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Top 4 Dietary Changes to Improve HealthTop 4 Dietary Changes to Improve Health


Dietary Changes to Improve Health

Research continues to show that there are positives and negatives to just about every eating style. Regardless of the specific foods you eat, and when you choose to eat them, here are a few guidelines that can make everyone healthier.

Reduce processed foods

Processed foods contain few of the natural nutrients obtained from fresh fruits, vegetables, and plant-based proteins. Unfortunately, they do contain sodium, fat, and additives. Relying on packaged, processed foods for the bulk of your food intake can rob you of the valuable nutrients that are plentiful in fresh foods.

Balance calorie intake

Calorie balance is important to maintain a healthy weight. Whether you adjust your food intake or you increase physical activity, pay attention to how much you eat and how much you move, taking note of how it influences your weight. Weight loss results from burning more calories than you take in. If you are maintaining a healthy weight, that is a good indicator that your intake and output are in balance.

Eat more plant-based foods

Research supports that a plant-based diet is beneficial to health. Incorporate more dark, leafy greens, beans, legumes, cruciferous vegetables, citrus fruits, and berries into your eating plan. These foods provide unique phytonutrients that promote health. Their fiber and water content will help keep you feeling full keep you feeling full.

Reduce added sugar

According to the Mayo Clinic, the average American gets over 22 teaspoons of added sugar a day. That is more than double the recommended 9 teaspoons per day for men, and nearly triple the recommend 6 teaspoons for women. Excess added sugars have been linked to poor nutrition, weight gain, increased triglycerides, and tooth decay.

High Fructose Corn Syrup and Weight LossHigh Fructose Corn Syrup and Weight Loss


High Fructose Corn Syrup and Weight Loss

What Is High Fructose Corn Syrup?

High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is a sweetener used by food manufacturers. It is formed when corn starch is broken down into corn syrup. Enzymes are added to the corn syrup to convert some of its glucose to fructose. The result is a sweetener that is about 50 percent glucose and 50 percent fructose. It is a less expensive alternative to sugar, and it also serves as a preservative in packaged foods. HFCS is most often associated with regular soda, but if you check food labels, you will find it in pasta sauce, barbeque sauce, ketchup, sweet pickles, jam, bread, crackers, cereals, ice cream, and baked goods.

How Does HFCS Affect Weight?

Many health professionals question if HFCS is linked to the rise in obesity over the past 50 years. It is speculated that fructose alters the hormonal response of the body, resulting in increased body fat storage and appetite when compared to other sugars with the same number of calories. Supporters of HFCS argue that chemically it is similar to table sugar, and that the body does not recognize the difference. The topic is still heavily debated with research supporting both sides. As with most theories, more research will eventually reveal if there are associations between HFCS and weight gain.

Should I Eat Foods with HFCS?

HFCS is an added sugar. Reducing added sugar intake is important for health regardless of whether that sugar comes from white table sugar or HFCS. The American Heart Association recommends that women limit added sugar intake to no more than 100 calories (six teaspoons) per day and men to no more than 150 calories (nine teaspoons) per day. Reducing your intake of packaged, processed foods and regular soda will reduce your overall intake of the sweetener. But for a healthy diet and reduced risk of disease, be sure you aren’t replacing HFCS with other added sugars.


8 Foods that Keep You Feeling Full8 Foods that Keep You Feeling Full


Foods that Keep You Feeling Full

The key to smart snacking is finding foods with a balance of complex carbohydrate, heart-healthy fat, and protein. This combination gives you long-lasting energy and prevents a spike in blood sugar that will leave you hungry in a few hours. Here are a few foods that will curb hunger and keep you feeling full.


Avocados are loaded with heart-healthy fats that help to sustain your energy levels. Research shows that they also help the body absorb valuable antioxidants. Mash up half an avocado and spread it over a piece of whole grain bread for a mid-morning snack.


Beans pack a punch of nutrition with protein and fiber. Combine a few of your favorite cooked beans with basil or cilantro, minced onion, and bell pepper. Drizzle it with extra virgin olive oil to add healthy fats.


This garbanzo bean and sesame based spread provides protein, fiber, and unsaturated fats. Use it as a dip for fresh vegetables or spread it over whole wheat pita bread for a healthy afternoon snack.

Natural Nut Butters

Store shelves are now lined with nut butters from peanuts, almonds, cashews, pecans, and even macadamia nuts. All of these spreads contain the same quality protein and heart-healthy fat as whole nuts. Just be sure to read the label closely and select those that are unsweetened and low in sodium.


Research shows that people who eat peanuts maintain a lower BMI and waist circumference when compared to those who don’t consume nuts. Peanuts help reduce hunger due to their high protein and fiber content which stabilizes blood sugar. They also provide monounsaturated fatty acids.


Not only do pistachios provide protein, fat, and fiber for fullness, they are also one of the lowest calorie nuts. Taking the time to remove the shell will also slow your snacking, helping you to practice mindful eating.

Pumpkin Seeds

Also called pepitas, a 1 ounce serving of pumpkin seeds has 9 grams of protein and provides both polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fat. Snack on a few when hunger hits in the afternoon and you will make it to dinner without giving in to an unhealthy option.


Yogurt contains fewer of the healthy fats than other snacks in the list, but it is packed with protein. Choose Greek yogurt for an even greater protein boost. Pay attention to nutrient and ingredient labels. Buy plain yogurt and add honey or fruit to control the amount of sugar and calories in each serving.


10 Ways to Lower Sodium Intake10 Ways to Lower Sodium Intake


Ways to Lower Sodium Intake

Taste first.

If you reach for the salt shaker the second your plate hits the table, set it down and start tasting your food first. Most foods have plenty of salt added during cooking and they taste delicious once served. Break the habit and train yourself to taste your food before adding excess sodium.

Use herbs and spices.

Go overboard on basil, cilantro, mint, cumin, and curry. The more herbs and spices you add to your food, the less salt you will need to bring out the flavors in the dish.

Cut a little at a time.

A love of salt is something that grows over time, and loving it less takes time, too. Begin by reducing how much salt you use by 1/8 teaspoon per day. Over the next week, cut it by another 1/8. Continue this process until you find a reduced level that still tastes good.

Cook more.

Processed, convenience foods, and restaurant meals are notorious for being loaded with sodium. By cooking dinner just two nights per week, and controlling the amount of salt and packaged foods used, you can greatly reduce your sodium intake.

Take care when eating out.

When you do eat out, look for low-sodium options on the menu. Don’t assume that healthier options like salads and steamed vegetables have reduced salt. Sauces, toppings, and dressings can make the sodium content skyrocket. Ask your server how foods are prepared and ask for the amount of salt to be reduced.

Rinse it away.

When using canned foods, such as beans and vegetables, rinse and drain the contents before adding them to your recipes. Tests show that rinsing and draining canned beans can reduce sodium up to 40%. Also, always select no-salt-added varieties whenever possible.

Go easy on instant.

Instant foods like hot and cold cereals, bars, and boxed kits like rice and potatoes dishes are already seasoned, often with lots of sodium. Look for low-processed forms of cereals and other grains, and experiment with making your own bars and side dishes. You can add your own herbs and spices for flavor without so much salt.

Watch out for low, light, and reduced.

When a packaged food is made lower in calories, carbohydrates, or fat, companies have to find a way to boost the flavor. Unfortunately, this is often done with additives that spike sodium content. Don’t assume that these terms mean that the food is a healthy choice.

Pick plain.

When selecting everything from frozen fish and vegetables to a baked potato at a restaurant, pick plain. Skip sauces and other toppings, or ask for these on the side. You can then add an appropriate amount for flavor without excess salt.

Careful with condiments.

Often the foods we eat don’t have a lot of sodium, but what we choose to put on top of them do. Ketchup, barbecue sauce, soy sauce, relishes, cheeses, sour cream, salad dressings, and salted seeds and nuts can be loaded with sodium. Cut back on how much you use or select low-sodium versions.

How to Lose Weight: Diet or Exercise?How to Lose Weight: Diet or Exercise?


How to Lose Weight:  Diet or Exercise?

It is possible to lose weight by only reducing your calorie intake or by only increasing exercise, but research shows combining the two is a much more effective approach.

While reducing calories alone has a slight edge over exercising to lose weight, exercise can help you keep the weight off. Studies show that that those who successfully maintain their weight loss are often regular exercisers.

Combining dietary changes with exercise can also help you feel less deprived. Weight loss occurs when you take in fewer calories than you burn. By exercising, you create a greater calorie deficit for weight loss.

In order to lose 1 pound per week, you will need to create an average calorie deficit of 500 calories per day. While you can cut 500 calories from the foods you eat, a better approach may be to burn 250 extra calories and cut your food intake by 250 calories. You will likely feel less overwhelmed and more energetic with this approach. This will increase the likelihood that you will stick with your new healthy habits.

See also

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