What You Should Know About Artificial Sweeteners

ELIZABETH LASETER  shared with Cooking Light that artificial sweeteners are abundant in sugar-free beverages such as diet soda, fruit juices, and energy drinks, but they’re also used in processed foods such as candy, yogurt, bread, and even microwave popcorn. But how safe are they, and if you’re cutting out sugar, are they a good replacement? We called on several experts to weigh in.

Also called high-intensity sweeteners, artificial sweeteners are used to sweeten many food and beverage products without increasing grams of sugar. The majority are “non-nutritive,” meaning they flavor food without adding additional calories. They’re also much sweeter (sometimes hundreds of times sweeter) than table sugars such as granulated or brown sugar, and just a small amount can deliver an intense punch of sweetness to foods.   Read more

The New Food Pyramid for Older Adults

Lisa Fields wrote for Silver Sneakers  by Tivity Health that it’s never too late to start eating healthier. But if it’s been a while since you’ve checked your habits, you may need a refresher on what a “well-balanced diet” actually means these days.

The general recommendations from yesteryear–including the USDA’s Basic Four food groups, the Food Wheel, and the Food Guide Pyramid–are outdated. Now the USDA uses a MyPlate icon that serves as a reminder for healthy eating, showing about how much Americans should consume from each of five categories: fruits, vegetables, grains, protein, and dairy.

Unlike its predecessors, MyPlate is not intended to provide specific guidelines but rather offers ideas and tips to help you create a healthier eating style that meets your individual needs. That may not sound very helpful at first, but it’s based on the fact that a healthy diet isn’t exactly the same for everyone. It’s shaped by many factors, including preferences, access to food, culture, traditions, and your stage of life.

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6 Foods You Should Never Eat for Breakfast

Christa Sgobba wrote for Silver Sneaker in Tivity Health that for most people, the time between dinner tonight and breakfast tomorrow morning is the longest you’ll go without food. So when that alarm goes off, your body is ready for fuel.

“The name says it all: Break fast,” says Jen Bruning, R.D.N., a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “It’s important that we eat something within the first hour or two of waking so that we can reassure our bodies that more food is coming in.”

Otherwise, your body might think it’s in a state of famine, resulting in sluggishness as it tries to conserve its resources, Bruning says. But that doesn’t mean you should eat just anything. A solid morning meal—one that combines fiber, protein, and healthy fat—sets you up for more consistent energy levels, improved mood and concentration, and better control of your blood sugar. Problem is, many popular breakfast items do just the opposite.

Here are six foods that can ruin your day before you even leave the house—plus, what you should eat instead. Read more

Choosing Healthy Restaurant Meals

Go For Life from the National Institute on Aging suggests that going out to eat is enjoyable, but restaurants often serve large meals, which can be high in calories, fat, and salt. Don’t be afraid to ask how items on the menu are prepared and request substitutions.

Here are a few tips from Go4Life to help make your meal both delicious and nutritious.

  • Order a salad with lean meat, low-fat or fat-free cheese, and other healthy toppings. Choose low-fat or fat-free salad dressing, and ask for the dressing on the side so you can control how much you use.
  • Choose foods that are baked, broiled, braised, grilled, steamed, sautéed, or boiled. Avoid fried food.
  • Hold the “special sauces.” Ask the kitchen not to top your dish with butter or whipped cream.
  • Select foods with a tomato-based or red sauce instead of a cream-based or white sauce. Tomato-based sauces usually contain more vitamins, less fat, and fewer calories.
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What Are the Best and Worst Foods?

 shared on NutritionalFacts.org that he always pictured his role primarily as providing the latest science, but you can’t understand all the new discoveries without a good foundation. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans has a chapter on food components to reduce. But, when they say things like “reduce intake of solid fats (major sources of saturated and trans fatty acids),” what does that mean in terms of which foods to cut down on?

Similarly, there’s a chapter on nutrients we should increase our intake of, so-called “shortfall nutrients.” But, when they say we need more magnesium, for example, what does that mean in terms of actual food? There’s no magnesium aisle in the grocery store. In my video What Are the Healthiest Foods? I analyze 20 different types of foods to see, based on the federal guideline criteria, which are the healthiest and which are the least healthy. There are a lot of fascinating charts in the video, so I encourage you to check it out.

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Research explores how fats affect our bodies

Patrick B. Massey, MD, PH.D., medical director for complementary and alternative medicine at Alexian Brothers Hospital Network and president of ALT-MED Medical and Physical Therapy, 1544 Nerge Road, Elk Grove Village wrote for the Daily Herald Newspaper that over the past two decades there has been a lot of research on the role that specific fats have on the risk of developing various chronic diseases especially heart disease, diabetes and recently Alzheimer’s disease.

The results are far from definitive and it seems that the more research is produced, the cloudier the answers become.

A recent medical study took a different approach. They tried to determine whether specific types of fats increase the absorption of one specific highly inflammatory and toxic compound lipopolysaccharide (LPS), found in the walls of some bowel bacteria.

There are three basic classifications of fats: saturated fats which are solid at room temperature like butter, lard and coconut oil; unsaturated fats which are liquid at room temperature like olive oil; trans fats that are not found in great quantity in nature and never belong in your diet.

Unsaturated fats are divided again into two classes, omega-3 and omega-6. These fats are further divided into monounsaturated (olive oil) and polyunsaturated (corn oil) fats.

In general, saturated fats increase inflammation and unsaturated fats reduce inflammation. However, not all unsaturated fats may reduce inflammation.

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#MoveWithHeart! in February

Go4Life from the National Institute on Aging shared that February is National Heart Month and the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute at NIH is asking people to pledge to #MoveWithHeart this February and all year long.

Did you know that by simply moving more, you can lower your risk of getting heart disease or having a stroke? Many types of activity can help your heart—going on a hike or taking the stairs, biking to the store or around the block, wheeling yourself in your wheelchair.

Choices you might make every day can contribute to heart disease. Do you smoke? Are you overweight? Do you spend the day sitting at a desk or in front of the TV? Do you avoid doing exercise? Do you drink a lot of alcohol? If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, making healthy lifestyle changes might help you prevent or delay heart disease.

Take the following steps to keep your heart healthy:

Be more physically active. Aim for 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity on most or all days of the week. Every day is best. It doesn’t have to be done all at once —10-minute periods will do. Start by doing activities you enjoy —brisk walking, dancing, swimming, bicycling, or playing basketball or tennis.

If you smoke, quit. It’s never too late to get some benefit from quitting smoking.

Follow a heart healthy diet. Choose low-fat foods and those that are low in salt. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, and foods high in fiber. Following a healthy eating plan and being physically active might help you.

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The Syrup World Is So Much Bigger Than Maple

JOHN SHERMAN wrote for Extra Crispy that people get very particular about their maple syrup, particularly people from North America’s so-called “Maple Belt,” a region of northern New England and southeastern Canada known for maple syrup production. Unfortunately for syrup obsessives, at least one study has suggested that milder winters may affect the maple syrup supply in coming years, at least in the Maple Belt’s southern reaches, both in terms of the quantity and quality of syrup produced.

Fans of Mrs. Butterworth’s and Aunt Jemima can rest easy, but maple purists may be in for a tough couple years. One of the effects of a changing climate seems to be a shorter supply of light, “fancy” maple syrup, once known as Grade A Light Amber and Grade A Golden Amber, and now designated as “Grade A Golden Color, Delicate Taste” and “Grade A Golden Color, Rich Taste,” respectively. We may all soon be dousing our waffles in Grade B (Grade A Dark Color, Robust Taste), or paying extra for the primo Golden Amber, but [cue infomercial voiceover] there has to be a better way.
As it turns out, maple trees aren’t the only trees that can be tapped for syrup, but for whatever reason when we say “syrup” we almost always mean maple. And when we say “maple,” we almost always mean sugar maple. But sugar maple is just one of many varieties of maple trees that can be tapped to make syrup, including black maple and red maple, as well as at least a half-dozen other maples you’ve never heard of, like silver maple, Norway maple, canyon maple, and Rocky Mountain maple. Other tree species can be tapped as well, but you won’t likely find their syrups at the store. Read more

8 Things to Keep in Mind If You Want to Lose Weight This Year

Close-up of pretty girl eating fresh vegetable salad

Laura Newcomer in SELF shared in their recent post that first things first: Whether you do or don’t want to lose weight is totally personal; if you want to, great, but if you don’t, that is perfectly fine as well. If weight loss is one of your goals this year and don’t know where to start, you’re not alone. Nearly a quarter of the Americans who resolve to change something about their lives this New Year’s will be hoping to shed some pounds—and preying on these doe-eyed resolvers will be all manner of “fast weight loss solutions.” They’ll guarantee instantaneous results or promise to make the pounds melt off without you having to change a thing. The reality is, losing weight in a safe, healthy, and effective way is a lot more complicated than that.

Weight loss requires lifestyle changes (no matter how much we might wish for quick answers). It requires work, adaptability, and a whole lot of patience. There’s so much that goes into it. A holistic approach is necessary for success, which is measured in how you feel, not what a scale says. It includes setting thoughtful goals, looking at your physical activity levels, adopting healthy eating habits, getting enough sleep, managing stress, and being cognizant of confounding factors that may be outside your control, such as health issues or hormones. It’s also really important to note that if you have a history of disordered eating, a weight-loss plan might not be a healthy choice for you. You should consult a doctor before making changes to your diet or exercise regimen. At the end of the day, the underlying goal is to feel better—physically, mentally, emotionally, however you define it. That’s what you’re working toward.

The first step for making the process easier is to treat your body in a loving way from day one—instead of withholding positivity until you reach a specific number on the scale. That means ditching the judgy voice in your head and acting like your own best friend.

The next step? Craft a plan that will make the process of losing weight sustainable over the long haul. If you’re ready, willing, and able to move forward, the following eight tips will help you do just that.

1. Be realistic.

Effective weight loss requires personal honesty. “Make sure any changes you will make are realistic for you and your lifestyle,” Maxine Yeung, M.S., R.D., C.D.N., NASM-CPT and founder of The Wellness Whisk, tells SELF. That means don’t plan on cooking a healthy meal every night if you hate spending time in front of the stove. Instead, you might commit to cooking two nights each week and ordering in from a restaurant with healthy options the rest of the time. Read more

This Is the Best Diet to Go On (According to Harvard Researchers)

POPSUGAR shared that if you want to lose weight, what’s on your plate is often more important than the minutes you spend in the gym.

And if you want to see the most change, a 2015 study from Harvard says you should be cutting carbs, not fat.

For the study, published in PLoS One, researchers from Harvard and Brigham and Women’s Hospital reviewed 53 randomized trials of over 68,000 patients who had been assigned to either low-fat or low-carb diets. They found that low-carb diets were consistently better at helping patients lose weight than low-fat diets; the participants on the low-carb diets lost 2.5 pounds more than those on low-fat diets, with the average weight loss among all groups at about six pounds.

This latest study on the weight-loss benefits of a low-carb diet adds further evidence that if you want to lose weight, ditching bread — not olive oil — can help you see success. Another recent study, for example, showed that dieters who ate fewer than 40 grams of carbohydrates per day lost about eight pounds more than dieters who were put on a low-fat diet. Other studies have shown that high-carb diets may be the real heart-disease culprit, not saturated fat. All in all, this new review is a good reminder that if you want to lose weight, you should choose a diet rich in healthy fats, lean proteins, and fresh produce. Of course, not all fats are created equal. In the ongoing debate on whether fat is the enemy of waistlines and healthy hearts, an in-depth study may have the answer: if you want to lose weight and be healthier, opt for a low-carb diet over a low-fat one. Read more