Fitness & Nutrition

How to Increase Your Vegetable Intake Even If You Don’t Enjoy Them

It’s not uncommon for adults and children to dislike vegetables– this typical complaint can make it difficult when trying to achieve optimal nutrition. We all know that vegetables are good for you, but how do we get past the taste if we don’t enjoy them? It’s time to transform the way you look at vegetables and start effectively incorporating them into your diet!

Simple Tricks for Eating More Vegetables

Here are some simple ways to incorporate your vegetables into your daily diet:

  • Adding chopped veggies to your egg white omelet for breakfast
  • Adding extra lettuce on your sandwich
  • Having prepared crunchy vegetables in your fridge ready for snacking
  • Adding roasted vegetables or small salad as a side
  • Adding diced or riced vegetables to your favorite grain

Common Questions Regarding Vegetables and Health

1. Can you still be healthy without having vegetables in your diet?

Unfortunately, the answer is no to this question. Consistent vegetable intake has been linked to a lower risk of cancer, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes. Research has shown that individuals who eat more leafy greens also have a lower risk of stroke. Cruciferous vegetables, like brussel sprouts and broccoli, contain glucosinolates which are known anti-cancer phytochemicals. Additionally, eating vegetables and fruit can help with weight loss. If your trying to reach your goal weight, your diet should be primarily composed of veggies.

2. What do I eat if I don’t like vegetables?

While vegetables are a crucial part of any diet, there are some varieties that taste better than others. Cruciferous vegetables are commonly the most disliked– these can include kale, turnips, cauliflower, broccoli, and brussel sprouts. Try roasting cruciferous vegetables to rid their bitterness– simply wash and chop them and place on a baking sheet in the oven at 350 degrees. For many, trying the sweeter vegetables may resonate better with you. Carrots, snap peas, bell peppers, and squash are usually well-tolerated based on taste.

The more you eat vegetables, the more your palate will adapt and get used to these flavors. Start introducing one more serving of vegetables to your diet each day. These small steps can become viable habits, leading to a healthy lifestyle. In a study, parents who gave their children the same vegetable they disliked every day for two weeks inevitably began reporting that those vegetables had become the child’s new favorite. It’s possible for anyone to learn to love vegetables.

3. What if I hate vegetables?

If you have a negative association with the word “vegetable”, then maybe it’s time to think of vegetables in a different way. Thinking about carrots and turnips as roots and tomatoes and eggplants as fruit may help re-categorize these items in your mind. Eliminating the word “vegetable” may help your picky kids disassociate the two. Having a positive mindset is crucial to any healthy lifestyle.

4. What are the best vegetables to eat?

Eating vegetables can seriously save lives– a recent study reported that dietary risks are responsible for 22% of deaths. The study suggests that the best vegetables to eat are cruciferous vegetables, green leafy vegetables, and salad. Eating vegetables consistently has been linked to lowered risk for cardiovascular disease and death. The same study also suggests that a person should be eating about eight to 10 cups of vegetables and fruits each day.

Fitness and Nutrition for Optimal Health

Buttross Dentistry is honored to provide comprehensive dental services. Having proper nutrition can drastically improve your oral health and overall health. We’re proud to always share the latest studies and news in nutrition and a healthy diet.

For more information regarding better ways to get your daily vegetable intake, please contact us!

Article Credit: https://www.pritikin.com/I-hate-vegetables.html

The Advantages of the Mediterranean Diet

There are many misconceptions when it comes to the Mediterranean diet. A lot of people immediately think of pasta, racks of lamb, bread, and endless bottles of red wine. However, a true Mediterranean diet is actually based on the region’s traditional vegetables, fruits, seafood, nuts, beans, and dairy. A proper Mediterranean diet actually offers numerous health benefits that can enhance overall wellness, in turn optimizing oral health.

Following the Mediterranean Diet

The Mediterranean diet focuses on eating fresh, wholesome foods. By focusing on produce and healthy fats, this incredible diet provides comprehensive nutrition that can also aid in weight loss when combined with proper exercise. When transitioning to the Mediterranean diet, it may be difficult to phase out processed foods for freshly cooked ingredients. However, staying true to this diet still allows for moderate wine intake as well as lean dairy items like goat cheese. Healthy fats from avocado and fish provide wonderful health benefits while still offering rich flavors. The Mediterranean diet creates meals out of high-protein beans and lentils while promoting mostly vegetables and whole grains. These lean protein options are great for digestive and cardiovascular health.

The Health Benefits of the Mediterranean Diet

By limiting the intake of processed foods, refined bread, and red meat, cardiovascular health is optimized. Drinking red wine moderately instead of hard liquor also helps prevent heart disease and strokes. The Mediterranean diet may improve blood sugar levels, cholesterol, and overall blood vessel health which may reduce your risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s. With all the additional nutrients gained from this diet, older adults may experience lowered risk for developing muscle weakness. This diet is also rich in fiber aiding in healthy weight as well as defending against type 2 diabetes.

For more information regarding the numerous benefits of the Mediterranean diet, please contact us!

Article credit: https://www.helpguide.org/articles/diets/the-mediterranean-diet.htm/

 

Addressing Food Waste: An Impactful Issue on Our Environment and Resources

Did you know that food waste presents a pressing issue among the US and the rest of the world? With a large impact on our environment, resources, and finances, addressing this issue by changing personal habits can make a difference. With an estimated 40% of food in the US wasted every year, this damaging problem negatively affects so many aspects of our planet. Food production requires a substantial amount of resources– approximately 70% of fresh water and 50% of the land is designated for agricultural use.

How Food Waste Impacts Our Environment and Resources

Agriculture has many negative effects on our environment including greenhouse gas emissions and pesticide run-off. With so much of our food being wasted, that, in turn, means that we are negatively affecting our environment with no purpose. The considerable amount of fresh water being wasted due to food waste is disastrous considering so many don’t have access to fresh water. When it comes to water waste, one wasted hamburger is equal to a 90-minute shower. With 1.3 billion tons of food wasted each year, that accounts for almost a third of total food production. The food waste experienced in Europe and North America is 15 times more than counties located in Southeast Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.

How to Lower Your Own Food Waste

Lowering the amount of food wasted starts with each family. We recommend avoiding excessive meals when dining out. Consider sharing dishes with family members, requesting to-go boxes, or asking for smaller portions in order to limit overeating as well. When it comes to grocery shopping, be mindful of what you already have as well as purchasing bulk items that have limited shelf lives. Making sure your refrigerator settings are correct can also make a world of difference in properly preserving your groceries for longer. Donating items that you won’t get to prior to expiration is also a great idea.

For more ways on how to lower your food waste, please contact us!

Health Benefits of Tomatoes 

MID-SUMMER IS PEAK SEASON FOR TOMATOES.

Given their popularity on salads, pastas and sauces today, it’s hard to believe that Americans didn’t began eating tomatoes until several hundred years ago – despite their long existence. Today, they are readily enjoyed for their flavor, simplicity and health benefits.

Health Benefits

Tomatoes are part of a healthy grocery list for numerous reasons. They are best known for their extremely high content of antioxidant, due largely to lycopene, according to World’s Healthiest Foods. Recently, researchers have found several links between lycopene – a carotenoid antioxidant – and cancer-preventing properties as well as bone health. Of all cancers, prostate cancer has been most researched in regards to tomato intake and health. A key nutrient in this red vegetable – alpha-tomatine – has been found to change metabolic activity in growing prostate cancer cells. Continued research on tomatoes and non-small cell lung cancer, pancreatic cancer and breast cancer has also pointed to improved health.

 

Tomatoes have also been linked to heart health, most notably that consumption has been related to decreased LDL cholesterol as well as decreased total cholesterol. Moreover, the antioxidant protection provided by tomatoes is essential for the cardiovascular system. Additionally, tomatoes are great sources of vitamins E and C, beta-carotene and fiber, and when it comes to phytonutrients, tomatoes may be one of the richest food sources. They contain everything from flavonols and flavonones to carotenoids and fatty acid derivatives, to name a few.

Wondering whether or not cooking changes the nutritional value of tomatoes?

The Tomato Variety Guide

There are hundreds of tomato varieties available, all depending on climate, growing conditions and growth habits. To simplify the never-ending list however, in terms of genetics there are two basic kinds of tomatoes: heirlooms and hybrids, according to Serious Eats. Common, conventional tomatoes that you can find at the grocery store include:

  • Roma: With few seeds, low water content and firm texture, Roma tomatoes are best for sauces and canning.
  • Beefsteak: Perfect for slicing, Beefsteak tomatoes are juicy, fragrant and best on sandwiches. Generally, they’re only good at their peak.
  • Cherry: Small, red and typically sweeter than other varieties, cherry tomatoes are best for snacking, stuffing or adding to salads and pastas.
  • Grape: Similar to cherry tomatoes, these small and oblong tomatoes are great for snacking and salads.
  • Campari: Smaller in size than normal tomatoes on the vine but bigger than cherry tomatoes, Camparis are globe-shaped and and have a rich tomato aroma.
  • Kumato: Brownish-red and maroon in color, these tomatoes from Spain are tarter than their counterparts, with a lower water content.

Heirloom, specialty, and farmer’s market tomatoes include Garden Peach, Cherokee Purple, San Marzano, Green Zebra, Yellow Pear, Sungold and Brandywine, according to the source. Less conventional than the aforementioned tomatoes, these ones are often more expensive and come in a wide variety of sizes, shapes and hues.

If tomatoes are ripe, they’re best stored at room temperature, according to Chef Anthony. Storing them on your counter or windowsill requires mindfulness and care as cuts or gashes to the tomato will attract fruit flies. If they’re reaching their peak ripeness, it’s best to refrigerate. Regardless of how you store them, tomatoes are best consumed at room temperature.

How to Eat Tomatoes

Though technically it is the fruit of the tomato plant that is consumed, they are generally considered garden vegetables, according to the Old Farmer’s Almanac. One of the best things about this vegetable however is its versatility. There are so many ways to enjoy them, from sweet bite-sized cherry tomatoes that serve as a great snack or salad topping to large Beefsteak tomatoes that make perfect slices for sandwiches. “They are great with other foods as well,” explained Chef Anthony. “For example, tomato and orange, tomato and watermelon, tomato and pineapple, tomato and mushrooms … just to name a few.”

Tomatoes can be roasted, grilled, sautéed or enjoyed as is.

Article credit: https://www.pritikin.com/your-health/healthy-living/eating-right/food-of-the-month-tomatoes.html

 

Quinoa Health Benefits

IF YOU’VE YET TO DISCOVER ALL OF THE QUINOA HEALTH BENEFITS, KEEP READING TO BE LET IN ON THIS PROTEIN-PACKED SECRET.

A multipurpose food, quinoa is a tasty and nutritional grain packed with protein and fiber that is versatile enough to be enjoyed in the form of a cereal in the morning, a soup during the day and a filling salad at lunchtime.

History of Quinoa

Within just the last few years, quinoa – pronounced KEEN-wah has made big strides in its identity and popularity in the Western world, according to the Whole Grains Council. The grain has origins that date back nearly 5,000 years to the Bolivians of Lake Titicaca. It is believed that quinoa was sacred to the Incas, who called the grain “chisaya mama”, meaning mother of all grains. Each year, according to oral history, the Incan emperor would sow the first quinoa seeds in an elaborate ceremony.

 

However, during the mid-1500s, a Spanish explorer nearly caused the quinoa crop to become extinct, noted the source. In an effort to ruin the culture, Francisco Pizarro destroyed the fields cultivating the crop and only a few areas of wild quinoa at high altitudes would survive. It re-emerged in the Western world in the 1970s, though it wasn’t until the past decade that it really took off as a popular health food trend. According to the WGC , in 2010 quinoa was named as the best side dish by the National Restaurant Association in its annual chef survey.

 

Most notable was the “International Year Of Quinoa” launched in 2013 by United Nations leaders and the Andean communities of Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. The celebration was an effort to increase awareness of the crop’s nutritional value as well as to pay tribute to the cultural merit of a grain that has been grown traditionally for thousands of years, carried from one generation to the next. Today, quinoa is enjoyed nearly across the globe.

Health Benefits of Quinoa

Quinoa is one of the few plant-based foods that has all nine essential amino acids, making it quite the anomaly among its grain counterparts, according to Authority Nutrition. Gluten-free and packed with protein, it’s also high in numerous antioxidants that are beneficial for the body.

 

One cup of cooked quinoa generally has 39 grams of carbs, 4 grams of fat and 222 calories. Quinoa has several omega-3 fatty acids. It’s also high in iron, potassium, magnesium, B-vitamins, vitamin E and phosphorus, making it the perfect whole grain to add to your healthy eating plan.

 

Quinoa health benefits even go beyond vitamins and minerals: It also contains high amounts of trace nutrients including flavonoids, according to the source. Plant antioxidants found to have various beneficial effects on health, the two flavonoids in quinoa are quercetin and kaempferol, which are good for the heart, according to Chef Anthony.

How to Cook Quinoa

Depending on the variety you purchase, quinoa may have to be pre-soaked prior to cooking. The coating around quinoa seeds – intended to keep birds at bay – is naturally bitter, according to Reader’s Digest. To remove the coating, soak 1 cup of quinoa in 2 cups of water for 5 to 10 minutes, until its coating has dissolved. Then drain and rinse the quinoa so that it is ready for cooking. If it was bought packaged however, it’s likely that this step has already been done for you.

 

“For the best quality and flavor, toasting the quinoa before adding liquid is great,” said Chef Anthony. “It brings out that ‘nuttiness’ in it which makes it more enjoyable and satisfying.”

Then, to cook this protein-packed grain, pour it into a pot with 1 1/2 cups of water over medium-high heat. Add any additional spices if desired. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 15 minutes, covering with a tight pot cover. Once finished, remove from heat and let it sit covered for 5 to 10 minutes. Before serving, fluff quinoa with a fork until it’s at the desired consistency.

How to Eat Quinoa

One of the best things about this healthy grain is its versatility. With nutty, earthy and sometimes sweet flavors, it can be enjoyed as a side dish to accompany dinner, as part of breakfast or lunch and even as a tasty midday snack. It can serve as a healthier alternative to rice, used as a baking grain for more nutritious muffins and cookies or made into meatless stuffing and burgers. As part of your healthy eating plan quinoa can transform into a variety of tasty meals, protein bars and baked goods. When it comes to using quinoa in the kitchen, Chef Anthony has a few favorites.

“My favorite is adding it to my oatmeal, using it to stuff acorn squash or adding it in a white bean paella,” he said.

ARTICLE CREDIT: https://www.pritikin.com/quinoa-health-benefits-and-recipes

Healthy Asparagus– So Delicious!

Asparagus is now officially in season as spring and summer come upon us! Asparagus offers a multitude of antioxidants and vitamins. At its peak, asparagus has optimal flavor and is least expensive during these seasons. A great addition to any dish, asparagus is a versatile vegetable that can be prepared in many ways offering any home cook the opportunity to add a healthy component to their meal.

Asparagus Shopping and Storage Tips

When shopping for asparagus, it’s best practice to find a bunch with firm stems and tightly closed tips. We always recommend using your asparagus purchase immediately, but you can always store them by standing their stems in a bowl a cold water and leaving them in the fridge for a few days.

Ways to Prepare Asparagus for Any Dish

When preparing your fresh asparagus for cooking, always cut off the tough ends of the stems and recognize that cooking times can vary based on asparagus thickness and personal preference on crispiness. Asparagus can be utilized in more than just a side dish– you can add it to your pasta, omelets, salads, and more!

  1. Blanching: Boil your asparagus for two to three minutes, drain, and immediately rinse with cold water.
  2. Steaming: Tie your bundle of asparagus at the top and bottom with kitchen string. Bring two inches of water to a boil in a tall pot, place the asparagus with the stems in the boiling water, and allow to cook for three to five minutes.
  3. Boiling: Using a skillet, add one to two inches of boiling water. Lay your asparagus flat and boil for two to four minutes.
  4. Roasting: Place your asparagus on a nonstick backing sheet with either cooking spray or parchment paper and roast in the oven at 450 degrees for eight to ten minutes.
  5. Grilling: Using cooking spray, place your asparagus in the pre-heated grill and grill for five to seven minutes.
  6. Stir fry: Cut your asparagus diagonally into one to two-inch pieces and stir fry in a nonstick wok with salt-free broth or white wine for about three minutes.

Asparagus is great unseasoned but you can always add a little flavor with marinades or seasonings! Enjoy the asparagus season!

 

5 Tips For How To Keep New Year’s Resolutions

Article credit www.pritikin.com

DO YOU START OUT STRONG IN JANUARY BUT FIZZLE BY FEBRUARY?

Here are five key recommendations, distilled from recent research on human behavior, on how to keep New Year’s Resolutions for health and weight loss.

“These five recommendations can help you eat better, exercise better, and live more joyously all year long,” encourages Dr. Coral Arvon, Director of Behavioral Health and Wellness at the Pritikin Longevity Center.

 

TIP #1: Write your goals down… in detail. List both Health Goals and Life Goals.

“When you have a concrete plan,” explains Dr. Arvon, “you have concrete direction.”

Tack your goals to your refrigerator or other location you pass by frequently.  Seeing them every day means you won’t forget them.  Plus, it’s a lot harder to dismiss them.  They’re a commitment, in black and white, that you’ve made to yourself.

They’re also highly motivating because they’re a constant reminder, particularly the Life Goals, of the priceless rewards that await when you’ve achieved your goals.

Your Health Goals…

  • Ask yourself: “What specifically are my health goals?”
  • Do you, for example, want to reduce your cholesterol levels?
  • Drop 30 pounds?
  • Improve your quality of sleep?
  • Lower your tendency to feel anxious about each and every little thing?
  • Attempt to reduce some of your medications with healthy lifestyle habits?

List all your Health Goals by completing the statement below.  And do discuss your Health Goals with your physician because you want to make sure they are safe and achievable, and certainly, your physician may have tools/suggestions to help you along.

 

Your Life Goals…

To discover your Life Goals, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Why do I want to become healthier?
  • What’s most important to me?
  • Do you, for example, want to have enough energy to actually enjoy your family at the end of the day (rather than nodding off before 9 o’clock?)
  • Do you want to get back to playing your favorite sport?
  • Do you want to revitalize your romantic life?
  • Do you want to wake up every morning feeling rested, peaceful, and ready to go?
  • Do you want to spend more time playing (and keeping up with) your grandchildren?
  • Do you want to take off for long vacations to exotic destinations, and not be hampered by your health?
  • Do you want to dance at your grandchildren’s weddings?

Take a little time determining your Life Goals.  Sleep on them.  Talk to family members.  Jot some ideas down.  Fine-tune them. Most importantly, read and repeat these Life Goals to yourself daily.  They are your destination. And every day, time travel.  “Drive” yourself into the future, imagining that your Life Goals have come true.  Doing so might drive you, like nothing else, to stick with your New Year’s Resolutions.

 

List your Life Goals by completing the statement below.

I want to be healthy enough and energetic enough to…

 

Now you’re ready to begin! Congratulations! And always remember that each step toward your goals is a victory in and of itself.

TIP #2: When first starting out, keep life simple.

Keep your snacks and lunches simple. For lunch, for example, Pritikin alum Rose Christo often needs just 2 ingredients – a box of frozen spinach and a container of low-sodium Tabatchnick Soup (located in the freezer section of supermarkets).  She combines the spinach and soup, zaps them in the microwave, and voila, she has a big, steaming bowl of satisfying, low-calorie-dense, nutritious soup.

TIP #3: Emulate those who have succeeded at long-term weight loss.

Real success isn’t about being the biggest loser.  It’s about being the longest loser.  For years, scientists involved with the Registry have been gathering information on men and women (they now total more than 10,000) who have been amazingly successful at shedding weight and keeping it off. The average Registry member has lost about 66 pounds and maintained that weight loss for more than five years. Researchers wanted to know:  What makes these 10,000-plus people so successful?  What are their habits? It turns out they tend to have a lot in common.  Here are common characteristics that fuel their success:

  • Registry members exercise regularly, averaging about 60 minutes of physical activity daily, usually walking.
  • Registry members eat a healthy diet that includes more fruit, more vegetables, and more whole grains than the typical American diet.  They also eat significantly less fried food (particularly French fries), less refined grains (such as white bread, white pasta, and white rice), and less meat than most Americans.
  • The diet of Registry members is about 25% lower in calorie density than the typical American diet.
  • The Registry members’ diet is low in fat.
  • Registry members self-correct at slips before they turn into landslides.  They weigh themselves at least weekly, and many get on the scale every day.

TIP #4: Put something you value on the line.

Behavioral scientists have found that people who set aside money for forfeiture if they fail to meet weight-loss goals (realistic goals – no more than a pound or two a week) lose more weight over the course of several months than those in control groups. Money isn’t the only motivator.  Making a commitment to exercise with a friend, for example, has also proven effective.  That’s because your friendship is now on the line.  You’re much more likely to get out of bed when the alarm goes off if you know your friend is waiting for you at the gym.

 

TIP #5: Keep life fun.

No one signs up for pain.  Listen to your body while exercising.  When it says “enough,” it probably is.

And take time for yourself every day, even if it’s only for a few moments.

Above all, focus on the positive.  People who believe they will succeed are more likely to do so. Praise yourself, for example, for losing five pounds, but don’t punish yourself for gaining one back.  Remind yourself that every day is a new day – and an opportunity to try again.

6 Tips for Lowering Cholesterol Naturally

Article Credit: www.Pritikin.com: https://www.pritikin.com/your-health/health-benefits/lower-cholesterol/1468-7-tips-for-improving-your-ldl-cholesterol.html

HERE ARE 6 DRUG-FREE ALTERNATIVES FOR LOWERING LDL (BAD) CHOLESTEROL.

To avoid a heart attack, research has found that a key strategy is getting LDL (bad) cholesterol way down. Striving for LDL levels of 100 and below is good, but dropping to 80 and lower may be even better.

Go ahead, binge on beans! Enjoy all kinds! Black beans. White beans. Red beans. Pinto beans. Adzuki beans. They’re all champions at actively lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol.

LDL levels of 81

Ground-breaking research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) studied nearly 9,000 European patients. All had previously suffered heart attacks. The trial found that those who reduced their LDL levels to an average 81 with high-dose statins significantly reduced their risk of major coronary events like heart attacks and strokes at the 4.8 year follow-up compared to patients who reduced their LDL to 104 on usual-dose statin therapy.

Lower LDL Levels are better

In a JAMA editorial accompanying the study, Christopher P. Cannon, MD, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School wrote that aggressive LDL lowering is the ideal – “lower is better.” The JAMA study’s findings echo those of another large 4,162-patient study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine. It concluded that LDL cholesterol levels of 62 were even better than levels of 95 at preventing death, heart attacks, and other cardiovascular-related problems in people with heart disease.

Drugs’ negative effects

In both studies, mega-doses of statins (a doubling and tripling of regular doses) drove LDL levels way down. But in both studies, mega-doses also caused problems. Suffering from adverse side effects like muscle pain, memory loss, and elevated liver enzymes, patients on the high doses stopped taking their medications at twice the rate of patients on regular doses. Muscle pain, also called myopathy, occurs in 2% to 11% of people treated with statins, reported investigators at the University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics in Madison, and although the pain usually subsides once the statin is discontinued, it can take several months to do so. Like previous studies, the Wisconsin scientists also found that the negative side effects of statins increased as dosages increased.

Medication-free alternatives

“That’s why drug-free alternatives like the Pritikin Program are so important,” advises Dr. William McCarthy, UCLA School of Public Health and member of the Pritikin Scientific Advisory Board.

“For people who cannot tolerate maximum doses of statins, or for those wanting to minimize their dependence on drugs, the Pritikin Program of diet and exercise – or a combination of low-dose statins plus the Pritikin Program – offers a much safer option for lowering LDL cholesterol to levels significantly below 100.”

Lowering cholesterol naturally

In research on more than 4,500 men and women following the Pritikin Program of diet and exercise, LDL levels plummeted 23%, and in just three weeks.

39% drop in LDL Levels

And in a study by UCLA scientists in conjunction with the nonprofit Pritikin Foundation, men and women nearly doubled their reductions in cholesterol, averaging a 39% drop, when they supplemented regular-dose statin therapy with the diet-and-exercise lifestyle of the Pritikin Program.

Is Coconut Water Good For You?

Article Credit: www.Pritikin.com

Vitamin waters. Sports drinks. Fruit-flavored teas. “Naked” juices. And now, grocery stores nationwide are sporting entire refrigerator cases full of various brands of coconut waters. Is coconut water good for you?

Coconut water (when pure and unflavored) is a clear liquid tapped from the center of coconuts. The only sugars it has are naturally occurring, just as fruit has naturally occurring sugar.

Coconut water (when pure and unflavored) is a clear liquid tapped from the center of coconuts. The only sugars it has are naturally occurring, just as fruit has naturally occurring sugar.

Is coconut water good for you?  Well, if you’re trying to lose weight, tread carefully.

Certainly, coconut water is a far better choice than saturated-fat-rich coconut oil or coconut milk, but coconut water is liquid calories – about 45 calories per cup (8 ounces). If you do what some “experts” on the Internet and elsewhere suggest and guzzle coconut water before, during, and after your exercise workouts, the calories you burned during exercise may be cancelled out by the coconut water.

Your best bet for hydrating yourself, as always, is water. Pure, calorie-free water.

If your weight is fine and you’re engaged in intense physical activity, particularly workouts lasting more than one hour, coconut water can be used as fluid/electrolyte replacement. Just be careful that it’s pure coconut water you’re drinking, none of those chocolate, vanilla, or other flavor-added varieties popping up on supermarket shelves.

To make sure there’s no added sugar, sodium, or anything else in your coconut water, read the Ingredient List. All you want to see on the list is one ingredient – coconut water.

Check out the Nutrition Facts label, too. If you’re seeing more than 50 calories per 8-ounce serving, chances are sugar or another form of calories has been added.

Summing up:  Is coconut water good for you?

Like all calorie-containing drinks, including fruit juices, coconut water would likely not be good for you, particularly if you’re trying to shed excess weight.

9 Steps For Improving Heart Health Naturally

Article credit: Ronald J. Scheib, MD, FACC, FACP – Cardiologist and Educator at the Pritikin Longevity Center in Miami.

For most of us, preventing heart disease depends largely on our lifestyle, which means there’s much that’s in our power to improve our odds of living long and well. Here are 9 key steps for improving heart health naturally.

The use of medications, when appropriate, can be beneficial, but medications should be an adjunct to lifestyle improvements like healthy food. In this article are 9 steps for improving heart health naturally.

Healthy changes in the way we live, particularly diet and exercise, have been proven to:

  • Dramatically reduce heart disease risk factors
  • Stabilize plaques in the arteries so they are less likely to burst and trigger blood clots that block blood flow to the heart
  • Reverse the progression of coronary artery disease, or atherosclerosis

A heart-healthy lifestyle like the Pritikin Program can help reverse the progression of atherosclerosis.

Prevention

In decades past, we physicians were trained in the diagnosis and treatment of coronary artery disease after it occurred. However, the present epidemic of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and their complications of heart attacks, strokes, heart failure, and sudden death have necessitated a change of focus to prevention. Prevention is emphasized in the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology’s statement “2013 ACC/AHA Guideline on the Assessment of Cardiovascular Risk.”1

Medications Vs Lifestyle

Certainly, the use of medications like statins, when appropriate, can be beneficial, but they should be an adjunct to lifestyle improvements rather than a replacement of personal responsibility for our health.

As a cardiologist, I have prescribed medications to lower cholesterol, blood glucose, and other heart disease risk factors, particularly for patients who will not change their lifestyle or for whom this change is not enough.

But time and time again, I have seen that my patients who take steps to improve their heart health naturally – with a healthy Pritikin lifestyle – look and feel better. Their quality of life is far superior. They’re thinner, more physically fit, more energetic, and happier.

What we can achieve, in short, from natural, lifestyle-based approaches like Pritikin has no drug substitute.

Essentially, the Pritikin Program involves:

  1. An eating plan based on natural whole foods like fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains, nonfat dairy products, seafood, and limited lean meat
  2. Daily exercise with a three-pronged approach – cardiovascular conditioning, strength training, and flexibility
  3. Lifestyle education that focuses on practical real-world training such as cooking healthfully, as well as skills for stepping around stress and achieving optimal mental/emotional health.

Improving Heart Health Naturally

Here are 9 key steps for improving heart health naturally that my colleagues and I teach year-round at the Pritikin Longevity Center.

1 | Spend Less Time Sitting and More Time Moving

“I have two doctors, my left leg and my right,” wrote British historian and avid cross-country walker G. M. Trevelyan.

He was right. In hundreds of studies, regular exercise has been proven to have profound – and numerous – health benefits. States the Centers for Disease Control: “Regular physical activity is one of the most important things you can do for your health.”2 It can help:

  • Control weight
  • Decrease risk of heart disease
  • Improve body composition (your fat-to-muscle ratio)
  • Lower blood sugar and reduce risk of type 2 diabetes and the metabolic syndrome
  • Lower blood pressure and reduce risk of hypertension
  • Reduce risk of some cancers
  • Strengthen bones
  • Reduce stress
  • Improve sleep
  • Improve your ability to perform daily activities and prevent falls
  • Increase your chances of living longer

2 | Lose Excess Body Fat, Particularly Belly Fat

As our body weight rises, so does our risk for plaque build-up in our arteries and a heart attack.

Being overweight is linked with several major risk factors for heart disease, including high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and bad forms of cholesterol.

What’s good for your heart is also good for losing belly fat.

Obesity also can lead to heart failure, a very serious condition in which the heart is incapable of pumping enough blood to meet the body’s needs.

Numerous studies have found that belly fat is particularly dangerous. In fact, in one recent study3, a pot belly even in people who were otherwise normal weight dramatically increased the risk of dying.

Fat in the belly doesn’t just sit there, taking up space. It pumps out chemicals like cytokines that trigger chronic inflammation throughout the body. That’s a big problem because chronic inflammation is thought to be one of the major factors linking obesity to various life-crippling diseases, including heart disease.

Fat cells in the belly also produce chemicals, including steroid hormones, which make you more likely to gain fat. Yes, it’s a vicious cycle. The more belly fat you have, the more fat-storage hormones you produce, and the harder it is to lose weight.

There are more hormonal horrors. When belly fat reaches abdominal obesity levels (a waist greater than 35 inches in women and 40 inches in men), another very important fat-storage hormone called insulin is often negatively affected, creating more problems for our metabolism.

Optimal Way To Shed Fat

The optimal way to shed fat, including belly fat, and keep it off is with a healthy eating and exercise program like Pritikin.

With the Pritikin Eating Plan, you’re focusing on foods like whole fruits, vegetables, water-rich whole grains, and beans that naturally keep overall calorie intake for the day low.

With Pritikin living, you’re also stay physically active, helping create a calorie deficit.

3 | Lower Non-HDL Cholesterol

For years, we in the medical community taught that lowering LDL (often called the “bad” cholesterol) was the primary treatment target for reducing cardiovascular events. And certainly, improving LDL is still very important.

But there is now growing consensus that non-HDL cholesterol is a better predictor of cardiovascular disease risk because non-HDL contains not only LDL but other “bad” particles that contribute to the build-up of cholesterol-filled plaques in the artery wall.

Nowadays, most standard lipid panels will tell you what your non-HDL cholesterol is.

4 | Stop Smoking and Start Living

Did you know that in the U.S. alone, tobacco kills the equivalent of three jumbo jets full of people crashing every day, with no survivors.

Here is a sampling of the serious, life-threatening conditions that are the direct result of smoking:

  • Heart disease
  • Breathing problems
  • Lung cancer
  • Kidney cancer
  • Emphysema

Moreover, the science is strong and consistent that when you smoke, the people around you, especially children, are at risk for developing serious health problems.

5 | Lower Your Resting Blood Pressure To Below 120/80

It is vital to keep your blood pressure under control because the higher your blood pressure, the greater your risk of heart attack, stroke, congestive heart failure, kidney disease, impotence, loss of mental function, and dementia.

To lower your blood pressure, start with a heart-healthy, lifestyle-based approach like Pritikin.

Most people with high blood pressure, also called hypertension, can control their blood pressure without the need for medications by following the Pritikin Program. Those who still need pills usually require lower dosages and/or fewer pills.

Key guidelines we teach at the Pritikin health resort for lowering blood pressure naturally include:

  • Eat at least 5 servings of vegetables and 4 servings of fruits daily

A vegetable- and fruit-rich eating plan helps ensure that you’re eating plenty of foods full of stomach-filling volume, yet low in calories, enhancing your weight-loss efforts. Losing excess weight is one of the most effective ways to lower blood pressure. Eating a lot of fruits and vegetables also means you’re eating rich sources of potassium, magnesium, and calcium. Many studies have found that foods rich in these minerals help blunt some of the toxic effects of sodium.

  • Cut back on calorie-dense foods loaded with fat, sugar, and/or refined grains

Doing so will also enhance your weight-loss efforts.

  • Limit consumption of sodium to a healthy level

The physicians and other faculty at Pritikin agree with sodium guidelines established by the Institute of Medicine’s Expert Panel.4 The Institute of Medicine advises that adult Americans limit their consumption of sodium to 1,200 to 1,500 mg a day, depending on age:

People aged 19 to 49 should consume 1,500 mg or less of sodium a day
People 50 to 69 should consume 1,300 mg or less
Those 70 and older should consume 1,200 mg or less

Limiting salt intake really works, especially for those most in need. Many studies have shown that the higher blood pressure is and the more salt is restricted, the greater the fall in blood pressure.

  • Limit alcohol drinking

Excess alcohol drinking (more than 3 drinks daily) has been shown to increase the risk of hypertension.

  • Exercise daily

Daily physical activity promotes loss of excess weight, vital for controlling blood pressure. It also stimulates the body’s production of beneficial chemicals like nitric oxide that expand blood vessels and increase blood flow.

6 | Prevent or Control Diabetes

Preventing or controlling diabetes could save your heart – and life. Heart attacks occur two to four times more often in people with diabetes compared to non-diabetics. Strokes occur two to four times more often.

Other conditions, many life-crippling, caused by diabetes include blindness, kidney failure, peripheral artery disease (blockages in the major arteries that feed the legs), erectile dysfunction, diabetic neuropathy (burning pain and loss of feeling in the feet and hands), poor wound healing, gangrene, and amputations.

The sad news is that many countries worldwide are now suffering epidemic rates of type 2 diabetes because many people live in food toxic and sedentary environments.

The hopeful news is that since diabetes is largely a lifestyle-related disease, there is much we can do in the way of lifestyle changes to prevent the onset of this horrible, life-threatening disease.

Daily exercise and healthy eating, as our guests learn at Pritikin, can greatly improve blood glucose levels as well as help shed excess body fat, a major risk factor for diabetes.

Research published on people with type 2 diabetes who came to Pritikin illustrate how profoundly beneficial lifestyle changes can be. One study5 followed 243 people in the early stages of diabetes (they were not yet on medications). Within three weeks, their fasting glucose fell on average from 160 to 124.

Research6 has found, too, that the Pritikin Program can reverse in two to three weeks the clinical diagnosis of a pre-diabetic condition called the metabolic syndrome.

7 | Reduce Inflammation

Chronic inflammation in our bodies is often brought on by excess bad cholesterol and other lifestyle-related insults like high blood pressure, high blood glucose, being overweight, and smoking.

We want to quell these inflammatory “flames” because they often lead to the formation of fatty streaks throughout our arteries, which can eventually lead to plaque build-up, heart attacks, and strokes.

One key marker of chronic inflammation is high-sensitivity C-reactive protein, or hs-CRP. Your hs-CRP score measures a protein produced by the body when blood-vessel walls are inflamed.

In several studies, the Pritikin Program has been proven to lower hs-CRP in men,7 women,8 and children.9

Other markers of chronic inflammation include noxious chemicals released by both white blood cells and fat cells called inflammatory cytokines.

In research on children at the Pritikin Longevity Center, scientists at UCLA found that within two weeks, levels of inflammatory cytokines dropped markedly.10 Similar results published in several studies over the past decade have been observed in adults at Pritikin.

8 | Lower Triglyceride Levels

Triglycerides are fats in the blood. Immediately after eating a fatty meal, most triglycerides are temporarily packaged in particles called chylomicrons. If fact, blood drawn shortly after a fatty meal will appear creamy, like a strawberry milkshake. It takes hours for these fat-rich particles to be cleared from the bloodstream.

Research has found that high levels of chylomicrons nearly triple the risk of heart problems.11Scientists refer to chylomicrons as “silent but deadly” because by the time we have a fasting blood test, their dirty work is done and they’re gone, and therefore undetected by the standard fasting blood lipid test.

The Pritikin Program has been proven12 to dramatically lower triglyceride levels, on average 33%, which means Pritikin living likely lowers chylomicron levels as well.

High triglyceride levels (greater than 150) are considered an additional risk for cardiovascular disease, especially when part of a cluster of conditions called the metabolic syndrome, which includes:

  • High triglycerides
  • Belly fat (a waist circumference more than 35 inches in women and 40 inches in men)
  • Low HDL (less than 40 in men; less than 50 in women)
  • High blood pressure (130/85 or higher), and
  • Fasting blood glucose of 100 or higher.

If you have at least three of the above five criteria, you have the metabolic syndrome.

Key lifestyle actions to lower triglyceride levels are:

  • Lose excess weight
  • Eat less sugar and other highly refined and processed carbohydrates, like white breads
  • Eat more fish high in omega-3 fats
  • Drink very little alcohol
  • Exercise regularly

9 | Keep a Lid On Stress

The neighbor’s dog is barking at 3 am. The checkout line at the grocery store is 12 people deep. Your car battery just died. Your mother called with troubling news about her health.

How do you react to each of the above? Are you calm or crazy? When life’s hurdles get the best of us, it can contribute to everything from high blood pressure to irritable bowel syndrome.

The link between stress and our hearts is real. Studies have shown that earthquakes and Mondays double the incidence of heart attacks, and that heart disease kills men three times as frequently in the year following a wife’s death.

Feeling stressed can also lead to behaviors that increase heart disease risk, such as smoking, skipping exercise, and skipping out to our favorite fast food joint.

Improving Heart Health Naturally | Summing Up

Lifestyle changes are the key to living a healthy, happy life.

It may be tempting to take small steps. Maybe you’re thinking of altering just one aspect of your life. But I strongly encourage you to embrace all nine steps in this article.

In doing so, you will find, as the more than 100,000 people who have attended Pritikin over the last four decades have found, that life gets appreciably better, and in so many ways. You’ll lose weight without feeling hungry, and you’ll likely feel stronger and more energetic than you’ve felt in years.

Now’s your chance. Take care of your heart. And launch a whole new life, a better life.

Dr. Mylene Buttross Professional Credentials

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