The 8 Best Ways to Get 6-Pack Abs Fast

Whether you’re aiming to achieve your fitness goals or simply want to look good in a swimsuit, acquiring a sculpted set of six-pack abs is a goal shared by many.

Getting a six-pack requires dedication and hard work, but you don’t have to hit the gym seven days a week or become a professional bodybuilder to do so.

Instead, a few modifications to your diet and lifestyle can be enough to produce serious, long-lasting results.

Here are 8 simple ways to achieve six-pack abs quickly and safely.

1. Do More Cardio

Best Ways to Get Abs

Cardio, also called aerobic exercise, is any form of exercise that increases your heart rate.

Regularly incorporating cardio into your routine can help you burn extra fat and speed your way to a set of six-pack abs.

Studies show that cardio is especially effective when it comes to reducing belly fat, which can help make your abdominal muscles more visible.

One small study showed that doing cardio exercise three to four times per week significantly decreased belly fat in 17 men (1).

Another review of 16 studies found that the more cardio exercise people did, the greater amount of belly fat they lost (2).

Try to get in at least 20–40 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity per day, or between 150–300 minutes per week (3).

Activities like running, walking, biking, swimming or engaging in your favorite sports are just a few easy ways to fit cardio into your day.

SUMMARY: Studies show that cardio exercise can reduce belly fat, which can help you get six-pack abs. One review found that the more cardio people did, the more belly fat they lost.

2. Exercise Your Abdominal Muscles

The rectus abdominis is the long muscle that extends vertically along the length of your abdomen.

Although most well-known as the muscle that creates the appearance of the six-pack, it’s also necessary for breathing, coughing and bowel movements.

Other abdominal muscles include the internal and external obliques and the transverse abdominis.

Exercising these muscles is key to increasing muscle mass and achieving six-pack abs.

However, keep in mind that abdominal exercises alone are unlikely to decrease belly fat.

For example, one study found that doing abdominal exercises five days per week for six weeks had no effect on belly fat in 24 women (4).

Instead, be sure to pair your abdominal exercises with a healthy diet and regular cardio to boost fat burning and maximize results.

Abdominal crunches, bridges and planks are a few of the most popular exercises that can help strengthen your abdominal muscles and create the appearance of six-pack abs.

SUMMARY: Exercising the muscles that make up your abdomen can help increase muscle mass to achieve six-pack abs. Pair abdominal exercises with a healthy diet and cardio to optimize results.

3. Increase Your Protein Intake

Upping your intake of high-protein foods can help promote weight loss, fight belly fat and support muscle growth on your road to six-pack abs.

According to one study, consuming high-protein meals helped increase feelings of fullness and promote appetite control in 27 overweight and obese men (5).

Another study showed that people who increased protein intake by just 15% decreased their calorie intake and saw significant decreases in body weight and body fat (6).

Consuming protein after working out can also help repair and rebuild muscle tissues as well as aid in muscle recovery (78).

Plus, one study even found that a high-protein diet helped preserve both metabolism and muscle mass during weight loss (9).

Meat, poultry, eggs, seafood, dairy products, legumes, nuts and seeds are just a few examples of healthy, high-protein foods that you can add to your diet.

SUMMARY: Protein may help reduce calorie intake, as well as decrease body weight and fat. It can also help repair and rebuild muscle tissues and preserve muscle mass during weight loss.

4. Try High-Intensity Interval Training

High-intensity interval training, or HIIT, is a form of exercise that involves alternating between intense bursts of activity and short recovery periods. HIIT keeps your heart rate up and increases fat burning.

Adding HIIT into your routine can boost weight loss and make it even easier to get six-pack abs.

One study showed that young men who performed HIIT training for 20 minutes three times per week lost an average of 4.4 pounds (2 kg) and saw a 17% decrease in belly fat over a 12-week period (10).

Similarly, another study found that 17 women who did HIIT twice per week for 16 weeks had an 8% decrease in total belly fat (11).

One of the simplest ways to try HIIT at home is to switch between walking and sprinting for 20–30 seconds at a time.

You can also try alternating between high-intensity exercises like jumping jacks, mountain climbers and burpees with a short break in between.

SUMMARY: High-intensity interval training can help increase fat burning and may be especially useful for reducing belly fat and achieving six-pack abs.

5. Stay Hydrated

Water is absolutely crucial to just about every aspect of health. It plays a role in everything from waste removal to temperature regulation.

Staying well-hydrated may also help bump up your metabolism, burn extra belly fat and make it easier to get a set of six-pack abs.

In fact, one study found that drinking 500 milliliters of water temporarily increased energy expenditure by 24% for up to 60 minutes after eating (12).

Other research shows that drinking water may also reduce your appetite and increase weight loss.

One study with 48 middle-aged and older adults found that people who drank water before each meal lost 44% more weight over a 12-week period than those who didn’t (13).

Water requirements can vary based on a variety of factors, including age, body weight and activity level.

However, most research recommends drinking around 1–2 liters (34–68 ounces) of water per day to stay well-hydrated.

SUMMARY: Studies show that drinking water can temporarily increase metabolism, reduce appetite and increase weight loss to help you lose stubborn belly fat.

6. Stop Eating Processed Food

Heavily processed foods like chips, cookies, crackers and convenience foods are typically high in calories, carbs, fat and sodium.

Not only that, these foods are typically low in key nutrients such as fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals.

Nixing these unhealthy junk foods from your diet and swapping them for whole foods can increase weight loss, reduce belly fat and help you achieve a set of six-pack abs.

This is because it takes more energy to digest whole foods rich in protein and fiber, which can burn more calories and keep your metabolism up (14).

The nutrients in whole foods, like protein and fiber, also keep you feeling fuller to curb cravings and aid in weight loss (1516).

Fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes are all nutritious alternatives to prepackaged convenience items like frozen meals, baked goods and salty snacks.

SUMMARY: Processed foods are high in calories, carbs, fat and sodium. These foods require less energy to digest and are also lacking in important nutrients like protein and fiber that can aid in weight loss.

7. Cut Back on Refined Carbs

Cutting back on your consumption of refined carbohydrates can help you lose extra fat and gain six-pack abs.

Refined carbs lose most of their vitamins, minerals and fiber during processing, resulting in a final product that is low in nutritional value.

Eating lots of refined carbs can cause spikes and crashes in blood sugar levels, which can lead to increased hunger and food intake (17).

Eating plenty of whole grains, on the other hand, has been linked to a reduced waist circumference and lower body weight (18).

In fact, one study found that people who ate a high amount of refined grains tended to have a higher amount of belly fat compared to those who ate more whole grains (19).

Swap out refined carbs from foods like pastries, pastas and processed foods and instead enjoy whole grains such as brown rice, barley, bulgur and couscous to help support satiety and burn belly fat.

SUMMARY: Refined carbs are low in nutrients and can increase hunger levels. A high intake of refined grains has been linked to increased belly fat.

8. Fill up on Fiber

Adding more high-fiber foods into your diet is one of the simplest methods for increasing weight loss and achieving six-pack abs.

Soluble fiber moves through the gastrointestinal tract undigested and can help slow the emptying of the stomach to make you feel fuller for longer (20).

In fact, one review found that increasing fiber intake by 14 grams per day was linked to a 10% decrease in calorie intake and 4.2 pounds (1.9 kg) of weight loss (21).

Research shows that getting enough fiber in your diet may also prevent weight gain and fat accumulation.

One study showed that for each 10-gram increase of soluble fiber taken daily, participants lost 3.7% of belly fat over five years without making any other modifications in terms of diet or exercise (22).

Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds are just a few healthy, high-fiber foods that you can add to your diet to help burn belly fat.

SUMMARY: Eating fiber can help keep you feeling full and may help protect against weight gain and fat accumulation.

The Bottom Line

There’s much more to getting six-pack abs than simply doing a few crunches or planks each day.

Instead, it requires following a healthy diet and maintaining an active lifestyle to help achieve your goals.

Making a few simple switches in your daily routine can get you a set of six-pack abs and improve your health at the same time.

15 Foods you can Binge without Gaining Weight

In theory, dieting seems like a piece of cake. When you actually get down to business though, it’s a very grueling process, full of struggles and suppressed temptations. It’s so bad that you may even cry just looking at a plate of brownies. But we often go about doing it wrong – eat all the wrong things or eat nothing at all, which completely botches all our plans of having a perfect bikini body, or just a toned one.

Being on a diet means eating selectively and being very careful about the nutritional value of your food. Here’s a list of foods to binge on while you’re trying to shed off that fat.

1. Almonds

Packed full of Vitamin E, protein and fiber, they not only boost your skin, but also keep you from feeling hungry for long periods of time. Try swapping them for your usual mid-morning snack and see how they work wonders!

Source:Unsplash 

2. Potatoes

Surprising, right ? But they’re not just popular for their taste. They have a little bit of almost everything we need, so they help in maintaining a top-notch health as well.

If you boil potatoes and then allow them to cool for a while, they will form large amounts of resistant starch, a fiber-like substance that will keep you satiated and hence, prevent you from eating other foods, thus helping you lose weight. 

Source:Eye Swoon 

3. Leafy Greens

They’re the quickest way to flush out water retention and flatten a stubborn stomach. They have various vitamins, minerals, a high content of fiber and low amount of calories – basically, they’re the perfect mixture. Include them in your meals and wait for them to work their magic!

Source:Colour Box 

4. Avocados

Fats aren’t your enemy, as long as they’re the right kind. Oleic acid is a compound in the fats present in an avocado that helps in suppressing hunger for long periods of time. Eat a quarter or half of this creamy fruit each morning and say goodbye to the loose belly fat.

Source:Fly Wheel 

5. Olive Oil

That’s right! Oil is on the list too. Replace your mustard oil and ghee with olive oil which also contains Oleic acid and prevents hunger as well as aids the breaking down of fats.

Source:West Elm’s Blog 

6. Dark Chocolate

For those of you with a sweet tooth and an insatiable craving for desserts, pick a square or two of this. It contains way less fat than most deserts and calms down your hunger after it as well, even for long periods of time.

Source:Jim Scherer

7. Eggs and Sausage

This just keeps getting better. Eggs and sausages, an extremely protein rich meal for breakfast makes you feel fuller right away, no matter how big your appetite is. This has a long-term effect and it is scientifically proven that you automatically consume less calories for the rest of the day.

Source:Gourmet Girl Cooks 

8. Beans

They may be little, but each of these come with a bunch of nutrients especially proteins and fiber. The best part is that they remain low in calories and full of slow-release energy. This, in simple terms, means that your muscles will get toned and you’ll not feel hungry for long periods of time.

Source:WordPress 

9. Peppermint

It’s known for its effective healing properties, but it is also very efficient for digestion. It’s very popular and easily available in tea form for consumption, preferably organic. Three cups a day, after every meal, will keep the weighing scale and your stomach very happy.

Source:500 px 

10. Apple Cider Vinegar

This digestive tonic kills harmful bacteria in the intestines, flushes out toxins and relieves water retention from the stomach. A few spoon-fulls everyday will help detoxifying the body daily. It can also be used as a salad dressing or to cook with vegetables.

Source:Get It Durban 

11. Apples and Pears

A very cheap but nonetheless, fruitful solution to your problem. Firstly, for juice consumers, eating the fruit itself is more beneficial because the chewing motion of our teeth makes the brain comprehend it as substantial eating and the high fiber content keeps us full. They’re also jam packed with antioxidants – it’s a win win situation.

Source:Wallpaperzi 

12. Cranberry Juice

An excellent antioxidant topped with high amounts of Vitamin C, it rids the body of excess fluids through excretion. Have a glass in the morning before starting your day for best results!

Source:WordPress 

13. Lemon

Along with being a great taste enhancer, it also has high amounts of Pectin fiber which will surely help you ward off hunger. They also raise the intestine’s pH levels, thus aiding digestion and weight loss.

Source:Interior Design Files 

14. Fish

Again, it is an extremely protein rich food but also very satiating. Many types of white fish are extremely lean, and fattier varieties such as salmon pack healthy omega-3 fats, but all prove to be extremely beneficial.

Source:Unsplash 

15. Tomatoes

The list of recipes to try with tomatoes is endless really. It’s not looking too bad right now. They’re full of antioxidants, reduce inflammation and water retention and reverse our body’s Leptin (a protein that helps us to regulate our metabolic rate and apetite) resistance! Honestly, miracle workers. 

 

3 Potential Downsides of Bulletproof Coffee

Bulletproof coffee is a high-calorie coffee drink intended to replace breakfast.
It consists of 2 cups (470 ml) of coffee, 2 tablespoons (28 grams) of grass-fed, unsalted butter, and 1–2 tablespoons (15–30 ml) of MCT oil mixed in a blender.It was originally promoted by Dave Asprey, the creator of the Bulletproof Diet. The coffee produced and marketed by Asprey’s company is supposedly free of mycotoxins. However, there’s no evidence that this is the case.Bulletproof coffee has become increasingly popular, especially among paleo and low-carb dieters.

Although drinking Bulletproof coffee on occasion is probably harmless, it’s not advisable to make it a routine.

Here are 3 potential downsides of Bulletproof coffee.

Why Bulletproof Coffee is a Bad Idea

1. Low in nutrients

Asprey and other promoters recommend that you consume Bulletproof coffee in place of breakfast each morning.

Although Bulletproof coffee provides plenty of fat, which reduces your appetite and provides energy, it’s lacking in several nutrients.

By drinking Bulletproof coffee, you are replacing a nutritious meal with a poor substitute.

While grass-fed butter contains some conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), butyrate, and vitamins A and K2, medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil is a refined and processed fat with no essential nutrients.

If you eat three meals per day, replacing breakfast with Bulletproof coffee will likely reduce your total nutrient intake by about one-third.

SUMMARY: Promoters of Bulletproof coffee recommend that you drink it instead of eating breakfast. However, doing so will significantly reduce the total nutrient load of your diet.

2. High in saturated fat

Bulletproof coffee is very high in saturated fat.

While the health effects of saturated fats are controversial, many health professionals believe that high intake is a major risk factor for several diseases and should be avoided (1).

Although some studies associate a high intake of saturated fat with an increased risk of heart disease, others find no significant links (2).

Nevertheless, most official dietary guidelines and health authorities advise people to limit their intake.

While saturated fat can be part of a healthy diet when consumed in reasonable amounts, it may be harmful in massive doses.

If you are worried about saturated fat or high cholesterol levels, consider limiting your intake of Bulletproof coffee — or avoiding it altogether.

SUMMARY: Bulletproof coffee is high in saturated fat. Although its health effects are highly controversial and not firmly established, official guidelines still recommend limiting saturated fat intake.

3. May raise your cholesterol levels

Many studies have been conducted on low-carb and ketogenic diets, which are often high in fat — and may include Bulletproof coffee.

Most of this research confirms that these diets do not increase your levels of total and LDL (bad) cholesterol — at least on average (3).

Among other benefits, your triglycerides and weight drop while your HDL (good) cholesterol rises (4).

However, butter seems to be particularly effective at raising LDL cholesterol levels. One study in 94 British adults showed that eating 50 grams of butter daily for 4 weeks increased LDL cholesterol levels more than consuming an equal amount of coconut oil or olive oil (5).

Another 8-week study in Swedish men and women with excess weight found that butter raised LDL cholesterol by 13%, compared with whipping cream. The researchers hypothesized that it could have something to with its fat structure (6).

Also, keep in mind that not everyone responds the same way to a high-fat diet. Some people see dramatic increases in total and LDL cholesterol, as well as other markers of heart disease risk (7).

For those who have cholesterol problems while on a low-carb or ketogenic diet, the first thing to do is avoid excessive intake of butter. This includes Bulletproof coffee.

SUMMARY: Butter and ketogenic diets high in saturated fat may increase cholesterol levels and other heart disease risk factors in some people. For those who have elevated levels, it’s best to avoid Bulletproof coffee.

Should anyone drink Bulletproof coffee?

All things considered, Bulletproof coffee can work for some people — especially those following a ketogenic diet who don’t have elevated cholesterol levels.

When consumed alongside a healthy diet, Bulletproof coffee may help you lose weight and increase your energy levels.

If you find that this morning drink improves your well-being and quality of life, perhaps it’s worth the decreased nutrient load.

Just to be on the safe side, if you drink Bulletproof coffee regularly, you should have your blood markers measured to make sure you’re not raising your risk of heart disease and other conditions.

SUMMARY: Bulletproof coffee may be healthy for some individuals, as long as you consume it as part of a balanced diet and don’t have elevated cholesterol levels. It may be especially appealing for those on keto diets.

The bottom line

Bulletproof coffee is a high-fat coffee drink intended as a breakfast replacement. It’s popular among people who follow a ketogenic diet.

While it’s filling and energy-boosting, it comes with several potential downsides, including reduced overall nutrient intake, increased cholesterol, and high levels of saturated fat.

Still, Bulletproof coffee may be safe for those who don’t have elevated cholesterol levels, as well as those who follow a low-carb or ketogenic diet.

If you’re interested in trying Bulletproof coffee, it may be best to consult your healthcare provider to get your blood markers checked.

10 Health Tips For Lazy People

If you consider yourself a lazy person, take a look at these 10 healthy living tips that will help you improve your well-being, without it feeling like a chore.

1

Watch TV And Exercise

Relaxing in front of the TV is a popular pastime of many lazy people, but that’s not to say you can’t stay active and healthy while watching your favourite programme. To improve your fitness in front of the screen, complete a short workout during each advert break. You could fit in some tricep dips using the end of your chair, jog on the spot or sprint up and down the stairs. The main rule is to keep moving as research suggests that even fidgeting while you sit can burn up to 350 calories per day.

2

Make Ready Meals Yourself

Eating a healthy, balanced diet sounds like a great idea until you get in from a long day’s work and all of your good intentions suddenly go out of the window. But rather than reaching for shop bought ready meals which are usually full of fat, salt and sugar, you could try making your own instead. Next time you are off work, cook large batches of healthy meals and freeze them. That way you will have lots of healthy meal choices for the days when you can’t be bothered to cook.

3

Include Exercise In Your Daily Routine

One of the best health tips (and an easy way to increase your levels of physical activity) is to build exercise into your daily routine. While intense hours spent at the gym will improve your fitness, research has found that regular daily activity could be more beneficial to your health. Rather than setting aside a specific amount of time to exercise, introduce gentle bits of activity throughout your day. You could get off the bus a stop early to increase your activity levels and go for a walk on your lunch. These simple changes will make you more active and have a big impact on your fitness.

4

Exercise Your Brain

If you really can’t bring yourself to do a physical workout, schedule in some time to work out an essential muscle in your body, your brain. Your mental well-being is equally as important as your physical health – and the good news is you can work this muscle from the comfort of your own couch. According to research, frequently completing activities that stimulate your mind can reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s. So instead of turning on the TV, read a book, complete a Sudoku or do a crossword instead.

5

Savour Your Food

When it comes to eating your meals, being lazy works to your advantage. Slowing down your eating benefits your digestive system and can help you shed those pounds. Eating slower allows you to focus on your food and savour every mouthful. It takes your body 20 minutes to recognise the feeling of fullness, so stretching out your intake will reduce the risk of overeating. You should try to chew each mouthful of food around 30 times before swallowing it to ensure correct digestion and allow the nutrients to absorb properly.

6

Get A Pet

Animal lovers, this one’s for you – getting a pet is a great way to improve your health. Several research studies have found that pet owners have improved mental and physical health, including lowered stress levels and blood pressure. Getting yourself a pet dog can also give you the encouragement to improve your activity levels by taking your furry friend on regular walks outside.

7

Dance

For many people, the very thought of completing an intense workout at the gym is their worst nightmare. If you have struggled to find a fitness activity that appeals to you, then try turning a night out into a workout instead. Cutting some shapes on the dancefloor is a great way to get fit, tone your body and burn calories. And the best part? Dancing the night away won’t even feel like exercise.

8

Order Healthy Foods To Your Door

The health aisles at the supermarket can sometimes seem a little overwhelming, with so much choice it can be difficult to know where to start. If this problem is stopping your healthy eating efforts, then let someone else do the hard work for you. Many health food stores and farms offer seasonal packages and deliver them to your doorstep, making it easy to try different healthy foods from the comfort of your own home.

9

Get Enough Sleep

Being lazy certainly pays off when it comes to getting enough shut-eye. Research studies have found that getting enough sleep can reduce stress, boost your memory and help you live longer. While getting less than five hours sleep per night can result in weight gain, accidents and an increased risk of heart disease. Clocking up a regular eight hours sleep is an easy (and lazy) way to boost your healthy living.

10

Take A Supplement

If sporadic is a good way to describe your healthy eating habits, then it might be time to turn to a nutritional supplement. Of course, this is no substitute for a healthy diet but on the days where your best intentions have disappeared, you could try a multivitamin. There are even supplements you can take if you think your diet is lacking in a specific vitamin or mineral. You could also supplement ‘superfoods’ such as wheatgrass and spirulina into your diet, which can boost your immune system and give you energy.

22 High-Fiber Foods You Should Eat

Fiber is incredibly important.

It leaves your stomach undigested and ends up in your colon, where it feeds friendly gut bacteria, leading to various health benefits (12).

Certain types of fiber may also promote weight loss, lower blood sugar levels and fight constipation (345).

The recommended daily intake is 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men (6).

However, most people are only eating around half of that, or 15–17 grams of fiber per day (7).

Fortunately, increasing your fiber intake is relatively easy — simply integrate foods into your diet that have a high percentage (%) of fiber per weight.

Here are 22 high-fiber foods that are both healthy and satisfying.

High Fiber Foods

1. Pears (3.1%)

The pear is a popular type of fruit that is both tasty and nutritious. It’s one of the best fruit sources of fiber.

Fiber content: 5.5 grams in a medium-sized pear, or 3.1 grams per 100 grams (8).

2. Strawberries (2%)

Strawberries are incredibly delicious. Plus, they’re a much healthier option than any junk food.

Interestingly, they’re also among the most nutrient-dense fruits you can eat — loaded with vitamin C, manganese and various powerful antioxidants.

Fiber content: 3 grams in one cup, or 2 grams per 100 grams. This is very high given their low calorie content (9).

3. Avocado (6.7%)

The avocado is different from most fruits. Instead of being high in carbs, it’s loaded with healthy fats.

Avocados are very high in vitamin C, potassium, magnesium, vitamin E and various B vitamins. They also have numerous health benefits.

Fiber content: 10 grams in a cup, or 6.7 grams per 100 grams (10).

4. Apples (2.4%)

Apples are among the tastiest and most satisfying fruits you can eat. They are also relatively high in fiber.

Fiber content: 4.4 grams in a medium-sized apple, or 2.4 grams per 100 grams (11).

5. Raspberries (6.5%)

Raspberries are highly nutritious with a very strong flavor. They’re loaded with vitamin C and manganese.

Fiber content: One cup contains 8 grams of fiber, or 6.5 grams per 100 grams (12).

6. Bananas (2.6%)

Bananas are a good source of many nutrients, including vitamin C, vitamin B6 and potassium.

A green or unripe banana also contains a significant amount of resistant starch, a type of indigestible carbohydrate that functions like fiber.

Fiber content: 3.1 grams in a medium-sized banana, or 2.6 grams per 100 grams (13).

Other High-Fiber Fruits

Blueberries (2.4%) and blackberries (5.3%).

7. Carrots (2.8%)

The carrot is a root vegetable that is tasty, crunchy and highly nutritious.

It’s high in vitamin K, vitamin B6, magnesium and beta-carotene, an antioxidant that gets turned into vitamin A in your body.

Fiber content: 3.6 grams in one cup, or 2.8 grams per 100 grams. This is very high given their low calorie content (14).

8. Beets (2.8%)

The beet, or beetroot, is a root vegetable that is high in various important nutrients, such as folate, iron, copper, manganese and potassium.

Beets are also loaded with inorganic nitrates, which are nutrients shown to have various benefits related to blood pressure regulation and exercise performance (15).

Fiber content: 3.8 grams per cup, or 2.8 grams per 100 grams (16).

9. Broccoli (2.6%)

Broccoli is a type of cruciferous vegetable and one of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet.

It is loaded with vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, B vitamins, potassium, iron and manganese and contains antioxidants and potent cancer-fighting nutrients.

Broccoli is also relatively high in protein, compared to most vegetables.

Fiber content: 2.4 grams per cup, or 2.6 grams per 100 grams (17).

10. Artichoke (8.6%)

The artichoke doesn’t make headlines very often. However, this vegetable is high in many nutrients and one of the world’s best sources of fiber.

Fiber content: 10.3 grams in one artichoke, or 8.6 grams per 100 grams (18).

11. Brussels Sprouts (2.6%)

The Brussels sprout is a type of cruciferous vegetable that is related to broccoli.

They’re very high in vitamin K, potassium, folate and potent cancer-fighting antioxidants.

Fiber content: 4 grams per cup, or 2.6 grams per 100 grams (19).

Other High-Fiber Vegetables

Almost all vegetables contain significant amounts of fiber. Other notable examples include kale (3.6%), spinach (2.2%) and tomatoes (1.2%).

12. Lentils (7.9%)

Lentils are very cheap and among the most nutritious foods on earth. They’re very high in protein and loaded with many important nutrients.

Fiber content: 15.6 grams per cup of cooked lentils, or 7.9 per 100 grams (20).

13. Kidney Beans (6.4%)

Kidney beans are a popular type of legume. Like other legumes, they’re loaded with plant-based protein and various different nutrients.

Fiber content: 11.3 grams per cup of cooked beans, or 6.4 per 100 grams (21).

14. Split Peas (8.3%)

Split peas are made from the dried, split and peeled seeds of peas.

Fiber content: 16.3 grams per cup of cooked split peas, or 8.3 per 100 grams (22).

15. Chickpeas (7.6%)

The chickpea is another type of legume that’s loaded with nutrients, including minerals and protein.

Fiber content: 12.5 grams per cup of cooked chickpeas, or 7.6 per 100 grams (23).

Other High-Fiber Legumes

Most legumes are high in protein, fiber and various nutrients. When properly prepared, they’re among the world’s cheapest sources of quality nutrition.

Other high-fiber legumes include black beans (8.7%), edamame (5.2%), lima beans (5.3%) and baked beans (5.5%).

16. Quinoa (2.8%)

Quinoa is a pseudo-cereal that has become incredibly popular among health-conscious people in the last few years.

It’s loaded with many nutrients, including protein, magnesium, iron, zinc, potassium and antioxidants, to name a few.

Fiber content: 5.2 grams per cup of cooked quinoa, or 2.8 per 100 grams (24).

17. Oats (10.6%)

Oats are among the healthiest grain foods on the planet. They’re very high in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

They contain a powerful soluble fiber called oat beta-glucan, which has major beneficial effects on blood sugar and cholesterol levels (2526).

Fiber content: 16.5 grams per cup of raw oats, or 10.6 grams per 100 grams (27).

18. Popcorn (14.5%)

If your goal is to increase your fiber intake, popcorn may be the best snack you can eat.

Air-popped popcorn is very high in fiber, calorie for calorie. However, if you add a lot of fat, then the fiber-calorie ratio will be reduced significantly.

Fiber content: 1.2 grams per cup of air-popped popcorn, or 14.5 grams per 100 grams (28).

Other High-Fiber Grains

Nearly all whole grains are high in fiber.

19. Almonds (12.5%)

 

Almonds are a popular type of tree nut.

They’re very high in many nutrients, including healthy fats, vitamin E, manganese and magnesium.

Fiber content: 3.4 grams per ounce, or 12.5 grams per 100 grams (29).

20. Chia Seeds (34.4%)

Chia seeds are tiny black seeds that are immensely popular in the natural health community.

They’re highly nutritious, containing high amounts of magnesium, phosphorus and calcium.

Chia seeds may also be the single best source of fiber on the planet.

Fiber content: 10.6 grams per ounce of dried chia seeds, or 34.4 grams per 100 grams (30).

Other High-Fiber Nuts and Seeds

Most nuts and seeds contain significant amounts of fiber. Examples include coconuts (9%), pistachios (10%), walnuts (7%), sunflower seeds (8.6%) and pumpkin seeds (18.4%).

21. Sweet Potatoes (2.5%)

The sweet potato is a popular tuber that is very filling and has a delicious sweet flavor. It’s very high in beta-carotene, B vitamins and various minerals.

Fiber content: A medium-sized boiled sweet potato (without skin) has 3.8 grams of fiber, or 2.5 grams per 100 grams (31).

22. Dark Chocolate (10.9%)

Dark chocolate is arguably one of the world’s most delicious foods.

It’s also surprisingly high in nutrients and one of the most antioxidant-rich and nutrient-dense foods on the planet.

Just make sure to choose dark chocolate that has a cocoa content of 70–95% or higher and avoid products loaded with added sugar.

Fiber content: 3.1 grams in a 1-ounce piece, or 10.9 grams per 100 grams (32).

The Bottom Line

Fiber is an important nutrient that may promote weight loss, lower blood sugar levels and fight constipation.

Most people don’t meet the recommended daily intake of 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men.

Try adding some of the foods from the above list to your diet to easily increase your fiber intake.

10 Supplements to Help Lower Blood Sugar

-Scientists are testing many different supplements to determine if they help lower blood sugar.

Such supplements could benefit people with prediabetes or diabetes — particularly type 2.

Over time, taking a supplement alongside diabetes medication may enable your doctor to decrease your medication dose — though supplements likely can’t replace medication entirely.

Here are 10 supplements that may help lower blood sugar.

Blood Sugar Supplements

1. Cinnamon

Cinnamon supplements are either made from whole cinnamon powder or an extract. Many studies suggest it helps lower blood sugar and improves diabetes control (12).

When people with prediabetes — meaning a fasting blood sugar of 100–125 mg/dl — took 250 mg of cinnamon extract before breakfast and dinner for three months, they experienced an 8.4% decrease in fasting blood sugar compared to those on a placebo (3).

In another three-month study, people with type 2 diabetes who took either 120 or 360 mg of cinnamon extract before breakfast saw an 11% or 14% decrease in fasting blood sugar, respectively, compared to those on a placebo (2).

Additionally, their hemoglobin A1C — a three-month average of blood sugar levels — decreased by 0.67% or 0.92%, respectively. All participants took the same diabetes drug during the study (2).

How it works: Cinnamon may help your body’s cells better respond to insulin. In turn, this allows sugar into your cells, lowering blood sugar (4).

Taking it: The recommended dose of cinnamon extract is 250 mg twice a day before meals. For a regular (non-extract) cinnamon supplement, 500 mg twice a day may be best (25).

Precautions: The common Cassia variety of cinnamon contains more coumarin, a compound that may harm your liver in high amounts. Ceylon cinnamon, on the other hand, is low in coumarin (6).

SUMMARYCinnamon may help lower blood sugar by making your cells more responsive to insulin.

2. American Ginseng

American ginseng, a variety grown primarily in North America, has been shown to decrease post-meal blood sugar by about 20% in healthy individuals and those with type 2 diabetes (7).

Additionally, when people with type 2 diabetes took 1 gram of American ginseng 40 minutes before breakfast, lunch and dinner for two months while maintaining their regular treatment, their fasting blood sugar decreased 10% compared to those on a placebo (7).

How it works: American ginseng may improve your cells’ response to and increase your body’s secretion of insulin (68).

Taking it: Take 1 gram up to two hours before each main meal — taking it sooner may cause your blood sugar to dip too low. Daily doses higher than 3 grams don’t appear to offer additional benefits (6).

Precautions: Ginseng can decrease the effectiveness of warfarin, a blood thinner, so avoid this combination. It may also stimulate your immune system, which could interfere with immunosuppressant drugs (6).

SUMMARYTaking up to 3 grams of American ginseng daily may help lower fasting blood sugar and blood sugar after meals. Note that ginseng may interact with warfarin and other drugs.

3. Probiotics

Damage to your gut bacteria — such as from taking antibiotics — is associated with an increased risk of several diseases, including diabetes (9).

Probiotic supplements, which contain beneficial bacteria or other microbes, offer numerous health benefits and may improve your body’s handling of carbohydrates (10).

In a review of seven studies in people with type 2 diabetes, those who took probiotics for at least two months had a 16-mg/dl decrease in fasting blood sugar and a 0.53% decrease in A1C compared to those on a placebo (10).

People who took probiotics containing more than one species of bacteria had an even greater decrease in fasting blood sugar of 35 mg/dl (10).

How it works: Animal studies suggest that probiotics may decrease blood sugar by reducing inflammation and preventing the destruction of pancreatic cells that make insulin. Several other mechanisms may be involved as well (910).

Taking it: Try a probiotic with more than one beneficial species, such as a combination of L. acidophilusB. bifidum and L. rhamnosus. It’s unknown whether there’s an ideal mix of microbes for diabetes(10).

Precautions: Probiotics are unlikely to cause harm, but in certain rare circumstances they could lead to serious infections in people with significantly impaired immune systems (11).

SUMMARYProbiotic supplements — especially those containing more than one species of beneficial bacteria — may help lower fasting blood sugar and A1C.

4. Aloe Vera

Blood Sugar Supplements Aloe

Aloe vera may also help those trying to lower their blood sugar.

Supplements or juice made from the leaves of this cactus-like plant could help lower fasting blood sugar and A1C in people with prediabetes or type 2 diabetes (6).

In a review of nine studies in people with type 2 diabetes, supplementing with aloe for 4–14 weeks decreased fasting blood sugar by 46.6 mg/dl and A1C by 1.05% (12).

People who had fasting blood sugar above 200 mg/dl before taking aloe experienced even stronger benefits (12).

How it works: Mouse studies indicate that aloe may stimulate insulin production in pancreatic cells, but this hasn’t been confirmed. Several other mechanisms may be involved (613).

Taking it: The best dose and form are unknown. Common doses tested in studies include 1,000 mg daily in capsules or 2 tablespoons (30 ml) daily of aloe juice in split doses (1314).

Precautions: Aloe can interact with several medications, so check with your doctor before using it. It should never be taken with the heart medicine digoxin (15).

SUMMARYCapsules or juice made from aloe leaves may help lower fasting blood sugar and A1C in people with prediabetes or type 2 diabetes. Yet, aloe may interact with several medications, most notably digoxin.

5. Berberine

Berberine isn’t a specific herb, but rather a bitter-tasting compound taken from the roots and stems of certain plants, including goldenseal and phellodendron (16).

A review of 27 studies in people with type 2 diabetes observed that taking berberine in combination with diet and lifestyle changes reduced fasting blood sugar by 15.5 mg/dl and A1C by 0.71% compared to diet and lifestyle changes alone or a placebo (16).

The review also noted that berberine supplements taken alongside diabetes medication helped lower blood sugar more than medication alone (16).

How it works: Berberine may improve insulin sensitivity and enhance sugar uptake from your blood into your muscles, which helps lower blood sugar (17).

Taking it: A typical dose is 300–500 mg taken 2–3 times daily with major meals (17).

Precautions: Berberine may cause digestive disturbances, such as constipation, diarrhea or gas, which may be improved with a lower (300 mg) dose. Berberine may interact with several medications, so check with your doctor before taking this supplement (1718).

SUMMARYBerberine, which is made from the roots and stems of certain plants, may help lower fasting blood sugar and A1C. Side effects include digestive upset, which may improve with a lower dose.

6. Vitamin D

Vitamin D deficiency is considered a potential risk factor for type 2 diabetes (19).

In one study, 72% of participants with type 2 diabetes were deficient in vitamin D at the start of the study (20).

After two months of taking a 4,500-IU supplement of vitamin D daily, both fasting blood sugar and A1C improved. In fact, 48% of participants had an A1C that showed good blood sugar control, compared to only 32% before the study (20).

How it works: Vitamin D may improve the function of pancreatic cells that make insulin and increase your body’s responsiveness to insulin (2122).

Taking it: Ask your doctor for a vitamin D blood test to determine the best dose for you. The active form is D3, or cholecalciferol, so look for this name on supplement bottles (23).

Precautions: Vitamin D may trigger mild to moderate reactions with several types of medications, so ask your doctor or pharmacist for guidance (23).

SUMMARYVitamin D deficiency is common in people with type 2 diabetes. Supplementing with vitamin D may improve overall blood sugar control, as reflected by A1C. Be aware that vitamin D may interact with certain medications.

7. Gymnema

Gymnema sylvestre is an herb used as a diabetes treatment in the Ayurvedic tradition of India. The Hindu name for the plant — gurmar — means “sugar destroyer” (6).

In one study, people with type 2 diabetes taking 400 mg of gymnema leaf extract daily for 18–20 months experienced a 29% decrease in fasting blood sugar. A1C decreased from 11.9% at the start of the study to 8.48% (24).

Further research suggests that this herb may help lower fasting blood sugar and A1C in type 1 (insulin-dependent) diabetes and may reduce cravings for sweets by suppressing the sweet-taste sensation in your mouth (2526).

How it works: Gymnema sylvestre may reduce sugar absorption in your gut and promote cells’ uptake of sugar from your blood. Due to its impact on type 1 diabetes, it’s suspected that Gymnema sylvestre may somehow aid insulin-producing cells in your pancreas (626).

Taking it: The suggested dose is 200 mg of Gymnema sylvestre leaf extract twice a day with meals (24).

Precautions: Gymnema sylvestre can enhance the blood sugar effects of insulin, so use it only with a doctor’s guidance if you take insulin injections. It may also affect blood levels of some drugs, and one case of liver damage has been reported (27).

SUMMARYGymnema sylvestre may lower fasting blood sugar and A1C in both type 1 and type 2 diabetes, though more research is needed. If you require insulin injections, it’s essential to consult your doctor before trying this supplement.

8. Magnesium

Low blood levels of magnesium have been observed in 25–38% of people with type 2 diabetes and are more common in those who don’t have their blood sugar under good control (28).

In a systematic review, eight of 12 studies indicated that giving magnesium supplements for 6–24 weeks to healthy people or those with type 2 diabetes or prediabetes helped reduce fasting blood sugar levels, compared to a placebo.

Furthermore, each 50-mg increase in magnesium intake produced a 3% decrease in fasting blood sugar in those who entered the studies with low blood magnesium levels (29).

How it works: Magnesium is involved in normal insulin secretion and insulin action in your body’s tissues (29)

Taking it: Doses provided to people with diabetes are typically 250–350 mg daily. Be sure to take magnesium with a meal to improve absorption (2930).

Precautions: Avoid magnesium oxide, which can increase your risk of diarrhea. Magnesium supplements may interact with several medications, such as some diuretics and antibiotics, so check with your doctor or pharmacist before taking it (31).

SUMMARYMagnesium deficiency is common in people with type 2 diabetes. Studies suggest that magnesium supplements may help reduce your fasting blood sugar.

9. Alpha-Lipoic Acid

Alpha-lipoic acid, or ALA, is a vitamin-like compound and powerful antioxidant produced in your liver and found in some foods, such as spinach, broccoli and red meat (32).

When people with type 2 diabetes took 300, 600, 900 or 1,200 mg of ALA alongside their usual diabetes treatment for six months, fasting blood sugar and A1C decreased more as the dose increased (32).

How it works: ALA may improve insulin sensitivity and your cells’ uptake of sugar from your blood, though it may take a few months to experience these effects. It may also protect against oxidative damage caused by high blood sugar (32).

Taking it: Doses are generally 600–1,200 mg daily, taken in divided doses before meals (32).

Precautions: ALA may interfere with therapies for hyperthyroid or hypothyroid disease. Avoid very large doses of ALA if you have vitamin B1 (thiamine) deficiency or struggle with alcoholism (3334).

SUMMARYALA may gradually help decrease fasting blood sugar and A1C, with greater effects at daily doses up to 1,200 mg. It also exhibits antioxidant effects that may reduce damage from high blood sugar. Still, it may interfere with therapies for thyroid conditions.

10. Chromium

Chromium deficiency reduces your body’s ability to use carbs — converted into sugar — for energy and raises your insulin needs (35).

In a review of 25 studies, chromium supplements reduced A1C by about 0.6% in people with type 2 diabetes, and the average decrease in fasting blood sugar was around 21 mg/dl, compared to a placebo (636).

A small amount of evidence suggests that chromium may also help lower blood sugar in people with type 1 diabetes (37).

How it works: Chromium may enhance the effects of insulin or support the activity of pancreatic cells that produce insulin (6).

Taking it: A typical dose is 200 mcg per day, but doses up to 1,000 mcg per day have been tested in people with diabetes and may be more effective. The chromium picolinate form is likely absorbed best (63638).

Precautions: Certain drugs — such as antacids and others prescribed for heartburn — can reduce chromium absorption (35).

SUMMARYChromium may improve insulin action in your body and lower blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes — and possibly those with type 1 — but it won’t cure the disease.

The Bottom Line

Many supplements — including cinnamon, ginseng, other herbs, vitamin D, magnesium, probiotics and plant compounds like berberine — may help lower blood sugar.

Keep in mind that you may experience different results than what studies have found, based on factors such as duration, supplement quality and your individual diabetes status.

Discuss supplements with your doctor, especially if you’re taking medicine or insulin for diabetes, as some of the above supplements may interact with medications and raise the risk of blood sugar dropping too low.

In some cases, your doctor may need to decrease your diabetes medication dose at some point.

Try only one new supplement at a time and check your blood sugar regularly to follow any changes over several months. Doing so will help you and your doctor determine the impact.

7 Foods to Help Your Acid Reflux

Diet and nutrition for GERD

Acid reflux occurs when there is acid backflow from the stomach into the esophagus. This happens commonly but can cause complications or troublesome symptoms, such as heartburn.

One reason this happens is that the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) is weakened or damaged. Normally the LES closes to prevent food in the stomach from moving up into the esophagus.

The foods you eat affect the amount of acid your stomach produces. Eating the right kinds of food is key to controlling acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), a severe, chronic form of acid reflux.

Foods that may help reduce your symptoms

Reflux symptoms may result from stomach acid touching the esophagus and causing irritation and pain. If you have too much acid, you can incorporate these specific foods into your diet to manage symptoms of acid reflux.

None of these foods will cure your condition, and your decision to use these specific foods to soothe your symptoms should be based on your own experiences with them.

1. Vegetables

Vegetables are naturally low in fat and sugar, and they help reduce stomach acid. Good options include green beans, broccoli, asparagus, cauliflower, leafy greens, potatoes, and cucumbers.

2. Ginger

Ginger has natural anti-inflammatory properties, and it’s a natural treatment for heartburn and other gastrointestinal problems. You can add grated or sliced ginger root to recipes or smoothies or drink ginger tea to ease symptoms.

3. Oatmeal

Oatmeal is a breakfast favorite, a whole grain, and an excellent source of fiber. Oatmeal can absorb acid in the stomach and reduce symptoms of reflux. Other fiber options include whole-grain breads and whole-grain rice.

4. Noncitrus fruits

Noncitrus fruits, including melons, bananas, apples, and pears, are less likely to trigger reflux symptoms than acidic fruits.

5. Lean meats and seafood

Lean meats, such as chicken, turkey, fish, and seafood, are low-fat and reduce symptoms of acid reflux. Try them grilled, broiled, baked, or poached.

6. Egg whites

Egg whites are a good option. Stay away from egg yolks, though, which are high in fat and may trigger reflux symptoms.

7. Healthy fats

Sources of healthy fats include avocados, walnuts, flaxseed, olive oil, sesame oil, and sunflower oil. Reduce your intake of saturated fats and trans fats and replace them with these healthier unsaturated fats.

Finding your triggers

Heartburn is a common symptom of acid reflux and GERD. You may develop a burning sensation in your stomach or chest after eating a full meal or certain foods. GERD can also cause vomiting or regurgitation as acid moves into your esophagus.

Other symptoms include:

Many people with GERD find that certain foods trigger their symptoms. No single diet can prevent all symptoms of GERD, and food triggers are different for everyone.

To identify your individual triggers, keep a food diary and track the following:

  • what foods you eat
  • what time of day you eat
  • what symptoms you experience

Keep the diary for at least a week. It’s helpful to track your foods for a longer period if your diet varies. You can use the diary to identify specific foods and drinks that affect your GERD.

Also, the diet and nutrition advice here is a starting point to plan your meals. Use this guide in conjunction with your food journal and recommendations from your doctor. The goal is to minimize and control your symptoms.

Common trigger foods for people with reflux

Although doctors debate which foods actually cause reflux symptoms, certain foods have been shown to cause problems for many people. To control your symptoms, you could start by eliminating the following foods from your diet.

High-fat foods

Fried and fatty foods can cause the LES to relax, allowing more stomach acid to back up into the esophagus. These foods also delay stomach emptying.

Eating high-fat foods puts you at greater risk for reflux symptoms, so reducing your total daily fat intake can help.

The following foods have a high-fat content. Avoid these or eat them sparingly:

  • french fries and onion rings
  • full-fat dairy products, such as butter, whole milk, regular cheese, and sour cream
  • fatty or fried cuts of beef, pork, or lamb
  • bacon fat, ham fat, and lard
  • desserts or snacks, such as ice cream and potato chips
  • cream sauces, gravies, and creamy salad dressings
  • oily and greasy foods

Tomatoes and citrus fruit

Fruits and vegetables are important in a healthy diet. But certain fruits can cause or worsen GERD symptoms, especially highly acidic fruits. If you have frequent acid reflux, you should reduce or eliminate your intake of the following foods:

  • oranges
  • grapefruit
  • lemons
  • limes
  • pineapple
  • tomatoes
  • tomato sauce or foods that use it, such as pizza and chili
  • salsa

Chocolate

Chocolate contains an ingredient called methylxanthine. It has been shown to relax the smooth muscle in the LES and increase reflux.

Garlic, onions, and spicy foods

Spicy and tangy foods, such as onions and garlic, trigger heartburn symptoms in many people.

These foods won’t trigger reflux in everyone. But if you eat a lot of onions or garlic, make sure to track your meals carefully in your diary. Some of these foods, along with spicy foods, may bother you more than other foods do.

Caffeine

People with acid reflux may notice their symptoms acting up after their morning coffee. This is because caffeine is a known trigger of acid reflux.

Mint

Mint and products with mint flavoring, like chewing gum and breath mints, can also trigger acid reflux symptoms.

Other options

While the lists above include common triggers, you may have unique intolerances to other foods. You might consider eliminating the following foods for three to four weeks to see if symptoms improve: dairy, flour-based products like bread and crackers, and whey protein.

 

Making lifestyle changes

In addition to controlling reflux symptoms with diet and nutrition, you can manage symptoms with lifestyle changes. Try these tips:

  • Take antacids and other medications that reduce acid production. (Overuse can cause negative side effects.)
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Chew gum that isn’t peppermint or spearmint flavored.
  • Avoid alcohol.
  • Stop smoking.
  • Don’t overeat, and eat slowly.
  • Remain upright for at least two hours after eating.
  • Avoid tight clothing.
  • Don’t eat for three to four hours before going to bed.
  • Raise the head of your bed four to six inches to reduce reflux symptoms while sleeping.

What the research says

No diet has been proven to prevent GERD. However, certain foods may ease symptoms in some people.

Research shows that increased fiber intake, specifically in the form of fruits and vegetables, may protect against GERD. But scientists aren’t yet certain how fiber prevents GERD symptoms.

Increasing your dietary fiber is generally a good idea. In addition to helping with GERD symptoms, fiber also reduces the risk of:

Talk to your doctor if you have questions about whether certain foods should be a part of your diet. Foods that help improve acid reflux for one person may be problematic for someone else.

Working with your doctor can help you develop a diet to control or lessen your symptoms.

What’s the outlook for GERD?

People with GERD can usually manage their symptoms with lifestyle changes and over-the-counter medications.

Talk to your doctor if lifestyle changes and medications don’t improve symptoms. Your doctor can recommend prescription medications, or in extreme cases, surgery.

Eggs and Cholesterol — How Many Eggs Can You Safely Eat?

Eggs are among the most nutritious foods on the planet.

In fact, a whole egg contains all the nutrients needed to turn a single cell into an entire chicken.

However, eggs have gotten a bad reputation because the yolks are high in cholesterol.

But cholesterol isn’t that simple. The more of it you eat, the less your body produces.

For this reason, eating a few eggs won’t cause a high rise in cholesterol levels.

This article explains this process and discusses how many eggs you can safely eat per day.

How Many Eggs Should You Eat?

How Your Body Regulates Cholesterol Levels

Cholesterol is often viewed as negative.

This is because some studies have linked high levels of cholesterol with heart disease and early death. However, the evidence is mixed (12).

The truth is that cholesterol plays a very important function in your body. It’s a structural molecule that is essential to every cell membrane.

It is also used to make steroid hormones like testosterone, estrogen and cortisol.

Given how important cholesterol is, your body has evolved elaborate ways to ensure that it always has enough available.

Because getting cholesterol from the diet isn’t always an option, your liver produces enough to meet your body’s needs.

But when you eat a lot of cholesterol-rich foods, your liver starts producing less to keep cholesterol levels from becoming excessively high (34).

Therefore, the total amount of cholesterol in your body changes only very little, if at all. What changes is its source — your diet or your liver (56).

Nevertheless, you should still avoid eating excessive amounts of cholesterol if your blood levels are raised. A high intake may cause a moderate increase in blood cholesterol levels (789).

SUMMARYYour liver produces large amounts of cholesterol. When you eat cholesterol-rich foods such as eggs, your liver compensates by producing less.

What Happens When People Eat Several Whole Eggs per Day?

For many decades, people have been advised to limit their consumption of eggs — or at least of egg yolks.

A single medium-sized egg contains 186 mg of cholesterol, which is 62% of the recommended daily intake (RDI). In contrast, the white is mostly protein and low in cholesterol (10).

Common recommendations include a maximum of 2–6 yolks per week. However, scientific support for this limitation is lacking (11).

A few studies have examined the effects of eggs on cholesterol levels.

These studies divided people into two groups — one group ate 1–3 whole eggs per day while the other ate something else, such as egg substitutes.

These studies show that:

  • In almost all cases, “good” HDL cholesterol goes up (121314).
  • Total and “bad” LDL cholesterol levels usually remain unchanged but sometimes increase slightly (15161718).
  • Eating omega-3-enriched eggs can lower blood triglycerides, another important risk factor (1920).
  • Blood levels of carotenoid antioxidants like lutein and zeaxanthin increase significantly (212223).

It appears that the response to eating whole eggs depends on the individual.

In 70% of people, eggs had no effect on total or “bad” LDL cholesterol. However, in 30% of people — called hyper-responders — these markers do go up slightly (24).

Although eating a few eggs per day may raise blood cholesterol in some people, they change the “bad” LDL particles from small and dense to large (1225).

People who have predominantly large LDL particles have a lower risk of heart disease. So even if eggs cause mild increases in total and LDL cholesterol levels, it’s not a cause for concern (262728).

The science is clear that up to 3 whole eggs per day are perfectly safe for healthy people.

SUMMARYEggs consistently raise HDL (the “good”) cholesterol. For 70% of people, there is no increase in total or LDL cholesterol. Some people may experience a mild increase in a benign subtype of LDL.

Eggs and Heart Disease

Multiple studies have examined egg consumption and heart disease risk.

Many of these are observational studies in which large groups of people are followed for many years.

Researchers then use statistical methods to determine whether certain habits — like diet, smoking or exercise — are linked to either a decreased or increased risk of certain diseases.

These studies — some of which include hundreds of thousands of people — consistently show that people who eat whole eggs are no more likely to develop heart disease than those who don’t.

Some of the studies even show a reduced risk of stroke (293031).

However, this research suggests that people who have type 2 diabetes and eat a lot of eggs have an increased risk of heart disease (32).

One controlled study in people with type 2 diabetes found that eating two eggs per day, six days a week, for three months did not significantly affect blood lipid levels (33).

Health effects may also depend on the rest of your diet. On a low-carb diet — which is the best diet for people with diabetes — eggs lead to improvements in heart disease risk factors (3435).

SUMMARYMany observational studies show that people who eat eggs don’t have an increased risk of heart disease, but some studies show an increased risk for people with type 2 diabetes.

Eggs Have Several Other Health Benefits

Let’s not forget that eggs are about more than just cholesterol. They’re also loaded with nutrients and offer various other impressive benefits:

  • They’re high in lutein and zeaxanthin, antioxidants that reduce your risk of eye diseases like macular degeneration and cataracts (3637).
  • They’re very high in choline, a nutrient that plays an essential role in all cells (38).
  • They’re high in quality animal protein, the benefits of which include increased muscle mass and better bone health (3940).
  • Studies show that eggs increase feelings of fullness and help you lose weight (4142).

What’s more, eggs are tasty and incredibly easy to prepare.

The benefits of consuming eggs far outweigh the potential negatives.

SUMMARYEggs are among the most nutritious foods on the planet. They contain important brain nutrients and powerful antioxidants that protect your eyes.

How Much Is Too Much?

Unfortunately, no studies have fed people more than three eggs per day.

It is possible, though unlikely, that eating more than that could negatively impact your health. Consuming more than three is uncharted territory, scientifically speaking.

However, one case study included an 88-year-old man who consumed 25 eggs per day. He had normal cholesterol levels and was in very good health (43).

Of course, the way one individual responds to extreme egg consumption can’t be extrapolated to the whole population, but it’s interesting nonetheless.

It’s also important to keep in mind that not all eggs are the same. Most eggs at the supermarket come from factory-raised chickens fed grain-based feeds.

The healthiest eggs are omega-3-enriched eggs or eggs from hens that are raised on pasture. These eggs are much higher in omega-3s and important fat-soluble vitamins (4445).

Overall, eating eggs is perfectly safe, even if you’re eating up to 3 whole eggs per day.

Given their range of nutrients and powerful health benefits, quality eggs may be among the healthiest foods on the planet.

6 Popular Ways to Do Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting has been very trendy in recent years.

It is claimed to cause weight loss, improve metabolic health and perhaps even extend lifespan.

Not surprisingly given the popularity, several different types/methods of intermittent fasting have been devised.

All of them can be effective, but which one fits best will depend on the individual.

Here are 6 popular ways to do intermittent fasting.

1. The 16/8 Method: Fast for 16 hours each day.

The 16/8 Method involves fasting every day for 14-16 hours, and restricting your daily “eating window” to 8-10 hours.

Within the eating window, you can fit in 2, 3 or more meals.

This method is also known as the Leangains protocol, and was popularized by fitness expert Martin Berkhan.

Doing this method of fasting can actually be as simple as not eating anything after dinner, and skipping breakfast.

For example, if you finish your last meal at 8 pm and then don’t eat until 12 noon the next day, then you are technically fasting for 16 hours between meals.

It is generally recommended that women only fast 14-15 hours, because they seem to do better with slightly shorter fasts.

For people who get hungry in the morning and like to eat breakfast, then this can be hard to get used to at first. However, many breakfast skippers actually instinctively eat this way.

You can drink watercoffee and other non-caloric beverages during the fast, and this can help reduce hunger levels.

It is very important to eat mostly healthy foods during your eating window. This won’t work if you eat lots of junk food or excessive amounts of calories.

I personally find this to be the most “natural” way to do intermittent fasting. I eat this way myself and find it to be 100% effortless.

I eat a low-carb diet, so my appetite is blunted somewhat. I simply do not feel hungry until around 1 pm in the afternoon. Then I eat my last meal around 6-9 pm, so I end up fasting for 16-19 hours.

 

BOTTOM LINE:The 16/8 method involves daily fasts of 16 hours for men, and 14-15 hours for women. On each day, you restrict your eating to an 8-10 hour “eating window” where you can fit in 2-3 or more meals.

2. The 5:2 Diet: Fast for 2 days per week.

The 5:2 diet involves eating normally 5 days of the week, while restricting calories to 500-600 on two days of the week.

This diet is also called the Fast diet, and was popularized by British journalist and doctor Michael Mosley.

On the fasting days, it is recommended that women eat 500 calories, and men 600 calories.

For example, you might eat normally on all days except Mondays and Thursdays, where you eat two small meals (250 calories per meal for women, and 300 for men).

As critics correctly point out, there are no studies testing the 5:2 diet itself, but there are plenty of studies on the benefits of intermittent fasting.

BOTTOM LINE:The 5:2 diet, or the Fast diet, involves eating 500-600 calories for two days of the week, but eating normally the other 5 days.

3. Eat-Stop-Eat: Do a 24-hour fast, once or twice a week.

Eat-Stop-Eat involves a 24-hour fast, either once or twice per week.

This method was popularized by fitness expert Brad Pilon, and has been quite popular for a few years.

By fasting from dinner one day, to dinner the next, this amounts to a 24-hour fast.

For example, if you finish dinner on Monday at 7 pm, and don’t eat until dinner the next day at 7 pm, then you’ve just done a full 24-hour fast.

You can also fast from breakfast to breakfast, or lunch to lunch. The end result is the same.

Water, coffee and other non-caloric beverages are allowed during the fast, but no solid food.

If you are doing this to lose weight, then it is very important that you eat normally during the eating periods. As in, eat the same amount of food as if you hadn’t been fasting at all.

The problem with this method is that a full 24-hour fast can be fairly difficult for many people.

However, you don’t need to go all-in right away, starting with 14-16 hours and then moving upwards from there is fine.

I’ve personally done this a few times. I found the first part of the fast very easy, but in the last few hours I did become ravenously hungry.

I needed to apply some serious self-discipline to finish the full 24-hours and often found myself giving up and eating dinner a bit earlier.

BOTTOM LINE:Eat-Stop-Eat is an intermittent fasting program with one or two 24-hour fasts per week.

4. Alternate-Day Fasting: Fast every other day.

Alternate-Day fasting means fasting every other day.

There are several different versions of this. Some of them allow about 500 calories during the fasting days.

Many of the lab studies showing health benefits of intermittent fasting used some version of this.

A full fast every other day seems rather extreme, so I do not recommend this for beginners.

With this method, you will be going to bed very hungry several times per week, which is not very pleasant and probably unsustainable in the long-term.

BOTTOM LINE:Alternate-day fasting means fasting every other day, either by not eating anything or only eating a few hundred calories.

5. The Warrior Diet: Fast during the day, eat a huge meal at night.

The Warrior Diet was popularized by fitness expert Ori Hofmekler.

It involves eating small amounts of raw fruits and vegetables during the day, then eating one huge meal at night.

Basically, you “fast” all day and “feast” at night within a 4 hour eating window.

The Warrior Diet was one of the first popular “diets” to include a form of intermittent fasting.

This diet also emphasizes food choices that are quite similar to a paleo diet – whole, unprocessed foods that resemble what they looked like in nature.

BOTTOM LINE:The Warrior Diet is about eating only small amounts of vegetables and fruits during the day, then eating one huge meal at night.

6. Spontaneous Meal Skipping: Skip meals when convenient.

You don’t actually need to follow a structured intermittent fasting plan to reap some of the benefits.

Another option is to simply skip meals from time to time, when you don’t feel hungry or are too busy to cook and eat.

It is a myth that people need to eat every few hours or they will hit “starvation mode” or lose muscle.

The human body is well equipped to handle long periods of famine, let alone missing one or two meals from time to time.

So if you’re really not hungry one day, skip breakfast and just eat a healthy lunch and dinner. Or if you’re travelling somewhere and can’t find anything you want to eat, do a short fast.

Skipping 1 or 2 meals when you feel so inclined is basically a spontaneous intermittent fast.

Just make sure to eat healthy foods at the other meals.

BOTTOM LINE:Another more “natural” way to do intermittent fasting is to simply skip 1 or 2 meals when you don’t feel hungry or don’t have time to eat.

Take Home Message

There are a lot of people getting great results with some of these methods.

That being said, if you’re already happy with your health and don’t see much room for improvement, then feel free to safely ignore all of this.

Intermittent fasting is not for everyone. It is not something that anyone needs to do, it is just another tool in the toolbox that can be useful for some people.

Some also believe that it may not be as beneficial for women as men, and it may also be a poor choice for people who are prone to eating disorders.

If you decide to try this out, then keep in mind that you need to eat healthy as well.

It is not possible to binge on junk foods during the eating periods and expect to lose weight and improve health.

Calories still count, and food quality is still absolutely crucial.

14 Best Foods to Increase Blood Flow and Circulation

Poor circulation is a common problem caused by a number of conditions.

Peripheral artery disease (PAD), diabetes, obesity, smoking and Raynaud’s disease are some of the many causes of poor circulation (12345).

Reduced blood flow can cause unpleasant symptoms, such as pain, muscle cramps, numbness, digestive issues and coldness in the hands or feet.

In addition to those with poor circulation, athletes and active individuals may want to increase blood flow in order to improve exercise performance and recovery.

Although circulatory issues are often treated with medications, eating certain foods can also improve blood flow.

Here are the 14 best foods to optimize blood flow.

Foods That Increase Blood Flow

1. Cayenne Pepper

Cayenne pepper gets its spicy flavor from a phytochemical called capsaicin.

Capsaicin promotes blood flow to tissues by lowering blood pressure and stimulating the release of nitric oxide and other vasodilators — or compounds that help expand your blood vessels (6).

Vasodilators allow blood to flow more easily through your veins and arteries by relaxing the tiny muscles found in blood vessel walls.

Research indicates that ingesting cayenne pepper increases circulation, improves blood vessel strength and reduces plaque buildup in your arteries (7).

What’s more, these spicy peppers are frequently included in pain-relieving creams because they can encourage blood flow to the affected area (8).

2. Pomegranate

Pomegranates are juicy, sweet fruits that are particularly high in polyphenol antioxidants and nitrates, which are potent vasodilators.

Consuming pomegranate — as juice, raw fruit or supplement — may improve blood flow and oxygenation of muscle tissue, which could especially aid active individuals.

A study in 19 active people, found that ingesting 1,000 mg of pomegranate extract 30 minutes before working out increased blood flow, blood vessel diameter and exercise performance (9).

Another study demonstrated that daily consumption of 17 ounces (500 ml) of pomegranate juice during or before weight training reduced soreness, muscle damage and inflammation in elite weightlifters (10).

3. Onions

Onions are an excellent source of flavonoid antioxidants, which benefit heart health.

This vegetable improves circulation by helping your arteries and veins widen when blood flow increases.

In a 30-day study in 23 men, taking 4.3 grams of onion extract daily significantly improved blood flow and artery dilation after meals (11).

Onions also have anti-inflammatory properties, which can boost blood flow and heart health by reducing inflammation in veins and arteries (12).

4. Cinnamon

Cinnamon is a warming spice that has many health benefits — including increased blood flow.

In animal studies, cinnamon improved blood vessel dilation and blood flow in the coronary artery, which supplies blood to the heart.

Rats fed 91 mg per pound (200 mg per kg) of body weight of cinnamon bark extract daily for eight weeks exhibited better heart performance and coronary artery blood flow after exhaustive exercise compared to rats in the control group (13).

Plus, research shows that cinnamon can effectively reduce blood pressure in humans by relaxing your blood vessels. This improves circulation and keeps your heart healthy (14).

In a study in 59 people with type 2 diabetes, 1,200 mg of cinnamon per day reduced systolic blood pressure (the top number of a reading) by an average of 3.4 mmHg after 12 weeks (15).

5. Garlic

Foods That Increase Blood Flow

Garlic is well known for its beneficial impact on circulation and heart health.

Studies suggest that garlic — specifically, its sulfur compounds, which include allicin — can increase tissue blood flow and lower blood pressure by relaxing your blood vessels.

In fact, diets high in garlic are associated with better flow-mediated vasodilation (FMD), an indicator of blood flow efficiency.

In a study in 42 people with coronary artery disease, those who consumed garlic powder tablets containing 1,200 mg of allicin twice daily for three months experienced a 50% improvement in blood flow through the upper arm artery compared to a placebo group (16).

6. Fatty Fish

Fatty fish like salmon and mackerel are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids.

These fats are especially beneficial for circulation because they promote the release of nitric oxide, which dilates your blood vessels and increases blood flow (17).

Omega-3 fats also help inhibit the clumping of platelets in your blood, a process that can lead to blood clot formation (18).

What’s more, fish oil supplements are linked to reduced high blood pressure and improved blood flow in skeletal muscle during and after exercise.

For example, in a study in 10 healthy men, high doses of fish oil — 4.2 grams daily for four weeks — significantly improved blood flow to the legs after exercise (19).

7. Beets

Many athletes supplement with beet juice or beet powder to help improve performance.

This is because beets are high in nitrates, which your body converts into nitric oxide. Nitric oxide relaxes blood vessels and increases blood flow to muscle tissue.

Beet juice supplements improve oxygen flow in muscle tissue, stimulate blood flow and increase nitric oxide levels — all of which can boost performance (20).

Aside from assisting athletes, beets improve blood flow in older adults with circulatory issues.

In a study in 12 older adults, those who drank 5 ounces (140 ml) of nitrate-rich beet juice per day experienced significant decreases in blood pressure, clotting time and blood vessel inflammation than those who consumed a placebo (21).

8. Turmeric

Increased blood flow is one of turmeric’s many health benefits.

In fact, both Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicine have utilized turmeric since ancient times to open blood vessels and improve blood circulation (22).

Research suggests that a compound found in turmeric called curcumin helps increase nitric oxide production, reduce oxidative stress and decrease inflammation.

In a study in 39 people, taking 2,000 mg of curcumin daily for 12 weeks led to a 37% increase in forearm blood flow and a 36% increase in upper arm blood flow (23).

9. Leafy Greens

Leafy greens like spinach and collard greens are high in nitrates, which your body converts into nitric oxide, a potent vasodilator.

Eating nitrate-rich foods may help improve circulation by dilating blood vessels, allowing your blood to flow more easily.

In a 27-person study, those consuming high-nitrate (845 mg) spinach daily for seven days experienced significant improvements in blood pressure and blood flow compared to a control group (24).

What’s more, research has observed that people following a traditional Chinese diet high in nitrate-rich vegetables like Chinese cabbage have lower blood pressure and a significantly decreased risk of heart disease than those who consume a typical Western diet (25).

10. Citrus Fruits

Citrus fruits like oranges, lemons and grapefruit are packed with antioxidants, including flavonoids.

Consuming flavonoid-rich citrus fruits may decrease inflammation in your body, which can reduce blood pressure and stiffness in your arteries while improving blood flow and nitric oxide production (26).

In a study in 31 people, those who drank 17 ounces (500 ml) of blood orange juice per day for one week had significant improvements in artery dilation and large reductions in markers of inflammation such as IL-6 and CRP compared to a control group (27).

Additionally, regular consumption of citrus fruits, such as lemon and grapefruit, has been associated with reduced blood pressure and a decreased risk of stroke (2829).

11. Walnuts

Walnuts are loaded with beneficial compounds, such as l-arginine, alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) and vitamin E — which all stimulate the production of nitric oxide.

Eating walnuts may reduce blood pressure, improve blood vessel function and decrease inflammation, which may be particularly helpful for those with diabetes (30).

People with diabetes often have circulation issues and high blood pressure due to blood vessel damage caused by uncontrolled blood sugar levels (31).

In a study in 24 people with diabetes, those who ate 2 ounces (56 grams) of walnuts per day for eight weeks experienced significant improvements in blood flow compared to a control group (32).

12. Tomatoes

Tomatoes may help reduce the activity of angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE), which causes blood vessels to constrict to control blood pressure (33).

Research reveals that tomato extract works similarly to ACE-inhibiting drugs — opening up your blood vessels and improving blood flow.

Test-tube studies note that tomato extract can inhibit ACE, reduce inflammation and disrupt platelet aggregation, which can improve circulation (3435).

13. Berries

Foods That Increase Blood Flow Berries

Berries are especially healthy — they have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory qualities, which may have a positive impact on blood flow.

Chronic inflammation can damage blood vessels and raise your blood pressure, which can cause circulatory issues.

Research shows that eating berries can lower blood pressure, heart rate, platelet aggregation and blood levels of inflammatory markers like IL-6 while also improving artery dilation (36).

14. Ginger

Ginger, a staple in traditional medicine in India and China for thousands of years, can likewise lower blood pressure and improve circulation (37).

In both human and animal studies, ginger has been shown to reduce high blood pressure, which negatively impacts blood flow (38).

In a study in 4,628 people, those who consumed the most ginger — 2–4 grams per day — had the lowest risk of developing high blood pressure (39).

Animal studies demonstrate that ginger works by inhibiting ACE (40).

Other Methods

While incorporating any of these foods into your diet may improve circulation, other lifestyle changes may have a larger impact.

Here are some other lifestyle modifications that can optimize blood flow:

  • Quit smoking: Smoking is a risk factor for many chronic diseases — such as cancer — and can negatively impact circulation (41).
  • Increase physical activity: Exercise stimulates blood flow and helps improve vasodilation. Plus, regular exercise decreases your risk of heart disease (42).
  • Lose weight: Being overweight or obese negatively impacts blood flow and can lead to dangerous complications, such as plaque buildup in your arteries (43).
  • Follow a healthy diet: Instead of simply stocking up on particular foods, try switching to a diet rich in healthy, whole foods — such as vegetables, healthy fats and fiber-rich foods — which can improve circulatory health.
  • Stay hydrated: Proper hydration is critical to all aspects of health, including circulation. Dehydration can damage endothelial cells and promote inflammation in your body, restricting blood flow (44).
  • Reduce stress: Research proves that stress levels can significantly impact blood pressure. Manage your stress through yoga, meditation, gardening or spending time in nature (45).

SUMMARYFollowing a healthy diet, exercising, losing weight, quitting smoking, staying hydrated and reducing stress are natural ways to improve circulation.

The Bottom Line

There are many natural ways to improve circulation, including choosing foods that stimulate blood flow.

The antioxidants, nitrates, vitamins and other substances contained in the foods above can have a positive impact on your circulation.

What’s more, leading a healthy lifestyle by abstaining from smoking, staying active, maintaining a healthy weight and eating a well-rounded diet can boost blood flow and overall health.