New Superfoods for 2017

Is it just us or is kale getting a little…stale? Not that we want to give it up entirely, but we do want to mix it up from time to time. Well, luckily it looks like the new year is going to bring some popular new superfoods with it, and we can’t wait to “get our health on” with these three tasty treats.

 

 

Chaga Mushrooms

 

This mushroom, that typically grows on North American birch trees, has been dubbed the “King of Medicinal Mushrooms.” It’s hard to disagree-chaga mushrooms have a unique flavor (well-suited to mix with black or herbal teas), and a ton of health benefits, including hypertension relief an immune system boost. Pre-packaged teas are still rather expensive, but you can find dried chaga mushrooms cheaper in bulk.

 

 

Nut Oils

 

By now, you’re probably well aware of the various kinds of nut butter, but cold-pressed nut oils are set to become a new superfood trend. Depending on the oil you choose, the nutrients may vary slightly, but nearly all provide much needed Omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamin E, and they’re unsaturated fats, to boot. The varieties seem endless: cashews, almonds, hazlenuts–they all produce flavorful oils that work great in salad dressings, drizzled on roasted vegetables, and countless other ways.

 

 

Watermelon Seeds

 

Forget the childhood myths you might have heard about watermelon seeds being bad for you; the opposite is true. Although seedless watermelons are easier to eat, it turns out that the white and black seeds provide an excellent source of amino acids, healthy fats, and minerals like magnesium, zinc, and iron. Look for these seeds in health-food bars and smoothies, because we’re expecting it to become a popular alternative to the now-ubiquitous chia seed.

 

 

 

Nutrition Experts Reflect On the New Guidelines

US Department of Health and Human Services in tasked with offering nutrition advice and guidelines to millions of Americans. The organization must update these guidelines after every five years. In a recent attempt, a committee of top nutrition experts added eggs, coffee and many others as good foods and removed some.

 

Critics for once have agreed that the committee, which is tasked with advising the government on nutrition, came up with a brutally honest and straightforward finding based on good research. According to the experts, the committee’s shift from focusing on nutrients to focusing on foods is a good move because a good combination of the recommended foods is just enough as the nutrients will sort themselves out. They say that focusing more on nutrients only gives birth to bad eating habits.

 

Another recommendation by the committee that caught the eye of many is that cholesterol is no longer a concern in food overconsumption. The committee says that there is no correlation between dietary cholesterol and the cholesterol levels in the blood. Experts agree that there is no big deal with the cholesterol report. As long people are willing to follow the instructions laid out in the report, they will be taking in less cholesterol.

 

For the first time, the committee put into consideration the effects of diet on the environment, which is much to the delight of environmentalists. The committee encouraged people to eat less red meat and adopt a plant-based diet. Experts applauded the recommendation saying that it is time people started acknowledging the linkage between humanity and nature. People are also advised against taking processed sugar. Sugary products should not comprise more that 10% of a person’s daily intake of calories. Apparently, the recommendations echo what the World Health Organization has been preaching for many years.

 

The research on the link between foods and mental health also emerged in the report, and many nutrition experts are proud of it. According to the report, omega-3 fatty acids found in fish are good source of complementary therapy for depression. The committee also recommended a diet full of vegetables and fruits since it lowers the risks for Alzheimer’s disease. Though the committee didn’t formulate policies on foods and mental health citing less research, experts are happy that it captured it in the report.

 

The Carbs you Need in Your Diet

The Carbs you need in your Life

 

 

Carbohydrates have earned a bad rep in the food world, particularly for individuals that desire to lose weight. Despite the bad reputation, many carbs are actually good for you and beneficial for a healthy lifestyle. As a macronutrient, carbs are important to include in your diet since they supply the energy needed to fuel your day. Both good and bad carbs exist; it is important that you learn the differences and begin adding them to your diet if not already included.

 

 

Carbohydrates break down in the body, turning into glucose. Glucose is used to fuel cells found throughout the body. Sugar, starch, and fiber are the three sources of carbs that you can consume.

 

 

Sugar: Sugar is found naturally in many foods that you likely consume. Sometimes it is added to foods, such as found in colas or chocolate bars.

 

 

Starch: Starch is found inside of plant-based foods. Starchy foods, such as potatoes and rice, provide controlled-released energy from dusk to dawn.

 

 

Fiber: Fiber is important to keep the digestive tract functioning properly. It may also provide benefits of reducing cholesterol levels. Whole-wheat pasta and bread are two fiber food sources.

 

 

Best Carbs to Consume

 

 

It is recommended that about one-third of your diet consist of carbohydrate-based foods, earning from 250 to 990 calories. Not all carbs are good, however, so it is important to choose the carbs that you’ll consume wisely. Choose nutritious food sources to fuel your carbohydrate daily needs. Eating beans, legumes, and fiber-based foods ensure that your body is getting the essential nutrients that it needs.

 

 

To ensure that you get the proper amount of carbohydrates needed for your body, add some of the following foods to your diet:

 

 

– Popcorn

 

 

– Milk

 

 

– Legumes

 

 

– Sweet Potatoes

 

 

– Fruit

 

 

– Whole-Grain Pasta

 

 

 

Eating Spicy Peppers Can Increase Longevity

New analysis in the medical journal, PLOS One, has strengthened the conclusions of a Chinese study completed in 2015 on the consumption of spicy foods with regards to longevity. The new report was done in the United States and used data from over 16,179 adult age American citizens that were part of a larger healthy study. Over the course of 23 years, the researchers recorded 4,946 deaths of the 16,179 participants that they tracked.

 

Controlled factors in the study included major health determinants such as the age of an individual, their gender, whether they smoked or not, their blood pressure levels, their cholesterol level and whether they had any chronic diseases such as diabetes among other key factors. After taking these controlled factors into account, the medical researchers at PLOS One found that participants who consumed spicy foods such as hot peppers had an overall reduced early mortality rate of up to 13%. This translates into a significantly increased lifespan among those who consumed spicy peppers such as chilies and habeneros as well as other spicy foods.

 

No questions were posed to the participants of the survey on the amount of hot peppers or spicy foods that they consumed. Furthermore, since the study was observational, no concrete link can be made to confirm that the spicy peppers and foods were the exact reason for the reduced early death rate among spicy food consumers. Given this technicality aside, you can make a pretty safe bet that eating hot peppers and other spices may increase your lifespan even though no hard link can be proven in the PLOS One study. It is an encouraging sign though.

 

Despite not being able to prove that the peppers were responsible for the increased lifespan, the researchers did prove another benefit on the consumption of hot peppers. Capsaicin, which is the substance that givers peppers their hot taste, has been found to have strong anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties. This can help explain why the consumers of spicy peppers lived longer than their non pepper eating counterparts. Capsaicin kills germs and thus makes it less likely that people will fall ill to diseases such as the flu or cold during the winter. It also has anti-inflammatory properties that can relieve pain and help promote a more active lifestyle.

 

Are Vegetables Grown In Water Less Healthy To Consume?

There has been debate on whether vegetables that are grown hydroponically or in water are as nutritious as those that are grown in the ground. The fact is that plants grown in water can be equally nutritious or in some cases just as nutritious as their soil grown counterparts. Here are some key things to keep in mind.

 

Plants make their own vitamins. This means that a lettuce plant grown hydroponically will have the same vitamin content as a lettuce plant that is planted in the ground. Where a plant is grown won’t have any real impact on the content of its vitamins.

 

Minerals are a different story however. Plants absorb minerals from the soil via their roots. So how does a plant grown in water obtain minerals? The answer to that question is quite simple. Mineral solutions are added to the water that the plants are grown in. The plants then absorb the minerals from the mineral solution and thus have the same if not more minerals than vegetables grown in the traditional way.

 

Allen V. Barker of the Stockbridge School of Agriculture at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst says that nutritionally superior crops can be made with hydroponic farming. He states that any mineral can be added to the water, such as calcium, zinc, magnesium or iron. Simply by adding more minerals to the water solution where the plant is growing will result in higher mineral concentrations in the plant. So one should not fear that hydroponically grown plants will contain far fewer nutrients or not be as nutritious as the vegetables that are grown on farm fields.

 

In the case of aeroponically grown vegetables, that is, plants grown without water and soil, minerals are simply misted onto the roots which are suspended in air. In both hydroponically grown vegetables and aeroponically grown vegetables you will not see any major differences in nutritional or vitamin content that will impact your health say health and nutrition experts. The key to being healthy is eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. How they are grown are just a tiny part of the equation in the nutrition you get from them. It important to remember that storage, freshness, cooking method and the variety of the plant also determine the nutritional content. Hydroponic, aeroponic, or ground grown, load up on vegetables. That is the key to good health.

Here Are the Fats That You Should Be Cooking With

Even the food pyramid, which has now been retired, had fats in the mix. At the top of the pyramid was a small triangle where fats lived. In other words, have foods that are fatty in nature in moderation. This included butter, oils of various kinds, nuts and other fatty foods.

 

But today, health experts and doctors feel differently about fats in foods. Instead of being a small triangle at the top of the pyramid, fats have become a staple of a healthy diet.

 

One of the healthiest diets on the planet is the Mediterranean diet, and we all know that fats are no stranger to this way of eating. In places like Spain, southern France, Italy and Greece, olive oil is an essential food and is included in almost all meals and snacks. It’s drizzled on meats, breads, tomatoes, cheeses and basically everything else.

 

In the United States and other parts of the Western World, however, fats have been demonized, and it’s time for this to change. Moreover, the fats that were pushed were those that contained omega-6 fatty acids. These include fats like vegetable and canola oil. Omega-6 fatty acids are inflammatory to the body and may cause serious illnesses.

 

Instead of trying to avoid cooking with fats altogether, however, new research suggests that people try to cook with the right fats. The right fats include animal stable fats like lard and butter. Plant-based fats include those like coconut oil and olive oil. These can help the heart and brain function better because they have essential omega-3 fatty acids in them.

 

The next time you need to sauté or fry something for your meal, don’t worry. This can still be a healthy element of your diet. The only key is to make sure that you’re using the right fats.

Improve the Nutrition and Taste of All Your Meals With Just One Thing

If you’re looking for ways to make your meals and snacks healthier and tastier, there’s just one thing that you need to aim for. It’s not more honey or oregano. It’s not a better side of beef or the perfect potatoes.

 

The one thing that you need to help your meals at home is better planning. Actually, you don’t even need a lot of this key ingredient. In other words, just a little extra planning each week can make all of your meals better for you and better tasting. How difficult is a little more planning?

 

If you’re looking for specifics, here are some recommendations.

 

  1. Beefing up Breakfast

 

Junk food for breakfast is not a good choice. Don’t go for donuts. Don’t go for bagels. Instead, try out some ready made fruit. The great thing about oranges and bananas is that they come with protective covers, and they don’t need to be washed or sliced. Berries, apples and grapefruits are also great breakfasts.

 

  1. Launching Into Lunch

 

Lunch doesn’t have to be complicated to be tasty. If you brown bag it, try looking for snack pack style portions that are as easy as grab and go. Yogurts, small bags of carrots or apples or little tins of anchovies make great choices.

 

  1. Dining Like Royalty at Dinner

 

Finally, dinner can be a breeze when you take advantage of your time off and prep your meals in advance. In other words, use your weekends to prepare food ahead of time. If you make a few lasagnas instead of just one, you can freeze the rest. The same goes for soups and stews.

 

Planning is something that everyone wants to get better at. The good news is that it’s not as hard as you think! Try it out for yourself.

 

Staying Slim This Winter Season With Healthy Tips

Staying slim during the winter can be difficult. Your natural inclination is likely to burrow under your covers with some chocolates and a cup of coffee. But if you want that beach bod this summer, you’ve got to put in the work now. Here are some tips for staying slim in the winter season.

 

  1. Have your meals and snacks prepared.

 

First, make sure that you’re prepping for all eating occasions. This definitely includes prepping your meals at home, but it also means preparing snacks and meals for when you’re on the go. Road trips can be frightening when it comes to trying to find healthy foods. Prep your snacks beforehand to stay healthy on the go.

 

  1. Make a point to be active.

 

It’s not our natural inclination to be active in the winter. It’s cold out there! But if you make a point to find physical activities to do, you’ll thank yourself.

 

  1. Enjoy cooking at home.

 

Going out to breakfast, dinner or lunch at restaurants is like asking for a plate full of carbs. Instead, try cooking at home more. You’ll save money, and you’ll save yourself some calories.

 

  1. Don’t give in to cravings all the way.

 

You’ve got a craving for pizza, so what do you do? In general, you’ll get out the old phone book and look up your local pizza joint. But instead of doing this, take a healthier path by making your own pizza at home. It’s tasty, and it’s better for you. Do this with all of your cravings for a healthier diet overall.

 

  1. Eat before you go to parties.

 

Finally, if you’re going out to a friend’s house for snacks or drinks and appetizers, arrive at the party mostly full on healthy food that you had at home. It’s a great way to save yourself from giving in at the party.

 

Tips for Changing Your Eating Habits

The new year offers new possibilities in terms of weight loss and healthy living. Unfortunately, new year resolutions can become forgotten promises when the realization hits home that dieting is an often difficult and grueling process. Healthy living and eating can be easier than you think when the proper techniques are implemented into your daily life. You don’t have to cut out whole food groups or live off of kale and almonds in order to lose weight and live a healthy lifestyle. Simply making healthy swaps for your favorite junk food and maintaining portion control will help you achieve your resolution milestones.

 

One of the most important principles of healthy eating is maintaining portion control. Nowadays, portions are too big and it is often difficult to discern a normal portion from an oversized one. Reading package labels might surprise you to know that a portion size of your favorite cookies isn’t the whole package, but instead just two or three individual pieces. Cutting portions requires determination and self-discipline because it can often be difficult to change your lifelong habits into healthier ones (source). Keep in mind that big changes don’t happen overnight, but are instead a process of small changes that gradually grows over time.

 

Along with portion control, making better food choices is a quintessential step to becoming a healthier person and implementing these important changes. If you love soda pop and can’t seem to live without it, try swapping it out for sparkling water with added flavor. If you love your chocolate, stay away from the fatty milk variety and go with pure dark chocolate that is full of flavonoids and antioxidants. Get in the habit of snacking on fruits and veggies when feeling peckish instead of reaching for the bag of chips and dip. These healthy changes will build up over time and become your new way of living.

 

Treat Yourself To Some Chocolate And A Few Added Health Bonuses

The holidays are approaching, and I’m sure you’ve been a good boy or girl, so go ahead and treat yourself to some chocolate, without the guilt. That’s right, you don’t have to feel bad about treating yourself to a little chocolate this year, as long as it’s in moderation and the right kind of chocolate, you’ll actually be getting some health benefits too.

Chocolate may not be ideal for weight loss, but it can certainly improve some other aspects of your health. Treating yourself to a small amount of chocolate on a regular basis is a health message almost everyone can get behind, but keep in mind, not all chocolate is created equal. Dark chocolate and even cocoa powder pack the most when it comes to health benefits, and with the holidays, it’s not going to be a problem for most of us to splurge on a hot mug of cocoa or a sweet treat at a holiday party.

What are the benefits of chocolate you ask? There are a few. a 2011 study done in Sweden, home of some of the worlds finest chocolate to boot, found that women who consumed more than 45 grams of chocolate per week were at a 20 percent lower risk of suffering a stroke to women who had 9 grams or fewer per week. The logic is simple, those who treat themselves to a regular dose of chocolate gain a variety of health benefits including lower blood pressure, lower “bad” LDL Cholesterol, and a lessened risk of suffering heart disease. Dark chocolate is the best for these benefits, it has inflammation-fighting properties which can reduce cardiovascular risks overall.

Dark chocolate is loaded with fiber which actually helps fill you up and results in eating less. Those who snack on a bite of dark chocolate regularly are probably doing themselves a favor by simply indulging on a bit of chocolate rather than reaching for 11 different things that don’t fill them up. The University of Copenhagen even found that snacking on a bite of chocolate reduced cravings for sweet, salty, and fatty foods.

Got a cough? Skip the sugary lozenges and reach for chocolate instead. It contains theobromine which seems to calm the activity of the vagus nerve which is the part of the brain that actually triggers coughing fits.

One of the best benefits of chocolate, and one of the most obvious for those who snack on it regularly, is the fact that chocolate boosts your mood. Indulging your sweet tooth makes you happy, as does taking a moment to simply sit back and enjoy something in life. Those who regularly snack on chocolate often report feeling calmer and less stressed.

Sure, it’s still a sweet treat and should be eaten in moderation like anything else, but isn’t it great to know that a sweet treat that is so popular with so many people has so many wonderful benefits? For a more in-depth and scientific look at what’s in chocolate and how it can boost your health overall, head to this Huffington Post article.