Guest: Susie Burrell
Presenter: Patrick Reyes
Guest Bio: Susie Burrell is one of Australia’s leading dietitians, with 2 Honours degrees in Nutrition & Dietetics and Psychology. Susie is especially known for her practical, easy to understand approach to diet, nutrition and wellbeing.
In 2004 she started representing the Dietitians Association of Australia as a media spokesperson and regularly began appearing in both print and television media commenting on all areas of diet, weight loss and nutrition. Since then, she has been the resident nutritionist on Mornings with Kerri-Anne, Fresh TV and for Dolly magazine, The Daily Telegraph, The Sunday Telegraph Body and Soul, Cosmopolitan, ALPHA and GQ.
Susie is currently the resident dietitian on Channel’s 7’s SUNRISE and has a weekly radio segment on the top rating 2GB Afternoon Program with Chris Smith. Susie currently contributes regularly to smh.com.au, Australian Women’s Fitness, CLEO and Woman’s Day magazines and she is the consultant dietitian at Sydney University Sport, Body Science International, Go Natural Foods, Peppercorn Food Company and SIMPLE skincare.
Segment overview: In today’s Health Supplier Segment, we welcome leading dietitian and nutrition expert Susie Burrell here to share the outcome of the The Wraps Unwrapped Report a report completed by a team of researchers led by Professor Clare Collins at the University of Newcastle in September and October 2016. The report was commissioned by Quality Bakers, part of the Goodman Fielder Group, the manufacturer of Helga’s and Wonder White branded products. The report also provides analysis of publicly available nutrition information of Australia’s leading wraps brands. It was conducted to understand the nutritional differences between the leading wraps brands to help make informed choices, with a focus on salt and artificial preservatives. Susie shares her thoughts on why eating too much salt is not good for you and what to look out for on food labels to choose a lower salt wrap.
Health Professional Radio – Salt Intake and Avoid Artificial Preservatives
Patrick Reyes: Welcome to Health Professional Radio. My name is Patrick Reyes and on today’s show we’re joined by Susie Burrell, she’s one of Australia’s leading Dieticians, she’s received 2 honours degrees in Nutrition and Dietetics and psychology. She is a Nutrition expert and she is currently completing a Master’s Degree in Coaching Psychology at Sydney University. She’s here to talk about the nutritional value of some of Australia’s top selling wrap brands and what this can mean for your suggested dietary target. Welcome to the show Susie.
Susie Burrell: Thank you for having me.
P: Thank you. So how did you become one of Australia’s leading dieticians?
S: I worked in nutrition for a long time on my 20 years and I started as a Pediatric dietician at the Children’s Hospital and I worked there for almost 10 years and when I was there I started to do a lot of media work and now I’ve worked in industry, I’ve worked in kid’s nutrition, I’ve worked in sports nutrition. So I’ve just worked for quite a long time across the range of different areas.
P: That’s amazing. What inspired you to get into nutrition and dietetics in the first place?
S: I was always interested in people so I think my interest in nutrition comes down to the fact that everyone eats. So everybody has some interest in nutrition and I think I enjoy conversing with people and learning more about their lives and seeing how good foods can influence that and so I think that it’s just a way to work with people directly in something that’s positive and benefits their life. And then later my interest in sports for example and performers and more recently eating behavior and psychology sort of skewed me in those directions in my career.
P: Alright. Can you tell us about the Wraps Unwrapped Report?
S: This is a really interesting report because it was… areas of nutrition like sodium intake and the consumption of artificial preservatives that I think we don’t often think about also talking about macronutrients and weight control and calorie control and these areas perhaps we haven’t really thought of. So the interesting thing was it looked at what are the top selling wraps in Australia and the University of Newcastle conducted it so it was an independent report and basically they found a significant number, I think 17 out of the top 22 selling wraps contain artificial preservatives and on top of that a significant number of the wraps had really high levels of sodium perhaps much higher than we ever considered. And as contributing significant amount of sodium despite the fact that people often consume wraps thinking that they are healthier options. And the ones that are most popular in many cases contain more of the added salt, the added salt that are not ideal for young, for people, families, kids in general.
P: So out of that report, which wrap contained the more salt content than others per serve?
S: The most alarming thing was that the Mission brand of wraps which was a very popular wrap contains significant amount. So much that if you are consuming one of those everyday you’d be adding about 90 teaspoons of salt to your diet each year. And their flavors, varieties in particular was very high so it wasn’t only the top selling ones but any of it contained added onions and garlic and flavoring intended to have even higher levels, some of them contains as much as over half the offered daily recommended intake. So we tend to recommend less than 200 mgs of sodium as an upper limit and some of the wraps had close to a thousand mgs in a single serve. Now these are amounts of sodium that you would find in high salt foods like… noodles and processed foods and sauces, not in something like a wrap that you really would consider to not have much sodium added if at all it’s not generally considered a high salt product and that was perhaps the most alarming thing was that these daily wraps were considered healthy and even if they contain whole grains or fiber they still in many cases had really high amounts of added salt to them which is less than ideal when it comes to our salt intake overall.
P: I see, but not all of the wraps that were in the report are bad. Which ones are the better options when it comes to lower salt and no artificial preservatives?
S: Well what we found was it there are a few brands that contain the sort of recommended amount. So when you’re looking at nutrition labels they’re looking for less than 600 mgs per 100 grams when it comes to that sodium level and so a couple of the brands that keep going… included the Helga’s Traditional White Wraps, the Water Valley Wraps and Mountain Bread Wraps and in addition to that, the Helga’s Traditional White Wraps contain no artificial preservatives so when you’re looking to check the box there are a few but you do need to look at those labels and really have a reference point and to make sure that you’re choosing one that has lower or the recommended amounts of sodium to make them a healthy choice, part of a healthy diet.
P: And when it comes to salt or why is having too much a bad idea?
S: It’s really interesting because some people don’t worry about salt and they think there’s other more important thing like sugar and calories but what we need to remember is that high salt intakes overtime are linked to increased risk of heart disease and stroke and high blood pressure but more of interest to me as a dietician working with people on a daily basis is that high salt diet tend to make you feel bloated, they tend to make you retain fluid and they’re linked to stomach discomfort and fluid retention and so it also tends to be the taste for more salty food. So when you’re used to having a high salt diet…are those seasoned foods are basically similar to sugar the more that you have in the diet the more you want so a general rule of thumb by trying to keep diet as plain as possible without these added salt to them and so if you can eliminate it from daily foods like wraps that’s really fantastic to ensure that when you do have to try in salt like cheese for example it’s to keeps you below those recommended levels.
P: Earlier you did mention about how people should be looking out for food labels. What should people look out when they’re choosing the wraps and what should they be looking out on when choosing a lower salt wrap?
S: Well the first thing to do is check the sodium column and look for ones that contain less than 600 mgs per hundred grams so you’re comparing wraps across the board in terms of volume because of course wraps is a widely in terms of…which is why it can be a little bit misleading when you just look per serve because some of them are very small so you want less than 600 mgs per 100 grams. And then in terms of preservatives you really need to scan through the ingredient listing and make sure it doesn’t have a preservative listed and you’ll find that in brands like the Helga’s Traditional White brand or the Mountain Bread you’ll see they don’t contain that preservative listed on the ingredients listing so then you’ll know that you’re dealing with a better option.
P: Alright and what are some of the misconceptions you’ve heard about nutrition and diets that you’d like to clear up?
S: I think the most common misconception is that there’s a one size fits all model, there’s a certain way where you should be eating. We should all eliminate sugar, we should all calorie control and it’s not the case, every single person needs a different diet and a diet that’s right for them. And generally speaking if it’s too good to be true when it comes to diet it usually is and it’s a lot more complicated and a lot more intricacies than you would expect. I think one of the biggest ones around at the moment is that sugar is bad, now I’m not saying sugar is good but I’m saying that sugar story is quite complicated. You have natural sugars that are found in fruit and dairy for example, function very differently to added sugars and a small amount of added sugar in the diet is no more an issue than a small amount of salt or small amount of added fat, it really comes down to having an overall balanced diet. But most importantly eliminating as much processed food or when you are choosing processed foods, choosing the best you can with the least amount of additives, the least amount of sugar and the least amount of salt to make sure that you’re bumping up your dietary intake with less processed foods and more fruits and vegetables. The other misconception are old school things like can you eat eggs or eggs are bad for you and eggs increase blood cholesterol levels which certainly isn’t the case – that’s a common one I hear. Another one I hear is actually that skim milk has got more sugar than full cream milk which is absolutely rubbish if anything full cream milk has more of a naturally occurring sugar lactose than skim milk. The skim milk is not overly processed, it just has the fat removed so that’s a very, very common one that I hear. And they’re probably the most ones that cross my desk on a regular basis.
P: Alright. Well I hope our listeners who’ve had misconceptions about that now fully understand it. Alright and for our last question, what’s the message you’d like to leave for our listeners as to being part of Health Professional Radio today?
S: The most important thing to know is that not all wraps are created equally and not all wraps are a healthy choice so most importantly of a whole meal, whole grain wrap but also now we will now learnedbecause of this new report check the sodium content. You’re looking for varieties with less than 600 mgs of sodium per hundred grams and let your patients and clients know that. And also if you want to keep additives in your diet to a minimum you do need to be careful when it comes to wraps and look for that’s contains no artificial preservatives.
P: Alright, well it’s been a pleasure talking to you today Susie.
S: Thank you so much.
P: Thank you. So you’ve been listening to Health Professional Radio, I’m your host Patrick Reyes and we’ve been in studio with Susie Burrell and she talked about how important it is to look our food labels and what you should be looking out for. Transcripts and audio of this program are available at healthprofessionalradio.com.au and also at hpr.fm and you can subscribe to this podcast on iTunes.