Living Lite

Surprise: The Fat-Burning Superfood That's Cheap and Everywhere

November 3, 2014

Over the years, I've noticed that clients who added a certain item to their diet seemed more likely to lose weight. And this happened even when their calorie intake remained the same. What is this superfood? It's nothing weird, it's not a supplement, it's cheap and everywhere — and it's a product that may go back to Neolithic times. What is this superfood? yogurt.

For years, I've wondered why this versatile food worked so well, and now, new scientific research is backing my observations. It turns out that the bacterial organisms in the digestive tract — about 100 million of them (10 times the number of human cells), collectively called the microbiome — are akin to a fully functioning organ, and can have a positive or negative effect on human health, according to nutrition scientists at a National Institutes of Health conference entitled: "The Human Microbiome: Implications for Nutrition and Clinical Practice."

But, to achieve maximum benefit, you must eat probiotics together with prebiotics

Yogurt contains a class of bacteria called probiotics that "remain alive during processing and shelf life, survive digestion and then cause health benefits," said Jo Ann Hattner, a registered dietitian, consultant at the Stanford University School of Medicine and co-author of "Gut Insight." She added that together with certain foods known as prebiotics, probiotics create a symbiotic relationship that profoundly benefit your microbiome and your health. Read More..

RECIPES IN PHOTO: "Cool Cucumber Soup with Yogurt and Cilantro," "Seared Ahi Tuna with Wasabi Vinaigrette," and "Melon Chunks with Crumbled Feta and Fresh Mint," from "Diet Simple Farm to Table Recipes: 50 New Reasons to Cook in Season!"  (photo by Viggy Parr)

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What's Healthier: Sugar or Artificial Sweeteners?

October 8, 2014

For years, my clients have been asking me: "Is it better to eat 'sugar-free' yogurt? Or, yogurt with fruit on the bottom with all that sugar? What about sugar in my coffee? Sugar-sweetened beverages, such as soft drinks?"

My answer has alway been, to my clients' surprise, "A little sugar won't hurt. Eat the yogurt you enjoy the most, even with a little jam on the bottom! And a little sugar in your coffee shouldn't hurt." New scientific research may prove I've been right all along. 

Artificially sweetened beverages and foods are seen as guilt-free pleasures, because they are lower in calories - or even zero calories - compared to other foods. You may think of them as a great choice when you're trying to lose weight or trying to keep blood sugar in check. But some surprising new research suggests that artificial sweeteners might actually do the opposite.

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Concord Grapes for Heart Health

September 28, 2014

In grapes alone, 1600 nutrients have been discovered, according to the Produce for Better Health Foundation. Does this apply to all grapes? No. Concord grapes - which are in season now, and other deep purple grapes, contain the most, and the nutrients are concentrated in the skin and seeds. This is why red wine, or purple grape juice are ten times more nutritious than white wine. They contain the crushed skin and seeds of purple grapes.  

The "phyto" ("plant" in Greek) nutrient most responsible for grapes' heart benefits is anthocyanin, which provides foods with their purple color. In fact there are hundreds of anthocyanins, which have a favorable impact on artery health, blood cholesterol, inflammation, and more, according to a recent literature review in Nutrition Today.     

Anthocyanins can also be found in other purple or blue foods, such as blackberries, blueberries, cherries, purple leaf lettuce, and eggplant.  

Only 3% of Americans eat purple produce, according to the Produce for Better Health Foundation. So, "Pump up the Purple," says the PBH, by replacing sugary beverages for 100% grape juice, slice and grill some eggplant or roast some purple potatoes.

My advice? Try drinking small amounts of red wine with meals,  I know it's a sacrifice but it's great for the heart and blood vessels. Read more about grapes, grape juice and red wine...  in my article which also appeared in The Washington Post.

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