Addicted to Sugar?

Sugar. Honey. Maple syrup. Molasses. High fructose corn syrup. All of these are “added sugars,” and you are probably eating — and drinking – too much of them.

So says the latest report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Researchers at the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics examined survey data from thousands of American adults to figure out whether we’re following the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. These guidelines advise us to limit our total intake of added sugars, fats and other “discretionary calories” to between 5% and 15% of total calories consumed every day.images-2

It should come as no surprise that Americans as a whole are blowing past the 15% limit. In fact, the new report finds that from 2005 to 2010 we got 13% of our total calories from added sugar alone, according to the CDC report. This is a problem not just because sugar is full of calories that cause us to gain weight, but because sugary items often displace fruits, vegetables and other foods that contain essential nutrients.

Overall, men consumed more sugar per day (an average of 335 calories) than women (239), the researchers found. But as a percentage of total calories consumed per day, men and women were pretty even — 12.7% vs. 13.2%.

Adults tended to eat the most sugar in their 20s and 30s, with consumption falling steadily over time. For instance, men between 20 and 39 ate and drank 397 calories of added sugar per day, on average, while men in their 40s and 50s consumed an average of 338 such calories per day and men in the 60+ crowd consumed 224 calories of added sugar daily. For women, the daily consumption peaked at 275 calories in the 20-39 age group before falling to 236 calories for those 40 to 59 and a mere 182 calories for those 60 and older. For both men and women, added sugar’s contribution to total calories fell steadily from the 14% range to the 11% range.

African Americans got more of their calories from added sugars — 14.5% for men and 15.2% for women —  than whites (12.8% for men, 13.2% for women) or Mexican Americans (12.9% for men, 12.6% for women). The differences between whites and Mexican Americans were not statistically significant.

The researchers also discovered that the poorer people were, the bigger the role that added sugars played in their diets. Women in the lowest income category got 15.7% of their calories from sugar, compared with 13.4% for women in the middle income category and 11.6% for women with the highest incomes. For men, the corresponding figures were 14.1%, 13.6% and 11.5%.

Although sugar-sweetened soda is the single biggest source of added sugars in the American diet, beverages overall accounted for only one-third of added sugars consumed by adults, compared with two-thirds from food. In addition, about 67% of added sugars from food were eaten at home, along with 58% of added sugars from drinks.

The researchers noted some differences between their findings for adults and what other studies have reported about children and teens. For example, the contribution of added sugars to total daily calories was comparable for black and white children and lower for Mexican-American children. And, children and teens of all income levels get the same proportion of daily calories from added sugars.

Added sugars do not include the sugars that occur naturally in fruit and milk. As the name implies, added sugars are used as ingredients in prepared and processed foods and drinks. For the sake of the analysis, other forms of added sugar included brown sugar, raw sugar, corn syrup, corn syrup solids, malt syrup, pancake syrup, fructose sweetener, liquid fructose, anhydrous dextrose, crystal dextrose and dextrin.

By Karen Kaplan, Science Now blog.



Surprising advice that’ll transform how you enjoy favorite foods

Eat bananas when they’re green and potatoes when they’re cold

UPDATED: 18:28 EST, 13 February 2012

The type of food you heap on to your plate is not the only thing you need to think about. How you cook, prepare or eat it can dramatically affect its health benefits. Here, dietitian Juliette Kellow reveals the best ways to serve popular kitchen staples…


Canned sweetcorn still counts as one of your five a day. And, now, scientists from New York’s Cornell University have even found the heat treatment used to process canned sweetcorn increases the amount of antioxidants in it by a huge 44 per cent.

Antioxidants help to mop up the free radicals in the body, which can damage cells and raise the risk of health problems such as heart disease and cancer. This increase in antioxidants more than makes up for the loss of vitamin C from canning.

Unripe is right: A greener banana means you’ll absorb fewer calories


When potatoes are cooked, their starch cells swell and start to break down — a process known as gelatinisation. This allows them to be digested more easily.

But when potatoes are chilled after cooking, some of the gelatinised starch is converted into a more solid, crystalline form of starch that can’t be digested, called resistant starch.

This resistant starch, like fibre, ends up in the large intestine, where it’s thought to help improve bowel regularity. In a UK study, cooked potatoes were found to have 7 per cent resistant starch, increasing to 13 per cent when cooled.

But if you’re making potato salad, don’t undo all the good work by mixing them with mayonnaise. Instead, combine with fat-free Greek yoghurt, spring onions and chives.


Extra virgin olive oil is rich in omega-6 fats, which block the body’s response to inflammation in chronic conditions such as heart disease and arthritis. Many people use it to cook with in favour of other oils.

But as this type of olive oil is less processed than other oils, it has a low smoke point — the temperature at which the nutritional benefits are affected.

Once oils have reached this point, their chemical composition alters and they start to contain more free radicals — harmful molecules that can damage cells. So it is not a good choice for high temperature cooking and is best left for dressings and marinades.


Italian researchers have found that compared to raw and steamed carrots, boiled ones had the highest levels of carotenoids — anti-oxidants the body uses to make vitamin A, which is important for growth, reproduction, immunity, healthy skin, eyes and hair.

Per 100g, boiled carrots also contained 28mg vitamin C — only a little less than the 31mg in raw carrots and a lot more than the 19mg in steamed carrots.


Brew benefits: Tea contains polyphenols – antioxidants that protect cells in the heart

Tea contains polyphenols — antioxidants that protect cells in the heart. Polyphenols are released only when tea is heated, and it takes one to four minutes sitting in hot water to do this, says nutritionist Carrie Ruxton.

According to a British Nutrition Foundation report, some studies have found that adding milk reduces the body’s absorption of polyphenols, but others say it doesn’t have an effect.


Pasta tends to have a low glycaemic index (GI), meaning it keeps you fuller for longer so you’re less at risk of hunger pangs. But to keep it that way it needs to be cooked al dente (firm).

When pasta is firm, the digestive enzymes in the gut take longer to break down the starch into sugars, so they’re released more slowly into the bloodstream, filling us up for longer and making it easier to control our weight. If it’s overcooked, the GI increases, so the starch is more readily broken down into sugars.

So start testing your pasta at least two to three minutes before the suggested cooking time to ensure you keep an al dente texture.


To get the best from your salad, use full-fat dressing made with oil. That’s because we need fat for our bodies to absorb important antioxidants linked to healthier hearts and a lower rate of cancer. 

Research from Ohio State University found that eating fresh salad with fat helped the body to absorb antioxidants such as lycopene from tomatoes, beta-carotene from carrots and lutein and zeaxanthin from salad leaves. The more fat there is, the more antioxidants are absorbed.

As an alternative, top salads with avocado, which is rich in heart-healthy monounsaturated fat.


Grilling and barbecuing are often championed as low-fat methods for cooking meat. But the National Cancer Institute has found that cooking meat at high temperatures can create two harmful chemicals — heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) — which have been linked to causing cancer in animals.

It’s healthier to cook dishes at lower temperatures and use methods that are unlikely to result in meat being charred, such as stews and casseroles. Meanwhile, add plenty of herbs and spices. Naturally occurring compounds found in rosemary, for example, have been shown to block the formation of HCAs by up to 92 per cent in meat that’s cooked at high temperatures and well-done.

And spices such as turmeric, coriander and cumin have been found to prevent HCAs from  forming by up to 39 per cent, according to research from Kansas State University.


Healthy start: Organic milk contains more omega-3 fats which are good for the heart

While most people know milk, including skimmed milk, is a rich source of calcium, what many people won’t realise is that it also contains omega-3 fats.

These are important for heart health: they reduce the stickiness of blood so it’s less likely to clot; keep the heart beating regularly; and protect small arteries.

A three-year study by the Universities of Liverpool and Glasgow suggest organic milk contains more omega-3 fats than standard milk. This is thought to be because of the cows’ diet of grass, while non-organically farmed cows rely on grains and proteins.

A recent study from Newcastle University has also found organic milk had 24 per cent more heart-healthy polyunsaturated fats, including conjugated linoleic acid (which has been found to lower ‘bad’ cholesterol) and eicosapentaenoic acid (an omega-3 fat), than conventional milk. But remember, it’s important to cut down on saturated fat for a healthy heart, so opt for semi-skimmed organic.


It’s a common misconception that ripe bananas contain more calories than unripe ones, but it’s true they taste sweeter. That’s because some of the starches are turned into sugars as banana ripens, but this doesn’t affect their calorie content.

But the degree of ripeness does affect how many calories you may get from the fruit. The less ripe a banana is, the more resistant starch it contains, and so the slower it is absorbed by the body and the lower its GI. This means more undigested starch passes into the large intestine, so a greener banana means you’ll absorb fewer calories.


Research confirms that drinking four to five cups of coffee a day is safe and may even benefit health — for example, helping to protect against heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

Better still, coffee counts towards the recommended daily fluid intake of 1½ to two litres. That’s why it’s better to have a long coffee rather than an espresso.

Additionally, a large latte made with full-fat milk contains 225 calories — 11 per cent of a woman’s recommended daily amount. A large Americano with a splash of semi-skimmed milk has just 50 calories.

(reprinted from the UK daily Mail) 

Are Apples Bad for your Health?

Apples Top EWG’s Dirty Dozen

images-1Washington, D.C. – Apples top the Environmental Working Group’s annual Dirty Dozen™ list of most pesticide-contaminated produce, followed by strawberries, grapes and celery. Other fresh fruits and vegetables on the new Dirty Dozen list, a part of EWG’s 2013 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce™ are peaches, spinach, sweet bell peppers, imported nectarines, cucumbers, potatoes, cherry tomatoes and hot peppers.

EWG’s Clean Fifteen™ list, those fruits and vegetables with the least pesticide load, consists of corn, onions, pineapples, avocados, cabbage, frozen sweet peas, papayas, mangoes, asparagus, eggplant, kiwi, grapefruit, cantaloupe, sweet potatoes and mushrooms.

“When given a choice, more consumers are choosing organic fruits and vegetables or using EWG’s Shopper’s Guide to find an easy affordable way to avoid toxic chemicals,” said Sonya Lunder, an EWG senior analyst. “They want to eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables without eating too many pesticides. And they want to support local farms and agriculture that is better for the environment.”

EWG’s Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce, now in its 9th year, ranks pesticide contamination on 48 popular fruits and vegetables, based on an analysis of more than 28,000 samples tested by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and federal Food and Drug Administration.


Dr. Jeffrey Manning, DC

Manning Wellness Clinic

2702 McKinney Avenue, suite 202

Dallas, TX 75204


Request an Appointment

Chia seeds–The ‘It’ Food of 2013

(From ABC News)

chia-seeds-photo-1024x768An ancient seed is finally having its day in the sun.

Actually, its second day in the sun. The first time around was as the key ingredient in the gag gift known as “the pottery that grows.” Ch-Ch-Ch-Chia!

2013 is undoubtedly the year of the chia seed among the health conscious. For a while it was flax seed. And 2012 could easily have been named “the year of kale.” But this year, experts agree, belongs to chia.

“Chia seeds have been in Whole Foods for a long time, but they’re just now starting to grow in popularity,” said Drew Rosen, nutrition and cooking teacher at New York City’s Whole Foods Market Tribeca. “It’s an ancient crop, but because the seeds are so flexible and high in omega threes, they are just blossoming all over the markets in all different types of products.”

Indeed. There are chia seeds, ground chia seeds, chia bars, chia snacks, chia drinks. The drink aisle alone housed four different brands of chia-seed drinks.

All these products are in response to high demand. People are looking for chia in all its forms, Rosen said. “It runs the gamut, some people look for the seeds, some for the products. People want to make it easy for themselves.”

“Easy” could be precisely what makes chia such a hit in health food circles. While it can be made into pudding, or used as an egg substitute for the vegan crowd, the same benefits can be found simply by sprinkling a teaspoon into your yogurt, oatmeal or smoothie. Some people simply add it to their water.

Unlike flax seed, chia seeds don’t have to be ground and they don’t go rancid the way flax does. “Chia seeds are going to absolutely replace flax seeds,” said Rosen. “They’re the absolute best source of omega three fats on the market, hands down, when you consider the ratio of omega three to omega six.”

But he cautioned, “You should only eat a small amount, maximum one ounce a day.”

That’s because chia is very high in fiber, which in large quantities can cause stomach upset.

Licensed nutritionist Lisa Goldberg, who runs a company called Health Coach, which delivers healthy lunches, agrees that a little chia goes a long way. Including, she said, benefits for those trying to lose a few pounds.

“It’s a high source of fiber,” she said. “Chia will keep you fuller longer and prevent you from overeating. You have that feeling of fullness in your stomach because when you wet chia seeds, they form a gelatinous substance that takes longer to digest.

“You’ll overeat less and tend to snack less. If you eat chia before a meal, you’ll eat less at the next meal. It packs a nutritional punch without adding a lot of food to your diet.”

And while the drinks in particular are convenient and filling, Goldberg does not recommend them as a meal replacement. “There’s not enough nutrients and calories. What I would say is, it’s a great addition.”


Dr. Jeffrey Manning, DC

Manning Wellness Clinic

2702 McKinney Avenue, suite 202

Dallas, TX 75204


Request an Appointment

Too-early solid food could lead to problems for babies

baby being fed by her mum
At least 40% of moms are feeding their infants solid foods far too early, according a new study published in the medical journal Pediatrics, and that may lead to problems for their children later in life.

Researchers wanted to know how many babies were being fed solid foods (including cereal and baby food) sooner than recommended, whether breast-feeding or formula feeding made a difference and why solids were being introduced early. When the study began in 2005,  the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), which also publishes the journal Pediatrics, recommended introducing solid foods when babies were between 4 and 6 months old.

In 2012, the AAP changed those recommendations. Now it says babies shouldn’t be eating solid food until they are about 6 months old.

Study and findings

As part of the two-year study, 1,334 mothers filed out monthly questionnaires about what their babies ate during the last week, says Kelley Scanlon, an epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and one of the study authors. Scientists then analyzed the data reported by the mothers to determine at which age babies were being fed solid food.

They found 539 moms, or 40% of moms, gave their babies solid food early. Previous studies had put that estimate at 19% and 29%. Researchers believe based on this study, they may actually be underestimating how many moms introduce solids early because the study was more likely to have older, more educated and higher income moms participating. “Mothers of lower socioeconomic status are at a higher risk of early solid food introduction,” the study says.

Giving your baby solid food too soon has been linked to a higher risk of obesity and diabetes, according to the study. Also, “starting infants on solids before 4 months can lead to allergies and eczema,” says Dr. Jennifer Shu, an Atlanta pediatrician and AAP spokeswoman who was not involved in the research.

Among the 539 moms who did introduce solids early, nearly 1 in 10 gave their babies solids before they were 4 weeks old.

Researchers found formula-fed infants were about twice as likely to be introduced to solids early, compared to only breast-fed babies.

Moms were also given 12 reasons to choose from to explain why they introduced solid food early. Among the top answers:
– 90% of moms said they thought their baby was old enough to start eating solids.
– 71% said their baby seemed hungry a lot of the time.
– 55% believed their doctor or another health care professional said their baby should start eating solids.

Scanlon cautioned that this last point reflected a perception that health care professionals were recommending when to start an infant on solids; researchers couldn’t actually confirm that’s what a doctor or nurse actually said.

Shu says she was surprised by the findings, but notes that some doctors and nurses may have been trained at a time when babies were fed solids earlier and says it’s hard to change behaviors when medical information changes so quickly.

Bottom line

“There’s a lack of awareness of what the recommendations are,” Scanlon says, adding babies are not developmentally ready for solid food before they are 4 months old.

Some of these moms are getting information on when to feed their babies solids “from generations (ex. grandparents, nurses, friends) who may have started their babies on solids at an earlier age,” suggests Shu.

According to the latest AAP recommendations, moms are supposed to exclusively breast-feed their babies until they are about 6 months old if possible, so babies can reap all the benefits of mother’s milk including extra immune protection and possible protection for future chronic illnesses like obesity and type II diabetes.

Every baby develops at a slightly different pace, but there are some signs to look for to help parents figure out if their child is ready for solids:
– Is the baby sitting up? Can she hold her head up?
– Does your baby open his mouth when food comes his way?
– Is she big enough? (Babies typically double their birth weight by 4 months)
– Can he take food off the spoon and actually swallow it?

The takeaway

Parents need clear and accurate guidance on when to introduce solid food to their babies, and pediatricians and health care professionals need to support them, says Scanlon, by explaining to the parents that crying doesn’t always mean the baby is hungry – it could also be wet, sick or lonely.

25 Ways to get Healthier Now!

(CNN) — Get going! Here are 25 ways to get healthier right now:


1. Grab your toes. Now pull. “This boosts circulation after your feet have been cramped in shoes all day,” says Michele Summers Colon, a podiatrist in El Monte, California. “Without proper circulation, the muscles and nerves in our toes don’t work properly. And that can cause pain in your knees, hips, and back.”

2. Wash the linens. Dust mites, a major allergy trigger, love to hang out in your bed. Zap ’em by laundering sheets and pillowcases every week in hot water. Also smart: Use mattress and duvet covers designed to keep mites out.

3. Flying? Turn on the air vent above your seat. “I fly a couple of times a week,” says Dr. Travis Stork, an emergency medicine physician and co-host of “The Doctors.”

“Part of the way I stay healthy is by being very conscientious about all of the germs that are on planes. I turn on the air vent and angle it so it blows air down in front of my face — that’s filtered air and it creates a little bit of a barrier to keep the germs going around the cabin from getting into my nose or mouth.”

4. Give this a shot. Get a yearly flu vaccine? Great. Now add a TDaP booster to your arsenal. TDaP stands for tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis — and that last disease, also known as whooping cough, is a particularly dangerous respiratory illness. In fact, cases of pertussis in the U.S. have risen about 137% since 2000.

“For most adults, that means a nasty cough; in children, it can be worse,” says Dr. Ana Pantoja, staff physician for AltaMed in Boyle Heights, California. “So if you have kids or are around kids, it’s essential to get vaccinated.”

Even if you got the shot as a child, its effectiveness can wear off, so you still need one booster as a grown-up. (You’ll also need a tetanus booster every 10 years.)

5. Drop your panties. Going commando once in a while (say, overnight) couldn’t hurt, especially if you’re prone to urinary tract infections.

“Wearing no undergarments — or just cotton ones — allows the external genitals to dry and reduces bacteria growth that could otherwise make its way into your urethra and cause a bladder infection,” says Dr. Sherry Thomas, an OB-GYN and surgeon at St. John’s Regional Medical Center in Oxnard, California.

6. Keep this info handy. Put a card in your wallet that lists any allergies you have and medications you’re taking, in case you end up in the ER and are unable to speak for yourself.

Says Dr. John M. Kennedy, co-author of “The 15-Minute Heart Cure,” “It could just save your life.”

7. Crank down the volume. MP3 players can create sound up to 120 decibels — loud enough to cause hearing loss over time.

“Follow the 60/60 rule: Keep volume coming through your headphones to no more than 60% of the max, for no more than 60 minutes a day,” says James Foy, an osteopathic physician in Vallejo, California.

5 days of healthier breakfasts

You already know it’s important to start your day off right — now it’s time to kick it up a notch nutritionally with these easy ideas from Jackie Newgent, author of “1,000 Low-Calorie Recipes.” Just add…

8. Flax. Sprinkle one tablespoon ground flaxseed in your bowl of oatmeal for brain-boosting omega-3 fats and two extra grams of fiber.

9. Pistachios. Spread toast with chocolate nut spread; add chopped pistachios for cholesterol-lowering phytosterols.

10. Berries. Top pancakes or waffles with ½ cup of mashed raspberries to get more than 20 percent of your daily vitamin C needs.

11. Turmeric. Toss a pinch of ground turmeric into beaten eggs to add earthiness and cancer-fighting antioxidants to a veggie omelet.

12. Hummus. Schmear half a toasted whole-grain bagel with 2 TBSP hummus for a creamy topping packed with fiber and filling protein.

13. Nuke the dish sponge. “This is the germiest thing in your house,” says germ guru Charles Gerba, a microbiologist at the University of Arizona in Tucson. “About 15% of sponges contain bacteria that can make you ill.

So toss them in the dishwasher once a week or microwave them damp on high for 30 seconds.

14. Check yourself out. “Do a full-body skin check once a month in a well-lit room,” advises Dr. Joshua Zeichner, director of cosmetic and clinical research at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York. “Grab a hand mirror if you have one. Ask a family member to check out your back if you can’t see it. Look for new moles or old ones that have changed or grown (then have a dermatologist take a look).

“I also recommend a total-body check with a derm yearly — twice a year if you have a personal or family history of funny moles. Early detection is key in treating skin cancer” — the most common cancer in women.

15. Munch on carrots. The humble carrot never got much attention, but it’s now a nutritionist favorite, thanks to its high vitamin A content — just one half cup has almost double the amount you need for healthy eyes. They’re hot with chefs, too, making it easier to get your good-vision fix.

16. Wear an activity tracker. Whether it’s a Fitbit, a Nike FuelBand, or any old pedometer, studies show that people who wear a device that tracks the number of steps they’ve taken each day get moving more than those who don’t.

17. Take a ticker test. You may not think about your cholesterol, but you should: Having high numbers is a major heart-disease risk factor that even slim women can have.

Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, you may be able to score a screening without paying one cent for it if you have a family history or other risk factors, according to Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

18. Fight daylight savings blahs. When we “spring forward,” the lost hour can have a bigger effect on our bodies than we might think.

“You might feel jetlagged, and it can take two to five days to adjust,” says Dr. Meir Kryger, professor of medicine at Yale University. His fix: “Get some sunlight as soon as possible” — by raising window shades or making a coffee run — “to help re-synchronize your body clock. Luckily, the switch-over happens on a Sunday morning, so many of us don’t have to go to work that first day!”

19. Get comfy. “At hotels, I keep lighting soft and bring lounging clothes and my Dream Sack, a thin, silk sleeping bag. On planes, I close the shades and wear an eye mask and noise-cancelling headphones or earplugs.” — Tracy Cristoph, flight attendant

20. Banish nerves. “When my mind starts racing in bed, I think about the next day’s challenges. Then, I take long breaths, thinking, Breathe in, breathe out. It takes practice, but if you do it regularly, your body learns how to relax.” — Rebecca Soni, Olympic swimmer

21. Silence your phone! “I alerted friends and family to when I would be sleeping so I could minimize noisy calls and texts. Turning the phone off works, too!” — Dr. Marni Hillinger, a medical resident in New York.

4 ways to slash stress in 60 seconds or less

22. Do 25 jumping jacks. Move your body, no matter how briefly, to stop the stress response in its tracks and change the channel on your mood, says Lisa Oz, author of “US: Transforming Ourselves and the Relationships That Matter Most.”

23. Press “play” for puppies. Pets are a proven stress-buster, but you knew that. Head to stat to melt even the gnarliest of bad moods.

24. Make an instant hot cocoa. Research, including a study published in Appetite, shows that even a bit of chocolate can boost your mood almost immediately.

25. Go outside! “Fresh air is full of feel-good negative ions, which may boost oxygen flow to the brain,” says Kathleen Hall, founder of the Stress Institute in Atlanta. “If you can, combine it with exercise, like a brisk walk — activity boosts endorphins and energy.”

Copyright Health Magazine 2011

27 Foods you Should Never Buy Again

Cross these items off your grocery store list—whether they’re rip-offs, fakes, drastically unhealthy, or just plan gross, here are the 27 foods you should never buy again.

© Michael Blann/Digital Vision/Thinkstock

Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

A few shavings of nice cheese on top of pasta or vegetables can take a simple dish from good to great—but you don’t have to fork out $22 a pound for the famous stuff. Instead, look for varieties like Pecorino Romano and SarVecchio, which offer the same flavor at half the price.

© Jupiterimages/Comstock/Thinkstock

Smoked and Cured Meats

From fancy charcuterie to “dime a dog” night, pass on cured meats in any form—they’ve been linked to cancer, disease, high blood pressure, and migraines. Plus they’re packed with artery-clogging grease: regulations allow up to 50% (by weight) of fresh pork sausage to be fat.

© Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Thinkstock

“Blueberry” items

Ahh, blueberries…now in everything from your breakfast cereal to muffins, granola bars, and sauces—or are they? Turns out that most of the blueberry-flavored items on grocery store shelves don’t feature a single actually berry, just artificial blueberry flavor. Buy your own berries and add them to plain cereal for a real health boost.

© iStockphoto/Thinkstock

Multi-grain bread

This is junk food masquerading in a healthy disguise. Check the ingredient list to make sure whole wheat is the first, and main, ingredient—otherwise, you’re just getting a few grains mixed into regular white bread. Better yet, forgo the bread and enjoy straight-up barley, brown rice, quinoa, or steel-cut oats.

© iStockphoto/Thinkstock

Reduced fat peanut butter

When companies take out the fat, they have to add something back in to make the food taste delicious. In this case, it’s lots of extra sugar—and who wants that? Instead, spread regular peanut butter on your sandwich for more of the good fats and protein without fake sweetness.

© iStockphoto/Thinkstock

Bottled tea

Brew your iced tea at home and you’ll save both big bucks and your waistline—bottled teas can have more grams of sugar than a soda or slice of pie.

© iStockphoto/Thinkstock

Tomato-based pasta sauces

A jar of spaghetti sauce typically runs $2 to $6. The equivalent amount of canned tomatoes is often under $1. Our suggestion: Make your own sauces from canned crushed tomatoes or fresh tomatoes — particularly in the summer, when they are plentiful, tasty, and cheap. The easiest method is to put crushed tomatoes (canned or fresh) into a skillet, stir in some wine or wine vinegar, a little sugar, your favorite herbs, and whatever chopped vegetables you like in your sauce — peppers, onions, mushrooms, even carrots — and let simmer for an hour. Adjust the flavorings and serve. Even easier: Coat fresh tomatoes and the top of a cooking sheet with olive oil and roast the tomatoes for 20 to 30 minutes at 425˚F before making your stovetop sauce.

© iStockphoto/Thinkstock


Large bottom-feeder fish such as tuna, shark, king mackerel, tilefish, and especially swordfish are high in mercury. Choose smaller fish, like flounder, catfish, sardines, and salmon instead.

© Stockbyte/Thinkstock

Energy drinks

Stick to a cup of coffee for your afternoon boost. Seemingly harmless caffeinated beverages are often sugar bombs—and the FDA has received numerous reports linking brands like 5 Hour Energy and Monster Energy to heart attacks, convulsion, and even death.

© iStockphoto/Thinkstock

Gluten-free baked goods

If you aren’t diagnosed with celiac disease or a gluten intolerance, keep in mind that gluten-free doesn’t necessarily mean healthy—and gluten-free baked goods like bread, cookies, and crackers often are packed with more refined flours, artificial ingredients, and sugar than traditional baked goods. Plus, they can cost up to twice as much as you’d normally spend.

© iStockphoto/Thinkstock

Flavored non-dairy milks

Vanilla-eggnog-caramel soy milk doesn’t win you any points in the health department—and it definitely won’t help your grocery receipt bottom line. If you prefer non-dairy milks for personal dietary reasons, buy unsweetened versions. And if you’re just trying to eat healthfully, skim milk should be just fine.

© iStockphoto/Thinkstock

Foods made of WOOD

Take a look at the ingredient list for your high-fiber cereal or snack bar, and you’ll probably see an ingredient called “cellulose.” Turns out that cellulose is a code word for “wood pulp.” Food manufacturers use it to extend their products and add fiber, so it looks like you’re getting more food. But really you’re just left with a mouthful of wood shavings.

© iStockphoto/Thinkstock

White rice

Skip the refined grains and go for whole: a 17% higher risk of diabetes is associated with eating five or more servings of white rice per week, compared to eating white rice less than once a month.

© iStockphoto/Thinkstock

‘Gourmet’ frozen vegetables

Sure, you can buy an 8-ounce packet of peas in an herbed butter sauce, but why do so when you can make your own? Just cook the peas, add a pat of butter and sprinkle on some herbs that you already have on hand. The same thing goes for carrots with dill sauce and other gourmet veggies.

© iStockphoto/Thinkstock

Microwave sandwiches

When you buy a pre-made sandwich, you’re really just paying for its elaborate packaging — plus a whole lot of salt, fat, and unnecessary additives. For the average cost of one of these babies ($2.50 to $3.00 per sandwich), you could make a bigger, better, and more nutritious version yourself.

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Premium frozen fruit bars

At nearly $2 per bar, frozen ‘all fruit’ or ‘fruit and juice’ bars may not be rich in calories, but they are certainly rich in price. Make your own at home — and get the flavors you want. To make four pops, just throw 2 cups cut-up fruit, 1 tablespoon sugar, and 1 teaspoon lemon or lime juice into a blender. Cover and blend until smooth. You might wish to add 1 to 2 tablespoons of water so the final mix is a thick slush. Pour into 4-ounce pop molds or paper cups, insert sticks, and freeze until solid.

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Boxed rice ‘entree’ or side-dish mixes

These consist basically of rice, salt, and spices — yet they’re priced way beyond the ingredients sold individually. Yes, there are a few flavorings included, but they’re probably ones you have in your pantry already. Buy a bag of rice, measure out what you need, add your own herbs and other seasonings, and cook the rice according to package directions.

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Energy or protein bars

These calorie-laden bars are usually stacked at the checkout counter because they depend on impulse buyers who grab them, thinking they are more wholesome than a candy bar. Unfortunately, they can have very high fat and sugar contents and are often as caloric as a regular candy bar. They’re also two to three times more expensive than a candy bar. If you need a boost, a vitamin-rich piece of fruit, a yogurt, or a small handful of nuts is more satiating and less expensive.

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Spice mixes

Spice mixes like grill seasoning and rib rubs might seem like a good buy because they contain a lot of spices that you would have to buy individually. Check the label first: We predict the first ingredient you will see on the package is salt, followed by the vague ‘herbs and spices.’ Look in your own pantry, and you’ll probably be surprised to discover just how many herbs you already have on hand, and you can improvise as much as you want.

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Powdered iced tea mixes or prepared flavored iced tea

Powdered and gourmet iced teas are really a rip-off! It’s much cheaper to make your own iced tea from actual (inexpensive) tea bags and keep a jug in the fridge. Plus, many mixes and preparations are loaded with high fructose corn syrup and other sugars, along with artificial flavors. To make 32 ounces of iced tea, it usually takes 8 bags of black tea or 10 bags of herbal, green, or white tea. If you like your tea sweet but want to keep calories down, skip the sugar and add fruit juice instead.

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Bottled water

Bottled water is a bad investment for so many reasons. It’s expensive compared to what’s coming out of the tap, its cost to the environment is high (it takes a lot of fossil fuel to produce and ship all those bottles), and it’s not even better for your health than the stuff running down your drain.

Even taking into account the cost of filters, water from home is still much cheaper than bottled water, which can run up to $1 to $3 a pop.

If you have well water and it really does not taste good (even with help from a filter), or if you have a baby at home who is bottle-fed and needs to drink safe water, buy jugs of distilled or ‘nursery’ water at big discount stores. They usually cost between 79 cents and 99 cents for 1 gallon (as opposed to $1.50 for 8 ounces of ‘designer’ water). And you can reuse the jugs to store homemade iced tea, flavored waters, or, when their tops are cut off, all sorts of household odds and ends.

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Salad kits

Washed and bagged greens can be a time-saver, but they can cost three times as much as buying the same amount of a head of lettuce. Even more expensive are ‘salad kits,’ where you get some greens, a small bag of dressing, and a small bag of croutons. Skip these altogether. Make your own croutons by toasting cut-up stale bread you would otherwise toss, and try mixing your own salad dressing.

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Individual servings of anything

The recent trend to package small quantities into 100-calorie snack packs is a way for food-makers to get more money from unsuspecting consumers. The price ‘per unit’ cost of these items is significantly more than if you had just bought one big box of cheese crackers or bag of chips. This is exactly what you should do. Buy the big box and then parcel out single servings and store them in small, reusable storage bags.

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Trail mix

We checked unit prices of those small bags of trail mix hanging in the candy aisle not that long ago and were shocked to find that they cost about $10 a pound! Make your own for much, much less with a 1-pound can of dry roasted peanuts, 1 cup of raisins, and a handful of almonds, dried fruit, and candy coated chocolate. The best part about making your own? You only include the things you like. Keep the mixture in a plastic or glass container with a tight lid for up to 3 weeks.

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‘Snack’ or ‘lunch’ packs

These ‘all-inclusive’ food trays might seem reasonably priced (from $2.50 to $4.00), but you’re actually paying for the highly designed label, wrapper, and specially molded tray. They only contain a few crackers and small pieces of cheese and lunchmeat. The actual edible ingredients are worth just pennies and are filled with salt.

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Gourmet ice cream

It’s painful to watch someone actually pay $6 for a gallon of designer brand ice cream. Don’t bother. There’s usually at least one brand or other on sale, and you can easily dress up store brands with your own additives like chunky bits of chocolate or crushed cookie. If you do like the premium brands, wait for that 3-week sales cycle to kick in and stock up when your favorite flavor is discounted.

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Pre-formed meat patties

Frozen burgers, beef or otherwise, are more expensive than buying the ground meat in bulk and making patties yourself. We timed it — it takes less than 10 seconds to form a flat circle and throw it on the grill. Also, there’s some evidence that pre-formed meat patties might contain more e. coli than regular ground meat. In fact, most of the recent beef recalls have involved pre-made frozen beef patties.

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Can Fast Food lead to Asthma, Hay Fever and Eczema? New Study Suggests Link

CNN: Teenagers and young children who eat fast food could be increasing their risk of developing asthma, eczema and hay fever, according to a study published Monday in the British Medical Journal’s respiratory journal Thorax.

The International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood (ISAAC) study used written questionnaires completed by 319,196 13-  and 14-year-olds from 51 countries and by the parents of 181,631 6- and 7-year-olds in 31 countries.  They were asked if they had symptoms of the three conditions and about their weekly diet – including the types of foods they ate over the last year, and how often.

“We found clear associations between certain foods and severe asthma, hay fever (or allergic rhinoconjunctivitis) and eczema in the largest study of allergies in children (aged 6-7 years) and adolescents (13-14 years) to date,” said study author Hywel Williams of the Centre for Evidence Based Dermatology, Queen’s Medical Centre, University Hospital, Nottingham, UK.  According to Williams, the associations between allergic diseases and fast food were “only really convincing for severe disease.”

Researchers saw a protective effect against severe asthma for those who ate fruit at least three times a week.  Those consuming fast food three or more times a week had about a 30% increased risk of severe asthma, hay fever and eczema, a chronic skin condition that causes scaly, itchy rashes.  The results were consistent in both age groups.  Affluence and gender did not change or affect the outcome.

“The cautionary notes are that this study showed an association, which does not always mean that the link between food and allergies is causal,” Williams said. “It could be due to other factors linked to behavior that we have not measured, or it could be due to biases that occur in studies that measure disease and ask about previous food intake.”

Study authors say if further research shows that consuming a lot of fast food actually does cause these types of allergies, it could have major public health implications because of the rise in fast food consumption globally.

“It’s not at all surprising to me that a disease as complex as asthma would be directly affected by diet.  We’ve known for a while that diet can affect immune system function with certain foods being pro or anti-inflammatory,” says Dr. Stephen Teach, who is the chief of the Division of Allergy and Immunology at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington and was not involved in the research.

“Given that asthma’s inherently an inflammatory disease, with swelling and inflammation of the small to medium-size airways of the lung, it is not at all surprising that diet should affect those processes in some way.”

Teach said it’s important to note that these are associations only. “In other words, it would be wrong to assume from the results of this study that fast foods directly cause allergic disease.  It is possible that some unmeasured effect of socioeconomic status or environment which correlates with fast foods may in fact be responsible.”

Either way, Williams said, there is a take-home message for parents.  He says you don’t have to stop eating fast food entires, ” but to eat a balanced diet with plenty of fresh fruit and maybe less fast food – one or two times per week rather than three or more – if your child has allergies.”


The Healthiest 31 Foods you should be Eating Now!








It’s still close enough to January 1st for many of us to still be trying to stick to our resolutions. For my family, that always means eating as many healthy foods as possible. It’s a fact of life that some days that happens more than others. But check out this list of the top 31 foods you should be eating. Even if you can’t get most of the list into your diet daily, strive to get as many as possible. Your body will thank you. Print the list…keep it handy….highlight a food you’ve never tried and commit to try it within the next week.


Without further adieu……The Top 31 Foods:

  • Black Beans
  • Kale
  • Salmon
  • Walnuts
  • Pumpkin
  • Apples
  • Blueberries
  • Bananas
  • Broccoli
  • Spinach
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Kidney Beans
  • Lentils
  • Red Beets
  • Eggplant
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Tomatoes
  • Whole-Wheat Bread
  • Quinoa
  • Steel-Cut Oatmeal
  • Bulgur
  • Lean Meat
  • Flaxseeds
  • Chia Seeds
  • Almonds
  • Tuna
  • Fat-Free Milk
  • Fat-Free Greek Yogurt
  • Dark Chocolate
  • Red Wine
  • Extra-Virgin Olive Oil

Best and Worst Breakfasts for your Health


From Healthline: Fast-food breakfast sandwiches could be “a time bomb in a bun”—and eating even one fat-laden morning meal has immediate adverse effects on your arteries, according to a new study presented at the Canadian Cardiovascular Congress meeting in Toronto.

A high-fat diet is linked to increased risk for atherosclerosis (narrowing of arteries due to plaque deposits), but the study suggests that damage that could lead to a heart attack or stroke may start sooner than was previously thought.

Just one day of eating a fat-laden breakfast sandwich–such as egg, cheese and ham sandwich on a bun – and “your blood vessels become unhappy,” said Heart and Stroke Foundation researcher Dr. Todd Anderson, director of the Libin Cardiovascular Institute of Alberta and head of cardiac science at the University of Calgary in a statement.

The study measured blood flow through the forearm in 20 healthy people (average age 23). The researchers mentioned that the sandwich used in the study contained ham, egg, and cheese but did not name the restaurant from which it came. The goal was to reveal the risks of eating a general type of widely available breakfast sandwich, not to point the finger at specific restaurant. The test was done twice: once on a day when they’d eaten two fast-food breakfast sandwiches of a type that available anywhere in the US or Canada, and again on another day when they’d fasted. The sandwiches contained a whopping 50 grams of fat and 900 calories.

Impaired Blood Flow Two Hours After Meal

Compared to volunteers who skipped breakfast, those who consumed the fatty sandwiches showed impaired blood flow in their forearms two hours after the greasy morning meal. That’s because their vessels were less able to dilate (widen) and deliver oxygenated blood to the heart.

While the effects from a single meal were temporary, over time such arterial changes could set the stage for a heart attack or stroke, the researchers report. They used a test called velocity time integral that measures how much blood flow can increase after a brief interruption (compressing the arm with a blood pressure cuff). The higher the velocity, the “happier” the blood vessels are.

While one cheesy sandwich isn’t going to do lasting damage, the researchers say that their results highlight the importance of limiting fat, cholesterol, calories, and salt to prevent heart attacks and strokes. A junk-food diet has also been linked to increased risk for dementia, a memory-robbing disorder that has been called “type 3 diabetes.”

What’s the Worst Breakfast of All?

Whether you’re looking to slim down, build muscle, train for a marathon, or just protect your health, breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. And a fast-food morning meal is not the worse choice. Instead, the unhealthiest option is not eating a morning meal at all.

Not only do people who skip their morning meal—or begin the day with only a cup of coffee—have less energy, worse moods, and poorer memory those who eat breakfast, studies show, but they also face some serious health risks. First of all,they’re up to 450 percent more likely to become obese, which in turn boosts risk for a wide range of ailments, including cardiovascular disease—the leading killer of Americans—gout, joint problems, and even some forms of cancer.

A 2012 study published in American Journal of Clinical Nutrition also reports that people who regularly skip breakfast have a 21 percent higher risk for type 2 diabetes. The researchers tracked about 29,000 men for 16 years and found that the increased risk remained even when body mass index was into account. Scientists suspect that a morning meal helps keep blood sugar levels stable during the day.

What’s the Healthiest Breakfast?

The right breakfast not only reduces risk for overeating later in the day, but also revs up metabolism, fuels your body and brain, and helps you maintain a healthy weight. For example, 80 percent of participants in the ongoing National Weight Control Registry study (which tracks more than 4,000 people who have dropped 30 or more pounds and kept them off for a year or longer) eat breakfast regularly.

Nutritionists advise including both lean protein and fiber in your morning meal, such as whole-grain unsweetened or low-sugar cereal mixed with non-fat yogurt, low-fat milk, or soy milk and topped with fresh fruit. Researchers at University of Texas at El Paso report that eating a filling breakfast helps people consume an average of 100 fewer calories per day, enough to add up to ten-pound weight loss over a year.

The Breakfast Food that Fights Belly Fat

Another study linked having whole-grain cereal for breakfast with reduced levels of cortisol, a stress hormone linked to both weight gain and a tendency to accumulate belly fat. A large waistline is the leading warning sign of metabolic syndrome, which quintuple risks for type 2 diabetes and triple it for heart attack.

95 percent of Americans don’t eat the recommended three ounces of whole grains a day, which you can get from a slice of whole-wheat bread, a 6-inch whole-grain corn tortilla, or a serving of cereal. The health benefits of whole grain include:

  • Longer life. A high-fiber diet can cut risk of death from cardiovascular causes by nearly 60 percent, according to a recent nine-year study of nearly 400,000 people ages 50 and older.
  • A healthier heart. Soluble fiber in oatmeal and out bran reduces LDL “bad,” cholesterol and total cholesterol.
  • Weight loss. Whole grains digest more slowly than refined grains, which keeps blood sugar levels stable rather than stimulating insulin.