Maybe you’ve heard of probiotics, those strains of good bacteria that live in your gut and may help your health? Well, prebiotics may also be a key to everything from maintaining a healthy weight to toughening up your immune system. Here’s what the science says.
What Are Prebiotics and How Do They Work?
Dietitians and health experts use the term “microflora” to summarize the vast, complex, and important world of bacteria living in your digestive system. “Flora” is an interesting way to put it, because in many ways the mix of good and bad bacteria in your gut is like a garden. If good bacteria, also known as “probiotics,” are the most beneficial plants in your garden, then “prebiotics” are plant food. Prebiotics help probiotics flourish by way of fiber, inulin (a form of soluble fiber), and resistant starches.
And like a garden, the more well-fed your microflora is, the more likely you are to reap the benefits associated with probiotics: a healthier immune system, a less worrisome digestive system, and less of a chance you have to go on Nutrisystem.
The good news is that you can find prebiotics in a host of common foods that also happen to be super healthful for you anyway.
The 8 Best Prebiotic Foods and Their Benefits
Leeks, Onions, and Garlic
These foods, all considered “alliums,” are good sources of the soluble fiber inulin. Consuming inulin as part of a high-fiber diet may help prevent colon cancer, lower the risk of cardiac disease, and may encourage a healthy weight, according to a 2013 study published in the journal Nutrients (1). Fair warning: Eat these foods to increase your inulin levels after your next big work meeting or date.
Unprocessed grains are full of the non-digestive fibers that good gut bacteria love. But note the world “unprocessed.” Sugary breakfast cereals, white bread, and pasta made from refined flour don’t count. Though more research is needed to determine how whole grains work as a prebiotic, a 2015 study published in Healthcare found that barley, rye, wheat, corn, rice, and oats were all contributed to feelings of fullness, otherwise known as “satiety” (2).
Everyone’s favorite yellow fruit (okay, fine, there aren’t that many) is a good source of fiber, but also fructooligosaccharide—a really long word for a beneficial form of natural sugar. Back in 2009, Spanish researchers determined that people who ate diets high in that really long word had less constipation than those who didn’t (3).
What you see bundled in the grocery store are actually the stalks of a small shrub. They’re high in the prebiotic inulin, but they’re also a rich source of disease-fighting antioxidants, according to a 2010 study by Indian scientists (4).
Sick of eating asparagus steamed? Take a sharp peeler to the stalks and cut thin ribbons into a bowl. Mix with fresh lemon juice, salt, pepper, and a little Parmesan for a fresh-tasting raw salad.
This spiky vegetable has a fibrous heart that’s also high in prebiotic inulin. Beneficial changes in gut bacteria may also improve sleep, according to a 2017 study published in the journal Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience (5). The research, which was conducted on rats, found that rodents who ate a diet high in prebiotics may lower stress levels associated with poor sleep. More studies are required to prove an effect in humans.
You know these pods of deliciousness as a pop-and-eat appetizer at Japanese restaurants. Well, edamame is actually a soybean and soybeans themselves are a high-fiber food that’s been classified as a prebiotic. Find a bag in the freezer aisle, steam the beans at home, and sprinkle with sea salt. Or try them shelled in your next stir-fry.
When Should You Take Prebiotic Supplements?
“Before diving into the prebiotic supplement game, look at your own diet and foods that provide naturally occurring prebiotics, like inulin, pectin and fiber, for example,” says Chris Mohr, a registered dietitian and co-owner of Mohr Results. “The fiber and other nutrients within these foods offer the ‘plant food’ that your flora needs to thrive,” Mohr says.
Still interested in a supplement? Talk to a dietitian before proceeding.
Meet the pegan diet. It’s the love child of two very different eating styles: the paleo diet and veganism. We know, we know—those two ways of eating seem to be the complete opposite of one another.
Vegans shun all animal products, while the paleo diet suggests we eat like our caveman ancestors and consume mostly high-protein meat. How could a new diet be created from those two approaches? Let us explain.
What Is the Pegan Diet?
Nutrition expert Dr. Mark Hyman introduced the pegan diet in 2015. He realized that the vegan and paleo ways of eating had common ground. They both recommend avoiding processed, packaged foods and instead filling your plate with natural, nutrient-rich ingredients.
“The pegan diet is a healthy compromise of the two,” says Carol Aguirre, a registered dietitian/nutritionist and owner of Nutrition Connections in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. “It focuses on eating fresh fruits and vegetables, healthy protein and good-for-you fats. The best aspects of each are integrated for a balanced dietary plan.”
The Pegan Diet Plan
“While the vegan diet is often low in protein and key nutrients like vitamin B-12, the paleo diet is often heavy in animal protein and saturated fat,” Aguirre says. “The pegan diet is a healthy compromise of the two.”
And because it’s loaded with fiber-filled veggies and satisfying fats, you’ll feel fuller longer, which should help with weight loss. Sugary, processed foods aren’t part of the diet, so eliminating them will also help followers of the diet slim down.
Here’s how to follow the pegan diet:
- Opt for a small portion (1/2 cup or less per meal) of whole or gluten-free grains, including black rice, quinoa, teff, buckwheat, or amaranth.
- Eat sustainably-raised livestock (like grass-fed meat and pasture-raised eggs), which contain more nutrients and tend to be leaner.
- Fill your plate (approximately 75 percent) with fresh, minimally processed vegetables and fruit. But avoid starchy vegetables, like beets, pumpkin, potatoes (regular and sweet) and parsnips.
- Aim for 25 to 35 percent of your total calories to come from omega-3 rich fat sources. Think fatty fish, flax seeds, nuts, avocado, olives and their oils.
- Allow yourself one cheat day per week, along with two desserts and two alcoholic drinks per week.
- Choose foods that have been treated with pesticides, antibiotics, hormones, and GMOs.
- Eat foods that can cause a spike in blood sugar (such as refined carbs or anything with sugar or flour).
- Consume vegetable oils high in omega-6s, like soybean and corn oil.
- Include dairy, soy, legumes and gluten in your diet.
The Pegan Diet Formula
To follow the pegan way of eating, Aguirre suggests remembering “5-4-3-2-1.” Over the course of your three meals and two snacks each day, aim for:
- 5 or more cups of fruits and vegetables
- 4 servings of low-glycemic carbs
- 3 servings of lean protein
- 2 servings of healthy fats
- 1 dairy substitute
Pegan Diet Recipes
Here are two satisfying recipes from Aguirre that fit into the pegan way of eating:
Preparation: 10 minutes (active)
Ready in: 25 minutes
- 1 cup water
- ½ cup (red or white) quinoa
- 1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon cumin
- 2 green onions, thinly sliced
Bring water and quinoa to a boil in a medium saucepan. Reduce heat to low, and simmer 20 minutes or until quinoa is tender; drain. Stir in almonds, juice, oils, salt, and onions.
Prepare quinoa as directed in main recipe; drain. Place quinoa in a bowl. Add 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, 1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar, 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, and 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt. Stir and serve. Serves two.
Salmon with Salsa
Preparation: 10 minutes
Ready in: 25 minutes
- 1 medium plum tomato, roughly chopped
- ½ small onion, roughly chopped
- 1 clove garlic, peeled and quartered
- 1 small jalapeño pepper, seeded and roughly chopped
- 1 teaspoon cider vinegar
- ½ teaspoon chili powder
- ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 (4-ounce) salmon fillets
Preheat oven to 400°F. Place tomato, onion, garlic, jalapeno, vinegar, chili powder, cumin, and salt to taste in a food processor; process until finely chopped and uniform. Place salmon in a medium roasting pan; spoon the salsa on top. Roast until the salmon is just cooked through, 12 to 15 minutes. Serves two.
What to Consider Before Starting a Pegan Diet
Before you go completely pegan, talk to your health care provider to make sure the diet is a good fit for you. Most people will benefit from this way of eating since it focuses on whole, natural foods. However, we have five food groups for a reason—to get a wide variety of vitamins, nutrients and minerals.
“Slashing dairy can deprive the body of calcium and vitamin D (nutrients that keep bones strong and help fight fatigue, brain fog and depression, so you may need to take a calcium supplement or D vitamin,” says Aguirre. Plus, beans are packed with heart-healthy fiber. “Removing legumes and not eating enough meat can limit muscle-building protein and energizing iron in your diet, which can really devastate workouts.”
If you find the pegan diet hard to sustain, choose the elements of it that work best for you. There are many healthy components of the diet that people can benefit from, even if they don’t follow the plan to a T.
From the outside, you might confuse turmeric with ginger. The two roots look very similar until you peel back the skin and see the vibrant deep yellow color (so deep you could call it orange) that distinguishes turmeric from its rhizome cousin. Aside from its medicinal and culinary uses, turmeric makes a great natural dye for anything from fabric to Easter eggs. The color is due to the curcumin, the main active ingredient in turmeric. That is where the magic lies within this fabulous plant, also known by the scientific name Curcuma longa L.
The use of turmeric dates back at least 4,500 years. Turmeric’s many benefits have been praised by and shared from India, where it was first used, to Asia, Europe and the rest of the world. Pliny the Elder described it as “an Indian plant with the appearance of ginger but taste of saffron” (1). Ayurvedic medicine has used turmeric for centuries to alleviate pain, inflammation and even cancer symptoms. The curcumin in the root itself is only about a 5 percent concentration, and even that small amount is enough to show a positive effect.
Let’s take a closer look at potential turmeric benefits and how to use this popular spice.
5 Turmeric Benefits You Should Know About
Arthritis is not only common—it’s painful and even crippling. Curcumin from turmeric performed as well or better than Western medicine in a study to see whether its anti-inflammatory properties could soothe painful rheumatoid arthritis (2). In addition, randomized clinical trials provide scientific evidence that supports the efficacy of turmeric extract (about 1,000 milligrams per day of curcumin) in the treatment of arthritis (3). However, more research still needs to be done.
“Turmeric is also great for sports recovery,” says registered dietician Kerri Schwartz of Los Angeles-based Creative Nutrition by Kerri. “If you are feeling super sore, you may want to add some turmeric to your juice or smoothie.”
With Alzheimer’s disease on the rise, turmeric’s ability to slow it down or prevent it has become an increasingly studied topic. You don’t need to have the fear of failing health to gain benefits from this potent plant stem. One study found that participants who ate curry often or even just occasionally had better cognitive performance that those who never or rarely ate it (4). Turmeric is a key ingredient in curry pastes, and the curcumin is thought to be responsible for its memory-enhancing effects.
Many studies have found that an age-related increase in oxidized proteins in the brain might contribute to the aging process (5). In addition to its antioxidant properties, turmeric has been shown to enhance the body’s natural antioxidant production, which may help combat oxidative damage associated with aging.
There is some evidence that both topical and oral formulations of turmeric may promote overall skin health, says Dr. Jeremy Wolf, a naturopathic doctor and lead health advisor at LuckyVitamin. Be cautious when using turmeric topically, however, as its yellow-orange color could stain the skin, he advises.
Many skin conditions are linked to imbalances of the inflammatory response, and curcumin has been shown to reduce or suppress inflammatory targets (6). Studies suggest that turmeric may help improve conditions like acne and psoriasis (7). In addition, turmeric has been shown to speed wound healing and help promote skin repair (8). Turmeric extract may also prevent the signs of aging from UVB exposure, an animal study found (9).
Several studies have shown that the curcumin in turmeric has anticancer effects and could potentially be useful for cancer prevention and treatment (10). Turmeric is also believed to enhance detoxification in the body, which could mitigate the effects of several dietary carcinogens, an animal study suggests (11). Other evidence indicates that curcumin may be effective in helping the body accept chemotherapy treatments when resistance occurs (12).
In addition to being a powerful anti-inflammatory, curcumin from turmeric may aid in weight control. It may also help with the adverse effects of obesity that make some people hold onto weight and create more stress on their system (13). One animal study found that curcumin could not only reduce weight gain, it could also stop fat cells from expanding (14).
How to Use Turmeric
If you buy the fresh root or the powder, turmeric might seem like a mysterious, staining mess. The key is not to go overboard or turmeric’s bitter notes can take over. You will get the benefits from smaller amounts, so go ahead and throw a 1/4 teaspoon in a stir fry, juice a little in with your smoothie, turn your pancake batter yellow by sprinkling it in, or add it to a sauce. You might like it in a pudding. Chocolate can hide the flavor, or you might enjoy it with enough sweetener and other spices such as cinnamon in your hot cereal.
Another great way to get turmeric into your diet is to enjoy an Indian-derived beverage called golden milk. You can make it yourself, or enjoy prepared mixes.
When using the fresh herb or convenient powder in your recipes, it’s best to incorporate black pepper along with it. That’s because studies have shown that curcumin alone is not easily absorbed by the body. Piperine, the major active component of black pepper, has been shown to increase bioavailability of curcumin by a whopping 2,000 percent (15).
Here’s one recipe for a creamy dressing that balances turmeric’s pungent flavor with the sweetness of carrots:
Turmeric Carrot Dressing Recipe
Makes: 4 Servings
Prep time: 3 minutes
Cook time: 12 minutes
This versatile dressing is great on a wide variety of salads. Try it poured on grilled vegetables, on raw lettuce, or any combination that appeals to you.
- 3 large carrots, washed and chopped
- 1/4 cup onion, sliced
- 1/4 teaspoon thyme
- 1/4-1/2 teaspoon turmeric
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 cup water
- Sea salt and pepper to taste
- 1 teaspoon honey (optional)
- 1/2 teaspoon ginger juice (optional)
- Place oil in the bottom of a saucepan over medium high heat.
- Add turmeric, thyme, onions and carrots. Stir to coat with oil.
- Sauté for a minute and then add water.
- Simmer for 8-10 minutes until carrots are fork tender.
- Blend all ingredients, adding in vinegar, salt and pepper.
- Store in refrigerator for up to three days.
Should I Take a Turmeric Supplement?
If you are not a fan of turmeric’s identifiable flavor, you might want to take supplements to get the anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and other studied benefits. There are many reputable brands that have created easy-to-swallow formulas filled with turmeric extracts that can be absorbed easier than a traditional powder-filled capsule.
At minimum, your supplements should contain an extract of black pepper called Bioperene to aid in absorption, LuckyVitamin’s Dr. Wolf recommends. “Forms of turmeric that I recommend looking for are called Meriva and BCM-95, which have even better absorption capabilities,” he says.
Turmeric Side Effects
Registered dietitian Schwartz noted that some studies have found diarrhea to be a potential side effect of taking large doses of turmeric. If you feel that your dosage is too high for your digestive system, you’ll still get great benefits by cutting down how much you are taking. Additionally, people with gallstones should ask their doctor before taking turmeric.
A Harvard professor recently caused an online frenzy when she called coconut oil “pure poison” and “one of the worst foods you can eat” in a viral video. Her bold statements add further controversy to the great fat debate in scientific circles. Meanwhile, the rest of us are left wondering, is coconut oil good or bad?
In a lecture titled “Coconut Oil and Other Nutritional Errors,” Karin Michels, adjunct professor of epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, said that health claims surrounding coconut oil are “absolute nonsense.” (Michels is also director of the Institute for Prevention and Cancer Epidemiology at the University of Freiburg in Germany, where the lecture took place.)
When it comes to fats, the answer isn’t clear cut. Yes, coconut oil is high in saturated fat (between 82 and 92 percent), but some recent studies have challenged the notion that saturated fat is “bad” for our health (1). If there is one idea that everyone can get behind, it’s this: dietary fat is only part of the equation.
“I believe that the ‘dose makes the poison’ when it comes to food,” says Becky Kerkenbush, a clinical dietitian and media representative for the Wisconsin Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “A person’s overall dietary pattern is what is important. Saturated fat is just one piece of the puzzle. The intake of fruit, vegetables and whole grains are also vital in the quality of a person’s diet.”
Many enthusiasts tout coconut oil as a healthy fat because it’s a naturally rich source of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs). MCTs are broken down more rapidly and metabolized at a faster rate than long-chain triglycerides. Coconut oil consists of about 60 percent MCTs, nearly half of which are lauric acid (2).
Lauric acid is said to have antifungal, antibacterial, and antiviral properties and may even aid in weight loss (3). However, some nutrition experts believe that lauric acid behaves more like a long-chain fatty acid (as opposed to a medium-chain one) with regard to digestion and metabolism.
Evidence suggests that coconut oil, when compared with unsaturated plant oils, raises total cholesterol, though not as much as butter (4). “More research needs to be done before we recommend that people start adding coconut oil to their daily routines,” Kerkenbush notes.
The American Heart Association recommends that people who need to lower their cholesterol reduce saturated fat to no more than 5 to 6 percent of their total daily calories (5). That’s about 11 to 13 grams of saturated fat for someone eating 2,000 calories a day. One tablespoon of coconut oil contains about 13.5 grams of fat, 11.2 of which is saturated, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Nutrient Database.
That doesn’t mean you should go on a crusade against all saturated fat. “There’s no need to cut out all saturated fat (it wouldn’t be realistic as well), just reduce the amount consumed daily,” Kerkenbush recommends.
Fat is an essential nutrient and a crucial source of energy for the body. Without a certain amount of fat in your diet, your body would cease to perform a number of critical functions, such as enhancing absorption of fat-soluble nutrients (6). In fact, new research suggests that full-fat dairy foods are unlikely to increase risk of heart disease and stroke, two of the leading causes of death in the United States often associated with a diet high in saturated fat (7).
Marcia Otto, one of the study’s authors and an assistant professor in the Department of Epidemiology, Human Genetics and Environmental Sciences at UTHealth School of Public Health, raises a valid point about the importance of evidence-based research in educating people about nutrition.
“Consumers have been exposed to so much different and conflicting information about diet, particularly in relation to fats,” she stated in a press release. “It’s therefore important to have robust studies, so people can make more balanced and informed choices based on scientific fact rather than hearsay.”
So, is coconut oil safe to eat or not? Again, it’s all about moderation, says Katrina Trisko, a registered dietitian based in New York City. “If you enjoy the taste of coconut oil, use it less often, and in smaller amounts,” she says. “It’s also important to take other factors into consideration when it comes to our relative risk for disease. Physical activity plays a very large role in our health—in parallel with what we’re eating.”
Most research shows that monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats, like those found in olive, avocado and canola oils, are the most beneficial, Trisko says. “Focus on getting in the majority of your fats from these unsaturated sources, which are linked to improved cardiovascular health,” she recommends.
For everyday use, Kerkenbush suggests olive, peanut, avocado, canola, sesame, sunflower and safflower oils as healthy options. Of course, that doesn’t mean you should douse your food in oil with reckless abandon. “Adding oil to your diet without decreasing fat intake elsewhere also leads to increased calorie intake, which can result in weight gain,” she warns.
When making dietary choices, it’s best to take a holistic approach. “Focus less on demonizing or glamorizing a single food, and prioritize the bigger picture of your overall health and wellness,” Trisko says. “Eat a wide variety of minimally processed, whole foods, and stay active as often as possible.”
Waste not, want not. That was the motto of our hunter-gatherer forefathers and mothers. After the meat and hide was stripped from the day’s kill, they would stick any remains—including the animal’s bones—into a pot and simmer it over a low fire for hours on end.
The result: a steamy, flavorful stew we now call bone broth, the biggest trend to hit health food store shelves since açaí. Here’s what you need to know about this so-called miracle elixir, including bone broth benefits and how to incorporate it into your diet for maximum results.
What Is Bone Broth?
Like stock, bone broth is made by simmering the bones of an animal over a long period of time. But whereas stock might be used to make soup, bone broth can be a meal in itself, says Dr. Kellyann Petrucci, a naturopathic doctor and author of Dr. Kellyann’s Bone Broth Diet, Dr. Kellyann’s Bone Broth Cookbook and The 10-Day Belly Slimdown.
Many people add vegetables and spices to their bone broth to give it more flavor. “It’s like a fancier version of stock,” says Petrucci, who also serves on the medical advisory board for Genexa.
You can use cow, chicken, poultry and even fish bones. There is a slight difference in the amount of nutrients provided by each animal, but Petrucci says don’t overthink it.
“I always tell people, do not make this hard,” she says. At the end of the day, consuming any bone broth—whether it’s made from turkey or tilapia—is better than none. “This is one of the easiest health changes you’re going to make,” she says.
If you’re feeling ambitious, here’s her easy bone broth recipe: Throw your bones in a pot. Add some chopped celery, onions and carrots. (Again, don’t overthink it by worrying about finely dicing your ingredients, as Petrucci says, “There’s no finessing it. This is as rustic and easy as it gets.”)
Add “whatever spices move you” and cover your concoction with water until the liquid reaches about an inch above the bones.
Simmer on low heat for at least six to 12 hours. “That’s when all the goodness comes out,” says Petrucci.
Bone Broth Benefits
It’s that “goodness” that gives bone broth its healing power. Here are four bone broth benefits you should know about:
1). Reduce Inflammation
You may have been fed chicken soup as a kid when you weren’t feeling well. Heck, you may still break out the ladle when you’re under the weather.
Scientists have long sought to explain why soup is so soothing when we’re sick. So far, the farthest they’ve got is proving in laboratory tests that bone broth can reduce inflammation, according to an article in Harvard Medical School’s Harvard Health Publishing (1). This is the only benefit that’s been proven so far.
Amino acids like proline, glycine and arginine give bone broth its inflammation-fighting powers, says Petrucci. Reducing inflammation in the body can help with everything from weight loss to easing symptoms of chronic conditions like arthritis.
2). Assist with Weight Loss
If weight loss is a goal, it’s not just the broth’s anti-inflammatory agents that will help you reach it. Bone broth also contains fatty acids that can help you feel fuller longer. It’s low in carbs, and a mug only packs about 40 calories, says Petrucci.
“It’s like a meal in a mug, but it’s a powerful meal,” she says. “There’s so much nutritional density and so little calories.”
She uses it to stave off hunger pangs when fasting (“We all splurge,” she says). And remember those amino acids we were raving about earlier? They can help support a healthy liver, which in turn will help your body flush out toxins more efficiently, she says.
3). Support a Healthy Gut
If your bone broth is prepared properly, it will turn into a jelly-like substance when it cools. This is a good thing, says Petrucci.
That gelatin is a byproduct of cooking down collagen. Think of it as aloe vera for your insides, she says.
Just like aloe can soothe your skin after a sunburn, gelatin may help soothe and heal the gut, which can help in treating conditions like constipation and diarrhea. Bone broth is also hydrophilic—science-speak for helping your body absorb water and digestive juices—which means more efficient digestion of foods and nutrients, she says.
A healthier gut can have all kinds of beneficial side effects.
“Your gut expresses itself in the physiology of your skin. If someone wants to have beautiful skin, shiny hair and strong nails, they better make sure their gut is strong,” says Petrucci. “I can look at someone and get a really good 10,000-foot view of what’s going on internally.”
4). Provide Much-Needed Minerals
Bone broth is rich in minerals like calcium, magnesium and phosphorus, says Petrucci. Added bonus: The minerals in bone broth are in a form our bodies can easily absorb.
Many of us don’t get enough minerals in our diet, which is bad news for all the processes in our body that are powered by them, including our endocrine, adrenal and cardiac systems.
The minerals in bone broth can also help us chill out during stressful times.
“Bone broth contains magnesium, which can provide a calming sensation,” says Petrucci. “It takes us down a few notches.”
How to Choose a Bone Broth
While it’s incredibly easy to make your own bone broth, there’s no shame in buying a can (or three) from your favorite store.
Petrucci suggests looking for a broth made with organic ingredients and from the bones of pasture-raised animals. Other than that, it’s just finding a broth that suits your taste buds. “Sometimes you just have to buy it and try it,” she says.
You can also find dehydrated bone broth in flavors like vanilla and chocolate. These are fine too, she says. It’s like anything else: The natural form is better, but not everyone has time to boil down bones themselves.
Once you perfect your bone broth recipe or find a ready-made brand you love, Petrucci recommends drinking two mugs per day.
She says you should start seeing results in about three weeks, because that’s how long it takes the cells in your intestines to regenerate and make the most of the broth’s healing powers.
Golden Bone Broth Recipe
Yield: 1 serving
- 8 ounces homemade or store-bought bone broth
- 1/4 to 1/3 cup coconut milk
- 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric powder or 1-1/2 teaspoon fresh ground turmeric
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder or 1 clove garlic
Add all ingredients to a small pot and heat on medium until the bone broth reaches a slight rolling boil. Then enjoy!
Bone Broth Nutrition Facts
Here is the nutritional content for beef bone broth made with filtered water and broth from organic grass-fed beef bones, according to Petrucci:
Serving size: 8 fl. oz. (1 cup)
Total Fat: 0g – 0%
Saturated Fat: 0g – 0%
Trans Fat: 0g – 0%
Cholesterol: 0mg – 0%
Sodium: 290mg – 13%
Total Carbohydrate: 0g – 0%
Dietary fiber: 0g – 0%
Total sugars: 0g – 0%
Vitamin D: 0mcg – 0%
Calcium: 2mg – 0%
Iron: 0mg – 0%
Potassium: 191mg – 4%
You may already be familiar with castor oil, hemp seed oil, coconut oil, red palm oil and many other oils currently on the market. However, one of the most widely-used oils with great medicinal properties is Nigella Sativa, more commonly known as black cumin. The shrub of this plant produces a fruit with tiny black seeds that can be pressed to extract the oil. Black cumin has become one of the top-ranked, evidence-based herbal medicines to date, and there have been over 600 scientific, peer-reviewed articles published about black seed oil benefits.
What Is Black Seed Oil?
The black cumin plant is native to southern Europe, northern Africa and southwest Asia, and its use can be traced back to King Tut. There is some evidence that the oil and seeds of the plant have been used internally for centuries, in addition to evidence that it was used topically by Egyptians to enhance their skin (the herb was even found in Cleopatra’s tomb!).
The seeds of the plant have also been used as a spice and condiment in both Indian and Middle Eastern cuisines. Black cumin seeds can be dry-roasted to flavor curries and can also be used to flavor bread products or mixed into many other recipes.
Black seed oil’s most active ingredients include the antioxidants thymoquinone, nigellone and beta-sitosterol. The oil also contains iron, selenium, arginine, carotene, calcium, potassium and several other amino acids. In addition, black seed oil contains fatty acids, including omega-9 and omega-6 acids.
Black Seed Oil Benefits
Black seed oil’s medicinal properties stem from the presence of thymoquinone—one of the major active chemical components of the essential oil. Thymoquinone is believed to have a wide range of medical applications and benefits.
Black seed oil can be applied topically to promote skin, nail and hair health, acting as a moisturizer and helping to protect the skin from free radical damage. The antioxidants and omega fatty acids in black seed oil also promote healthy aging of the skin and cell regeneration. Black seed oil can also be applied on the chest to inhale as a vapor or mixed into hot water and inhaled.
As an internal treatment, studies suggest that black seed oil may help promote healthy blood pressure (1) and blood sugar (that is already within normal range) and promote cardiovascular health (2).
Additional black seed oil benefits include:
- Anti-inflammatory properties
- Supports liver health and helps protect the liver
- May have anti-cancer properties
- May help treat a variety of common health conditions including diabetes, bronchitis and asthma
- May be helpful in treating against Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA)
- May help increase milk production in nursing mothers
- May act as an appetite stimulant
- May help to boost the immune system
It’s important to speak with your doctor before taking any new supplements like black seed oil, particularly if you have a medical condition.
Black Seed Oil Side Effects and Precautions
If you have allergies to black cumin or black caraway seeds, black seed oil may cause a rash if applied topically and cause upset stomach, vomiting or constipation if ingested. Black seed oil may thin the blood, so those on blood thinning medications or who have a bleeding disorder should speak with a doctor before taking it. In addition, women who are on birth control, pregnant or nursing should also speak with a doctor before incorporating black seed oil into their routines, as should people with a history of seizures or epilepsy. Additional side effects of black seed oil include hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and low blood pressure.
How to Choose a Black Seed Oil
Black seed oil can come in a liquid, capsule or softgel and the raw seeds can also be purchased. Supplements made from black seeds are usually made up of the basic seed extract in either a crushed powder or oil form.
The best way to consume black seed is via the liquid oil because it contains the most thymoquinone and fatty acids. Check the label of the oil for the amount of thymoquinone per serving. Here are some additional purchasing tips:
- Extraction: The method by which the oil is expressed or extracted from the seeds matters! Slow, cold-pressed means that no heat is used during the extraction process. High temperatures may cause rancidity or cause some of the more volatile oils to evaporate. Avoid any oils that use chemical extraction.
- Purity: The product should be 100 percent pure Nigella Sativa oil and not filled with additives.
- Storage: Look for oil that is stored in a dark, glass bottle that will protect it from both air and light.
- Quality: Look for unrefined vs. refined oil and make sure it’s organic.
In general, adults can take one teaspoon of black seed oil twice daily. If using it for the first time, consider taking a half-teaspoon serving with a small amount of food and gradually increase the dose over a few days or as directed by your medical care professional. You should also check the dosing instructions on the label of whatever black seed oil you purchase. In pill form, the suggested dose is generally two pills twice daily for adults, but it may vary based on brand and your doctor’s recommendations.
Black Seed Oil Storage and Cooking Tips
Black cumin seeds can be eaten raw, boiled, heated, ground as a seasoning or sprinkled on bread and pastries. As an oil, it can be mixed with yogurt, put in salads and added to soups or curries. It can also be used as both a spice or preservative. Be sure to store your black seed oil in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight, and don’t confuse it with other spices like black cohosh, cumin, curcumin or nutmeg.
Black Cumin Seed Salad Dressing
Ready to try cooking with black seed oil? Here’s an easy salad dressing recipe.
- ½ cup black seed oil
- ½ cup apple cider vinegar
- 2 tbsp raw honey
- 2 fresh chopped garlic cloves
- ½ tsp. Ginger root
- Salt and pepper to taste
Combine all the ingredients in a mason jar with a lid and mix/shake until blended together.
When was the last time you thought about the bacteria in your stomach? Probably the last time you came down with a case of food poisoning, right? Well, it’s time to start thinking about what’s going on in your gut more often. That’s because science is unlocking secrets about the powerful connection between the health of the bacteria in your digestive system and your general health.
Good news: If you follow a few simple rules, you can boost your good bacteria (also called probiotics), which may lead to a stronger immune system, a trimmer waistline and improved digestion.
Don’t worry, learning about probiotics is way more fun than coming down with food poisoning.
What Are Probiotics and How Do They Work?
Think of your digestive system as a game of checkers. Let’s say you’re playing as the black pieces. Those pieces are the good guys. The red pieces, by default, are the bad guys. And so greater the number of black pieces and the fewer the number of red pieces on the board, the greater the chance you have of pulling off a win.
The same goes for your digestive health. Probiotics, or beneficial bacteria, are the good guys. The more you have—and the less bad bacteria you have—the more likely you might be to have success with weight loss, digestive issues and other health problems.
You’re probably most familiar with probiotics because of yogurt. Bacteria helps yogurt ferment, giving it that slightly sour yet pleasant taste. Though there are numerous types of probiotics (bifidobacteria, saccharomyces boulardii, bacillus coagulans and other fun names), yogurt manufacturers commonly use the lactobacillus strain in production.
That said, yogurt isn’t the only game in town when it comes to foods with good sources of the beneficial bacteria. Here are some more probiotic foods you may not know.
6 Best Probiotic Foods
Okay, okay, so it’s also referred to as “drinkable yogurt,” but you should include this probiotic-loaded beverage in your diet even if you already eat yogurt. First off, you don’t need a spoon to consume it, and it’s a great base for shakes and smoothies (just substitute it for milk). Second, like milk and yogurt, it’s also a good source of calcium and protein. Oh, and look for unsweetened varieties. “Some kefirs are super high in sugar, so choose one with as little sugar as possible,” says Abby Langer, a registered dietitian and owner of Abby Langer Nutrition in Toronto. “Also, choose one with a high probiotic count—the highest one you can find.”
This fermented Korean condiment is made from cabbage and can contain ginger, garlic, chile peppers, radishes and other ingredients. Some varieties are spicier than others, but you’ll always taste a tanginess, which comes from the fermentation. Kimchi may help contribute to weight loss and delay the effects of aging, the latter likely due to its antioxidant properties, according to a 2016 study published in the journal Frontiers in Microbiology (1). Try some chopped and scrambled into eggs or atop steak tacos.
Like kimchi, this condiment also derives its probiotic powers from fermented cabbage. It’s important, however, that you’re eating real-deal sauerkraut, not the shelf-stable supermarket kind in a can. “Unfortunately, the pasteurization process kills off good bacteria,” Langer says. “Try to find fresh sauerkraut. It’s usually sold in delis.” Yes, kraut is great with bratwurst, but it also works well with the flavors of lighter dishes, such as roasted turkey wraps, grilled chicken or homemade coleslaw. Bonus: Two tablespoons of the stuff contain only five calories.
This bubbly, buzz-worthy drink is technically a fermented tea that’s made with probiotic strains of bacteria and yeasts. Sounds gross? The flavor is actually mellower than you might think and, when chilled, it’s refreshing. The antioxidants within kombucha may have the ability to fight bad bacteria, according to a 2016 lab study published by Indian researchers (2), though more research is needed to prove an effect in humans.
You know this stuff as the primary flavoring to miso soup, but the fermented (seeing a trend here?) soybean paste tastes great in other dishes too. One warning: “If you add it to boiling water, the heat will destroy the good bacteria. Instead, let the water cool a bit before adding the miso if you’re making soup, or use miso paste in salad dressings and other cold sauces,” Langer says. Not only does miso contain probiotics, but soy products in general may help battle diabetes. Study participants who took in more isoflavones, a compound found in miso, tofu and soy milk, had an 11 percent less risk of Type 2 diabetes than participants who ate little, found a 2016 Harvard study (3).
If you think you’re the master of all things fermented foods, if you believe that there’s no funky-tasting flavor you can’t handle, well, then natto is for you. This fermented bean dish looks a little like it’s been covered in stringy snot and smells a lot like stinky feet. It’s loaded with probiotics, but it’s most definitely an acquired taste.
Aside from fermented foods, probiotics can also be found these days in packaged snacks like granola, popcorn and chocolate, as well as in beverages like sparkling water and tea. Unless the probiotic quantity is listed on the nutrition label, however, it’s difficult to determine the potential health benefits of probiotic-enhanced foods and drinks. Probiotic supplements and foods naturally rich in probiotics are likely a surer bet.
Other surprising places probiotics are popping up include face creams, body lotions and deodorants. While there is evidence that probiotic-enhanced skincare products can help restore balance and promote the growth of good bacteria on the skin, the jury is still out on the benefits of probiotic deodorants.
When Should You Take Probiotic Supplements?
The study of probiotics is still evolving in the scientific community, and you won’t find a daily recommended value on your cup of yogurt any time soon either. So until researchers have a better understanding of these beneficial bacteria, don’t put your digestive system under duress eating mounds of fermented foods. Just try to eat a little more. All the foods above aren’t just great sources of probiotics, they’re also just generally great for you.
That said, if you’re suffering from digestive issues, need additional help losing weight or are worried about your immune system, the topic of taking a probiotic supplement may come up. Before doing so, please check with your doctor before purchasing any product. The FDA has not approved any probiotics for preventing or treating any health problem, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. And, because there are so many different strains of even the same type of bacteria, it’s tough to tell which supplements are most effective.
“Because probiotics work beyond the stomach, you also want to ensure that the probiotic you choose has been formulated to survive the acidic environment of the stomach so they make it to the right location in the gut to have an effect,” says Langer.
Your doctor will know best.
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When it comes to cooking oils, there is a whole world beyond olive oil. But with so many different options to choose from, how do you know which one to reach for?
While some oils are considered all-purpose, good for sautéing, roasting and more, other varieties are more suitable for salad dressings and marinades. And once you throw smoke points into the equation, it can get pretty overwhelming.
What’s a smoke point, exactly? Something pretty serious, actually. “When an oil is heated above its natural limit, it starts to break down and become oxidized,” explains Liz McKinney, a certified nutritionist at the Counseling & Wellness Center of Pittsburgh. “Oxidation causes free radical production, which damages our cells and can even promote cancerous cell formation.”
When you exceed the smoke point, it’s not only bad for the body upon ingestion, but it can burn the oils, making them taste bad, adds Erin Peisach, a registered dietitian nutritionist based in San Diego, California. “Unsaturated fats are quite fragile,” she says.
That’s where storage of your cooking oils becomes a key element, too. Since light can promote oxidation, McKinney advises keeping oils in dark glass bottles and storing them in a cool, dry, dark place.
From preparation to overall health benefits, here’s everything you need to know about some of the most popular cooking oils out there.
7 Popular Cooking Oils
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
A personal favorite of many, including Peisach, the heart-healthy extra virgin olive oil is rich in antioxidants and healthy fats. “It’s one of the highest in monounsaturated fats and doesn’t require chemical or high-heat extraction processes, which can damage the oil,” Peisach says.
A major component in a Mediterranean-style diet, extra virgin olive oil can be used as a dipping oil (hello, bread!) or as a key ingredient in a vinaigrette. It should not be heated past 320 degrees (you can use light olive oil for high-heat cooking). If you don’t love the taste of olive oil, Peisach suggests swapping it with the more neutral tasting avocado oil.
This superstar oil is “packed with monounsaturated fats,” McKinney says. With a smoke point of about 520 degrees, avocado oil is equally ideal for sautéing, roasting and searing as it is for dressings and dips.
“Primarily a saturated fat and solid at room temperature, coconut oil is an amazing source of caprylic acid, which promotes ketone production, increases HDL cholesterol, promotes brain health and has powerful antimicrobial and antifungal properties,” McKinney raves. With a smoke point of 350 degrees, coconut oil is ideal for frying, baking and sautéing.
However, if you’re not a fan of the taste of coconut, seek out a coconut oil that is refined, as it has a more neutral flavor.
Unrefined sesame oil has a smoke point of 350 degrees and should be used sparingly in dishes like stir fries and salads. That’s because it has a high omega-6/omega-3 ratio, which McKinney says “can promote inflammation and damage cells.” (The ideal ratio is 1:1, she says.)
Like sesame oil, sunflower oil should be used sparingly, McKinney says, as it also has a high omega-6/omega-3 ratio. With a smoke point of 440 degrees, it can be used for frying and baking, as well as drizzled on salads.
Flaxseed oil is best when used on salads, McKinney says, as it has a low smoke point of 225 degrees. “Flaxseeds are a good source of an omega-3 called alpha-linolenic acid, which is important for brain health, but it also contains a good amount of omega-6s, so proceed with caution,” McKinney says.
Almond oil is another good source of monounsaturated fat, McKinney says. With a 420 degree smoke point, it’s ideal for frying, roasting and baking, as well as in cold preparations, such as homemade butters and salad dressings.
Cooking Oils to Avoid
“Oil is part of a healthy, balanced diet, but it’s important to avoid highly processed pro-inflammatory oils,” Peisach advises.
“As a general rule, avoid most vegetable oils,” McKinney adds. “Vegetable oils have a higher omega-6 content to omega-3 content and promote inflammation.”
Oils to use with caution or to avoid using on a daily basis include soybean oil, peanut oils, corn oil, grape seed oil and safflower oil, McKinney says.
What to Consider When Buying Cooking Oils
When shopping for cooking oils, McKinney recommends people look for “organic, non-GMO, cold pressed or centrifuge extracted and unrefined” varieties.
Cold pressed, Peisach explains, “implies a colder temperature was used during the extraction process, which helps retain the oil’s natural properties compared to high-heat extraction that can change the quality of the oil.”
This means that the oil was “not extracted from chemically treated or genetically modified crops, and was not processed at a high heat, which can cause rancidity and oxidation,” McKinney adds. (These can include expeller-pressed oils, which were made via a mechanical oil extraction process, Peisach explains.)
And what’s the difference between refined and unrefined oils? “Refined oils are less nutrient dense than unrefined oils, but when cooking at higher heats, refined oils are a better choice since they have a higher smoke point,” McKinney says.
“When consuming oils and foods that are in the right form, with the nutrient preserving extraction process, our food becomes a kind of therapy and truly nourishes us,” McKinney concludes.
Life is entirely too short to skip ice cream altogether. But hey, it doesn’t have to leave you filled with guilt of “Why did I eat that?” I’ve got you covered with this nice cream recipe. I’m telling you, you can eat an unlimited serving of “nice” cream, so I recommend taking this recipe and doubling it.
What Is Nice Cream?
“Nice” cream is your friend.
It’s made without:
- Artificial flavors
- Added sweeteners
It’s actually the most perfect food because it takes like dessert but it’s made with fruit—that’s it.
Be forewarned, you might feel like you’re indulging in something naughty and delicious, but this is a completely guilt-free, cruelty-free, and plant-based treat. It also contains a total of three ingredients: mango, dates, and a plant-based milk of your choice.
I recommend using an unsweetened, preferably homemade, milk to keep this recipe super clean.
The Benefits of Mango
Mango, my summer secret weapon (also used in my Detox + Chill smoothie), is so creamy and smooth so it offers up a consistency similar to ice cream. Unlike dairy, mangoes offer a variety of health benefits and an abundance of minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants. Mangoes have been shown to alkalize the body, lower cholesterol, clear skin, and improve eye health. Can your ice cream do that? I didn’t think so.
Mango Nice Cream Recipe
Serves 4 (Remember what I said about eating it all on your own? That’s 100% allowed.)
YOU WILL NEED:
- High speed blender
- Tamper (helpful for thick mixtures by pushing the mixture down while blending)
- 4 Cups Frozen Mango
- 2 Pitted Dates
- ¼ cup favorite plant milk (I love cashew milk, unsweetened)
- Place all the ingredients in your high speed blender.
- Blend until you get a smooth and creamy consistency. Use the tamper stick to press down the mixture. Make sure to not over process; I like mine with small mango and date pieces.
- Serve immediately and top with your favorite toppings. My favorites include: chia seeds, almond butter, pumpkin seeds, shredded coconut, and granola.
Enjoy, and seriously, don’t share if you don’t have to.
Nobody wants to overeat, but stress, exhaustion, anger and other emotions can get the best of us. The result? The majority of adults are overweight or obese, thereby increasing the risk for Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.
When your stomach starts rumbling, ghrelin—known as the hunger hormone—is secreted. This sends “Feed me!” signals to the brain. Another hormone, leptin, is an appetite suppressor that tells your brain you’re full. But if you overeat on a regular basis, you can become inured to the power of leptin, so you continue to eat.
“Hunger hormones must be balanced by satiety hormones if wish not to be hungry or fatigued,” explains biochemist Barry Sears, best known for creating the Zone Diet.
What Are Appetite Suppressants?
For years, appetite suppressants in the form of pills, shakes and supplements have been sold both over-the-counter and by prescription for those who have lost touch with their leptin.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, medications classified as appetite suppressants act upon the body’s central nervous system, tricking the body into believing that it’s not hungry (1). Some examples of prescription appetite suppressants include: benzphetamine, diethylpropion, mazindol and phentermine. These medications generally come in the form of tablets or extended-release capsules.
While the pills sound like a magic bullet for getting rid of those excess pounds, the drugs’ effects tend to wear off after a few weeks. They also can have side effects, including increased heart rate and blood pressure, sweating, constipation and insomnia.
“Certain foods are a much better way to control appetite than appetite suppressants,” says Julene Stassou, a registered dietitian based in Fort Lee, New Jersey. “These foods create a feeling of satiety that lasts longer than a pill, without the side effects.”
By eating right and staying active, you’re far more likely to keep your weight—as well as the emotions that lead to overeating—at bay. Here are five R.D.-approved foods for staving off hunger naturally.
5 Best Natural Appetite Suppressants
When it comes to smart, satisfying snacking, you can’t go wrong with a handful of almonds. “They go a long way in keeping you full,” says Stassou.
In a four-week randomized study, published in the European Journal of Critical Nutrition, researchers found that those who snacked on almonds weren’t as hungry during meals (2). Even more important, they were not found to increase the risk for weight gain.
An ounce of almonds (about 23 nuts) has heart-healthy unsaturated fat and 6 grams of protein. But when snacking on almonds, portion control is key. A serving has 163 calories. If you’re one of those people who can’t keep your hand out of the bag once you’ve opened it, single-serve packs are a great option, Stassou suggests.
At breakfast or as a snack, protein-filled eggs help control appetite while also keeping your body fat in check.
A 2013 University of Missouri study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found that people who ate scrambled eggs for breakfast were less hungry at lunchtime than those who ate cereal (3). Blood tests also showed that those who ate the eggs had lower levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin.
One large egg has about 70 calories and contains about 6 grams of protein, 5 grams of fat and 186 milligrams of cholesterol.
The study also concluded that eating breakfast, even if it’s something lower in protein like cereal or toast with butter, staved off hunger in study participants more than it did for those who ate no breakfast at all. But since the high-protein benefits kept those in the study feeling full for longer, Stassou suggests not limiting egg intake to breakfast.
“Hard-boiled eggs are a nutritious on-the-go snack,” she says. Some may also flip over the idea of an omelet filled with fresh veggies for dinner. The versatility of eggs makes them a go-to any time of day or night.
This summer staple is a go-to for suppressing appetite and satisfying your sweet tooth. “It’s a high-volume food,” explains Stassou, which means it’s rife with both water and fiber.
The concept of eating water sounds a bit strange at first, but a Penn State study published in 2000 suggests that water in food is chemically different than water you drink as a beverage (4). It leaves the stomach more slowly, making you feel fuller.
At 85 calories, a serving of watermelon contains 1.1 grams of dietary fiber for digestive health as well as potassium, a mineral that helps keep blood pressure in check. All of this adds up to a dessert that will fill you up without filling you out.
Green tea has gotten a lot of attention in recent years for its healthful properties. When it comes to suppressing appetite, the evidence is mounting that sipping hot green tea or ingesting green tea in extract form may help curtail appetite, leading you to drop some pounds.
The substances in green tea actually increase levels of hormones that instruct fat cells to break down fat. Doing so releases fat into the bloodstream and makes it available as energy. In one study of 60 obese individuals, the group taking green tea extract lost 7.3 pounds and burned 183 more calories daily after three months (5).
However, not all studies pinpoint green tea as a metabolism booster—it really depends on the individual. Still, sipping on a hot cup of green tea is extremely relaxing, so it’s worth giving it a try between meals.
Turns out that bread made with barley kernels may be preferable to white or whole wheat if you’re trying to eat less.
Researchers at the Food for Health Science Centre at Lund University in Sweden found that certain indigestible carbs, like barley kernels, stimulate gut-derived hormones involved in appetite regulation (6). In the small study, 20 middle-aged participants ate barley kernel bread three times a day for three days. (Others ate white wheat bread.) The participants who were served barley kernel bread experienced decreased blood sugar and insulin levels as well as improved appetite control.
So, when choosing bread, opt for one that’s high in fiber.
Other Ways to Curb Your Appetite
In addition to the foods you eat, your habits can also help manage hunger and cravings. Here are a few habits worth adopting, according to science:
1) Drink More Water
“Drinking water is key,” says Stassou. “Our brain can confuse thirst and hunger, so we want to make sure we drink about eight glasses of liquid that is non-caffeinated, including seltzer and herbal tea.”
2) Get Your Zzzzs
Is a lack of sleep leading you to eat more than you otherwise would? A growing body of research seems to back up that claim. “Poor sleep can increase hormones that control our appetite,” says Stassou. One study found that sleep deprivation has been linked to higher ghrelin levels, increased hunger and higher BMI (7).
3) Stress Less
When your body experiences stress, it unleashes hormones (hello, ghrelin!) that push you to overeat—and chances are you’re reaching for cookies over kale. One published review, which took a close look at ghrelin’s impact on weight, found that stress increases ghrelin, which further stimulates appetite. This, in turn, might impede efforts to maintain your weight after you’ve shed pounds (8). In addition, numerous animal studies report that physical or emotional distress tend to increase intake of fat, sugar or both.
4) Meditate, Early and Late
According to the Harvard Mental Health Letter, studies suggest that meditation reduces stress (9). While much of the research has focused on high blood pressure and heart disease, devoting a few minutes to quiet contemplation may also help you become more mindful of food choices. With practice, you will likely pay better attention to the impulse to grab a fat- and sugar-loaded comfort food and inhibit it before you do something you’ll regret.
5) Eat a Balanced Plate
At mealtime, dividing your plate between protein, fat and low-glycemic carbs may make you less likely to feel hungry after lunch or dinner. “The best appetite suppressant is a balanced meal consisting of about 25 grams of protein, about 12 grams of fat and no more than 40 grams of low-glycemic carbs (primarily as non-starchy vegetables) as demonstrated by Harvard Medical in 1999,” says Sears. Stassou also warns against processed food like cakes and cookies, which can spike blood sugar and make you hungrier.
Risks to Consider with Appetite Suppressants
Are there any risks to consider with natural appetite suppressants? First, before altering your diet, speak to your doctor, especially if you have one or more health issues. In addition, keep portion sizes in mind, since too much of a good thing can have the opposite effect, causing you to gain weight.
Lastly, pregnant women or those breastfeeding should avoid using appetite suppressants altogether, particularly those from the local drug store or pharmacy.
“In the short-term, they can affect neurotransmission and increased sympathetic nervous system outputs that may have an adverse [effect] on the fetus,” explains Sears. Keeping your pregnancy pounds in check may be less important than the health of your baby, so definitely talk to your OB/GYN about how to control your appetite when you’re “eating for two.”
When it comes to energy levels, vitamin B12 and iron get all of the glory. But magnesium, an essential nutrient that supports almost every function in the body and improves energy, is relatively unknown by most of us.
So, What Does Magnesium Do?
“Magnesium is important in over 300 functions in the body,” says Tina Marinaccio, a registered dietitian nutritionist based in Morristown, New Jersey. “It aids in nerve and muscle conduction, immune function, and stimulates calcitonin, a hormone that helps pull calcium into the skeleton for strong bones.”
And studies suggest that magnesium can prevent:
- Heart disease (1)
- Osteoporosis (2)
- Type 2 diabetes (3)
- Migraines (4)
- Preterm labor (5)
Why Americans Aren’t Getting Enough Magnesium
Despite how important magnesium is for overall health, the World Health Organization reports that less than 60 percent of Americans are getting adequate amounts of the mineral (6).
“Soils are not as nutrient-rich as they once were, and Americans are consuming more processed foods high in calories but low in nutrients,” Marinaccio says. Plus, our drinking water, which used to contain magnesium, is now mostly stripped of the mineral.
Magnesium Deficiency Symptoms
According to Marinaccio, signs you’re not getting enough magnesium may include:
- Frequent muscle cramps
- Mood swings
- Trouble sleeping
- Loss of appetite
- Irregular heartbeat (or arrhythmia)
If you think you may have a deficiency, talk to your health care provider. There are many simple blood tests that can tell you for sure.
10 Foods High in Magnesium
The National Institutes of Health has set daily recommended allowance (RDA) targets of 400-420 milligrams for men and 310-320 milligrams for women (7). To ensure you’re getting enough of this crucial mineral, incorporate these magnesium-rich foods (8) into your meals:
Spinach (156 mg per cup): Whether you eat it cooked or raw, spinach provides a major nutrition boost. This veggie contains a variety of vitamins (including vitamins A, C and K1) as well as folic acid, iron and calcium (9).
Almonds (80 mg per ounce): Not only do almonds contain 19 percent of your RDA for magnesium, these little powerhouses also pack 6 grams of protein per ounce, plus fiber and 14 grams of heart-healthy fat (10).
Cashews (74 mg per ounce): Snacking on these naturally cholesterol-free nuts may prevent heart disease (11) because, just like almonds, they contain monounsaturated fat. Cashews also contain arginine, which may have a protective effect on artery walls.
Black beans (60 mg per ½ cup): Toss these legumes into salads, chili or tacos to help strengthen your bones. The hefty amount of magnesium in black beans paired with iron, phosphorous, calcium, copper and zinc (12) all work together to help build bone strength and ward off osteoporosis.
Edamame (50 mg per ½ cup, shelled): Next time you get sushi, start with edamame as an appetizer. These beans provide protein, healthy fat, dietary fiber, calcium, iron and phosphorus (13). Plus, like other soy foods, they contain isoflavones, a compound believed to lower the risk of cancer (14).
Avocado (44 mg per 1 cup): Avocado is known as a superfood for good reason. The fruit contains over 17 essential vitamins and minerals, plus protein, healthy fat and fiber (15).
Baked potato (43 mg per potato with skin): Potatoes are naturally free from fat, sodium and cholesterol. And they contain more potassium and magnesium than a banana (16).
Yogurt (42 mg per cup): Like many dairy products, yogurt is known for its high protein and calcium content. But it also contains probiotics, which research suggests may improve digestion and immune function (17).
Brown rice (42 mg per ½ c, cooked): This healthy whole-grain contains fiber, as well as a variety of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
Banana (32 mg per medium banana): Although they’re known for their high potassium content, bananas also provide 8 percent of your RDA for magnesium. Studies show the fruit may also help regulate blood sugar (18), promote weight loss and prevent heart disease (19).
When to Try Magnesium Supplements
Adding foods high in magnesium to your diet may help prevent you from developing a magnesium deficiency, but if you already suspect that you have a true deficiency, speak to your health care provider. Your doctor can talk to you about how to choose a magnesium supplement and help you find the one most suited for your needs.
Some magnesium supplements (like those with magnesium oxide) may irritate the gastrointestinal tract or cause diarrhea. It’s also important to take into account how much magnesium you consume naturally in your diet. Although magnesium is a vital mineral and most people don’t get enough, getting too much can cause side effects like low blood pressure, confusion and other serious issues.
Now that you’re aware of how important this mineral is, keep an eye on how much you’re getting. And next time you need an energy boost, turn to foods high in magnesium!
This post was provided by our friends at 22 Days Nutrition.
Going plant-based sure comes with its perks. The benefits are endless, from increased energy, to guilt-free delicious foods, to saving hundreds of dollars on groceries and more!
Let’s take a dive deep into some of the perks of starting a plant-based diet.
Plant-Based Diet Benefits
Guilt-Free and Delicious Foods
The beauty of a plant-based diet is that you really don’t have to give up the foods you love. If you typically love foods like pizza, burgers and ice cream, you would be amazed with the variety of delicious plant-based alternatives you can find that taste just as good and maybe even better!
Plant Protein Outperforms Whey Protein
Whey protein powders can leave you feeling bloated and gassy, which is why more people are turning to plant-based protein powders. Not only are they easier to digest, but they are also free of antibiotics, cholesterol, gums and lactose. They can also help reduce inflammation and offer a complete amino-acid profile.
Studies show that people can save up to $750 on food when they cut animal products from their diet. Meal planning, especially, is a great way to organize your meals, save money and waste less food. The convenient 22 Days Meal Planner can help you do just that.
Full Body Health
When you take out excessive calories, fat and sugar, what do you get? Better health, of course! The high fiber content can help improve digestion and may prevent certain cancers related to that area. You’re also getting all of the benefits you get from the many nutrient-dense foods, vitamins and minerals you’ll be consuming. A plant-based diet can help lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels and decrease your risk of heart disease and cancer. It can also help promote overall increased health and reduce your risk of illness. Plus, you’ll be cutting all of the fats that make you gain weight!
Keep in mind, you’re making an impact even if you eat just one plant-based meal a day. You’re contributing to the reduction of your carbon footprint, conservation of water and the increase of more land and resources.
Here are some favorite recipes from 22 Days Nutrition that feature their organic, non-GMO, gluten-free and soy-free Plant Power Protein Powders, with 20 grams of protein per serving.
Chocolate Ice Cream
2 sliced frozen bananas
4-6 tablespoons almond milk
¼ cup Chocolate Plant Power Protein Powder
- In food processor or high speed blender, blend together bananas, 4 tablespoons almond milk and protein powder.
- If necessary, add up to an additional 2 tablespoons almond milk to get the consistency you want.
- Scoop into two to three bowls if serving now, or put entire mixture in freezer for one hour for a firmer ice cream. Enjoy!
Of course, you can easily make vanilla ice cream by swapping out the chocolate protein for vanilla.
Tropical Sunrise Smoothie Bowl
You can almost taste the tropical sun when you enjoy this smoothie bowl for breakfast!
1 scoop Strawberry Plant Power Protein Powder
½ cup frozen mango
½ cup frozen peaches
½ cup frozen strawberries
½ cup plant-based milk (coconut tastes especially nice with this blend)
1-2 tablespoons granola
1-2 tablespoons nuts
1 tabelspoon hemp, pumpkin or sunflower seeds
1 tablespoon dried unsweetened coconut flakes
¼ cup mango
- Place all ingredients into a blender (or food processor) and blend until desired consistency.
- Pour into a bowl.
- Top with toppings of choice.
Peanut Butter Smoothie
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 frozen banana
1 scoop Vanilla Plant Power Protein Powder
1 tablespoon peanut butter
½ cup ice (optional)
1 tablespoon crushed peanuts
1 teaspoon of peanut butter
- Blend all ingredients until smooth.
- Serve, top with peanuts, drizzle peanut butter and enjoy!
Recipe provided by our friends at Lakanto
Whipped cream, the irresistible dessert topping you’ve probably eaten directly from a can of Redi-Whip (at least) once. If you’re avoiding sugar, you may have had to forgo it on your lattes, hot chocolate, etc—but no more! Monkfruit sweeps in to save the day. You won’t believe what few ingredients it takes to whip up this fluffy topping, and you also won’t believe how similar to real sugar Monkfruit tastes (bye bye artificial sweetener aftertaste!)
Pour all ingredients into a mixing bowl and mix until you reach a consistency you like! You can add a few more drops of Monkfruit until you reach your desired sweetness. Use as you would any conventional whipped cream topping.
Fruit smoothies can be a delicious way to start your day, but they often fall short on protein. This Berry Coconut Almond Protein Smoothie recipe doesn’t skimp on nutrients—or flavor! The secret ingredient? Egg white protein.
By adding a scoop of egg white protein to your smoothie, you’ll get a whopping 23 grams of protein. Egg whites are not only high in protein but also free of cholesterol, fats and carbohydrates.
Non-dairy milk, coconut oil and almond butter provide a healthy fat boost, while mixed berries and banana add fiber and potassium.
Egg white protein is also lactose free, making this smoothie an ideal option for people with lactose intolerance. Here’s how to make it:
Berry Coconut Almond Protein Smoothie
1 cup frozen mixed berries
½ ripe banana, fresh or frozen
1 scoop MRM Natural Egg White Protein (vanilla)
1 cup unsweetened almond or coconut milk
1 tablespoon LuckyEats Coconut Oil, melted
1-2 tablespoons Justin’s Honey Almond Butter
Topping: 1 tablespoon coconut flakes (optional)
- Place mixed berries, banana, egg white protein and non-dairy milk in a blender.
- Slowly pour in coconut oil while blending to avoid clumping. Blend until smooth.
- Drizzle almond butter inside a glass and swirl to coat the sides.
- Pour smoothie into the glass and top with coconut flakes, if desired. Sip and enjoy!
Meal replacement shakes are marketed to help kickstart a healthier lifestyle, aid in weight loss programs and act as healthier snack options, but can we trust that they are our best choice to achieve these goals?
When you’re on a time crunch and need to eat on the go, sometimes meal replacements are the only option, so who can blame you? A smoothie or shake can be a great go-to—but only if it’s nutritionally balanced.
We talked to the experts to find out how to determine whether meal replacement shakes are your best bet and how to integrate them into your diet.
Meal Replacement Shake Guidelines
So should you integrate meal replacement shakes into your diet? Depending on your eating style, it can be a good idea to have a shake with salad or fruit alongside, given that the shake you choose is an appropriate one for your specific goals.
Eating healthy food is your best option, of course. But for simplicity and convenience—when time is of the essence and you just don’t have a moment to sit and eat—go for the shake that factors:
- Quality protein
- Healthy fat
- Vitamins and minerals
When It Comes to Replacing Meals
Rachel Kreider, a registered dietitian and supplement formulator for BodyBuilding.com, says that some meal replacement shakes can do just that—replace a meal. Look for shakes that are properly formulated though.
“Meal replacement shakes are a super convenient way to get nourishment,” Kreider explains. “But, look for a product that contains high-quality protein, fiber, healthy fat and a vitamin and mineral blend.”
When It Comes to Losing Weight
While some shakes can effectively help you control your calorie intake, which is a huge part of weight loss, it shouldn’t be your main source of fuel. Not all calories are created equal. In fact, Dr. Lori Shemek, diet and weight loss expert, nutritionist and psychologist, doesn’t recommend meal replacement shakes if you’re trying to lose weight.
“Overall, they tend to be short on calories, nutrients, fiber, healthy fat and protein,” she explains. “In order to lose weight, you must have all of these. If the shake is high in sugar—which, many are—it is promoting the fat storage hormone insulin.”
When It Comes to Snacking
If you’re on the go and need something quick and healthy, meal replacement shakes could be a great idea—given that they’re not packed with sugar or unhealthy fats, says Shemek. And while you can drink a meal replacement shake as a snack, you still have to make sure you’re consuming a balanced diet. Shakes can be a part of that, but not your only source for nutrients.
“All of this is goal dependent,” Kreider says. “If you want to lose weight, you’ll need to make sure you’re not consuming too many calories. If you want to build muscle, a product that contains high-quality protein is key and could be a great pre- or post-workout snack.”
Before You Drink a Meal Replacement Shake
And just like not all calories are created equal, not all shakes are created equal. “Some are packed with sugar, preservatives and troublesome ingredients, not to mention they’re not satisfying, which can lead to hunger and cravings,” Shemek warns.
You should also never confuse protein shakes with meal replacement shakes. If you consume too much protein, your body will increase glucose, which then triggers insulin.
Factor in your goals, understand what your body needs and take it from there. You may realize that a handful of nuts, a sliced avocado, a piece of fruit or a hard-boiled egg are your best go-tos when you’re strapped for time.