You already know they’re good for you in all kinds of ways, but the latest research on fruits and vegetables has revealed some very surprising results. Apparently, eating more produce can actually increase your level of happiness over time. The newly released study, conducted at the University of Warwick, followed 12,000 people who kept food diaries and had their psychological well-being measured. What it found is that people got incrementally happier with every daily serving of fruit and vegetables they ate (up to eight portions a day). Why the connection between increased produce consumption and increased happiness? Researchers don’t know for sure, but one possible theory is that the abundance of antioxidants the fruits and vegetables provides leads to higher levels of carotenoids in the blood — and having higher levels of carotenoids has been linked to optimism. Read more
Sure, you’ve heard of potassium, but how well do you really know this mineral? Potassium plays a very important role in maintaining good health, but it turns out that it’s a nutrient that many Americans regularly fall short on. In fact, according to a study published in 2012, less than 2 percent of adults get the amount of potassium recommended by the Institute of Medicine’s Food and Nutrition Board. Those recommendations call for adults to consume 4,700 milligrams of potassium daily.
“The best food sources of potassium are fruits and vegetables, and most Americans simply do not eat enough of them to get the potassium they need,” says Alissa Rumsey, M.S., R.D., spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Potassium is an important electrolyte, and it works in partnership with sodium (also an electrolyte) to help regulate fluid balance, muscle contractions and nerve signals. “Most people get too much sodium and not enough potassium, which can throw off this balance,” says Rumsey. Read more
You’re probably already aware that eating off extra-large plates can translate into consuming extra-large portions and that watching TV during a meal may distract you enough to make you overeat. The latest research on restaurant ambience examined how bright versus dim lighting affected diners’ food choices.
The study had several different prongs. The first involved a survey of 160 patrons at casual chain restaurants. Those sitting in brightly lit rooms were 16 to 24 percent more likely to order healthy foods (such as grilled fish or chicken and vegetables), while those in rooms where the lights were dimmer were more likely to order unhealthy items (like fried food or dessert). Plus, those eating in darker dining rooms ordered 39 percent more calories. Read more
The biggest buzz surrounding the revamped Nutrition Facts label recently unveiled at the Partnership for a Healthier America Summit is the news that added sugars (not just total sugars) will be required on food packaging. “‘Added sugar’ means anything that’s used to sweeten a product beyond any sugars that occur naturally in that food,” explains Libby Mills, RD, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. And once that info is on the label in black and white, you’ll no longer be able to kid yourself into thinking added sugars are found only in sweets, sodas and baked goods. “Sugar is added to a variety of ‘healthy’ foods — including salad dressing, tomato sauce, soups, breads and yogurt,” says Mills. “Places you wouldn’t necessarily expect to find it.”
The problem with added sugar is that it’s basically adding empty calories to whatever you’re eating. “You’re getting the calories without much nutrition to go with it,” says Mills. “And that can contribute to weight gain, tooth decay, diabetes and numerous other health issues. The American Heart Association guidelines call for no more than six teaspoons a day of added sugar for women and nine for men. Read more
It looks and sounds like something out a Dr. Seuss book, but the baobab is as serious as it gets when it comes to health benefits and nutritional bang. Native to the African savannah, the baobab tree is often called “the tree of life” because for centuries locals utilized all of its parts to create food, beverages, medicines, and fibers to weave ropes and mats. But the baobab had become undervalued by Africans who saw it as a famine food, and the fruit was virtually unknown to the rest of the world. Read more
Wearable fitness trackers — including Fitbit and Jawbone devices — are wildly popular ways to keep a tally of all the daily activities you do. They count steps and calories, measure heart rate and, in some cases, monitor things like how much and how well you sleep. But before you live and die by those numbers on your device, you might want to consider something: How accurate is all that information anyway? Read more
How Does Your Garden Grow? Tips for Beginning Vegetable Gardeners
You see all the beautiful fresh produce at your weekly farmers market and think, “How hard could it be to grow some of this myself?” The short answer: not that hard, provided you choose low-maintenance veggies and follow a few simple rules. We asked Kevin Karl, farm manager at Growing Gardens, a nonprofit in Boulder dedicated to building community through urban agriculture, to help would-be gardeners start to dig in.
Hemp seeds may sounds like a hippie thing, but these days, they are more of a trendy thing. And for good reason: These tiny nutritional powerhouses are a true superfood, packing all nine essential amino acids, plus protein, fiber, Omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins, and minerals like iron, zinc, magnesium and potassium. “Hemp is one of those foods that can help meat eaters realize the power of plant foods,” says Martica Heaner, Ph.D., adjunct associate professor of nutrition at Hunter College in New York City. “A three-tablespoon serving has the same amount of complete protein as two eggs.”
It’s not difficult to find a bottle labeled “extra virgin olive oil” — a term that’s not only ubiquitous, but that is also synonymous in most people’s minds with a high-quality product. Unfortunately, like many other words that end up on food labels, those don’t necessarily mean what they say. In fact, an estimated 70 percent of imported extra virgin olive oil isn’t actually extra virgin at all. It’s been refined and processed or made from poor-quality (possibly even rotten) olives.
Ever since the dawn of the low-carb craze, bread has been on the outs. Diners ask for the breadbasket to be removed from their tables at restaurants, sandwiches are shunned, and toast is … well, toast. But new research may help prove that bread has been unfairly demonized, and that the loaf languishing in your kitchen is not the enemy you once thought.