Sunday, 6 July 2014

Mediterranean Diet Snacks

Snacks are an important part of daily life for many people, but how can you adapt your snacks to fit into the healthy eating style of the Mediterranean diet?   We lead busy lifestyles and don’t always have time to sit down to a full meal at regular intervals.  A quick bite to eat to keep us going until the next meal is a normal habit for most people, unfortunately this may be a chocolate bar or packet of chips from a vending machine or a couple of biscuits from the staff tea room.  Not only do these types of snacks provide little in the way of nutrients, they are full of saturated fat, salt, flavours and preservatives, all of which can be detrimental to our health and do not feature in a Mediterranean style diet.

Why snacking can be good for us

‘Snack’ foods have a bad reputation, which is in most cases well deserved.  The typical commercial snack food is a nutrition nightmare, providing nothing in the way of health benefits.  However, this does not mean that the concept of snacking is in fact a bad one.  A healthy snack between meals can help to curb hunger and prevent you from reaching for a chocolate bar when the three pm munchies hit.  In addition to this, if you go into your meals with a feeling of intense hunger, you are more likely to over eat, or grab the first thing that comes to hand without much thought to nutrition or health, a nutritious snack between meals may reduce this type of behaviour.  Snacks high in protein or whole grain complex carbohydrates that are digested slowly are perfect to subdue hunger.

Eating at regular intervals may also be beneficial for our metabolism, and consequently help with weight control.  If we go for long periods without consuming food, our body begins to conserve ‘fuel’ as a safety measure in case it is a long time before more is available.  This means storing energy in the form of fat, rather than burning it.  If we eat small amounts regularly this limits storage of calories, as the body knows it will get more fuel soon.  An ideal snack should be around 200 calories or less, although if you are trying to lose weight you may wish to choose lower calorie options.

Finally, snacking can be an excellent way to add more nutrition to your diet.  You can boost your calcium intake with a low fat dairy based snack such as yogurt or fresh cheese, or increase vitamins with fresh fruit or vegetables.

What makes good Mediterranean diet snacks?

The Mediterranean diet promotes a high intake of whole grains, nuts, legumes, fruit and vegetables and fish and a moderate intake of low fat dairy products and healthy unsaturated fats such as olive oil.  Therefore snacks based on these foods are ideal.

5 Mediterranean Diet Snacks Ideas

1/4 Cup Hummus dip with 1/2 cup raw vegetables -  130 calories (Less than 1 g saturated fat)

Hummus TipThis chickpea based dip made with olive oil is an ideal Med diet snack, high in fibre, unsaturated fats and protein to keep you fuller for longer.  By dipping chopped vegetables such as carrots, cucumber, or capsicum you are also increasing your intake of important vitamins and minerals.  Sprinkle the dip with a little paprika and lemon juice for flavor.

25 g Unsalted nuts – 152 calories (based on mixed nuts)- 1.8g saturated fat

The perfect natural snack on the go, nuts make a quick and
easy snack option that is easy to transport.  High in protein, nuts will keep you fuller for longer as well as providing fibre, Vitamin E (an important antioxidant), unsaturated fats and a whole range of other vitamins and minerals important for health.  Almonds are particularly nutritious, but make sure you choose unroasted varieties as saturated fats such as palm oil are often used in the roasting process.  It is also important to stick to a small handful if you are watching your weight as nuts are high in calories.

1 Tomato with 25g low fat feta cheese and 1 tsp. olive oil – 107 calories – 2.9 g saturated fat

A quick and delicious salad that is incredibly simple and packed with nutrition.  Tomatoes are contain Lycopene, an important antioxidant that reverses cell damage in the body, as well as high levels of vitamins A, C and potassium.  Paired with low fat feta cheese for extra protein and calcium and olive oil for healthy fats , this combination makes the perfect nutritious yet healthy mid afternoon snack and combines three important components of the Med diet.

1 Cup fresh fruit with ½ cup low fat yoghurt dip – 147 calories – 1.2g saturated fat

Slice a variety of fresh fruit into bite sized pieces and arrange them around a bowl of low fat natural yogurt for a Med diet friendly party snack.  This not only looks beautiful and tastes great, but provides vitamins, fibre and calcium and a low fat snacking option for parties that everyone will thank you for.  Drizzle a little honey into the yogurt if you prefer more sweetness.  This snack is also a great work or school snack, just chop up fruit and put in a plastic container and pack a mini pot of yogurt for dipping.

Small tin of Tuna on 4 whole wheat crackers – 205 calories (based on tuna in water) -1.2g saturated fat

Oily fish such as tuna are an important protein source in the Med diet.  By combining reduced salt tinned tuna with whole grain crackers, you are also increasing your intake of whole grains, another important part of the diet.  Tuna provides Omega 3 fatty acids, which play a part in lowering blood cholesterol levels, as well as protein to stop your hunger.  Tuna packed in olive oil is the ideal choice for those following the Med diet, but if you are watching your weight a water packed one is lower in calories. - Mediterranean Diet Snacks

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Foods to Avoid Belly Fat

Dream of getting rid of that gut? Here are foods to avoid belly fat when you add them to your diet.

Black Beans
All legumes are full of protein and fiber -- two well-known appetite crushers. And thanks to their dark color, black beans are also one of the highest in flavonoids of all the beans. And research shows that flavonoids may thwart the storage of excess tummy fat.

Cold Potatoes
Hate having to pass on the potatoes for the sake of your pants size? Well, you may not have to. Just eat them cold -- as in vinegar potato salad. If you chill potatoes overnight, they form something called resistant starch crystals -- a constituent of fiber that triggers the production of two hunger-halting hormones, according to research. And resistant starch helps the body incinerate more fat for fuel while making less fat available to stash away in fat cells. 

Hard to believe that rich-tasting, calorie-packed peanuts could help you lose weight. But they just might. Seems the healthy fats in peanuts are burned more readily than the less-healthy fats found in cookies, chips, and creamy desserts. So make them your snack of choice.

Sunflower Seeds
Toss 'em into soups and salads, mix them into yogurt, or
Foods to Avoid Belly Fat - Sunflower Seeds
sprinkle them onto sandwiches for nutty crunch. Plus, sunflower seeds (unsalted, please) are high in monounsaturated fat -- a healthful type of fat that appeared to inhibit waist widening in a study of overweight people. 

Seems the white version of this brew may be a veritable fat blaster. When human fat cells were treated with white tea extract in a lab study, the cells absorbed about 70% less fat than the untreated cells did. And those same tea compounds also triggered the breakdown of fat in existing cells.

Apple Cider Vinegar
As a fish condiment and tang-provider for sauces and salad dressings, nothing beats apple cider vinegar. But here's a big bonus: Apple cider vinegar also has a compound called acetic acid, which turbocharges the body's ability to burn fat and simultaneously hinders fat storage. - Foods to Avoid Belly Fat

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Why you should give up Diet Soda

Why you should give up Diet Soda
For lots of healthy types, the frequently stated fact that Diet Coke might be “empty calories” actually goes down just fine compared to office cupcakes, which they’re not regularly scarfing.

And reaching for a diet soda fits nicely into the “allowable-exceptions” category of a healthy New York lifestyle. You know, along with a glass of Sancerre, the occasional dinner at Eataly, and watching the Real Housewives.

But should you allow Diet Coke a free pass? (Ditto: Housewives.)

While sipping diet soda seems harmless, especially in the context of a generally healthy life, a surprising number of substantial studies show the opposite, that drinking Diet Coke and Aspartame can greatly interfere with your health.

As Dr. Helen Hazuda, professor of medicine at University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, found last year, “[Diet soda] may be free of calories, but not of consequences.” And she wasn’t talking about the caffeine.

Interpreting the data of two studies, Dr. Hazuda pointed out that it caused a blood sugar spike in mice, and suggested that diet sodas may inhibit the signal that tells you when you’re full. 

Here are 6 more reasons to give up diet soda:  

1. It messes with your skin. Diet Coke lowers your pH levels, which can cause acne, and zap you of radiance. We need a high level of alkalinity for our bodies to be healthy and expressed in our glowing complexion, explains Dr. Jeanette Graf, author of Stop Aging, Start Living: The Revolutionary 2-Week pH Diet. As Dr. Graf told us recently, “If there’s one thing you should never consume, it’s soda. Soda is an extreme acid-forming substance which will lower your pH level dramatically.”

2. It alters your mood. The mood-food connection is ever-rising, and Aspartame in Diet Coke can really do a doozey on those with anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder. Aspartame is also on an EPA list of potentially dangerous chemicals contributing to neurotoxicity, right under Arsenic. So that’s kind of saying it could alter your brain, too.

3. Weight gain and belly fat. Ironically, we actually gain weight from Diet Coke. In two studies conducted by the School of Medicine at The University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio, those “who said they consumed two or more diet sodas a day, experienced waist circumference increases that were 500 percent greater than those of non-users.”

4. It causes diabetes and heart disease. When waist circumference (belly fat) increases, this contributes to diabetes and heart disease, which a 2010 study in the Journal of General Internal Medicine confirmed.

5. It makes your kidneys sluggish. Diet soda may interfere with the kidneys, found the Harvard Nurse’s Study, which reported a 30% drop in kidney function with just two servings of diet soda each day.

6. Aspartame’s been linked to cancer. A lot. Aspartame is “generally recognized as safe” by the FDA while substantial data has shown its link to cancer. The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) cautions against Aspartame because it’s poorly tested, and contains three well-recognized neurotoxins. Aspartame was found to increase cancer risk if exposure begins in the womb, reported a study at the Cesare Maltoni Cancer Research Center. And various studies have linked lymphoma and tumors in rats. And beware the BPA of cans and caramel coloring, reports Grist.

Kind of takes the fizz out of it, right?

Do the best experiment out there—the one on your own body. We dare you to lower your soda intake for a week and see if you notice any changes in skin, weight, or mood. - Why you should give up Diet Soda

Monday, 19 May 2014

Too Much Saturated Fat in Diet

Saturated fat is the leading cause of high cholesterol, a leading factor in heart disease. Saturated fats occur naturally in many animal and some plant foods; hydrogenated fats and trans fatty acids are often found in processed foods. Cutting down your dietary fat content is important to weight loss, but even if you're not trying to lose weight, keeping saturated fats out of your diet can be vital to your heart health.

Fats and Your Health

You may have heard a lot of talk about "good fats" and "bad fats." The fact of the matter is, we all need some fats in our diet. Fats are essential to health; among other things, they help with nutrient absorption, maintaining the integrity of cell walls and transmitting nerve signals. But too much saturated fat in diet, or the wrong kind of fat, can contribute to weight gain, heart disease and cancer.

Fats aren't all the same. Some fats can have a positive impact on health; others can make us sick. Too much of any kind of fat can have a detrimental effect, and knowing which kinds of fats to include in your diet, how many of them to eat and where you can find them can be confusing.

Good Fats and Bad Fats: Knowing the Difference

The so-called "good" fats lower total cholesterol, including LDL cholesterol, the cholesterol that contributes to heart disease and cancer. At the same time, good fats increase levels of HDL cholesterol in your blood. Experts believe that HDL cholesterol actually helps prevent arterial plaque  build-up by carrying LDL cholesterol back to your liver, where it's eliminated from your body. Good fats can even contribute to weight loss.

Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats are the good fats. These fats are found in nuts, such as peanuts and walnuts. They're also present in avocados, as well as canola and olive oils. Polyunsaturated fats include omega-3 fatty acids; they're found in seafood and fish oil, as well as soy, corn, safflower and sunflower oils.

Saturated fats and trans fats are the bad fats. Saturated fat is found in animal products and oils, including:
whole dairy products
coconut oil
palm and palm kernel oils

Trans fats don't occur in nature. They were invented by scientists who hydrogenated fats to give them a higher shelf life in processed foods. They're found in fast foods, packaged foods and in solidified oils, such as vegetable shortening and stick margarine.

Fats and Your Diet: Striking a Balance

Fats of any type should form no more than 25 to 35 percent of your daily calories. Saturated fats should form no more than 7 percent of your daily calories, and trans fats no more than 1 percent of your daily calories. If you're healthy, limit your total cholesterol intake to no more than 300 mg per day. If you have heart disease or high cholesterol, limit your total cholesterol intake to no more than 200 mg per day.

Nuts in moderation have very good fats
Limit meat and dairy products in your diet; most of your dietary fat should come from nuts, seeds, seafood and healthy oils. - Too Much Saturated fat in Diet

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Foods to Increase Metabolism

If you eat foods that increase metabolism you can eat more and still lose weight. Nutrition is a critical factor in weight loss. What you eat greatly affects whether you lose weight or not in the long run and it all starts with eating foods to increase metabolism. Now, you might think that it sounds pretty strange to say you need to eat more to lose weight, but actually it is true. The importance of a high metabolism and eating foods that can increase it is critical to your weight loss success.

Your metabolism is the rate at which biochemical processes and various chemical reactions take place in your body. Someone with high metabolism has a body that is working much harder and more efficiently, which means that he or she will burn more calories naturally without having to pay attention to diet or exercise. People who have low metabolic rates, on the other hand, will need to work harder in order to lose weight because their body doesn't naturally burn as many calories throughout the day by itself. Because of this fact, it's important to include a variety of foods that increase metabolism in your diet in order to keep the body working and lose weight.

There are many options of breakfast foods that increase metabolism, which offers a lot of variety when it comes to eating your morning meal. Milk, oatmeal and cereal with whole grains are all foods that increase metabolism. You may want to have milk each and every morning along with a bowl of whole grain cereal or oatmeal. For variety you can change it up by adding fruit or nuts to your oatmeal or whole grain cereal. Keep in mind that just eating breakfast is a great way to boost your metabolism, because you get your body nourished and energized and start the metabolic process going.

There are plenty of foods that increase metabolism that you can incorporate into your healthy eating plans for the rest of your meals as well. These foods include things like chicken, pork, salmon, beef, tuna, turkey, sardines, many types of fruit
Foods to Increase Metabolism
and vegetables, and healthy oils like olive oil. It's a good idea to eat the healthiest foods from that list, though. For example, it's a good idea to eat lean meats and plenty of fruits and vegetables, rather than fried foods or fatty meats. How food is prepared will also affect the success of your weight loss program.

Exercise is also an effective way to increase your metabolism, but it all starts with nutrition, so to lose weight quickly and remain healthy choose plenty of foods that increase metabolism and include some exercise in your daily routine.

Friday, 9 May 2014

Grapefruit Diet Plans

Grapefruit Diet Plans
Have you heard about the grapefruit diet plan. While many professionals encourage dieters to stay away from one food diets, the twelve day grapefruit diet comes with some advantages.

The Twelve Day Grapefruit Diet Plan
The Grapefruit Diet Plan or the Twelve Day Grapefruit Diet has been around for years. You follow a schedule of twelve days on, two days off cycle, repeating it until you drop the pounds you want.

Does this grapefruit diet plans work? Any diet that limits your calories to approximately eight hundred a day, is probably going to work. Instead, though, of focusing only on eating grapefruit, the diet requires that you eat grapefruit in one form or another. It does not matter whether it's the fruit itself or juice as long as you have it at every meal.
Although you can eat other foods, there are some foods on the "Thou Shalt Not Eat" list. In terms of vegetables you're banned from lettuce, green beans, peas, cucumbers, cabbage, tomatoes and celery.

For many people, the twelve day grapefruit diet plan is very hard to follow on a long term basis. While an individual might be able to stay on the diet for twelve days, it's hard to keep going on the twelve days on, twelve days off cycle. It's restrictions simply get to be too boring.

Keep in mind, though, that grapefruit is a valuable addition to anyone's diet. It's a good source of Vitamin C and low in calories. Eating grapefruit helps reduce the insulin found in your system. In addition, it often helps reduce cholesterol which is useful in fighting heart disease. It's also high in fiber, potassium and folic acid. In addition to that good news, there's recent research that had early indications that grapefruit can repair DNA and be of use in the fight against cancer. This is another good reason to try the twelve day grapefruit diet plan.

If you do want to try a primary one-food diet, the twelve day grapefruit diet is a good one to try. Even with its benefits to your health, its good flavor and ease of preparation, a diet exclusively based upon grapefruit is not a good idea.
However, the best use of grapefruit outside of breakfast is for an afternoon or mid morning snack, especially when it replaces a candy bar. So, be sure to give the twelve day grapefruit diet plan a try and start losing those unwanted pounds fast. - Grapefruit Diet Plans

Saturday, 26 April 2014

How do Body Fat Scales Work

Looking fat is not necessarily
 the same as being fat
Appearances can deceive. This holds true for determining the level of physical fitness in an individual because looking fat is not necessarily the same as being fat, a difference that can be measured with the measurement of body fat. The digital fat scales are the best devices for this purpose.

Uses for the Scales

Many people will think that a weighing scale is sufficient since one can always determine obesity in a person. Just look at the number on the scale and then compare it with the ideal weight for a person in the age and height range the individual belongs to. But that's not the entire story.

This is because the weight as indicated on the weighing scale does not distinguish between the pounds that come from fat in your body and from lean body mass. Only a fat weight scale can accomplish such important differentiation.

So, how do body fat scales work? Basically, it works by using a technology known as Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis (BIA). The individual steps on the scale, just as in the conventional weighing scale.

Then, a small electrical current - it's harmless, so no worries there - is passed through the body. The fat weight scale then measures the resistance encountered inside the body with the theory being that the current will pass through lean muscle mass faster than it does on fatty tissues.

The resulting amount is the fat percentage, of which the ideal percentages will differ depending on the age, sex and height of the individual being measured. For example, women 20 to 40 years old are said to have healthy body fat percentages from 21 to 33%. In the same age group, men are considered healthy when their body fat measured at 8 to 19%.

Still, it must be noted that fat scales cannot measure actual body fat percentage. Instead, these measure your body density, which will then be used in a formula that calculates the fat percentage for the individual. Differences in age, gender, physical activity, and general health must also be considered but, all in all, the body fat weight scales are important in monitoring one's health in relation to weight and body fat.

Tips on Using the Scales

The trick in using body fat scales for maximum results is to use these devices with consistency. When used properly, an individual has a more-or-less objective measurement of his progress toward overall physical fitness. The following tips should help in this regard.

• Choose the body fat scale calibrated for the individual's age range (adults or children), physical activity (average exerciser or serious athlete) and other personal factors 
• Consistent conditions are very important to secure comparable results. Thus, the room temperature and other physical conditions where the scale is located must be similar from one day to the next. 
• Measure yourself during the same time each day, as much as possible. 
• Before measuring yourself, drink the same amount of water an hour before actually stepping on the scale. But remember not to exercise before the actual measurement as it will affect the number shown on the scale as well.

The body fat scales are just devices - you have to take the necessary measures to use them properly. - How do Body Fat Scales Work