Y Khoa & Health
Grocery Smarts: Right vs. Wrong Food Choices at the Supermarket
Popcorn or Potato Chips?
If you're looking for low-fat snack ideas, should you choose popcorn or potato chips for movie night? Reach for the popcorn, as long as it's the right kind. Popcorn is loaded with whole-grain fiber and it is naturally low in fat. Just keep it that way by munching on the air-popped variety. Slathering popcorn in butter will up the fat and calorie intake.
Compared to plain popcorn, potato chips cooked in oil are high in fat and calories. Add garlic salt or herbs to your popcorn to punch up the flavor quotient. Most people in the US do not get enough fiber every day. Add air-popped popcorn as a high-fiber low-fat snack.
Granola or Bran Cereal?
Looking for something low in fat to eat for breakfast? It's bran cereal for the win. While granola provides whole grains and fiber, it's often high in fat and calories and it may contain added sugar. It's best to reserve granola as a topper for yogurt or a bowl of fruit.
Choose whole-grain bran cereal instead, which supplies a good amount of fiber and some protein, too. Pick a sugar-free variety to keep carb intake down. Adding skim milk will make bran cereal a high protein snack that's low in fat.
Ice Cream or Sherbet?
Should you choose ice cream or sherbet to cool off on a hot summer day? Make it a sherbet. Traditional ice cream is high in saturated fat and calories. You can enjoy the same amount of sherbet for less than 50 percent of the calories found in the same serving size of ice cream. Sherbet also contains approximately 80 percent less fat and 40 percent less sugar compared to the same serving size of ice cream. Sorbet, frozen yogurt, and light ice cream are other low fat snack ideas that are better for you fat and calorie wise compared to traditional ice cream.
Topping Your Pizza
Traditional pizza piled high with cheese, sausage, and pepperoni is high in fat, calories, and salt. But you can prepare it in a healthier way to make it a low-fat snack. Top your pizza with a sprinkle of low-fat cheese or use a soy-based cheese substitute. Use veggies as toppings instead of sausage and pepperoni to up the flavor and decrease the fat. Garlic, bell peppers, olives, spinach, tomatoes, artichokes, zucchini, red onion, tomatoes, eggplant, and basil are a few options. Limit your potion to one or two slices to avoid going overboard on the carbs from the pizza crust.
Cheese Dip or Hummus?
Hummus is the selection of choice! Cheese sauce is notoriously high in saturated fat and calories that will show up on your waistline. Dip chips into hummus instead, which is made from high-fiber chickpeas. The legumes are also high in protein making hummus a high protein low-fat snack.
Instead of chips, you can dip cucumber slices, carrot sticks, or celery into hummus for a low-carb, low-fat snack. If you want something more like a chip, reach for baked pita chips, which are lower in fat compared to traditional chips cooked in oil.
Healthy Living: Few Top Health Questions Answered
Should I Go Gluten-Free?
Only if you have celiac disease, when gluten (a protein in grains) damages your small intestine. Experts no longer think gluten causes rashes, stomachaches, or weight gain in people without the disease. It can't hurt to skip gluten-rich foods like cookies and white bread. But don't ditch whole grains unless your doctor says to. They fill you up and are full of healthy nutrients.
Is a Daily Glass of Wine Healthy?
Not for everyone. Small amounts of alcohol may stave off heart disease, and lower the odds of stroke and diabetes, too. But heavy drinking ups your chances for liver and heart damage, plus breast, colon, and other cancers. If you don't drink, don't start. If you do, limit yourself to one drink a day if you’re a woman, or two if you're a man.
Are Short Workouts Worth It?
Yes. Longer is better, but you can get by with quick bouts of activity when that's all you have time for. The CDC suggests 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week (like walking or biking at a medium-fast pace), plus two sessions of muscle-strengthening exercise. Several 10- minute bursts of exercise each day can get you to this goal and help keep you fit.
Is Tap Water Safe to Drink?
Yes. The U.S. has some of the safest drinking water in the world. Unless your water comes from a small community system or private well, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) checks it closely for bacteria and harmful chemicals like lead.
Is Microwaved Food Unsafe?
Reheat those leftovers. Microwaves don't make food "radioactive." All your microwave does is make the water molecules in food move, which creates friction that heats it up. Microwaves do create a small magnetic field but a lot of work goes into making sure there’s not enough to cause problems. Just don’t use one with a damaged door.
Health Benefits When You Give Up Caffeine
Caffeine gives you a jolt of energy, but sometimes that jolt can mirror the symptoms of anxiety: jittery nervousness, heart palpitations, even feelings of panic. That's your "fight or flight" response taking over. The less you take in, the less you trigger that response and the anxiety that comes with it.
Caffeine is a common choice for burning the midnight oil because it boosts alertness. So it makes sense that cutting it out makes for better ZZZs. In fact, if you throw back a caffeine drink even as many as 6 hours before bedtime, it can still bother your sleep.
Fewer Bathroom Break
Caffeine can act like a laxative. This makes you need to go more -- and more often than not, what comes out is loose stools. If you scale back on coffee especially, it can cut down on trips to the loo and take your output back to normal.
Slower Skin Aging
Caffeine slows down the rate at which your body makes collagen. This is a protein that gives your skin its tightness and elasticity. Once it drops, your skin starts to sag, and wrinkles appear. You make it more slowly as you age. So if you get rid of caffeine, it can help keep that aging process from speeding up.
Stronger, Whiter Teeth
Coffee, soda, and tea are three of the most common caffeine delivery vehicles. All can stain your teeth with their acidity and color. Their caffeine also dries out your mouth. Saliva is a prime defense against bacteria, so the less you have, the higher the risk of tooth decay.
Lower Blood Pressure
Blood pressure spikes when you drink caffeine. Researchers think it might also keep your arteries from staying as wide as they should for healthy blood pressure. If you cut caffeine, you skip this blood pressure bump and potential complications along with it.
Tip: Don't Quit Cold Turkey
A step-by-step approach is your best bet. To start, replace half of your morning cup of joe with decaf, for example. Switch out your caffeinated foods and drinks over time with caffeine-free options to help ease withdrawal symptoms.
"Now, more than ever, it is important for you to pay attention to your blood pressure, know your numbers, work with your health care provider to control your levels and manage your risks. Lowering your blood pressure is one of the most important things you can do to reduce your risk of having a heart attack or stroke," Dr. Mitchell Elkind, president of the American Heart Association (AHA), said in an AHA news release.
Small changes can make a big difference in managing your blood pressure. Here are some tips:
- Check your blood pressure often. 120/80 or below is considered normal. If your blood pressure is 130/80 or above, that is high blood pressure and it means you have an increased risk of heart disease and stroke.
- Take blood pressure pills as prescribed. Prescription medication can be one of the most effective ways to manage your blood pressure. Tell your doctor if you have any concerns about your prescriptions.
- Read the labels on over-the-counter drugs. Some common medications can significantly affect your blood pressure. For example, pain relievers such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and naproxen (Aleve) can raise blood pressure. Consider acetaminophen (Tylenol) for pain instead, and talk to your doctor about which pain relievers are right for you, the AHA suggests.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Using a measurement of height and weight called body mass index (BMI), aim to maintain a BMI between 18.5 and 24.9.
- Eat a healthy, low-salt diet. Start with lots of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Choose low-fat dairy products, lean meats, and cut back on saturated and total fat. Try to stay under 1,500 mg of sodium/salt a day or at least cut back by 1,000 mg per day.
- Be active. Get at least 150 minutes of activity per week, with a combination of moderate and vigorous aerobic activity.
- Limit alcohol. Have no more than one or two drinks a day. (One for most women, two for most men). If you don't drink, don't start.
- Don't smoke. Both tobacco products and vaping have nicotine that can raise your blood pressure.