Do You Know Where Salt Is Hiding in Your Food?

From our favorite pretzels to our daily sandwiches, salt is in almost everything we eat. But how much is too much?

Studies show that cutting down on sodium in your diet can lower blood pressure — reducing your risk of stroke, heart failure and other health problems, says hypertension specialist George Thomas, MD.

The American Heart Association recommends an ideal limit of no more than 1,500 mg per day for most adults. People with certain medical conditions should consume even less.

Is sea salt healthier?

Sea salt is generally marketed as a “natural” and “healthier” alternative.

The main differences between sea salt and table salt are in taste, texture and processing. Sea salt has a stronger flavor. However, what people should remember is that both sea salt and table salt have the same amount of sodium by weight.

According to the AHA, a teaspoon of table salt has about 2,300 mg of sodium while a teaspoon of sea salt may have less sodium only because fewer salt crystals fit on the spoon.

“When it comes down to it, sea salt doesn’t offer any health advantages over regular table salt,” says Dr. Thomas.

Should I just stop using the salt shaker?

It does help to avoid adding salt to your food at the table, but unfortunately, a major part of the sodium in American diets — more than 70% — comes from processed and packaged foods. These foods can be high in sodium even if they don’t taste salty.

Processed foods include:

  • Frozen meals.
  • Canned or pickled foods.
  • Snack foods.
  • Deli meat.
  • Cheese.
  • Condiments, sauces and dressings.
  • Breads.
  • Cereals.
  • Soda (including diet soda).

Checking labels is the only way to know how much sodium is in your food. If you buy packaged or processed foods, choose foods that are labeled sodium-free or very low sodium.

“Remember that the amount of sodium listed on the ingredient label references a particular serving size,” says Dr. Thomas. “If you eat more than the listed serving size, you’ll consume more sodium.”

How much sodium is in popular foods?

The AHA has a list of six popular foods with high sodium content dubbed the “Salty Six”:

  1. Breads and rolls: Each piece can have up to 230 mg of sodium.
  2. Pizza: One slice can have up to 760 mg of sodium.
  3. Cold cuts and cured meats: Two slices of bologna has 578 mg of sodium.
  4. Poultry: Especially chicken nuggets. Just 3 ounces have nearly 600 mg of sodium.
  5. Canned soups: One cup of canned chicken noodle soup can have up to 940 mg of sodium.
  6. Sandwiches: Consider the bread, cured meats, processed cheese and condiments can easily surpass 1,500 mg of sodium.

When making plans to your favorite restaurant, sometimes the restaurant will add their menu’s nutritional values on their website. If possible, take a look before you go. This can help you make a decision based on how much sodium is in your meal of choice.

Try the DASH diet for high blood pressure

If you have high blood pressure, the DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) is a low-sodium intervention. All the foods you would eat are low in fat.

The diet calls for four to five servings of fruit, four to five servings of vegetables, and two to three servings of low-fat dairy. It’s also rich in whole grains, fish, poultry, beans, seeds and nuts – while also limiting sugar and red meats.

Work with your doctor or dietitian to figure out a meal plan for you with the DASH diet.

It is possible to train your taste buds to eat less salt. You may not like eating food without sodium at first, but your taste buds will adjust over time.

“Try using natural substitutes like lemon, ginger, curry, dried herbs (such as bay leaves, basil and rosemary), onion, garlic and dry mustard,” says Dr. Thomas. “You might also use salt substitutes, but check with your doctor first.”

Why do Diabetics get Fungal Infections?

It is important for people with diabetes to recognize symptoms of a fungal infection and to receive prompt treatment to avoid potentially serious complications.

Yeast is present in the skin and near mucous membranes. It helps keep neighboring bacteria in check. However, if too much yeast collects, candidiasis — more commonly known as a yeast infection — can develop. It can cause discomfort, including pain and itchiness.

Yeast is most likely to grow excessively in areas that are warm and moist, including the mouth, the genital area, the feet, and in skin folds.

 

Diabetes and yeast infections

Man checks for fungal infection with diabetes
Fungal infections can affect the mouth, the skin, the feet, and the genital area.

 

Bacteria, viruses, and fungi, including yeast, can cause infections if a person’s immune system cannot control the levels in the body.

As a 2018 study — which included data from over 300,000 people — showed, a person with type 1 or type 2 diabetes has a higher risk of infection, including yeast infection, than a person without the condition.

In people with diabetes, symptoms can grow worse more quickly than in other people. Also, infections can be harder to treat. If an infection does not heal, it can lead to complications.

What increases the risk?

A person with poorly controlled diabetes has an increased risk of more severe and frequent yeast infections.

Researchers are still trying to pinpoint the link between yeast overgrowth and diabetes. It could involve the following factors.

Compromised immune system

Scientists have found associations between diabetes and immune dysfunction.

Type 1 diabetes happens when a problem with the immune system results in damage to cells in the pancreas. Immunological changes and increases in inflammation also appear to play a role in developing type 2 diabetes.

Poorly controlled diabetes may hinder the immune response. This could be part of the reason why having diabetes makes a person more prone to yeast infections.

Research into the exact relationship between diabetes and the immune system is ongoing. One theory is that high blood sugar leads to the suppression of certain immune proteins.

These proteins — called beta-defensins — help immune cells move toward infections and kill the microbes. If a condition, such as diabetes, inhibits these functions, a yeast infection could thrive unchecked.

Extra sugars in yeast-friendly areas

Diabetes can also make it easier for yeast and other pathogens to cling to skin cells and mucus glands. This may be because of the presence of extra sugars, which allow yeast to colonize at unhealthy levels.

When blood glucose levels are high, the body may excrete extra sugar in the:

  • mucus
  • sweat
  • urine

Yeast feeds on sugar, making these secretions the most likely factor in overgrowth.

People with diabetes also have increased levels of glycogen, a polysaccharide that the body uses to store glucose. Extra glycogen in the vaginal area can lead to an increase in acidity. This can contribute to yeast growth, according to a study published in 2009 in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Persistent infections

Once yeast has colonized in an area, it becomes easier for an infection to return. A person who is susceptible to yeast infections, due to difficulty managings diabetes, will also have a higher risk of recurring problems.

Symptoms

woman checking smart phone on her bed
A person should seek medical help if they notice signs of a vaginal yeast infection.

 

Yeast infections can manifest differently in different parts of the body.

Skin infection: The skin may change color, or there may be itchy patches of varying shapes and sizes.

These symptoms usually develop in skin folds, but they can spread to other parts of the body, including the face or trunk. A yeast infection can also affect the scalp.

The name for a yeast infection in the skin is cutaneous candidiasis.

Genital infection: These are more common in females than in males, but a male who has difficulty managing their diabetes may have a higher risk.

A female may notice:

  • vaginal itching or pain, including a burning sensation
  • a white, cottage cheese-like discharge
  • a burning sensation or another type of pain while urinating
  • an unpleasant odor

A male may have an itchy, scaly rash on the penis.

Anyone with diabetes who notices these symptoms should see a doctor because they are likely to need treatment. Without treatment, complications can occur.

Eye infection: Symptoms include pain, redness, blurred vision, discharge, sensitivity to light, and watery eyes. Without treatment, it can lead to vision loss.

Foot infection: Athlete’s foot is a common fungal infection.

For a person with diabetes, damage to the skin on the feet can lead to ulceration and, in some cases, the need for amputation. Nerve damage and circulatory problems that occur with diabetes can make this more likely to happen.

It is important to take measures to prevent fungal infections on the feet. Inspect the feet regularly and receive prompt treatment for any indications of an infection.

Oral thrush: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), symptoms of oral thrush include:

  • white patches on the inside of the cheeks
  • redness or pain in the mouth
  • cracking and redness in the corners of the mouth
  • loss of taste
  • a “cottony” sensation in the mouth

A person with diabetes has a higher chance of developing a fungal infection in the mouth for various reasons. Diabetes can cause dryness in the mouth, increased acidity, and high levels of glucose in the saliva.

Without treatment, a yeast infection can become invasive in a person whose immune system is not working properly. It can spread to the bloodstream and from there to other parts of the body. If this happens, the infection can quickly become life-threatening.

Diagnosis

A doctor will examine the affected area, and they may take a sample of skin or urine for laboratory testing. They will also ask about symptoms.

If a person who does not have diagnosed diabetes experiences unusually frequent infections, they should speak to a doctor, who may test for diabetes.

Medical treatment

Once a doctor identifies a yeast infection, there are several treatment methods to try, depending on the type of infection.

Topical creams or suppositories

A doctor will usually recommend these first, as they work well during the early stages of an infection.

The doctor may prescribe an antifungal cream to apply directly to the affected area for up to 7 days.

Antifungal creams and suppositories are available over the counter, but a person should speak to a doctor before using them.

This is because:

  • The problem may not be a yeast infection.
  • Using these medications too frequently can cause yeast to become resistant to them.

Oral antifungal medication

If cream or suppository does not work, or if the person has had several yeast infections in a short time, a doctor might prescribe an oral antifungal medication, such as fluconazole (Diflucan).

One dose may be enough to resolve the infection.

The #1 Cause of Diabetes, According to Science

Young woman measures blood sugar level.

 

Chances are, you know someone with diabetes, that not-so-sweet disease most associated with sugar. Maybe it’s your sister, aunt or best friend. Or perhaps you have it. If so, you’re in good company—Halle Berry, Tom Hanks and Nick Jonas are among the celebrities that also struggle with diabetes, along with more than 100 million Americans who live with diabetes or prediabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In fact, it’s one of the most common conditions in the United States, and the numbers are growing. Diabetes has become the 7th largest cause of death in the United States. And the 10 states with the highest rates of type 2 diabetes are in the South. It’s not surprising then that the South has its own moniker for the disease: “the sugar.”

So you probably think the cause of diabetes is pretty self-evident, right? It’s the sugar! Think again. This sweet science report reveals the actual #1 cause.

 

1

What is Diabetes, Anyway?

 

Patient's blood sugar control, diabetic measurement

Before we get into the cause, we have to define what diabetes is.

Diabetes occurs when your blood glucose—or blood sugar—is too high. Blood glucose is the body’s primary source of energy and is derived from the food you eat. Enter insulin: a hormone made by your pancreas. Endocrine Web shares that “insulin is often described as a key, which unlocks the cell to allow sugar to enter the cell and be used for energy.” But sometimes your body doesn’t make enough insulin—or any at all—or just doesn’t utilize insulin well.

What happens then is that glucose stays in your blood, and doesn’t reach your cells—causing glucose to build up in the blood, spiking your blood sugar levels. Having too much glucose in your blood can cause some pretty significant health problems.

There are several types of diabetes: type 1, type 2, gestational, and for those on the cusp, prediabetes. While each is distinct, they all share the same underlying issues with blood sugar. Type 1 and type 2 diabetes are chronic conditions. Prediabetes is a precursor to chronic diabetes, and gestational diabetes often resolves on its own after the baby is born.

 

2

And What Happens if You Have It?

 

diabetes

So what can happen if your body is not able to properly use glucose to produce energy? The two main types of diabetes—type 1 and type 2—have similar tell-tale warning signs, though with type 1, onset of symptoms may be faster, showing up in a matter of days or weeks, and tend to be more severe. According to the American Diabetes Association, you might experience frequent urination, a sign that your kidneys are trying to expel excess sugar in your blood.

Extreme thirst almost always accompanies frequent urination because your body becomes dehydrated from all the peeing. In the same vein, lack of fluid in your body can give you dry mouth and itchy skin. You might also feel increased hunger or have unexpected weight loss due to your body’s inability to get sufficient energy from the food you’re eating.

High blood sugar levels, over time, can impact blood flow and cause nerve damage, which makes healing difficult–slow-healing cuts or sores are another diabetes warning sign. Last, but certainly not least: frequent yeast infections for both men and women is another hallmark symptom of diabetes due to yeast feasting on excess sugar in the blood.

 

3

How Do I Know I Have It?

 

Doctor and senior woman wearing facemasks

Symptoms vary from person to person, and also by how much your blood sugar is elevated. According to the NIH, type 1 diabetes symptoms can start quickly, sometimes over just a few weeks. With type 2 diabetes, symptoms often develop more slowly, over several years, and for some may be so mild that they’re not noticeable. In fact, many people with type 2 diabetes actually have no symptoms, and only find out they have the disease when they develop diabetes-related health problems like increased thirst and urination or heart trouble.

It’s key to pay attention to what’s happening in your body—if something feels off, don’t ignore it: go see your doctor and get checked out.

 

4

Here are the Top Contributing Factors—Broken Out by Diabetes Type:

 

Male feet on glass scales, men's diet, body weight, close up, man stepping up on scales

Type 1 diabetes can occur at any age, in people of all races, shapes, and sizes–and accounts for 10% of all cases of diabetes according to the NIH. It occurs most frequently in people of European descent. This type of diabetes occurs when your immune system attacks and destroys the insulin-producing beta cells of the pancreas. Researchers do not know exactly what causes type 1 diabetes—but believe that a combination of genetic and environmental factors, like certain common childhood viruses, may trigger the disease.

Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes, affecting between 90 to 95% of people with the condition according to the CDC. It is often preceded by a period of prediabetes, when there is a greater opportunity to halt the progression of the disease. Both lifestyle factors and genes play into the development of type 2. Family history of the condition? You are more likely to develop diabetes as well. Physically inactive (we’re talking to you desk jockeys)—overweight or obese? These are also major risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes.

Gestational diabetes is a form of the disease that develops during pregnancy and is brought on by hormonal changes, as well as genetic and lifestyle factors. Hormones made by the placenta contribute to insulin resistance in the later trimesters—this happens to all women, but some can’t produce enough extra insulin to compensate and develop gestational diabetes. Being overweight or obese raises the risk of this condition.

 

5

So Tell Me, What’s the #1 Cause???

 

Portrait of asian woman doctor wear protection face mask showing a patient some information on digital tablet clip board, patient listen to specialist doctor in clinic office

So what is the #1 cause of diabetes? As we said: it’s not sugar. High blood sugar is a symptom—not the cause—of diabetes. The #1 cause of diabetes is your body’s inability to respond normally to insulin.

 

6

How to Prevent It

 

walking

The road to diabetes is paved by many contributing factors, some out of your control, but many within. In terms of the most common form of diabetes, type 2, there’s a lot you can do to prevent the disease.

Move your body. A sedentary lifestyle is now seen as a significant health risk. Walk. Dance. Do something you enjoy, just make sure you move.

Eat well. You’ve heard it before, you’ll hear it again: you are what you eat. A carb-heavy diet is more likely to spike your blood sugar, so go easy on the bread, pasta, beer, rice, and potatoes. A rule of thumb from our friends at Eat This, Not That! (and the American Heart Association): Eat your colors. Orange (carrots, bell peppers). Red (strawberries, raspberries). Green (all the greens from broccoli to kale to peas). Blue (blueberries, blackberries).

Keep your weight in normal range. If you are struggling with losing weight, see your doctor and ask for a referral to a nutritionist. Together, you can come up with a plan that you can live happily with.

 

7

What to Do When You Notice Symptoms

Health visitor and a senior man during home visit

If you notice symptoms like frequent urination and immense thirst together, or have cuts that are slow to heal, talk to your healthcare provider. If you catch diabetes in the prediabetes stage, a smart regimen of regular exercise and a healthy (often low-carb) diet can actually prevent you from developing the disease!

The One Food That Will Shorten Your Life, Say Experts

donuts

 

A little sweet treat once in a blue moon really won’t hurt your health. In fact, if you follow these healthy dessert habits and even try pairing one of these dessert recipes with a side of fruit, your dessert can actually turn into a nutritious eating experience. Nevertheless, the reason dessert gets a bad rep is due to the high amount of sugar that is usually found in most desserts–especially desserts that are highly processed and sitting on grocery shelves. These products usually do not have much nutritional value to offer your body, and if you’re not careful, they can easily become the one food that will shorten your life.

We spoke with a few experts on why eating a high amount of added sugar in your diet can actually shorten your life, and their insight was invaluable.

Added sugars have been linked to chronic diseases.

There are a lot of food items that surprisingly have sugar in them. Fruits and vegetables are a great example of this—a lot of them will have fructose, which is a natural sugar that comes from the plant. Even though fructose is still technically a sugar and should be limited, eating the sugar that comes from fresh fruits and vegetables will still benefit your body in immense ways rather than hurt it.

The type of food that will shorten your life is added sugars. Added sugars are found in all kinds of foods that you may not even realize in order to make them taste sweet. Any food that has sugar added to it would be placed into this category. Even low-fat grocery store items—which have the air of being healthy because they are “low fat”—will have higher sugar content in order to taste better.

“Sugar and processed foods will shorten your life as they promote inflammation in the body,” Jamie Feit, MS, RD, and expert at Testing.com. “Inflammation causes disease over time.”

“[Added sugars] can be found in virtually every processed food, typically in the form of high-fructose corn syrup,” says Talia Segal Fidler, MS, HHC, AADP, and holistic nutritionist from The Lodge at Woodloch. “High-sugar diets are associated with inflammation, obesity, and type 2 diabetes and they are the main cause to many other chronic health problems associated with insulin resistance, fatty liver disease, cancer, heart damage, hormonal imbalances, and dementia.”

The reason added sugars can result in a higher risk of inflammation and other diseases is all due to how the body absorbs sugar when consumed.

“Large amounts of added sugar eaten daily should be avoided,” Dr. Rachel Paul, PhD, RD from CollegeNutritionist.com. “Quick absorbing sugar spikes our blood sugar, but then it plummets soon after, making us hungry again, quickly. Over time, regularly eating large amounts of added sugar is related to weight gain, increased triglycerides, and tooth decay.”

The biggest culprits of added sugars on grocery shelves.

While there are a lot of items on grocery store shelves packed with sugar (even your favorite breakfast cereal!), there are two culprits that nutritionists tend to point out as being the foods that are the worst-of-the-worst when it comes to your lifespan: Soda and candy.

“Soda has no nutritional value and is purely empty calories,” says Lisa R. Young PhD, RDN, and the author of Finally Full, Finally Slim. “All its calories come from added sugar known to increase the risk for various diseases including diabetes, heart disease, and cancer along with causing weight gain.”

“Candy is one food that will shorten your life if eaten regularly because candy is instant sugar for your body is, what we call, ‘calorie dense’ instead of ‘nutrient-dense,’ which means that, while it provides are body with a lot of calories, it does not provide us with a lot of good nutrition,” says Ricci-Lee Hotz, MS, RDN at a Taste of Health and Expert at Testing.com. “It can shorten your life if eaten regularly because consuming high amounts of quick sugars can lead to weight gain, insulin resistance—which can eventually become diabetes, and can even lead to fat deposits forming on organs in our body that can result in issues with our heart, our gallbladder, and more.”

How to enjoy dessert and stay healthy.

Now we aren’t saying that you should eliminate all desserts from your diet—you should always enjoy the food you love and never feel like you have to restrict yourself! There are in fact quite a few healthy dessert recipes you can make or even desserts to buy.

The trick is to practice portion control with your desserts by enjoying a small amount of your favorite sweet thing at a time. Some nutritionists even say having a small dessert every day is fine, as long as it’s portion-controlled properly as to not mess with your health goals.

Plus, dark chocolate is full of healthy antioxidants that are actually good for your body, so eating a square of your favorite dark chocolate candy right after a meal won’t make your blood sugar spike and will give you a boost of those antioxidants

Foods That Increase Your Diabetes Risk, Says Expert

A registered dietitian advises avoiding two drinks and we suggest steering clear of two foods.

strawberry ice cream cone

 

More than 34 million Americans (1 in 10) have diabetes, with 90 to 95% specifically having type 2 diabetes, which is the type of diabetes that’s thought to be caused by poor diet choices and lack of exercise over time. Even more concerning, about 1 in 3 American adults are believed to have prediabetes, and 84% of them don’t even know they have it.

Someone with prediabetes has higher than average blood glucose (sugar) levels however, they’re not quite high enough to hit the type 2 diabetes range. If you’re diagnosed with prediabetes, that means the cells in your body don’t respond to insulin properly and as a result, your pancreas overcompensates by making more insulin in an effort to get your cells to respond to it. If this cycle continues, your pancreas becomes exhausted and can no longer produce enough insulin to mediate glucose uptake in cells, where it can be transported to essential fat tissue and muscles within the body.

However, if you’re diagnosed with prediabetes, you have the opportunity to reverse the condition and prevent type 2 diabetes from developing. This can be achieved through making better food choices, increasing exercise, and losing weight, for example. Below, we included just four beverages and foods that are known to increase your risk of type 2 diabetes, so you know what to consume in moderation.

1

Alcohol

Pouring whiskey drink into glass

“Chronic consumption of alcohol can increase the risk of type 2 diabetes due to alcohol’s negative effect on the pancreas,” says Sydney Greene, MS, RD, and member of our medical board. “When the pancreas is inflamed, its ability to produce insulin is lowered putting individuals at risk of diabetes.”

 

2

Sugar-sweetened beverages

soda glasses

“According to the American Heart Association (AHA), men and women should consume no more than 36 grams and 25 grams of added sugar per day, respectively. To put this into perspective, one 8-ounce glass of bottled sweetened iced tea can contain more than 15 grams of sugar per serving,” says Greene.

“This amount of sugar consumed often and all in one sitting will cause a major spike in blood sugar putting stress on insulin response. Consume sweetened beverages in moderation and be mindful that all sugar is processed in the body as sugar, regardless of the type.”

3

Highly processed, refined carbs.

white bread

White bread, pasta, rice, and pastries all contain have a high glycemic index meaning they release glucose (sugar) rapidly, which can cause your blood sugar levels to spike. In fact, people who already have type 2 diabetes need to eat these foods in moderation as consuming large quantities of simple carbohydrates such as these could send them into a hyperglycemic state. Hyperglycemia is described as the state in which blood sugar levels are too high. If left untreated, hyperglycemia can become severe, leading to several complications including immediate side effects such as diabetic coma and also long-term health issues, such as kidney damage and cardiovascular disease. In general, limit your consumption of these foods to avoid frequently elevating your blood glucose levels.

 

4

Full-fat ice cream.

You scream, I scream, we all scream for ice cream. However, that doesn’t mean we should eat it all the time. Not only can a pint of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream contain over 100 grams of sugar, but it can also pack over two day’s worth of saturated fat. Full-fat ice cream options are often loaded in saturated fat, which can increase your risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, says the American Diabetes Association. Our advice? Enjoy one serving of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream at a time and limit to once or twice a week, especially if you have prediabetes.

23 Foods That Are Good for Your Skin

woman checking skin in mirror

You can’t stop yourself from aging. But you can control how you do it. You may be wondering what foods are good for your skin to keep it firmer and looking younger.

The good news is that if you’re committed to eating healthier you’re probably further along than you think on giving your complexion a youthful boost.

Nicole Hopsecger, a registered dietitian, sums it up with a simple guideline. “Your skin is a reflection of your overall health. Whatever you eat that’s good for you, is also good for your skin. So if you’re healthy on the inside, it will make you healthy on the outside, too — skin and all.”

Here are some foods she recommends that can help protect, firm and nourish your skin from the inside out.

Eat fish more frequently to firm up skin

Omega-3 fatty acids do a lot of good things, including lowering your triglycerides and battling inflammation. But they also help preserve collagen in your skin and keep it firmer.

“The top source of omega-3s is fish,” she says, “and these are the best candidates for the job.”

  • Salmon.
  • Tuna (bluefin and albacore).
  • Lake trout.
  • Sardines and anchovies.
  • Mackerel.
  • Herring.

Add in plant-based foods omega-3s

Although most plant-based foods like veggies, nuts and oils don’t provide as much omega-3 as fish, they’re still a solid source of it and can work wonders for your skin.

Flaxseed oil — Flaxseed is particularly rich in collagen-boosting fatty acid. You don’t want to cook with flaxseed oil but you can mix it into smoothies, yogurt, or salad dressing.

Chia seeds — The easiest way to get these into your diet is to sprinkle them onto yogurt, cereal and salad, and into batter for muffins and pancakes.

Walnuts and walnut oil — Try reaching for them instead of your other go-to snacking nuts or use the oil on your salad instead of your usual EVOO.

Soy foods and soybean oil — Go for some tofu, edamame or use soybean oil to sautée or bake.

Canola oil — Canola oil can be used in baking, oven cooking or stir-frying.

Eat antioxidant and vitamin-rich foods

Fruit, vegetables and dark chocolate supply antioxidants and vitamins that help protect your skin from free radicals and sun damage, which keeps the skin looking younger and more radiant.

Why you should love lycopene

Tomatoes — While technically a fruit, tomatoes are also considered a vegetable when cooking. They contain lycopene, an antioxidant that can help keep your skin smoother. And they’re easy to work into anything easily like salads, side dishes, sandwiches and sauces.

Go for vitamin C-rich foods

Some fruits and vegetables not only contain antioxidants but also healthy amounts of vitamins C and E, which can fight wrinkles.

Some of the best food choices for better skin that include vitamin C:

Citrus — Oranges, grapefruit, lemons and limes.

Bell peppers — Green, orange, red or yellow. It’s your pick.

Broccoli — Steam or roast (yes, roast!) for an easy, healthy side.

Strawberries — Snack on them fresh, or put some in a simple smoothie.

Kiwi — Add some to your favorite fruit salad, or make veggie kebabs for a fun twist.

And don’t forget about vitamin E

Some of the best foods for your skin that contain vitamin E include:

Almonds — Rotate them in your snack arsenal, or make your own trail mix.

Sunflower seeds — If you’re not the sort to munch on them in their shells, buy the shelled variety and toss them on your salads or add them to your baked goods.

Get your polyphenols

Not familiar with polyphenols? They’re powerful antioxidants that can be found in a variety of dietary options. Some of the highest sources include:

Tea and coffee — Just be mindful of how much caffeine your system can handle, or choose decaf when you can.

Red wine — But remember men should have no more than two alcoholic drinks per day. Women should have no more than one.

Grapes — Explore all the fun varieties on the market these days, from champagne to Moon Drops.

Chocolate — Besides antioxidants and vitamins, chocolate (especially dark chocolate) contains flavanols, or a type of polypehenol. They reduce rough texture in the skin and protect against sun damage. That means, luckily, you can have a few ounces of chocolate a day, but make sure it’s made of 60% to 70% cocoa.

Watch serving sizes, sugar and steer clear of the bad stuff

Overall the best practices for your diet will nurture your best-looking skin. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, but make sure to keep an eye on your serving sizes. Remember many fruits also have a good amount of sugar so make sure you monitor this in your overall intake each day.

And as always, be sure to cut down on the unhealthy stuff (whether that’s on weekends, at get-togethers or just those splurges when you’re stressed). And remember, supplement pills are not a substitute for a healthy diet!

“You don’t want to undo all the work the healthy foods are doing. Eating too many processed or refined sugars and foods with high glycemic index, dairy, carbohydrates, and unhealthy fats can actually cause skin inflammation, irritation, and breakouts and encourage the aging process of your skin,” she emphasizes.

“Just stick to a regular habit of eating the recommended foods, and in time you’ll feel better, look better — and your healthier skin will reflect it all.”

Can ‘Healthy’ Ice Creams Help You Lose Weight?

healthy ice cream

Who can resist ice cream? It’s a dessert that reminds us of childhood and is perfect on a hot summer day. But if you’re trying to lose weight (or make healthier decisions in general), you might be searching for an ice cream alternative that will satisfy your craving, but won’t leave you feeling guilty.

Enter ice cream brands like Halo Top®, Arctic Zero® and Breyer’s Delights®. These products are advertised as “healthy ice cream” and claim to be low in calories and sugar, but high in protein.

Sounds too good to be true, right?

Registered dietitian, Anna Taylor, RD discusses if ice cream can actually be healthy for you.

Is low calorie ice cream healthy?

“Healthy foods — like fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains — actually improve your health,” says Taylor. “But because these low calorie ice cream products don’t actually better your health, I wouldn’t call them healthy by any means.”

That said, if you regularly eat ice cream, then replacing it with a product that is lower in calories, lower in saturated fat and lower in sugar would likely improve your diet, but it’s not a magic wand.

Taylor suggest keeping two major things in mind when indulging in these ice cream alternatives:

  1. GI distress. These products often contain ingredients such as sugar alcohols, chicory root or inulin, which can cause bloating, gas and even diarrhea in some people.
  2. Portions matter. The recommended portion for these lower calorie ice cream products is typically 2/3 cup, not one pint (2 cups). If you eat a pint a day, which contains 150 to 360 calories, you could gain as much as 15 to 36 pounds in one year! Also, one pint contains up to 20 to 40 grams of sugar. The American Heart Association recommends limiting daily added sugars to 25 grams for women and 36 grams for men. Stick to 2/3 cup as a serving size for these products.

Also, before you top your ice cream with caramel sauce, fudge, whipped cream or candy bits, remember that sundae toppings also pile on loads of extra calories on top of the actual ice cream itself. Skip the toppings altogether, but if you absolutely must, consider topping your treat with fiber-rich fresh fruit slices, berries or protein-packed nuts instead.

The bottom line

If eating a lower calorie ice cream product helps you decrease the excess calories, saturated fat and added sugar in your diet, then it’s fine to enjoy in moderation — meaning occasionally! (And hey, we get it. Many of us have eaten an entire pint of ice cream before, but moderation is key when it comes to these products.)

Another option for fighting off your sweet tooth is to control the portion of another sweet treat that you already enjoy, says Taylor. Maybe you decide that you’ll have a piece of dark chocolate or a small slice of cake at your friend’s birthday party. Allowing yourself a small treat can motivate you to continue on your weight-loss journey or inspire you to keep making small, healthier decisions.

As always, reading the nutrition label on each product before you buy it will guide you in making healthier choices – and help you understand how much you can consume in moderation.

6 Ways to Fight Your Sweet Cravings

6 Ways to Fight Your Sweet and Salty Cravings

Are you forever trying to give up sweets or salty snacks? If you think cravings are the reason the number on your scale won’t budge, take heart.

It is possible to lose your cravings. If you’re like most people, you’re just not going about it the right way. These tips for success from our dietitians should help:

1. Keep your body well-fueled all day

Forget about dieting. “Focus on building healthy, portion-controlled meals from foods bursting with nutrients, then taper your calories throughout the day,” advises Anna Taylor, MS, RD, LD.  “And never, ever skip meals.”

Eating regularly throughout the day helps control cravings. “Keep meal and snack times consistent,” advises Kate Patton, MEd, RD, CSSD, LD. “Eat breakfast within one or two hours of waking up, and allow no more than four to six hours between meals.”

Adds Jennifer Willoughby, RD, CSP, LD, “Include a protein source in every meal and snack. This helps aid satiety to curb your cravings.”

Crave something sweet or salty? Choose foods with nutritional value: whole grain crackers, nuts, fresh fruit, plain yogurt topped with fruit, dark chocolate that’s over 70 percent cacao.

And be prepared:

  • Stash healthy snacks in your purse, desk or messenger bag.
  • Plan dinners ahead of time so your mind, and not your stomach, decides the menu.

Finally, avoid being too restrictive. “Enjoying appropriate portions of sweet treats from time to time can help keep you on track,” says Ms. Willoughby.

2. Don’t rely on diet soda

Are you trying to satisfy your sweet tooth with diet soda? Drinking artificially sweetened beverages has no effect on weight, studies show. If anything, diet beverages are more likely to expand your waistline.

“Artificial sweeteners tend to make us overeat,” explains Kristin Kirkpatrick, MS, RD, LD. “Eventually, they encourage many of us to turn to the real thing: sugar.”

Some animal studies also suggest that artificial sweeteners make our bodies resist insulin. This may increase the likelihood that we’ll develop prediabetes or diabetes, and could increase the risk of heart disease.

Want to quench your thirst? “Try seltzer water with natural flavoring or add lemon, cucumber or berries to your water,” she advises.

3. Reprogram your taste buds

How do you retrain your taste buds? “Crowd out the addictive sweet and salty foods with real foods. It’s difficult to overeat foods that come from the earth,” says Brigid Titgemeier, MS, RDN, LD.

Instead of pretzels and chips, enjoy air-popped popcorn, popcorn made with extra virgin olive oil, or unsalted mixed nuts.

Try replacing sugary treats with berries and dark chocolate (over 70 percent). Add a bit of nut butter for protein and healthy fat. “I like to snack on a piece of dark chocolate with cashew butter. The fat from the cashew butter helps turn off some of those sweet cravings,” she says.

Other options include berry herbal teas, frozen berries, and homemade nut balls sweetened with two to three medjool dates.

Adds Ms. Taylor, “With patience and practice, what used to taste sweet to you will start tasting too sweet. Juicy, fresh blueberries can be enough to satisfy a sweet tooth once you stop bombarding your taste buds with candy, sweet drinks and foods sweetened with hidden sugars.”

Similarly, after eating less salt for several weeks — by cutting down on processed foods, convenience foods, restaurant foods and the salt shaker — a little salt will start tasting like a lot of salt. And you’ll need less to satisfy your salt craving.

4. Find support for the cause

A strong support system is one of the secrets to controlling cravings. Adults often find support from fellow participants in a weight-loss program.

For kids, “parents can help by not buying sweet and salty snacks on a regular basis,” says Ms. Willoughby. “And grandparents can encourage whole, natural foods instead of desserts.”

“Also, most children (and adults) benefit from seeing a dietitian to learn how to make appropriate yet satisfying food substitutions.”

If emotional eating is involved, a behavioral health specialist or psychologist can help develop strategies to keep weight loss on track. 

5. Consider intermittent fasting

“Intermittent fasting can help with the overall reduction of hunger and cravings,” says Ms. Kirkpatrick.

You won’t starve on a fasting diet. Instead, you’ll cut back on calories, eating only 500 to 600 on fast days and the normal amount on “off days.” Over time, you’ll find yourself feeling satisfied with smaller portions.

The intermittent rhythm will also lessen your sweet and salty cravings. Best of all, “intermittent fasting has helped lots of people lose a significant amount of weight,” she says. 

6. Pay attention to your body

Are you overeating because of stress? That’s often when cravings for sugar or salt surface. “Try meditation, exercise or reading to settle yourself,” says Ms. Patton.

She also recommends keeping a water bottle at your desk, in your car or in your purse to avoid dehydration.

If you have diabetes, you may crave something sweet even when your blood sugar is normal.

“Add a small amount of whip cream or dairy-free whip to berries or fruit,” advises Dawn Noe, RD, LD, CDE. “For a quick, healthy, warm dessert, mix ½ cup steel cut oats, 1 small apple, diced, and some cinnamon. Heat in the microwave for a minute or so, and you have a healthy, tasty alternative to apple crisp.”

If you have diabetes and your blood sugar is low when cravings hit, eat 15 grams of carbohydrate (three to four glucose tablets or 4 ounces of 100 percent fruit juice) to normalize it. “But avoid chocolate; it takes too long to digest and won’t raise blood sugar as quickly,” she cautions.

These tips should help you find success in controlling the cravings that lead to weight gain. They’ll also help you lower your risk for health problems like diabetes and hypertension.

This Popular Ingredient Could Help Lower Your Risk of Diabetes, Study Suggests

Research published in the journal PLOS Medicine found that this oil was associated with lower diabetes risk.

cooking oils

 

More than 34 million Americans have diabetes, according to the CDC. Of these, 90 to 95% have “type 2,” which is caused by insulin resistance (as opposed to “type 1,” which is caused by a failure to produce insulin at all). If you don’t manage insulin resistance, it can elevate your blood sugar levels and lead to severe and life-threatening health consequences, according to the Mayo Clinic (here are 20 warning signs you may have diabetes that you should never ignore). 

While some diabetes risk factors are beyond your control, others are “modifiable,” including your weight. Since weight is so heavily influenced by diet, scientists have attempted to identify which foods are associated with diabetes risk. For example, studies have demonstrated that excess dietary sugar can play a role in increasing your risk of diabetes. Studies have also demonstrated that high-fat diets—especially those high in saturated fats (e.g., animal fats)—are associated with insulin resistance that’s at the heart of type 2 diabetes. That’s why public health organizations have been recommending Americans limit their fat intake to less than 30% of their total calories and eat only unsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids (typically found in vegetable fats and some fatty fish). This also means eliminating saturated and trans fats.

In recent years, however, scientists have been questioning whether the role of dietary fat may be more nuanced than previously believed. That’s why researchers from the German Center for Diabetes Research set out to investigate the relationship between diabetes and various kinds of dietary fat. The results of their meta-analysis (of 23 existing clinical studies addressing that relationship), which were published in the peer-reviewed scientific journal, PLOS Medicine, may appear startling.

The team found no association between the consumption of dietary fat and the risk of type 2 diabetes, and also concluded that vegetable oil was associated with lower diabetes risk, but only in amounts lower than 13 grams daily. Given that this completely contradicts current recommendations, should you really be consuming up to 13 grams of vegetable oil daily in order to reduce the risk of diabetes?

The fact is, the team of scientists from the German Center for Diabetes research did not specify which vegetable oil they might be talking about. And, as we know, not all vegetable oils have been given an across-the-board scientific seal of approval. Some, like palm oil, may come with negative health consequences—but as Harvard Women’s Health Watch explains, even though palm oil is not as healthy as olive oil, it’s still a better choice than butter.

Seeking clarity, Eat This, Not That! reached out to the study authors as well as the German Center for Diabetes Research, but found they were already on holiday. So, we checked with physician Leann Poston, M.D., in hopes of gaining insight into what to make of these novel results.

“Overall, not much can be gleaned from this study,” Dr. Poston advised Eat This, Not That! “The authors pointed out that they had only low to moderate confidence in their results, nor did they go so far as to make specific dietary recommendations.”

Dr. Poston also says the study findings were correlational, not causational, meaning they merely point out that people who eat a certain amount of vegetable oil also have less of a tendency to develop diabetes.

The Best Time of Day to Eat Carbs

A carbohydrate is like the internet. It can either help or harm you — it just depends on how and when you consume it.

“You want to find the right balance,” says registered dietitian Kate Patton, MEd, RD, CSSD, LD.

Patton explains why carbs shouldn’t be diet enemy number one and the best time of day to eat them.

What are carbohydrates?

Carbohydrates often get a bad rap. But they’re one of three essential macronutrients, along with fat and protein.

“Carbohydrates turn into glucose, or sugar, in your body. Your body converts that glucose into energy,” says Patton. “Carbs are your body’s main and preferred energy source.”

“The majority of your carbohydrates should come from natural sources — things that aren’t modified or processed,” says Patton. Examples of healthy carbohydrates include:

  • Grains and starches: Opt for whole-grain options when it comes to bread, cereal, rice and pasta.
  • Legumes: Legumes are also a great source of plant-based protein. These sources include split peas, lentils and beans.
  • Fruit: Patton recommends whole fruit, with its skin intact. “But some fruit is better than no fruit,” she notes. “So, if canned fruit is more accessible or affordable, that’s OK, too. Just get it packed in water or juice and strain it.”
  • Vegetables: These healthy carbs are also full of fiber, vitamins and minerals. Veggies rich in carbs include potatoes, corn, root vegetables and squashes.
  • Milk: Milk is a good source of protein, calcium and vitamin D.

When is the best time to eat carbs?

“Most foods and food groups contain carbohydrates, so you want to find the right balance,” says Patton. “If you’re an average, healthy person, eat some carbs with each of your meals throughout the day.”

But consuming carbs earlier in the day may be better if you:

  • Want to lose weight or improve blood sugar levels: “Most Americans are active early in the day and more sedentary at night,” says Patton. “Having your biggest portion of carbs in the evening can cause a blood sugar spike. Your body then stores the extra glucose that you didn’t use for energy as body fat.”
  • Exercise in the morning: “If you’re exercising in the morning for less than an hour, it’s OK to exercise on an empty stomach and get in the fat-burning zone,” notes Patton. “But if you’re more of an endurance athlete or exercising for more than an hour, you may need a small pre-workout snack. In either case, it’s good to have carbs to help you refuel after.”
  • Have trouble sleeping: “Eating carbs at dinner can affect your sleep if you go to bed while your food is still digesting, especially if you have heartburn.”

To get the energy-fueling benefits, you need to consume the right kind of carbs. Patton says that eating sugary, processed foods can quickly spike your blood sugar. As a result, you may feel hungry just one to two hours later — and eat even more. The same can happen if you eat only carbs and don’t get enough protein and fat.

The best time to eat carbs when you practice intermittent fasting

Intermittent fasting is eating and fasting during certain windows of time. If you follow this type of eating pattern, Patton says it’s OK to eat carbs throughout your entire window — even if your goal is weight loss or if you’re diabetic or pre-diabetic. “But during that eight-hour window, try to control the total amount of carbs you’re eating,” she recommends.

What should your daily carb intake be?

Patton says following the plate method is an easy way to make sure you’re eating the right amount of carbohydrates. Start with a 9-inch plate. Fill half of it with vegetables, one quarter with protein and one quarter with carbs.

If you’re an athlete or physically active, dividing your plate into thirds may better fuel your day.  But Patton recommends keeping macronutrients balanced at every meal. “Your body can only absorb so much protein at once. It processes fuel most efficiently in smaller, more frequent doses. So be consistent throughout the day: Eat three meals and two to three snacks.”

How to eat the right amount of carbs consistently

If your carb-eating habits leave something to be desired, Patton says these tips can get you on the path to a well-balanced diet:

  • Log what you consume: “Some apps can show you what your total percentage of calories from carbs is,” she says. “These apps usually give a visual representation, such as a pie graph, for each of the meals. That way, you can better track your carb consumption.”
  • Go European: “The European style of eating tends to involve consuming your biggest meal at lunch,” notes Patton. “Since many Americans have dinner as their biggest meal, it can be as simple as swapping the two and making dinner your lighter meal.”
  • Indulge in leftovers: “If you keep dinner as your bigger meal, try to eat the protein, vegetable and a smaller portion of the carb,” Patton suggests. “Then pack those leftovers for lunch the next day and have the protein and vegetables with a bigger portion of the carbs.”