Thursday, July 28, 2011

Hiding Veggies in Meals Goes Unnoticed but Cuts Calorie Intake: Study

It can be hard work getting all of your fruits and veggies down each day, which is why most North Americans don't get enough. But what if there was a simple way to sneak veggies into your diet and that of your kids without even tasting them, all the while cutting your calories and fat, and upping your fibre, vitamin, mineral and antioxidant content? Sounds too good to be true? It's not, and it's simpler than you think.

In a recent study from Pennsylvania State University, researchers were able to sneakily get some of the biggest food critics out there to eat more vegetables without any kind of a struggle. In case you're wondering who these picky eaters were, they were none other than preschool kids aged 3-6 years old!

In the experiment, the kids managed to eat twice as many vegetables as usual, with 11% fewer calories over all throughout the course of a day and 15 to 25% fewer calories per meal. The researchers pureed broccoli, zucchini, cauliflower, tomatoes and squash into some of the kids' favourite foods without them even noticing. To cap things, they ate just as much food as when the meals were not manipulated.

The study's co-author Barbara Rolls understands that some people may think that hiding vegetables suggests they are not acceptable to kids or that it is deceptive, but ultimately, in a world where childhood obesity, and obesity in general are epidemics, the end justifies the means.

In addition, there are plenty of creative recipes that use fruit and vegetables without being considered 'deceptive', such as using applesauce in lieu of oil in baked goods, or avocados instead of mayonnaise or butter. Or how about enjoying some frozen mashed bananas instead of ice cream (really really good!) or black bean brownies? Also, Kraft foods offers a more veggie-based macaroni and cheese that uses freeze dried cauliflower in place of some of the flour in the pasta. It's really not all that unusual or difficult to 'hide' healthy ingredients in your meals.

Since there are so many healthy and creative ways to prepare delicious and nutritious dishes using more fruit and vegetables, there's no reason why kids and adults alike shouldn't give them a try! You never know, you might even like the 'healthier' alternative better!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Students' Diets Higher in Folate Linked to Better Grades

Save for a few nutrients that are very hard to get in our diets, most vitamins and minerals are readily available for us to absorb from a healthy, varied and balanced diet. B vitamins are a great example of nutrients that are difficult to be deficient in, provided we consume whole grains, fruit, dark leafy greens and the occasional glass of orange juice. But if you're a student, you might want to make sure to slip in an extra glass or two of OJ, another bowl of cereal or some extra greens each day if you want to do better in school.

According to new research from Sweden, published in the Journal of Pediatrics, students whose diets were high in folate achieved higher grades in school. Folate is a B vitamin that is necessary for normal DNA formation and healthy cell development, particularly red blood cells. Diets lacking in folate can put people at risk of having errors in DNA synthesis and cell formation, which can lead to cancer. Similarly, malformed red blood cells can result in a type of anemia called megaloblastic anemia.

But before you run out and stock up on folate supplements, you should know that there is no real evidence to support the idea that supplemental levels of the nutrient is necessarily better. According to American researchers, most North American children are not deficient in folate, thus loading up their diets with the nutrient may not be beneficial. They suspect that the children in the study may have had lower levels of the nutrient to start with.

However, if you're not sure how much folate you or your family are getting, there is no harm in adding in some more dark leafy greens, whole grains or orange juice to your diet each day. All of those foods contain plenty of other nutrients that are essential for good health without the risk of side effects that supplements can pose.

So regardless of whether or not extra folate will help you or your kids do better in school, a healthy breakfast has been tied to better performance in school and work alike. Make it complete with folate-containing whole grain cereal and fruit like strawberries and oranges for a wonderful way to start the day.

Hot Dogs Might Be as Bad as Cigarettes, Doctors Warn

It's more or less common knowledge that processed meats are not good for our health. Certain ones are less harmful than others, relatively speaking, but preservatives, colouring agents and fillers aren't doing anyone's health any favours.

To cap things, we know that meatless diets are not only better for the planet, but they have also been proven to be better for our health. For this reason, a group of physicians in the U.S. is boldly stating that hot dogs might harm our health in the same way that cigarettes do.

Boldly going where few other physicians or awareness campaigns have gone before, The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine in Washington, D.C. have unveiled a new billboard near the Indianapolis motor speedway that features hotdogs in a cigarette package, adorned with a skull and crossbones.

Now, in case you're wondering what hot dogs and cigarettes have in common, the answer is that they're both linked to certain types of cancers; colorectal cancer in the case of hot dogs. The aim of the billboard is to raise awareness about this lesser known fact and hopefully reduce the consumption of the popular snack food at sporting events.

The American Cancer Society, however, has responded by acknowledging that hot dogs are not the healthiest of foods, and that reducing one's consumption of red meat is beneficial to their health, however hot dogs are not considered toxic or particularly hazardous to one's health if consumed in moderation.

So many foods we eat and environmental stressors we face each day can potentially trigger a mutation that can ultimately lead to cancer. The wise and perhaps simpler thing to each day to help our bodies prevent and combat cancer is to consume a healthy diet full of fibre, nutrients and antioxidants. Limiting our exposure to carcinogens as much as possible is also an excellent strategy, however we can't forget to live a little, take things in moderation and enjoy ourselves from time to time. If that means one or two hot dogs a month or a year, so be it. Just don't forget the ketchup.

Bigger Forks Lead to Less Eating in Restaurants: Study

Conventional wisdom and nutrition professionals alike tell us that the more difficult it is to eat something, the less of it you will consume. For that reason, it is usually advised that we eat from smaller plates using smaller cutlery. In so doing, we are forced to eat more slowly but we also give our brains and stomachs more time and a better chance to communicate, letting us know when we are full and should stop eating. Strangely, however, new research suggests that at restaurants, maybe bigger is better after all, at least when it comes to forks.

According to marketing researchers from the University of Utah, a larger fork size gives diners a visual cue to know how much progress they're making in their meal. Since a larger fork means the food could be consumed more quickly (more food gone with each fork full), consumers slow down their eating and end up actually eating less than those who use smaller forks. However, when the experiment was repeated in the lab, the results were reversed; bigger forks meant that more food was consumed.

The researchers explain this peculiarity by saying that in dining out a restaurant, many people are in a hurry to get back to work or they are on their way to get somewhere, so a larger fork is used more as a time cue to help them eat as much as time allows them to. On the contrary, in the lab, at home, or when time isn't an issue, people eat to satisfy their hunger or appetite. In this case, slowing down eating is beneficial, and a smaller fork would aid in that task.

Regardless, since there is more evidence to support the small fork (or spoon) suggestion as it pertains to satisfying hunger, appetite and managing one's weight, I feel it's best to stick to that option!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Facebook, Twitter, Other Social Media Might Help You Get Fitter

There is a massive body of research that has focused on the link between screen time and physical activity. For the most part, what researchers have found is that the more time we spend watching TV or at the computer each day, our risk for obesity, and subsequently chronic diseases, increases.

This isn't particularly surprising nor compelling since it implies that we perform these activities while seated, which means we aren't moving around or being active. But new evidence suggests that not all screen time is bad for our health; on the contrary, it is suggested that interacting online with others via social media may actually make us more likely to exercise and remain fit.

According to the 2011 Tracking Fitness Movement study from the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association and it's affiliates, remaining connected via social media is exposing gen Y-ers (born between 1980 and 1999) to new forms of exercise and encourages them to participate. According to the study, participation in several forms of aerobic or cardiovascular activities, including high-impact aerobics and cycling, has increased by 20% in the last 3 years alone.

In addition, most gen Y-ers are plugged into their iPods and smartphones, loaded with apps that act in concert to keep them on track with their health and fitness goals. However, this trend isn't limited to just gen Y-ers; it turns out that the most active age bracket by percentage is 40-54 years old! The difference is that people in that age bracket are more likely to work out at home, while their younger counterparts tend to be members of health clubs or more engaged in group exercises.

Just as nutrition, health and fitness messages keep evolving, so do the ways in which we access our information about them and become motivated to get involved! It's a beautiful thing.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Swapping Carbs for Soy or Low Fat Dairy May Help Slash Blood Pressure

Ask most experts and they'll tell you that it is not a very good idea to consume an excess of refined carbohydrates daily. Diets that are high in refined carbohydrates have been linked with a number of chronic diseases and illnesses, including heart disease and type 2 diabetes. The link between high blood pressure and refined carbohydrates has not yet been clearly established, however new research suggests that nixing some carbs from one's diet and replacing them with protein-rich foods made from soy or low fat dairy can help lower one's blood pressure.

Foods made from soy, such as tofu, have previously been associated with improved cholesterol levels and a decreased risk of heart disease and the results are even more remarkable when soy products are eaten in the place of meat. Now there are even more reasons to make the swap for vegetarian sources of protein, in addition to replacing some carbohydrates in your diet with soy foods and low fat dairy products, according to a study published in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.

In the study, researchers divided more than 350 people with higher than normal blood pressure or hypertension into 3 groups. Each group took a supplement of either soy protein, low fat dairy or refined carbohydrates each day for two months without knowing which group they were in. At the end of the two month period, the researchers found that the participants in the soy or dairy groups had their systolic blood pressure (the top number in a blood pressure reading which is a measure of the pressure when the heart contracts) drop by two points on average. The carbohydrate group saw no such change.

Even though the findings were merely modest, the researchers believe that on a larger scale, such as the population level, these results could make a substantial impact. The researchers advise that everyone, especially those with high blood pressure, try adding more soy beans and low fat dairy products to their diets and cut back just a little on carbohydrates without being too drastic. Just note that fruits and vegetables don't need to be limited in this case, and the more you can eat each day, the better.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Repetition Can Lead to Weight Loss

You know how your favourite song can turn to your least favourite when it gets played too often, causing you to change the radio station in frustration? Or how when you watch the same TV show episode too many times or you take the same route to work or school every day it becomes so boring you just don't want to do it anymore? Interestingly enough, researchers have found that the same is true when it comes to food; even your favourite food can become so boring that you don't want to eat it for a while and it doesn't thrill you anymore. Yes, even if it's pizza or ice cream.

I have always found it interesting to hear people talk about how they don't flip over pizza, pasta, cookies or pie in the least bit because they have always been readily available for them since they were little kids. Sure, they taste good, but unlike the rest of us who might eat the whole box in one go, they can have a couple of bites and be done with it like it's yesterday's news. On that same note, remember the time you were sick for a while, or that one Halloween where you ate too much candy or ice cream or jello and you still can't stomach whatever you had been eating? Funny enough, that's what researchers at the University of Buffalo have studied and they found that repetition might actually help with weight loss, simply because the familiar gets boring.

The study that will be published in the August issue of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition was relatively simple and not particularly realistic in nature (in my opinion, and as you might also decide), but it proves a good point. There were two groups of women - obese and nonobese - which were each divided into two groups. Both groups were allowed unlimited helpings of macaroni and cheese, however one group came each day for lunch for five days, while the other came only once a week for lunch for 5 weeks. It was found that the groups who ate it every day reduced their portion sizes and intakes of lunch as the days went by, and as they became increasingly bored by the same old thing. The portion sizes in the other groups, on the other hand, increased.

While this study highlights and important point and potentially useful strategy when it comes to weight loss, the researchers don't yet know how much time or exposure would be ideal for a person to avoid gorging on the food in question but also avoid the other extreme of finding a similar high-calorie substitute. Clearly, this variable will be different for each person and will also depend on their particular preferences and cravings.

In the meantime, just keep in mind that avoiding foods cold turkey usually makes us more prone to gorging on them as soon as we lay eyes on them, which is why deprivation in one's diet never works! Treat yourself once in awhile and play around with this strategy on your own to find out what works for you!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Cut Back on Sweets to Slash Cholesterol Levels

High cholesterol can be tricky to manage, and there are many tips and tricks that are often quoted to help reduce your levels. But as with all things in nutrition and health, new information comes out on a near daily basis and reminds us that we never really know it all! In a surprising new study, researchers have found that sugar - the substance that is implicated in so many diseases and ailments - also appears to play a role in raising cholesterol levels.

Sugar can be hard to avoid for so many people because it tastes so good and is highly addictive. Not only that, sugar is often hidden in unexpected places, like in peanut butter and bread, and how can we avoid something if we don't know it's there? In fact, most North American adults consume upwards of 90g of sugar each day, or 21.4tsp!

In this study, one group of participants received 3tsp of sugar daily while another group received upwards of a whopping 46 tsp per day. The results on cholesterol levels were startling; as the amount of sugar in the participants' diets increased, their HDL levels, or good cholesterol, decreased, while their overall triglyceride levels increased. This is one of the first studies to demonstrate a direct correlation between sugar intakes and cholesterol levels.

Since refined or added sugars possess no nutritional value but plenty of empty calories, the wisest move you can make is to avoid your exposure to them. This doesn't mean you shouldn't eat sugar at all - we all deserve a treat from time to time - but there are plenty of treats out there that have reduced sugar levels or are naturally sugar free. The goal on the whole should be to limit your sugar intake from day to day for optimal health and really enjoy it when you need a little fix.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Vitamin C May Boost Eye and Brain Health

It's not like we need a scientific reason to eat more strawberries, kiwis or citrus fruits - the sheer facts that they're perfectly and guiltlessly delicious and make a perfect summer fruit salad are quite enough for most people. But just as an added plus, it turns out that snacking on these fruits and other foods that contain vitamin C may actually boost our brain power in addition to helping us see more clearly!

Ascorbic acid, commonly known as vitamin c is normally revered for it's capacity as an antioxidant, as well as for it's role in maintaining the integrity of collagen, that keeps teeth and gums healthy, as well as our skin and blood vessels. Vitamin C is also essential for optimal iron absorption for the formation of healthy blood cells. And now, according to a new study from the Oregon Health and Science University, vitamin C may be a key player in maintaining healthy and properly functioning retinal cells in eyes. This new discovery may also give us clues about the healthy functioning of other parts of the nervous system.

The researchers found that, in order to work at their optimal capacity, retinal cells need to be "bathed" in vitamin C, inside and out. They reported that in the absence of vitamin C, the receptors responsible for optimal retinal functioning no longer responded or functioned properly. Because of the surprising findings, the researchers believe that vitamin C may play an even greater role than initially thought in the entire central nervous system (CNS).

Some great sources of vitamin C, in addition to those noted above are bell peppers, dark leafy greens, tomatoes, Brussels sprouts and pineapples.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Go Greek: Siestas and the Fruits of the Sea Prolong Life

Living to be a centenarian is relatively rare. It is less rare these days than it used to be, but in any case, only 0.1% of the European population lives to be 90. This is not true, however, if you're from the tiny island of Ikaria in Greece; there, ten times that many people, 1.1% of the population, live until they are at least 90, leaving researchers scratching their heads for an explanation.

From June to October 2009, cardiologists from the Athens University school of Medicine polled a sample of the island's residents and found that an astonishing percentage of people lived in good health for longer than average. The residents were asked questions about their diets and lifestyles in addition to clinical information to look for clues to explain this phenomenon.

According to the researchers, the responses that predominated were healthier eating habits, including lots of fresh fruit, vegetables, olive oil and seafood, in addition to drinking coffee and taking regular midday naps, or siestas.

Among the elderly, naps were far more common and depression rates were lower compared to the younger population. The incidence of common chronic diseases and conditions that present themselves worldwide, including diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol, presented much later in Ikarians.

In addition to their healthy habits, genetics is thought to play a role, in explaining the longevity of Ikarians, however the link has not been clearly established just yet.

The results of this study are not entirely surprising, as we know that sleep and a healthy diet, particularly one that follows the Mediterranean style of eating are the best things we can do for good health. The moral of the story, however, is that despite knowing much of this information, we really have to start taking it to heart if we want to reap the same results as the Ikarians! So...is it nap time yet?

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Pistachios May be More Waistline-Friendly than Originally Thought

There has been a lot of buzz circulating around pistachios lately. There is little if any doubt that they are so healthy for us, and a great addition to a balanced diet, but they may be even better than we originally thought!

As with all nuts, the majority of calories found in pistachios comes from their fat content. Nuts are known to be high in healthy fats that are good for our hearts and circulatory systems, skin, nails and hair. However, if we eat too many of them, we start to pack on the pounds faster than you can say macadamia. For people living with chronic diseases, nuts are generally advised as part of a healthy eating plan, or nutrition prescription if you will, but again, too many and those healthy effects are negated.

However, there is some good news from the research front when it comes to pistachios and their fat content. It turns out that our bodies may not be able to completely absorb all the fat in pistachios which means they also contain fewer calories than originally thought! According to the results of new research, pistachios are probably the lowest calorie nuts around, with just 160 calories per 30 grams.

For nut lovers, regardless of whether or not they want to watch their waistlines, this means that they get all the satisfaction of their regular portion of nuts with a smaller impact on their caloric budget. Or, if you want to eat more than your regular portion of nuts, you'll have a lower risk of the negative health consequences of consuming too much fat each day. So don't hold back - do your health a favour and go nuts!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Eggs: Crack Your Way to Better Health

We so often speak of superfoods like blueberries, chia seeds, acai berries and kale, but there are a whack of less popularized superheroes of the food world that deserve more attention more often. One such 'below the radar' superfood is the good old egg.

Eggs have had a tumultuous relationship with the media and health and wellness world throughout history. One decade they're good for you, one decade they should be avoided like the plague. So what's the real deal? The truth is, if you want to do wonders for your health, you should get cracking...now.

Eggs truly are the most perfect food we can eat. Not only do they have every single amino acid required to maintain our health, keep our muscles strong, and our frames lean, they are also jam-packed with vitamins and minerals as well as healthy fats. One large egg contains approximately 70 calories, 6 grams of high-quality, easily absorbable protein and 5 grams of total fat. Most of that fat is made up of the healthy, unsaturated type.

When it comes to vitamins and minerals, eggs are a great source of zinc, vitamin A, and B-vitamins including folate, riboflavin and B6. In addition, eggs contain the antioxidant lutein, which may protect against the progress of early heart disease and helps keep your vision sharp. They also contain choline, which has been linked to improvements in memory. To cap things, eggs contain vitamin D which is essential for bone health in as well as the prevention of so many chronic diseases.

You can cook eggs so many ways that they really never get boring; hard-boiled, scrambled, poached, sunny side up, in an omelet, frittata or strata...the possibilities are endless! To cap things, they're so affordable for how much you get that there's no excuse not to have eggs in the house.

One reason why some people skimp on eggs is because the yolks contain cholesterol and saturated fat. In truth, your body actually makes 80% of the cholesterol in your body, while the remaining 20% is supplied through your diet. In addition, throughout the years, we have found that early studies that linked eggs to high cholesterol levels had confounding factors that skewed the results toward a more negative picture. In fact, a healthy person can eat one egg each day, for a total of 7 eggs a week with no effect on raising their blood cholesterol levels. People with health conditions such as high cholesterol or type 2 diabetes should stick to around 2 whole eggs per week, but as many whites as they like.

The good news is that for everyone, egg whites are completely fine! Eat as many as you like! They are made up of pure, healthy protein, which is so essential to our health.The only downside is that egg whites alone lack all of the other good elements that whole eggs possess, as they are found in the yolks. Not to worry, a healthy, balanced diet should make up for that easily!

So what are you waiting for? Get cracking!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

New Super Powers Discovered for Blueberries

It's hard not to love blueberries. Not only are they deliciously sweet and tart, perfect for topping a yogurt parfait, a salad or for filling a pie, etc., but they're also ridiculously good for you. Most of the benefits we hear about when it comes to blueberries is that they are very high in antioxidants and fibre. That alone is enough for them to be considered a super food, but new research suggests that blueberries may also be good for our bones. Who would have thought?

According to new findings from the Arkansas Children's Nutrition Centre, there are compounds in blueberries that may help bones grow stronger and healthier. The researchers suspect that the same polyphenols that give blueberries their rich colour may also be responsible for this superfood's alternate super power.

Although this promising first round of research was performed using juvenile rats, the researchers are hopeful that the results of future research on humans will prove to be just as exciting. If they are, blueberries and their extracts could be used to help prevent or possibly treat issues related to bone mineral density and bone mass as well as possibly osteoporosis. While we wait, however, we can definitely still enjoy all the other benefits that beautiful blueberries have to offer!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Protein in Your Diet Can Reduce Hunger and Help with Weight Loss

A common mistake that many people make with their diets is that they don't consume enough calories from protein each day. Protein is so important for our health because the structural elements of our cells and our muscles are composed of proteins. In addition, the enzymes that drive chemical reactions in our bodies, including digestion and metabolism, and our antibodies, which partly comprise our immune system, are made up of amino acids, which make up proteins. But aside from that, there are so many other reasons to stop skimping on protein, including the fact that it helps curb hunger cravings, according to new research.

Many people don't quite know what good sources of protein are, or they find it difficult to prepare each day, so it makes it tricky to have enough at each meal. It is much easier for many people to prepare meals and snacks that are rich in carbohydrates and fat, yet this ends up leading to a self-propagating cycle of carb and fat consumption. The less protein you eat, the more carbs you tend to crave, and the more calories you tend to eat over all, leading to weight gain. Skimping on protein simply sends your cravings out of whack, which has been emphasized in a new study.

In the study, participants followed a diet of either 25% or 14% protein each day. The recommendation in Canada is to have at least 10-35% of your daily calories from protein. The calories from fat stayed the same in both groups. Within each group, some people ate three times a day, while others ate six times a day. The researchers found no real difference in hunger between the groups who ate with different frequencies, but they confirmed that the participants in the higher protein group were less hungry over all. Those on the higher protein diet also experienced increased satiety and decreased hunger in the evenings and late night hours.

As with previous research, it was found that those who ate higher protein breakfasts, including eggs or cottage cheese, ended up eating fewer calories throughout the day, compared with a bagel or other carbohydrate-rich breakfasts of equal caloric value. Consuming fewer calories each day, or at least more often, can assist with weight loss or healthy weight management.

Some great lean sources of protein include egg whites, cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, chicken breasts, turkey breast, pork chops and extra lean ground beef or steak. Beans and legumes as well as tofu are also great vegetarian options. Prepare some ahead of time on Sunday or at night for the next day so you always have some on hand!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

A Little Cup of Green Tea Packs Big Health Benefits

You probably already know that green tea is good for you; that's fair! I bet you can probably list a few reasons why as well. But case you're drawing a blank, some of the reported benefits of green tea are that it boosts your metabolism, helps burn fat, maintains tooth and gum health, helps ease the burdens of inflammation including arthritis pain, and of course, it's been touted to help prevent cancer as well. In case that wasn't enough, new research suggest that green tea may also help lower blood levels of 'bad' cholesterol, or LDL.

According to study author Xin-Xin Zheng and his colleagues from Peking Union Medical College in Beijing, green tea appears to slash blood levels of 'bad' cholesterol, or LDL, while leaving HDL or 'good' cholesterol untouched. That's good, because HDL is actually a vehicle that picks up excess cholesterol from the body and brings it back to the liver for disposal.

The study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition was based on evidence that was pooled from 14 randomized trials. The researchers found that green tea in it's conventional form, as well as green tea extract in a pill, were able to significantly reduce total cholesterol levels with LDL levels dropping by a mean of about 2%. The researchers believe that the cholesterol busting benefits of green tea are thanks to it's catechins - compounds that decrease cholesterol's absorption in the gut.

Overall, most research suggests that green tea is the perfect complement to a healthy, balanced diet, especially for disease prevention. Instead of worrying about how many cups you should have each day for maximum benefit, the real question is are you having any? If so, great! If not, get started! And be sure to drink plenty of pure water throughout the day as well. Happy tea time!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

LeAnn Rimes to Defend Her Thin Physique through Diet, Exercise Videos

LeAnn Rimes has been making headlines quite frequently over the past year or so, but not thanks to her voice or musical talent. Last year, she was involved in a scandal surrounding an extra-marital affair, which culminated in a divorce and subsequent marriage to co-star Eddie Cibrian, but the latest headlines have been about her weight.

She's been in the limelight since she was just a youngster, and the world has watched Rimes grow up and become a woman. As is the case with all women's bodies, her body changed quite a bit and her weight fluctuated over the years, not surprisingly. The shocker came this past year when Rimes started looking quite a bit thinner than her previous physique in a rapid period of time, sparking rumors that she had developed an eating disorder. Rimes took to her twitter account and made other public announcements that she was just fine and her figure was thanks to hard work and discipline in the forms of diet and exercise. It seems that not too many people bought her story.

As a result, Rimes and her personal trainer are gearing up to create a series of videos that will be posted on Rimes' blog, demonstrating her workout routine and her dietary strategies. She currently tweets what she has eaten for certain meals and what sorts of exercises she has done as examples, or as 'evidence' for all of the speculators out there that she really does eat and exercise, but that doesn't really give doubters the kind of tangible evidence they're looking for. Perhaps in an effort to inspire others to get in shape the healthy way, to gain more viewership and popularity, or simply to defend her name, Rimes hopes that the videos will make a meaningful difference.

The videos will feature Rimes performing exercises like skipping rope, boxing, cables, strength training, lunges and squats. In terms of her diet, Rimes follows a natural, plant-based, Mediterranean-style diet. Hopefully she'll share some interesting recipes with us! The videos are scheduled to be posted on Rimes' blog in the coming month.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Delicious, Nutritious and Super Versatile: Why You Should be Eating Hemp Seeds

Forget breadcrumbs! Haven't you heard that menu items like hemp-crusted fish are all the rage these days? And what about sprinkling some hemp seeds on your parfait or oatmeal instead of flax or chia seeds once in a while? The possibilities for using hemp seeds are endless. Not only are they a refreshing change from the classic, foods made with hemp seeds get super-charged when it comes to nutrition and flavour.

Despite coming from the same plant as THC-containing Marijuiana, hemp seeds are THC-free. Although they've been on the market for a while in various forms including protein powders, granola bars and cereals, hemp seeds are quickly gaining popularity among health-conscious crowds, foodies and regular folks alike, and for good reason. Even Dr. Mehmet Oz had excellent things to say about hemp seeds on his show.

Not only are they high in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, protein and fibre, they're also a plentiful source of GLA, or Gamma Linolenic Acid, which is another potent anti-inflammatory compound that is rarely consumed in the Western diet. GLA is also touted as a remedy for autoimmune disorders, arthritis, eczema, and PMS. The best sources of GLA are plant oils like evening primrose, borage and hemp oil as well as spirulina and whole hemp seeds.

Although other seeds like flax, in addition to their oils, are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids, hemp oil has been called "nature's perfectly balanced oil" thanks to it's 3:1 ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids. Among it's relatives in the plant oil department, hemp seed oil stands out because it contains all 3 of 0mega-6, omega-3 and GLA. Containing roughly 80% polyunsaturated fatty acids, it is one of the best plant sources of PUFAs available.

Hemp seeds are also special and unique because they are high in easily digestible protein and contain all of the essential amino acids required for optimal health. With their distinctive pumpkin seed-like taste, hemp seeds and the protein that is made from them are an excellent addition to oatmeal, baked goods or savoury dishes like meats and fish.

If you haven't given them a try just yet, don't fret - they will surely be hard to miss in your local grocery store or favourite restaurant in the not too distant future!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Watermelons are Worth their Weight in Nutrients

What could be more refreshing in the dog days of summer than a perfectly ripe and juicy watermelon? You've waited all summer for them to finally taste just right, and it's time to take advantage of all they have to offer, including the summer memories you will make and those that have passed while enjoying them!

The unmistakable red colour of watermelons, dotted by their black seeds, is there thanks to the potent antioxidant lycopene. If you've been doing your homework, you might recall that lycopene is also what makes tomatoes red and so amazingly healthy for us, especially for men. That's because lycopene is a touted cancer-fighter, especially when it comes to prostate cancer. Lycopene is also a super hero when it comes to oxidizing cholesterol and stifling inflammation, which can help ease or prevent the symptoms related to conditions like heart disease, stroke, arthritis and asthma. Watermelons also come packed with vitamins A and C, and some B's and as with other fruits and veggies, they're fat, sodium and cholesterol free. In addition to being super-low in calories, those B vitamins can help kick up a lagging metabolism to more efficiently burn fat and calories. And you thought they were only delicious!

It's also no coincidence that they're called watermelons; their name says it all. There's a good reason you crave a juicy wedge of this summer sensation on a particularly hot day and that's because it is a potent thirst-quencher, jam packed (92%!) with hydrating and refreshing water. That's great for everyone, but especially kids and the elderly who don't have as strong of a sense of thirst and may become dehydrated more easily. Also, recent research has shown that the combination of lycopene, found in watermelons, with green tea results in a efficient prostate cancer-fighting partnership.

This summer, why not try shaking up the way you enjoy your watermelon. There's absolutely not a thing wrong with the original, classic wedge, but if you like trying new recipes, why not slap some on the barbie next time you fire it up? Pair it fresh with some feta and you're in full-on summer relaxation mode!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Daily Fidgeting and Tinkering May Keep You Fit

It can be hard to fit in the recommended 30-45 minutes of physical activity each day.With a hectic work or school schedule, especially where a lot of sitting is involved, it is oftentimes embarrassing how little some people actually move around each day. But if anyone has ever given you a hard time for not being able to sit still, for choosing to take the stairs or for being neurotic about keeping the house neat, now's your chance to turn the tables on them! It turns out that those activities may accumulate to make a significant contribution to your overall daily amount of physical activity, which in turn, improves your health.

According to researchers at Queens University, non-structured activities like doing housework or climbing the stairs, which count as incidental physical activity, can help make up for a lack of structured physical activity that raises your heart rate, especially in abdominally obese individuals. This makes sense, since the thing that really matters is moving around, using your muscles and getting your heart rate up any way that you can. You can walk to and from the grocery store if it's close by, take a walk on the weekend, get up and walk around on your lunch break or take the stairs instead of an escalator or elevator.

The researchers went on to say that recommending small changes like these may be encouraging for individuals who are intimidated by structured physical activity, but aren't sure how else to get their exercise in. Not everyone wants to fatigue themselves and sweat it out every day, so knowing that there is an alternative is helpful.

Ultimately, the more physical activity one can perform each day, the better for their overall health, but as long as the entire day isn't spent sitting down, that's a start!