Is Parmesan Cheese Healthy?

When you think of Parmesan cheese, what first comes to mind? For many people, it’s the powdered or grated kind you pour over pasta or sprinkle on pizza.

While this condiment certainly adds flavor, there’s another Parmesan cheese that’s an even better choice: Parmigiano-Reggiano, “the real-deal cheese that comes in a wheel from northern Italy,” says dietitian Alexis Supan, RD.

As it turns out, not only is Parmigiano-Reggiano delicious, but it’s nutritious and offers multiple health benefits.

What is Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese?

Parmigiano-Reggiano is a hard cheese with just three ingredients: cow’s milk, salt and rennet. The latter is “a mix of different enzymes that we use to make cheeses,” Supan says.

Because it has so few ingredients, it’s a much denser, drier cheese. “Parmigiano-Reggiano is tightly packed,” Supan notes. “If you’re comparing that to a cheddar, or to a mozzarella, there’s not nearly as much water content. It does get a lot drier, which is why it crumbles and falls apart.”

Parmigiano-Reggiano also doesn’t have many health-related risks. “Unless you have a very specific casein intolerance or allergies, you’ve got nothing to worry about there,” Supan says. “If you do have those, you want to stay away.”

Parmesan cheese nutrition info

A 1-ounce (28 gram) serving of Parmigiano-Reggiano contains:

  • 112 calories.
  • 8 grams total fat.
  • 5 grams saturated fat.
  • 2.6 grams monounsaturated fat.
  • 0 grams carbohydrates.
  • Less than 1 milligram lactose.
  • 27% daily value of calcium.
  • 14% daily value of sodium.
  • 15% daily value of phosphorus.

What are the health benefits of Parmesan cheese?

Unlike other kinds of cheeses, which could be high in unhealthy saturated fat and sodium and not offer much in the way of nutrients, Parmigiano-Reggiano boasts multiple health benefits.

Packed with protein

Supan says Parmigiano-Reggiano has 10 grams of protein in a one-ounce serving. “To give you a visual of that, one ounce would be somewhere between a quarter cup and a third of a cup if we were to shred it up. Ten grams of protein for that much cheese is really incredible.”

High in calcium

Parmigiano-Reggiano is also a great source of calcium. Using the same serving size as above, you’ll get “at least a quarter of your daily value of calcium,” Supan says. That’s important for sustained bone health, especially as you get older. “When you’re younger, you’re more inclined to drink milk and have more cheese and other things that give you a lot of calcium in your diet,” she adds. “As you get older, you tend to not get nearly as much calcium as you need.”

Supan adds that Parmigiano-Reggiano’s calcium and the protein are high-quality because they have “very high bioavailabilities,” meaning your body can use these elements efficiently.

“Your body can absorb most of that calcium, and break down most of that protein really easily, which is fantastic,” Supan says. “Some things that you eat might have certain ingredients and nutrients you need, but your body struggles to break them down in the way you need them.”

Lactose-free

If you find yourself with unpleasant digestive issues after eating foods with lactose, you’re not alone. “That’s something I hear all the time from people as they’ve gotten older — their ability to tolerate milk or ice cream goes way down,” Supan says. Parmigiano-Reggiano “saves the day,” however: “The way it’s put together leaves us with a cheese that has very, very little lactose in it. And it’s actually so low that we consider it a lactose-free product.”

Low in fat and carbohydrates

A one-ounce serving of Parmigiano-Reggiano has roughly 8 grams of total fat and zero carbohydrates. “People often throw caution signs around anything dairy, like butter and any type of cheese, and say, ‘Oh, that’s too risky, the fat in there’s really bad,’” Supan says. “But there’s a lot of medium-chain fatty acids in Parmigiano-Reggiano. As we study them more, they’ve been shown to have some health benefits.” These fats, which are found in things such as coconut oil, can potentially lower cholesterol and blood sugar.

A good source of probiotics

Parmigiano-Reggiano contains lactobacillus bacteria, which is a good bacteria “that keeps your guts happy,” Supan says. “The more we learn about our gut health, and keeping our stomachs and guts healthy, we’re finding it has a huge impact on our overall health.” For example, this could translate to a stronger immune system. “We’re starting to see relations between probiotics and gut health with everything,” she adds.

 

These Green Veggies are bad for Diabetes

What makes Parmigiano-Reggiano different from other cheeses?

Parmigiano-Reggiano is highly regulated, meaning it’s made only in certain Italian provinces or within specific areas of Italian provinces, including:

  • Parma.
  • Reggio Emilia.
  • Modena.
  • In Bologna, to the left of the Reno River.
  • In Mantua, to the right of the Po River.

In these areas, the grass eaten by cows boasts specific types of good bacteria. “That good bacteria stays in their system and is therefore in the milk used to make this cheese,” Supan says.“And because those cows are all grass-fed, they end up producing higher-quality milk, which gives us a lot more nutrients, a lot more benefits.”

In contrast, the cow’s milk used for more mass-marketed cheeses isn’t as nutritious. “A lot of those cows are fed on grain or other things so they can produce a lot more milk,” Supan says. “It’s focused more on production and quantity rather than quality.”

The active process of putting Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese together takes a few weeks, although the aging process takes far longer. “At minimum, they are going to age the cheese for one year in the different aging rooms,” Supan says. “But it can be up to several years, depending on what type of cheese you want.”

What makes grated Parmesan cheese different?

The grated Parmesan cheese found in bottles or shakers is different than Parmigiano-Reggiano, although this kind is regulated in the U.S. “It has to be a cow’s milk cheese, aged for at least 10 months,” Supan says.

Given the lower price and mass-produced nature of this cheese, chances are good the milk isn’t coming from grass-fed cows, she adds, meaning it’s already not going to be as nutritious. However, to prevent clumping, this grated cheese also contains additional ingredients and fillers.

This is where things can get scary, Supan says. “The extra ingredients are harmless if they’re kept in the amounts that they should be. But when companies have done quality-control testing, the actual amount added to the cheese is sometimes nowhere near where it’s reported to be.” For example, experts have found wildly varying levels of cellulose in cheaper brands — up to 10%, when the actual amount listed is 4% or less.

“That leaves you questioning, ‘How much cheese am I truly buying?’” Supan says. “If you’re not getting things in the correct amounts, then that nutrition facts label is also going to be off. You’re not getting as much protein or calcium as it says. You’re also creating a health risk by adding in so many fillers — and you’re already starting with a somewhat inferior product in the first place with that cheese.”

And so if you’re worried about exactly what you’re consuming, choosing Parmigiano-Reggiano instead is the way to go. “Parmigiano-Reggiano is a very safe cheese,” Supan says. “It’s actually probably a little bit safer than most people even realize. It really can be a great cheese for everyone.”

The #1 Best Diet For Your Brain, Says Dietitian

It’s never too early to start caring for your brain health. Although genetics may play a large part in the health of your brain over time, researchers are finding that what we eat matters as well.

For example, according to Advances in Nutrition, there is a definite connection between what you eat and the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, although researchers are still looking into the specifics of why this connection occurs. With information like this, we can focus on eating food that will help cognitive function in the long run, regardless of age.

But what foods are truly best for brain health, and is there a specific diet we can follow? When we asked Amy Goodson, MS, RD, CSSD, LD, author of The Sports Nutrition Playbook, and a new member of our medical expert board, she said hands down the best diet for the brain is the MIND diet.

What is the MIND Diet?

“The MIND diet is an absolute win for your brain,” says Goodson.

Evidently, the research agrees with her completely. This fairly new eating plan was created by Martha Clare Morris as a result of a research study she led that observed elderly participants between the ages of 58 and 93. Since then, the MIND diet has been continually showing positive results with prolonging cognitive decline and lowering the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

“Known as the Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay, MIND combines the Mediterranean diet, which is rich in healthy fats, vegetables, and whole grains with the DASH diet, which is designed to help stop hypertension (high blood pressure) and is loaded with fruits and vegetables,” says Goodson.

According to Rush University Medical Center, Morris’ findings revealed that the participants who “rigorously'” followed the diet decreased their risk of Alzheimer’s Disease by 53%, and those who followed it “moderately” lowered it by 35%.

The focus of the MIND diet is simply to eat foods that keep your brain healthy, and limit or stay away from the foods that don’t.

MIND is designed to decrease oxidative stress and inflammation, which can ultimately have negative effects on the brain,” says Goodson.

 

How to follow the MIND diet

According to Goodson, The MIND diet recommends including the following foods in your diet on a regular basis or as much as you can:

  • Berries
  • Green leafy vegetables
  • All other vegetables
  • Nuts
  • Fish
  • Olive oil
  • Whole grains
  • Beans
  • Poultry
  • Wine (Yes, wine! In moderation, of course.)

According to Harvard Health, the foods that help your brain health are the same foods that are healthy for your heart, which is why we see a lot of the foods under the MIND diet consisting of healthy fats. For example, fatty fish like salmon and tuna are full of omega-3 fatty acids, which can lower the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. For the MIND diet, it is recommended to get at least one serving of fish per week.

Nuts are another nutritious snack known to help the brain. According to a research study published inThe Journal of Nutrition, daily intake of walnuts can help improve cognitive function.

The Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics lays out some specifics for how often to eat these items if you’re following the MIND diet rigorously. You should stick to about three servings of whole grains each day, with at least one salad and another serving of veggies. They also recommend having chicken at least two times a week, and yep, a glass of red wine each day made the list!

 

10 Tips to Lower Cholesterol With Your Diet

grayscale of woman carrying dumbbell

We all want to be heart healthy, and ensuring healthy levels of cholesterol — a fat, or lipid, carried through the bloodstream — is the first step.

Low-density lipoprotein or LDL (bad) cholesterol contributes to plaque buildup along with triglycerides, another kind of lipid. Plaque can threaten the blood supply to the heart, brain, legs or kidneys, leading to heart attack, stroke or even death.

High-density lipoprotein, or HDL (good) cholesterol, discourages plaque buildup.

To reduce your risk for heart-related emergencies, registered dietitian Kate Patton, MEd, RD, CCSD, LD, and exercise physiologist Michael Crawford, MS, share tips for lowering cholesterol through diet and making the most of exercise.

1. Cut back on animal fats

Forgo fatty, processed meats such as bologna, salami, pepperoni and hot dogs, as well as fatty red meats like ribs and prime cuts of beef, pork, veal or lamb. Also, skip skin-on chicken or turkey. Avoid full-fat dairy products such as whole milk, cheese, cream, sour cream, cream cheese and butter. These foods contain saturated fat as well as cholesterol, which are both associated with higher blood cholesterol and plaque buildup.

2. Make friends with fiber

Specifically, get friendly with foods high in soluble fiber. In the gut, soluble fiber can bind to bile (which is made up of cholesterol) and remove it. Look for soluble fiber in oats, oat bran, ground flaxseed, psyllium, barley, dried beans and legumes, fruits, and whole-grain cereals.

3. Go veggie

Choose at least one meatless meal per week. Substitute animal protein (meat, poultry, fish, eggs, cheese) for plant-based protein such as beans, lentils, tofu or quinoa. Try these plant-based proteins in salad, soup, stir fry, or a burrito to decrease your saturated fat intake and increase your fiber intake. If you enjoy meatless meals, try to go meatless for one day per week!

4. Be mindful of carbs

Research shows that following a low-carb eating plan can help you lose weight and reduce cardiovascular risk factors. Choose high-fiber carbohydrates like oatmeal, whole grain starches, beans, lentils and whole fruit, which will provide the energy you need but also keep you feeling full. The key is to watch your portions — aim for no more than about 1 cup of starch and/or fruit with meals. Also, fill up on vegetables which are low in calories and high in fiber.

5. Lose weight (if you need to)

If you’re overweight or obese, shed the extra pounds. Weight loss helps lower LDL cholesterol. Even a small-to-moderate weight loss — just 10 to 20 pounds — can make an impact. Start by decreasing your portion sizes. Aim to fill half your plate with non-starchy vegetables, one-fourth of it with a whole-grain starch and the other one-fourth with lean protein. Avoid drinking your calories, too. Instead, choose zero-calorie beverages as your primary fluid source. Be mindful of your hunger levels to limit extra calories from mindless snacking.

6. Move more

Work up to 90 minutes of cardiovascular exercise per day for optimum heart health and weight loss. Cardiovascular exercise means any activity that uses large muscles repetitively and increases the heart rate — think walking, cycling, rowing, using the elliptical and swimming. If you find 90 minutes daunting, start with 30 minutes and work your way up a little at a time. For some people, 45 to 60 minutes of cardiovascular exercise is enough.

7. Pick the right tempo

Aim for a moderate level of exercise. You’ll know you’ve reached it when you can carry on a conversation when you exercise but can’t sing. Once you have safely mastered moderate-intensity exercise, consider high-intensity interval training (HIIT) one to two times per week. Emerging research suggests this type of training can improve upon moderate-intensity exercise benefits, especially for raising HDL cholesterol.

8. Make a habit of it

Consistency is the key. Work out regularly and you’ll watch your triglyceride levels drop. Triglycerides are the only lipid in the cholesterol profile used for energy. They decrease an average of 24 percent with regular cardiovascular exercise.

9. Change it up

Variety is the spice of life, so try different exercises to stay motivated, to challenge other muscle groups, to reduce the risk of overuse injuries and to enjoy your physical activities.

10. Get technical

Many great technology tools can give you feedback on your exercise. Smartphone apps often have exercise tracking, motivation techniques, calorie trackers and tips. In addition, biofeedback devices such as heart rate monitors (models with chest straps have better accuracy) and pedometers can help guide your exercise plan or help you with motivation.

Note: If you have heart disease, check with your doctor before beginning an exercise program. A cardiac rehab program is a great way to learn the right exercises for you and jump-start your diet and exercise program. If you experience chest pain, pressure, tightness, excessive shortness of breath, lightheadedness or palpitations, stop exercising and consult a doctor.

These Green Veggies are bad for Diabetes

This Sugar Substitute May Protect You From Diabetes, Study Finds

sweet and low

 

Both sugar and sugar substitutes have been shown to put people at a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes—that is, until now. New research suggests that one sugar substitute may not play any part in causing diabetes in healthy adults at all.

According to a new study published in the journal, Microbiome—led by researchers at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center and The Ohio State University College of Medicine—says that saccharin is one such artificial sweetener that should no longer be of concern regarding diabetes prevention. The study was funded by The National Institutes of Health and The National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

Why do artificial sweeteners get a bad reputation in the first place?

Saccharin is one of eight artificial sweeteners that are currently approved by the FDA, says Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, FAND, award-winning nutrition expert, and Wall Street Journal best-selling author of The Best 3-Ingredient Cookbook.

If you’ve ever sprinkled Sweet n’ Low in your cup of coffee, for example, you’ve tried the hyper-sweet substance. However, due to the increased use of non-caloric artificial sweeteners (NCAS) and sugar alcohols—which are used in a lot of keto-friendly and other sugar-free food products and beverages—research has repeatedly questioned the safety of these alternative sweeteners.

Aside from the fact that many are turned off by the word “artificial” and are inherently skeptical about whether or not they could cause harm to the body, there is also science that backs up these fears.

“Some epidemiological, and a handful of intervention studies, have shown positive correlations between NCAS consumption and the risk of type 2 diabetes and other adverse metabolic outcomes,” George Kyriazis, Ph.D., assistant professor of biological chemistry and pharmacology at Ohio State and senior author of the study, tells Eat This, Not That!

Kyriazis says one high profile study, in particular, conducted primarily in mice showed that NCAS rapidly induced glucose intolerance—which causes high blood sugar levels—as indicated through direct and adverse changes in the composition of certain gut bacteria.

“However, from a scientific viewpoint, these variable outcomes and ambiguity may reflect differences in the NCAS used, the characteristics of the studied population and the accompanied diet, or other methodological considerations related to these reports,” Kyriazis explains. “So, our group set to isolate these external variables and design a study using both humans and mice that explores the independent effects of saccharin feeding on gut microbiota and glucose regulation.

“In addition, the European Food Safety Authority, FAO/WHO Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives, U.S. FDA, and Food Standards Australia New Zealand, and Health Canada all find saccharine, and the additional seven low-calorie sweeteners, to be safe,” says Amidor.

What did this study find?

Researchers asked 46 healthy adults between the ages of 18 to 45 with body mass indexes of 25 (the cap for the normal range) to take one of three capsules every day over the course of two weeks. Participants either took the maximum acceptable daily amount of saccharin, lactisole (which inhibits the tongue from tasting something sweet), saccharin with lactisole, or a placebo.

“We found no effects of saccharin supplementation on glucose regulation and no changes in gut microbiota of participants,” says Kyriazis. “It is important to note here that the saccharin intake we used in our study is practically more than double the average intake of the most avid consumers of saccharin in the U.S.

For context, the maximum acceptable daily amount of saccharin is 400 milligrams, which is far more than anyone would consume on a regular basis as the artificial sweetener is significantly sweeter than table sugar.

“Because it is 200-700 times sweeter than sugar, you only need a touch to deliver the same sweetness as sugar,” says Amidor. “This study looked at the maximum amount of saccharine, which is much greater than any person would consume at once.”

Kyriazis adds that it’s also important to identify that their findings didn’t necessarily contradict previous reports showing some harmful metabolic effects of NCAS intake.

“Together, they highlight that high NCAS consumption may exert negative health outcomes accommodated by other physiological or dietary parameters,” he explains. “Consequently, more interventional studies are needed that concentrate in isolating and identifying the underlying physiological or lifestyle conditions that potentially makes NCAS use harmful.”

In short, healthy adults who eat foods or drink beverages that are sweetened with saccharin from time to time shouldn’t be too concerned about adverse, long-term side effects.

These Green Veggies are bad for Diabetes

4 Popular Drinks That Increase Inflammation, Says Science

 

When we think about trying to fight inflammation, it’s important to look at the whole picture. While there are foods and drinks we can consume that are anti-inflammatory,  “there really is no one specific food, beverage or ingredient that causes inflammation,” says Amy Goodson, MS, RD, CSSD, LD.

The issue is more about our habits and the things we consume on a regular basis. “In most cases, it is consistent intake of certain foods and/or ingredients that can contribute to health problems ultimately leading to low-grade chronic inflammation,” says Goodson.

So when it comes to drinks that might increase inflammation, we have to look at how often the beverages are consumed and the potential health issues they might trigger. “Individuals who regularly consume large amounts of soda, sweet tea, other sugar-sweetened beverages are likely at a greater risk to experience chronic inflammation as a result of other health problems,” says Goodson.

With this in mind, here are some drinks that can increase inflammation and lead to other health problems if consumed in excess or over long periods of time.

1

Soda

soda

Sodas may be delicious, but they are packed full of sugar. Although drinking a can of soda every so often doesn’t have instant inflammatory effects, having soda on a regular basis for a longer period of time can lead us down the road of chronic inflammation.

According to a study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, drinking one can of soda per day led to more insulin resistance and higher cholesterol in the study’s participants. They also saw a spike in their CRP (c-reactive protein) levels, which is a common inflammatory marker.

 

2

Alcohol

beer

According to Goodson, excessive amounts of alcohol can possibly lead to inflammation over time. “While the American Heart Association and Dietary Guidelines for Americans conclude that moderate drinking can fit into a healthy lifestyle (one drink a day for women and two drinks a day for men), says Goodson, “exceeding this recommendation could result in health problems that contribute to inflammation.”

A report found in Alcohol Research also concluded that too much alcohol over time can cause gastrointestinal issues that lead to inflammation. This is because excessive amounts of alcohol can erode some of the intestinal lining and alter our gut microbiota.

 

3

Sweet tea

If you grew up anywhere near the south, you likely fell in love with sweet tea at an early age. But this drink always comes loaded with sugar, no matter where you order it. In a 16.9 ounce bottle of Arizona Southern Style Sweet Tea for example, you’ll get 43 grams of added sugar.

Excessive amounts of sugar can sometimes lead to weight gain. According to a report in BMC Nutrition and Metabolism, carrying extra weight over a long period of time has been known to cause low-grade chronic inflammation in the body. A glass of sweet tea alone doesn’t have the power to cause inflammation, but excess sugary drinks over time might.

 

These Green Veggies are bad for Diabetes

4

Energy drinks

Energy drinks are another beverage that come packed full of added sugar, which can lead to inflammation over time. “Typically large intakes of sugar can lead to weight gain,” says Goodson, “which can put individuals at a greater risk for Type 2 Diabetes, heart disease, metabolic syndrome and other health conditions contributing to chronic inflammation.”

This study from the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology found that high levels of fructose can lead to more inflammation because of its interaction with our endothelial cells, the cells that help regulate inflammation in our body.

 

5

The takeaway

Ultimately, we want to try and stick to only having extremely sugary drinks in moderation. No drink is going to lead to inflammation after just one sip, but excessive consumption of these may lead to greater health issues that trigger chronic inflammation in the long run.

“The best rule of thumb is to focus on water and other low-calorie beverages for hydration,” says Goodson, “and if you are looking for anti-inflammatory beverages to help reduce inflammation, look to consume drinks like tart cherry juice, green tea, pomegranate juice, etc.”

One Major Side Effect of Eating Too Many Eggs, Says Science

 

To eat eggs or to not eat eggs? There are plenty of health benefits tied to the food, however, as is the case with most foods—there are also some potential downsides to watch out for.

But first, let’s start with the positives. Egg yolks contain lutein, which is a type of vitamin called a carotenoid. It’s also related to beta-carotene, which has antioxidant properties. The vitamin has been shown to help protect eye health by staving off cataracts and improving symptoms associated with age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

Another reason not to skip the egg yolk? It’s loaded with a bunch of other key nutrients such as B vitamins, selenium, and phosphorous. However, the one thing that may make you walk away from the carton of eggs is the cholesterol content. Each egg contains about 200 milligrams of cholesterol, which is more than what you’d find in a Quarter Pounder with Cheese and Bacon at McDonald’s at just 115 milligrams.

Not to mention, eggs also contain saturated fat. Eating foods that are high in cholesterol and saturated fat are known to be risk factors for heart disease. A 2010 study published in the Canadian Journal of Cardiology found that people who regularly eat eggs have a nearly 20% higher risk of experiencing cardiovascular problems.

But, studies have also shown that the cholesterol you ingest from dietary sources (such as egg yolk) doesn’t necessarily raise cholesterol in the blood. Since your liver produces cholesterol, it adjusts how much it makes (depending on your intake of dietary cholesterol) to help even your levels out. This may be why, for most people, their cholesterol levels don’t rise at all when they eat eggs.

One study revealed that, in 70% of people, eggs didn’t elevate their cholesterol levels at all. For context, the other 30% had mildly raised total and LDL cholesterol levels. If you eat two eggs two to three times a week, you should be just fine. But if you’re eating three or four eggs each day, that’s when you may start to experience some issues. Consider speaking with a registered dietitian to find a recommendation that’s tailored to you and your body’s needs.

 

These Green Veggies are bad for Diabetes

Can Soy Cause Breast Cancer?

tofu cubes or soy with woman's hand

If you’re wondering whether eating tofu or getting your latte with soy milk can increase your breast cancer risk — here’s what you should know.

“Soy in its natural form does not rank high on the list of contributing factors for this disease,” says breast cancer specialist Erin Roesch, MD.

Why soy was first studied

The relationship between soy food intake and breast cancer has been researched and studied for over 25 years. Here’s why.

Soy products contain isoflavones, which are molecules that are similar to the hormone estrogen. It’s this similarity which has led to some theoretical concerns that soy could increase the risk of estrogen-sensitive cancers (including breast cancer).

But studies show that isoflavones are not in fact identical to estrogen. And this difference matters in a big way.

Isoflavones and estrogen do not have the same preference for estrogen receptor binding, and this distinction can lead to very different downstream effects,” Dr. Roesch says.

Clinical trials consistently show that the intake of isoflavone​ does not adversely affect the risk of breast cancer. These studies on humans have not confirmed a link between eating natural soy and developing breast cancer. In fact, some actually dispute it and even suggest a protective effect.

For example, one 2010 study found no association between phytoestrogen consumption (which includes soy products) and an increased risk for breast cancer. No data is decisive enough to tout soy’s effects on breast cancer risk.

Still, when studies like these suggest any initial possible correlation between any food and cancer, misinformation can spread quickly. Consumers might quickly assume these studies show a cause-effect relationship — when in reality long-term, meticulous research is still needed to prove any connection.

Reading health behaviours in different countries correctly

Science tries to avoid correlating behaviours with risk factors too quickly. And it’s that very reason extensive research must first be done to take all factors into consideration.

Consider any correlation between soy and breast cancer worldwide. Rates of breast cancer, in general, are much higher in the United States than in many Asian countries for example, where soy products are a major diet staple, Dr Roesch says.

Those countries also typically feature an overall lower-fat diet and differences in birthrates, both of which affect cancer rates.

One possible reason breast cancer has been on the rise lately in these countries may be due to adoption of a Western diet and lifestyle, which may include a higher intake of saturated fats — and not specifically the consumption of soy.

Obesity, smoking, lifestyle and genetics are riskier than soy

Unfortunately when people worry about something like soy intake when it may not be a risk for breast cancer they may not be worrying as much as they should about true risk factors.

“Removing attention from these can be the greater risk,” Dr. Roesch says.

These other behavioral risk factors for breast cancer — like obesity, smoking at an early age, a sedentary lifestyle or high saturated fat intake — are bigger concerns than consuming plant estrogens like soy, she says.

Genetics also play a major role in a person’s risk of developing certain types of breast cancer.

Natural soy is the healthiest choice

When choosing soy-based products go for natural options rather than highly processed foods. And eat them in moderation, Dr. Roesch advises.

Plant estrogen-based sources such as soy milk, tofu and edamame are all good choices. But make them part of a balanced diet that’s high in fruits and vegetables and low in saturated fats.

Try to avoid isoflavone extracts

Dr. Roesch does advise women to avoid soy isoflavone extracts, especially in large doses.

And as a general rule you’re better off getting your nutrition through food sources than through supplements.

“When you’re taking doses of isoflavones from a vitamin store that can be several hundred times higher than what you would ingest from eating tofu or drinking soy milk, that could be a potential problem,” she says.

“Whether you’re concerned about your risk or if you’re high-risk for breast cancer it’s always best to make sure to talk to your doctor about everything you put into your body,” she emphasizes. “Together you can cut through any misinformation and identify what works best to keep you healthy.”​

These Green Veggies are bad for Diabetes

All the Health Benefits of Eating Peaches

Summer peaches are one of nature’s best inventions. They’re soft and sweet, smell divine, taste good cooked or fresh, and they’re chock-full of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

Peaches boast lots of potential health benefits, including improved digestion, a healthy heart, a strong immune system and improved allergy symptoms. Dietitian Maxine Smith, RDN, LD, explains why this fuzzy fruit is so peachy keen.

Nutritional value of peaches

Peaches are a type of stone fruit, along with plums, apricots, cherries and nectarines. As the name suggests, stone fruits have a stone-like central pit. Peaches come in white and yellow varieties and offer several nutritional payoffs.

One large peach (about 147 grams) has about:

  • 68 calories.
  • 2 grams fiber.
  • 1.3 grams protein.

Peaches are also a moderate source of vitamins and minerals, especially:

  • Vitamin C.
  • Vitamin A.
  • Potassium.

Health benefits of peaches

In addition to being delicious, Smith explains some of the other things peaches have going for them.

Heart health

All types of fruits are an important part of a heart-healthy diet, but peaches might have some specific benefits. Research in animal studies has found that peach extract can help lower cholesterol and high blood pressure.

Peaches are also a moderate source of potassium, which is an important nutrient to help control blood pressure.

Improved digestion

“Peaches contain both soluble and insoluble fiber,” Smith says. “Soluble fiber helps stabilize blood sugar and keeps cholesterol levels in check. Insoluble fiber aids in digestion and helps prevent constipation.” Eating the skin of the fruit can maximize your fiber intake.

Besides the goodness of fiber, peaches may keep your belly happy in other ways, too. Some research suggests that tea and extracts made from peach flowers may help improve digestion.

Decreased inflammation

The plant-based polyphenols (micronutrients) and prebiotics (live bacteria) that are found in peaches and other plant-based foods can decrease inflammation, which can, in turn, decrease your risk of many chronic diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.

Stronger immune system

The fuzzy skin and juicy flesh of peaches contain good-for-you antioxidants, including vitamin C, polyphenols and carotenoids. Antioxidants are compounds in plants that fight cell damage, and antioxidant-rich diets can help protect your body against aging and illnesses, including cancer. In fact, scientists have found that postmenopausal women who ate at least two servings of peaches a week had lower rates of certain types of breast cancer.

Some research also found that extracts from peach pits might dial down the body’s allergic response. More research is needed, but it’s an intriguing hint that peaches might benefit the immune system in a variety of ways.

Healthy eyes

“Peaches are a moderate source of beta carotene, a red-orange pigment found in fruits,” Smith says. The body turns beta carotene into vitamin A, an essential vitamin that’s important for healthy vision.

Smoother skin

Some lab research found that when applied to the skin, extracts made from peach pits or peach flowers might reduce UV damage and help skin retain moisture. More research is needed, but it’s another possible reason to love peaches.

How to pick (and store) a peach

When you’re shopping the produce aisle, follow your nose. Sweet-smelling peaches tend to be the ripest and most flavorful.

If your peaches are very firm and don’t have much aroma, let them ripen at room temperature for a couple of days. To keep ripe peaches from going bad, pop them in the fridge. You can also slice and freeze fresh peaches to use later.

“Fresh peaches tend to be higher in antioxidants than their canned counterparts,” Smith says, “and canned peaches are often peeled, which is a missed opportunity because the soft, fuzzy skin is where a lot of antioxidants are found.”

Plus, canned peaches are often soaked in sugary syrup. If you opt for canned peaches, read the nutrition label to avoid added sugars.

How to eat a peach

Peaches are surprisingly versatile. They can be grilled, sauteed or baked. Get creative:

  • Pair peaches with berries and a bit of dark chocolate for a healthy dessert.
  • Chop peaches into a sweet-and-spicy salsa.
  • Grill peaches to pair with pork chops or serve in a cinnamon-spiced dessert.
  • Blend fresh or frozen peaches into a creamy smoothie.
  • Add sliced peaches to salads, oatmeal or yogurt for a sweet treat.

Or just keep it simple and enjoy a fresh, juicy peach on its own. This delicious fruit is anything but the pits!

These Green Veggies are bad for Diabetes

The Worst Drinks to Sip On For Your Immunity, Say Dietitians

young woman drinking from white cup with straw while sitting oudoors

 

With fall fast approaching and COVID still a concern in the U.S. and beyond, many people are eager to bolster their immune systems to stay healthy. However, avoiding illness isn’t always just the luck of the draw—many people are inadvertently making themselves more susceptible to illness due to their diet.

If you want to ensure you’re not accidentally putting yourself in harm’s way, read on to discover the worst drinks for immune health, according to dietitians.

1

Flavored lattes

iced coffee

Those sugary lattes may give you a quick burst of energy, but they could be doing serious damage to your immune health, too.

“Flavored lattes can be a surprising source of added sugar—some of these drinks can even provide more sugar than a can of soda,” says Holly Klamer, MS, RDN, of My Crohn’s and Colitis Team. “Drinking high amounts of sugar can not only add extra calories to the diet but may also negatively impact immune function.”

Klamer says that research suggests that high-sugar diets may also promote inflammation. “A high level of inflammatory markers may increase the risk for some illnesses,” she adds.

2

Alcoholic drinks

Those alcoholic drinks and your less-than-stellar immune function may be more interconnected than you think.

“Alcohol is bad for your immune health because chronic alcohol use can affect your body’s ability to expel germs quickly. In fact, people with alcohol-use disorders may be susceptible to lung immune dysfunction in which the upper airways are unable to clear respiratory pathogens,” says New York-based culinary nutritionist Nicole Stefanow, MS, RDN, citing a 2016 study published in Alcohol.

Soda

“Beverages that include added sugars and sodium are harmful to our immune. Both act as an irritant to the system which can cause an inflammatory response. Think about how consuming salt makes you swollen? Our bodies function best on whole, unprocessed food and drinks,” says Kimberly Gomer, MS, RD, LDN, director of nutrition at Pritikin Longevity Center.

4

Fruit juice

If you’re eager to keep your immune system strong, there’s no time like the present to ditch those sugary juices.

“Fruit juice is not ideal for immune health because it’s a big source of sugar, specifically fructose and glucose. Fructose leads to a build-up of fat in our bodies and influences our gut hormones, leaving us feeling more hungry, whereas glucose causes a spike in our blood sugar levels,” explains Bari Stricoff, MS, RD, a registered dietitian at Second Nature.

While Stricoff says that many people assume juice is healthy because of its vitamin and mineral content, she notes that these nutrients are easy to find in whole fruits and vegetables without consuming any added sugar.

 

These Green Veggies are bad for Diabetes

One Major Side Effect of Drinking Beer, Says Dietitian

beers

 

We’re crazy about beer, especially as the warm weather carries on. It’s an affordable, delicious drink to bring to any party or get-together, and there are plenty of light beer options out there to keep the calories low.

We’ve heard a lot about how beer can be heavy in calories, especially from carbohydrates. But what about other potentially negative aspects of drinking beer that we should look out for? Well, according to registered dietitian Laura Burak, MS, RD author of Slimdown with Smoothies and founder of Laura Burak Nutrition, one of the major side effects of drinking beer is feeling bloated.

How does beer make us bloat?

If you’ve ever felt bloated or gassy after drinking beer, there’s a reason! “Beer, like other carbonated beverages, can make your belly bloat from releasing carbon dioxide gas into your body,” says Burak.

We need a certain amount of natural gas in our GI tract on a normal basis, like oxygen, hydrogen, and carbon dioxide. These gases keep our digestive system working properly and allows for the building of natural bacteria that breaks food down.

However, when we have an excess amount of any of these gases, like added carbon dioxide from carbonated beverages, we can experience uncomfortable amounts of bloating. And not only bloating, but the carbonation can lead to excess gas and burping, things that aren’t too fun around your group of friends at the summer BBQ!

The carbonation in beer is a prime example of something that can lead to excess carbon dioxide, and it can happen regardless of how much you actually drink. “Everyone is different regarding how much it takes to have that bloating effect,” says Burak, “but for me, depending on the type of beer, it can take just one!”

Other ways alcohol can lead to bloating

Aside from carbon dioxide, alcohol can cause bloating for another common reason. According to an Alcohol Research review, consuming alcohol on a regular basis can lead to intestinal inflammation over time, which would create bloating and weight gain along the stomach area.

This is caused by a disruption of the gut microbiota, and this inflammation can lead to organ issues if it turns chronic.

The takeaway on beer bloating

The main takeaway here is that alcohol is completely fine when consumed in moderation, but beer might have an uncomfortable side effect for some.

If you become bloated and experience stomach pain when you drink beer, it could be because of the carbonation. If this happens to you, you might want to try reaching for another type of drink next time.

Burak believes that even though you might feel some bloating, beer can actually be one of the better choices for alcoholic drinks. “A bottle or can of beer is one of my top choices for a healthier alcoholic beverage because it’s portion-controlled,” says Burak, “and due to the carbonation, beer can actually fill you up more than other happy hour options so you’re less tempted to keep the drinks flowing past one or two bottles.”

These Green Veggies are bad for Diabetes