Fat-Fighting Foods

You’ve probably heard about green tea. Claims about the benefits of green tea range from helping you to sleep to increasing metabolism to helping improve your mood. There is a basis for the metabolism claim — catechins. Catechins is a plant chemical that boosts your metabolism. To enjoy the fat-fighting benefits of green tea, drink several cups of hot tea each day. Replace your regular soda or coffee with cream and sugar with a cup of hot green tea. You will enjoy the benefits of catechins metabolism boost while cutting out extra calories from sodas and coffee additives.┬áHot peppers contain a chemical called capsaicin, which briefly boosts your metabolism and curbs your appetite. You might eat less when you eat spicy foods.

Grapefruit does not have a magic ingredient despite the fad diet claims from a few years ago. Grapefruit does contain plenty of soluble fiber, which takes longer to digest and may help you feel fuller longer. Raw fruits and vegetables of all kinds help you feel fuller longer and are loaded with vitamins and minerals. Raw vegetables and fruits are generally low in calories, high in fiber and loaded with nutrients your body needs. Trade potato chips and other calorie loaded snack foods for a plate of raw vegetables.

Use spices in your foods to boost flavor without added calories. Cinnamon helps to curb your appetite and may stabilize your blood sugar. Stir some cinnamon into coffee, tea, yogurt and milk drinks.

Food for Men’s Health

Photo Credit: Matti Paavonen CC-BY-SA-3.0

Men’s nutritional needs differ in some ways from women. Just as women need more folic acid and iron during pregnancy or eating a low-fat diet may reduce the risk of breast cancer, men have specific nutritional needs, too. Nutrients to build muscle mass, reduce the risk of prostate cancer or to increase stamina can be found in the foods men eat. A nutritious, balanced diet, exercise and avoiding alcohol and tobacco are the best ways to stay healthy. Some foods contain more of the nutrients that contribute to a healthy male body. 
Zinc is an essential antioxidant trace element that the body uses to repair cell damage. A diet that includes sufficient zinc may help reduce the risk of prostate and other cancers due to its role in cell repair. Oysters are rich in zinc. Other foods that are rich in zinc include lean beef, legumes, pork and shellfish like crabs and lobster.
Fatty fish provide healthy omega-3 fatty acids that benefit the circulation, the heart and the immune system. Omega-3 fatty acids are also a powerful anti-inflammatory that can help reduce fat levels in the blood and improve muscle pain.  In addition to omega-3 fatty acids, fish also provides vitamin D which is essential to bone health. Salmon, tuna, mackerel and sardines are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Walnuts, canola oil, and eggs also provide omega-3 fatty acids.
The foods we eat contribute to the cholesterol levels in our blood. High LDL (bad) cholesterol can lead to many health problems, including heart disease and some cancers. Stanols are a substance that occur naturally in many fruits and vegetables. Stanols help to lower LDL cholesterol. Plant stanols are found in foods like granola, cheese, soy, orange juice, whole grain bread and even in dark chocolates. 
Vitamin C is an antioxidant nutrient that not only helps boost the immune system, but also helps keep the skin healthy. Vitamin C is essential to collagen tissue health and repair of skin cells. Bright colored fruits and vegetables are richest in vitamin C. Vegetables also contain beta-carotene and potassium, which may aid in reducing the risk of an enlarged prostate. 

Are You Undoing Your Diet With Beverages?

Photo Credit: USDA PD

Cutting back on calories and exercising more are essential to losing weight and getting fit. If you are eating less and exercising more but you aren’t losing weight as fast as you think you should be, examine your beverages. Most of us are careful about the foods we eat, but beverages can undo your diet, too. Some beverages can ruin your diet by adding empty calories, which can be stored as fat. It may seem obvious to switch to diet soda or drink sugar-free beverages, but other drinks can be just as diet-destroying as sugary sodas. 
A bottle of fruit juice may contain as many calories as a regular soda. The trade-off is that fruit juice is rich in nutrients that your body needs. Fruit “drinks” and fruit “cocktails” often contain as little as 10% real fruit juice. Select only 100% fruit juices without added sugar. Vegetables juices are as nutritious as fruit juice but contain about half the calories. The trade-off with vegetable juice is, instead of sugar, vegetable juices often contain a lot of sodium. Look for low-sodium or no-added-salt versions of your favorite vegetable juice. Read the label on your favorite juice drink to find a blend that does not contain extra sugar or salt. 
A cool smoothie seems like it would be low in calories and high in nutrition, but this is not always the case. Restaurants may use honey, corn syrup or even ice cream to sweeten a fruit smoothie and send your caloric intake through the roof. Your best option is to blend your own smoothies at home so that you control the ingredients to avoid extra sugar and empty calories. Blend some blueberries, a banana and some strawberries with skim milk for a delicious, low-calorie, high fiber, nutritious beverage. 
Plain coffee contains zero calories and has antioxidants that are beneficial. When you add whipped cream, flavored syrups and sugar you have a diet bomb in a cup. Specialty and fancy coffee drinks can contain almost 600 calories per cup. If you don’t like plain coffee, use low-calorie flavorings and artificial sweeteners to avoid extra calories. Green tea is another zero calorie drink to consider. Water is the best choice to stay hydrated and cut calories. Drink a couple of glasses of water before dinner to help you feel more full to avoid over-eating.