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Whole Grains Health

The Best Healthy Restaurant Meals You Should Order



There is a lot of bad news about excessive calorie, fat and sodium content in restaurants. But it’s not all doom and darkness out there! The menu labeling required today for chain restaurants with 20 or more locations in the United States enables smarter choices.

And that’s great news for you: while finding low-calorie and low-sodium options isn’t always easy, it’s not impossible either. Whether you eat out or order, there are healthy meals in the restaurant!

Here are 10 restaurant dishes that are a little healthier when you don’t feel like cooking. To always have the best options on hand in your own kitchen, don’t forget to stock up on the 7 Healthiest Foods You Should Be Eating Right Now.


Meal to order: spaghetti with marinara sauce and grilled chicken in the Olive Garden

Per serving: 660 calories, 16 g fat (2 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 1,510 mg sodium, 89 g carbohydrates (6 g fiber, 18 g sugar), 33 g protein

You may think a bowl of pasta with marinara sauce is the most nutritious choice in an Italian restaurant. Close – but adding lean protein is a large Improvement. The “Create Your Own Pasta” menu option from Olive Garden makes it easy to customize a pasta meal. The extra protein in the chicken will keep you full longer and add relatively fewer calories in exchange.

Cooked tomatoes in the Marina Sauce Pack Lycopene, a powerful plant compound that prevents cell damage. Don’t let the sugar content discourage you: almost everything is found Naturally in the tomatoes in the sauce. While this dish has a little too much sodium in it, it’s well worth it on so many other levels.

Panda Express stir fryPanda Express / Facebook

Meal to order: Black Pepper Angus Steak, Super Greens and a half order of steamed white rice at Panda Express

Per meal: 520 calories, 10 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 1,280 mg sodium, 77 g carbohydrates (9 g fiber, 13 g sugar), 31 g protein

You don’t always have to order chicken or vegetarian options to get the healthiest menu option! The lean cut of beef used in Panda Express’s Angus Black Pepper Steak keeps the total and saturated fat content on the lower side. Beef is an excellent source of leucine, an amino acid that triggers muscle production in the body, and choline, which helps protect memory. Broccoli, cabbage, kale are the trifecta of dark leafy vegetables that are high in fiber and vitamin K for bone health.

This meal goes better with brown rice, and while it’s not an option with Panda Express, eating with white rice isn’t all that terrible. While there is no information on trans fat on the Panda Express website, this meal is likely only about half a gram in, which is what the experts recommend.

Whopper Jr. Burger KingCourtesy Burger King

Meal to order: Whopper Jr. at Burger King

Pro burger: 315 calories, 18 g fat (5 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 390 mg sodium, 27 g carbohydrates (1 fiber, 7 g sugar), 13 g protein

When you crave a juicy burger, there is nothing else to do. We get it! But you don’t need a monster burger derailing your healthy eating plan to satisfy your craving. Sure, the Whopper Jr. at Burger King doesn’t get an award for fiber. It’s on a white bun; it’s not particularly rich in protein; and the lettuce, tomato, cucumber and onion don’t offer much. But it’s relatively low in saturated fat.

With a very reasonable 315 calories and 390 milligrams of sodium, the Whopper Jr. gets the job done.

Are you looking for more helpful tips? Your ultimate restaurant and supermarket survival guide is here!

Jersey Mike Roast Beef Provolone Mini SandwichCourtesy Jersey Mike

Meal to order: Roast beef and provolone (mini size on wheat bread) at Jersey Mike’s

Per serving: 540 calories, 26 g fat (7 g saturated fat, 0.5 g trans fat), 655 mg sodium, 41 g carbohydrates (4 g fiber, 4 g sugar), 37 g protein

Roast beef is surprisingly lean, and while this smaller sandwich contains about a third of the total fat adults need in a day, most of it is heart-healthy. Plus, 37 grams of protein is enough to keep you full for hours and this sandwich won’t raise red flags for sodium.

Order this sandwich made with wheat bread, which probably means “whole grain bread” since Jersey Mike’s nutrition calculator says it has more fiber in it!

cpk pizzaCourtesy California Pizza Kitchen

Meal To Order: Seared Artichoke Spinach Thin Crust Pizza and Chicken at California Pizza Kitchen

Per serving (2 slices): 440 calories, 18 g fat (6 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 940 mg sodium, 48 g carbohydrates (4 g fiber, 2 g sugar), 24 g protein

Pizza doesn’t need to be eliminated entirely if your focus is on healthy eating. While it’s always a good idea to top your cake with vegetables instead of high-fat salty meat (we’re looking at you, hot peppers!), It’s okay to skip a cauliflower crust in favor of a thin crust.

The thin crust of this toasted artichoke and spinach pizza at CPK reduces calories and carbohydrates without compromising eating satisfaction. Artichokes are especially rich in magnesium – a mineral you need for energy production, bone health, and much more. Even without meat, the protein content for two slices is a surprising 24 grams, which is ideal for a pizza meal.

Bonefish grill salmonCourtesy Bonefish Grill

Meal to order: Atlantic salmon (small) with mango salsa, seasonal vegetables (green beans) and jasmine rice in the Bonefish Grill

Per meal: 620 calories, 28 g fat (6 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 910 mg sodium, 50 g carbohydrates (3 g fiber, 6 g sugar), 44 g protein

Most of us don’t eat enough fish because we don’t like to cook it at home. This salmon entree is the perfect opportunity to include one of the two fish dishes that experts recommend every week.

Salmon is one of the most nutritious fish in the sea; The excellent omega-3 fatty acids support heart and brain health and reduce inflammation in the body. Combine salmon with seasonal vegetables and jasmine rice to keep the balance. But note: most of the sodium in this meal is added to the rice. So if you’re looking for a meal with a lower salt content, skip that and double the veggies.

Longhorn SteakhouseCourtesy Longhorn Steakhouse

Meal to order: Flo’s filet (6 oz), plain sweet potato, and freshly steamed broccoli at Longhorn Steakhouse

Per meal: 660 calories, 23 g fat (5 g saturated fat, 0.5 g trans fat), 650 mg sodium, 66 g carbohydrates (13 g fiber, 20 g sugar), 46 g protein

The low saturated fat content of Longhorn Steakhouse’s Flo’s Filet, as well as the relatively small servings, make it a great choice for enjoying a delicious steak. Don’t let the 20 grams of sugar in this meal worry you. Almost everything comes naturally in the sweet potato and no sugar is added. Experts recommend limiting this.

Sweet potatoes are high in fiber and contain carotenoids, which give the potato its bright orange hue and also act as protective antioxidants in your body. The broccoli can be steamed fresh, but it also has added fat so you don’t have to add more.

del taco 8-layer vegetarian burritoCourtesy Del Taco

Meal to order: Del Taco’s 8-layer veggie burrito at Del Taco

For burrito: 530 calories, 18 g fat (8 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 1,350 mg sodium, 70 g carbohydrates (9 g fiber, 2 g sugar), 18 g protein

The combination of beans and cheese is largely responsible for the impressive protein content of this meatless meal from Del Taco, which also provides 20% of the daily iron value – a nutrient missing in many women’s diets. This vegetarian burrito contains 9 grams of fiber, which is more than a third of the recommended daily allowance, and 35% of the daily value for calcium. Not too shabby!

The only disadvantage? The sodium level. However, you are unlikely to find a lower sodium burrito on a restaurant menu as most of the ingredients appear to have salt added. Cut down on salty foods for the rest of the day to limit your sodium intake.

Panera Asian Sesame SaladPop of Red / Twitter

Meal to order: Asian sesame with chicken (whole portion) at Panera Bread

Per meal: 430 calories, 23 g fat (3 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 720 mg sodium, 29 g carbohydrates (6 g fiber, 7 g sugar), 31 g protein

Surprise! Salads aren’t always the most nutritious choice – especially when you start piling up pieces of bacon, seeds, cheese, and greasy dressings. Panera Bread’s Asian sesame with chicken salad, with its appropriate calorie and sodium content and excellent protein content, combines excellent taste and good nutrition. It’s a little high in fat, probably from dressing.

Pro tip: most of the fat is unsaturated, but ask about the bandage on the side to reduce fat intake!

ChipotleChipotle / Yelp

Meal to order: burrito bowl with coriander, lime and brown rice, vegetables, pinto beans, Monterey Jack cheese, roasted chilli corn salsa and romaine lettuce at Chipotle

Per meal: 555 calories, 17 g fat (6 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 1,070 mg sodium, 80 g carbohydrates (15 g fiber, 7 g sugar), 22 g protein

With careful planning, bowls can be nutritious, balanced meals. When ordering from Chipotle, set your bowl on brown rice to add more whole grains to your eating plan.

Pinto beans provide protein, iron, vitamin B6 and magnesium. Choosing them as a source of protein can also meet the recommendation of consuming 3 cups of legumes a week. The excess sodium in most Chipotle toppings, including the toasted chili corn salsa, is the only downside. In this case, the diet and taste benefits outweigh the sodium content.

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Whole Grains Health

Protein Variety and Heart Health Are Linked, Study Finds



We’ve all found ourselves in the habit of eating the same three things over and over (…and over) again. When life gets busy, falling back on simple dishes that satisfy your tastebuds is the natural thing to do. But if you’re cooking up the same couple proteins on the regular, a new study published in the the journal Hypertension suggests that it may be time to introduce a few new varieties into your breakfasts, lunches, and dinners.

The study pulled existing data from over 12,000 participants who took part in a minimum of two rounds of the China Health and Nutrition Survey. Researchers sought to explore the relationship between hypertension—or high blood pressure—and the variety and quantity of proteins from eight major dietary sources consumed by participants. (Study participants were an average age of 41 years old.)

Researchers measured protein intake by looking at three consecutive days of eating, scoring each round based on the number of protein varieties consumed (including legumes, fish, eggs, whole grains, refined grains, processed and unprocessed red meat, and poultry).

The results? “Among ‘just the right amount’ consumers of protein, those eating the greatest variety of protein had a the lowest blood pressure,” explains John Higgins, MD, a sports cardiologist with McGovern Medical School at the UT Health Science Center at Houston. Notably, those who ate the least and the most amount of protein were at the greatest risk for developing high blood pressure, while those who ate the greatest variety of protein were 66 percent less likely to end up developing hypertension between the rounds of the survey .

“The heart health message is that consuming a balanced diet with proteins from various different sources, rather than focusing on a single source of dietary protein, may help to prevent the development of high blood pressure.” — Xianhui Qin, MD, study author

Although the survey results sound complicated—and, hey, they were—the takeaway is simple: “The heart health message is that consuming a balanced diet with proteins from various different sources, rather than focusing on a single source of dietary protein, may help to prevent the development of high blood pressure,” Xianhui Qin, MD, the study author, said in a press release. In other words: Mix it up! Spin the protein wheel of fortune and try something new.

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If you’re not quite sure where to start with upping your protein game, Dr. Higgins recommends looking at your consumption on a daily basis. “The American Heart Association recommends eating no more than about 5.5 ounces of protein daily, about one to two servings, from healthy sources such as plants, seafood, low-fat or fat-free dairy products and some lean meats and poultry,” he says. “The best proteins are lean proteins including beans, soy or tofu, fish, skinless chicken, very lean meat, and low-fat dairy products. Avoid proteins that say ‘hydrogenated’ on label or contain high levels of trans fats or saturated fats. “

Of course, there’s always room in your eating plan for less nutritional proteins, too—just try to incorporate these lean sources when you can, and ask your doctor if you have questions about what dietary habits are right for your particular health status and family history .

A delicious way to eat more varied proteins? This delicious quiche recipe:

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Whole Grains Health

The 10 Best Diet Books in 2022



Staff, Courtesy of Shalane Flanagan & Elyse Kopecky

The word “diet” has earned itself an undeniably negative reputation, often leading people to think of unsustainable restriction and unhealthy fads. However, if you’re looking to adjust your way of eating, whether you want to feel better, lose weight, or hit a new personal record, there are tons of great diet books out there that can help educate you on ways to improve your nutrition and get you feeling better than ever.

While the diets of the past have focused on restriction, newer ways of eating encouragement consuming more good-for-you foods to crowd out less healthy choices, leaving you feeling satisfied, not deprived. These diet books are also super educational, teaching you why you should eat certain foods, what they can do for your health, and the best ways to make them delicious. To help you on your nutrition journey, we’ve gathered the best diet books and healthy cookbooks available today.

Best Diet Books

    How to Choose a Diet Book

    If you’re looking to switch up your diet, the first thing you should ask yourself is why. What exactly do you want out of a diet?

    Second, consider your lifestyle. Do you need meals that are quick and easy? Do you like to take an hour or two to cook for yourself every night? How often can you grocery shop for fresh ingredients?

    Finally, consider whether you’re looking specifically for a cookbook or one that will provide you education on a particular way of eating without necessarily giving you recipes. While many cookbooks will have some content that discusses the origins of food and their nutritional benefits, these books are unlikely to go as in-depth regarding nutrition as less recipe-focused ones.

    How We Selected

    To find the best diet books among the many options on the market, we researched the most popular books available and considered their content, credibility, design, digestibility, and organization. We then looked at both expert reviews and more than 105,000 customer ratings, written by people who’ve bought these books on Amazon, to settle on the diet books you’ll find below.

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    Best vegetarian

    How to Cook Everything Vegetarian

    Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

    This is a great all-around cookbook, but it’s an especially great buy if you’re trying to lay off meat. This book contains everything from specific meal recipes to instructions for steaming veggies, truly teaching you how to cook from start to finish. There are recipes for every meal, as well as snacks and desserts, and it includes instructions for so many different dishes you could easily cook from only this book for an entire year and not get bored.


    Best for Longevity

    The Blue Zones Kitchen: 100 Recipes to Live to 100

    This cookbook highlights recipes from specific areas across the globe—called blue zones—where people live the longest. While some of their longevity surely comes from other lifestyle factors, there’s no discounting the role diet plays in their long-lasting health and wellbeing. These recipes not only focus on ingredients, but the ways in which foods are prepared and how that relates to their overall nutritional value.

    The goal of the book is to increase longevity and quality of life while creating delicious recipes that you’ll want to eat time and time again.


    Best Mediterranean

    The Complete Mediterranean Cookbook

    The Mediterranean diet is consistently ranked as one of the healthiest diets in the world. It’s full of lean proteins, healthy fats, and tons of vegetables, providing a well-rounded, nutritious way of eating.

    This cookbook not only has 500 great Mediterranean recipes, but it also helps you learn which ingredients you should make staples in your grocery list. It also uses only ingredients that you can easily find at standard grocery stores, which makes the Mediterranean diet more accessible.


    Best for Runners

    run fast eat slow

    You’ve probably heard the phrase “abs are made in the kitchen”—and to some degree, the same holds true for personal records. While nutritious food won’t necessarily knock 30 seconds off your mile time, it can help you fuel your workouts so you get the most out of your training.

    This book was designed by Olympian Shalane Flanagan and is packed with recipes designed to help runners fuel their toughest workouts and recover after. As a bonus, the recipes included in this book just so happen to be delicious, too.


    Best Vegan

    The Complete Plant-Based Cookbook

    When first going vegan, it can be difficult to figure out how to make food that is both delicious and nutritious. This book has 500 recipes ranging from meals to snacks to desserts that use entirely plant-based ingredients. These recipes also offer alternate ingredient options, like eggs and dairy, which is great if you want to add more plant-based recipes into your diet, but aren’t ready to dive headfirst into veganism.


    Best for a full reset

    The Whole30: The 30-Day Guide to Total Health and Food Freedom

    Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

    If you’ve been diet-hopping in hopes of finding a meal plan that can help you commit to a healthier lifestyle and enjoy some weight loss, Whole 30 is a great choice. It has you cut out sugar, grains, dairy, legumes, and some other specific foods for 30 days. The idea behind the diet is that it helps jumpstart weight loss while simultaneously getting you to reassess how you think about what you are eating to reach a place of freedom with your food.


    Best for weight loss

    The Obesity Code – Unlocking the Secrets of Weight Loss

    If weight loss is your goal, and you have struggled to find lasting success, this book could be a game-changer. It dives into the science of weight loss, helping you understand hormones, insulin resistance, and other reasons for weight gain. The book recommends intermittent fasting and a low-carb diet, and guides you on how to do them correctly, efficiently, and in the long term.


    Best for Learning about Food

    How Not to Die: Discover the Foods Scientifically Proven to Prevent and Reverse Disease

    A lot of eating plans focus on what you should eliminate from your diet, but this book places more importance on what you should be adding to your diet and why.

    It discusses foods that are scientifically proven to help you live a longer, healthier life, and the many ways in which food can help prevent disease. It focuses on whole body health—including both mental and physical health—and teaches you to focus on more than just weight and physical appearance when it comes to your food.


    Best for Anti-Dieters

    Not a Diet Book: Take Control. Gain Confidence. ChangeYourLife.

    The rise of anti-diet culture gave inspiration to this book, which helps you improve your relationship with food, tackle weight loss, and debunk fad diets to find a simple and easy way to lose weight and create habits that will keep the pounds from coming back. This book will help you build skills that enable you to live a happier, healthier life without focusing too closely on calories or numbers on a scale.


    Best for fasting

    Complete Guide to Fasting

    Fasting has gained popularity over the last decade and can be a great way to boost your metabolism, clear your mind, and promote weight loss. There are, however, rules you should follow while fasting so that you improve your health rather than endangering it. This book will guide you through intermittent, alternate-day, and extended fasting to ensure you choose the style that will work best for you and do it correctly.

    Before joining Runner’s World as an Editor in 2019, Gabrielle Hondorp spent 6 years in running retail (she has tested top gear from shoes, to watches, to rain jackets which has expanded her expertise—and her closets); she specializes in health and wellness, and is an expert on running gear from head-to-toe.

    This content is created and maintained by a third party, and imported onto this page to help users provide their email addresses. You may be able to find more information about this and similar content at

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Whole Grains Health

Eating different kinds of protein protects against hypertension: New study



Despite all this talk that more Australians are toying with vegetarianism, and despite the endless drum-beating about red meat giving you cancer and a dodgy heart, we continue to have one of the world’s highest levels of meat consumption.

Analysis published in December found Australians eat about 95 kilograms of meat per capita every year. The global average is 35 kilograms.

The article, ‘The Evolution of Urban Australian Meat-Eating Practices’, argues our meat-eating habits are driven by a blocky culture, an association with social status, a perception that plant-based diets are inadequate and lame, and ignorance about cooking legumes and tofu.

On the other hand, the authors point to a survey that found almost 20 per cent of those sampled “identified as meat-reducers”.

Furthermore, the authors say, 87 percent “of the meat reducer segment reported consuming a meat-free dish as their main meal at least once a week”.

They point to another survey that found almost 20 per cent described themselves as “flexitarian”, which is cool.

But it may not translate to more lentils, nuts, whole grains, fish and dairy hitting the dinner table as new favorite sources of protein.

A new study found why we need variety

Chinese researchers found that “eating protein from a greater variety of sources is associated with a lower risk of developing high blood pressure”.

Good to know because blood pressure is literally out of control in Australia.

One in three adults – more than six million Australians – has high blood pressure.

Of those afflicted, only 32 per cent have their hypertension under control. That leaves about four million Australians as ticking time bombs.

In December, in the Medical Journal of Australia, Professor Alta Schutte, Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine at UNSW Sydney, called for a national taskforce to tackle the issue.

By improving the control of hypertension, the risks of coronary heart disease, dementia and cerebrovascular disease will be substantially reduced.

The Chinese study suggests changing your diet will go some way to solving the problem.

the study

“Nutrition may be an easily accessible and effective measure to fight against hypertension. Along with fat and carbohydrates, protein is one of the three basic macronutrients,” said study author Dr Xianhui Qin, of the National Clinical Research Center for Kidney Disease at Nanfang Hospital, Southern Medical University in Guangzhou, China.

The study authors analyzed health information for nearly 12,200 adults (average age 41), who had taken part in multiple rounds of the China Health and Nutrition Survey from 1997 to 2015.

Over three days in the same week, participants shared what they had eaten.

They were given a protein “variety score” based on the different sources of protein they’d eaten: whole grains, refined grains, processed red meat, unprocessed red meat, poultry, fish, egg and legumes.

One point was given for each source of protein, with a maximum variety score of 8. The researchers then evaluated the association for new onset hypertension in relation to the protein variety score.

New-onset hypertension was defined as blood pressure greater than or equal to 140 mm Hg/90 mm Hg, the use of blood pressure-lowering medicine, or self-reporting that a physician had diagnosed high blood pressure.

The average follow-up time was six years.

The results

More than 35 per cent of the participants developed new-onset high hypertension during the follow-up.

Compared to participants with the lowest variety score for protein intake (1), those with the highest variety score (4 or higher) had a 66 per cent lower risk of developing high blood pressure.

The amount of protein eaten was also a factor. Consumption was divided into five categories, from least to most intake.

The researchers found that “people who ate the least amount of total protein and those who ate most protein had the highest risk for new onset of hypertension”.

The researchers didn’t ask why a variety of proteins was more healthy. But nutritionists, doctors and health writers have banged on about it for years.

Lean red meat is high in quality protein but provides no fiber or healthy fats. Processed meats are high in saturated fats and salt and are the worst.

Fish is high in long-chain fatty acids, which are good for the brain. Lentils and whole grains are high in fibre.

Hand on heart, a bit of each during the week might stop you from carking it in the street. Which is just undignified and unmanly.

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