Tag Archives: yogurt

Top 5 snacking myths – Tufts

I confess: I am a snacker. When I had my weight problem: weight over 220 pounds and 44 inch waist, snacking was one of the reasons. But, it doesn’t have to be that way. Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter agrees.

People in the U.S. are snacking more than ever before. According to a 2019 survey, 59 percent of adults worldwide prefer snacking to eating regular meals, and that figure jumps to 70 percent for young people. We have a lot of misconceptions about this increasingly common activity that can have an outsized impact on our health. Let’s take a look at five common myths:

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Myth 1: Snacking is healthy (or unhealthy)

Snacking in and of itself is neither healthy nor unhealthy. A snack is, technically, any food eaten between meals. Unhealthy foods are clearly…well…unhealthy, but even healthy foods can cause unhealthy weight gain if they lead to excess calorie intake. If you are hungry between meals, choose low calorie foods, so you don’t end up eating more calories than your body needs in a day. The fact is, very few well-designed studies have looked at the impact of eating frequency on health, so we have little evidence to support either health benefits or detriments to snacking versus sticking to three meals per day.

Although trends indicate people are looking for healthier snack options, much of what they are getting is junk food in misleading packaging. Market research shows a rising demand for organic and plant-based foods, and products without additives. Organic potato chips, rice crackers, and even some cookies and candy bars meet all three of those criteria, but they are not necessarily good choices. Refined grains (like white flour and rice flour), added sugars (including concentrated fruit juice, honey, agave nectar, and “raw” sugar), and saturated fats (including butter and coconut oil) are associated with health problems even if they are organic, “natural,” vegan, gluten-free, or any other “health-halo” label food manufacturers put on the package.


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The Dairy Food Group – Tufts

There are few foods for which dietary recommendations and popular ideology are as far apart as they are for dairy. The internet is full of warnings on the dangers of any and all dairy consumption, but (low-fat) dairy products are key components of research-supported healthy dietary patterns. Emerging research suggests a more nuanced approach to the dairy food group may be necessary.

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Beyond Saturated Fat: Dairy products are rich sources of beneficial dietary calcium and added vitamin D, but dairy—except fat-free and low-fat (1%)—is also a top contributor of saturated fat in the U.S. diet, and higher amounts of saturated fat relative to mono- and polyunsaturated fats is associated with increased risk for heart disease and stroke. But looking at saturated fat content alone may not tell the whole story of dairy and health. “Dairy contains a complex mix of different fatty acids, plus vitamins and other constituents,” says Dariush Mozaffarian, MD, DrPH, dean of the Friedman School and editor-in-chief of Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter. “It can also be fermented (like cheese) or have live probiotics (like yogurt). Each of these factors can create varying biological effects.”


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Experts on fermented foods rise in popularity

The increasingly trendy trio of kefir, kimchi and kombucha may not be familiar to you, but experts say fermented foods like these can help the home of most of your immune system – your gut.

How and why some (not all) fermented foods work is an unraveling mystery that goes back to hunter-gatherer humans. Today, nutrition scientists say to look beyond “probiotic” and “prebiotic” labels to select the right fermented foods for you.

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Don’t fall for the “best superfoods” lists that rank fermented foods highly, warned the International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics (ISAPP) in January in a consensus statement published in Nature Reviews Gastroenterology & Hepatology. The science is still mixed on the specific nutritional benefits, and the organization calls for more randomized controlled trials to bear out some of the promising effects researchers have seen in labs.

These tips from experts can help sort what’s hype and what’s the real thing. First, a primer.

What is a -biotic anyway?

Your gut is home to trillions of microorganisms. While an antibiotic medicine stunts or destroys microorganisms, a prebiotic is non-digestible fiber that feeds good bacteria.

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Fermented food ideas … Tufts

With the exception of yogurt and miso soup, I confess to a great deal of ignorance about fermented foods. I thought this write-up from Tufts health & Nutrition Letter was very informative.

yogurt with strawberries

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Fermented foods may be the oldest “new” food trend around. The process is as old as civilization itself, and fermented foods are consumed in nearly every culture in the world. While researchers attempt to tease out how the changes caused by fermentation actually impact health, many not-fully-substantiated health claims are being made. Let’s take a look at what we know, and don’t know, about these promising (and tasty) foods.

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High fiber, yogurt diet associated with lower lung cancer risk

A diet high in fiber and yogurt is associated with a reduced risk for lung cancer, according to a study by Vanderbilt University Medical Center researchers published in JAMA Oncology according to Medical Express.

woman holding spoon trying to eat white food

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The benefits of a diet high in fiber and yogurt have already been established for cardiovascular disease and gastrointestinal cancer. The new findings based on an analysis of data from studies involving 1.4 million adults in the United States, Europe and Asia suggest this diet may also protect against lung . Continue reading


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Is Yogurt the Secret to Happiness?

I always have had positive feelings about yogurt. Nice to see some really upbeat facts about it, too.


To read more on the benefits of positive psychology, check out:

What is Positive Psychology?

What are the top Habits of Healthy Happy Productive People?

Why Should I be Happy?


Our Better Health

Recent research reveals fascinating new connections between gut and brain — and yogurt’s mood-boosting abilities.

By Reynard Loki / AlterNet December 15, 2015

Scientists have long known that the brain sends signals to the gut, a process that reveals why stress, for example, can express itself through gastrointestinal symptoms. But it wasn’t until 2013, when researchers at the UCLA uncovered the first evidence that the signal can go the other way as well: from gut to brain.

By studying a group of women who regularly ate yogurt — and with it, the beneficial bacteria known as probiotics — they found that ingested bacteria in food can affect human brain function, effectively altering the way the brain responds to the environment. Specifically, the researchers found that the bacteria in yogurt may help relieve anxiety and stress by reducing activity in the insula, the region of the brain responsible for emotion.


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Gut wars! Arm yourself with yogurt and prosper

I posted on the value of yogurt several days ago. Now comes Vinny Grette with a further and fuller explanation.

Cook Up a Story

Grilled pineapple, sweetened greek yogurt, cinnamon & almonds Yogurt, yogurt everywhere!

 En garde!

Trillions of bacteria live happily in our gut. The goodies among them help us digest our food and absorb its nutrients. They also help our body make vitamins, absorb minerals, and get rid of  toxins. They make our immune system strong. And best of all, they work on our brain cells to help them battle anxiety, stress, and depression. Friendly bugs in our gut make up the army that protects us from disease, including mental illness.

Good bacteria, called probiotics, come to us in fermented foods. Buttermilk, pickles, sauerkraut, kimchi, sour dough bread, raw-milk cheeses and kefir all harbor the good guys. For many, though, probiotics march forth  into our gut in yogurt.

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Does A Yogurt A day Keep Diabetes Away?

Senior researcher on the study Frank Hu, Harvard School of Public Health, says: “We found that higher intake of yogurt is associated with a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, whereas other dairy foods and consumption of total dairy did not show this association. The consistent findings for yogurt suggest that it can be incorporated into a healthy dietary pattern.”

Cooking with Kathy Man

A high intake of yogurt has been found to be associated with a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes, according to research published in open access journal BMC Medicine. This highlights the importance of having yogurt as part of a healthy diet.

Type 2 diabetes is a chronic condition that occurs when the body doesn’t produce enough insulin, or the body’s cells develop resistance to insulin. There is an increased risk of developing it if a relative has the condition or if an individual has an unhealthy lifestyle. Approximately 366 million people are affected by type 2 diabetes worldwide and it is estimated this will increase to 552 million people by 2030, which puts pressure on global healthcare systems.

Researchers from Harvard School of Public Health pooled the results of three prospective cohort studies that followed the medical history and lifestyle habits of health professionals. These studies were the…

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Five Real Foods for Every Cyclist’s Pantry – Guest Post – Kelli Jennings

Regular readers know that I am a nearly daily bike rider here in Chicago. As such I read some cycling blogs, too. One of my faves is Loving the Bike.

And, one of that blog’s regular contributors is Kelli Jennings, an Expert Sports Nutritionist who writes Ask the Sports Nutritionist.

Kelli is not only a world class athlete, but also a first rate nutritionist who writes clearly and accurately about her healthy and intelligent eating.

She recently wrote an item 5 Real Foods for Every Cyclist’s Pantry that I thought would interest you. Most importantly, you do not have to be a cyclist to benefit from Kelli’s information. I have written about a number of these foods as beneficial to every person. These foods should be in your pantry, too, whether you ride a bike or not.


The world is full of great foods for cyclists.  Foods that energize, foods that heal, and foods that reduce risk of illness.  As a bonus, many of these same foods taste great.  There’s no shortage of great foods from which to choose for everyday eating, and for training fuel.  And yet, there are some foods that stand out above the rest.
Here is simple list of five real-food, whole-food options that have specific benefits to athletes.  Some help with joint pain, others with energy, and one with oxygen delivery.  If you haven’t tried them, this season may be a great time to add them to your diet.

 Here are 5 Foods that should be in every cyclist’s pantry:

1) Organic Coconut oil: A saturated fat known for its light coconut taste and high-smoke point, organic coconut oil can serve an athlete by being a great energy source in both everyday nutrition and training nutrition.  It is largely made up of Lauric Acid, a fatty acid that hasanti-microbial properties, promotes insulin sensitivity in cells (which discourages diabetes and fat storage), and potentially improves heart health markers.832505-coconut-oil

Before you read further, you may be under the impression that coconut oil is off-limits because it’s a saturated fat.  First, take note that not all saturated fats are the same.  Just like some unsaturated fats are better for you than others (fish oil vs. corn oil for example), some saturated fats are better for you than others.  Organic, extra virgin coconut oil contains a very high percentage of Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs).  In chemistry terms, this means that the carbon chain has a medium length.  The length of carbons chains, where any double-bonds are located, and the amount of hydrogens attached to the carbons drives how nutrients are used in our bodies.  MCTs have the advantage of begin very easily digested, without need of extra lipid enzymes and bile salts.  They are used directly by the mitochondria (energy producers) of the cells, and seldom stored as fat. Furthermore, they do not negatively affect cholesterol levels or overall health.

How to add organic coconut oil: First, incorporate organic extra-virgin coconut oil into your everyday nutrition choices by using it in stir-fries, baked goods or as a replacement for butter.  Second, use it for Training Nutrition as a great energy source before and during training, or as a great replenishment in recovery. You can add it to a pre-training smoothie, mashed sweet potatoes, or mix it with chia seeds, honey and peanut butter.  After a hard training, it can reduce muscle wasting by giving your body an alternative fuel source.  Take it straight off the spoon, add it to a recovery smoothie or melt it and spread into a peanut butter and honey sandwich.

2) Ginger: Ginger has long been, and is now re-emerging as a go-to supplement and food for health promotion and reduction in joint pain.  First, ginger is loaded with anti-inflammatory nutrients, antioxidants, and phytochemicals, which work to reduce risk of disease, reduce chronic inflammation, and neutralize free radicals that can damage cells.  Ginger also promotes gut health, may be anti-cancerous, and boosts immune function.

Next, recent studies show that it’s effective in reducing muscle soreness and joint pain in athletes.  In fact, in one study, participants took either 2 grams ginger or placebo each day for several days before strenuous exercise, and the ginger participants had a 25% reduction in soreness indicators vs. those on placebo.

How to add ginger:
Use it daily in smoothies, stir-fries, salads, and grated into sandwiches. Make your life easier by simply scraping away the skin with the side of a spoon rather than cutting it off.  Then, use ginger to reduce soreness (along with rest days and other recovery tactics) by consuming 2 grams per day.  You can choose 4 ginger pill supplements per day (check out the label, most are 500-550 mg each), 2 teaspoons of fresh ginger each day, or 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger.

3) Beets: By now you’ve likely heard about beetroot juice and its effects on time trial times.  Research on beetroot juice and performance began after it was shown that nitrates could increase nitric oxide in the body, which in turn dilates vessels to improve the delivery of oxygen and uptake of oxygen by the muscles.  Preliminary studies showed a reduction in oxygen cost during moderate and intense training, increased time to exhaustion, and improved performance with beetroot juice.  More recent studies have shown benefits of beetroot juice when taken in both a 6-day (16 ounces per day) regimen and a one-time pre-training dose 2-3 hours before training.

Beets are very rich in nitrates, and beetroot juice, beetroot freeze-dried powder, and new beet performance gels and supplements are a concentrated form.  They are truly a natural food that has direct and specific benefits on performance!

How to use beets: For everyday nutrition, add beets to salads, roast ‘em, or slice them onto sandwiches.  They are full of antioxidants, phytochemicals and all-around good-for-you nutrients.  For training, take 16 ounces beetroot juice, 6 teaspoons freeze-dried powder or a beet training shot, gel, or supplement with at least 300 mg nitrates.  If using the juice or powder in a smoothie or pre-training snack, consume it about 2-3 hours before training.  If using a commercial beetroot training gel, follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

4) Yogurt and probiotics: Plain yogurt is a nutritious ancient food that naturally contains healthy bacteria called probiotics.  Probiotics can also be found in other fermented foods and probiotic supplements.  In either form, probiotics can aide an athlete in three ways.

First, they improve nutrient absorption, which can specifically help in recovery nutrition by increasing the delivery of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates and proteins to the cells.  Next, they boost immune function and can decrease the incidence of mononucleosis in athletes in particular.  Third, they can significantly reduce digestion issues both acutely and chronically.  This can mean less nausea during and after training in athletes who experience it.

How to add yogurt: For everyday nutrition, plain yogurt topped with berries, nuts and honey makes a great breakfast or lunch.  You can also add it to smoothies, use it as sour cream, or eat it with fruit for a snack.  For training nutrition, I recommend a pre-training or recovery smoothie or parfait with honey and fruit for carbohydrates, the yogurt for protein and probiotics, and nuts or chia for healthy energy-supplying fats.
5) Chia seeds: Anyone who’s read “Born to Run” is likely already on the chia-seed-bandwagon.  And if you haven’t and are not on it yet, consider adding these healthy-fat, protein, and nutrient packed seeds to your diet.  In addition to providing long-lasting, slow-and-steady-digesting carbs and soluble fiber, Chia seeds are wonderfully versatile and have a lot to offer nutritionally.  They are absolutely a great choice for everyday nutrition and training nutrition.

First, chia seeds provide minerals like phosphorous, manganese and calcium.  Next, you’ll find a large amount of plant based omega-3 fats.  And, while these cannot replace the omega-3s from fish and seafood, they still promote reduced inflammation and overall health.  Then, chia seeds are a great source of fiber at six grams per one tablespoon!  Soluble fiber promotes digestive health, steady energy and blood sugars, reduced cholesterol, improved immunity, and overall wellness. Fourth, chia seeds are loaded healthful antioxidants that combat oxidative stress.  And fifth, chia seeds, like quinoa seeds, contain complete proteins with all essential amino acids.  Every tablespoon of chia provides 2-4 grams of protein.

What’s remarkable about chia seeds in training nutrition, though, is that high fiber foods don’t usually work well immediately before or during training.  However, these seeds are special, and their soluble fiber seems to settle just fine for most cyclists while providing long-lasting, low-glycemic carbohydrates for energy.  If you’ve never used them, you may want to practice some caution by adding only one tablespoon at a time; but, you’ll likely find that they work great in both everyday and training nutrition for you.

How to add chia seeds: In everyday nutrition, add chia seeds to yogurt, smoothies, cereal, oats, salads, sauces, puddings, and more.  For training, try mixing honey, peanut butter, organic coconut oil and chia, adding to pre-training and recovery smoothies, or adding chia to honey and sea salt for an on-the-go natural gel.
This list is not exclusive.  There are many, many great foods out there for cyclists.  Keep trying new whole foods, in both daily nutrition and training nutrition to find what you like best and what works best for you.   There’s an abundance of opportunity to eat well, feel great, and fuel right with real, whole foods.


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