The dreaded cold and flu season rears its ugly head every winter. Doctors recommend regular hand washing, a daily multivitamin, and adequate sleep for fending off a nasty cold or flu. Further amp up your body’s defenses by adding in these 5 common foods and nutrients into your daily routine:
- Chicken Soup: Your mom was right – chicken soup really does help when you’re feeling crumby. In addition to hydrating your body, chicken soup makes your nose run, which helps rid your nasal passages of viruses and bacteria. Slurp away!
- Yogurt: “Good bacteria” found in yogurt actually helps your immune system function better and aids in digestion. For the most powerful probiotics, look for yogurts labeled with a “Live and Active Cultures” seal from the National Yogurt Association.
- Green Tea: Green tea is full of beneficial plant antioxidants known as “polyphenols.” Research suggests that these little wonders may actually kill influenza viruses. For best results, use just-below-boiling water and steep your tea bag for 1-2 minutes. To minimize bitterness, try adding a little lemon or honey, but avoid adding milk as it binds to the polyphenols and renders them ineffective.
- Vitamin D: Vitamin D acts like an assassin in your body by detecting and destroying harmful bacteria and viruses. One study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition revealed that children who took daily vitamin D supplements (approximately 1,200 IU) were 40% less likely to acquire the common flu virus when compared to kids who did not supplement with the vitamin. While you can get vitamin D from foods such as fatty fish and fortified milk, most experts recommend a daily supplement for optimal results.
- Soluble Fiber: There are two types of fiber – soluble and insoluble. While both are extremely important for health, soluble fiber seems to be especially beneficial for the immune system. A study in Brain, Behavior, and Immunity demonstrated that mice who ate a diet rich in soluble fiber over a six-week period recovered from bacterial infection in half the time it took mice who consumed a diet consisting of mixed fiber. Researchers suggest adults should aim for 25-38 grams of total fiber per day, paying special attention to foods rich in soluble fiber, such as citrus fruits, apples, carrots, beans, and oats.
Nothing warms you up on a cold night like a mug of steaming Hot Chocolate. This recipe for Spiced Hot Chocolate adds in extra heat to warm you up even faster:
Spiced Hot Chocolate
Recipe Yield: 4 servings, 1 cup each
Total Cook Time: 5 minutes
Homemade Hot Chocolate Mix
Makes about 5 ½ cups dry mix
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 cup cocoa powder
- 2 ½ cups powdered milk
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
Make it Spiced:
- 4 cups 1% milk
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 pinch cayenne pepper
- 4 cinnamon sticks
- In a large bowl, combine sugar, cocoa, powdered milk, salt, and cornstarch. Mix until all ingredients are incorporated evenly.
- Fill four mugs halfway with hot chocolate mix. Store leftover mix in an air-tight container for future use.
- Heat a medium-sized pot over medium heat. Add in milk, nutmeg, and cayenne pepper. Stir until heated, being careful not to scald milk.
- Pour approximately 1 cup of milk mixture into each mug. Mix until spiced milk and hot chocolate mix are evenly blended. Add a cinnamon stick into each mug and serve.
Per serving: 175 calories; 4 g fat ( 2 g sat , 1 g mono ); 12 mg cholesterol; 30 g carbohydrates; 8 g protein; 1 g fiber; 161 mg sodium; 487 mg potassium.
We all know that diet and exercise are essential for weight loss, but did you also know that the amount of sleep you get each night also plays an important role? A study in the American Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine recommends that in order to maintain a healthy weight, adults should get between 8 and 9 hours of sleep each night. The rational behind this recommendation is that lack of sleep is thought to interfere with hormones such as leptin and insulin, which play a role in regulating appetite and body weight. Needless to say, lack of sleep may also result in one being too tired to exercise, as well as potentially turning to food to cope with irritation associated with poor sleep habits.
So what’s the big deal? Just go to bed earlier and you’ll be fine, right? Unfortunately, it might not be that easy. It’s reported that 50-70 million Americans suffer from insomnia on a regular basis. While engaging in regular physical activity can certainly promote better sleeping habits, there are also many common food remedies out there that are thought to help. The question is – do they really work? Read on to find out more about the research behind these common sleep remedies and find out if they might work for you the next time you’re experiencing a sleepless night:
Remedy #1: Sip on a mug of warm milk before bedtime.
The thought behind this common sleep remedy is that milk contains tryptophan; an amino acid also found it foods such as turkey. Previous research suggested that tryptophan releases serotonin from the brain, which results in one becoming sleepy. Unfortunately, science now shows that when tryptophan-rich foods like milk are ingested, they have little effect on sleep. The thought is that other amino acids present in the foods might compete to get into the brain, creating less of an effect that pure tryptophan would have. While warm milk at bedtime may help relax you, there is little evidence to suggest that it will help release sleep-inducing serotonin.
Remedy #2: Have a snack before bedtime.
It depends on when and what you eat. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests that eating a meal rich in carbohydrates with a high glycemic index (think breads, rice, pasta, and cereals) at dinner may help you fall asleep faster at bedtime. The key here is to eat these foods a few hours before bedtime, which gives your body plenty of time to break them down and leave you feeling drowsy. Eating these foods right before bedtime will likely spike your energy, and the feeling of sleepiness won’t come around for another few hours.
Remedy #3: Sip on some herbal tea.
Teas containing chamomile, lemon balm, hops, and passionflower are all thought to relax the body and leave one feeling sleepy. In fact, you can find a lot of these ingredients in tea blends that actually suggest that they promote sleep. Unfortunately, these ingredients have yet to be evaluated in clinical trials in the American Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, so more research is needed on these herbal teas. The good thing behind these ingredients is that they are unlikely to have an opposite effect on sleep habits, so sip away! Just remember that lots of liquids before bedtime may result in lots of late night trips to the bathroom.
Remedy #4: Pop a “sleep supplement.”
Have you ever gone to the drug store looking for a supplement that helps promote better sleep? The shelves are full of them! The National Institutes of Health reports that these products are so popular, that 1.6 million people consider them to be tried and true remedies for insomnia. Unfortunately, there is little to no scientific evidence that suggests that these supplements have any effect on inducing sleep. The one exception is valerian root, however, there is still little research that suggests what exact formulation of valerian root is best. The ultimate recommendation: save your money on sleep supplements and wait until standardized formulations of valerian root become available.
Remedy #5: Indulge in a night cap.
While a glass of wine before bedtime may help you drift off to sleep faster, a bottle of wine before bedtime will likely make you wake up several times during the night. Excessive alcohol consumption is thought to suppress the REM (rapid eye movement) cycle of sleep, which is critical to feeling rested and rejuvenated in the morning. The bottom line: drink moderately (if at all), and avoid drinking right before bedtime.
Remedy #6: Avoid caffeine at all costs.
We all respond differently to caffeine – some of us can sip on coffee all day and fall asleep just fine, while others have cup in the afternoon and are up for the rest of the night. If you are sensitive to caffeine, you may want to limit your intake of all sources (not just coffee!). While the majority of us get our caffeine from coffee, we also get quite a bit from soft drinks, tea, and chocolate. The recommendation: if you are becoming less tolerant to caffeine, limit your major sources to the morning hours, or try cutting it out altogether.
The dreaded diet has long been defined by cutting back on food intake so that we eat fewer calories and lose more weight. However, the concept of Volumetrics, developed by Barbara Rolls, Ph.D., suggests that we can actually eat more food, and still lose weight. This idea may sound completely backwards, but the diet is based on choosing foods that are lower in caloric density. This enables one to eat larger volumes of low calorie foods, while staying within one’s calorie allotment. Sounds great, right? Check out these tips for putting the concept of Volumetrics into practice:
- Add Liquids: Adding water or broth to foods instantly increases volume, without boosting the calories. A half of a cup of vegetables may not seem like a very satisfying snack, but when you add a cup or water or broth it suddenly becomes vegetable soup. One study in Obesity Research demonstrated that women who consumed two servings of low calorie soup daily for a year actually ended up losing 50% more weight than women who ate the same amount of calories in an energy-dense snack.
- Pack in the Veggies: Vegetables are a great source of that magic nutrient known as fiber. Fiber is extremely beneficial when losing weight, because the body is unable to fully digest it, meaning that fewer calories are absorbed. Researchers in South Korea tested this idea by feeding women one of two plates of equal volume: one containing only white rice, and one containing white rice with vegetables. The result? Women who ate the plate consisting of white rice and vegetables ended up consuming 41% fewer calories and felt more satisfied than the group who ate only white rice.
- Puff it up with Air: Adding air to foods expands the volume, which tricks the brain into thinking that it’s eating more food because of the increase in size. Researchers at Penn State demonstrated this concept by feeding groups two similar-sized snacks: one with original calorie dense Cheetos, and the other with more voluminous Cheetos Puffs. The group that ate the puffs consumed 73% more volume and 70 fewer calories.
- Add a Serving of Salad: Including a side salad with your meal allows you to eat more food without packing in extra calories. For best results, keep it simple with veggies and leafy greens and limit adding in nuts, seeds and cheese. If you decide to make your salad your main course, opt for lean protein additions such as boneless, skinless chicken breast, grilled shrimp or salmon, tofu, or beans to help you feel more satisfied.
- Keep Fat In-Check: One bite of fat contains double the calories of one bite of carbs or protein, which adds up quickly! Keep an eye on fat content by choosing lower-fat options of your favorite foods, such as lean cuts of beef, skinless poultry, low or non-fat dairy products, and always trim excess fat from meat before cooking.
French Onion Soup is the perfect meal for a cold winter night. Try this super simple and heartier version of what’s sure to be a family favorite.
French Onion Soup
Recipe Yield: 2 servings, 1 ½ cups each
Total Cook Time: 30 minutes
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 small sweet onion, sliced
- 1 leek, white and light green parts only, chopped
- 2 tablespoons chopped garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme, or 1/4 teaspoon dried
- 1 tablespoon sherry, (see Note)
- Freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 1 14-ounce can reduced-sodium beef broth
- 1 8-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh chives, or scallion greens
- 2 slices whole-wheat country bread, toasted
- 1/3 cup shredded Gruyere, or fontina cheese
1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion, stir to coat and cover. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring often, until the onion is soft and starting to brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Add leek, garlic and thyme and cook, uncovered, stirring often, until the leek begins to soften, 3 to 4 minutes.
2. Add sherry and pepper. Increase heat to medium-high and cook, stirring, until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 30 seconds. Stir in broth and chickpeas; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 3 minutes.
3. Remove from the heat and stir in chives (or scallion greens)
Place bread in the bottom of 2 bowls; top with cheese. Ladle the soup over the bread and cheese and serve immediately.
Per serving: 484 calories; 15 g fat ( 5 g sat , 8 g mono ); 23 mg cholesterol; 66 g carbohydrates; 19 g protein; 9 g fiber; 608 mg sodium; 504 mg potassium.
Science has shown that there are many factors play a role in weight management, such as physical activity, sleep, screen time, and of course eating habits. A study conducted by Harvard researchers in the New England Journal of Medicine looked at all of these factors over a four year period, and found that diet was the most influential factor on weight maintenance. These scientists actually went on to identify the top 10 foods that seem to have the biggest impact on one’s weight, whether it be through promoting weight loss, or even resulting in weight gain.
The Top Five Foods Promoting Weight Gain:
Number 5: Processed meats.
Number 4: Unprocessed red meats.
Number 3: Sugar-sweetened beverages.
Number 2: Potatoes.
Number 1: Potato chips.
The Top Five Foods Promoting Weight Loss:
Number 5: Yogurt.
Number 4: Nuts.
Number 3: Fruit.
Number 2: Whole grains.
Number 1: Vegetables.
The key take-away message: Rather than focusing on total calorie and fat intake, it may be more important to focus on the nutritional quality of the diet. Foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains and nuts are an excellent source of fiber, which is a key player in promoting weight loss. They also provide better nutrition quality, in that they are rich in beneficial vitamins, minerals, and heart-healthy fats. On the other hand, many of the foods that promote weight gain provide little or no vitamins and minerals and contain large amounts of fat, saturated fat, and empty calories.
Article source: http://www.eatingwell.com/nutrition_health/diet_reports_information/10_foods_that_drive_weight_gai?page=12
Do you have a hankering for something sweet, but want something healthier? Try this recipe for Carmelized Spiced Pears. It tastes great with a dollop of nonfat vanilla frozen yogurt, or even makes for an excellent addition to your morning oatmeal!
Carmelized Spiced Pears
Recipe Yield: 6 servings, 1/2 cup each
Total Cook Time: 25 minutes
- 3 ripe but firm pears (about 1 1/2 pounds), cut into 1/4-inch slices
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 tablespoons granulated or light brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- Pinch of salt
- Toss pears with lemon juice in a medium bowl. Melt butter in a large deep skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat; stir in the pears. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and cook, stirring once halfway through, for 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile combine sugar, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and salt in a small bowl. After 10 minutes, stir the sugar mixture into the pears. Increase the heat to medium and cook, stirring often, until the pears are tender and glazed, 4 to 6 minutes, depending on the type and firmness of the pears. Serve warm.
Per serving: 108 calories; 4 g fat ( 2 g sat , 1 g mono ); 10 mg cholesterol; 20 g carbohydrates; 6 g added sugars; 0 g protein; 3 g fiber; 26 mg sodium; 107 mg potassium.
Recipe Source: http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes/caramelized_spiced_pears.html
While science has yet to show that any spice cures disease, there’s compelling evidence that several may help manage some chronic conditions (though it’s always smart to talk with your doctor). And of course, seasoning your dishes with spices allows you to use less of other ingredients linked with health problems, such as salt, added sugars and sources of saturated fat. What’s not to love? Here we’ve gathered eight of the healthiest spices and herbs enjoyed around the world.
Pairs well with: Squashes; parsley; rosemary; thyme; walnuts
May help: Preserve memory, soothe sore throats.
Recipe to try: Sweet Potato & Turnip Mash with Sage Butter and More Sage Recipes
Today’s herbalists recommend sipping sage tea for upset stomachs and sore throats; one study found that spraying sore throats with a sage solution gave effective pain relief. And whoever gave the herb the wisdom-connoting “sage” moniker may have been onto something: preliminary research suggests the herb may improve some symptoms of early Alzheimer’s disease by preventing a key enzyme from destroying acetylcholine, a brain chemical involved in memory and learning. In another study, college students who took sage extracts in capsule form performed significantly better on memory tests, and their moods improved.
Pairs well with: Potatoes; citrus; honey; garlic; onions; chile peppers
May help: Enhance mental focus, fight foodborne bacteria.
Recipe to try: Rosemary Flatbread with Yellow Split Pea Spread and More Rosemary Recipes
In ancient Greece, scholars wore rosemary garlands to help them study—and one recent study found that people performed better on memory and alertness tests when mists of aromatic rosemary oil were piped into their study cubicles. Rosemary is often used in marinades for meats and poultry, and there’s scientific wisdom behind that tradition: rosmarinic acid and other antioxidant compounds in the herb fight bacteria and prevent meat from spoiling, and may even make cooked meats healthier. In March, Kansas State University researchers reported that adding rosemary extracts to ground beef helped prevent the formation of heterocyclic amines (HCAs)—cancer-causing compounds produced when meats are grilled, broiled or fried.
Pairs well with: Garlic; citrus; ingredients in curry powder, such as coriander & cumin
May help: Quell inflammation, inhibit tumors.
Recipe to try: Golden Turmeric Latkes with Applesauce and More Turmeric Recipes
In India, turmeric paste is applied to wounds to speed healing; people sip turmeric tea to relieve colds and respiratory problems. Modern medicine confirms some solid-gold health benefits as well; most are associated with curcumin, a compound in turmeric that has potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Curcumin has been shown to help relieve pain of arthritis, injuries and dental procedures; it’s also being studied for its potential in managing heart disease, diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease.
Researcher Bharat Aggarwal is bullish on curcumin’s potential as a cancer treatment, particularly in colon, prostate and breast cancers; preliminary studies have found that curcumin can inhibit tumor cell growth and suppress enzymes that activate carcinogens.
4. Chile Pepper
Pairs well with: Ginger; chocolate; beans; beef
May help: Boost metabolism.
Recipe to try: Paprika & Red Pepper Soup with Pistachio Puree and More Chile Pepper Recipes
Chiles, which create sensations of heat, from mild to fiery, are especially prized in hot climates since, ironically, the spice helps trigger the body’s natural cooling systems. Studies show that capsaicin—a pungent compound in hot chiles—revs up the body’s metabolism and may boost fat burning, but the jury is still out on whether that translates to long-term weight loss. Recent research found that capsinoids, similar but gentler chemicals found in milder chile hybrids, have the same effects—so even tamer sweet paprika packs a healthy punch. Capsaicin may also lower risk of ulcers by boosting the ability of stomach cells to resist infection by ulcer-causing bacteria and help the heart by keeping “bad” LDL cholesterol from turning into a more lethal, artery-clogging form.
Pairs well with: Soy sauce; citrus; chile peppers; garlic
May help: Soothe an upset stomach, fight arthritis pain.
Recipe to try: Ginger-Marinated Leg of Lamb with Israeli Couscous & Kale and More Ginger Recipes
Traditionally used to relieve colds and stomach troubles, ginger is rich in inflammation-fighting compounds, such as gingerols, which some experts believe may hold promise in fighting some cancers and reducing arthritis pain. In a recent study, people who took ginger capsules daily for 11 days reported 25 percent less muscle pain when they performed exercises designed to strain their muscles (compared with a similar group taking placebo capsules). Another study found that ginger extract injections helped relieve osteoarthritis pain of the knee. And ginger’s reputation as a stomach soother seems deserved: studies show ginger extracts can help reduce nausea caused by morning sickness or following surgery or chemotherapy, though it’s less effective for motion sickness.
Pairs well with: Cloves; nutmeg; allspice; chocolate; fruit; nuts
May help: Stabilize blood sugar.
Recipe to try: Cinnamon Bread Pudding with Cranberry-Raisin Sauce and More Cinnamon Recipes
Cinnamon was prized by King Solomon and used by the ancient Greeks and Romans to boost appetite and relieve indigestion. A few studies suggest that adding cinnamon to food—up to a teaspoon a day, usually given in capsule form—might help people with type 2 diabetes better control their blood sugar, by lowering post-meal blood-sugar spikes. Other studies suggest the effects are limited at best.
Pairs well with: Shellfish, rice, tomatoes, garlic, onion
May help: Boost your mood, relieve symptoms of PMS
Recipe to try: Winter Squash Risotto and More Saffron Recipes
Saffron has long been used in traditional Persian medicine as a mood lifter, usually steeped into a medicinal tea or used to prepare rice. Research from Iran’s Roozbeh Psychiatric Hospital at Tehran University of Medical Sciences has found that saffron may help to relieve symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and depression. In one study, 75% of women with PMS who were given saffron capsules daily reported that their PMS symptoms (such as mood swings and depression) declined by at least half, compared with only 8 percent of women who didn’t take saffron.
Pairs well with: lemon zest, mint, garlic, capers, fish, beef
May help: Prevent cancer
Recipe to try: Rustic Parsley & Orzo Soup with Walnuts
University of Missouri scientists found that this herb can actually inhibit breast cancer-cell growth, reported Holly Pevzner in the September/October 2011 issue of EatingWell Magazine. In the study, animals that were given apigenin, a compound abundant in parsley (and in celery), boosted their resistance to developing cancerous tumors. Experts recommend adding a couple pinches of minced fresh parsley to your dishes daily.
Article information taken directly from: http://www.eatingwell.com/nutrition_health/nutrition_news_information/8_of_the_worlds_healthiest_spices
It’s true what they say: Breakfast IS the most important meal of the day! The next time you find yourself in a morning frenzy, try this quick and easy recipe for a delicious and nutritious breakfast sandwich. The best part? It only takes about 15 minutes to make!
Egg & Salmon Sandwich
Recipe Yield: 1 sandwich
Total Cook Time: 15 minutes
- 1/2 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped red onion
- 2 large egg whites, beaten
- Pinch of salt
- 1/2 teaspoon capers, rinsed and chopped (optional)
- 1 ounce smoked salmon
- 1 slice tomato
- 1 whole-wheat English muffin, split and toasted
- Heat oil in a small nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring, until it begins to soften, about 1 minute. Add egg whites, salt and capers (if using) and cook, stirring constantly, until whites are set, about 30 seconds.
- To make the sandwich, layer the egg whites, smoked salmon and tomato on English muffin.
Per serving: 214 calories; 5 g fat ( 1 g sat , 2 g mono ); 7 mg cholesterol; 25 g carbohydrates; 19 g protein; 3 g fiber; 670 mg sodium; 221 mg potassium.
Recipe Source: http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes/egg_salmon_sandwich.html
When you’re stressed, certain scents and foods can actually help calm you down. Here are 7 of the best stress fighting foods and scents according to Eating Well.com:
1. Sniff an Apple: If you like the smell of green apples, embracing their aroma may help alleviate headaches, according to preliminary research. In one small study, people with chronic migraines reported some pain relief after inhaling green-apple fragrance at the start of a headache.
2. Sip on Tea: Drinking caffeinated black, green or oolong tea varieties may elicit a more alert state of mind, says a study in The Journal of Nutrition. Researchers think theanine—an amino acid present in these tea varieties—may work synergistically with caffeine to improve attention and focus. To reap the benefits, the study’s results suggest drinking five to six (8-ounce) cups of tea daily.
3. Inhale Lavender: In one 2010 study, British researchers randomly assigned 340 dental patients to one of two groups. In the first, they diffused lavender oil with a ceramic candle warmer before the start of morning and afternoon clinics. With the second group the lavender oil was replaced with water. Their findings: the group exposed to the lavender scent reported significantly lower anxiety levels. And if it works during dental appointments, who’s to say it can’t work during other stressful times?
4. Cut into a Coconut: When you’re stressed, the scent of coconut may blunt your natural “fight or flight” response, slowing your heart rate. People who breathed in coconut fragrance in a small pilot study at Columbia University saw their blood pressure recover more quickly after a challenging task. The researchers speculate that inhaling a pleasant scent enhances alertness while soothing our response to stress.
5. Pack Some Peppermint: Overwhelmed by decadent holiday spreads? A little peppermint may help you stave off the urge to overdo it. When researchers at Wheeling Jesuit University in West Virginia evaluated hunger levels of peppermint sniffers versus nonsniffers, they found that those who wafted peppermint oil under their nose every two hours rated their hunger level lower, experienced fewer cravings and ate significantly less. “While the greatest effect from peppermint comes through inhaling the scent, peppermint gum, mints and flavored water have been found to produce similar effects,” says Bryan Raudenbush, Ph.D., lead researcher and associate professor of psychology.
6. Nibble on Chocolate: Recent research shows eating dark chocolate can help reduce levels of cortisol and catecholamines (hormones associated with stress), especially for those with high anxiety. Go easy, though: chocolate is calorically dense—eating too much can pack on the pounds and that can lead to more stress.
7. Give in to Carb Cravings: Eating carbohydrates can stimulate the release of serotonin, your feel-good brain chemical. A study in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that adults on a high-carb, low-fat diet were happier over the long term than those on a low-carb diet. Opt for whole grains, such as quinoa and oatmeal, which deliver more fiber and nutrients than refined ones.
Article information taken directly from: http://www.eatingwell.com/nutrition_health/nutrition_news_information/7_stress_busters_soothing_foods_and_calming_scents?sssdmh=dm17.631122&esrc=nwewd111512_B