Eating healthy has become so much easier thanks to the abundance of fruit that tastes almost as sweet as candy. First, people went wild over cotton candy grapes, which taste like the spun sugar. Then, everyone was into the moon drop grapes that have a flavor fairly similar to the classic concord, but are shaped like miniature eggplants. Now, there's another fascinating fruit that recently caught our eye: the kiwi berry. The pint-sized produce, which reminds us of the super cute cucamelon, has been seeing a surge in popularity during its current peak season.
What Are Kiwi Berries?
The kiwi berry, or Actinidia arguta, is a perennial vine that's native to several countries in the northern hemisphere, including Korea and China, according to California Rare Fruit Growers, Inc. If you haven't had the pleasure of sinking your teeth into this delicious fruit, it tastes exactly how you might imagine. They're basically a teeny tiny version of a kiwi, but without the fuzzy exterior. So, instead of taking the time to tediously peel each piece of fruit, which would be pretty difficult given their small size, you can just pop them in your mouth. Similarly, to kiwis, the softer they are, the sweeter they taste, so if you like your fruit on the sugary side, make sure your berries are almost squishy.
Kiwi Berry Nutrition
Like all fruit, not only are these berries tasty, but they're also packed with nutrients. They're rich in vitamin C, high in fiber, and also contain potassium, magnesium, and vitamin E, according to Hurst’s Berry Farm International.
Given that it's prime time for these bites, we've been seeing them pop up on social media recently. Lisa Canepa, who owns Carmel Bella Farm in Carmel Valley, California, actually grows kiwi berries on her farm. She recently showed off a handful of juicy berries that she calls one of her favorite fruits. Natalie Wiser-Orozco, a plant-based blogger who features healthy recipes on her website, The Devil Wears Parsley, writes that she often adds kiwi berries to her salads.
Kiwi Berry Season
The only downside about this bite-sized fruit is its extremely short season. In the United States, they're only sold in September and part of October, and because of their short shelf life, some grocery stores don't carry them at all. (However, they have been spotted at some popular grocers, including Trader Joe's.) Hurst’s Berry Farm International notes they only stay on supermarket shelves for about seven to 14 days, and once purchased, they should be eaten within a week. So, if you see them at your local grocer or farmers market, make sure to snag a package or two and eat immediately.
This article originally appeared on bhg.com
Wakes You Up
Caffeine boosts your energy and mood and makes you more alert. That can sometimes be helpful, especially in the morning or when you're trying to work. Though your body doesn't store it, caffeine can affect you for up to 6 hours after you swallow it. But more is not always better. Too much can push you over the line from alert to jittery and anxious.
Interferes with Sleep
Too much caffeine can make it hard to nod off when you go to bed at night. Even moderate amounts can cause insomnia in some people, especially if you have it too close to bedtime. The effects may be worse as you age. Avoid caffeine in the afternoon and evening if you notice it affects your sleep. And remember, it's not just in tea and coffee. It's also in chocolate, energy drinks, and other prepackaged foods and drinks.
Raises Heart Rate
Caffeine is a stimulant and may cause your heart to beat a little faster as it wakes you up. For most folks that's not a problem. But if you have too much caffeine or you're overly sensitive, your pulse may go up too much or stay high too long. It may even feel like your heart beats in a weird rhythm, sometimes called heart palpitations. Some people say it feels as if their ticker skips a beat.
Causes a HeadacheIf you have caffeine every day, whether in a pill, energy bar, or cup of coffee, you build up tolerance. Then, without your daily dose, you might get a "rebound" headache. It may be worse if you quit caffeine completely and all at once. You'll find your head will feel better if you reduce caffeine a little at a time.
Makes You Pee
Caffeine is a diuretic, which means it can make you pee more. Around 300 milligrams of caffeine -- the amount in three cups of coffee -- is enough to do it if you're not used to it. Water loss is minor and is unlikely to cause dehydration as long as you are otherwise healthy. The diuretic effect can fade if you get the same regular daily dose of caffeine because you build up tolerance.
Boosts Sports PerformanceIf you do "endurance" sports, like running, biking, or swimming, caffeine might help you go faster and with less muscle pain. It seems to work best in a non-liquid form, like a pill, taken about an hour before you exercise so that your body can absorb it completely. Around 200 to 400 milligrams (2 to 4 cups of coffee) should do it. More than that doesn't seem to help further.
Helps You Recover from a Workout
Some studies show that caffeine can help your body recover more quickly after hard exercise by making and restocking a stored form of fuel called glycogen. It seems to do this best if you combine it with carbohydrates, like in certain sports gels, sports bars, and drinks. Just take care not to overdo the caffeine, which could have the opposite effect on recovery or performance if it interferes with your sleep.
Raises Blood Pressure
Though the reason isn't clear, caffeine can spike your blood pressure for a short while and sometimes over the long term as well. It could be that it blocks a hormone that keeps your arteries wide and pressure down. Or it might cause your body to release more adrenaline, a hormone that raises blood pressure. Talk to your doctor about how much caffeine you can have if you have high blood pressure or heart problems.
Protects Against Disease
Caffeine seems to help prevent gallstones and inflammation, among other medical problems. Some studies show that regular caffeine might help keep away certain neurological diseases, like Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, Huntington's, multiple sclerosis, and epilepsy. More research is needed.
Women pass through menopause around age 50, a phase that brings an end to their monthly cycle. Caffeine can worsen the sudden body heat and sweats, known as hot flashes, that often happen at this time of life. The symptoms can go on for 10 years or more. Your doctor may be able to help you with hormone therapy if they get in the way of your everyday routine.
How Much Caffeine Is Too Much?
It depends on your weight, diet, medications, and overall health. Up to about 400 milligrams of caffeine a day is OK for most healthy adults. Over 600 milligrams daily is probably too much. But some people are just more sensitive to it. If you notice stomach problems, headaches, muscle twitches, or heart palpitations, it might be time to cut back. Talk to your doctor about how much is safe if you're pregnant or have heart trouble.
“If cauliflower can somehow become pizza, you can do anything” goes the popular quote on social media. It’s funny because it’s a bit absurd--that a vegetable which, not long ago, could’ve been voted “most likely to be left behind on a veggie tray” has suddenly rocketed to foodie fame, being transformed into everything from pizza crust to Buffalo “wings”. This trend is a good thing, right?
First, a misunderstanding to correct: White veggies have a reputation for being nutritionally wimpy, but that’s actually not the case--especially with cauliflower. It’s a cruciferous veggie related to broccoli, and the compounds that produce a strong odor when cooking it are the same ones that give is potential cancer-fighting properties. The veggie is also a surprisingly good source of vitamin C and contains a couple grams of fiber per cup, plus potassium and folate.
Cauliflower: Your Kitchen Chameleon
Plays Well with Others
Thanks to its mild flavor and easy-to-work-with texture, cauliflower goes great with so many dishes. It can shine front and center or take the place of high-calorie starches. There are just 25 calories and 5 grams of carbs in one cup.
Keep the Crunch
As with all veggies, try not to overcook these guys. The more heat, the less nutrition, flavor, and crunch. Try roasting, steaming, or sautéing. Then again, on occasion, a deep-fried floret dipped in ranch dressing is a great comfort food.
Packs a Vitamin Punch
This cousin to broccoli is bursting with health benefits. It has a lot of vitamin C, which can do everything from lower your cholesterol and improve blood flow to help control your blood sugar. It’s also a good source of vitamin K, which strengthens bones and clots your blood. And it’s both high in fiber and folate, a B vitamin with antioxidants.
Veggies such as cauliflower and kale have glucosinolates, which might prevent cancer. Studies on the sulfur-rich chemicals show they may block cancer cells, repair DNA, boost immunity, and stop inflammation. So those filling florets not only go to war with heart disease, stroke, and diabetes, but cancer, too.
Taste the Rainbow
Cauliflower is usually white, which nicely sets off a stir-fry of red peppers and green snow peas. But there are orange and purple hybrids, as well. The orange heads have a sweeter taste and more beta-carotene, which supports healthy eyes and skin. Purple ones have a nutty taste and some of the same disease-fighting antioxidants as blueberries. There's even a green kind called broccoflower, with a slightly sweeter taste than either cauliflower or broccoli.
There are a number of clever, delicious ways to work cauliflower into everyday meals.
A Stand-In for Mashed Potatoes
Before you reach for that bag of spuds, consider how many calories and carbs are in a side of mashed potatoes. Save upward of 100 calories a cup by switching the tater for cooked, puréed cauliflower. Then go easy on the butter and sour cream. Maybe try seasonings such as Dijon mustard or fresh herbs to add flavor.
Flourless Pizza Crust
If you’re allergic to gluten or simply trying to eat healthier, ditch the flour and shred cauliflower to make your pizza crust. Mix this handy veggie with mozzarella and oregano to bake a Mediterranean-style pizza pie with lemon, olives, and sun-dried tomatoes. You can also go traditional with marinara sauce and pepperoni, since this rock star meshes well with most any topping.
Give It a Roast
Celebrity chefs and foodies alike rave about roasted chunks of cauliflower. They have a meaty texture and nutty, caramelized taste. Stir them into any casserole or serve them as a side to steak with an easy-to-whip-up blue cheese dressing.
Stick and Spear
Strips of beef or chicken usually play the starring role in a satay, but florets can shine on a skewer, too. Pair them with scallops or just broccoli for a vegetable medley. Then drizzle with a marinade. Their firm texture can take the heat of your grill, so try it on kebabs, too.
The surge in popularity is likely driven by low-carb and vegan diets, with people seeking out either grain-free or meat- and animal-product-free versions of their favorites. Cauliflower is a relatively bland veggie, and it’s also versatile--you can chop it into “rice”, grill thick slices as “steaks”, bread and bake it into “nuggets”, pulverize and form it into “breadsticks”, or even whirl frozen florets into a smoothie to add volume (seriously--it’s good!).
As a dietitian, I love trends that mean eating more vegetables, since most people are falling short of the daily recommendations. And if cauliflower can help people manage a special diet, I’m all for it.
But there are a few things to keep in mind. Cauliflower is a cruciferous vegetable and contains a carbohydrate called raffinose that the body can’t entirely digest. For some people, that can cause gas. Plus, the fiber in cauliflower, while good for the body, can also trigger gas and bloating. That’s especially true if you weren’t eating a high-fiber diet and suddenly add in loads of cauliflower. Give your body time to adjust by gradually increasing how much fiber you eat (and drinking plenty of water).
Cauliflower is also a source of vitamin K, which helps with blood clotting. Some people who take blood-thinning medications (like warfarin) are advised to eat a diet low in vitamin K, and the National Institutes of Health cautions that a sudden change in vitamin K intake can lead to bleeding. Cauliflower doesn’t have nearly as much K as veggies like spinach and Brussels sprouts do, so standard servings of cauliflower aren’t likely to pose a problem. But if you start eating lots of it daily and take blood thinners, it’s smart to check in with your doctor just to be safe.
Lastly, a word of caution that just because something is gluten-free or vegan doesn’t automatically make it wholesome, nutritious, or low in calories. There’s no doubt that a bowl of cauliflower “rice” is much lower in calories than the real deal, but that’s not the same for everything. I recently tried a cauliflower crust pizza at a restaurant that was tasty, noticing later that it actually had the same calories and even a bit more fat than the regular crust. And a cauliflower crust feels a little beside the point if it’s loaded down with, say, bacon, sausage, and extra cheese. Oh, and brownies made with cauliflower are, well, still brownies. So go ahead and use cauliflower in all kinds of ways--but use common sense too!
90% of Americans consume more sodium than recommended. Here are some ways to help remove excess sodium from your diet.
Nine out of 10 Americans still consume more sodium than the currently recommended limits, according to a 2016 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Excess sodium consumption was found to be a particular problem among men, 98 percent of whom consumed too much sodium compared with 80 percent of women. Among people at higher risk for heart disease and stroke (including people over age 50 and those with high blood pressure, diabetes, or kidney disease), three out of four consumed more than the recommended limit of 2,300 milligrams (equivalent to one teaspoon) of sodium per day. Most of the sodium Americans consume comes from packaged, processed foods and restaurant meals.
On average, an American adult consumes approximately 3,500 milligrams (mg) of sodium per day, which is equivalent to about 1½ teaspoons of salt. The 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans advises that we consume less than 2,300 mg sodium per day. Individuals with prehypertension or hypertension, the Dietary Guidelines states, would reap even more benefits by reducing their sodium intake to 1,500 mg per day. It can be challenging to reduce sodium to recommended limits, but every step you take toward decreasing your intake can help in lowering blood pressure.
To trim sodium from your diet, you’ll need to do more than hide the salt shaker—only about 11 percent of our sodium intake comes from salt added during cooking or at the table. Packaged foods and restaurant foods account for the bulk of the sodium in our diets—almost 80 percent. While reading nutrition labels can help you scale back on sodium in packaged foods, it’s more difficult to determine amount of salt in restaurant meals. Chain restaurants’ websites typically list sodium amounts in their offerings; it’s worth browsing the Internet for that information.
Restrain Your “Salt Tooth”
Exposure to salt—even at an early age—may influence your preference for salty foods. Infants exposed to foods containing salt prior to six months of age had a greater preference for a salt solution, compared to infants who did not have early exposure to salty foods, according to a 2012 study of 61 infants (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.) This preference for salty taste persisted into preschool, where children in the early salt exposure group as infants were more likely to lick salt from the surface of foods.
Experimental studies from the 1980s show that young children required 6 to 15 taste exposures before accepting a new food or flavor. And recent research shows that adults, too, require repeat exposures to new tastes—in this case, low-sodium versions of familiar foods—before they accept them. Researchers examined the acceptance of low-salt soup among 37 adults (Food Quality and Preference, May 2012.) Participants were given either no-added-salt soup or the same soup with 280 milligrams of sodium per serving. After almost daily exposure for eight days, the no-added-salt group showed increased liking for the soup by the third exposure. In a June 2014 study published in the same journal, researchers studied the acceptance of low-sodium tomato juice among 83 subjects over 16 weeks. Results showed a shift in preference for lower salt in tomato juice after repeat exposure, concluding that salt preference can be altered by exposure alone, even in study subjects who consumed a high-sodium diet.
Since preference for less salty foods may literally be an acquired taste, strategies for lowering salt in your diet should include repeat exposures to low-salt food items. While you’re at it, try these 10 tips for slashing sodium:
Nothing seems more like fall than roasted pumpkin seeds—and, lucky for us, they have a whole host of health benefits. Read on for pumpkin seed nutrition, why pumpkin seeds are so healthy and how to roast the best pumpkin seeds.
Pumpkin seeds are a seasonal favorite we get excited to make every fall. Ring in the season by filling your house with the smells of a snack you can feel good about: roasted pumpkin seeds. There are some pretty impressive health benefits of pumpkin seeds, giving you all the more reason for making pumpkin seeds this year. Not to mention, you could win fall by making the best pumpkin seed recipe: Pumpkin Seeds with Everything Bagel Seasoning.
Pumpkin Seed NutritionPumpkin seeds are packed with healthy nutrients, like fiber and protein, and also contain impressive amounts of the micronutrients magnesium and zinc. The pumpkin seeds' protein and fiber content is considered high for a snack and is a combination that can help keep you feeling full. One serving (1 ounce, about 85 seeds) of roasted pumpkin seeds boasts:
Pumpkin Seed BenefitsHere are all the ways pumpkin seeds help to boost our health.
They have helpful antioxidants
Due to their healthy fat content, pumpkin seeds are chock-full of fat-loving antioxidants, like tocopherols and phenols. These specific antioxidants protect the body against oxidative damage, which helps to decrease the risk of chronic diseases like obesity, heart disease and cancer. Not only do pumpkin seeds contain antioxidants, but also they also may help inhibit inflammation. Though the mechanisms of this aren't fully understood yet, it could provide an explanation for the array of health benefits from pumpkin seeds.
They may help protect against cancer
People, listen to this: several studies have linked pumpkin seeds to reduced risk of breast cancer and prostate cancer.
Ladies first: a study published in Nutrition and Cancer found that postmenopausal women had a reduced their risk for breast cancer associated with higher consumption of dietary lignans, an antioxidant found in pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and soybeans. Another lab study specifically studied pumpkin seed extract on breast cancer cells and found that the expression of breast cancer was reduced and tumor growth was slowed as a result. Happy Halloween, indeed.
Gents, you get to join in on the fun as well. The International Journal of Oncology published exciting findings on a natural supplement called ProstaCaid. This supplement was shown to suppress growth and reduce the size of prostate tumors, and contains pumpkin seed extract along with a host of other natural extracts. Pumpkin seed oil was also found to be a successful alternative or complementary treatment for benign prostatic hyperplasia, the medical term for uncomfortable and frequent urination, which is common for men as they age.
They can boost your heart health
One serving of pumpkin seeds provides about 20% of your recommended daily magnesium needs, making it a great source of magnesium. The American Heart Journal published a study showing that people with the highest blood magnesium levels had the lowest risk of death from cardiac disease. Additionally, UK researchers reviewed several studies that found magnesium supplementation was successful in helping reduce blood pressure. Aside from magnesium alone, women who supplemented with pumpkin seed oil had significantly increased high-density lipoprotein (HDL) levels. HDLs are the "good" cholesterol that helps keep your arteries clear and free from plaque buildup.
They might help you lose weight
There is good news surrounding pumpkin seeds for weight loss. Research has shown promising benefits on how the small seed may help you achieve a healthy weight. Pumpkin seeds are packed with fiber. Regular consumption of at least 25 grams of fiber a day has been shown to reduce your risk for obesity, and one serving of pumpkin seeds get you 20% of the way there. Pumpkin seeds can also help reduce and stabilize your blood glucose. Flax and pumpkin seeds were shown to reduce blood glucose in rats with diabetes down to a normal range. This has implications for weight loss, but also could be beneficial for people with diabetes or prediabetes.
How to Cook Pumpkin Seeds
If you don't already know how to roast pumpkin seeds, making them is simple and easy. You scoop the seeds out of the pumpkin, clean them off, toss them with oil and seasonings (like salt, everything bagel seasoning or chili powder) and spread them on a baking sheet to roast. Our foolproof Roasted Pumpkin Seeds recipe follows this simple process. The end result is a crispy, crunchy delicious snack. Another method for cooking pumpkin seeds to achieve a similar crunchy texture is to sauté them on the stovetop.
Tasty Flavor Combos to Try:
Everything Bagel Pumpkin Seeds
Garlic-Parm Pumpkin Seeds
Salt & Vinegar Pumpkin Seeds
Ranch Pumpkin Seeds
Cinnamon-Sugar Pumpkin Seeds
Spicy Chile-Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
Bottom LineFall's favorite seed holds a host of benefits-from providing fiber and antioxidants to potentially protecting against cancer and heart disease. There are several ways to enjoy them to reap the benefits. You can skip fancy extracts or supplements and just enjoy your roasted or raw pumpkin seeds as is.
Say cheese! Here are our favorite cheeses that are healthier than you may think.
From Gruyère to Gouda, we know a thing or two about cheese—probably because we love a good cheese board and hardly ever pass up on delicious, cheesy pizza. But because cheese is often high in saturated fat, sodium and calories, you're probably wondering if cheese is healthy.
Like with any food, eating too much isn't great, but cheese can absolutely fit into a healthy diet and has some health benefits as well. Not only is it a good source of calcium (the cow's milk variety), but the fermentation process used to make some cheeses can be beneficial for your gut health. But with all of the different cheeses on the market, it can still be heard to pick your favorite. Here is a list of the 6 healthy cheeses that will leave you feeling better about your cheesy indulgences.
ParmesanAlthough high in sodium, Parmesan's pungent flavor means a little goes a long way. Not to mention, a 1-ounce serving has 10 grams of protein and over 25 percent of your daily calcium intake.
Nutrition for a 1-ounce serving of Parmesan cheese:
Fresh MozzarellaFrom fresh caprese salads to margherita pizza, it has so many good uses that it would be a crime to pass up on this fresh cheese. Thankfully, it's pretty healthy. With 85 calories in a 1-ounce serving, this cheese is relatively low in calories and is perfect in pretty much any Italian dish.
Nutrition for a 1-ounce serving of mozzarella cheese:
Cottage CheeseWith a whopping 24 grams of protein in one cup, cottage cheese is perfect to pair with some fruit for a filling afternoon snack. Be mindful of the sodium count and opt for a brand that doesn't add any sugar, and happy snacking!
Nutrition for a ½-cup serving of 2% cottage cheese:
Ricotta CheeseWe're a sucker for spreadable cheese, and the mild yet slightly sweet taste of ricotta cheese makes it perfect for spreading on toast and pairing with jam. Ricotta also works well in savory dishes. It has over 10% of your daily recommended Vitamin A IU and 9 grams of protein.
Nutrition for a ½-cup serving of whole milk ricotta cheese:
Swiss CheeseIf you're watching your sodium intake, this is the cheese for you. With only 53 mg of sodium per ounce, this cheese has a significant less amount than most other cheeses. Not to mention, the firm cheese is perfect for your turkey sandwich, mixed into a casserole or on a charcuterie board for an added depth of nutty flavor.
Nutrition for a 1-ounce serving of Swiss cheese:
Goat CheeseSince this decadent cheese isn't made from cow's milk, you may be able to enjoy it if you are lactose intolerant without worrying about unwelcomed tummy troubles. And your local grocery store may even have it in a variety of fun flavors—think herbs & garlic or maybe even a sweet treat like cranberry goat cheese. Enjoy it crumbled over salads, dipped on crackers or even spread on your sandwich.
Nutrition for a 1-ounce serving of goat cheese:
You're making healthier meals, watching your portions and trying to move more. So why aren't you losing weight? You may be making one of these sneaky, subtle diet mistakes. Here's how to stop tripping yourself up when it comes to weight loss.
Weight-Loss Mistake #1: Guzzling your calories
And we're not just talking about alcohol (although booze is a notorious calorie bomb). The market for juice and smoothie bars globally is forecast to reach $11 billion in 2016, and those healthy-seeming beverages-yes, even green juice!-can pack on pounds, says Ellie Krieger, R.D., author of Small Changes, Big Results "Not only do they contain lots of calories, but they leave you hungry and prone to overeating," she adds. Slurping doesn't seem to set off the same chemical reaction that contributes to satiety that chewing does.
Weight-Loss Mistake #2: Equating "healthy" with "low-cal."
"Foods with health halos are the number-one blind spot for savvy dieters. You can still gain weight eating too much wild salmon and quinoa," warns Dawn Jackson Blatner, R.D.N., author of the forthcoming Superfood Swap Diet. "Yes, it's important to pay attention to the quality of your food, but when it comes to weight loss, quantity is the bottom line." Too much of a good thing is still too much.
Weight-Loss Mistake #3: Eating meal-size snacks
Research shows that between-meal bites account for a quarter of the calories we take in each day-adding about 580 calories to our diets. Rachel Beller, M.S., R.D.N., author of Eat to Lose, Eat to Win, recommends keeping snacks between 150 and 175 calories, going for something with satiating protein, like edamame, and portioning your snack rather than eating straight from the fridge or package.
Weight-Loss Mistake #4: Grocery shopping without a list
People who wing it tend to have poorer-quality diets and weigh more than those who always bring a list, according to a study published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior" Shopping with one makes it less likely you'll buy unhealthy snacks," explains Blatner. And that old wisdom about never shopping when you're hungry? Also, true. Wansink's lab found that hungry shoppers bought 31 percent more high-calorie snacks.
Weight-Loss Mistake #5: Getting too little sleep
Inadequate sleep can be a major diet saboteur, warns Chris Hardy, D.O., co-author of Strong Medicine: How to Conquer Chronic Disease and Achieve Your Full Genetic Potential During shut-eye, your body releases growth hormone-a major player in fat burning. "In addition, sleep loss stimulates the drive to eat, especially sugary, fatty foods," he says. Research at the University of Colorado found that participants who lost just a few hours of sleep over five nights put on an average of two pounds. Aim for about 7 hours a night.
Weight-Loss Mistake #6: Eating on the fly
Instead, make eating a mini ritual, suggests Krieger. "Put out a placemat and silverware and sit at the table. Pause before you begin and appreciate the sight and smell of the food," she says. "It only has to take 5 or 10 minutes, but you'll eat less because it prevents you from mindless nibbling and makes you feel more satisfied afterward."
Here is the latest crop of misleading claims on food labels. There seems to be an endless supply. And many of the claims are written in code words that let companies make foods sound healthier than they are. Here’s a cheat sheet:
■ Flavored. “Flavor” or “naturally ‑ flavored” next to, say, the word “apple” is often code for “contains little or no apple.” It means you’re getting apple flavor instead of apple.
■ Made With. “Made with real fruit” or “made with whole grains” is usually code for “made with some” or, too often, “made with very little” real fruit or whole grains
■ Support, enhance, maintain. Claims like “supports brain health” or “maintains immunity” are code for “we’re betting that the Food and Drug Administration won’t ask us to cough up much evidence for this claim.” They’re called structure-function claims (as opposed to disease claims like “treats Alzheimer’s,” which do need evidence).
■ Antioxidants. That’s usually code for “this food has added vitamins C and E to make it sound healthy.” Most studies that have given people high doses of those vitamins—for example, to reduce the risk of cancer or heart disease—have come up empty.
■ No nitrates or nitrites added. The small print says something like “except those naturally occurring in celery powder and sea salt.” That’s code for “you’re still getting plenty of nitrates and nitrites from the celery powder.” And those additives may help explain why processed meats (like bacon, ham, hot dogs, and sausage) raise the risk of colorectal cancer.
At the Center for Science in the Public Interest, Nutrition Action’s publisher, we’re working not just to expose these and other misleading claims but to get rid of them. For example, in 2016 our lawyers sued Kellogg on behalf of consumers for splashing a “made with whole grain” claim on the front of some of its Cheez-It boxes. The crackers were mostly white flour.
Kellogg argued that its labels weren’t misleading because they disclosed the number of grams of whole grain, and white flour came before whole wheat in the ingredients list. (Ingredients are listed in descending order.)
In December, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit agreed with us. It ruled that the disclosures in fine print don’t “adequately dispel the inference communicated by the front of the package” and that a “reasonable consumer would be misled” by the labels.
We’ve also pressed the government to explicitly prohibit deceptive claims like these. For example, we’ve urged the FDA to require any label that makes a “whole grain” claim to also disclose how much is whole: 50 percent? 5 percent? Labels should say. Similarly, if a label makes a “made with real fruit” claim, it should disclose how much fruit is in the food.
It’s hard enough for consumers to eat a healthy diet. They shouldn’t need to carry a secret decoder ring while grocery shopping.
© 2019 Center for Science in the Public Interest NUTRITION ACTION HEALTHLETTER | OCTOBER 2019
While vaping is not a harmless activity, many experts suggest that it is the lesser of two evils.
My husband has been on and off cigarettes for as long as I’ve known him. He recently turned to vaping to try to kick the habit. While the smell of strawberry candy and chai tea is certainly more appealing than that of cigarettes, I had some serious doubts about the safety of inhaling such factory-crafted flavors into one’s lungs. Is vaping bad for you? It turns out, my misgivings were not unfounded.
What Is Vaping?A vaping device, officially known as an electronic nicotine delivery system (ENDS), heats a liquid, sometimes called e-juice, until it is a vapor that the user inhales.
There are many varieties of e-juice. The simplest varieties can be made of just two ingredients: vegetable glycerin, which is used in foods, cosmetics, and as a replacement for alcohol in herbal and botanical tinctures, and flavoring.
Other varieties also include:
If You Use a Non-Nicotine Liquid, why is Vaping Bad for You?Even the non-nicotine e-juices can be problematic, Dr. Petrache and colleagues found. [1,2] When researchers look closely at what’s in vape liquids, they’ve found a variety of additional substances.
The World Health Organization wants to ban indoor vaping, noting that: “The fact that ENDS exhaled aerosol contains on average lower levels of toxicants than the emissions from combusted tobacco does not mean that these levels are acceptable to involuntarily exposed bystanders.” 
“In fact, exhaled aerosol is likely to increase, above background levels, the risk of disease to bystanders, especially in the case of some ENDS that produce toxicant levels in the range of that produced by some cigarettes.” 
One study found that vaping worsened indoor air quality by increasing the concentration of nicotine, particulates, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and aluminum. The Bavarian Health and Food Safety Authority reported that these compounds that have been linked to cancer as well as lung and cardiovascular disease.
But is Vaping Better Than Smoking?While vaping is not a harmless activity, many experts suggest that it is the lesser of two evils. Although formaldehyde levels are shown to be higher, a study found that some toxic substances have levels 9 to 450 times lower than in regular cigarette smoke.
If you are trying to quit smoking, vaping may be a healthier option in the short-term, but the long-term effects are simply unknown. Instead, consider other smoking-cessation aids, such as NAC, to help you kick your habit.
These categories of cholesterol-friendly foods can help you reduce your cholesterol numbers, keep you feeling full and satisfied longer, and help prevent you from eating other foods that negatively affect your heart health.
There are several reasons why certain foods are good for your cholesterol and your heart health. Some have direct effects on reducing LDL and/or triglycerides. Others are more filling and, if they’re low in calories, will help with weight loss. Plus, by filling up on these healthier options, you’re not eating other foods that adversely affect your cholesterol and heart health.
Fill Up on Fiber Higher fiber intake is associated with better cardiovascular health, and some research suggests that a high-fiber diet can have anti-inflammatory and blood-pressure-lowering effects. Furthermore, foods rich in fiber tend to be lower in calories and more satiating, so you don’t have to eat as much to feel full.
Soluble fiber is particularly beneficial for your heart and blood vessels because it dissolves in water, forming a gel that can bind with cholesterol in your digestive system and help remove it with your stool. As a result, eating soluble fiber can slightly reduce LDL and total cholesterol. Soluble fiber also has been shown to slow the absorption of sugar and improve blood glucose levels in people with diabetes.
Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water and does not have the same direct effect on cholesterol as its soluble counterpart. However, insoluble fiber is beneficial for digestive health, as it helps move stool through the digestive tract.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that men over the age of 31 should consume at least 31 and 28 grams of fiber daily, respectively, while women over the age of 31 should get at least 25 and 23 grams or more each day, respectively
Fill your fiber requirements with these plant foods (animal foods, such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy, do not contain any fiber):
Go Nuts Nuts have earned a reputation as another nutritional superstar associated with heart health. Nuts are rich in heart-healthy monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs), as well as protein and other important nutrients.
Incorporating nuts into your diet, especially in place of unhealthy fat sources, may help improve your cholesterol levels and support your cardiovascular health, some evidence suggests.
Although nuts are rich in MUFAs, which help maintain a healthy cholesterol balance, each gram of fat contains 9 calories, and overindulging in nuts can promote weight gain, so consume nuts in moderation.
Add Avocados to Your Diet Like nuts, avocados are an excellent source of beneficial MUFAs, and some research suggests they may have positive effects on cholesterol and heart health, especially when used to replace saturated fats.
Keep in mind, however, that one avocado has about 230 calories. So, if you’re watching your caloric intake, you’ll want to be aware of what an avocado can do to your daily calorie total.
Focus on Fatty Fish Cold-water, fatty fish—such as salmon, mackerel, halibut, herring, sardines, trout, and tuna—are among the richest sources of the omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). These polyunsaturated fats are associated with good cardiovascular health and may help lower triglycerides.
Explore Phytosterols Also known as plant sterol esters and plant stanol esters, phytosterols are natural compounds found in the cell membranes of plants that may help reduce cholesterol absorption in the digestive tract and, consequently, help lower LDL cholesterol levels in the bloodstream. Small amounts of phytosterols occur naturally in fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, and legumes, but these quantities are too low to reduce cholesterol. However, a variety of food products are fortified with phytosterols, including a number of margarines and spreads, juices, chocolate, granola bars, and dairy products.
Find the Goodness in Grapes For years, moderate consumption of red wine has been touted for its cardiovascular benefits, possibly because red wine contains the antioxidant resveratrol, which may help reduce LDL, lower your risk of blood clots, and prevent blood-vessel damage. Red wine also contains antioxidants known as polyphenols, such as flavonoids, which studies suggest may boost levels of beneficial HDL cholesterol and help maintain healthy blood pressure.
But you don’t have to imbibe to get the goodness of the grape. Resveratrol and polyphenols also are found in red and purple grape juice (especially juice made from Concord grapes), as well as in the skin of grapes, so eating whole red or purple grapes may confer cardiovascular benefits. (The antioxidant content of red and purple grapes is usually higher than that of white or green grapes.)
If you prefer red wine, just remember to drink in moderation: no more than two 5-ounce glasses a day for men and no more than one a day for women.
Add a Little Spice and (Maybe) Lower Your Cholesterol
On the downside, curcumin is not readily bioavailable, which means your body doesn’t absorb it easily, so it can be difficult to consume enough of it to make a difference. Consuming it with black pepper and healthful fat sources, like olive or canola oil, is believed to improve its bioavailability and absorbability. You also can try turmeric supplements.
Be aware that taking turmeric in high doses may cause some gastrointestinal problems, and it may interact adversely with certain medications, such as the blood thinner warfarin (Coumadin). Ask your doctor if turmeric will interact with any medications you take.
Garlic is bad for your breath, but it may be good for your cholesterol. Garlic contains allicin, an ingredient that gives garlic its odor but also may help reduce LDL levels.
However, research has produced mixed findings about garlic’s cholesterol-lowering effects. While some research supported the benefits of garlic, one study found that neither fresh garlic nor garlic supplements significantly lowered LDL cholesterol over six months in 192 men and women ages 30 to 65.
Still, there’s little harm in including fresh garlic in your cooking, and you may obtain some cardiovascular benefits in the process.
For more information on steps you can take to lower your cholesterol, purchase Managing Your Cholesterol from www.UniversityHealthNews.com.