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Whole Grain Benefits

10 Easy Tips for Lowering Your Processed Food Intake

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Processed foods are any foods that have been canned, cooked, frozen, pasteurized, or packaged.

As part of a healthy diet, you can enjoy many processed foods, including canned vegetables, frozen fruits, and pasteurized dairy products. However, some highly processed products are loaded with salt, sugar, additives, and preservatives that can be harmful to your health.

Reducing your intake of these highly processed foods is one of the most effective ways to improve your health and improve the quality of your diet.

When people ask me for nutritional advice, one of the first things I recommend is avoiding processed foods.

Here are 10 simple, sustainable, and realistic strategies to help you eat less processed foods.

If you’re running out of time, grabbing a pre-packaged snack on the way out can be tempting.

However, if you stock your kitchen with plenty of portable, nutritious snacks, you can make healthy choices much easier on the go.

Some of my favorite healthy snacks are fresh fruit, mixed nuts, edamame, and vegetables with hummus.

If you have more time, you can also prepare some simple snacks in advance. Hard-boiled eggs, turkey roll-ups, homemade kale chips, and overnight oats are some great goodies that you can make quick and have on hand for later.

One of the easiest ways to cut down on your processed foods is to trade them in for healthier whole foods.

Specifically, you can swap refined grains like white pasta, rice, bread, and tortillas for whole grain alternatives like brown rice and whole wheat pasta, bread, and tortillas.

Whole grains not only contain higher levels of important nutrients such as fiber, but have also been shown to protect against diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and certain types of cancer (1).

If you’re feeling adventurous, give your favorite processed foods a healthy touch by recreating them in your kitchen. This gives you complete control over what to put on your plate while experimenting with interesting new ingredients.

For example, you can make vegetable chips by mixing potato, zucchini, beet, or carrot slices with a little olive oil and salt and then baking them until crispy.

Other healthy processed food alternatives that you can make at home include chia pudding, air-popped popcorn, granola bars, and fruit leather.

Personally, I love to cook meals from my favorite restaurants at home instead of ordering take-away. Not only does this save money, but it also makes it easier to eat more whole foods by topping up ingredients like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and legumes.

Sugary drinks like lemonade, sweet tea, fruit juice, and sports drinks are high in sugar and calories but low in essential nutrients.

Gradually swapping these drinks for water throughout the day is a great way to reduce your processed food intake and improve your overall nutritional quality.

Sparkling or flavored water are two great options if plain water isn’t your favorite beverage. Alternatively, you can infuse water with fresh fruits or herbs for an extra taste explosion.

Preparing meals in bulk once or twice a week will ensure that you have plenty of nutritious meals ready in your refrigerator, even if you are too busy to cook.

It can also be less tempting to drive through the driveway on the way home or to pounce on frozen ready meals when you are short of time.

To start off, choose a few recipes to prepare each week and set a specific time to prepare your meals.

I also prefer to find a few recipes with similar ingredients so I can go through multiple meals during the week to avoid repetition.

When preparing meals at home, add at least one serving of vegetables to increase your intake of healthy, unprocessed foods.

This can be as simple as adding spinach to your scrambled eggs, frying broccoli for an easy side dish, or tossing carrots or cauliflower into soups or casseroles.

Vegetables are very nutritious and good sources of fiber that will keep you feeling full between meals to help reduce your appetite and curb food cravings (2, 3).

It’s much easier to limit your processed food intake when you don’t have one on hand.

The next time you hit the grocery store, fill your shopping cart with healthy, minimally processed ingredients like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes.

You can also try to stick to the perimeter of the store and avoid the middle aisles where processed snacks and junk food are usually found.

When shopping, be sure to read the labels on your favorite products. If possible, avoid foods high in sodium, trans fats, or added sugars.

There are tons of healthy swaps out there for many processed products. Here are some of my favorites:

  • Swap your sugary breakfast cereal for a bowl of oatmeal with fresh fruit.
  • Place popcorn on the stove instead of microwave popcorn.
  • Whip a homemade vinaigrette with olive oil and vinegar to drizzle over salads in place of processed dressings.
  • Make trail mix from nuts, seeds, and dried fruits as a healthy alternative to store-bought varieties.
  • Top your salads with nuts or seeds instead of croutons.

Processed meats like bacon, sausage, lunchtime meat, and hot dogs have several disadvantages and are even classified as carcinogenic by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (4).

You’ll be happy to hear that there are plenty of easy ways to cut down on processed meats.

For starters, you can simply swap these foods out for less processed meats like fresh chicken, salmon, or turkey. You can also replace prepackaged lunch meats with other sandwich fillings, including tuna salad, chicken breast, or hard-boiled eggs.

Alternatively, you can eat more plant-based proteins like beans, lentils, tofu, or tempeh.

There is no need to completely cut processed foods from your diet at once.

In fact, making changes slowly is often more effective and sustainable in the long run. Some research suggests that minor lifestyle changes help develop lasting habits and make actions that are difficult at first much easier over time (5).

Every week, try experimenting with one or two of the strategies listed above, then gradually implement more.

Remember, as part of a healthy, balanced diet, you may still be happy to eat out or eat processed foods in moderation.

Processed foods are any foods that have been cooked, canned, frozen, or packaged.

While you can eat numerous processed foods as part of a healthy diet, you should limit those high in sodium, sugar, additives, and preservatives.

Try some of the tips outlined in this article to find out what works for you, and remember to make changes slowly for the best results.

Whole Grain Benefits

Running 3 Miles a Day: Benefits and Starting Out

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No matter where it is on your list of favorite exercises, running is a great way to get in shape and meet fitness goals.

But if you’re not a marathon runner, you’re probably looking for a distance that is achievable without missing that window of effectiveness. 3 miles a day can be considered a nice sweet spot, even for moderate runners.

Here’s a look at the potential benefits of a regular running routine and what 3 miles a day can bring you.

Even if you HATE running, you have to admit that there are some nice benefits to it.

Cardio endurance

Running is a top class cardiovascular endurance activity. It helps you maintain increased breathing and heart rate for an extended period of time. Over time, this can increase endurance, reduce fatigue, and improve heart and lung function.

Also, there is a chance that running with the Reg can extend your lifespan. Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death worldwide. According to a 2015 study, running for 5 to 10 minutes a day is associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and death. So making a habit of 3 miles a day can’t hurt if you are able to.

Strength training

Cardio gets a lot of recognition, but running also offers restorative benefits. It activates a whole host of leg muscles, including your quads, hamstrings, and calves. You will also feel the burning sensation in your buttocks, back and stomach.

You should also consider adding some resistance training to your workout. Research has shown that it can help improve your running performance and reduce your risk of injury. So it should gradually get easier to do your 3 miles every day.

Strengthens the bones (maybe)

Running is a stress exercise, which means it can help bone health. According to a 2019 study, running is more effective than walking for increasing bone density in healthy adults and children. But we definitely need more research to prove this 10/10.

Basically, your 3 miles a day can put real strain on your bones to promote strength.

Burns calories

Running is a super effective way to burn calories. According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a 154-pound person burns about 295 calories if they jog at 5 mph for 30 minutes. A very general rule is that you are burning around 100 calories per mile. However, the exact amount of calories burned depends on:

All terrain containers affect the amount of calories you burn on your runs. In general, you burn more calories on harder terrain than on clean, flat surfaces due to the amount of energy you have to exert. Your joints and muscles work extra hard to keep your body upright and in balance.

The incline is also very important. According to a 2018 study, walking on an incline promotes peroneal strength, which could help with weaker ankles. You can also burn more calories while walking uphill.

Dwight Schrute says, “If you want to win, you have to fuel up like a winner.” And NGL, Dwight is right. If you stay hydrated and keep track of your diet, you can get the most out of your runs.

Before your run

Try to have a balanced meal 3 to 4 hours before your 5 mile run. The ideal meal should be high in carbohydrates, low in protein, and low in fat. By the way, the ACSM recommends drinking 17 to 20 ounces of water with this meal. But you might want to drink more when it’s super hot outside.

Snack attack: You should have a snack about 30 minutes before your run. Just be sure to keep it small to avoid indigestion or nausea. A banana, peanut butter crackers, or half an energy bar are good choices.

During your run

Studies show that your glycogen stores can be depleted within 1 to 2 hours of running. For longer runs, you should refuel with snacks such as energy drinks, protein bars, energy gels, nuts or dried fruits.

Since your run is 3 miles long, you should have a good idea of ​​how much fuel you are using pretty quickly. But no matter how long your run is, always stay hydrated during your workout. Dehydration is not a joke!

After your run

Post-workout diet is critical to recovery and results. A mix of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins is best. Here are a few delicious examples:

One of the greatest advantages of running is that you don’t need fancy gear. But you still have to equip yourself.

Your ongoing shopping list should include:

Running off the beaten track should always have a way to get in touch with someone in an emergency. To be on the safe side, you should also have a portable GPS tracker and whistle with you. For more information, see our guide to trail running.

SPF PSA: Don’t forget sunscreen (even on cloudy days)!

Running 3 miles in the regatta is a great way to burn calories. It will also help you increase your strength and cardiovascular endurance. Keep in mind that it can take you some time to develop enough stamina to hit the 3 mile mark. So be patient with the process and stick with it. You can do it.

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Whole Grain Benefits

Should You Eat or Avoid Peanut Butter Before Bed?

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If you’re craving a midnight snack, peanut butter is a tempting choice because of its rich taste, creamy texture, and sweet and salty taste.

Thanks to its impressive nutritional profile, some health advocates recommend eating peanut butter at night to support muscle growth, stabilize blood sugar levels, and improve the quality of sleep.

However, it is also high in calories per serving, so you might be wondering if consuming this filling food before bed leads to weight gain.

This article explains whether eating peanut butter before bed leads to weight gain.

Peanut butter is a high-calorie food that is high in heart-healthy fats. Just 2 tablespoons (32 grams) provides 204 calories and 16 grams of fat (1, 2).

Therefore, it is a great food item for a healthy balanced diet, but large amounts can increase your daily caloric intake. If you eat more calories during the day than you burn, you can gain weight in the long run (3).

Even so, weight gain depends on many factors including age, height, activity level, health status, and total caloric intake.

In fact, you can eat peanut butter as part of a diet for either weight loss or weight gain, depending on what else you eat during the day.

Summary

Peanut butter is high in heart-healthy fats and calories, which means overeating before bed can lead to weight gain.

Research into the relationship between eating late and weight gain has produced mixed results.

Weight gain possible

Some studies suggest that eating large amounts of food late at night interferes with weight loss and increases body weight. However, other factors may also play a role, including overall diet quality, how long you sleep, and other habits such as skipping breakfast (4, 5, 6).

On the flip side, some research suggests that eating at night may not directly lead to weight gain, but may be linked to eating habits and lifestyle behaviors that contribute to weight gain, including increased snacks, skipped breakfast, and decreased dietary diversity (7, 8, 9.). ).

Benefits for muscle growth and metabolism

Interestingly, several studies have found that consuming a healthy snack like peanut butter before bed can have health benefits.

According to one review, consuming a small, high-protein nighttime snack may improve overnight muscle protein synthesis, morning metabolism, and feelings of satiety in healthy men (10).

Another small study of active college-aged men found that consuming a good source of protein before bed increased their metabolism the next morning (11).

Still, specific research on peanut butter is needed.

Summary

The results on the effects of eating late at night have been mixed. While this habit may be linked to weight gain, studies also show that having a healthy snack at night can increase fullness, muscle growth, and metabolism, especially in men.

Peanut butter is a good source of many nutrients, including niacin, magnesium, heart-healthy fats, and vitamins B6 and E (1).

Its antioxidants have been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease (12).

It’s also high in protein, containing over 7 grams in every 2-tablespoon (32 grams) serving (1).

Increasing protein intake can reduce food cravings and regulate your appetite. In addition, adequate protein intake supports muscle growth, wound healing, and healthy growth and development (13, 14).

Peanuts are also a good source of tryptophan, an amino acid that can improve the quality of sleep (15, 16).

Also, your body uses tryptophan to produce compounds like serotonin and melatonin, both of which are also important in regulating sleep (17, 18).

Although there is no research on the effects of peanut butter on sleep, studies link foods rich in tryptophan with improved sleep quality (19, 20).

Therefore, eating peanut butter or other foods containing tryptophan before bed can help reduce sleep problems.

Summary

Peanut butter is very nutritious and high in protein, which reduces food cravings and promotes muscle growth. It also contains tryptophan, which can improve the quality of sleep.

The next time you crave a midnight snack, think about your health goals before reaching for that jar of peanut butter.

If you’re trying to lose weight, consider lower-calorie snacks like hummus, yogurt, hard-boiled eggs, or fresh fruit instead.

However, if you’re trying to gain weight, build muscle, boost your metabolism, or improve the quality of your sleep, a snack with a spoonful of peanut butter can be a good choice as it provides essential nutrients like protein, vitamins, minerals, and a healthy heart, fats and Tryptophan.

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Whole Grain Benefits

Dietitian shares the ‘power nutrient’ she eats to live longer—that 95% of Americans don’t get enough of

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The benefits of fiber

As a nutritionist, I always tell people that fiber – the kind you get from foods rather than supplements – is an essential fuel.

Adequate fiber intake has been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, certain gastrointestinal disorders, and type 2 diabetes, researchers have found.

There is also evidence that the benefits of fiber go beyond a specific disease: eating more of it can lower people’s death rate. Even the diets of residents of the Blue Zones, the places on earth where people live longest, include fiber as a basic nutrient, especially in foods like black beans, chickpeas, and lentils.

A study by the National Institutes of Health found that people who consumed more fiber, especially from grains, had a significantly lower risk of death over a nine-year period than those who consumed less fiber.

The analysis included approximately 388,000 participants who were in a larger NIH-AARP diet and health study and who were between 50 and 71 years old at the start of the study.

How Much Fiber Should You Consume?

How to Increase Your Fiber Intake

The body does not break down fiber. Instead, it passes the body undigested and helps regulate the body’s sugar consumption and helps keep hunger and blood sugar in check.

According to researchers at Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, there are two types of fiber: soluble fiber, which can help lower glucose levels, as well as lowering blood cholesterol, and insoluble fiber, which can help move through your digestive system , promotes regularity and helps prevent constipation.

While you can easily take a fiber supplement, you will end up missing out on all of the other vitamins and minerals that whole foods provide.

The best sources of fiber are whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, legumes, and nuts.

Here are five high fiber foods I include in my diet for healthier, longer lives – along with simple ways to enjoy them:

1. Avocados

Fiber: 10 grams per cup, sliced

Avocados

Loren Klein | Twenty20

In addition to their fiber content, avocados are high in healthy monounsaturated fat, which has been linked to improving heart health.

Avocados are so versatile and their uses extend beyond simple dishes like guacamole. I usually add something to my smoothies, which creates a creamy, thick texture. Or instead of butter or mayonnaise, I smear a few slices on toasted bread.

2. raspberries

Fiber: 8 grams per cup

Raspberries

Katherine | Twenty20

Raspberries also provide a handful of beneficial vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. They also have a lower glycemic index, which means they don’t raise blood sugar levels.

A 2017 study found that consuming fresh fruit, especially raspberries, every day can lower your risk of developing diabetes by 12%.

You can have a handful as a quick snack or get creative and add some acid to your salads. And to satisfy my sweet tooth, nothing beats yogurt with raspberries and crispy oats.

3. Lenses

Fiber: 21 grams per cup

lenses

Ilona Shorokhova | Twenty20

Lentils have an impressive amount of fiber per serving and are also an excellent source of protein (around 47 grams per cup), making them an ideal choice for filling meals.

Research suggests that consuming 150 grams of lentils daily may help improve blood lipid levels, blood pressure, and inflammation.

Lentils are delicious in a hearty soup or stew, but I think they go as well as protein in salads and tacos. If I want to reduce my meat consumption, I make lentil cakes for lunch or dinner.

4. Oats

Fiber: 8 grams per cup

Oats are a gluten-free whole grain that contains fiber and other important nutrients, including iron, zinc, and magnesium. They can also help you manage your blood sugar, heart health, and even weight, studies have shown.

For breakfast, oats can be used as a grain substitute in muffins and pancakes. For heartier dishes like meatballs, I like to use them as breadcrumbs.

5. Chia seeds

Fiber: 10 grams per ounce

Chia seeds

Anna | Twenty20

Even a small amount of chia seeds has many health benefits. They’re also a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, which have been linked to improvements in brain and heart health.

These tiny seeds can be sprinkled in smoothies, oatmeal, and salads. They gel when placed in liquid so you can easily make homemade jam with the berries of your choice.

Lauren Armstrong is a nutritionist and nutrition coach. She was also a nutritionist for The Women, Infant and Children (WIC) program. Lauren received her bachelor’s degree in dietetics from Western Michigan University and has written for several publications, including Livestrong and HealthDay.

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