Feel like a drink? Maybe you want to hold off on that idea

I try never to give medical advice on this blog because that advice changes so quickly and so frequently. I always have my doubts about any medical advice about which foods are healthy and which are not, or which are so-called superfoods and which are not.

I was reminded of why I’m a doubter by a recent story knocking down the idea that moderate drinking it ok, health-wise.

Put down that beer…at least until the next study comes out.

Headlined Study challenges health benefits of moderate drinking  this Associated Press reports that “A new study challenges the idea that a drink or two a day could actually be good for you. Continue reading “Feel like a drink? Maybe you want to hold off on that idea”

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The latest diet fad — the 21 Day Meal Plan

My blanket advice about any diet plan that promises amazing results is to avoid it. Any “diet plan” will not help you long-term because it’s by nature a short-term fix for problems with how you eat.

I have opted to cut salt, fat and sugar from my daily food intake because those are thought to have negative impacts on my heart health. Heart disease has plagued me since my first stent in 2012. I’ve seen cutting salt impact my blood pressure in a positive way and so stick with that. The others, fat and sugar, have been much more difficult for me to give up because it’s difficult to see a direct correlation to my heart health.

So the 21 day meal plan intrigued me because it too looks at cutting salt and fat. It also talks about eating whole foods and eliminates eating out, more difficult goals to achieve. So I was interested in reading this Cooking Light article headlined: I Lived Through the Entire 21 Day Meal Plan—Here’s How It Went

The author, who calls herself an avowed foodie, had her problems with the meal plan, mostly because she missed the salt. Her thoughts on that just affirm how hooked most of us are on salt, chefs included. Even celeb TV chefs routinely talk about how salt “brings out flavor” in meats and other dishes. All it brings out is the salty flavor. Continue reading “The latest diet fad — the 21 Day Meal Plan”

Ever eat at Corner Bakery? If you’re cutting your salt, don’t

Life can have unexpected consequences sometimes. Since the New Year began, I’ve been on a cleaning and organizing binge, likely because of Japanese-super-organizer Marie Kondo and her new Netflix series. My wife and I even organized our kitchen junk drawer, usually a no-mans-land of forgotten items.

And in that drawer I found I had an old Corner Bakery gift card. Corner Bakery was an early entrant in the fast casual category of restaurants — places that tried to be a cut above hamburger joints and positioned themselves as healthier with fresher ingredients than tradition fast food.

But as always with such claims, the devil is in the details. Or should I say the salt is the devil in the menu? The reason I never finished using my Corner Bakery gift card was because of the high salt content of most Corner Bakery offerings. So I’ve had this card for years with about $7 left on it to spend.

So I visited the Corner Bakery site today to see if by chance its menu has changed from the high-salt offerings I remembered. Sadly, it has not. It does have some very cool nutrition search functions, including one where you build a meal and another where you can rank all the menu items by salt content (or any nutrition content). Continue reading “Ever eat at Corner Bakery? If you’re cutting your salt, don’t”

Is black pepper the next super food?

I’m always wary of claims that various foods can cure anything or even improve health. The science of how what we eats impacts us is still too primitive and too general for my taste. Case-in-point is this story I read recently about black pepper.

Find a spice store that will create salt-free blends for you
Find a spice store that will create salt-free blends for you

For someone trying to cut salt from their diets, pepper becomes a go-to flavoring It’s usually available when eating out, for one, and it’s tasty without being spicy hot which I tend to shy away from. So I’m using more pepper in my cooking.

But this Time article says black pepper could aid digestion and have other health benefits as well. It also can counter-act some carcinogens in charred beef (barbecue fans take note).

I hope all that is true, but for now, I’ll just use black pepper because I like the taste. If you have a local spice shop, ask for a salt-free mixture of various peppers as I’ve done to get some variety of flavor.

Here’s one reason olive oil gets all the glory

Olive oil is like the Mount Olympus of ‘good’ fat, most nutritionists agree. But exactly why is that the case? So much of nutrition science is still in its infancy that I often am skeptical when anything is touted as a ‘healthy’ food.

Always carry your own oil and vinegar packets to use on any salad. I buy these in bulk on Amazon.
Always carry your own oil and vinegar packets to use on any salad. I buy these in bulk on Amazon.

But a new study may give some insight into why olive oil can help us. Apparently it helps your good cholesterol, the HDL kind, work more effectively, according to an article in Cooking Light magazine.

Continue reading “Here’s one reason olive oil gets all the glory”

Have some bad eating habits? Here are ways to break those

Bad eating, binge eating, eating lots of sugar, salt and fat — all are ways to say we have bad eating habits.

Like to over-eat? Try this quiz that may help you break that and other bad habits.

A new year is always a good time to resolve to break such bad habits, it’s a fresh start after all, isn’t it?

So try taking this WebMD quiz on how to break bad habits. Some of the answers it gives (you have to answer questions and then get told if you gave the right or wrong answer, may surprise you. The correct answers will give you tips on how to best break bad habits.

 

Be salad smart when eating out

See the word salad on a menu and you assume it’s got to be the healthiest thing on there, right? Wrong, unfortunately. Restaurants love to load up salads with any and every unhealthy thing, like fried foods, to destroy the basic salad.

You're left with a relatively healthy salad with chicken.
You’re left with a relatively healthy salad with chicken.

WebMD recently ran this guide on what to avoid in restaurant salads.  Basics you should already kn0w — avoid creamy dressings, croutons and lots of cheese on a  salad, they’re all fat bombs waiting to destroy your insides.

Olive oil and vinegar is the best dressing option. I now carry my own with me because I’m continually surprised how many places don;t offer that as an option.

Sadly, one option I do like, dried cranberries, is on the bad list here because of the amount fo sugar in dried fruit. Bye cranberries. Continue reading “Be salad smart when eating out”

Meals to avoid when eating out

Restaurant food generally is a minefield of fat, salt and sugar so as tasty as it might seem, it’s best to avoid it as much as possible when you’re trying to eat something resembling a healthy diet.

Check my Eating Away from Home page for some of the least unhealthy alternatives I’ve found at various restaurants. And if you want to know what to avoid, this article, These are the most unhealthy meals in America, ranked is a good place to start.

Chicken parm pizza style? Really. Avoid it.

On the list:

Chicken Parmesan “Pizza Style” at The Cheesecake Factory. I haven’t eaten at a Cheesecake factory in more than six years, since my first stent went in. Even the salads there are loaded with so much unhealthy stuff they make a mockery of any expectation that  salad will be a healthy choice. This dish totals 1,870 calories, basically a day’s worth. The article doesn’t get into salt and fat but I’m sure it’s mega-artery clogging. Continue reading “Meals to avoid when eating out”

Some happy talk about the Mediterranean Diet

The Mediterranean Diet has become a favorite of nutritionists in recent years, especially for those with heart and other ailments. Now a new study that looked at a lot of earlier studies thinks it also can help mood.

Veggie plates are common in Italy, why can’t U.S. places offer the same?

“The evidence so far pointed to the idea that the foods we eat can make a difference in lowering our risk of depression, even though there is no solid clinical proof yet,” reports the BBC in detailing the new study in Molecular Psychiatry. The study reviewed 41 studies published within the last eight years. Continue reading “Some happy talk about the Mediterranean Diet”

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