Try as you might to eat healthy, chances are you're falling short on at least one of these key nutrients: vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E, folate, vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, potassium and fiber. On average, Americans don't get enough of these so-called shortfall nutrients, according to the latest draft of the 2014 Dietary Guideline for All Americans. How much do you need? How do you get more? Hint: Eating a lot more fruits, vegetables and minimally processed whole foods will get you there.
WHY YOU NEED IT: Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that's important for cell growth and function. It's also important for your immune system and vision.
HOW MUCH DO YOU NEED DAILY: 900 mcg (men); 700 mcg (women)
HOW TO GET IT: Vitamin A is available in dairy, fish and meat (especially liver). You can get carotenoids--the nutrients that make vitamin A--through fruits and vegetables. They're particularly abundant in dark leafy green (like spinach and broccoli) and vibrant orange-colored fruits and vegetables (sweet potatoes, cantaloupe, mango and more).
WHY YOU NEED IT: Vitamin D helps your body build strong bones by regulating the balance of calcium and phosphorous. Deficiency has been linked to a variety of diseases, including Type 2 diabetes, IBS, depression and heart disease.
HOW MUCH YOU NEED DAILY: 600 IUs (men and women); 800 IUs (adults over 70)
HOW TO GET IT: We actually get most of our vitamin D from sunlight (UVB rays stimulate you skin to make previtamin D-3). But if you live above the Mason-Dixon Line, chances are your body's short on natural vitamin D during winter months, when there's not enough UVB to produce D. (You might also risk deficiency if you don't have much sun exposure--due to clothing, sunscreen or air pollution). Food sources of D include oily fish (such as salmon and mackerel), dairy products, egg yolks and fortified cereal.
WHY YOU NEED IT: Vitamin E describes antioxidants that protect fats in your body (including LDL, the "bad" cholesterol) from oxidizing.
HOW MUCH YOU NEED DAILY: 15 mg (men and women)
HOW TO GET IT: Plant oils (particularly sunflower and safflower), nuts and avocado are good ways to get this fat-soluble vitamin.
WHY YOU NEED IT: Folate, also called B-9, helps create DNA and metabolize amino acids, which are your body's "building blocks."
HOW MUCH DO YOU NEED DAILY: 400 mcg (men and women)
HOW TO GET IT: Green leafy vegetables, citrus fruit and legumes (lentils and beans) and all great ways to get folate. Fortified cereals and flours can also add to your folate intake.
WHY YOU NEED IT: Vitamin C is important for healthy skin and immune function.
HOW MUCH DO YOU NEED: 90 mg (men); 75 mg (women)
HOW TO GET IT: Citrus fruit, kiwis, strawberries, red bell pepper, broccoli and white potatoes all have good amounts of vitamin C.
WHY YOU NEED IT: A healthy skeleton is the driving reason to get enough calcium in your diet.
HOW MUCH YOU NEED: 1,000 mg (men and women); 1,200 mg (adults over 70)
HOW TO GET IT: Yogurt (regular plain yogurt has more calcium than Greek yogurt), calcium-set tofu, beans, bok choy, milk and fortified nondairy milks are your friends here.
WHY YOU NEED IT: Magnesium does many jobs in your body. It's needed to extract energy from food, to keep bones and cells healthy, and to create DNA, RNA and proteins.
HOW MUCH YOU NEED: 400 mg (men 19-30); 420 mg (men 31 and older); 310 mg (women 19-30); 320 mg (women 31 and older)
HOW TO GET IT: Leafy greens, nuts and whole grains are some of the best sources of magnesium.
WHY YOU NEED IT: Potassium is an electrolyte--it helps your heart to beat! It's also important for strong bones.
HOW MUCH YOU NEED DAILY: 4,700 mg (men and women)
HOW TO GET IT: Fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy are the best ways to get potassium. Since you need a lot of potassium, get a wide variety of whole foods in your diet. One baked potato has 926 mg, a banana has 422 mg and a cup of milk has 366 mg.
WHY YOU NEED IT: We could sing the praises of fiber forever, but let's just touch on some highlights: It helps lower you LDL "bad" cholesterol, it keeps you "regular", and it helps regulate your blood sugar.
HOW MUCH YOU NEED DAILY: 38 g (men); 30 g (women)
HOW TO GET IT: Beans are brimming with fiber, as are whole-grain cereals, fruits, vegetables and nuts. Fiber is found in plant-based foods--generally the less processed an ingredient, the more fiber is left intact.
Katherine Tallmadge is a registered dietitian; president of Personalized Nutrition; noted motivational and wellness speaker; author of "Diet Simple: 195 Mental Tricks, Substitutions, Habits & Inspiration", (LifeLine Press 2011) and a regular contributor to Live Science. This article is an exclusive for Live Science's Expert Voices; Op-Ed & Insights.
A whopping 21 percent of Americans are currently making an active attempt to eat gluten-free, according to a Gallup poll published July 23. That percentage dwarfs the 1 percent of the U.S. population diagnosed with celiac disease--the only medical condition that requires gluten-free products for someone with the disease to live a healthy life.
More an more Americans are on the anti-wheat warpath trend, as the label "gluten-free" appears on everything from craft beer to cat food. For those with celiac disease, a life-threatening autoimmune disorder that destroys the gastrointestinal tract, going gluten-free is critical to avoid damage to the small intestine. Fore everyone else, though, it is an unnecessary, and potentially unhealthy diet.
THE GLUTEN-FREE INDUSTRY
Such facts haven't stopped the food industry from taking advantage of the trend, and gluten-free products have grown to represent a $9 billion market in 2014, according to the Burdock Group, which specializes in food market research, among other gluten-free foods processed to make the gluten-free (many made with potato starch or rice starch), cheat the consumer out of the many health benefits of whole grains--such as wheat, barley and rye--and can be seriously lacking in critical nutrients such as fiber, iron, zinc, folate, niacin, thiamine, riboflavin, calcium, vitamin B12 and phosphorus.
To understand gluten, the protein in wheat, barley and rye, it helps to understand what's in a whole grain. A whole grain contains all three parts of a grain: the bran, germ and endosperm, as opposed to a refined grain which only contains the endosperm. The nutritional riches are mostly found in the bran and the germ.
Decades of research--conducted predominantly on gluten-containing whole wheat--has found that people who eat whole grain, containing all three parts of the grain, are less likely to be overweight or have diabetes, heart disease or even many cancers, including colorectal cancer, according to a study published in the British Medical Journal, and head and neck cancer in women, according to research published in Cancer Causes and Control.
THE GOOD IN GRAINS
According to a 2010 comprehensive review in Nutrition Research Reviews, whole grain cereals can protect the body against the disease and aging process caused by oxidation. Oxidation is involved in all major chronic diseases: metabolic syndrome, obesity, diabetes, cancers and cardiovascular disease.
Whole-grains contain 31 different antioxidants, which are beneficial in several ways. For example, the whole grain's structure and rate of digestion increases the feeling of fullness--helpful for weight management--and releases blood sugar slowly, recommended for type 2 diabetes. Dietary fiber in whole grains improves gut health (as a prebiotic), and the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of most of these compounds can help prevent cancer and cardiovascular disease. [Weight-Loss Superfood: 6 Tips for a Healthy Gut]
The U.S. Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, a group of scientists convened to offer nutrition recommendations for Americans to the federal government, has said, "dietary patterns of the American public are suboptimal and are actually related to poor individual and population health and higher chronic disease rates. "The scientists recommended diets higher in fruits, vegetables, and whole grain intake, the inadequate intake of whole grains leads to underconsumption of several...nutrients of public health concern."
Most gluten-free processed foods are not made with nutrient-rich health-protecting whole grains, furthermore, the gluten-free label has very little to do with the nutritional value of a food. French fries, and many candies, for example, are naturally gluten-free. [Go Gluten Free? Most People Shouldn't (Op-Ed)]
People without celiac disease who follow a gluten-free diet (many of whom aren't even aware of what gluten is or what contains gluten, have been known to cite numerous reasons for doing so. A common is a feeling of lethargy or ill health that has come to be associated with eating gluten. However, the feeling of wellness that many attribute to the removal of gluten form their diets is more likely due to the absence of the refined carb-and sugar-laden snacks and desserts that happen to contain the protein.
If you are concerned that you may have celiac disease, you should have your doctor, preferably a gastroenterologist, perform an intestinal biopsy--and you shouldn't cut gluten until you know for sure that you need to.
Celiac disease cannot be self-diagnosed, and a patient must be eating gluten for the disorder to be properly identified. Until then, you should treat the gluten-free trend as any other fad diet: Don't get sucked in by the hype.
Published on Live Science
What's the nutritional benefits of these food items? Cocoa and cacao are both plant-based products. They literally came from one source: the Cacao tree. However, they have slight differences in taste, cost, and nutrition. Here is a list of differences of each one so you don't mistake the one from the other:
Cacao VS Cocoa: What's the Difference?
Cacao is the purest, raw form of chocolate harnessed from the cacao fruit tree. The tree bears cacao pods, which are cracked open to harvest the seeds. The seeds are then processed several ways to produce several cacao products.
On the other hand, cocoa is a term that refers to the heated form of cacao. This product is often in powder form. Although it's processed and inferior to cacao-in terms of nutrition- cocoa has its share of health benefits too.
Cacao products include cacao butter, cacao nibs, and cacao paste. Cacao butter is made from the fattiest part of the cacao fruit. It's white in color and has an emollient texture. Cacao nibs are cacao beans chopped into bite pieces while cacao paste is heated cacao nibs.
Cacao Health Benefits
Unlike chocolate bars or cocoa, cacao is not processed extensively. This allows the product to retain much of its nutritional value. Cacao is packed with health-giving benefits such as antioxidants, complex carbs, protein, fiber, and vitamins. It is also the highest source of magnesium among all types of foods. Cacao keeps the heart healthy, the skin youthful looking and alleviates stress. It also lowers the blood pressure, preventing heart and arterial diseases.
During the processing period, the cacao is heated at high temperature. Despite this, cocoa retains its nutritional benefits, including antioxidants. Cocoa product comes in one form: powdered. It's often used as flavorings for baked goods, as additive to smoothies and milk and other treats.
Types of Cocoa
Dark cocoa, also known as Dutch-processed cocoa-is cocoa powder mixed with alkalized solution. This gives the product a sweeter, richer taste and less acidity. Dark cocoa is ideal for baking.
Cocoa Health Benefits
Just like cacao, cocoa is packed with essential nutrients that keep the heart healthy. It also lowers blood pressure and alleviate stress.
Cacao and cocoa can be used interchangeably in baking, raw treats, or additive to beverages. Although the processes between cacao and cocoa differ greatly, they taste similar. In addition, cacao and cocoa are packed with essential nutrients compared to chocolate bars. To reap all the essential benefits of cocoa or cacao, try to use almond milk instead of regular full cream milk.
Scientists are only beginning to investigate how certain chemicals may interact to contribute to cancer development. But given that we live in a sea of chemicals, it makes sense to begin reducing exposures to ones we know are bad actors.
Here are EWG's tips for avoiding 12 harmful chemicals that have now been found to also disrupt cancer-related pathways--known as cancer hallmarks.
I felt it is important to put this information out there, so that you can live a healthy life.
1. Bisphinol A (BPA)- An industrial chemical used to make plastics that are used in food and beverage containers and the linings of most food and beverage cans.
How to Avoid: Instead of canned foods, opt for fresh food and food that comes in glass jars or waxed cardboard cartons. When purchasing canned foods or plastic products, buy those that indicate they are made without BPA. Avoid plastics marked "PC" (for polycarbonate) or recycling #7, which may contain BPA. Finally, say no to cash register receipts, since they're often printed on thermal paper coated with BPA.
2. Atrazine- One of the most widely used herbicides, applied to the majority of U.S.-grown corn.
How to Avoid: Atrazine can be a contaminant in drinking supplies, especially in agricultural areas. Consider a drinking water filter certified to remove atrazine by consulting EWG's Water Filter Buying Guide.
3. Organophosphate Pesticides- Widely used insecticides that target the nervous systems of insect pests.
How to Avoid: Buy organic produce when you can, especially to avoid produce with the highest pesticide residues.
4. Dibutyl Phthatlate (DBP)- Widely used in nail polish until 2006. That use was voluntarily halted, but it is still an ingredient in soft and flexible plastics such as shower curtains, raincoats, food wraps and bowls.
How to Avoid: Limit use of soft plastics for purposes such as storing food and limit the use of PVC plastics.
5. Lead- Harms almost every organ system in the body and has been liked to a staggering array of health effects, including lowered IQ, miscarriage, kidney damage, nervous system problems and hormone disruption.
How to Avoid: Use EMG's Water Filter Buying Guide to limit your exposure from drinking water and be careful when removing crumbling old paint-a major source of exposure.
6. Mercury- Along with its organic form, methylmercury, it is toxic to the brain, kidneys, liver, heart and nervous system. Mercury exposure during pregnancy is highly dangerous to the developing fetus, leading to impaired development of the brain and nervous system.
How to Avoid: Some seafoods-especially canned albacore tuna, swordfish and some types of sushi-are especially high in mercury. Use EWG's Calculator to determine which fish is safest for you to consume.
7. PFCs- Per-or polyfluorochemicals, widely used to make, among other things, water-grease- and stain-repellent coatings.
How to Avoid: Find products that haven't been pre-treated with stain repellents and skip home-applied treatments of carpets and furniture; limit fast food and greasy carryout foods that often come in PFC-treated wrappers; choose clothing that doesn't carry Gore-Tex or Teflon tags as well as fabrics labeled stain-or water repellent; avoid non-stick pans and kitchen utensils; don't use microwaveable popcorn bags; and finally, select personal care product without "PTFE" or "fluoro" ingredients.
8. Phthatlates- Common industrial chemical used in PVC plastics to make vinyl toys soft as well as in solvents and synthetic fragrances.
How to Avoid: See #9.
9. Diethyhexyl Phthalate (DEHP)- The most commonly used of a class of phthalates that may be associated with alterations in thyroid hormone levels.
How to Avoid: Phthalates may be used as a fragrance ingredient in products. Since it isn't listed separately on labels, choose personal care, cleaning products and air fresheners without "fragrance" on the ingredient list. Plastics also often contain phthalates, so avoid cooking or microwaving in plastic and give your children wooden or phthalate-free toys. Many products-from lawn furniture to some clothing (such as raincoats) to shower curtains-contain DEHP vinyl. Try to avoid them.
go to www.ewg.org
Coconut oil contains medium chain triglycerides, a type of fat used as an immediate energy source in the body rather than being stored. It's also thought to help prevent food cravings, however, bear in mind that it's most effective in smaller quantities.
Oats contain plenty of soluble fiber, which not only helps with satiety but also aids digestion and the removal of fat from the body via the bowel. Eating a variety of sources of soluble fiber is key to getting a flatter stomach.
Green Tea contains catechins, which activate fat-metabolizing enzymes thought to help reduce body fat and weight. Remember green tea contains caffeine so it's best to drink it earlier in the day.
The active component in cayenne pepper is called capsaicin, thought to increase fat loss by increasing energy expenditure. Go easy; a little goes a long way!
Containing nutrients that convert food to energy and support circulation, spinach may help to boost your metabolism. Plus, it's low in calories but high in fiber, keeping you fuller longer.