How Sugary Drinks and Artificial Sweeteners Can Affect Your Health

Everyone has heard the saying you are what you eat, but how about you are what you drink? Yes, the liquids you consume have a direct effect on your health and energy levels. Here are some things to consider next time you get thirsty.


Sugary Drinks


One can of soda or an eight-ounce glass of flavored fruit juice contains over ten teaspoons of sugar. This amount may not sound like a lot, but the American Heart Association recommends no more than nine teaspoons daily. The average person drinks two glasses per day. When you do the math that equals over 20 teaspoons of sugar per day.


Over time high sugar consumption can lead to many health problems, with the most common being diabetes. Researchers have discovered people with diabetes are more likely to suffer from poor memory, slow reaction times, and irregularities in white matter.


Artificial Sweeteners


Recent research has linked artificial sweeteners found in diet sodas to increased stroke risk. Studies find people who drink up to six beverages weekly are fifty percent more likely to experience a stroke. Researchers are still working on pinpointing the exact correlation between the two.


The Options


Instead of sodas or overly sweetened beverages, there are several other options to choose from which won’t adversely hurt your health. The first and most obvious recommendation is water. It contains no sugar or artificial sweeteners and is the healthiest beverage to reach for when you are thirsty.


However, if you are craving something sugary, consider natural sweeteners such as stevia or monk fruit. These natural additives reduce cravings while helping you avoid issues such as fluctuating blood sugar and brain fog.


Teas offer your taste buds reprieve, and many brands contain fruit essences such as pomegranate and acai that provide you with just enough hint of sugar to satisfy that sweet tooth.


You don’t have to give up sugar or artificial sweeteners entirely, just limit the amount you drink. Add more water, green tea, or stevia to your diet for variety. These simple changes will leave you feeling more energized and in better health.




Spring Party Dishes

You can offer healthy dishes at your spring dinner parties without sacrificing the fresh taste and brilliant colors of the ingredients that you want to use. A nice pasta salad with cherry tomatoes, peas and copped asparagus is a good way to kick off any spring party. Top the salad with a bit of honey and lemon juice for a sweet and sour flavor that brings out the taste of the tomatoes. Spring pizzas are an idea if you want to get your kids in on eating healthy. Use pizza dough that you buy at the store, topping it with a bit of mozzarella cheese, ramps and scallions.


Spinach salad doesn’t have to be dull and flavorless. Add some crisp bacon for texture along with slices of boiled eggs and mushrooms that have been lightly browned. This is a crunchy salad that has the protein that the body needs along with the fiber and folic acid of the greens. No spring party is complete with a dessert. Currant scones are the ideal sweet treat and can also be enjoyed for breakfast the day after the party.


When you’re grilling on a warm spring evening, consider putting a few pieces of asparagus on the grill as well. Sprinkle a small amount of salt, pepper and Parmesan cheese on top of the asparagus before you put it on a grill gently covered with olive oil. Asparagus can also be used in a delicious casserole. All you need is pastry dough and a few herbs that you enjoy using with the asparagus. Bake the casserole until the dough is lightly browned on top. If you have a pasta dish at your spring party, consider making a dressing with lemon juice. You can use almost any other ingredient with the lemon as it will bring out the subtle flavors of the pasta and the other ingredients that you use. Seafood is also a good item to add to pasta dishes as it’s healthy for the body with high amounts of protein and omega-3 fatty acids.


The Snacks That Are Good To Eat Before Going To Bed

A New York Times subscriber asked the newspaper which snacks are the best to consume before going to bed. The reader specifically asked which snacks would be best to eat an hour or two before going to sleep. Roni Caryn Rabin of the New York Times took this question and did some research by asking experts and looking at surveys. Here is what he found and reported in the New York Times.


A spokeswoman at the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, suggests that bedtime snacks be light. She says that you should try to limit the calorie content of snacks to around 100-200 calories or 300 at most. Isabel Maples of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics also recommends that these light night snacks be foods that are nutrient dense and that you may lack in your diet otherwise. This should be foods like fresh or dried fruits and veggies with some dip. Another option is some nuts or trail mix or some whole grain crackers or snacks.


While such snacks described above may be considered healthy, it is important to realize that many surveys have linked constant snacking to weight gain. If your weight is healthy and you exercise, then the effects of snacking should be minimal. If you are struggling with your weight or want to lose weight, then you should try to eliminate or limit snacking as much as you can. One survey found that people can get up to a quarter of our total calories from snacks.


Other good snacks recommended by the experts that Roni Caryn Rabin interviewed include cottage cheese, plain yogurt, oatmeal and a glass of milk. Good fruits to snack on include bananas and apples. Mixing in fresh fruits into yogurt or oatmeal is a good and healthy idea as a snack. A whole grain cereal is another healthy snack choice. Raw veggies with a dip are another snack idea. You can also try whole grain crackers or pita chips with cheese.


You should aim to have a snack that has both a good source of carbohydrates and a significant amount of protein. Both carbs and proteins will make you feel full and provide you with that energy and nutrients to satisfy hunger. A light popcorn snack may also fit your bill says Laura Smith of Weight Watchers.

Sweet Potato Treats

The common sweet potato and its uses in cooking have evolved a long way from Grandma’s candied yams with marshmallows on top. While there’s nothing wrong with that recipe if it is something you enjoy, there is a whole new world of sweet potato dishes out there, as well as some fantastic new uses.


Filled with fiber, the sweet potato has been hailed as one of the best vegetable foods to incorporate into your diet as much as possible. It is low in refined starches and sugars, while being high in carotene and other flavinoid antioxidants. It also has a magic ability to float back and forth as an ingredient in both sweet and savory dishes. The sweet potato can be a part of a hearty meal as often as it can make its way into desserts.


One great, simple use for this awesome tuber is mashed sweet potatoes. They go great with pork and chicken, or can be an awesome lunch all by themselves. Simply bake your sweet potatoes in a 350 degree oven until they are soft and smell nice and caramelized. The peel usually comes of quite easily at this point, but you can also put your baked sweet potatoes in a paper bag and shake them up. This will help remove some of the peel if it is still too hot for your fingers.


Then mash the peeled potatoes in a bowl, mixing in any combination of the following ingredients to your taste: butter, brown sugar, molasses, honey, maple syrup, cumin, paprika, cayenne pepper, black pepper, and a dash of salt. You can use all of them, or only a few, and make sure to taste as you mash so you know where you are in flavor. Top it off with a dollop of Greek yogurt.


Another neat idea is to replace the bread in your bruschetta type dishes with sweet potato. They show six cool applications of this idea in the linked article, but the possibilities are probably endless for both savory and sweet appetizers, with just a bit more excitement and fiber than using plain white bread.


The sweet potato is a humble vegetable, but with a little creativity, you can make this healthy ingredient really sing in your dishes.


Tips for Cutting Out the Junk and Eating Healthy

The majority of Americans are either overweight or obese, which makes us one of the top countries in the world with a weight problem. Being overweight means more than just not liking the way that you look. It plays a huge role in how you feel and your overall health. When you’re young and big, it might not necessarily be as bad, but it’ll start to take a toll on your health the older you get. One of the main culprits to our growing weight problem is the amount of junk food we eat on a daily basis.


Junk foods and fast foods are processed using a variety of chemicals that almost attract fat to our body. These high-caloric foods are riddled with fat, cholesterol and oils that do nothing to slim down our waistline. In order to get rid of the weight problems, you need to take a look at your diet and make appropriate changes. There’s an old motto that says you can’t out-exercise a bad diet. No matter how much time you spend in the gym, your diet is what will ultimately be the deciding factor in what you weigh.


To make healthier food options, you need to stop buying junk food. It can be easy in the supermarket to say that you’ll buy your favorite cookies and only eat one or two at a time, but it’s a whole different story when you’re craving those cookies at home and want to eat the whole box. Get your family involved with your healthy eating so that everyone is able to enjoy a healthier lifestyle together. For instance, don’t bake yourself chicken for dinner while everyone else gets fried wings. Making healthy choices is a step-by-step learning process. You can’t go from being a junk food addict one day to a health junkie the next and expect it to stick. Make better choices when eating out and cooking at home. It could be as simple as eating a salad for lunch as opposed to a sandwich or having a protein bar instead of a candy bar for an extra boost of energy.


The Top Pieces of Information That Your Physician Wants You to Understand

It can be difficult to see your doctor on a regular basis. Not only are you a busy person with lots to do, but you also probably want to avoid seeing your doctor because it can be annoying for them to chastise you once again on your bad habits. This is pretty common.


It can also be scary to go to the doctor. That’s common as well. If you have worries about your health, it can feel better to simply ignore them and not get them checked out at all. Of course, this is not a good idea. You should always get something checked out that you’re worried about when it comes to your health.


With that being said, it’s totally understandable that people don’t want to go to the doctor. Fortunately, some new information that might change your mind. The following is a list of the top things that your physician wants you to understand about their line of work and about taking care of your health in general.


  1. It’s hard being a doctor.


Being a doctor is difficult for so many reasons, but one of the most difficult reasons is that it’s hard to talk to patients who are scared, nervous, angry and frustrated. Cut them some slack.


  1. They only want what’s best for you.


When they tell you to stop smoking or cut back on your drinking, they’re only doing it to help you. They only want what’s best for you and your health, so it will pay to listen to them!


  1. It’s difficult to keep up with new medical information.


Not only is it difficult to be a doctor, but it can be difficult to keep up with all of the new incoming information that doctors are supposed to know as well. That’s why you shouldn’t be upset if your doctor looks at you funny when you ask them whether or not you have a little-known, brand new disease. They’ve probably never heard of it before, and you shouldn’t fault them for that. Just remember that they will look it up when you leave and always follow up with you.


The Truth Behind Why Olive Oil Is So Good for You

There’s one ingredient that everyone should have in their kitchen, and that’s olive oil. Preferably, you should have extra virgin olive oil, which means that it’s more concentrated and pure. But why exactly is olive oil so good to have as a staple in your kitchen?


The benefits of extra virgin olive oil


A recent study from Spain shows that olive oil is good for your body because it maintains healthy blood flow, and it can also clear debris from your arteries. This is important for multiple reasons. First, strokes and heart attacks are both caused by a lack of blood flow and clogged arteries. When blood can’t flow to important parts of your body like your brain and your heart, this is when terrible health complications occur.


But there are other reasons why extra virgin olive oil and olive oil in general is so healthy. When you eat a diet that’s rich in extra virgin olive oil, you also get better cholesterol. You may think that all cholesterol is bad, but it’s really not. There are both good and bad types of cholesterol, and olive oil promotes the good type. This type of cholesterol is known as HDL or high density lipoprotein cholesterol. Eating lots of extra virgin olive oil in your diet means that you’ll have higher HDL cholesterol and lower LDL cholesterol, which is well known as the bad type of cholesterol.


Furthermore, extra virgin olive oil has numerous antioxidants. Antioxidants help make up the immune systems of plants and fruits like olives. In other words, the antioxidant in plants help those plants stay away from disease, and they can help humans stay away from disease as well.


Consuming more extra virgin olive oil


First, if you want to consume more extra virgin olive oil, stop cooking with butter and margarine altogether. Unless you are baking, replace almost all of your butter and margarine with extra virgin olive oil. Next, switch from cream-based salad dressings to vinaigrette-based dressings, and always choose olive oil. Doing these things will help your health in numerous ways.


The Top 3 Things You Need to Know About Going Vegetarian

Individuals decide to become vegetarians for numerous reasons. Some people become aware of certain cruelties to animals and decide that they’d rather not eat them. Other people decide to become vegetarians for environmental reasons, and still others do it for specific health reasons.


If you have been considering becoming a vegetarian, this can be a great idea for you, but you need to know a few things before you get started.


Important things to know before becoming a vegetarian


  1. You’ll need to make a special effort to get enough protein to your diet.


First, make sure that you put special effort forth when it comes to including protein in your diet. Vegetarians don’t eat meat or fish, so you’ll need to substitute these foods with others that contain adequate amounts of protein. For example, if your diet allows eggs, these have tons of protein. Nuts and beans can be helpful in this capacity as well.


  1. You’ll need to watch out for foods that contain hidden animal products.


Many products may appear vegetarian-friendly, but they really aren’t. Keep in mind that vegans are different than vegetarians because they don’t eat anything having to do with animal products at all. This means that they won’t eat honey because it comes from bees. They won’t eat eggs or dairy products either. Vegetarians often eat products like honey, eggs and dairy products, but they may not be happy eating foods that actually contain animal byproducts such as chicken stock or gelatin-based candies.


Watch out for foods like these because they often contain hidden animal byproducts. You’ll need to become accustomed to reading food labels all the time.


  1. Get good at exploring recipes.


Finally, try not to eat the same, boring dishes all the time. You may be deterred from vegetarianism if you only eats salads and vegetarian-based soups because that’s simply too boring. The truth is that there are numerous recipes out there that don’t have meat or meat products in them, and they are delicious and easy to make. But you need to seek them out, so start becoming a vegetarian chef now. You’ll be glad you started learning.


The Top Reasons to Eat Dark Chocolate Daily

Who needs another reason to eat dark chocolate? Well, there is one. Here’s the good news: dark chocolate is actually healthy for you in addition to being super tasty!


If you did need one more excuse for eating more of this great food, here are the reasons why you should consider eating dark chocolate every day. This doesn’t sound like such a bad idea, right?


  1. First, dark chocolate has been proven to make you happier because it contains tryptophan. This is a type of amino acid that helps your brain produce more serotonin, and as you may know, serotonin is a neurotransmitter that promotes happiness and feelings of well-being.


  1. Next, dark chocolate has a number of important flavonoids. These are things that your body needs, and we crave them as well. Flavonoids are antioxidants, and they found naturally in cocoa. They can help lower bad cholesterol, lower your blood pressure and help your blood vessels stay healthy.


  1. The third reason why you should start eating dark chocolate on a regular basis is that it’s great for your skin. All of those antioxidants can help repair scarring, acne and sunburns. They can also help protect your skin from the sun so that age spots and wrinkling don’t become a serious problem.


  1. Dark chocolate is also great for your heart and overall cardiovascular system. It contains important antioxidants for lowering blood pressure, and it can also lower your risk of cardiovascular disease by more than half according to some studies. Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in women, so this information is good to know.


  1. Finally, keep in mind that dark chocolate is known to be a stress reliever. Not only does it contain helpful ingredients that can promote increased levels of serotonin, but it has also been shown to lower stress hormones. This may be one of the key reasons why people crave dark chocolate when they get stressed out or depressed.


Are you ready to take on this great habit yet? It’s not a bad one to try, so why shouldn’t you try it right now!


The Top Delicious and Healthy Snacks That You Must Try

Often, snacks that are touted to be healthy are actually not very tasty, but the following list will give you some ideas for healthy snacks that you can try at home, and the good news is that they actually taste good!


Vegetables and dip


You can also substitute hummus for the dip in this snack. It’s fairly basic, and it’s a great thing to have in your refrigerator at all times because it keeps you from turning right to the chips when you want a snack.


Simply chop up some of your favorite vegetables and arrange them on a plate along with some sour cream-based dip. You can get seasoning packets for your dip at your local grocery store. As stated, hummus can be a great replacement for dip too, and it even provides added protein for vegetarians and vegans. Some good ideas for vegetables to chop include carrots, celery, cauliflower, broccoli, sugar snap peas, green onions, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes and bell peppers.


Air popped popcorn


Popcorn can be lethal if it’s covered in butter and salt. Cheesy popcorn isn’t much better. But air popped popcorn with a light amount of salt and maybe even a little bit of Parmesan cheese can be healthy and delicious as a stack on any day.


Apples and peanut butter


Apples and peanut butter are an excellent snack, and they are super quick and easy to make. Simply core an apple, slice it up, and put a little bit of organic peanut butter on each slice for a delicious treat. The best apples to have with peanut butter are slightly sour, so choose Macintosh apples or Granny Smiths. Fujis can also be great with peanut butter.


If you don’t like apples or you want to cut even more calories, you can also try celery and peanut butter. For ants on a log, put a few raisins or dried cherries on top of your peanut butter as well, and that will give some added flavor.


Try all of these snacks to help keep yourself healthy without depriving yourself of tasteful foods.