What do people want from health tracking apps?

25th May 2017
Health Apps survey results

We love learning more about the health apps market. Health, fitness, weight loss and nutrition are hot topics, and we’re keen to know what people find most helpful when it comes to improving eating habits in particular.

We carried out a short survey among those who are less familiar with Cook&Count but who have an interest in health and fitness. Some interesting insights have emerged from the results that we’d like to share.

1. Accuracy is key

When asked what would improve tracking apps used, the top response was more accurate data. Over half of those surveyed said that increased accuracy was important to them. This was followed by integration with wearables, increased nutritional information and healthy living advice.

It’s great to hear that people want as much accurate information and advice as they can get! The nutritional information for ingredients in Cook&Count is sourced from government databases and we pride ourselves on not using often inaccurate crowd-sourced data.


2. Trusted advice doesn’t just come from the doctor

Nutrition websites, blogs and social media are just as popular for healthy eating advice as speaking to healthcare professionals. A sign of the technological age, people are relying more and more on a wider range of information sourced from all over the web.

We just need to make sure that this information is as accurate and reliable as possible. At Cook&Count we work with trusted healthcare professionals to make sure the information we provide comes from true expert sources.


3. Digital recipes are the future

As expected, the internet has far overtaken books as a source of recipes. 89% of those who filled out the survey said they source recipes from the internet, while 57% say they use recipe books. One third of respondents get recipes from friends and family, but fewer use or are familiar with recipe sharing apps.


4. It’s all about personalisation

People love to adapt recipes to suit their tastes. Our favourite finding – a huge 92% of people said they like to adapt recipes either for taste or health reasons. This is just what we want to hear! Cooking should be an enjoyable and experimental process. Whatever restrictions you may have on what you eat, adapting recipes allows you to still enjoy variations of all your favourites. Find ways to cut out some carbs or calories, or up your protein intake.


In summary, people want accuracy, variety, availability and adaptability. It’s all about accessing the right nutritional information and advice, alongside sourcing the most interesting and adaptable recipes. Do you agree?

Strawberry yoghurt – what’s the healthiest option?

22nd March 2017
strawberry yoghurt infographic

Yoghurt is often advertised as a health food. It’s full of “good bacteria”, vitamins and calcium. It aids digestion, helps your immune system and is high in protein. But not all yoghurts are created equal. To shed some light on this we’ve created an infographic to raise awareness of what’s really inside this popular dairy product (and watch sugar levels in soya versions too!).

We’ve compared nutritional information for three popular yoghurts to highlight the different options (values are per 100g). We know which one’s our favourite!

Standard strawberry yoghurt

  • Often advertised as a low fat option, turns out this is a low fruit and high sugar option as well! Low fat isn’t always the healthy choice. Increasing evidence is showing that it’s sugar that we need to watch to stay in shape.

Greek style strawberry yoghurt

  • Greek yoghurt tends to be higher in fat than standard yoghurt, but it’s also higher in protein. It has a thicker consistency and stronger flavour as it is more concentrated.

Natural yoghurt with fresh strawberries

  • You’ve guessed it, our number one option. High in fruit and surprisingly low in sugar, this is the most natural option. It might not carry a low fat or low sugar label, but it contains the fewest calories too!

Swapping ingredients to increase fruit and veg content in your meals and snacks, and reduce added sugar, is a great way to improve your health. Low fat diet advice is facing a lot of contradictory evidence, suggesting it isn’t always the best option. The best thing to do is to keep an eye on the nutritional information of what you’re eating to ensure you’re getting a balance of all nutrients.

What’s your favourite type of yoghurt? Have you checked the sugar content? Use Cook&Count on iOS or on Android to find out the nutritional content of all your favourite home cooked foods.

Dietitian Monika on Polish cuisine

7th November 2016
Dietitian Monika Jakiel-Rusin at table

Our dietitian Monika has been working on some brand new Cookbooks for the new Cook&Count app. As a dietitian, registered nutritionist in public health and a personal trainer, she has a wealth of experience in health and nutrition. Here she tells us a little about herself and her passion for healthy living and home cooking…

At home

My food journey began where I grew up, in a little village in central Poland, where natural food was an integral part of my childhood and my home. Our food was reared or grown locally or by us, and we ate what was abundant, affordable and seasonal. In Poland, food is at the centre of family, friendship and community: it’s about enjoying life! My time growing up in Poland was one of the biggest influences on my nutritional philosophy and is the source of my passion for sharing my love of natural, health-giving food with others.

My goal is to help people lead healthier lifestyles, and I believe that the easiest way of achieving this is through being generally more active and cooking from scratch. Cooking is a great form of physical activity. From my experience, I’ve learned that the more you do it the more you enjoy it and the more benefits you can get out of it!

I enjoy cooking and love spending time in my kitchen where I can completely relax and get lost in preparing enjoyable meals for my family and friends. Cooking and sharing food, for me, is one of the best ways of expressing love.

I try to lead a healthy lifestyle myself, so I can teach with authority by being an example for others. I love sport and in my free time I run, swim, cycle, and practise Pilates and yoga.

At work

My professional journey began with my BSc Honours degree in Diet and Health at Bath Spa University, followed by a Masters degree in Dietetics at the Medical University of Silesia in Poland. I have eight years’ experience in nutritional & dietetic counselling and within the sports industry.

My nutritional philosophy is to use nature as a guide. I encourage people to make the most of the harmony and balance inherent in natural, local, seasonal ingredients.

Balance and harmony are the pillars of my philosophy and clinical method. Harmony for me means all aspects of diet and lifestyle working together, efficiently. In turn, this helps us balance our commitment to our health with all the other demands of our lives.

The focus of my philosophy is on what healthy choices bring to life rather than what they take away. This approach allows changes in attitudes, tastes, and relationships with food and exercise to take place naturally, as a process of discovery. For me, creating a healthy lifestyle is a life-long journey, one that can be challenging, surprising, enjoyable and exciting. I would like all people to be able to find a huge joy in their food journeys.

We love Monika’s philosophy! Here at Cook&Count we’re all about healthy balanced diets, good home cooked food and knowing what we’re eating.

Dietary fat explained: the good, the bad and the ugly

3rd November 2016
Cheesy potato pancakes fat

There’s often a lot of conflicting information in the media about dietary fat. Here our dietitian Monika outlines the facts, so you can make informed choices on the types and quantities of fat in your diet.

Fat is one of our main energy sources, but it also helps us to absorb vitamins, as well as playing a major role in cholesterol levels. To function well our heart prefers to use fat than carbohydrate for energy (unlike the brain, which prefers carbs – glucose in fact).

The main types of fat are saturated, unsaturated and trans-saturated. According to the Food Standard Agency, up to 35% of our total daily energy should come from fat. This should consist of no more than 11% saturated fat, 6.5% polyunsaturated fat, 13% monounsaturated fat, and 2% trans-saturated fatty acids.

Saturated fat: It’s not all bad

Saturated fat often gets a particularly bad rap in the media. But despite its reputation, it has a huge number of important uses in the body, including hormone regulation and immune function. It also has antiviral, antiplaque and antifungal properties that may help to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. And it regulates gene expression in ways that could help to halt the development of cancer cells. Certain types assist the production of omega-3 fatty acids (an unsaturated fat important for brain development), and some can lower a certain type of “bad” cholesterol while others can raise a certain type of “good” cholesterol.

Saturated fat can be found in animal products such as butter, ghee, lard, meat and other dairy. But it’s also contained in some plant products such as coconut, palm oil and cacao butter.

While we don’t want to take in too much of any nutrient, saturated fat is a very important part of a healthy diet.

Unsaturated fat: Absolutely essential

Our bodies can’t make all unsaturated fats themselves – some of them can only be obtained through diet. While mainly found in plant-derived fats, they are also in oily fish and grass-fed animal products. There are two types: polyunsaturated fatty acids, found in vegetable, nut and seed oils, and monounsaturated fatty acids, found in peanut, olive and canola oils.

Both types have some well-known health benefits, including lowering “bad” cholesterol levels and raising “good” cholesterol levels. Omega 3, an unsaturated fat, as mentioned above, has anti-inflammatory and brain boosting properties.

Trans-saturated fat: Worth avoiding

Trans-saturated fats are formed during food processing to make foods solidify. This process, known as hydrogenation, makes foods that stay fresh for longer, therefore increasing shelf life.

The result of the hydrogenation process is a completely unnatural fat that can cause dysfunction in our bodies and increase the risk of heart disease. Processed foods, such as hard margarines and vegetable shortening, sweets, crisps and chocolates are high in trans fats.

All types of natural fat are part of a healthy balanced diet, though we’d recommend you try to limit processed trans fats, which aren’t natural and have a detrimental affect on our health. Eliminating highly processed foods is the easiest way to do this.

So how about getting in the kitchen with Cook&Count to rustle up some tasty unprocessed meals that give you all the benefits of saturated and unsaturated fats!

Sugar intake: from science to society

1st November 2016
Granola bars raspberries yoghurt sugar

It’s hard to avoid sugar in today’s world. Whether it’s cake at parties, desserts after meals, or an ice cream in the park – there’s a lot of social pressure to eat what everyone else is eating. Here our dietitian Monika talks about how best to control sugar intake.

When it comes to eating sweet foods, I try to remember one simple scientific fact – the dose makes the poison. I choose to have small portions, find out a little bit more about the food being offered to me, and then decide whether I’d like to have some more. I do my best to walk the line between making a healthy choice, and a choice that will allow me to fully participate in life.

What’s the science?

Different types of sugar are metabolised differently in our bodies and can have different effects on our health and functioning. Glucose, for example, is the form of energy we were designed to live on. Every cell of our body, every bacterium, and every living microorganism on the planet uses glucose for energy.

When you consume fructose, however, 100% of it goes straight to your liver to be metabolized before it can reach the rest of the cells in the body. Eaten in excess, it overloads the liver and can be toxic. This can lead to long term health problems including gout, high blood pressure, insulin resistance and liver disease.

It isn’t that fructose itself is bad – it is the massive doses the body is exposed to that make it dangerous. In vegetables and fruits, it’s mixed with vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and beneficial phytonutrients, all which moderate the negative metabolic effects. The problem lies in its high quantities in processed foods.

Processed foods contain refined forms of sugar that contain high doses of fructose. These refined forms include the much (negatively) publicised high fructose corn syrup (containing 55% fructose and 45% glucose), and table sugar (sucrose – containing 50% fructose and 50% glucose).

So what’s the problem?

Over the years, low fat recommendations have led to a dramatic increase in sugar consumption around the world. Excessive amounts of sugar in processed food have been overwhelming supermarkets in the western world. Even foods that are considered “healthy” can contain worrying amounts of added sugar or high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).

It’s important to distinguish between natural sugars and added sugar in foods. For example, a small pot of plain yogurt has about seven grams of sugar in the form of lactose, a natural sugar found in dairy. On the other hand, a fruit flavoured yogurt may contain up to 19 grams of sugar, 12 grams of which is added sugar. This equates to eating a small pot of plain yoghurt with a tablespoon of sugar.

The main problem with sugar is the fact that our livers have a very limited capacity to metabolize it. All the excess sugar is metabolized into triglycerides and free fatty acids, which are stored as body fat around our organs and within the arteries. This can lead to chronic metabolic diseases, from obesity and type 2 diabetes to hypertension and cardiovascular disease.

A piece of cake

It’s hard to escape the sugary world that we live in. We do need to relax and let go. Food connects us with others. During meals with friends and loved ones we need to decide whether joining in with the social norm outweighs the nutritional value of the food that we eat, and sometimes it does.

We do, however, need to be careful not to let social pressure drown out our internal wisdom that helps us make healthy food choices.

Life is short. We need to do our best to be healthy, but equally importantly, we need to stay connected to the ways of the world, and to the ones we love.

Professor John Yudkin was a British physiologist and nutritionist, and the founding Professor of the Department of Nutrition at Queen Elizabeth College in London. Since 1957 he was making the argument that overconsumption of sugar is dangerous to health. He wrote several books, including “Pure, White and Deadly: The Problem of Sugar”, an internationally recognised title, in which he explained how sugar consumption was a factor in the development of conditions such as dental cavities, obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.

In one interview, Yudkin’s granddaughter said that although her granddad would always try to limit his sugar intake and wouldn’t have it in his tea, he would never say no to a homemade piece of cake!


Top tips for reducing sugar socially:

  1. Let your friends and family know that you want to make healthy food choices without isolating yourself because of how you eat
  2. Find creative ways to say no to highly processed food, without offending, upsetting or alienating anyone
  3. Watch your portion sizes!

And of course, take your own home cooked food to social occasions – with the help of Cook&Count you can know the exact nutritional information, including sugar content, of what you’re eating!