Tag Archives: healthy eating

The Pros and Cons of Intermittent Fasting

You may have heard about a current diet trend called intermittent fasting. This weight loss approach has been around in different forms for many years but has seen a recent rise in popularity. Intermittent fasting is not necessarily a diet, but more of a pattern of eating that involves cycling between times of eating and fasting, ranging from a few hours to a few days at a time. Intermittent fasting can offer some weight loss benefits but also has several drawbacks, and it is not safe for everyone.

There are several ways intermittent fasting can be done, but figuring out which way works best will depend on each individual. While one of the main attractions of intermittent fasting is not having to count calories and track foods, weight loss benefits will only occur if  you stick to healthy foods during your eating windows, and do not use it as an excuse to eat high-calorie, junk foods. When fasting, you may still drink water, coffee, and other no-calorie beverages which can help reduce hunger and keep you hydrated.

Four methods of fasting

  • The 16/8 method: This method requires you to fast every day for 14-16 hours while you restrict your daily eating window to between 8-10 hours. This method is simple and can be accomplished by skipping breakfast and not eating after dinner, while you eat two or more meals during the eating window.
  • The 5:2 diet: This method involves eating normally five days a week and then restricting calories to 500-600 for two days of the week. Women should stick to 500 calories on fasting days, while men can consume 600 calories.
  • 24-hour fast: Some people prefer to eat a normal diet most days of the week and then do a 24-hour fast once or twice a week. This method is the most difficult to maintain.
  • Alternate-day fasting: With this method, you fast every other day. Some variations of this method allow you to eat 500 calories on fasting days, while others require one day of eating, followed by one day of fasting, and so on. This method is also very hard to sustain in the long term.

Benefits and drawbacks of fasting
Intermittent fasting can be helpful for weight loss. Studies have shown that when meals are restricted to an eight to 10-hour period during the day, it does aid in weight loss. However, weight loss results from fasting diets may not last. When you are done fasting and return to a normal diet, you may regain the weight or even more.

Another common pitfall to intermittent fasting is that it is difficult to maintain for the long term. And fasting can lead to deficiencies in important nutrients, vitamins, and minerals which can cause fatigue, dizziness, constipation, and other health problems. Fasting can also lead to dehydration, which can be dangerous.

There are certain people who should not try fasting at all, including those with diabetes, pregnant women or those who are breastfeeding, elderly people, children, and anyone with a chronic disease. Before trying intermittent fasting, you should consult your doctor to make sure it’s a safe choice for you.

What is essential in learning any new skill or practice is self-discipline, and this applies when adopting the practice of fasting as well as resuming a healthy diet once fasting has ended. Each person needs to find positive ways to motivate himself/herself to maintain the discipline that is required.

 

Start Your Day with a Powerful Breakfast

The importance of Breakfast Nutrition

You’ve probably heard the mantra – breakfast is the most important meal of the day! But what exactly does that mean? What are the healthiest foods to eat for breakfast?

Eating a healthy breakfast is the best way to start your day. A good breakfast will help you think and perform better at your job or at school and can help you maintain a healthy weight and promote heart health.

Don’t Skip!
Many people skip breakfast, either because they aren’t hungry in the morning, feel like they’re too pressed for time, or as a way to lose weight. But studies show that breakfast skippers are not only sabotaging weight loss attempts, but they may also be impacting their body’s ability to control blood sugar as well as affecting their quality of sleep.

What’s for breakfast?
Getting into the habit of eating breakfast is important, but equally important is what you eat for breakfast. Grabbing a protein bar or shake is better than nothing, but highly processed foods like these are not the best choices for your first meal of the day. Eating a balanced breakfast that’s packed full of protein and nutrients will give you the most health benefits.

When planning your meals, focus on pairing carbohydrates with proteins for breakfast. Carbohydrates will fuel your brain and supply your body with the energy it needs to begin the day. Protein will help you feel full and satisfied until lunchtime.

A breakfast that’s high in protein has also been shown to support weight loss by increasing muscle mass, helping regulate blood sugar, helping you feel full longer, and curbing the urge to snack at night. Aim for 20-30 grams of protein at breakfast; this can be accomplished with an 8 oz. cup of Greek yogurt or one egg with a couple of turkey sausage links, for example.

Protein-packed breakfast ideas
Skip the donuts and danishes, and try some of these ideas for a healthier breakfast that pairs the right amount of proteins and carbs.

  • Greek yogurt with berries and almonds
  • Steel-cut oatmeal with berries and 6 oz. Greek yogurt
  • Avocado toast with egg
  • Whole wheat toast with 1 tbsp. of nut butter and sliced banana
  • Berry and yogurt smoothie
  • Peanut butter and banana smoothie
  • Whole wheat English muffin with egg and low-fat cheese
  • Sausage and egg casserole with a side of fresh fruit
  • Whole-grain cereal with low-fat milk and topped with berries and almonds
  • Egg scramble with turkey sausage, low-fat cheese, and veggies with a side of berries

 

Seven Small Diet Changes that Can Have a Big Impact

When they hear the word “diet,” most people envision a complete overhaul in their way of eating. They usually try restricting all the foods they enjoy and inevitably end up feeling deprived. It’s why most diets fail. Such restrictive eating cannot be sustained for the long term. But in order to lose weight without feeling deprived, and to ensure you are getting the proper nutrition your body needs, making small, consistent changes works better than trying to maintain any sort of restrictive diet plan or trying to make big changes all at once.

Making small changes to your diet that are both realistic and sustainable can have a big impact on your overall health. These minor changes won’t produce immediate results when it comes to weight loss, but if you add them to your daily life and stick to them, you will notice the health benefits, which will encourage you to keep making more small changes that will all add up to big payoffs in the long run.

Here are seven small changes you can make to your daily diet that will be beneficial for your health and help you in your weight-loss journey. Try making one small change at a time. After you have been able to stick with it for a week or two, then try making another change, and so on.

1. Don’t skip breakfast.
Research has shown that people who regularly eat breakfast are more successful in losing weight and keeping it off. If you’re pressed for time, breakfasts such as a whole wheat English muffin topped with peanut butter and banana, or low-fat yogurt with fresh berries and granola, or instant oatmeal, are quick choices that offer lots of protein and fiber to keep you full until lunch.

2. Trade refined grains for whole wheat grains.
An easy switch to make is choosing whole-grain bread, rice, or pasta instead of refined products. Always read labels to make sure breads and other products are made only with whole grains and not a mixture of refined and whole grain—whole wheat flour should be the first ingredient listed.

3. Eat fruit, don’t drink it.
Fruits are full of fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants, but you only get these health benefits when fruits are eaten in their whole form, not in a juice. Plus, fruit juice almost always has added sugar and is often not even made from real fruit.

4. Cut out sugary drinks.
You’ve heard it before, but one of the easiest changes to make that will not only help with weight loss but will also make you feel better is cutting out sugary beverages like soft drinks, energy drinks, and fruit juices. Replace them with plain water, sparkling water, or even sugar-free beverages if you can’t kick the soda habit for good.

5. Skip the Starbucks.
Coffee on its own can be healthy because it contains antioxidants. But most coffee drinks purchased at popular coffee bars and restaurants are essentially desserts. Those fancy coffee drinks may taste delicious, but they’re loaded with sugar, sweeteners, syrup, milk, and/or heavy cream. Try drinking black coffee instead and adding just a small amount of low-fat milk.

6. Increase protein.
Add protein to all of your meals and snacks to help you feel full and to curb cravings. Smart choices include lean meats, eggs, low-fat dairy products, beans, peanut butter, and nuts in small portions.

7. Swap unhealthy oils for healthy oils.
Cooking oils such as vegetable oil, canola oil, and soybean oil are highly processed and high in “bad” fats. Instead, choose extra-virgin olive oil, coconut oil, or avocado oil that contains  healthy (the “good”) fats—omega-3 fatty acids.

By taking baby steps in revamping your diet, you’ll be more likely to stick to it and be successful.

Refueling Your Body Post-Workout

You’ve been pushing yourself in your weekly workouts, trying to reach your personal goals whether it’s to increase fitness or build muscle. Most likely, you’ve been careful about what you eat before you exercise, but what you eat after a vigorous workout is just as important. The right nutrition can replenish energy stores, build and repair muscle that was broken down during a workout, and help keep your metabolism strong.

When refueling after a workout, the sooner the better. Research shows that if you wait to eat for two hours after your workout, it decreases your body’s ability to refill muscle stores by 50 percent compared to eating right away after exercising. It’s best to eat or drink something that combines protein and carbohydrates 30 minutes to one hour after exercising.

Studies have shown that consuming carbohydrates immediately after exercise is an excellent strategy to maximize rates of muscle glycogen synthesis, which means restoring energy to muscle cells. Similarly, eating additional protein within an hour after a workout is also shown to improve muscle glycogen stores. Drinking plenty of water, or sometimes a sports recovery drink after very strenuous workouts, is also necessary for rehydration.

Post-workout meals don’t have to be complicated nor do they require special supplements or expensive shakes. It just takes a little planning and preparation so you have a meal ready to go after your workout. For example, if you work out at a gym, you may want to pack a pre-made meal to take along with you, such as a peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich.

These examples of post-workout foods combine the necessary carbohydrates and protein and are quick and easy to make:

  • Grilled chicken (4 oz.) and brown rice (½ cup)
  • Egg scramble made with eggs and vegetables such as sweet potatoes or avocado
  • Peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich made on whole grain bread with all-fruit preserves
  • Whole grain wrap with lean meat, beans, avocado, or cheese
  • Whole wheat toast with 3 oz. of tuna and 2 oz. of hummus and spinach
  • Protein shake made with half a banana, one scoop of protein powder, and almond milk
  • Chocolate milk (1 cup)

 

The Workplace Pantry: Boosting Productivity and Morale

Many offices around the U.S. have created office pantries as a benefit for employees, while others have not yet embraced this new trend. Research has shown that an office pantry offers many advantages in addition to providing snacks and drinks for employees; in fact, several studies have shown that office pantries improve employee productivity, increase employee morale, and foster a feeling of inclusivity.

Office Pantries

Office pantries are communal areas where employees can gather to relax and take a break from work. Well-equipped office pantries offer complimentary coffee, drinks, snacks, a microwave, refrigerator, and other items of convenience. They cut down on the need for employees to leave the office to grab a coffee or snack and can offer healthier options than some traditional vending machines.

Fostering Positive Workplace Culture
According to a survey by the Australian Institute of Business, 73 percent of respondents said a full pantry would make them feel happier at work, and 57 percent thought it would boost employee morale. The office pantry serves as the center of the office community and can foster relationship building, bonding, and collaboration. These positive benefits can lead to employees feeling an increased sense of personal belonging to the company.

Additionally, according to Staples Business Advantage, 53 percent of office employees think that a well-stocked pantry contributed to their perception of an inclusive office culture. Employees felt the office pantry demonstrated that the company cared about their welfare and valued their work. According to Inc. Magazine, 60 percent of working professionals mentioned that having free snacks in the office makes them feel “valued and appreciated.”

Increased Employee Productivity
Studies have shown that providing a well-stocked pantry improves employee productivity. It ensures that workers are kept well-fed, refreshed, and satisfied. After all, hungry employees will not perform at their best. In a study, 57 percent of working professionals stated that they buy their own snacks and beverages at work, and one in two employees reported leaving the office to get coffee or a snack at least once per day and sometimes up to five times per day.

When employees had access to nutritious snacks close by in a central office pantry, it helped make them more productive and better focused on work—cutting down on trips to nearby coffee shops or convenience stores to get snacks or coffee. Additionally, by having a convenient place to grab a snack or heat up a lunch brought from home, employees may not need extended lunch breaks, thus allowing for more flexible work schedules.

Stocking An Office Pantry
Setting up an office pantry is fairly simple. Most offices already have some sort of kitchen area that you can add to, or you can designate another area as the office pantry. Offering a couple of small tables and chairs where employees can sit and relax on breaks is also a plus.

There are a few things every office pantry needs:

  • A source of caffeine – Offer a coffee maker and kettle for tea as well as providing complimentary coffee, a selection of teas, milk or creamer, sugar, and packets of artificial sweeteners.
  • Snacks – Offer a variety of non-perishable, healthy snacks such as fruit or dried fruit, packets of nuts, crackers, granola bars, and pretzels. Individually packaged items work best.
  • Drinks – A well-stocked fridge is also a nice addition for employees to have access to soft drinks, juices, bottled water, and energy drinks.
  • Microwave – Providing a microwave is helpful for employees who prefer to bring lunch from home; they can quickly heat it up and eat at their desks.
  • Supplies – Be sure to provide and regularly restock items such as napkins, paper plates, plastic cutlery, and paper cups.

If you’re interested in adding an office pantry to your business, we have helped many companies do this and would love to help you get started!

Foods to Boost Metabolism

Our metabolism, or the rate at which our bodies burn calories, is largely determined by age, height, and genes. However, there are a few ways to increase your body’s energy use and boost metabolism. One way is through exercise, and the other way is through eating the right food.

Foods that boost metabolism

While eating certain foods can speed up or slow down your metabolism and will effect weight loss, it’s actually much more complex than a simple “eat this food to boost your metabolism and lose weight.”

For weight loss and weight maintenance, the amount of food we eat also matters. Eating a well-balanced meal that is high in protein, fiber, and good fats will make you feel fuller and will be more satisfying so that you are less likely to overeat at the next meal. On the other hand, if you do not eat enough calories, your body will use your muscles for energy, resulting in a loss of muscle mass and a sluggish metabolism.

There is no one miracle food that can have such a profound effect on metabolism that it would cause you to lose weight. But there are certain foods that may help increase your metabolism, as well as other foods that you should only eat in moderation or eliminate altogether.

Here are five foods that help boost your metabolism.

1. Avocados – Avocados are  high in both polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats that can help promote satiety. They can also help reduce inflammation in the body. If you are trying to lose weight, just be careful of portion sizes and stick with eating only one-fourth to half an avocado.

2. Chili peppers – Spicy foods like chili peppers can help rev up your metabolism. Chili peppers in particular contain capsaicin, which experts have found can speed up metabolism.

3. Beans – Beans are a great source of protein and contain lots of fiber that helps to keep you full.

4. Whole grains – Replacing white flour products with whole grains that contain lots of fiber will keep you full longer, and according to a 2017 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, eating whole grains may create a “modest increase” in resting metabolic rate.

5. Eggs – Eggs are high in protein, low in calories, and fill you up. They’re also a good source of B vitamins, which have been shown to increase metabolism.

Working these foods into a well-balanced, healthy daily diet along with a regular exercise program can help boost your metabolism. At the same time, there are certain foods you should avoid that can slow down your metabolism. These include refined grains like those found in processed, packaged foods, sugary drinks such as fruit juice, energy drinks, soft drinks, and alcohol, as well as granola and soybean oil.

How Diet Affects Menopause

If you’re a woman of a certain age, you may already be feeling some of the symptoms of hormonal changes, even if you haven’t officially gone through menopause yet. The time leading up to menopause is a transition known as perimenopause and can start anywhere from a woman’s late 30s to mid-40s. This stage can last from five to ten years until you go through actual menopause. Menopause is defined as the absence of a menstrual period for 12 consecutive months.

Woman in the office

As a woman goes through the hormonal changes of perimenopause and menopause, she may experience some unpleasant and uncomfortable symptoms including hot flashes, night sweats, mood changes, insomnia, and irregular periods. Women may also gain weight or find that they cannot lose weight as easily as when they were younger.

Menopause also occurs at a time in a woman’s life when her metabolism is already slowing down as a normal part of aging, so this tendency to gain weight is a bit of a double whammy. As if this were not enough, women are at a higher risk for diseases including osteoporosis, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes after menopause.

But the news is not all bad! There are lifestyle changes you can make to ease the symptoms of menopause, prevent weight gain, and reduce your risk for developing certain diseases. One of the key ways to do all of this is through diet and nutrition.

1. Increase Your Intake of calcium and vitamin D.
The loss of estrogen that comes along with menopause can weaken bones and increase the risk of osteoporosis. Both calcium and vitamin D are essential nutrients that protect your bones, so eating foods rich in these nutrients daily can help lower your risk of osteoporosis. You can get adequate calcium from dairy foods such as milk, yogurt, and cheese, as well as from green, leafy vegetables like spinach, kale, and collard greens. There are also lots of calcium-fortified foods such as cereal and juices that can boost your calcium intake as well.

Vitamin D is equally important,  and the best way to get enough is by spending a short time outdoors daily to get natural vitamin D from the sun. If you don’t spend much time outdoors or have had skin cancer or are at a high risk for skin cancer, you can also talk to your doctor about vitamin D supplementation. It’s also found in oily fish, eggs, and foods such as milk or juice that are fortified with vitamin D.

2. Maintain a healthy weight.
Weight gain is common during both perimenopause and menopause, and women tend to gain excess body fat around their waists, which increases the risks for developing heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Women who are heavier also tend to experience worse menopausal symptoms. One study found that women who lost at least 10 lbs. or 10 percent of their body weight over the course of a year were more likely to eliminate hot flashes and night sweats.

3. Eat your veggies and fruits.
A diet rich in varied fruits and vegetables has been shown to prevent a number of menopausal symptoms. Additionally, fruits and vegetables fill you up and keep you from overeating more unhealthy foods, which can lead to weight gain. They may also help prevent diseases, particularly heart disease (which can be a higher risk after menopause), and help maintain bone health.

4. Avoid trigger foods.
There are certain foods that can trigger hot flashes, night sweats, and mood swings, especially if eaten at night. Caffeine, alcohol, sugary foods, and spicy foods seem to be the biggest trigger foods for worsening menopausal symptoms.

5. Eat enough protein.
Getting enough protein in your diet can help prevent the loss of lean muscle mass that occurs with age. Focus on lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs, legumes, nuts, and low-fat dairy foods.

In addition to eating a healthy diet, regular exercise can help ease menopausal symptoms and help maintain a healthy weight.

Which Diet Is Best for You?

Types of Diets

Which diet is best for you?

When it comes to diet and nutrition, there are a wide variety of options available, but often, deciding which type of diet would be best for you can be overwhelming. From vegan to paleo to low-carb and everything in between, all of these different styles of eating claim to be the best for nutrition, weight loss, and overall health.

Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. Following a particular diet is a very personal choice and one that should be based on personal preferences, lifestyle, your state of health, any medical conditions you may have, and for some, on moral or religious beliefs. There is not one perfect diet plan—each has its benefits and pitfalls.

To help you decipher the differences in some of the most popular diet plans, here is a brief breakdown of each type.

Vegetarian
Following a vegetarian diet involves omitting meat, fish, and poultry from your diet. There are variations of vegetarianism, such as choosing not to eat any red meat, but eating seafood and poultry. Pescatarians (those who eat no meat but do eat fish) will only eat seafood but no meat or poultry. Some vegetarians choose to consume dairy products and eggs, while others do not.

Many people often adopt a vegetarian diet for religious or personal reasons, as well as ethical issues, such as animal rights. Some people may decide to become a vegetarian for environmental reasons.

In addition to the ethical and environmental reasons for not eating meat, a vegetarian diet may lower your risk for chronic diseases and some cancers, improve heart health, help with weight loss, and provide your body with important nutrients. In fact, studies show that vegetarians tend to have better quality diets than meat-eaters and a higher intake of key nutrients like fiber, vitamins C and E, and magnesium.

However, a vegetarian diet may also increase the risk of certain nutritional deficiencies. Cutting meat and other animal products from your diet could potentially create deficiencies in iron, protein, omega-3s, calcium, and vitamins D and B. Being low in these nutrients can cause fatigue, anemia, bone loss, and thyroid issues. To minimize that risk, it’s important to eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, as well as other protein sources such as beans, nuts, and soy.

Vegan
Veganism has become more popular recently and is a form of vegetarian diet that eliminates all meat and animal products, including dairy products, eggs, fish, poultry, and animal-derived products such as honey. A vegan diet offers all of the same benefits as a vegetarian diet as well as reducing one’s intake of cholesterol and saturated fat. Much like vegetarians, vegans must have a well-planned diet and find ways to ensure that they get enough protein and vitamin B12 in their diets.

Paleo
A Paleo diet is a dietary plan based on foods similar to what might have been eaten during the Paleolithic era, which dates from approximately 2.5 million to 10,000 years ago. The diet includes foods that could be obtained through hunting or gathering, including lean meats, fish, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. A paleo diet limits foods that became common when farming emerged about 10,000 years ago, which includes dairy products, grains, and legumes.

The concept of the paleo diet is to return to a style of eating that is closer to what early humans ate. It relies on the belief that our bodies are genetically mismatched to the modern diet that emerged with farming practices. To follow a Paleo diet, you would chose to eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and fish, and oils from fruits and nuts, such as olive oils and walnut oil. The diet eliminates grains, legumes, dairy products, refined sugar, salt, potatoes, and highly-processed foods.

The benefit of following a Paleo diet is that it’s rich in vegetables, fruits, and nuts, which are all part of a healthy diet. Paleo diets promote weight loss, improve glucose control, reduce blood pressure, and lower cholesterol. The chief difference in the Paleo diet compared to other healthy diets is the absence of whole grains and legumes, which are considered good sources of fiber, vitamins, and other nutrients. Also missing from the diet are dairy products, which are good sources of protein and calcium.

While the Paleo diet does offer some health benefits, there are no long-term clinical studies about the potential risks of the paleo diet.

Keto
The Keto diet has become very popular. It is essentially just a variation of a low-carbohydrate diet, such as Atkins (which has been popular for many years). The keto (short for ketogenic) diet is a low-carb, high-fat diet. It requires you to drastically lower your carbohydrate intake and replace it with fat. This reduction in carbs puts your body into a metabolic state called ketosis, a state where your body becomes very efficient at burning fat for energy instead of carbs. Keto diets are very popular because they can promote rapid and significant weight loss, as well as help regulate blood sugar levels.

The keto diet completely omits fruits, grains, legumes, and sugar. Instead, followers eat fish, low-carb vegetables, cheese, meat, poultry, eggs, and fats. The disadvantages of this diet include something known as “keto flu,” where people feel symptoms such as fatigue, headaches, dizziness, nausea, and emotional changes when beginning the diet. Additionally, because there is a lack of long-term research on the keto diet, doctors caution that it could cause kidney damage, nutritional deficiencies, and other side effects.

Mediterranean
The Mediterranean diet is based on the fact that people living in countries that border the Mediterranean Sea tend to live longer and suffer fewer health problems than Americans. The diet is low in red meat, sugar, and saturated fat and high in fruits and vegetables, nuts, and “good” fats, which is believed to be one of the reason’s these people are healthier and live longer.

The Mediterranean diet is really more of an eating pattern than a structured diet. It emphasizes eating fruits, veggies, whole grains, beans, nuts, legumes, olive oil, and flavorful herbs and spices. It emphasizes eating fish and seafood at least a few times a week and poultry, eggs, cheese, and yogurt in moderation, while saving sweets and red meat for special occasions. It also involves having a glass of red wine most days. The Mediterranean diet offers many health benefits and is a very healthful way of eating. The only downside to this diet is that it may be too expensive for some people to maintain.

 

 

Eating to Strengthen Your Immune System

Boost Your Immune System With These Healthy Foods.

Foods to Strengthen your Immune System

Winter is prime season for colds and flu, and while there are lots of practical things you can do to reduce your risk of getting sick, such as washing your hands and getting enough rest, eating well also plays an important role in keeping your immune system healthy. Eating an overall healthy diet on a regular basis is one of the best things you can do for your overall health, but there are also several foods that have specific qualities that can boost the immune system that you may want to add to your diet, especially during flu season.

Help protect yourself from infections by incorporating these superfoods into your diet.

  • BlueberriesBlueberries contain a type of flavonoid called anthocyanin, which has antioxidant properties that can help boost your immune system, particularly the respiratory tract’s defense system. Research has found that people who ate foods rich in flavonoids were less likely to get colds and other upper respiratory tract infections.
  • Garlic – While garlic has long been used as a home remedy to prevent common colds, some research has suggested that eating foods that contain the herb may help reduce the number of colds a person gets every year.
  • Green tea – Like blueberries, green tea contains flavonoids that may reduce the risk of viral infections. Green tea only contains a very small amount of caffeine so it can be safely consumed or substituted for coffee or black tea.
  • Oranges – Oranges are an excellent source of vitamin C, which is what many people are already familiar with to help prevent or treat a cold. While scientists are still not sure exactly how it helps, vitamin C may reduce the duration of common cold symptoms and improve the function of the immune system. Other citrus fruits, fruit juices, and some vegetables, such as red peppers, that contain vitamin C can also be beneficial to keeping germs away.
  • Nuts, seeds, and nut butters – Certain nuts are high in vitamin E, which is another antioxidant that strengthens your immune system. Nuts such as almonds, hazelnuts, and sunflower seeds, and peanut butter are good sources of vitamin E.
  • TurmericTurmeric is a yellow spice used in cooking and has also been used in alternative medicine. Its main ingredient, curcumin, is believed to lower the risk of many diseases, such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. It’s action as an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant strengthens the body’s immune response.
  • Spinach – Spinach is a super food that contains vitamins C and E as well as flavonoids and carotenoids, all of which can boost your immune system.
  • KefirKefir is a fermented drink that contains live cultures of bacteria that are beneficial for health. Several studies have shown it can fight off bacteria, reduce inflammation, and increase antioxidant activity.

Adding these foods to your diet may help strengthen your immune system and reduce your risk for colds and viruses, but eating a balanced, healthy diet along with good lifestyle choices such as exercising, not smoking, and getting enough sleep will go a long way toward keeping you healthy year-round.

 

How to Eat for Heart Health

February is American Heart Month, a designated time led by the American Heart Association to help raise awareness of heart disease, and to encourage people to live a healthy lifestyle by making small changes that can lead to better heart health.

One of these small changes is eating a healthy diet, and it’s one of the best things you can do for your heart. There are certain foods that can help lower blood pressure and reduce cholesterol to help lower your risk for heart disease. Working these foods into your diet on a regular basis is a simple lifestyle change that can have big benefits for your heart health.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) caution that eating foods high in fat, cholesterol, or sodium can be bad for your heart. Avoiding these types of foods or limiting their portions and incorporating more heart-healthy foods into your diet is a great way to reduce your overall heart disease risk.

A diet that is rich in whole foods, limits processed foods, and includes whole grains, nuts, fish, olive oil, and lots of fruits and vegetables is the best way to reduce your risk for cardiovascular disease. Making a few small swaps can make a huge difference.

These 15 foods are good for your heart, and you should include some of them in your daily diet.

1. Fish – Choose seafood that is high in Omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring, and trout.
2. Nuts – Snack on almonds or walnuts; just be sure to watch your portion sizes since nuts are high in calories.
3. Berries – Colorful berries like strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries are full of fiber and phytonutrients that are great for heart health. Add a serving to your yogurt or cereal, or eat them as a healthy snack.
4. Seeds – Flaxseeds and chia seeds contain Omega-3s, fiber, and phytoestrogens that can boost heart health.
5. Oats – There’s a reason oatmeal is the preferred breakfast cereal, as it can help reduce cholesterol and provide lots of other nutrients and fiber.
6. Legumes – Beans and lentils such as garbanzo, pinto, kidney, or black beans are high in fiber, B-vitamins, minerals, and more. Cook them in a chili or soup or serve them as a side dish at meals.
7. Red wine – If you crave that glass of wine after work, just make sure it’s red and keep it at a 4-ounce serving to help improve your good cholesterol levels (HDL).
8. Soy – Edamame, tofu, and other soy-based foods are great to work into meals for a heart boost.
9. Vegetables – Choose red, yellow, and orange veggies that contain carotenoids for the best health punch. Eat veggies like carrots, sweet potatoes, red peppers, and tomatoes regularly to get the most benefit.
10. Leafy green vegetables – Eat your greens! Substitute spinach, kale, collard greens, or bok choy for lettuce in salads and sandwiches. Add broccoli and asparagus as sides for meals.
11. Fruits – Select fruits rich in beta-carotene like oranges, cantaloupe, and papaya.
12. Whole grains – An easy swap is to switch to whole grain breads, pastas, and rice instead of white-flour versions. The more whole grains you eat, including oats, rye, barely, and quinoa, the more heart benefits you get.
13. Avocados – Avocados are a great source of “good” fat and potassium that can reduce cholesterol and decrease heart disease risk.
14. Olive oil – Use it for cooking in place of vegetable oil, and add it to sauces and vinaigrettes to improve overall heart health.
15. Dark chocolate – You can still enjoy dessert, just replace milk chocolate with dark chocolate, and choose those with the highest percentage of cocoa to counteract the sugar content.