All Posts By Amy Reiter

Amy Reiter is a writer and editor based in New York. Her work has appeared in publications including The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Daily Beast, Glamour and Marie Claire, as well as Salon, where she was a longtime editor and senior writer. In addition to contributing to FN Dish, she blogs for Food Network’s Healthy Eats.

Clearing Up the Confusion About Salt

by in Food & Nutrition Experts, Food News & Trends, June 9, 2017

We consumers may find ourselves all shook up when it comes to salt — unsure about how to absorb the latest research, which can seem to conflict. One minute we are warned to be super-careful about our salt intake or hazard increasing our risk of a host of health woes, including high blood pressure — and are further cautioned that high sodium consumption could be raising our children’s risk of heart attack and stroke. The next minute we’re told our efforts to cut down on salt intake by easing up on our salt shakers is not going to help much — and that, in fact, consuming less sodium might not do much to lower blood pressure after all. Read more

How One Simple Vending Machine Tweak Could Prompt Healthier Choices

by in Food News & Trends, Healthy Tips, May 22, 2017

You’re at work, feeling a little hungry, low energy or just in the mood to take a break, so you stroll down to the vending machine in search of a snack. You feed some cash into the machine and choose something that catches your eye. A few minutes later, you’re sitting at your desk with an empty bag, greasy fingers and an unmistakable sense of regret. Why didn’t you choose something healthier?

 

Making snack decisions in a snap doesn’t always bring out the healthiest eater in us. To quantify this truism, researchers at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago created a device that can be installed in vending machines that delays the dispensing of unhealthy snacks (candy and chips, for instance) for 25 seconds and but allows healthier snacks (nuts, popcorn) to be dispensed straightaway. A sign on the vending machine lets people know unhealthy snacks will take extra time to receive.

 

Guess what happened when the experimental machines were made available around campus? Yep, people began to choose healthier snacks. Read more

Nut and Seed Butters Are a Trend Worth Spreading

by in Food News & Trends, May 20, 2017

Here’s a toast-worthy trend that just might stick: Nutrition experts are increasingly looking beyond trusty old peanut butter and going nuts for other sorts of protein-rich nut and seed spreads – sunflower butter, sesame butter and more. (SB&J? Why not?)

“When it comes to nut and seed butters, variety is the spice of life!” says San Diego-based nutrition coach, registered dietitian and culinary nutritionist EA Stewart, MBA, RD at The Spicy RD. Healthy Eats asked Stewart to share her thoughts about the incredible spreadable trend:

 

How do seed and other nut butters compare nutritionally to trusty old peanut butter?

While all nuts and seeds contain heart-healthy fats and fiber, each nut and seed is unique in its nutrition profile, so it’s a good idea to include a variety of them in our diets. For instance, macadamia nuts are very high in monounsaturated fats, while flaxseeds, chia seeds and walnuts are the highest in omega-3 fats. Almonds and hazelnuts are an excellent source of vitamin E, while pumpkin and other seeds are rich in magnesium, a nutrient many of us fall short on. Bottom line: Enjoy a wide variety of nut, seed and legume (peanuts) butters in your diet to get the greatest nutrient bang for your buck. The only potential downside is to keep portion control in mind, as nut and seed butters are a concentrated source of calories, and it’s easy to go overboard. Read more

A New Study Offers Yet Another Reason to Eat Avocados

by in Food News & Trends, May 4, 2017

If you needed another reason to dip your chip (or better yet, a crisp veggie) into a bowl of yummy guacamole, a new comprehensive research review has offered a good one.

 

The review, published in the journal Phytotherapy Research, evaluated the results of 129 studies to determine the effects of the avocados on various aspects of Metabolic syndrome, which is a group of risk factors that raises your risk for heart disease, diabetes and stroke. Read more

The Dietary Perils of Being a Night Owl

by in Healthy Tips, April 25, 2017

Are you a morning person — awake early with the larks and sparrows — or a night person who stays up late with the owls? If you answered the latter, you may make less healthy dietary choices and be at a greater risk for obesity, a new study indicates.

Researchers in Finland who studied the behavior of 1,854 participants between the ages of 25 and 74 determined that, even though morning and night people tended to take in the same amount of calories, the timing of their intake and the kinds of foods they ate differed. Read more

Untangling the Facts About Instant Ramen Noodles

by in Healthy Tips, March 29, 2017

We know that instant ramen noodles — that cheap college-student staple — probably don’t qualify as a health food, but exactly how bad for us are they?

A 2014 study by researchers at Harvard School of Public Health found that women who ate instant ramen noodles at least twice a week were at a 68 percent higher risk for metabolic syndrome – a group of conditions including elevated blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar; obesity and other factors that increase the risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes. So, you know, not good.

“Instant ramen is notoriously high in sodium,” explains Michelle Dudash, RDN, Cordon Bleu-certified chef and author of Clean Eating for Busy Families, noting that some brands contain 72 percent of the daily-recommended sodium limit per package.

The packaged noodles are also made with refined grain flour, fried in palm oil, and are hardly redeemed by the teensy bit of dehydrated vegetables they contain. Consequently, Dudash puts them squarely in the “unhealthy food” category. But, she adds, “one of the leading brands of instant ramen noodles offers a 35-percent-less sodium option, so that is a move in the right direction.” Read more

Start a Garden and Harvest the Health Benefits

by in Healthy Tips, March 17, 2017

As the weather begins to warm (March, you’re still planning to go out like a lamb, right?) and the first signs of spring tentatively peep out of the ground, many of us take our cue to start rooting around for our garden tools.

If you are not yet a gardener, why not make this spring the season you try out your green thumb? Even if you live in a city and have no yard at your disposal, you may be able to give it a whirl by finding a small plot in a community garden or even stashing a box on your windowsill. The rewards may include far more than whatever you manage to grow.

Studies have shown that gardening has all sorts of health benefits, from boosting your mood and improving your diet, to helping you stay fit and trim. So Healthy Eats reached out to Sharon Palmer, RD, a plant-based food and nutrition expert and the author of The Plant-Powered Diet, Plant-Powered for Life and The Plant-Powered Blog, to find out more.

 

How is tending a garden beneficial for your overall health? 

Gardening is good for your overall health in many ways. First of all, it is a form of physical activity that contributes to your overall physical fitness levels. Secondly, it can boost mood-enhancing hormones. Studies show that gardening can increase the release of serotonin, which has an anti-depressant effect, while decreasing the levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Thirdly, it can increase your exposure to health-promoting vitamin D levels we obtain from the sun. And fourthly, studies show that when you garden, you increase your consumption of healthy fruits and vegetables. Read more

It’s Not Just You: Stress and Fat Are Linked

by in Food News & Trends, March 14, 2017

In times of stress, many of us turn for consolation to sugary, fatty, high-calorie foods. Macaroni and cheese? Meatloaf and mashed potatoes with extra butter? A massive hunk of buttercream-frosted cake? They don’t call them “comfort foods” for nothing.

“I often see unmanaged stress lead to overeating and binging with my clients,” says Kara Lydon, RD, LDN, RYT, author of Nourish Your Namaste e-book and blogger at The Foodie Dietitian. “When we push away our basic needs for self-care — relaxation, spirituality, fun, sleep — we wind up feeling overexerted, depleted and stressed and turn to food as a way to fulfill an unmet need. Overeating because of stress often leads to more stress and anxiety and it becomes a vicious cycle.”

Given that, the results of a recent British study that found a link between long-term stress and obesity may not come as much of a surprise.

The study, conducted by researchers at University College London and published in the journal Obesity, looked at hair samples representing about two months of growth from more than 2,500 men and women age 54 and over participating in the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing to determine the levels of cortisol, a hormone associated with stress, present in the hair. The researchers found that those with higher levels of cortisol, which plays a role in metabolism and fat storage, were more likely to be overweight or obese – to have a larger waist circumference, weigh more and have a higher body-mass index. Read more

To Boost Your Health, Spice Up Your Life

by in Food & Nutrition Experts, March 5, 2017

When we season our foods with spices, we tend to have flavor in mind. But herbs and spices have myriad health benefits. They can help us to cut down on salt and — since they are plant-based — spices may pack an impressive phytonutrient punch, with antioxidant, anti-inflammatory or even anti-cancer potential.

In fact, registered dietitian nutritionist Carrie Dennett recently compared your spice cabinet to “a natural pharmacy in your kitchen.”

So are some herbs and spices more potent than others? Yes, actually.

“Generally the brighter or darker in color, the higher the antioxidant content,” says registered dietitian nutritionist Serena Ball, MS, RD, who writes about food and nutrition at Teaspoon of Spice, as well as for Healthy Eats. “Think turmeric.”  Read more

Manly Burgers, Feminine Salads: Does Gender Affect Our Diets?

by in Food News & Trends, February 16, 2017

We all know the stereotypes: Men like red meat and hefty portions. Women like salads and eat modestly, picking delicately at their meals. Men like it spicy. Women like it sweet.

Fries or fruit on the side? Men, we imagine, may be more likely to choose the former, women the latter. Ditto when choosing between, say, wine or beer.

Whether or not there is intrinsic truth in these cultural preconceptions about gender and food, societal reinforcement of them may influence the decisions we make about what we eat, the Washington Post suggests. What’s more, the paper recently posited, given the body of research indicating that eating plant, rather than animal, proteins, is better for your health and longevity, that may not be great news for men.

One key issue may be the way different foods are marketed to men and women, the messages sent out via advertising and packaging, says Kerri-Ann Jennings, a registered dietitian and nutritionist who writes about food and health trends. Read more

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