Are Barbecues Bad For Your Health?

As we settle into the barbecue season, it’s time to consider whether the meat on your grill is harming your health. Conflicting messages in the media certainly don’t help. On one hand are advertisements with Sam Neill claiming red meat is the reason that humans are smarter than orangutans. On the other, the prestigious World Cancer Research Fund reports that red meat may cause colorectal cancer. Whom to believe? The good bits, and bad Some red meat does contain fats our brains need. Omega-3 fats form part of the structure of brains and eyes, and may also help reduce blood pressure and modify inflammation. But meat isn’t the only food containing omega-3 fats. In fact, the richest sources are oily fish. And if you buy grain-fed steak, you may be getting hardly any omega-3 fats at all. Grass-fed meat (and wild meats, such as kangaroo) is not only better for the environment, but better nutritionally, containing healthier fats and a lower fat content overall. Red meat also contains decent amounts of zinc and protein, as well as iron, which is one of its big nutritional selling points. Indeed, the iron in red meat is in a form that our bodies absorb easily — “haem” iron. Meat producers are fond of producing colourful ads that equate the iron content of a bucket-load of spinach with that of a small juicy-looking nugget of lean beef. And iron deficiency is an important issue — but that same haem iron may be harmful in fatty processed meat as you will see. As well as beneficial nutrients, meat also contains saturated fat, the kind...

Light Exercise After Meals Can Improve Heart Health

We know that eating well and staying active keep you healthy, but we’re still in the process of discovering the best times to eat and exercise. Through a study by the American College of Sports Medicine, it turns out light exercise specifically after a meal can help improve your heart health. Here’s why: “High triglyceride levels can put individuals at risk for cardiovascular disease, heart attack, and other heart-related conditions. Regular exercise is a good way to keep triglycerides from becoming elevated, and the results of this study may help individuals manage their triglyceride levels more effectively by considering the timing,” said the primary investigator, Wataru Aoi, Ph.D., of Kyoto Prefectural University in Kyoto, Japan. In a small sample of healthy participants who were not currently participating in an exercise program, a low-intensity exercise combination of walking and light resistance exercises suppressed the elevation of post-meal triglyceride concentration after eating a high-fat meal. This effect was noted in VLDL, LDL, and HDL fractions. These findings seem to conflict with the more commonly-held belief that exercise before eating is better as it boosts your metabolism and aids in better digestion, but the two don’t necessarily contradict one another. Whether you exercise before or not, it looks like you will do yourself a favour by moving around post-meal. After all, it makes sense. When your body is working to digest food, lying around probably isn’t going to help. You can learn more about the ACSM on its website. Share this:PrintEmailFacebookTwitterGoogleLike this:Like...

What Makes a Diet Easy to Follow?

Losing weight is never going to be a piece of cake. But obstacles like bland food, a rigid eating schedule, and hours-long meal prep make sticking to a diet—and seeing the number on the scale steadily decline—much less likely. That's why it's smart to look for a plan or approach that's relatively easy to follow. "It's always going to be hard at first, but you're more likely to be able to live with some diets than you are others," says registered dietitian Andrea Giancoli, who serves on U.S. News'sBest Diets panel of experts in nutrition and diet. "You don't want something that's immediately setting you up for failure." U.S. News's Best Diets 2013 includes eight sets of rankings, including Easiest Diets to Follow. The rankings rely on our expert panel's ratings of 29 popular diets from 5 (best) to 1 (worst) depending on how much difficulty the judges thought dieters would have in getting used to a diet, how much taste appeal they felt it would offer, how full they believed it would make dieters feel, and how many rules would have to be obeyed. The experts put Weight Watchers at the top of the Easiest to Follow standings. They liked that it's flexible, tasty, and allows for plenty of eating throughout the day—nothing is off limits, and there's no need for dieters to go hungry. Weight Watchers was followed by Jenny Craig, the Flexitarian diet, theMediterranean diet, Slim-Fast, and Volumetrics. Here's a behind-the-curtains look at what the experts were asked to consider. They apply to any diet, not just the 29 we ranked. Initial adjustment. One day you're living on pasta, white bread, chicken wings, and potato chips. The next,...

Why Smoothies Aren’t A Healthy Choice

You might think of a fruit smoothie as a healthy snack option, but it very much depends on the ingredients. An analysis of smoothies sold in Australian chain stores by CHOICE highlights that some smoothies have more kilojoules than you need in a single meal. CHOICE analysed 95 fruit-based drinks from popular chains, including Boost Juice, Donut King, Gloria Jean’s, New Zealand Natural and Wendys. The results weren’t pretty. 81 were rated as high in sugar (more than 7.5g per 100ml), and 13 had more than 1900 kilojoules in a typical serve. As CHOICE spokesperson Ingrid Just explained in the release announcing the study: “Smoothies might have a healthy image but some are packed with hidden sugars like high-fructose syrup and fruit juice concentrates which pack a dense sugary punch when compared with a couple of pieces of fresh fruit. This makes smoothies more like a sugary meal than a snack. Sugar isn’t the only problem. Five of the smoothies sold at Muffin Break have more than 11 grams of saturated fat in a single serve. There’s a lot of variation in what counts as a ‘small’ or ‘regular’ serve at each chain, which makes choosing trickier. Some chains offer nutritional information, but this isn’t yet a universal trend. The simple solution? Skip smoothies altogether and eat a piece of fruit (or two) instead. Hit the link for CHOICE’s recommendations for the best and worst choices. Are smoothies and frappés healthy? [CHOICE] Share this:PrintEmailFacebookTwitterGoogleLike this:Like...

Test Shows Subconscious ‘Stop Signs’ Can Help Control Overeating

Once you pop the top of a tube of potato chips, it can be hard to stop munching its contents. But Cornell University researchers may have found a novel way to help: edible serving-size markers that act as subconscious stop signs. As part of an experiment carried out on two groups of college students (98 students total) while they were watching video clips in class, researchers from Cornell's Food and Brand Lab served tubes potato chips, some of which contained chips dyed red. Researchers found that the red chips served as subconscious "stop signs" that curtailed the amount of food consumed. In the first study, the red chips were interspersed at intervals designating one suggested serving size (seven chips) or two serving sizes (14 chips); in the second study, this was changed to five and 10 chips. Unaware of why some of the chips were red, the students who were served those tubes ate 50 percent less than their peers. "People generally eat what is put in front of them if it is palatable," said Cornell Food and Brand Lab director Brian Wansink. "An increasing amount of research suggests that some people use visual indications such as a clean plate or bottom of a bowl to tell them when to stop eating." Source Share this:PrintEmailFacebookTwitterGoogleLike this:Like...
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