Nutrition Glossary

   

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Acidophilus (Lactobacillus Acidophilus)

Acidophilus is a probiotic bacteria which is commonly found in yogurt. Probiotic bacteria survive digestion in the stomach and help maintain the balance of ‘good bacteria’ in the lower parts of the intestinal tract. A good balance of ‘friendly’ bacteria in the intestine reduces the risk of health problems.

Additives

Additives are used to preserve food and/or improve its taste, appearance, quality and stability. Many of the substances used as food additives also occur naturally in foods. Food additives are listed in the ingredients list of packaged foods and are described by their function in the food, followed by either the specific name or the number unique to each additive e.g. emulsifier (322). Food additives are given code numbers to make them easier to identify as their names can sometimes be long and complicated.

Amino Acid

Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. There are 20 different types that are combined in different ways to make different proteins. The body can make some of its own amino acids but some are essential meaning that they cannot be made by the body so we need to get them from food.

Anaemia

Anaemia refers to a variety of conditions in which the concentration of haemoglobin, an oxygen carrying molecule in the blood, is reduced. Common symptoms of anaemia are tiredness and fatigue. The most common causes of anaemia are iron deficiency, folate deficiency and/or vitamin B12 deficiency (pernicious anaemia).

Iron deficiency anaemia can be caused by inadequate intake of iron containing foods. Iron containing foods include red meat, seafood, poultry, wholegrain breads and cereals, nuts, legumes and green leafy vegetables. The iron from meat, seafood and poultry is better absorbed than that from plant foods.

Another type of anaemia is pernicious anaemia which occurs when the body lacks intrinsic factor (the substance that helps the body absorb vitamin B12 from food). Pernicious anaemia is a result of vitamin B12 deficiency.

Antioxidants

Antioxidants are compounds that help to protect the body against damage caused by free radicals. The body produces its own antioxidants and they are also found in foods such as fruits and vegetables, tea, coffee, dark chocolate and red wine. Common antioxidants are vitamins C, E and A, and phytochemicals like polyphenols. Eating a diet rich in antioxidants is beneficial for health and wellbeing.

Aspartame

Aspartame is an artificial sweetener made up of two amino acids – aspartate and phenylalanine. These amino acids are found naturally in many foods such as meat, vegetables, dairy products and cereal grains. Individually these amino acids are not sweet, but joined together they produce an intense sweet taste that is approximately 200 times sweeter than sugar.