's more, there are plenty of healthy recipes that are appropriate for weight loss, low sodium and heart healthy eating plans.

Thanks to the novel website www.eatlowcarbon.org, you can find out the carbon footprint of your diet and ways to reduce your impact. All you have to do is drag and drop food items into the virtual frying pan to get a score, which correlates to the amount of carbon dioxide emissions generated from your food choices. You'll learn why meat and dairy are particularly high carbon foods and how your choices directly impact climate change.

Stuck for healthy dinner ideas? Go to www.allrecipes.com and you'll never again have to stand in front of the fridge with the door open, wondering what to make. Allrecipes gets top marks for a diverse selection of dishes that will have you tossing the takeaway menus and tightening the strings on your apron in no time. Best of all, the extensive search feature allows you to find recipes based on ingredients, preparation time, meal type and nutrient content. That means you can sort out your options based on their calorie, fat, fibre or sodium content. Keeping up with the times, allrecipes just introduced a free iPhone application called Dinner Spinner that gives you access to their complete recipe database in the palm of your hand.