How To Follow a Heart-Healthy Diet?

happy mothers day, strawberries, ripe

Many diets are very specific about what you can’t eat. However, the most powerful (and empowering) diets help you focus instead on what you can and should eat. In fact, research shows that adding certain foods to your diet is just as important as cutting back on others.

That especially holds true for a heart-healthy diet.

The connection between nutrition and your heart

Good nutrition and a healthy heart go hand in hand. For example, following a heart-healthy diet can help reduce your total cholesterol and bad (or LDL) cholesterol, lower your blood sugars and triglycerides, and decrease your blood pressure. For instance, potassium — which is found in many fruits and vegetables — can help lower your blood pressure.

Even more importantly, making good diet choices can also address risk factors for heart disease and heart-related conditions. That means eating healthier foods can reduce or even eliminate the chance you’ll develop certain health issues down the line.


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What to eat and avoid with a heart-healthy diet

According to the American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology Lifestyle Management Guideline on the Primary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease (2019), a heart-healthy diet focuses on:

  • Vegetables.
  • Fruits.
  • Nuts.
  • Whole grains.
  • Lean animal protein.
  • Fish.

Heart-healthy diets should avoid:

  • Trans fats.
  • Saturated fats.
  • Red meat (beef, pork, veal and lamb).
  • Processed meats (hot dogs, salami, pepperoni, bologna).
  • Refined carbohydrates (white breads, crackers, salty snack foods, baked goods).
  • Sweetened beverages (such as soda).

However, moderation is key. It can be difficult to eliminate some of these things from your diet completely, so don’t feel guilty about occasionally having a small serving of an unhealthy indulgence. The trick is to keep the portion small.

In contrast, you shouldn’t overdo it on some recommended healthy foods either. For example, registered dietitian Julia Zumpano, RD, notes you should limit fish that’s high in mercury, like albacore tuna, swordfish and king mackerel, to 6 ounces a week.

Heart-healthy nutrition tips

It can be overwhelming knowing what to eat (and how much to eat) to be healthy. Zumpano offers some tips on how to put together a balanced, heart-friendly diet.

Increase your fruits and vegetable intake

Your parents were right: Eat your fruits and veggies! These provide a variety of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber — all things known to help prevent disease. If you have high blood pressure, a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and grains is especially recommended.

Zumpano says to aim for a combined seven to nine servings of fruits and vegetables each day: roughly 4 or greater for vegetables and two to four for fruit. If you don’t reach recommended serving sizes in a given day, don’t worry. It’s more about what your overall diet looks like in a week, so just load up on veggies or fruits in the following days.

One serving of fruit is equal to:

  • 1 medium-sized piece of fresh fruit.
  • 1/2 medium banana.
  • 1/2 grapefruit.
  • 1/4 cup dried fruit.
  • 1/2 cup canned fruit (avoid heavy syrup and instead choose fruit water or in own juice).
  • 4 ounces 100% fruit juice (avoid sweetened juice).

One serving of vegetables is equal to:

  • 2 cups raw leafy salad greens.
  • 1 cup of cut-up veggies.
  • 1 cup 100% vegetable juice.

How to increase fruits and vegetables in your diet 

  • Buy pre-cut vegetables and fruit (fresh or frozen), and then bag them up for a snack or to add to a dish.
  • Have a vegetable-based soup or garden salad with light dressing with your usual sandwich at lunch.
  • Instead of a cookie, enjoy frozen banana slices topped with natural peanut butter and semi-sweet chocolate chips or frozen grapes dipped in 1 teaspoon of chocolate syrup.
  • Keep fresh fruit on your desk or workspace.
  • If you think you’ll be missing a meal, bring a homemade trail mix of your choice of 2 tablespoons dried fruit and 2 tablespoons roasted nuts and/or seeds along with you.
  • Make a fruit and veggie smoothie with produce that needs to be eaten quickly.

Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables

Where fruits and veggies are concerned, variety is the spice of a healthy life. Choosing food in a rainbow of colors ensures you’ll ingest a diverse array of nutrients. Eat carrots and oranges; tomatoes, strawberries and raspberries; plums and eggplant; blueberries and blackberries: green grapes, celery, spinach and kiwi; and yellow peppers and bananas.



Decrease saturated fats and trans fats

We all need fat in our diet, but not all fat is created equally. Trans fats and saturated fats are so-called bad fats. These raise your LDL (or bad) cholesterol, the kind that encourages plaque build-up in your arteries (that waxy substance). Red meat is high in saturated fat, as are certain kinds of cheese.

A better choice is consuming good fats, or monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. You’ll find these in nuts, seeds, avocados, olives, flaxseed, soy and fatty fish.


  • Prepare your food with cooking oils such as olive oil or avocado oil, both of which contain healthier fats.
  • Eat two to three meatless meals weekly — try split pea soup, garbanzo bean salad, bean-based meatless burgers or tofu stir-fry.
  • Eat two skinless poultry meals each week.
  • Limit red meat to no more than one meal per week. Choose the leanest cuts of meat possible with skin and visible fat removed. Where possible, replace red meat with seafood or skinless poultry.
  • Eat omega-3-rich fish at least two to three times per week This includes cold-water fish such as tuna, salmon, trout, sardines and herring.
  • Include plant sources of omega 3 fatty acids — like chia seeds, ground flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds and hemp seeds — on a daily basis by adding to meals such as oatmeal, soup, yogurt, smoothies or salads.

Substitute animal protein with plant protein

Animal proteins are the kind of protein found in beef, pork, lamb, poultry and eggs, as well as cheeses and yogurt. Although the American Heart Association recommends you eat 5.5 ounces of protein per day, the kind of protein you eat matters.

For example, animal protein often means you’re ingesting higher amounts of cholesterol and saturated fat— both of which contribute to weight gain and an increased risk of developing heart disease.

Luckily, there’s a solution. In addition to eating more veggies, you should eat more plant-based proteins. These are proteins found in food such as legumes (dried beans, peas and lentils) nuts and seeds. The American Heart Association recommends you eat minimally 5 ounces of plant protein per week.

An easy way to eat more plant-based protein is meatless meals. There are plenty of tasty recipes that provide good sources of protein but that also provide heart-friendly ingredients such as fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

One ounce of protein is equal to:

  • 1/2 cup cooked beans, peas or lentils.
  • 1/3 cup or 3 ounces tofu.
  • 1 ounce nuts or seeds or 2 tablespoon peanut butter.
  • 1 ounce cooked seafood, meat or poultry.
  • One egg or two egg whites.

Eat more fiber

Dietary fiber is a type of carbohydrate that your body can’t digest. It’s found primarily in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts/seeds and beans. As fiber passes through your body, it aids in digestion and helps eliminate waste.

When eaten as part of a healthy diet, fiber can reduce cholesterol. But that’s not its only health benefit. A diet rich in fiber helps control blood sugar, keeps your bowels running on a regular schedule, prevents gastrointestinal disease and aids in weight management.

Foods contain a mix of soluble and insoluble fiber. Each type has a unique effect on health:

  • Soluble (viscous) fiber: This kind provides the greatest heart benefits because it helps lower your total cholesterol and LDL (bad) cholesterol. Good sources of soluble fiber include oats, oat bran, barley, legumes (such as dried beans, lentils and split peas), flaxseed, root vegetables, apples, pears and citrus fruits.
  • Insoluble fiber: This is what people generally refer to as “roughage.” Insoluble fiber promotes regular bowel movements, adds bulk and softness to your poop, helps with weight regulation and helps prevent many gastrointestinal disorders. Good sources of insoluble fiber include wheat bran, whole wheat and other whole grain cereals and breads, nuts and vegetables.

To receive the greatest health benefit, you should eat a wide variety of fiber-rich foods. Overall, aim for a total intake of 25 or more grams of dietary fiber (soluble and insoluble) each day.

Increase whole grains

Zumpano says to stick to three to six servings of whole grains a day. Steer clear of processed or refined carbohydrates. This includes foods like white bread, white pasta and white rice.

Instead, it’s better to load up on what’s called unrefined or whole-grain carbohydrates. These foods provide more vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and dietary fiber than refined carbohydrates.

Examples include:

  • Whole grain breads, crackers and cereals.
  • Whole wheat pasta.
  • Brown rice.
  • Oats.
  • Barley.
  • Bulgur.
  • Quinoa.

Examples of one serving of grains:

  • One slice of bread.
  • One small tortilla.
  • 1 cup ready-to-eat cereal flakes.
  • 1/2 cup cooked rice, pasta or cereal.
  • 3 cups popped popcorn.

Choose low-fat or non-fat dairy products

Dairy is good for your heart, bone and blood pressure health. Zumpano recommends sticking to one to three servings of dairy per day, though. Plus, dairy products can have saturated fat, so it’s best to stick to lower- or non-fat versions of your favorites.

These include skim or 1% milk, 1% or nonfat yogurt or cottage cheese, and reduced-fat cheeses. If you cannot tolerate dairy products or choose not to consume them, consider a dairy alternative to meet calcium needs such as unsweetened almond, soy or oat milk.

One serving of dairy includes:

  • 1 cup milk.
  • 1 cup yogurt.
  • 1 ounce cheese.

Limit sweets, desserts and sugary drinks

It’s difficult to resist sugary foods such as a melt-in-your-mouth dessert or a super-sweet beverage. And (good news!) you don’t have to eliminate sugar from your diet completely — just limit your intake. Indulging in sugar a couple times a month is better than a few times a week.

If you drink alcohol, drink in moderation

Drinking alcohol is not encouraged on a heart-healthy diet. But if you do, drink in moderation. Moderate alcohol use is defined as no more than one drink per day for women and no more than two drinks per day for men. Be aware that alcohol should be avoided with some medical conditions or medications. Talk to your doctor about drinking alcohol.

Be mindful of portion control

When you’re trying to follow an eating plan that’s good for you, it may help to know how much of a certain kind of food is considered a “serving.” Here are some examples:

  • 1 cup cooked pasta or rice
    Serving size: 2 starch
    Reference size: Tennis ball
  • 1 slice bread
    Serving size: 1 starch
    Reference size: An adult hand
  • 1/2 cup cooked vegetables or fruit
    Serving size: 1 vegetable or fruit
    Reference size: Baseball
  • 1 ounce low-fat cheese
    Serving size: 1 medium-fat protein
    Reference size: Pair of dice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
    Serving size: 1 fat
    Reference size: Half-dollar
  • 3 ounces cooked meat
    Serving size: 3 protein
    Reference size: Deck of cards
  • 3 ounces tofu
    Serving size: 1 protein
    Reference size: Deck of cards


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Talk to your doctor about a heart-healthy diet

Maintaining an active lifestyle can have considerable heart-health benefits. Following a healthy diet in tandem with getting regular exercise improves blood pressure, cholesterol and your overall heart health. But be sure to engage in exercise that gets your heart rate up, and do so for at least 30 minutes most days of the week.

No matter what physical activity you prefer, it’s best to check with your doctor before starting any exercise regimen or radically changing your eating habits. They can offer advice and support, as well as any referrals (like to a dietitian or nutritionist) for help planning a heart-healthy diet.

Eat These 42 Foods to Reduce Stress

woman biting pencil while sitting on chair in front of computer during daytime

If you’re trying to lower your stress levels, you probably already know to start with the basics: self-care, sleep management, and exercise. But did you know there are some foods that lower stress levels, too?

Dietitian Courtney Barth, MS, RDN, LD, CPT, explains how certain foods can help reduce your levels of cortisol — the primary hormone responsible for stress.

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What cortisol does

Cortisol plays a number of roles in the body, including:

  • Regulating sleep cycles.
  • Reducing inflammation.
  • Increasing blood sugar.
  • Managing how the body uses carbohydrates, fats, and proteins.
  • Controlling blood pressure.

Importantly, cortisol is sometimes known as the “stress hormone” because your adrenal gland releases it when you’re in a stressful situation, or when your body is under physical stress (like inflammation). It’s the key to helping your body manage its fight-or-flight instinct — which is a good thing.

“Cortisol is healthy for a short period of time as a protective mechanism,” Barth says. “It gives your body the energy you need to respond to a short-term stressful scenario.”

In the long-term, though, too much cortisol actually creates stress in your body, leading to more inflammation and increasing your blood pressure — essentially, the opposite of all the good things it does for you in short-term scenarios.

“Managing stress is the number one treatment for lowering cortisol levels,” Barth says.


Stress-relieving foods

Foods that are promoted on the Mediterranean diet are the same foods that are good to eat when you’re stressed: fish, poultry, fruits, vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and healthy fats. In fact, Barth encourages patients to adopt a Mediterranean diet for overall health and wellness, including stress relief.

“The best way to lower cortisol in the body is to focus on an anti-inflammatory diet,” Barth says. “That means fewer processed foods and more whole foods.”

The goal is to eat foods that reduce inflammation in your body, thus reducing cortisol levels. Here are some foods that help combat stress by lowering your cortisol.

Foods high in vitamin B

“Fortified whole grains and some animal sources have lots of B vitamins in them — particularly vitamin B12, which can help with metabolism of cortisol,” Barth explains. Try:

  • Beef.
  • Chicken.
  • Eggs.
  • Fortified cereal.
  • Nutritional yeast.
  • Organ meats.


Foods high in omega-3 fatty acid

These foods reduce inflammation. “The best activated form is through fatty fish, but you can also get it from some plant sources,” Barth says. Such foods include:

  • Anchovies.
  • Avocados.
  • Chia seeds.
  • Flax seeds.
  • Herring.
  • Mackerel.
  • Olive oil.
  • Oysters.
  • Salmon
  • Sardines.
  • Tuna.
  • Walnuts.

Magnesium-rich foods

“Magnesium is hugely beneficial when it comes to reducing inflammation, metabolizing cortisol and relaxing the body and mind,” Barth says. She suggests:

  • Avocados.
  • Bananas.
  • Broccoli.
  • Dark chocolate.
  • Pumpkin seeds.
  • Spinach.

Protein-rich foods

“Foods such as meat, fish, poultry, beans, and legumes promote balanced blood sugar levels,” Barth says. Specifics include:

  • Almonds.
  • Chicken breast.
  • Eggs.
  • Lean beef.
  • Lentils.
  • Peanuts.
  • Quinoa.
  • Turkey breast.
  • Tuna.
  • Salmon.
  • Shrimp.

Gut-healthy foods

“Seventy to 80% of our immune system is reliant on our gut, so if we correct our gut, we correct a lot of our immunity,” Barth says. These probiotic-rich and fermented foods can help balance blood sugar and reduce cholesterol:

  • Greek yogurt.
  • Kefir.
  • Kimchi.
  • Kombucha.
  • Sauerkraut.

If you need to de-stress in a hurry

Stress management through food is a long game, not a get-relaxed-quick trick. That said, magnesium-rich foods are a good choice if you’re trying to unwind and want a little natural assistance.

“High-magnesium foods are my first line of treatment,” Barth says. “Magnesium helps to relax the body, which helps reduce stress. It’s also a mineral for important body function, including heart rhythm, strong bones, keeping blood pressure normal, and helping to decrease risk of risk chronic diseases.”

In a pinch, she suggests popping some pumpkin seeds or letting some dark chocolate melt in your mouth (just make sure it’s at least 90% cacao). Try it at the end of the day for a little bit of nighttime relaxation.

Foods to avoid

In contrast, some foods raise cortisol levels. Foods that cause stress on your body include:

  • Alcohol.
  • Caffeine.
  • High-sugar foods.
  • Simple carbs, such as cakes and pastries.
  • Soda.

Eat well and eat consistently

If you’re hoping to reduce stress, keep in mind this one key piece of advice: Don’t skip meals. Eating on a regular schedule — every three to five hours — helps balance your blood sugar levels. Being in a chronic state of low blood sugar is stressful on your body and can increase cortisol, so maintaining a balanced blood sugar can go a long way.

And tempting though it may be, don’t turn to supplements to get the vitamins and nutrients your body needs.

“We know what impact nutrition has on your body, whereas supplements are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration,” Barth says. “I always tell people: Go with food first.”

Don’t rely on food to de-stress

Yes, these foods may help reduce your cortisol levels — but they won’t have a significant impact on their own if you’re not prioritizing stress management in other ways.

“If you have a healthy diet but you’re still incredibly stressed and not sleeping enough, you won’t see the results you’re looking for with food alone,” Barth warns.

The key to lowering stress is a whole-body approach that includes exercising, getting enough sleep and managing chronic diseases like diabetes, hypertension, and obesity — all of which can put your body in a prolonged state of inflammation.

And although we can’t control our genes or, to some extent, our environment, we can help our bodies when we make smart decisions about the food we eat.

“When it comes to our health, nutrition is the one thing we can control,” Barth says.




How Much Alcohol Is Too Much?

happy birthday, pink wine, champagne

Even when we have the best of intentions, we can tend to overindulge in … well, everything. Whether it’s a second helping of dinner, snacking on sweets or a venti-sized coffee, we often go a little too far. And that’s especially true — and risky — when it comes to alcohol.

Overdoing it with booze occasionally, like at a wedding or birthday party, might be fine (though your headache the next morning might make you think otherwise). But when does drinking frequently cross the line into being problematic? And what are the health risks of alcohol overconsumption? To gain some insight into these concerns, we spoke with hepatologist Jamile Wakim-Fleming, MD.

What are alcohol consumption guidelines?

It’s first best if we understand some of the dietary guidelines around alcohol. The U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ “Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025” recommends adults of the legal drinking age should either not drink or limit their drinking to two drinks a day or fewer for men and one drink a day or fewer for women.

The guidelines say those who shouldn’t consume any alcohol under any circumstances include:

  • Anyone under the legal drinking age.
  • Anyone with liver disease.
  • Anyone who’s pregnant or might be pregnant.
  • Anyone with a medical condition or taking medication that has poor interactions with alcohol.
  • Anyone recovering from “an alcohol use disorder” or has trouble controlling their alcohol consumption.

As for how much alcohol is considered standard, the guidelines define a standard drink as:

  • 12 ounces of 5% alcohol by volume (ABV) like beer.
  • 8 ounces of 7% ABV like malt liquor.
  • 5 ounces of 12% ABV like wine.
  • 1.5 ounces of 40% ABV (or 80 proof) distilled spirits like gin, rum and whiskey.




There are nuances to consider with these guidelines, though. While major American brands of beer have a 5% ABV measurement, many popular craft beers have higher alcohol content. That IPA you love might have an ABV of 7% or higher, so keep an eye on it when you’re knocking them back at your next summer barbecue.

But, as Dr. Wakim-Fleming explains, we also have to be cautious when applying these guidelines to our own habits for several reasons that go beyond the alcohol content of your beverage.

Factors in alcohol consumption

According to Dr. Wakim-Flemings, there are a few factors to consider when it comes to alcohol affecting you because each person is different. She outlines the following as the main ones when weighing alcohol consumption.

  • Age. “A 50-year-old person will handle alcohol differently than someone who’s 70 years.”
  • Gender. “Women don’t tolerate the same amount of alcohol as men because they have less of a certain enzyme — alcohol dehydrogenase — that metabolizes the alcohol before it’s absorbed into the blood.”
  • Body size. If two people of different sizes intake the same amount of alcohol, the person with the smaller body carries less water and has a higher concentration of alcohol in their body, affecting the dilution.
  • Family history. Those who are raised in a household with parents who drink are more likely to have an adverse relationship with alcohol.
  • Comorbidities. Relatively healthy people will have an easier time processing alcohol than those with existing health issues.

Those factors are largely outside of our control. But other things we can control should also be considered, Dr. Wakim-Fleming advises. For instance, she says, “Drinking on an empty stomach is more toxic than if you’ve had something to eat. There’s no food to help absorb the alcohol so more goes into your blood system.”

And, again, there’s that percentage of alcohol to consider. “Remember that the percentages of alcohol vary among the types of alcohol,” she says. “Drinking 12 ounces of wine contains far more alcohol than 12 ounces of most common beers.”

How many drinks are too many?

Taking into account all of these factors, Dr. Wakim-Fleming says there are still ways to figure out where a person crosses the line into overindulging in alcohol, and separating what’s considered “binge” drinking, “heavy” drinking and “excessive” drinking.

What’s considered binge drinking?

Studies have shown that even if you only occasionally drink alcohol, drinking regularly over a long period can have negative outcomes on your health. “It’s a cumulating effect caused by drinking over time,” says Dr. Wakim-Fleming.

But a more present danger is binge drinking. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease and Prevention (CDC), binge drinking is classified for men as consuming five or more standard drinks within a few hours and four or more standard drinks within a few hours for women.

That kind of alcohol consumption can lead to severe reactions in your body, including:

  • Dehydration and headaches (a hangover, in other words).
  • Loss of motor skills that can lead to serious injuries.
  • Alcohol poisoning.

The loss of judgment that comes from binge drinking can cause you to make poor choices, too, including driving under the influence, physical altercations and even further physical injury.


What’s considered excessive drinking?

Dr. Wakim-Fleming says excessive drinking is essentially the same as binge drinking. The CDC also includes underage drinking and drinking by women who are pregnant.

Most excessive drinking — more than 90%, according to the CDC — is binge drinking. Additional statistics on binge drinking from the CDC include:

  • More than 38 million adults in the U.S. are binge drinkers.
  • The average binge drinker does so around four times a month.
  • The average binge drinker consumes eight drinks per binge.
  • Most people who binge drink do not have an alcohol dependency.

Excessive drinking is something that’s thought of more in the short term, but can still be extremely damaging to your body, especially as it becomes a habit and potentially leads to more long-term, heavy drinking.

What’s considered heavy drinking?

While considered part of excessive drinking by the CDC, heavy drinking is applied to drinking over a longer period than binge drinking; while binge drinking is measured in an increment of two-to-three hours, heavy drinking is measured over a week.

“For women, heavy drinking is eight standard drinks a week or more,” says Dr. Wakim-Fleming, “While for men, it’s 15 drinks a week or more.” And, yes, multiple binges within a week do equal heavy drinking.

And no matter which category you fall into, there are consequences. “You subject your body to more health risks, to more toxicity and you begin a cycle of withdrawal problems,” she adds.

How does too much alcohol affect your body?

So, more about those consequences. “Alcohol affects the body in two ways,” says Dr. Wakim-Fleming. “The initial stage occurs right after drinking. Drinking causes inflammation of your swallowing tube [esophagus], stomach and gastrointestinal tract. Additionally, your liver is also inflamed which causes it to become enlarged and tender.”

If you stop drinking at this stage, she says, that inflammation is reversible. But if you continue to drink excessively over time or become a heavy drinker, that leads to serious complications.


“If your drinking and inflammation continues daily, it leads to scarring and becomes irreversible, as in cirrhosis, which can lead to cancer,” notes Dr. Wakim-Fleming.

Both the American Cancer Society and the American Society of Clinical Oncology advise that alcohol directly raises the risk of cancer. The types of cancer of the gastrointestinal system that drinking alcohol can lead to include:

  • Mouth.
  • Tongue.
  • Pharynx.
  • Esophagus.
  • Stomach.
  • Liver.
  • Pancreas.
  • Colon and rectal.
  • Breast.

“The important thing to remember is that these organizations consider alcohol a modifiable risk factor for cancer, which means you can do something about it,” adds Dr. Wakim-Fleming. “That means following their guidelines and avoiding drinking.”

How alcohol affects your brain

You may not realize it, but the most common consequence of overconsumption of alcohol — the hangover — is the alcohol directly affecting your brain. In the immediate aftermath, your hangover can include poor concentration, lagging reflexes, headache, nausea and vomiting.

Over time, though, excessive amounts of alcohol do far more damage to your brain, resulting in consequences beyond just an unpleasant morning after. “You can end up with alcohol dementia and a type of nerve damage we call neuropathy,” cautions Dr. Wakim-Fleming.

Some of the symptoms of neuropathy include:

  • Tingling or numbness in hands and feet.
  • Loss of motor control and coordination.
  • Muscle weakness.
  • Problems with bladder and digestion.
  • Loss of muscle control.

Chronic alcoholism has also been linked to poor diets, which deprive your body of necessary vitamins and nutrients, which can compound issues with many parts of your body, including your brain and central nervous system.

How alcohol affects your heart

Alcohol can adversely affect muscles, and your heart is a muscle. Heavy drinking can lead to a poor diet, which means your muscles are using empty calories from alcohol rather than healthy foods.

The result can be a dilated heart muscle and, eventually, dilated cardiomyopathy. Your heart weakens and can’t pump blood as strongly, which can cause your kidneys to retain more fluid. That can lead to fluid build-up in your extremities and lungs, and even to congested heart failure.


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How alcohol affects your liver

Excessive and heavy drinking can lead to cirrhosis and liver cancer. But, says Dr. Wakim-Fleming, the risks go beyond that.

Cirrhosis of the liver, which causes scar tissue that prevents your liver from functioning properly, is often caused by alcoholism. “Because that scarring affects the ability of the liver to function, it can lead to life-threatening conditions. And that’s why alcohol is one of the most common reasons for a liver transplant.”

Will one night of drinking impact your overall health?

Excessive drinking in one night can lead to acute damage and cause alcohol poisoning, which has severe consequences including, at its most extreme, death.

But if you drink only occasionally and in moderation — say, a glass of wine with dinner or a beer at a ballgame — it’s not going to create long-term damage. It’s all about moderation and avoiding chronic use, says Dr. Wakim-Fleming.

And while following recommended guidelines is important, it’s also about knowing yourself and your limits. “We don’t have personalized medicine when it comes to alcohol because everyone responds differently,” she says.

Even if you’re not overdoing it, consider taking a break or several breaks throughout the year. “Any break is good because your body needs time to reduce that inflammation. Taking a month or two off from consuming alcohol can help,” she suggests.

“Know your body, know your personal and family history and know your limits,” she continues. “Know what’s good for you because what works for others won’t necessarily work for you. Take charge of your health and if you need, seek help, whether from family, friends or other support groups and always discuss with your doctor.”

6 Surprising Benefits of Cranberries in Diabetes

You may only think of eating cranberries around Thanksgiving, but this fruit can add some zing (and plenty of health benefits) year-round.

Cranberries, which are mostly carbs and fiber, contain about 90% water. They also contain vitamins and minerals like vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K and manganese.

But fresh cranberries tend to be sour and are rarely eaten raw. You’ll mostly see cranberries in juice form, but cranberry juice also tends to include added sugars.

So is it worth it to add cranberries to your diet? And what’s the best way to eat them?

Registered dietitian Candace O’Neill, RD, LDN, talks about the benefits of cranberries and how to work them into your meals.

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Health benefits of cranberries

Cranberries can be very nutritious. “They’re a powerhouse of antioxidants,” says O’Neill. Here’s how cranberries can benefit your health.

Prevent urinary tract infections

Probably the most known benefit of cranberry juice is that it can prevent urinary tract infections (UTIs). But O’Neill stresses that cranberries don’t treat the infection once you have it.

“A-type proanthocyanidins prevent the binding of E. coli in the bladder, which is normally the first step of getting a UTI,” says O’Neill.

If you’re someone who gets UTIs often, adding cranberries to your diet can be beneficial.

“If you’re someone who struggles with UTIs, including cranberries as a part of a healthy diet is something that you can do that won’t harm you,” says O’Neill. “It could be a proactive approach.”

Prevent cavities

You may not immediately think of cranberries as a way to prevent cavities, but research shows the same a-type proanthocyanidins that help prevent UTIs can help in other ways.

“Researchers think a-type proanthocyanidins are responsible for preventing bacteria formation in the mouth as well,” explains O’Neill.

By controlling those harmful acids in your mouth, cranberries could help prevent not only cavities, but also gum disease, tooth decay and oral cancer.

Reduce inflammation

Cranberries have anti-inflammatory effects, thanks to their high amounts of antioxidants, especially anthocyanins and flavanols, which give cranberries their dark hue.

“Antioxidants have been shown to reduce the risk of certain chronic diseases because they can help lower inflammation in our bodies,” says O’Neill. “That’s why it’s recommended to consume enough servings of fruits and vegetables because those foods will use antioxidants.”

Maintain digestive health

If you eat an animal-based diet, cranberries can help put good bacteria into your digestive system.

“A-type proanthocyanidins, which are only found in cranberries, can help with reducing the bad microbes that live in your colon,” says O’Neill.

More research still needs to be done, but there’s a chance that cranberries could help prevent colon and gastrointestinal cancers.

Improve heart health

From lowering blood pressure to improving your cholesterol levels, cranberries can help improve your overall heart health.

“There’s limited evidence that cranberries can potentially help improve someone’s lipid profile by raising their HDL (good) cholesterol,” notes O’Neill.

Cranberries may also help lower your LDL (bad). O’Neill says it’s important to know that many of these studies used a low-calorie cranberry juice.

Prevent cancer

As you’ve probably learned by now, a-type proanthocyanins are a powerful antioxidant. So researchers are starting to study if and how they may have anticancer properties.

“We know in general that eating enough non-starchy vegetables and getting enough fruits in your diet reduces your risk of certain cancers,” says O’Neill.

Are cranberries healthy?

It’s a tricky question to answer, says O’Neill. In their raw state, they can be healthy. But if you get your cranberry fix through juice or dried cranberries, be aware that there’s plenty of added sugar used in both forms.

“In general, one serving of dried cranberries has around 25 grams of added sugar,” says O’Neill. “That’s actually how much added sugar some people can have in a day.”

That sugar is added to offset the tart flavor of cranberries. “They need that sweetness to be a little bit more palatable,” explains O’Neill.

But that doesn’t mean you need to avoid cranberry juice or dried cranberries. You just need to be smart about your sugar intake and pair cranberries with foods that contain less sugar.

For example, you can make trail mix at home by using lightly salted roasted nuts and dried cranberries instead of the candy pieces you typically find in store-bought trail mix.

Pair plain yogurt or oatmeal with dried cranberries instead of honey for a sweet treat. O’Neill suggests looking for unsweetened dried cranberries, but says they are hard to come by. You may be able to find them at a health food store or online.

When it comes to juice, most options are a “juice cocktail” that combines cranberry juice with apple juice to make it sweeter.

“When you’re consuming it in that form, you’re not getting 100% cranberry juice,” says O’Neill.

And watch how much juice you consume. O’Neill says the recommendation is no more than 4 to 8 ounces of juice per day. You can try this tip from O’Neill: Dilute juice with sparkling water or plain water to add a touch of sweetness to your beverage.

Cranberry side effects

Most people can eat or drink cranberries with no issue. But cranberries can be a risk factor for those with kidney stones.

Kidney stones are commonly made of calcium oxalate. Cranberries contain high levels of oxalate.

Also, those who take blood thinners should limit their consumption of cranberries due to their amount of vitamin K, which can interfere with the medication.

“I would talk to your healthcare practitioner or pharmacist about whether or not it’s safe for you to consume cranberry products,” advises O’Neill.

If you’re considering adding cranberries to your diet, O’Neill suggests buying fresh cranberries when they’re in season, typically September through October. You can freeze them and keep them on hand for a variety of recipes like smoothies, sauce or salad dressing.

“Keeping cranberries in your fridge or your freezer is an easy way to add in those antioxidants and help improve your health all year long,” O’Neil adds.


These Green Veggies are bad for Diabetes

10 Foods That Help Ease Your Arthritis Pain

food, condiment, spices

Food is medicine. If you’re struggling with pain from arthritis, eating foods that have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties — along with any drugs or other treatments your doctor recommends — may help.

“Research is ongoing, but scientists already have found that certain foods may reduce arthritis-related inflammation and pain,” says registered dietitian Andrea Dunn, RD, LD, CDE.

These Green Veggies are bad for Diabetes


Here are 10 foods that Dunn recommends for a diet that may help ease your arthritis pain and improve your heart health:

1. Green tea

Green tea is known to be high in nutrients and antioxidants and has the ability to reduce inflammation, says Dunn. Studies performed on animals also found that it can help reduce the incidence and severity of rheumatoid arthritis.

“To reap the benefits, aim for two servings a day, either hot or cold,” Dunn notes. “Be sure to use tea bags and not powdered tea mixes, which are more processed. If you drink the decaffeinated variety, make sure the process is all natural.”

2. Salmon, tuna, sardines, and mackerel

These fish are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which studies have found can decrease inflammation. According to the Arthritis Foundation, eating a 3 to 4-ounce serving of these fish two or more times a week is recommended for protecting the heart and reducing inflammation.

While fresh fish can get pricey quickly, one tip to make it more affordable is by looking in the freezer section or buying canned sardines, salmon or tuna. Be sure to choose lower sodium options when purchasing canned items if you need to keep your sodium in check.

3. Berries, apples, and pomegranates

Berries are rich in antioxidants and the Arthritis Foundation notes that blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, cranberries, raspberries and boysenberries all provide arthritis-fighting power. You’ll get health benefits no matter if you eat them frozen, fresh or dehydrated (without added sugar), so be sure to eat a variety of berries throughout the week.

Apples are also high in antioxidants and a good source of fiber. Plus, they provide crunch and can help curb your appetite for unhealthy snacks, Dunn says.

Pomegranates, which are classified as berry fruits, are rich in tannins which can fight the inflammation of arthritis. Add these to a salad or stir into plain yogurt for some added benefits.

4. Vegetables

Take it a step further and include anti-inflammatory vegetables in your daily diets such as cauliflower, mushrooms, Brussels sprouts and broccoli in either frozen or fresh form. Add them to your stir-fry, salads, or as healthy side dishes.

While making big changes to your diet won’t happen overnight, adding a variety of arthritis-friendly foods little by little will help you with your overall health and how well you manage your arthritis pain.

5. Canola and olive oils

Skip the vegetable oil or corn oil and reach for these two varieties, which have a good balance of the omega-3 and omega-6 acids, both of which are essential fatty acids. Studies have found that a component in olive oil called oleocanthal has anti-inflammatory properties and is known to be especially good for heart health, too, Dunn says.

6. Ginger and turmeric

Thanks to the chemicals in these plants, ginger and turmeric are also known to have anti-inflammatory properties. Both are widely used in Chinese and Indian cuisine.

The scientific data on recommended daily or weekly intakes of ginger or turmeric are mainly with supplemented doses, but a healthy sprinkling of these spices on foods or in beverages could bring limited health benefits, Dunn says. They’ll even add a little kick to your favorite dishes. Moreover, small amounts of ginger can help settle an upset stomach.

7. Nuts

All nuts are high in protein, low in saturated fats and contain no cholesterol, unlike animal proteins. Eat them alone or add them to your favorite yogurt, salad, or healthy dish for an extra boost of protein.

“By replacing a serving of meat with just a quarter cup of nuts can help you avoid the inflammation you may experience when eating red meat,” Dunn notes. “Unlike meat, nuts also are a good source of fiber. Choose unsalted nuts to limit the amount of sodium in your diet.”

8. Whole grains

Whole grains don’t have to be boring. From quinoa to farro to bulgur, there’s plenty of variety to choose from and incorporate into your diet. These varieties add extra nutrients and fiber that only whole grains can offer naturally. To reap the benefits, the Arthritis Foundation recommends eating between three and six ounces of grains a day.

Try them as side dishes instead of more common choices, such as white rice, Dunn says. Some more diverse whole grain options include freekeh, a Middle Eastern cuisine staple, or teff, used to make Ethiopian flatbread.

9. Salsa

Mixing salsa into your daily diet is a great way to increase your intake of vitamin C, fiber and antioxidants, thanks to its rich mix of tomatoes, onions, and other vegetables. Dunn recommends using it for a vegetable dip in place of high calorie dressings commonly found in the grocery store.

10. Dark chocolate

Dark chocolate is a classic favorite but large-scale random control studies have not been done to recommend dark chocolate candy in any quantity to ease inflammation. If you enjoy dark chocolate, look at least 70% or higher cocoa content (the higher the cocoa content, the lower the amount of sugar in the chocolate).

“Just keep portions small to limit the saturated fat and calories,” says Dunn. “For example, a half-ounce of dark chocolate daily goes a long way for intense flavor and chocolate enjoyment.”


These Green Veggies are bad for Diabetes  

8 Steps to Make The Healthiest Salads Ever

Fresh Vegetables on Brown Wooden Table

Want to know a simple, delicious way to get your four servings of vegetables per day? Put together a nice, big salad.

At least one sizable salad every day is the perfect way to get your daily servings in all at once — giving you flexibility with other meals and making sure you’re always on track with your daily nutrition requirements.

Yes, it’s that easy. Here dietitian Laura Jeffers, MEd, RD, LD, gives some tips for creating endless salad combinations with ingredients that are both nutritious and delicious — with each ingredient chock full of the healthy nutrients listed in the USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference.

“My favorite salad is blackened salmon with goat or feta cheese, garbanzo beans, Greek olives, beets, tomatoes, carrots and cucumber,” Jeffers says. “I’ll eat any dark green leaf, but spinach is my favorite. I gave up my iceberg lettuce fetish years ago and my body is thanking me. If you use the guide below, you’ll get to feel the same!”

These Green Veggies are bad for Diabetes


The basics of building a super-healthy salad

Start with local, seasonal produce from your farmer’s market or grocery store, then add protein and a healthy dressing and you’re good to go.

Follow this guide daily to optimize your metabolic health, energy and overall well-being!

1. Get your greens on

  • Lettuce — The darker or redder, the better — so think romaine and leaf lettuces (vitamin C, folic acid, potassium).
  • Leafy greens — Jazz things up with spring mix, baby spinach and kale or arugula (beta-carotene, antioxidants).

Pro tip: Steer clear of iceberg and other pale lettuces. Their high water content means fewer nutrients.

2. Add some crunch

  • Celery (vitamin A).
  • Cucumber (vitamin C).
  • Purple cabbage (vitamins A and C, iron).
  • Pea pods (vitamins A and C, iron).
  • Broccoli florets (vitamin C).
  • Alfalfa sprouts (antioxidants).
  • Sunflower seeds or chia seeds (fiber, protein).
  • Walnuts or almonds (fiber, protein, niacin).
  • Edamame (vitamin C, iron).

Pro tip: Avoid croutons, tortilla strips, wonton strips and chow mein noodles. They’re high in fat and sodium, low in nutrients.

3. Create some color

  • Red, orange, yellow or green peppers (vitamins C, B1, B2 and B6, folate).
  • Red onion (fiber, phytochemicals).
  • Pomegranate seeds (vitamins A, C and E, fiber, potassium, calcium, antioxidants).
  • Tomatoes (fiber, vitamins A, C and K, potassium, manganese).
  • Avocado slices (over 20 vitamins and minerals, heart-healthy fat).
  • Red, purple or yellow beets (folate).

Pro tip: Add no more than 2 tablespoons of corn or peas per serving of salad. They’re high in starch just like bread.

4. Punch up the protein

  • Black beans, garbanzo beans or lentils (fiber).
  • Chicken or lean beef.
  • Salmon or water-packed tuna (omega-3 fatty acids).
  • Hard-boiled eggs.
  • Low-fat feta cheese, blue cheese, goat cheese, parmesan or mozzarella (calcium, vitamin D).
  • Tofu (heart-healthy fat, potassium).

Pro tip: Full-fat cheeses are high in saturated fat. Trying pairing small amounts of your favorite cheese with other proteins.

5. Freshen it up with fruit

  • Apple or pear slices (vitamin C, flavonoids).
  • Strawberries, raspberries, blueberries or blackberries (vitamin C, fiber, flavonoids).

Pro tip: Dried cranberries, blueberries, cherries, dates and raisins are higher in sugar than fresh fruit. A little goes a long way!

6. Let some leftovers in

  • Brussels sprouts (vitamins C, A and B6, folate).
  • Asparagus (vitamins A, E and K, folate).
  • Sweet potatoes (vitamins A and C, manganese).

Pro tip: White potatoes are high in starch, so add sliced sweet potatoes instead since they’re delicious raw and are super-crunchy like carrots.

7. Consult your cupboard

  • Black or greek olives (vitamin E, healthy fat).
  • Artichoke hearts (fiber, vitamin C, folic acid).
  • Banana peppers (vitamin C).
  • Hearts of palm (potassium).
  • Mushrooms (B vitamins, vitamin D).

Pro tip: Remember to factor the salt, often high in canned goods, into your daily sodium intake.

8. Dress it up wisely

  • Lemon juice (vitamin C, folate).
  • Lime juice (vitamin C, potassium).
  • Red wine or balsamic vinegar.
  • Olive oil (heart-healthy fat).

Pro tip: Use more vinegar and citrus, and less oil. Avoid high-calorie, high-fat Ranch, Thousand Island and French dressings.



On top of all that

Jeffers suggests if you don’t often eat salad, try starting with one or two a week. If that’s too much to start with, try experimenting with hearty bowls of grains, beans, egg, chicken or tuna, then add as many of the veggies mentioned above as you can.

Even fruit salads can at least help you get your 2 to 3 daily servings of fruit.

“After you wrap salads into your diet regularly you’ll be surprised at how you’ll begin to feel good about what you’re eating — and how creative you can get. Then, slowly build up to one each day, plus full-meal salads once or twice a week. You’ll soon have more energy and feel better than ever.”

Final tip: If you really don’t love salad, veggies in any form are fine — just make sure you get those 4 servings in any way you can!

These Green Veggies are bad for Diabetes

Can Intermittent Fasting cure type 2 Diabetes?

A new study involving three men concluded that occasional fasting can help reverse type 2 diabetes.

Three men with type 2 diabetes were able to stop insulin treatment altogether after intermittent fasting, but experts are warning that people shouldn’t try such a practice on their own.

A small study published in BMJ Case Reports looked at three men between the ages of 40 and 67 who tried occasional fasting for approximately 10 months.


These Green Veggies are bad for Diabetes

All of the men were able to stop insulin treatment within a month after starting the intermittent fasting. One of the men was able to stop insulin treatment after only five days of the fasting technique.

“This study shows that a dietary intervention — therapeutic fasting — has the potential to completely reverse type 2 diabetes, even when somebody has suffered with the disease for 25 years. It changes everything about how we should treat the disease,” Dr. Jason Fung, author of the study and director of the Intensive Dietary Management Program

Fung’s assertions that type 2 diabetes can be reversed is contrary to the views of other diabetes experts who spoke with Healthline.

“It’s potentially dangerous to tell patients their diabetes has been reversed, because one is always at risk for progression, even if not being treated by medication,” Dr. Matthew Freeby, director of the Gonda Diabetes Center in Los Angeles and the associate director of diabetes clinical programs at the David Geffen UCLA School of Medicine, told Healthline.



What happens with diabetes

More than 30 million people in the United States have diabetes and, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 90 to 95 percent of them have type 2 diabetes.

In a person with type 2 diabetes, cells don’t respond normally to insulin, which helps control the amount of sugar in the blood.

“When we eat foods containing carbohydrates (breads, cereals, pasta, fruits, starchy vegetables, dairy), the body digests the carbohydrates into single sugars. The pancreas simultaneously receives a signal to release insulin. Insulin is released into the bloodstream and acts as a key to unlock the cells, allowing the single sugars to enter the cells and provide energy,” Lauri Wright, PhD, assistant professor of public health at the University of South Florida, told Healthline.

“Without enough functioning insulin as we see in type 2 diabetes, some of the single sugars build up in the cell and aren’t able to provide cells with energy,” she said.

High blood sugar levels can be damaging to the body and cause other health issues, such as kidney problems, vision loss, and heart disease.

Type 2 diabetes may be managed by healthy eating and exercise. Some people may get prescribed injectable insulin to help manage blood sugar levels.

Results from the study

In Fung’s study, three men attempted intermittent fasting to see the impact it had on their diabetes.

Two of the men fasted every second day for 24 hours. The third man fasted for three days in a week.

On days when the men fasted, they were allowed to drink low-calorie drinks such as water, tea, coffee, and broth. They were also permitted a low-calorie meal at night.

“Fasting is literally the oldest dietary intervention known to mankind, having been used for thousands of years and having been part of human culture and religion for at least as long,” Fung said.

“The thing that surprised me most was how quickly patients got better,” Fung added. “Even after 25 years of diabetes, the maximum time it took to get off insulin was 18 days. All three patients improved their diabetes to the point that they no longer required insulin, and it only took from 5 to 18 days in this study,” he said.

“Imagine taking insulin for 10 years, and all that time, somebody could have treated you with intermittent fasting, and you would not have needed to inject yourself daily for the last decade,” Fung said.

Fung concedes his study is small and more research is needed.

Some cautionary words

All of the experts who spoke with Healthline urge caution when interpreting the results of such an anecdotal study.

“To many people with diabetes, such a study conclusion can be perceived as insulting,” Raquel Pereira, a registered dietitian specializing in diabetes, told Healthline.

“People with diabetes already suffer from the disease prognosis, complications, and limitations. Imagine hearing that the way that they can manage such disease is to then deprive themselves of nutritious foods, which provide health benefits as well energy and pleasure,” she said.

“As researchers, we must invest our efforts into solutions that are more attainable and have a more positive health impact for the vast majority of people with diabetes,” Pereira added.

She says fasting for a person with diabetes can be potentially dangerous and requires medical supervision.

“The research in fasting is minimal, and we definitely need more well-controlled research trials to determine if there are any benefits, but especially who might benefit,” Pereira said.

“Disordered eating patterns are quite common in diabetes, and I would be very concerned about the long-term consequences of fasting. Many people may feel low energy, low mental concentration, low reflexes, headaches, lower immunity, and as a result have their quality of life and productivity suffer,” she said.

Wright says fasting doesn’t always have a positive effect for people with diabetes.

“For diabetic patients, especially on insulin, fasting can cause hypoglycemia. We see some people that fast or go for long periods of time binge-eat when they resume eating, which is counterproductive for diabetes,” she said.

“A study such as this gives us clues for further research,” Wright added. “The research overall on intermittent fasting in diabetics is limited and needs to be expanded before we can make recommendations supporting fasting.”

The bottom line

A small study of three men with type 2 diabetes showed they were able to stop insulin treatment after intermittent fasting.

However, experts say more research is needed, and people shouldn’t undertake such fasting without consulting with their healthcare provider.

Can Apple Cider Vinegar Help With Weight Loss?

apples, apple cider, fruits

Are you looking for a fast and easy way to lose weight? Join the club. 50% of dieting Americans try fads that promise quick weight loss. Enter apple cider vinegar — could it be the weight loss elixir you’ve been looking for?

Registered dietitian Beth Czerwony, RD, has the answers.

Does apple cider vinegar help with weight loss?

“Probably not,” says Czerwony. “The jury is still out because the human studies have focused on adding apple cider vinegar to a reduced-calorie diet. We don’t know if the modest weight loss was due to the calorie reduction, the apple cider vinegar or both.”

In animal studies, apple cider vinegar hasn’t resulted in weight loss.

These Green Veggies are bad for Diabetes

Does cider vinegar have any health benefits?

Apple cider vinegar contains acetic acid. People in the study took 1 to 2 ounces first thing in the morning over 12 weeks. Researchers thought the acetic acid might:

  • Cause you to burn more fat.
  • Change the appetite-stimulating hormones.


Unfortunately, they saw no metabolic effects from the apple cider vinegar. “The conclusion is that the acetic acid just makes people feel nauseous and not want to eat as much,” says Czerwony. “And there may be a psychological effect — people think it’s working, so they unknowingly make other changes that result in weight loss.”

There’s some good news, though: Other studies have shown non-weight loss benefits from apple vinegar, such as decreased blood sugar and triglycerides (a fat found in the blood).

Is it safe to use apple vinegar for weight loss?

Czerwony’s biggest concern is that the acetic acid can erode teeth enamel if taken straight. So she recommends adding it to a drink. Some of her patients add honey and ginger and make it into a cleanse. Others take it in gummy form.

“It’s fine to use apple cider vinegar for a short-term cleanse,” says Czerwony. “It may help you get into the mindset of limiting fats, sugars and fast food. If it’s a way to kick-start your weight loss journey or get your head in the game, it won’t hurt you.”

So the vinegar diet isn’t the magic bullet we’ve been waiting for?

“Our bodies are jerks. They aren’t programmed to give up weight willingly. They think, ‘If I lose weight, I’ll die,’” says Czerwony. “When you start losing weight, there are chemical signals that increase cravings and hunger. Essentially, the body tries to sabotage weight loss. Because of this biological drive, there’s likely never going to be a magic bullet for weight loss.”

Well, that stinks. So what’s a gal or guy to do if they want to shed pounds?

Czerwony offers these proven weight-loss strategies:

  • Don’t skip meals: Eat three square meals or eat several smaller meals throughout the day. If you skip meals, you’ll set yourself up to overeat when you finally do sit down.
  • Log it: You need to see what you’re eating each day. People often underestimate calorie amounts. “Use an app to track how many calories are in the foods you eat each day,” says Czerwony. “See where you’re spending your calories and determine if you would do better with more protein or fewer carbs. You can’t manage what you don’t monitor.”
  • Get good sleep: When you don’t sleep well, you’re more likely to make unhealthy decisions when it comes to food. The hunger hormone (ghrelin) also increases when you don’t sleep well, so you’ll wake up hungrier and look for higher-calorie foods.
  • Move: You need 150 to 250 minutes of aerobic activity a week. If you diet but don’t exercise, you won’t maintain muscle mass. Muscle burns more calories, which helps boost metabolism. “If you also weight train, just remember that muscle is 18% denser than fat,” says Czerwony. “So if you’re lifting weights, don’t get discouraged if the scale doesn’t move too much — it may mean you are gaining muscle.”



These Green Veggies are bad for Diabetes


11 Vitamin-Packed Superfoods for Diabetes


What makes a food “super”? When it comes to type 2 diabetes, it’s not just about foods that pack lots of nutrients. For a diabetes-friendly diet, you also need foods that will help keep your blood sugar (glucose) levels in check. There is no one single best food for type 2 diabetes. Instead, the best diet for type 2 diabetes is one that is based on whole foods and is rich in fiber, protein, and a moderate amount of healthy carbohydrates.

It’s true that people with type 2 diabetes need to watch their carb intake, but they don’t have to follow a fad low-carb diet. On the contrary, says Leah Kaufman, RD, CDCES, of Leah Kaufman Nutrition in New York City, the best diet for people with type 2 diabetes is “a well-balanced diet that has a healthy amount of carbs, protein, healthy fats, and vegetables per meal.”

While changing your diet won’t cure diabetes, it can lower your risk for type 2 diabetes complications, such as heart disease and neuropathy (nerve damage). Prioritizing a healthy eating plan is even more crucial now, as the novel coronavirus rages on in the United States and beyond. That’s because people with diabetes are among the groups at a higher risk for complications from COVID-19, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Keeping your blood glucose in check has never been more important, and food can play a big role in that effort. In fact, diet affects type 2 diabetes in several ways, including glucose regulation, heart health, weight maintenance, and mood.


These Green Veggies are bad for Diabetes

How can you tell good food from bad one when it comes to managing diabetes? “Look for items that contain healthy fats and are high in vitamins, minerals, and fiber,” says Sue McLaughlin, RD, CDCES, at Burgess Health Center in Onawa, Iowa. It’s also crucial to eat a wide variety of foods to make sure you’re getting a healthy mix of micronutrients, phytochemicals, and essential fatty acids.

Unsure where to start? Check out these 11 tips for adding more superfoods to your diabetes diet!

1. Swap Out Meat for Beans and Lentils for Less Fat and More Fiber

High in fiber and protein, beans are digested slowly in your body, making them great for managing blood glucose levels in a type 2 diabetes diet. Just ¼ cup of any type of beans will provide as much protein as 1 ounce (oz) of a meat protein equivalent, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

No matter which type of bean you choose, you’ll also gain a significant amount of your daily fiber needs from a 1 cup serving. For example, according to the Mayo Clinic, 1 cup of baked beans offers 10 grams (g) of fiber, while 1 cup of black beans has 15 g. Women need an average of 21 to 25 g of fiber per day, while men need between 30 and 38 g. According to an article published in the January-February 2017 issue of the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, only about 5 percent of the U.S. population meets that threshold, and yet a high-fiber diet is associated with a reduced risk of various diseases, including type 2 diabetes, obesity, stroke, heart disease, and even some cancers. (Just be sure to increase your intake of fiber slowly, and drink plenty of water, to reduce diarrhea, per the Mayo Clinic.)

Other legumes offer similar health benefits that are key in managing diabetes. In a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, Canadian researchers found that eating beans, chickpeas, and lentils were associated with improved blood glucose control, reduced blood pressure, and lower cholesterol and triglyceride (fat found in the blood) levels in people with type 2 diabetes. Those qualities are important because people with diabetes are at a higher risk for heart problems than the general population, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

What’s more, beans are good sources of magnesium and potassium. Diabetes is associated with magnesium deficiency, notes an article published in August 2015 in the World Journal of Diabetes, and potassium plays a role in further boosting heart health because it helps regulate blood pressure, notes the National Institutes of Health (NIH).


2. Eat Salmon for Omega-3 Fatty Acids

a salmon fillet with a sprig of rosemary

Many types of seafood are good for people with diabetes. According to the NIH, salmon, mackerel, tuna, sardines, and herring are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which promote heart health by helping lower the blood fats called triglycerides. Just be sure to avoid or limit your consumption of fish with high levels of mercury, such as tilefish, swordfish, marlin, and king mackerel, as outlined by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Eating fish twice a week, which is recommended by the American Heart Association, has other far-reaching benefits: A study published in the American Journal of Kidney Diseases found that fish may protect people with diabetes against kidney problems. Fish is considered a diabetes-friendly food as part of a healthy, well-balanced diet. Choose blackened or grilled fish over fried preparations.


3. Consider Tree Nuts for Other Sources of Healthy Fats

assorted nuts

Loaded with fiber and protein, nuts are filling and contain high levels of unsaturated fats, the kind that contributes to HDL, or “good” cholesterol, making them a boon to your heart health. But when it comes to stabilizing blood sugar, polyunsaturated fats in tree nuts — such as almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, pecans, walnuts, and pistachios — are especially beneficial. (As a side note, peanuts aren’t tree nuts; they’re legumes.)

In a review and meta-analysis published in July 2014 in BMJ Open, Canadian researchers looked at data from 12 clinical trials and found that eating two servings of tree nuts a day lowered and stabilized blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes and unhealthy cholesterol levels (dyslipidemia), and stabilized metabolic syndrome.

“Plant-based healthy fats can improve lipid levels,” says Kaufman. She recommends adding foods rich in polyunsaturated fats to help reduce high cholesterol related to elevated blood glucose, but with a caveat. “Although healthy, these foods do have a higher amount of calories, so I would limit them to one serving per day,” Kaufman notes. The Cleveland Clinic defines one serving as 1 oz or 35 peanuts, 24 almonds, 14 walnut halves, or 18 cashews.

4. Grab a Handful of Fresh Blueberries for Disease-Fighting Antioxidants


While all berries contain high levels of antioxidants, vitamins, and fiber, blueberries may be one of the most beneficial for people who have, or at risk for, type 2 diabetes. “Antioxidants,” says Kaufman, “are a broad term used to describe a food that can help protect the body from damage. Antioxidants can be found in the vitamins of the actual food, or even the coloring.” In general, the deeper the color, the higher the antioxidant content.

In an article published in the British Medical Journal, researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health found that for every three servings of blueberries (as well as grapes and apples) eaten per week, people reduced their risk for type 2 diabetes by as much as 26 percent compared with those who ate less than one serving per month. The authors based their conclusions on longitudinal studies of previous clinical trials conducted between 1984 and 2008, 1986 and 2008, and 1991 and 2009.

Fiber-rich berries also have the added benefit of satisfying your sweet tooth without any added sugars. Swapping out cookies for blueberries and other antioxidant-rich fruits will reduce blood sugar while keeping sugar cravings at bay. “Patients with diabetes should generally stay away from refined sugars and processed carbs to improve glucose control,” Kaufman says.


5. Have a Side of Broccoli to Increase Your Intake of Vitamins A and C


A review of clinical studies published in the American Journal of Nutrition found that a diet rich in cruciferous vegetables like broccoli may help reduce the risk of cancer.

Loaded with antioxidants, broccoli is a good source of vitamin A and is high in vitamin C, two nutrients essential for anyone, regardless of a diabetes diagnosis. According to the USDA, 1 cup of cooked, previously frozen broccoli (without added fat) supplies 93.8 micrograms (mcg) of vitamin A or about 10 percent of the daily value (DV), and 73.4 milligrams (mg) of vitamin C, or about 82 percent of the DV.

Plus, with 5.52 g of fiber (22 percent of the DV), broccoli is filling — which makes it a good choice for people who are trying to lose weight and control type 2 diabetes.

6. Indulge Your Potato Craving With Fiber-Rich Sweet Potatoes

Sweet Potatoes

When it comes to foods for type 2 diabetes, not all potatoes are created equal. To keep your blood sugar levels in check, it’s best to reach for sweet potatoes, which are high in fiber (eat the skin for more fiber), as well as a host of other vitamins. According to the USDA, one boiled medium-size sweet potato (with no fat added during cooking) offers 3.75 g of fiber or 15 percent of the DV.

“I typically recommend about one-half a plate of nonstarchy vegetables per meal and one-quarter a plate of fiber-rich starchy vegetables, such as sweet potato with the skin on, to increase overall fiber intake,” says Kaufman, though it’s important to work with your healthcare team to figure out how much starchy vegetables is right for you. Other starchy vegetables you can eat in moderation include peas and corn.

Another important consideration is the cooking process. When boiled, sweet potatoes are a low glycemic index (GI) food, meaning they won’t spike your blood sugar as much as regular potatoes, according to research published in the Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism. Baking, roasting, and frying are the worst ways to prepare sweet potatoes for people with type 2 diabetes, they found.


7. Incorporate Spinach and Kale Into Pastas and Salads

Spinach and Kale

According to a previous review, eating 1 ½ cups of dark leafy greens, including spinach and kale, each day can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes by 14 percent. Though the reason is unclear, it may be that leafy greens have a protective effect because they contain antioxidants like vitamins A and C. A cup of fresh, cooked kale (without fat added) offers 879 mcg of vitamin A or about 98 percent of the DV, and 52.9 mg of vitamin C, or about 58 percent of the DV, notes the USDA. Leafy greens are also low in calories and carbohydrates (the same serving of kale has 36 calories and only 7.3 g of carbs), which is ideal for folks with type 2 diabetes.

8. Savor Your Morning Bowl of Oatmeal for Blood Sugar Control


Eating whole-grain oats may help you hit your target A1C and boost heart health. A systematic review and meta-analysis published in December 2015 in the journal Nutrients found that people with type 2 diabetes who ate oatmeal for breakfast had better postprandial glucose readings and lipid profiles than people who ate control breakfasts. Postprandial glucose readings measure glucose levels two hours after eating, and lipid profiles can help indicate heart health. It’s no mystery why oats are great in a diabetes diet — they’re another good source of fiber. The USDA notes that ½ cup of cooked oats provides 4 g, or 15 percent of the DV, of fiber.

For the healthiest options of oatmeal, choose steel-cut or old-fashioned oats with no added salt, sugar, or preservatives. For a creamier texture, cook them in low-fat milk. Add toppings like berries, seeds, and nuts for a flavorful, filling breakfast.


9. Slice Open a Tomato for Heart-Healthy Lycopene


Nothing beats biting into a ripe, juicy tomato — and luckily, folks with diabetes don’t have to give them up. In fact, tomatoes are ideal for a diabetes diet. “Foods such as blueberries and tomatoes with rich coloring can be higher in antioxidants and should be consumed regularly by those with diabetes,” says Kaufman.

This superfood may help lower blood pressure and LDL(“bad”) cholesterol, which may lessen the risk of heart disease. A report published in the British Journal of Nutrition from a 10-year study suggested that lycopene, a key nutrient in tomatoes, may help reduce the risk of heart disease by 26 percent. Keep in mind that your body will be able to absorb more lycopene from cooked tomatoes than from raw ones.

10. Go Greek With Your Yogurt for More Protein and Other Nutrients

Greek yogurt with pomegranate seeds and kiwi

Creamy and delicious, yogurt is a rich source of calcium, protein, and magnesium. It can also deliver valuable probiotics, which, according to a study published in April 2014 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, can help reduce the risk of weight gain and obesity, as well as cardiovascular disease.

Opt for Greek yogurt; it’s slightly higher in protein than regular yogurt, which helps keep you fuller longer. According to the USDA, 1 cup of nonfat plain Greek yogurt offers 23 g of protein, while the same serving of nonfat plain yogurt contains 14 g of protein.

Read nutrition labels carefully and avoid any Greek yogurt products that have added sugars. Your best bet is to select plain, fat-free versions and add some sweetness with berries.


11. Get Your Monounsaturated Fats With Heart-Healthy Avocados

Avocados for Healthy Fats

Known for their heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, avocados top the charts in terms of health benefits. According to a review published in the journal Critical Reviews of Food, Science, and Nutrition, avocados can help lower cholesterol, promote normal blood pressure, and reduce inflammation, thanks to their high fiber content, potassium, and lutein. One serving of avocado (a third of a medium-sized avocado, or 50 g) has 80 calories, 6 g of healthy fats, and a variety of vitamins and minerals, according to California Avocados.


These Green Veggies are bad for Diabetes

Does Lemon Lower Blood Sugar Levels?

Lemons are often noted as one of the better fruit options for people with type 2 diabetes, but some believe lemons may actually have curative properties.

Despite its reputation, the research supporting a strong link between lemons and type 2 diabetes prevention is minimal. A 2015 meta-analysis in Primary Care Diabetes found that eating citrus fruits did not seem to lower the risk of type 2 diabetes.

That being said, lemons can definitely provide benefits for people with diabetes. Here’s what you need to know about this fruit and type 2 diabetes:


Lemons and Diabetes

The nutritional profile of lemons makes the fruit a great option for everyone – including patients with diabetes.

The American Diabetes Association includes lemons on their list of superfoods due to soluble fiber and the high amount of vitamin C. Both soluble fiber and vitamin C can benefit people with diabetes because these nutrients can help promote better metabolic control. Lemons also have a low glycemic index (GI), and a meal with a low GI promotes lower blood sugar and insulin levels after eating.

Citrus fruits like lemons also contain flavonoids, naringin, and naringenin – all of which can have anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant effects, according to a 2014 study in Advances in Nutrition.3 However, more research is required to determine how much of a link there is between these compounds and effectively managing diabetes.

Fiber and Vitamin C

There are two components in lemons that can help support positive effects in diabetes management: soluble fiber and vitamin C.

High-fiber diets have been shown to reduce blood sugar. Soluble fiber can also help lower heart disease risk by helping to lower blood pressure and cholesterol and help with weight loss.

Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that reduces free radical damage in the body. Free radicals damage cells and membranes in the body. Many people with diabetes have low levels of vitamin C. Because vitamin C helps with the production of collagen, it helps maintain the integrity of the walls of the arteries and can be helpful to people who have circulation problems and arterial damage.

Some studies have shown that vitamin C may help decrease levels of fasting blood sugar, triglyceride, cholesterol, and inflammation.4 It may even improve insulin resistance. Keep in mind too much vitamin C, especially from supplements, may be harmful.

Food for Thought

If you have diabetes, and you think you might want to go on a lemon diet, consult your healthcare provider first. There are a few tips and considerations you should additionally think about.

Tips and Considerations

  • Ask for expert advice on how to incorporate lemon in your diet and how much is ok. You do not need to drink high amounts of lemon juice to gain benefits.
  • Due to its acidity, lemon can aggravate or cause heartburn in those with a history of acid reflux and heartburn.
  • Lemon juice can erode tooth enamel and increase tooth sensitivity due to its acidity. If you have sensitive teeth, consider drinking lemon juice in beverages through a straw and rinsing your mouth afterward.
  • Lemon peel contains a high amount of oxalates. Consuming a high amount of oxalates can cause problems such as kidney stones and pain from inflammation in those at risk for or prone to these conditions.5
  • Lemon can act as a diuretic. Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.
  • Squeeze lemon on greens and use it along with extra-virgin olive oil as a simple dressing or try the following dressing: Lemony diabetes salad dressing recipe.