6 Reasons to Eat More Mushrooms

Mushrooms are a great example of “don’t judge a book by its cover.” Yes, they’re a fungi. And sure, some varieties look like something out of a Dr. Seuss story. But mushrooms deserve to be tossed into your shopping cart and added to meals a lot more often (not just ordered on pizza, though that’s yummy too!). Here are six reasons why:

1. They’re provide vitamin D: Mushrooms are the only produce item that delivers vitamin D, a nutrient that’s not easy to come by in many commonly eaten foods. That’s because mushrooms can make vitamin D when exposed to UV light. For instance, one portabella mushroom treated with UV light contains more than 100% of the Daily Value for vitamin D. Check the Nutrition Facts Panel for vitamin D content on portabella, white button, and brown cremini mushrooms (“baby bellas”). These varieties are more likely to be treated.

2. They taste meaty: The flavor of mushrooms has been described as “umami,” a Japanese word meaning “pleasant savory taste,” that’s referred to as the fifth taste sense. Portabella (and cremini) mushrooms have a meatier flavor, though the milder flavor of white button deepens with cooking. Portabella mushrooms also have a meaty texture, which is why you’ll see them grilled whole or served on buns in place of meat burgers.

3. They’re high in selenium: Mushrooms are one of the richest sources of selenium in the produce aisle. That’s a mineral that works like an antioxidant in your body, guarding cells against the kind of damage that can lead to disease. Selenium also plays a role in the immune system.

4. They vanish into ground meat: With their meaty taste and texture and ability to disappear into ground meat, they’re the perfect way to cut back on the amount of ground beef (or ground pork, chicken, or turkey) you use in recipes. With this trick, you’ll also reduce the number of calories and fat in your recipe too. (Here’s my recipe for Freezer-Friendly Beef Burritos that stretches ground beef with white button mushrooms.)

Keep in mind these ratio recommendations while you’re cooking:

Burgers and meatloaf: Use 25% mushrooms to 75% ground meat
Tacos: Use 50% each mushrooms and ground meat
Pasta sauces: Use 70% mushrooms to 30% ground meat
5. They may help with weight loss: Mushrooms are extremely low in calories. There are only about 20 calories in a serving of five white button mushrooms or one whole portabella mushroom! Yet mushrooms are also satisfying. In one study published in the journal Appetite, people who swapped mushrooms for meat at lunch reduced the amount of calories and fat they took in, but they reported feeling just as full and satisfied as those who ate meat.

6. They’re a sustainable crop: Mushrooms are grown in trays indoors and don’t require sunlight, farmland, or very much water. When you eat them in place of meat — or blend them so you’re eating less meat — you’re also lowering the overall carbon footprint of your meals.

What Should I Eat Before Working Out?

If you’re eating a healthy diet and getting enough calories throughout the day to support your activities, you may not need to nosh before your workout. But if it helps keep your energy level up, snacking can be a good move.

Choosing the right foods helps. And make sure you’re well hydrated before working out. Experts recommend drinking 16-20 ounces of water 1-2 hours before starting your workout.

9 Pre workout Snacks to Try
Experts agree your best bet is a low-fat snack, about 100 to 300 calories, that gives you a mix of protein and complex carbohydrates.

The carbs give you fuel. The protein is for your muscles.

Try these tasty ideas:

  • Oatmeal with cinnamon and blueberries or dried cranberries
  • Whole wheat toast topped with nut butter and sliced bananas
  • Fruit smoothie with yogurt
  • Greek yogurt with low-fat granola and berries
  • Half of a turkey sandwich
  • Raw veggies with hummus for dipping
  • Whole-grain crackers with 1 ounce of low-fat cheese
  • Cottage cheese and sliced apples or bananas
  • Trail mix with nuts and dried fruit
  • What Not to Eat Before Exercise
  • Avoid foods that are high in fat or fiber — both of which can upset your stomach, take longer to deliver energy, and leave you feeling sluggish. Also avoid spicy or unfamiliar foods.

High-Protein Diet for Weight Loss

Going on a high-protein diet may help you tame your hunger, which could help you lose weight.

You can try it by adding some extra protein to your meals. Give yourself a week, boosting protein gradually.

Remember, calories still count. You’ll want to make good choices when you pick your protein.

If you plan to add a lot of protein to your diet, or if you have liver or kidney disease, check with your doctor first.

The Best Protein Sources
Choose protein sources that are nutrient-rich and lower in saturated fat and calories, such as:

Lean meats
Low-fat dairy
Nuts and seeds
It’s a good idea to change up your protein foods. For instance, you could have salmon or other fish that’s rich in omega-3s, beans or lentils that give you fiber as well as protein, walnuts on your salad, or almonds on your oatmeal.

How much protein are you getting? Here’s how many grams of protein are in these foods:

1/2 cup low-fat cottage cheese: 14g

3 ounces tofu, firm: 9g

1/2 cup cooked lentils: 9g

2 tablespoons natural-style peanut butter (7g) or almond butter (6.7g)

3 oz skinless chicken breast: 26g

3 oz fish fillet (depending on type of fish): 17-20g

1 ounce provolone cheese: 7g

1/2 cup cooked kidney beans: 7.7g

1 ounce almonds: 6g

1 large egg: 6g

4 ounces low-fat plain yogurt: 6g

4 ounces soy milk: 5g

4 ounces low-fat milk: 4g

Carbs and Fats
While you’re adding protein to your diet, you should also stock up on “smart carbs” such as:

Whole grains
Beans and legumes (both also have protein)
Low-fat milk and yogurt (both have protein)
Also try healthy fats such as:

Nuts and natural-style nut butters
Extra virgin olive oil and canola oil
To help manage your appetite, it also helps to split your daily calories into four or five smaller meals or snacks.

Vegetarian and Vegan Diets Explained

The simplest definition of vegetarianism is a diet free of meat, fish, and fowl flesh. But eating habits of vegetarians cover a wide spectrum. At one end are lacto-ovo vegetarians, who avoid animal flesh but eat eggs and milk products. At the other end are vegans, who forgo eating (and often wearing) all animal-based products, including honey. Raw foodists are vegans who eat mainly raw fruits, vegetables, legumes, sprouts, and nuts.

There are also pescatarians, who eat fish and seafood; and lacto-vegetarians, who eat dairy products but not eggs. Fruitarians follow a diet that includes fruits, nuts, seeds, and other plant food. Those who follow a macrobiotic diet eat mostly grains but can also eat fish. They don’t necessarily identify as vegetarians.

Flexitarians refer to vegetarians who occasionally eat meat and fish.

Reasons for Becoming a Vegetarian

Many adherents of vegetarianism and veganism – former Beatle Paul McCartney and actor Alec Baldwin are two celebrities who happily promote the cause — regard a flesh-free diet not only as more healthful, but as a more ethical way to live. They point to the cruel practices and the high environmental cost of raising animals for food as reasons for excluding meat from the diet.
Most Americans, however, continue to eat some form of meat or fish. Ten percent of people consider themselves to be vegetarians, according to a 2013 Gallup poll.

Vegetarianism and Health
Most doctors and nutritionists agree that a low-fat diet high in fruits, vegetables, and nuts can be a boon to health. There’s also research suggesting that reducing or eliminating red meat from the diet may cut your risk of heart disease.

Research also has shown that a vegan or vegetarian diet may lower your risk of getting type 2 diabetes. And a 2011 study found that vegetarians had lower triglycerides, glucose levels, blood pressure, and body mass index (BMI).

Does Being a Vegetarian Lower Cancer Risk?
It’s difficult to say whether being a vegetarian or a vegan lowers cancer risk. This is mainly because of the diversity within the vegetarian population.

Many studies of the cancer-vegetarian relationship conclude that diets rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals, isoflavones (found in soybeans, chickpeas, peanuts, and more), and carotenoids (found in carrots, sweet potatoes, broccoli, kale, spinach, tomatoes, red peppers, and more), seem to protect against disease, including cancer, when part of a health-conscious lifestyle.

An 11-year study in Germany examined colon cancer among 1,900 vegetarians. Researchers noted fewer deaths from cancers of the stomach, colon, and lung in study participants than in the general population — particularly among those who practiced some form of vegetarianism for at least 20 years. They suggested, however, that other factors, like body weight and amount of exercise, likely affected mortality rates in the vegetarians they studied.

Read more…

8 weeks on fruit- and vegetable-rich diets tied to better heart health

A new study has looked at the links between markers of heart health and three types of diet: the DASH diet, a different fruit- and vegetable-rich diet, and a typical Western diet. Its conclusion? Diets that include lots of fruit and vegetables are associated with better heart health.
A new observational analysis recently published in the Annals of Internal Medicine adds to evidence that diets rich in fruits and vegetables may help protect cardiovascular health.

The analysis draws on data from the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) trial, which assessed the effects of a specially designed diet on blood pressure, in comparison with other types of diets.

This DASH diet was developed by specialists in nutrition who were affiliated with the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

On the whole, the DASH diet favors the intake of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, poultry, fish, nuts, and beans over that of red meats and fatty, sugary, or salty foods.

Studying the effects of diet on heart health
For the current analysis, the researchers — including the study’s lead author, Dr. Stephen Juraschek, of the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, in Boston, MA — compared the effects of three types of diet on markers of heart health. The diets trialed were the DASH diet, a different diet rich in fruits and vegetables, and “a typical American diet.”

The latter reflected levels of nutrient consumption reported by the average U.S. adult, while the diet rich in fruits and vegetables was, in many ways, similar, but it contained more natural fiber and included fewer snacks and sweets.

Researchers looked at data from three randomly assigned groups of participants from the DASH trials. The total number of participants in the present analysis was 326, and each had followed one of the three diets mentioned above for a period of 8 weeks.

The investigators assessed the levels of three biomarkers related to heart health in samples of serum, a component of blood, collected from the participants.

The participants’ mean age was 45.2 years, and none had preexisting cardiovascular conditions.

The serum samples had been collected, first, after a 12-hour fast before the participants had started on their respective diets and, later, at the end of the 8-week study period.

Fruit and vegetable intake may be key
The serum biomarkers that the team assessed were: high-sensitivity cardiac troponin I, N-terminal pro–B-type natriuretic peptide, and high-sensitivity C-reactive protein.

Troponin helps regulate the contractions of the heart muscle, and overly high levels of this protein can indicate heart damage.

High levels of C-reactive protein in the bloodstream can indicate inflammation, while very high levels of pro–B-type natriuretic peptide are a marker of heart failure.

After assessing the serum samples taken before and after the 8-week dietary interventions, the team found that people who had followed either the DASH diet or the other fruit- and vegetable-rich diet consistently had significantly lower concentrations of two biomarkers — troponin and pro–B-type natriuretic peptide — than their peers who had followed the typical American diet.

This, the investigators suggest, indicates better heart health in those groups. Levels of the two biomarkers did not differ among the people who had followed either of the plant-rich diets.

C-reactive protein levels — which can indicate the presence of inflammation — were not affected by any of the three diets.

While it is unclear which aspects of the DASH and the other plant-rich diets may have benefited heart health, the study authors do have a hypothesis. They write: Nevertheless, they caution, “Further research is needed to confirm whether similar diets can improve cardiac function in adults with established heart failure.”

Is Wheatgrass Good for You?

Wheatgrass juice may look like what you’d get if you put your lawn trimmings in a blender. But fans say it can strengthen the immune system, detoxify the body, and ward off disease. Folk medicine practitioners once used wheatgrass for everything from treating constipation to easing the pain of rheumatism.

What Is Wheatgrass?
Wheatgrass is the young grass of the wheat plant, Triticum aestivum. It grows in temperate regions throughout Europe and the United States and can live indoors or outdoors. Many people grow their own wheatgrass by putting wheat seeds in water and then harvesting the leaves.

Wheatgrass is a natural source of vitamins and minerals (a few of which are antioxidants) including:

Vitamins A, E, C, K and B6

How Is Wheatgrass Used by Fans?
The leaves are tough to digest, so they’re usually crushed and squeezed to make juice. Wheatgrass leaves also can be dried and made into tablets or capsules. Some people mix wheatgrass with water and use it as an enema to cleanse the digestive system. Others eat raw wheatgrass because they believe that cooking foods destroys the natural enzymes that provide the real health kick.

Can Wheatgrass Treat What Ails You?
Wheatgrass believers use it to try and combat a number of everyday health conditions, including colds, coughs, fevers, digestive problems, and skin conditions. Wheatgrass also has been used to potentially prevent and treat more serious conditions, from cancer to AIDS. Those who swear by it say that the potent ingredient in wheatgrass is chlorophyll, the pigment that gives plants their green color. They say chlorophyll acts like hemoglobin (the protein in red blood cells that transports oxygen) and increases oxygen levels in the body. Any green plant food you have eaten over the years, such as spinach, parsley, arugula, has also been contributing chlorophyll.

Does Wheatgrass Live Up to the Claims?
Despite all the health claims, there is very little, if any, evidence that wheatgrass actually works to detoxify or prevent or cure disease. Most of what little research has been conducted focuses on the effects of wheatgrass on the digestive system. Here’s what some of those studies have found wheatgrass may do:

Improve symptoms of ulcerative colitis. A 2002 study by researchers in Israel showed that treatment with wheatgrass juice eased the symptoms of ulcerative colitis — inflammation of the colon. More research needs to be done, but it does point to possible benefits from wheatgrass.

Reduce chemotherapy side effects. Although there isn’t any scientific evidence that wheatgrass can shrink tumors or increase survival in cancer patients, a preliminary study of 60 women with breast cancer did find that wheatgrass reduced some of the harmful effects of chemotherapy without altering the effectiveness of the treatment.

What Are the Risks of Wheatgrass?
Although wheatgrass is considered safe, some people have reported side effects after using it, especially in high doses. They have ranged from mild (headaches and nausea) to more serious allergic reactions (hives and swelling of the throat). Because most people eat wheatgrass raw, there is also the rare chance that it can be contaminated with bacteria or other organisms from the soil.

Should I Use Wheatgrass?
There isn’t really any harm in trying a small amount of wheatgrass from a reputable company. Children, pregnant or nursing women, and anyone who has compromised immunity should avoid it because of the potential for bacteria.

7 Signs You’re Not Eating Enough Calories

Reducing calories is a key part of almost any weight-loss plan. But it’s possible to go too far with cutting calories, and that won’t help you! Here are some warning signs that you’re not eating enough calories.

You’re Exhausted
Calories = energy. When you fall short, you’re more likely to feel wiped out. If you’re feeling tired much earlier than normal, or if you’re having trouble getting out of bed even after eight solid hours of sleep, take a look at what you’re putting on your plate during the day. If it’s extra tough to drag yourself through your day-to-day activities, that’s another indicator you’re not meeting your basic needs. (Find out some other reasons you might be tired.)

Your Workouts Are Suffering
Having fuel in the tank is essential for powering through your workouts. If you notice that you’re losing steam quickly or if you’re struggling to lift weights that would normally be no sweat, look at what you’re putting in your mouth before and after you hit the gym. Consuming some carbs pre-workout and replenishing afterwards with a combo of protein and carbs will support recovery. That will allow your body to repair itself and build muscle to help you see the results you long for. (Learn how to recover from a tough workout.)

You Can’t Focus
When you’re low on calories (and energy), your mind may feel foggy. If that 80-calorie, fat-free yogurt barely gets you through the morning meeting, add some nuts for staying power. Or swap in a breakfast that provides a balance of protein, complex carbs, and fat. An egg on whole-grain toast or even a piece of fruit with some almond butter will give you a leg up. It’s called “brain food” for a reason.

You’re Always Hangry
If you’re consistently hungry and irritable, it may be a sign that you’re just not eating enough. Take a look to see if perhaps you could try slightly more substantial meals and snacks. Aim for a balance of protein, complex carbs, and healthy fats within your calorie needs to provide stable energy.

Your Period Is Off—or MIA
Restricting calories too much can lead to changes in hormone levels, which can cause your menstrual cycle to go out of whack or take a hiatus. Adequate nutrition is important for normal hormone function, so a missed period when you’re not pregnant or a sudden change if you’re super-regular is a loud and clear signal that something is not right. Check in with your doctor. (Read some answers to other period questions.)

The Scale Isn’t Budging
A sudden drop in calories can trick your body into thinking you’re lost in the wilderness instead of just trying to fit into a bridesmaid’s dress. So it goes into “starvation mode,” clinging to every calorie it can. This makes it harder to lose weight over time because it slows down your metabolism. If you’re not losing weight on, say, 1,400 calories per day, try 1,600 calories for a couple weeks and reevaluate. (Find out 6 reasons you aren’t losing weight.)

You Just Can’t Stick to the Plan
If your low-calorie diet plan feels impossible to stick to, it may not be just a matter of willpower. It might be that it’s not the right plan for you. Even a small increase in calories may feel more sustainable. Ideally, the diet that helps you reach your goal should look pretty similar to the one that will help you maintain that success over time. When you enjoy what you eat and feel energized and satisfied, you’re more likely to stick with an overall healthy diet that supports your long-term health goals.

MS: Dietary interventions may ‘calm down the immune system’

A study in mice has shown that a change in diet may slow diseases that involve the activation of the immune system, such as multiple sclerosis (MS). Could the findings lead to improved treatments in humans?
In the United States, nearly 1 million people over the age of 18 are living with a diagnosis of MS, according to estimates.

MS is the most common of the inflammatory disorders with an autoimmune component, which refers to the immune system attacking and damaging healthy tissue.

In MS, the immune system attacks the myelin sheaths that protect the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, disrupting nerves’ messages to and from the brain.

The result can involve muscle weakness, numbness, trouble with balance and coordination, and cognitive decline, all of which get worse over time.

Doctors most frequently diagnose MS in young adults, although the diagnosis can be made at any age.

At present, no medical treatment can prevent or slow MS without greatly increasing the risk of infection or cancer. But what if dietary changes could delay the disease’s onset and progression in high risk individuals?

10 Healthy Pizza Recipes

Forget the delivery dude. These easy pizza recipes ditch the grease and amp up the flavor with good-for-you ingredients, making them perfect for your next get-together.

Maple-Walnut Pizza with Chicken Sausage

When you need to satisfy that sausage craving, opt for the chicken variety over pork to cut calories and fat. And make sure your cheese doesn’t have less than 33 percent fat to avoid a rubbery texture and get that oh-so-gooey one.

Makes: 6 servings
Prep: 15 mins
Total Time: 35 mins

Chickpea Pizza with Sausage and Peppers

For a Mediterranean twist, opt for chickpea flour. Unlike the wheat kind, it’s gluten-free and packed with protein. Plus it makes a crispy crust, so it’s way easier to prep than regular pizza dough.

Makes: 4 servings
Prep: 30 mins
Total Time: 45 mins

Strawberry-Bacon Pizza

Because who are we to deny you bacon? Pair it with fresh strawberries for a sweet-and-savory combo you’ll fall for fast.

Makes: 4 servings
Prep: 20 mins
Cook: 30 mins

Read more

10 Healthy Grilled Cheese Recipes That Will Make Your Mouth Water

These gooey, melty, healthy grilled cheese sandwiches need no introduction, so we’ll just say, make ’em. All of them. They’re good for you!

More Cheese, Please

craving comfort food? We give you full permission to dive right in to these 10 delicious, gooey, cheesy sandwiches. With fresh fruits and veggies tucked inside, these healthy grilled cheese recipes prove that kid-friendly favorites can be totally appropriate for adults, too. And don’t skimp on the triple creme—the latest science says full-fat cheese is totally fine.

Sweet Potato and Kale Grilled Cheese

The name alone tells you this stacked sandwich is healthy. And the taste proves it’s delicious too. The healthy grilled cheese sandwich only gets better when you add caramelized onions and fresh herbs to the pile. It’ll be your new go-to hand-held dinner.
(Related:10 Healthy Sandwich Recipes Under 300 Calories)

Balsamic Blueberry Grilled Cheese

This gooey sandwich is almost too pretty to eat—almost. Frozen blueberries are reduced along with sugar and vinegar to create a jam-like spread. This healthy grilled cheese might warrant a bib to prevent stains, but it is *totally* worth it. (BTW, frozen fruits are one of the Packaged foods that are Surprisingly healty.)Get your greens via a generous handful of baby spinach or arugula for a bite that’s bursting with flavor.

Read more