All Posts In Healthy Tips

Prebiotics and Probiotics

by in Healthy Tips, December 18, 2012

yogurt
Want to keep your digestive system healthy and happy? Make sure you’re getting enough of these important tummy pleasers.

What are they?
It may sound icky but it’s a good thing that our digestive tracks are populated with bacteria. Many of these buggers are there to protect the digestive tracts and fend off potentially harmful germs. Probiotics are microorganisms that live (yes, they’re alive) to provide such protection. The more probiotics hanging out in your digestive tract, the healthier and more balanced it remains. This type of balance means better digestion and less stomach issues like gas, bloating and diarrhea, especially when traveling or taking antibiotics.

Prebiotics are non-digestible components of certain types of carbohydrates. They act as food for healthy probiotic bacteria, fueling the production of more.

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8 Tricks for Lightening Up Holiday Foods

by in Healthy Holidays, Healthy Tips, December 13, 2012

eggnog
We heart holiday food, but holiday food doesn’t always show love our waistlines. Use these simple tricks to lighten up your favorites.

#1: Baked Ham
Ham is a lean meat but when recipes call for one pound per serving the calories skyrocket to 760 and the fat climbs to 44 grams! Also, when you’re talking smoked or cured foods, the sodium can get out of control.

To lighten: Stick to 3 to 4 ounce portions and lessen the amount of salt added to flavor the ham or use lower-sodium versions.

Other tips to lighten up baked ham

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One Small Change: Another Old Friend, Corn

by in Healthy Tips, December 7, 2012

corn chowder

Similar to the potato, corn is another one of those foods that gets a bum rap because of how it’s usually served: fried (corn chips/corn dogs), processed (corn syrup), extruded (many sugary cereals) or otherwise fashioned into foods you never thought were made with corn (ketchup, salad dressing, soda, cookies, bread and more). One can of soda is rich in corn, in the form of high fructose corn syrup, which shocks our body with an insulin-spiking 120 calories of simple carbs, and no nutrients whatsoever. That’s Mr. Hyde.

Yet there is a brighter, more natural side to corn; the one you see when you take a long ear and slowly peel back layer upon layer of its stringy exterior to reveal a yellow, white or multicolored bonanza of kernels that you can eat straight off the cob. Beyond its juicy crunch and naturally sweet flavor, corn’s got some serious nutrients too. Just one cup (the size of your fist) packs 5g of protein, 4g of fiber, and it has a natural source of many nutrients including vitamin A, vitamin C, thiamin, niacin, folate, pantothenic acid, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and manganese…all into a 130 calorie package. So grab an ear, Doctor Jekyll is in!

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5 Simple Ways to Cut Calories

by in Healthy Tips, November 30, 2012

olive oil
Calories can be sneaky, finding their way into your diet when you aren’t looking. Too many of them make it hard to maintain a healthy weight. Try these 5 simple things to save calories throughout the day — we promise you won’t miss them.

1. Measure Oil
It’s really easy to misjudge how much oil you use when cooking. When every tablespoon has 120 calories (and 14 grams of fat), you can unknowingly rack up some serious calories by adding an extra splash here and there. Keep a measuring spoon handy  – a teaspoon or two is really all you need.

2. Downsize Bread
Trade large slices of bread and gigantic wraps for English muffins, rolls and flatbreads to save hundreds of calories at each meal. Always choose whole grain versions for more hunger fighting fiber.

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Thanksgiving Dinner-Hopping Strategies

by in Healthy Holidays, Healthy Tips, November 21, 2012

thanksgiving dinner
Are you a feast hopper– stopping by 2 or even 3 Turkey Day meals every year? Follow these tips so you can enjoy holiday favorites without feeling like you need to roll home by the end of the evening.

Strategy #1: Come Hungry, Not Starving
Arrive at your first feast famished and you’ll probably end up over-stuffing yourself. You’ll feel tired (turkey coma?) and can even end up with heartburn. At the next house, you’ll turn down Aunt Mary’s famous pie and insult the whole family (oh, the drama!). Have a small snack about 30-45 minutes before your first stop. A piece of fruit, granola bar or nonfat Greek yogurt will do the trick.

Strategy #2: Enjoy the Conversation
Instead of shoveling food with lightening speed, put down the fork and enjoy chatting with family and friends. This also helps slow down your food flow, enabling you to eat less and leaving room for feast #2.

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Natural Sweeteners: Information and Uses

by in Healthy Tips, November 17, 2012

maple syrup
Added sugars in out diet have been shown to increase the risk of obesity and disease. Does this mean you can never have sweets again? The answer is no, but it is important to understand the facts. With constant media hype surrounding buzz words like high-fructose corn syrup and refined sugar, how do you know what to choose and how much is too much? And are natural sweeteners really better for you?

The truth is, all sweeteners (both refined and natural) are considered to be discretionary calories. The American Heart Association recommends no more than 6 teaspoons of sugar a day for women, or about 100 calories worth. Men should aim for about 9 teaspoons a day, or 150 calories. The problem is, with so many added sugars in our diet (surveys have shown that the average American consumes about 22 teaspoons of added sugar a day) we can achieve this quite quickly. A 12-oz soda contains 8 tsp of sugar. Many cereals, even the “healthy stuff” have 3-4 tsp of sugar per serving and the same goes for flavored oatmeal, some tomato sauces, condiments like BBQ sauce and even that granola bar you are eating. Needless to say, the teaspoon of honey you put in your tea is rarely the culprit.

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Building Strong Bones

by in Healthy Tips, November 11, 2012

kale
About 10 million Americans are estimated to have osteoporosis and an additional 34 million are estimated to have low bone-density which places them at risk for developing osteoporosis, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation. Although you hit your peak bone-mass early in life, usually around 20 years of age, there are simple changes you can make in your diet in order to reduce your risk of developing osteoporosis later in life. Here are some nutrients to know when it comes to planning a healthy diet to prevent osteoporosis.

It is no surprise that calcium is at the top of the list for foods that prevent osteoporosis but you may be surprised to know many Americans don’t consume enough of this important nutrient.  Though diary is an excellent source of calcium it’s not the only one.  Tofu, dark leafy greens, sardines, canned salmon and calcium fortified foods like orange juice are other options.

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One Small Change: Avoid the Health Halo

by in Healthy Tips, November 6, 2012

food labels
Just as the first impressions of a person can influence our perception of them far into the future, research shows the same can be said for the foods we eat. Once a food or restaurant is deemed “healthy”, we tend to let our guard down and forget about the facts of what we are truly eating – a proverbial junk-food wolf in a nutritious sheep’s clothing. This phenomenon for food has been dubbed the “health halo” effect.

You may have experienced a similar situation in another aspect of life: relationships. One of your friends may have become so smitten with one feature of a potential suitor (they’re attractive or fun to be around) that they completely disregarded the ten other red flags about them (i.e. they’re chronically late, don’t have a job, quick to yell at others) even though everyone else, including you, clearly saw the inconsistencies. Don’t let the same thing happen to you with the foods that you eat!

Here are a couple “seductive” labeling tactics that could lure you into eating foods that may just end up becoming a bad date for you and your waistline:

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Food for Sight

by in Healthy Tips, November 5, 2012

carrots
It’s a well-known fact that carrots are good for your eyesight, but did you know there are several nutrients that can keep your eyes healthy throughout your life? A healthy diet may help reduce the risk of vision issues like cataracts, glaucoma, age related macular degeneration and diabetic retinaopathy and help promote good eye health from as early as infancy. Why is this important? Over 21 million Americans suffer from vision trouble and the number of Americans with eye health problems is expected to double in the next 30 year. So what foods should you include in your diet to protect your vision?  Here’s the low-down:

Keep eating carrots: the beta-carotene found in carrots turns into vitamin A in your body. Vitamin A helps you focus better in low light. In addition to carrots, good sources of beta-carotene and vitamin A include fortified milk, tomatoes, sweet potatoes and spinach.

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Food Fight: Agave vs. Honey

by in Healthy Tips, November 1, 2012

honey
This is going to be our toughest food fight yet! Two natural sweeteners pitted against each other – it’s a very difficult decision.

Agave
Most agave nectar is produced from the blue agave plant grown in desert regions like the hilly areas in Mexico. The syrup is extracted from the “honey water” found at core of the plant, filtered, heated and then processed to make it into thicker nectar you see at the store. This makes agave a good sweetener for vegans (who don’t eat honey).

Agave nectar has a dark amber color, but has a more neutral flavor than honey. One tablespoon of the sweetener has about 60 calories compared to about 45 and 60 in the same amount of granulated sugar and honey, respectively. It’s 1 ½ times sweeter than sugar and so you can use less of it. Agave easily dissolves in cold liquids like smoothies and iced tea and can be used to replace granulated sugar in baked products (see instructions below). Many food manufacturers also use agave nectar in products like energy drinks and bars because of its light flavor and over-hyped nutritional benefits.

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