The first foods to avoid are processed meats from hot dogs to deli cold cuts, including salami and bologna. Even those labeled "low calorie" are likely to have questionable preservatives, such as salts and nitrates. Studies show that these are the worst types of meats for your heart.
Try freshly prepared turkey and chicken instead. In a hurry? A rotisserie chicken cooked at your favorite health food market is a good alternative.
Next, pass on processed foods made with refined flour. These include typical breakfast cereals, white breads and similar baked goods. For the most nutrition, look for stone-ground whole-grain breads and steel-cut oats.
Substitute a mashed slice of avocado for typical sandwich spreads. You'll get great taste and great nutrition.
Instead of bagged chips and other packaged snacks, crunch an ounce of nuts. For only a slight difference in calories, you get protein, health fats and fiber.
Bottled salad dressings--even diet or low-fat versions--often have corn syrup along with many additives. Whisk up your own vinaigrette with extra virgin olive oil and vinegar, or try nonfat yogurt with lemon juice, herbs and garlic.
If you're short on time during the week and can't cook, set aside a couple of hours on the weekend to make a few dishes that will last all week, like roasted turkey breast, salsa with fresh tomatoes and a stockpot of vegetable soup--far healthier than salt-filled canned varieties.
No trip to Costco is complete without eating your way through all the delicious samples and walking out with the retail chain's signature rotisserie chicken in hand.
With rotisserie chicken so succulent and savory, it's no surprise that it's a favorite for most people.
But why is it seemly so addictive??
Well, Dr. Oz wanted to find out and teamed up with food Journalist Mark Schatzker to do so. Schatzker revealed on the show that rotisserie chicken is often processed, meaning the bird is "pre-seasoned in factories" and then shipped to supermarkets where "an employee can put it on the skewer and cook it."
The tender meat often contains several ingredients including sugar and salt--even going so far to compare it to a potato chip. In addition, the skin is flavored with MSG, sugar and other natural flavors. This combination helps explain why we can't have enough of the chicken.
However, despite exposing some truths about this dinner table favorite, Dr. Oz says, that is may be "one of the healthiest processed foods out there...and taking off the skin to keep it healthier."
Tea is a soothing Winter drink, and it can have pretty miraculous healing properties. Did you know the teabag you choose can give you a unique result? Whether your goal is calming down, perking up, or recovering, there's a tea for that.
Tea expert Kristin Richens--a director at The Republic of Tea, certified tea specialist from Front Range Herbal Institute, and speaker from the SF Intenational Tea Festival--shares what she's learned from her travels to China, India, Japan, and South Africa. She spoke about which teas you should brew up for each time of the day, as well as which ones help with certain physical goals.
* Supercharge Your Morning: Black or Green Tea. The caffeine content with L-theanine, present in these teas, will give you a calm state of alertness.
* Get Through an Afternoon Slump: Green Tea with Ginko Biloba. Kristina says that green tea can enhance performance, while ginko Biloba can keep your memory sharp.
* Recover After a Workout: Black Tea. A cup of black tea has 88 milligrams of potassium, which contributes to muscular recovery.
* Reduce Stress and Anxiety: Green Tea, Lavender, or Chamomile. Time to unwind. Chamomile and lavender are known as nerve-soothers and calming herbs. Lavender and lavender oil are great ingredients to look for when relieving anxiety, and green tea and matcha also promote relaxation.
* Snooze Soundly: Chamomile or Valerian. Soothing and mellowing chamomile and Valerian root will help you slip into a peaceful slumber. Valerian root, referred to as nature's Valium, is a common ingredient in sleep supplements thanks to its relaxing properties. Valerian is also great for drinking before bed as it won't interfere with REM sleep.
* Slim Down: Dandelion or Peppermint: Dandelion has been said to help eliminate excess water weight, as will as aid in digestion--a key component in weight loss. Dandelion's use traces back to the 10th century when Arabian physicians revered the root for its cleansing properties and as a natural aid for digestion. Peppermint tea can help curb your appetite and support digestion as well. In herbal blends, Kristina says to look for ingredients like "gymnema leaves, which are known as the 'destroyer of sugar' in Ayurvedic medicine," and "cordyceps, a Chinese medicinal herb, which may boost energy and endurance, and can help rev up your internal engine and increase metabolism."
* Clear Skin: Rooibos or Green Tea. Antioxidant-packed rooibos and green tea can both help alleviate acne, pimples, sunburns, and uneven skin.
* Soothe an Upset Stomach: Dandelion or Ginger. The dandelion root is a natural aid for digestion and has cleansing properties, while ginger root is known to settle a stomach in all its forms.
Gluten is a hot topic. You'll hear it dropped in reference to celiac disease, grain-free, grain-free diets, sensitivity, weight loss, overall gut health and more. But though it feels like gluten is, like many celebrities, a tad overexposed, it's actually a relative newcomer to medical research.
Gluten is the glue-like substance that gives wheat, rye, oats and barley products their chewy structure. People who have gluten sensitivity or gluten intolerance tend to feel sick after they eat foods that contain gluten.
But as James Hamblin, M.D, writes for The Atlantic, studies about what gluten does or does not do to the body have increased over the last decade. Hamblin was in medical school as recently as 2007, and he remembers only one lecture on the topic:
After the lecturer mention gluten, a classmate raised a hand and asked him to repeat himself. People who eat what?...
When someone with celiac disease eats gluten, it causes an immune reaction that destroys the lining of the small intestine. But as long as people with celiac disease avoid gluten, they're fine.
The push to take a closer look at gluten didn't come from doctors who were worried that it may harm our health (although, as Hamblin points out, some extremists believe that). After all, humans have been eating grains for centuries. Instead, doctors began studying gluten with greater intensity because their patients were interested in the topic and often were misinformed.
"I believe we need to research and study rigorously the things that patients are interested in," Benjamin Lebwohl, a gastroenterologist with the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University, told The Atlantic. "This is, in my view, a necessary part of science's mission-to go to where the public is interested and provide sound analysis. If the public is barking up the wrong tree, we shouldn't ignore that."
The proof is in the (gluten-free) pudding.
Lebwohl said he has found that there's an important difference between telling patients "there's no proof that gluten has health effects in the general population and saying that there is proof that gluten has no health effects in the general population." The latter statement is the one that holds more sway. Proof is key.
So as researchers aim to separate gluten fact from fiction, here's some of what science has proven so far:
1. Gluten does not hurt your heart--For people who do not have celiac disease, eating gluten does not increase heart disease risk, according to a new study published in the BMJ. In fact, the study found the opposite is true: Adopting a gluten-free diet, if you do not have celiac disease, may increase heart disease risk since it means fewer whole grains are being consumed.
For the study, researchers examined data from more than 173,000 health care workers who were followed for 10 to 20 years. They were separated into 5 groups based on how much gluten they ate. People who ate the least consumed about 3 grams per day, while people who ate the most ate between 8 to 10 grams a day. Researchers found that in terms of heart disease risk, there was no evidence between the groups.
"We think this is very important, because this boom in gluten-free diets and all these claims that it's beneficial to an individual's health to be on a gluten-free diet are not based on science," Dr. Peter Green, a co-author of the study and director of Columbia's Celiac Disease Center, told Reuters.
2. Skipping gluten is not necessarily better for overall health--About 1 percent of the population has celiac disease, and those folks need to avoid gluten because it causes inflammation in the small intestines and may lead to other health issues. About 10 percent of the population qualifies as gluten sensitive. But for the rest of the population, eating a gluten-free diet does not necessarily lead to improved health.
While some people may equate gluten-free with low-carb or carb-free diets, many gluten-free products contain added sugar and fat that stands in for gluten. And gluten-free products often lack the iron and essential vitamins than regular bread products contain, according to the Gluten Intolerance Group.
3. Gluten-free diets may cause vitamin deficiencies--If you're avoiding gluten, for whatever reason, you may be at risk for vitamin and mineral deficiencies due to both low intake and low absorption, according to the Gluten Intolerance Group. The group lists thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate, iron, calcium and vitamin D as just a few of the nutrients for which you'll need to find in other sources, either as food or supplements.
4. Dropping gluten does not necessarily equal losing weight--Lots of diets--Paleo, Atkins, and South Beach, for example--encourage followers to go grain-free. So yes, if you cut out grains and carbs, you may lose weight. But there is no proof or guarantee that eating a gluten-free diet will help you shed unwanted pounds, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
"However, eating gluten-free often may cause you to eat more whole, unprocessed foods such as fruits, vegetables, legumes and lean meats. These diet changes are often healthier and lower in calories," the Cleveland Clinic says. "People eating gluten-free also tend to make healthier food choices because they are more aware of the need to read food labels. Ditching the double cheeseburger and fries for a gluten-free meal of salad, chicken breast, and sweet potato is choosing a meal that is much lower in calories. That can mean weight loss over time."
Plus gluten-free food doesn't necessarily mean healthy food. The Cleveland Clinic uses an apple and a gluten-free cookie as an example. You can eat the gluten-free cookie, but it isn't a better nutritional choice than an apple.
5. Gluten isn't just about carbs--If you think gluten is limited to bread and other flour products, think again. Soy sauce, beer, candy, bottled marinades, some types of play-dough and even lip gloss can contain gluten, according to the Celiac Disease Foundation.
There's whey protein, soy protein, pea protein, and more. Do these protein powders legitimately help with weight loss and muscle building? Here's what some experts say.
What are the benefits of protein powder? Here's how protein powders could help weight loss and toning: Protein powders contain, well, protein. And everyone needs protein. How much depends on things like your gender, age, activity level and health. Someone who is regularly exercising, whether it's an activity like running or strength training, or both, needs extra protein. Protein before a workout helps make amino acids available to your body so it doesn't use the protein in your muscles to fuel a workout-and protein post workout helps repair damage to your muscles that occurred during the workout, helping to prevent injury and also helping to make those muscles bigger and stronger. But does that protein need to come from a powder, versus a food? Nope. Protein powder doesn't have any magical powers when it comes to weight loss or muscle building.
Can you overdose on vitamins? Protein can make it easier to get the proper amount of protein for people who need extra, like athletes, or who have dietary restricitions, like vegetarians or vegans. It's great to be able to have the versatility of protein powders and you can get so much protein at one time.
Can using protein powders really help you lose weight? And build muscle? The science in slim when it comes to connecting protein powders and weight loss. If weight loss occurs after someone begins using a protein powder as a meal replacement, it would more likely be the result of an overall reduced calorie intake.
On the other hand, there is science to connect protein with muscle building. Most protein powders--whether milk, whey, or plant based--are considered complete proteins, which means protein powders typically contain all the essential amino acids your body needs to repair tissues, and build and maintain muscle mass. And complete proteins contain branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), which work to help fuel working muscles, stimulate protein synthesis, and promote muscle recovery.
Lose weight with these 8 little changes. Much of that research is tied to whey protein powders. Whey protein powders are best used by athletes ( if you don't have allergies or an intolerance to whey), because research shows they are most effective for replenishing tired muscles.
Is protein powder risky? Protein in excess of what your body needs isn't automatically stored as muscle. It might be stored as fat. In addition, too much protein puts strain on the kidneys, and can lead to dehydration, bloating, nausea, osteoporosis, and more. And, of course, protein powder on its own is not a meal. Combine it with a carbohydrate like oats, a healthy fat like peanut butter, and a fruit or vegetable for a balanced meal. Mix the powders into smoothies, pancake mixes, oatmeal and more.
And while it's not a risk, protein powder is processed. If you want fewer processed foods in your life, then try to get all of your protein through natural food sources. Try eggs, chicken breast, salmon, milk and more. You can also make your own protein powder from whole ingredients like dry milk powder, oats, and almonds.
How do you chose a safe protein powder? All protein powders are not equal. A big reason: supplements such as protein powders do not require FDA approval for marketing. Because of this, they may contain less protein, more sugar, and differing amounts of other ingredients--versus what the label claims. You run into the risk of not actually knowing what you are consuming. Look for one that's NSF Certified for Sport, which means a product has undergone third-party testing to assure that what is listed on the package is actually in the product. Even if you're not an athlete, you should seek out a protein powder with this certification because it's gone through rigorous testing to assure it is legit.
Yes, you know that instant ramen isn't good for you, but studies have confirmed just how harmful the prepackaged food can really be. A study in the Journal of Nutrition links instant noodle consumption with heart risk, particularly in women. The researchers conducted a study in South Korea, where consumption of instant noodles is the highest in the world, with more than 10,700 people ranging in age from 19 to 64. The results? Women who consume instant noodles frequently were found to be more likely to have metabolic syndrome--the group risk factors, including obesity and high blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar, that increase the risk of heart disease and diabetes.
The harmful effects were predominantly found in women and not men. Part of the study reads,"Women--though no men--who ate instant noodles at least twice a week showed 68 percent higher risk of metabolic syndrome," which is a syndrome that can increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
The high sodium content in instant noodle products is obvious, but the main culprit is the noodles themselves. In another study by Dr. Braden Kuo, director of the gastrointestinal mobility laboratory at Massachusetts General Hospital at Harvard University, the doctor found unsettling results after testing digestion of the noodles. He used a tiny camera to study the breakdown of instant ramen noodles in the stomach and found out just how difficult it is for your body to digest the preservative-filled noodles. A preservative called TBHQ, which is found in many processed foods including Reese's and Chicken McNuggets, extends shelf life of fatty foods and makes them harder to digest. It's one of the many ingredients in Maruchan Chicken Ramen.
If you are hopelessly devoted to instant ramen, and it's a budget-friendly staple in your life, all hope is not lost. Dr. Frank B. Hu, a professor of nutrition and epidemiology at Harvard, told The New York Times, "Once or twice a month is not a problem, but a few times a week really is."
Moral of the story: eating college-friendly instant ramen is OK, but moderation is key.
Low carb, no carb, it's enough to make us go crazy. Carbohydrates have become the enemy of many "healthy" eaters in the recent years, but we say it's time to bring them back. And we're not the only ones.
"We need carbohydrates!" exclaims personal trainer Kate Pearson, coach at Inside Out Fitness and Nutrition Coaching in Glasgow. "They are the main source of energy for our body. Complex carbohydrates are also often a great source of fiber, and a diet high in fiber helps prevent various diseases as well as keeping us feeling fuller for longer."
"Low carbohydrate diets have become popular in recent years and, whilst it's true that many of us in the country could benefit from eating less carbohydrates, it's generally not recommended to cut any of these food groups out entirely."
Much to our eternal disappointment, this isn't permission to eat pizza. Kate does admit that not all carbohydrates are created equal, and a diet high in simple carbs from refined, processed foods has been linked to obesity, diabetes, heart problems, stroke, and some cancers, to name a few.
But if you're reaching for the right ones, think brown rice or bread, vitamin-rich sweet potatoes, or nutritious grains like quinoa and barley, carbs are an essential part of a balanced diet, and you body will thank you for eating them.
So, how can you tell if you're not getting enough carbs??
You're always tired--We need carbs for energy, remove them and our body has to work harder to convert energy from fats and protein. You might wake up feeling sluggish and this won't improve throughout the day, nor will it improve with a good night's sleep.
You're not losing weight--Low carb diets will probably help you drop some pounds long-term, but Kate warns that most of that weight is water. Your liver will then try to make up for the sudden loss of sugar by producing it itself, and when blood sugar levels rise, the pancreas secretes insulin, your fat-storing hormone, hence the plateau in the numbers on your scale.
You keep getting headaches--Keep reaching for the Nurofen? It could be because eating too few carbs causes your blood sugar levels to drop and this can cause headaches-a nasty side effect to a super low-carb diet, although, if your headaches are ongoing and the pain doesn't lessen when you do pick up some pasta, you should consult with your doctor.
You're concentration is suffering--Some small s;tudies have shown that low carbohydrate diets can affect you memory and make it harder to concentrate, Kate reports, so if you find your attention wandering at your desk, it might not just be that snoozeworthy report that's messing with your focus.
You're struggling with your workouts--This is especially noticeable if you're training hard, doing cardio or high intensity work, Kate adds. When your body doesn't have enough carbs it can quickly use, you won't be able to train as hard and your fitness will suffer. Some elite athletes, particularly endurance athletes, will occasionally do low card diets to complement their training, but most of our workout schedules do no look like theirs.
You're constantly cold--Chilly hands and feet can be a sign of a problem with your thyroid, which is another risk factor of cutting your carbs too sharply. This is only usually a serious issue if you've taken your low-carb diet to the extreme, but it's something people following plans like Atkins or Paleo sometimes complain of, so worth monitoring just in case.
You're totally hangry--Finally science proves what we all already know. Hangry is a real, legit thing. Restricting your carb intake does make you angry and irritable, because carbohydrates are essential for the production of your happy hormone serotonin, so reintroducing complex carbs is one of the simplest things you can do to rebalance your mood.
Your breath is bad--Bad breath is an unfortunate side effect of using fat as a primary fuel source. Want to test if yours is rank? Lick your wrist, wait five seconds, and then give it a sniff-that's what people are smelling when you speak. Upping your carb intake is one obvious way to freshen up, although you can also prevent bad breath by drinking more water.
You're constipated--Know what carbs are a great source of? Fiber. And guess what you need fiber for? Pooping. Restricting your carbohydrate sources often means a reduction in the amount of fiver you're consuming and that sadly causes constipation. This can be prevented by eating a varied diet of vegetables, fruits and whole grains.
The EWG released its annual 'Dirty Dozen' and 'Clean Fifteen' lists.
The next time you shop the produce aisle you might want to beeline straight for the organic section--especially if strawberries, spinach, nectarines or apples are on your list. As it turns out, they're some of the most pesticide heavy fruits and veggies according to the Environmental Working Group. The EWG just released its 2017 list of the most and least pesticide ridden foods, aka 'Dirty Dozen' and 'Clean Fifteen'. Here's what you need to know.
To compile the ranking, the EWG analyzed tests by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Food and Drug Administration of more than 48 different types of produce. This year, the Dirty Dozen list includes, in order, strawberries, spinach, nectarines, apples, peaches, celery, grapes, pears, cherries, tomatoes, sweet bell peppers and potatoes.
Each of these foods tested positive for a number of different pesticide residues and contained higher concentrations of pesticides than other produce. Spinach made a huge leap from eighth to second place, while pears and potatoes were new additions to the Dirty Dozen, displacing cherry tomatoes and cucumbers from last years list.
The 'Clean Fifteen', which outlines the produce with the fewest pesticides detected. Those 15 are sweet corn, avocados, pineapples, cabbage, onions, frozen peas, papayas, asparagus, mangoes, eggplant, honeydew melon, kiwis, cantaloupe, cauliflower and grapefruit.
But before you start throwing out any fruits or veggies that aren't on the Clean Fifteen, remember that this list does not mean you are going to keel over and die just because you grabbed the cheaper, non-organic strawberries the last time you were at the store.
Eating fruits and veggies, even non-organic, is still a better choice than processed crap like potato chips and sugar-laden cereals, so use this list as a a guide, rather than something to live and die by. Even the EWG believes we need to keep things in perspective saying: "The health benefits of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables outweigh the risks of pesticide exposure." Still, better to know which ones might need a more thorough wash!
A lack of vitamin D has been linked to everything from infertility to premature bone aging. If those long-term health concerns don't prompt you to look for ways to boost your vitamin D intake, consider the recent NPR report citing research based on 25 medical studies that found vitamin D intake may help prevent colds and flu. So, yes, a healthy dose of vitamin D can help you in the short term too.
But just how do you make sure you have adequate vitamin D intake? That's 600 IU (international units) per day for most adults, according to the National Academy of Medicine. Those over 70 years old are advised to get 800 IU per day.
Sure you can take multivitamins to help reach that threshold. Most of them have about 400 IU of vitamin D, reports NPR.
But there are plenty of natural ways to easily boost your vitamin D intake as well. Consider these 11 suggestions from experts.
1. Eat fatty fish: Fish are naturally rich in vitamin D. Here's how some of them measure up, according to a report by the Nation Institute of Health.
* cod liver oil, 1 tablespoon: 1,360 IU
* cooked swordfish, 3 ounces: 566 IU
* cooked sockeye salmon, 3 ounces: 447 IU
* canned tuna in water, drained, 3 ounces: 154 IU
* Two sardines, canned in oil, drained: 46 IU
2. Choose foods fortified with vitamin D: The NIH reports the following IU tallies for specific foods (check labels to verify amounts in individual brands).
* orange juice,1 cup: 137 IU
* nonfat, reduced fat or whole milk, 1 cup: 115-124 IU
* yogurt, 6 ounces: 80 IU
* margarine, 1 tablespoon: 60 IU
* ready-to-eat cereal, 3/4 to 1 cup: 40 IU
3. Cook up beef liver: This is not everyone's cup of tea, but the NIH reports 3 ounces of cooked beef liver delivers a luscious 42 IU of vitamin D.
4. Enjoy a slice of Swiss cheese: The NIH reports that 1 ounce of this cheesy goodness contains 6 IU.
5. Eat your eggs: One large egg yolk has 41 IU, reports the NIH.
6. Toss in some mushrooms: Various types of mushrooms--especially those exposed to ultraviolet light, deliver megadoses if vitamin D, reports the U.S. Department of Agriculture. For example, 1 cup of brown, Italian or Crimini mushrooms has up to 1,110 IU. Portobellos contain close to 1,000 IU.
7. Think kid stuff: Remember the old commercials urging kids to drink Ovaltine? Well, it turns out that is not bad advice. One cup of Ovaltine powder, about four, 4 tablespoon servings, has 284 IU, an amount comparable with one ready-to-drink bottle of Nestle Boost Plus, which has 218 IU, according to the USDA.
8. Serve some ham: Non-fish lovers may enjoy a slice of extra lean canned cured ham, 140 grams of 1 cup by volume. That amount has about 130 IU of vitamin D, according to the USDA.
9. Dish out yogurt: A container of Silk plain yogurt has 120 IU of vitamin D, reports the USDA. Many of the other ordinary yogurts contained 80-85 IU of vitamin D per container, while the Greek varieties hovered closer to 50. Be sure to check the label to be sure of what you are getting.
10. Grab some turkey or pork sausage: Include links or patties with your breakfast. A serving of about 1 cup of these sausages delivers 103 IU, reports the USDA.
11. Get a little sun: The days of sunbathing without sunscreen passed years ago due to revelations about the skin cancer risk. You don't need to go overboard, 20-25 minutes of daily sun exposure can prompt your body to manufacture more vitamin D, according to Stephen Honig, director of the Osteoporosis Center of NYU Langone Hospital for Joint Diseases, speaking to Shape magazine. It's important to go out into the sun, not catch rays through a window. To trigger maximum vitamin D production, expose as much skin as safely possible to receive the maximum benefit, taking into consideration your skin tone, the time of day, and the intensity of the sun where you live.