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Friday, January 28, 2011

Top 5 Super Foods to Lower Cholesterol and Reduce weight

Among all the foods, I have decided to pick the top five super foods which have been shown to lower cholesterol and can be included in a healthy diet on a regular basis.

1.            Oat for Soluble Fiber
Oatmeal and oat bran are rich in soluble fiber, a type of fiber which lowers the bad Low Density Lipoprotein or LDL cholesterol without lowering the good High Density Lipoprotein or HDL cholesterol. In 1997, the FDA authorized a heart disease risk reduction health claim for beta-glucan soluble fiber from oat products. Food products containing oat bran and rolled oats, such as oatmeal, and whole oat flour can bear this health claim.
How much do you need? Five to 10 grams of soluble fiber a day decreases LDL cholesterol by about 5 percent. Some studies showed that this amount can lower cholesterol by as much as 23 percent. One bowl of oatmeal contains about 3 grams of soluble fiber. Include other soluble-fiber-rich foods such as psyllium, apples, kidney beans, pears and barley.
2.            Fish for Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Fish is a good source of protein and omega 3 fatty acids - which has been shown to lower LDL cholesterol and raise HDL cholesterol. In particular, omega 3 fatty acids are noted for its triglyceride-lowering power.
How much do you need? In 2002, the American Heart Association recommended eating at least 2 servings of fish a week, particularly fatty fish such as mackerel, salmon, sardines, trout and herring. If you have high triglyceride levels, AHA recommends 2 to 4 g of EPA and DHA (two specific types of omega 3 oil) as supplements under your doctor's care.
3.            Nuts for Healthy Fats
Nuts rich in fiber, phytonutrients and antioxidants such as Vitamin E and selenium. These tasty snacks are also high in plant sterols and fat - but mostly monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which have all been shown to lower the bad LDL cholesterol.
How much do you need? In 2003, the FDA recognized the benefits of nuts and their role in heart disease prevention by approving a health claim for seven kinds of nuts (almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, pecans, some pine nuts, pistachios and walnuts). Limit your intake to ~ 1.5 ounces a day, as nuts are high in calories. The best way to reap the health benefits of nuts is to eat them in replacement of foods that are high in saturated fats such as meat products.
4.            Foods fortified with Plant Sterols
Plant sterols or stanols are powerful substances naturally found in plant to have the ability to block cholesterol absorption. Studies showed that eating two servings of sterols-fortified foods daily result in a 10 to 15 percent drop in LDL cholesterol levels.
How much do you need? The National Cholesterol Education Program recommends that people who have high cholesterol eat 2 grams of plant sterols or stanols a day. You can find plant sterols in fortified foods such as margarine spread, orange juice, salad dressings, functional cookies etc. Most sterols-fortified foods contain at least 1 gram of plant sterols per serving. Please read the portion size and usage direction on the labels for details. It is important to note that plant sterols are not for everyone. The AHA recommends it only for people with high levels of LDL cholesterol.
5.            Soy
Soy products are great substitutes for animal products. In 1999, the FDA recognized the health benefits of soy and heart disease by approving a soy health claim. However, due to conflicting results from a large-scale review performed by the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the AHA Nutrition Committee no longer recommends eating soy to lower cholesterol.
Should you avoid soy then? A simple answer is No. Although soy may not lower cholesterol to the extent we previously thought it could, the US Agency review showed that it can still lower bad LDL cholesterol by 3 percent. Since soy products contain high levels of polyunsaturated fats, fiber, vitamins, and minerals and low levels of saturated fat, AHA does consider soy products a healthy replacement for meats and other foods high in saturated fat and total fat.
Written by  Gloria Tsang, RD of http://www.healthcastle.com/

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Top 5 lifestyle changes to reduce cholesterol

Lifestyle changes can help reduce cholesterol, keep you off cholesterol-lowering medications or enhance the effect of your medications. Here are five lifestyle changes to get you started.
High cholesterol increases your risk of heart disease and heart attacks. You can reduce cholesterol with medications, but if you'd rather make lifestyle changes to reduce cholesterol, you can try these five healthy lifestyle changes. If you're already taking medications, these changes can also improve their cholesterol-lowering effect.
1. Lose weight
Carrying some extra pounds — even just a few — contributes to high cholesterol. So losing as little as 5 to 10 pounds (about 2 to 5 kilograms) can help reduce cholesterol levels.
Start by taking an honest look at your eating habits and daily routine. Consider your challenges to weight loss — and ways to overcome them.
If you eat when you're bored or frustrated, take a walk instead. If you pick up fast food for lunch every day, pack something healthier from home. If you're sitting in front of the television, try munching on carrot sticks instead of potato chips as you watch. And, look for ways to incorporate more activity into your daily routine, such as using the stairs instead of taking the elevator. Take stock of what you currently eat and your physical activity level, and slowly work changes in.
2. Eat heart-healthy foods
Even if you have years of unhealthy eating under your belt, making a few changes in your diet can reduce cholesterol and improve your heart health.
§  Choose healthier fats. Saturated fats, found in red meat and dairy products, raise your total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, the "bad" cholesterol. As a general rule, you should get no more than 10 percent of your daily calories from saturated fat. Instead, choose leaner cuts of meat, low-fat dairy and monounsaturated fats — found in olive, peanut and canola oils — for a healthier option.
§  Eliminate trans fats. Trans fat can be found in fried foods and many commercial baked products, such as cookies, crackers and snack cakes. But don't rely on packages that are labeled "trans fat-free." In the United States, if a food contains less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving, it can be labeled "trans fat-free." Even though those amounts seem small, they can add up quickly if you eat a lot of foods that have a small amount of trans fat in them. Instead, read the ingredients list. You can tell if a food has trans fat in it if it contains partially hydrogenated oil.
§  Limit the cholesterol in your food. Aim for no more than 300 milligrams (mg) of cholesterol a day — less than 200 mg if you have heart disease. The most concentrated sources of cholesterol include organ meats, egg yolks and whole milk products. Use lean cuts of meat, egg substitutes and skim milk instead.
§  Select whole grains. Various nutrients found in whole grains promote heart health. Choose whole-grain breads, whole-wheat pasta, whole-wheat flour and brown rice.
§  Stock up on fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables are rich in dietary fiber, which can help lower cholesterol. Snack on seasonal fruits. Experiment with veggie-based casseroles, soups and stir-fries. If you prefer dried fruit to fresh fruit, limit yourself to no more than a handful (about an ounce or two). Dried fruit tends to have more calories than does fresh fruit.
§  Eat foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids can help lower your LDL ("bad") cholesterol. Some types of fish — such as salmon, mackerel and herring — are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Other good sources of omega-3 fatty acids include walnuts, almonds and ground flaxseeds.
3. Exercise on most days of the week
Whether you're overweight or not, exercise can reduce cholesterol. Better yet, moderate physical activity can help raise high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, the "good" cholesterol. With your doctor's OK, work up to 30 to 60 minutes of exercise a day. Remember that adding physical activity, even in 10-minute intervals several times a day, can help you begin to lose weight. Just be sure that you can keep up the changes you decide to make. Consider:
§  Taking a brisk daily walk during your lunch hour
§  Riding your bike to work
§  Swimming laps
§  Playing a favorite sport
To stay motivated, find an exercise buddy or join an exercise group. And remember, any activity is helpful. Even taking the stairs instead of the elevator or doing a few sit-ups while watching television can make a difference.
4. Quit smoking
If you smoke, stop. Quitting can improve your HDL cholesterol level. And the benefits don't end there. Just 20 minutes after quitting, your blood pressure decreases. Within 24 hours, your risk of a heart attack decreases. Within one year, your risk of heart disease is half that of a smoker. Within 15 years, your risk of heart disease is similar to someone who never smoked.
5. Drink alcohol only in moderation

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

12 great exercises that you can do at home

Here are the exercises that are effective and don’t require any equipment at all.
Now you have no more excuses!
Here are 12 great exercises that you can do at home, without the need for any equipment:
  1. Walking – If the weather is nice, it’s wonderful to get outside and enjoy the scenery around you while you exercise. However, if the weather has other ideas, you can just as easily get an effective walking workout at home. If you have a flight of stairs, go up and down them a few times. (You could even grab a load of laundry as you’re going that way anyway!) This will help to tone up your legs, while getting some low impact aerobic exercise as well. If you don’t have any stairs available, just walk around the house a few times – it may not be very exciting, but it will do the job!
  2. Jumping Jacks – These are always fun, as they bring back memories of being a kid! Who hasn’t done jumping jacks for fun as a child? Well, surprise – they are also great cardio exercises, and good for warming up, too.
  3. Pushups – These are probably not the most favorite exercise of many people, but while they can be hard to do, you can find easier ways to do them. You don’t need to pretend you’re “Rocky”, and do them with one hand; just do what works for you. Do them on your knees, instead of keeping your legs straight. Or, do them standing up against a wall. You will be building up arm strength and working out muscles in your chest area.
  4. Leg Lifts – These are great for building up strength and muscles in your legs. If you find it hard to do the exercises with your legs straight, try bending them slightly.
  5. Crunches – The best exercise for building up and strengthening abdominal muscles. When you’re just getting started, don’t worry about getting your head all the way up. So long as you’re going up until you feel the stretching of the muscles, you will see some benefit.
  6. Jogging In Place – Jogging is a great exercise for your heart. You can jog in place at home while watching TV or listening to music. The only equipment you will require is a good pair of shoes, to eliminate any stress to your legs.
  7. Squats – These are wonderful exercises for your legs and buttocks. You can even just try these by sitting and standing up again from a regular chair, if you’re finding them to be too difficult. As long as you’re able to do a few repetitions, you will be providing some benefit to your body.
  8. Light Weight Lifting – No, you don’t need to go out and buy expensive weights for this! Just use whatever you can find in your house. Start out with something lighter, such as a can of peas, and work yourself up to heavier items. You can use milk jugs, laundry detergent bottles or even water jugs.
  9. Dancing – Dancing is a wonderful exercise, which is great for your heart. Not only that, but it can lift your spirits as well, and give your overall feeling a boost.
  10. Step Exercises – Using the steps in your home, you can do repetitions which will tone your leg muscles. (Just remember to be careful!)
  11. Lunges - Begin the lunge by taking a large step forward, keeping your head up and torso erect. Lower your hips and allow your trailing knee to drop to a point just before it touches the floor - never let the knee touch the floor. To return to the start, push off with your forward leg and then step back when the knee is completely straight. Repeat with other leg, 10-15 reps each leg.
  12. Stair Running - Stair running isn't usually considered a resistance exercise, and in fact, it makes hefty demands on your cardiovascular system. However, it also does an incredible job of conditioning the lower body. If your knees are in good shape, try doing 10-20 one-story sprints, preferably two stairs at a time. As you get stronger, work up the number slowly, keep one hand on the stair rail to catch yourself if you lose your balance. Give yourself a bigger challenge by wearing a backpack filled with nice and heavy books.
To avoid having a basement filled with expensive dust-collecting equipment, keep these points in mind when deciding to purchase:
» Your fitness goals - do you need an equipment for your fitness goal?
» Cost of the equipment - can you afford?
» Long term plan of usage - can you continue to use the equipment to exercise?
» Variations that the equipment provides - will the equipment meet your needs as you get more fit?

What are the benefits of working out at home?
» No driving to and from a fitness club
» Workout on your schedule
» No expensive monthly membership fees
Getting some exercise is important. Use what you have in your house, and work out in the comfort of your home. You will be more likely to keep up with the exercises when you’re comfortable, so just get up and start exercising!

By: www.fitwatch.com

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

What is Food Pyramid?

Use Sparingly: Fats, oils, and sweets
2 - 3 Servings: Milk, Yogurt, and Cheese Group
2 - 3 Servings: Meat, Poultry, Fish, Dry Beans, Eggs, and Nuts Group
2 - 4 Servings: Fruit Group
3 - 5 Servings: Vegetable Group
6 - 11 Servings: Bread, Cereal, Rice, Pasta

The Food Pyramid published by the USDA makes it easy to envision just how much of each food type you should eat. Each section of the pyramid represents a food group; the size of the group corresponds to the number of recommended servings.

1. The base of the pyramid represents the grain group. These are carbohydrate-rich foods like bread, cereal, rice, and pasta. You should eat six to 11 servings per day of these foods.

2. The next tier of the pyramid includes vegetables and fruit. You should eat three to five servings per day of vegetables and two to four servings per day of fruit. These are good sources of vitamins, minerals, and fiber.

3. The next level is protein, like dairy products, meat, poultry, fish, dry beans, eggs, and nuts. You should eat two to three servings per day of foods from the milk group and two to three servings per day of foods from the meat, egg, bean, and nut group.

4. The top level of the pyramid is fats, oils, and sweets; these should be used sparingly.

The pyramid calls for eating a variety of foods to get all of the nutrients you need, and, at the same time, the right amount of calories to maintain a healthy weight. If you're watching your weight, eat the minimum number of recommended servings. If you need to gain weight, eat the maximum number of servings. And, keep in mind as to what constitutes a serving. Most serving sizes are smaller than you think. Be sure to read the food labels carefully to determine the accurate portion size.

Tips for Weight Loss Success

Tips for Weight Loss Success
Here are some tips for weight loss success:
1.     Eat regular meals.  People who eat regular meals consume fewer calories than those who eat irregular meals.
2.     Use a plate, sit down, and enjoy your meals. Folks who do this eat 43% smaller portions than those who eat out of containers or on the run.
3.     Get at least 30 minutes of moderate activity each day.
4.     How much and what you eat makes a big difference.  Enjoy normal portions of foods that are high in fiber (fruits, veggies, whole grains) and rich in lean or low fat protein is the secret to feeling full.
5.     Think positive: Focus on the benefits of a healthier lifestyle rather than the scale.
Eat at the same times every day (including snacks). Sure you can't do this all the time, but some people find that knowing when to expect their next meal or snack makes them a lot less likely to graze. Our body appreciates rhythms, from seasons to tides, so why not give it what it craves?
6.     Make only one meal. Instead of making something high-cal for the family and low-cal for yourself, get everyone on the same healthy-eating page. Weight loss and maintenance is easier when everyone's eating the same thing -- and you're not tempted to taste someone else's calorie-dense food.
7.     Remember that little things add up. So keep eating a little fruit here, some veggies there, continue grabbing 10 minute walks between meetings. Weight loss is a journey guided by your unique needs, so hook into what works for you -- and do it!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Negative calorie foods


Negative calorie foods
are foods, which use more calories to digest than the calories food actually contains! Calories from these foods are much harder for the body to use. In other words, the body has to work hard in order to extract calories from these foods. Even though a food may contain equal amount of calories, much less of these calories can possibly turn into fat in negative calorie foods as fewer calories are actually available to the body. This gives these foods a tremendous natural fat-burning advantage.
Consider the facts:
1. A piece of dessert consisting of 400 Calories (actually 400 kilocalories) may only require 150 Calorie (actually 150 kilocalories) to digest by our body, resulting in a net gain of 250 calories which is added to our body fat!
2. On the other hand, a 5 calorie raw piece of celery will require much more calories to chew and digest, so resulting in a net loss of calories from our body fat!! It implies that the more you eat, the more you lose weight!!!
Therefore, these foods are said to be good for achieving weight loss naturally without starving.
How it works?
All foods have a nutrient (carbohydrate, fat, and protein), caloric (calories) and vitamin & mineral content. Vitamins stimulate living tissues to produce enzymes that breakdown the caloric nutrients of that food.
The foods with negative calorie contain sufficient vitamins & minerals that produce enzymes in quantities sufficient to break down not only its own calories, but additional calories from body in digestion as well. This is called "negative calorie effect".
List of Foods Possessing Negative Calorie Effect
These foods will have maximum benefits when eaten without any empty calorie foods (junk foods). There are several foods such as vegetables and fruits that have negative calorie effect. Some of the foods that can be eaten in generous quantities are: Asparagus, Beets, Carrot, Zucchini, Papaya, Strawberry, Raspberry, etc. Look at the list below.

List of Negative calorie Foods
Negative Calorie Vegetables
Asparagus
Beet Root
Broccoli
Cabbage
Carrot
Cauliflower
Celery
Chicory
Hot Chili
Cucumber
Garden cress
Garlic
Green Beans
Lettuce
Onion
Radish
Spinach
Turnip
Zucchini
Negative Calorie Fruits
Apple
Blueberries
Cantaloupe
Cranberry
Grapefruit
Honeydew
Lemon/Lime
Mango
Orange
Papaya
Peach
Pineapple
Raspberry
Strawberry
Tomato
Tangerine
Turnip
Watermelon


Article By: Padma Mehta and Prakash Mehta (www.fatfreekitchen.com)

Food that can help burn belly fat

Fat burning foods are foods that burn more calories than the calorie content of the food itself, thereby fighting stored fat. Fat burning foods help lose fat even while you sleep.
If you skip meals and food, it will slow your metabolism and your health will deteriorate.
There are certain foods which actually burn more fat than the calorie content of the food itself. These fat burning foods are natural plant foods. If you eat these fat burning foods and do some exercise, it will boost your metabolism and burn more calories (fat) at a faster rate for several hours even after exercise. Full list of the fat burning foods is available.
List of Foods that burn fat: Fat Fighters
1. Fruits rich in vitamin C - Citrus Fruits: like limes, lemons, oranges, guava, grapefruit, papaya, sweet lime, tangerines and tomatoes are rich in Vitamin C and fiber and have fat burning properties so they may be called as fat burning foods or fat burners or fat fighters.
Vitamin C helps the body process fat faster and also stimulates the carnitine amino acid which speeds up the body's fat-burning capacity.
Vitamin C dilutes the fat and makes it less effective and helps in releasing the fat from the body.
2. Apples: Pectin in apple restricts the cells to absorb the fat; and also encourages water absorption from the food which helps in releasing the fat deposits from the body. The antioxidants in apples may help prevent metabolic syndrome, a condition marked by excess belly fat or an apple body shape.
3. Calcium Rich Dairy Products: Calcium in dairy products like milk, cheese and yogurt act as fat burner that can boost weight loss by increasing fat breakdown in fat cells. According to Professor Michael Zemel at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, (Obesity Research, April 2004; vol 12; pp 582-590), dairy-rich diets with same calorie restriction can nearly double the rate of weight and fat loss. Eating 3-4 servings of dairy products a day is more effective at enhancing weight loss efforts than calcium supplementation alone. Dairy products may therefore be termed as fat burning foods or fat burners.
The researchers found:
Overweight people who consumed 3 servings a day of calcium-rich dairy lost more
belly fat than those who followed a similar diet minus two or more of the dairy servings. The calcium supplements didn't work as well as milk.
4. Nuts help feel full while also increasing the body's ability to burn fat, says author Jordi Salas-Salvado of the University of Rovira i Virgili in Reus, Spain.
5. Chillies: Foods containing chillies or cayenne pepper are considered to be as foods that burn fat. Chillies contain capsaicin that helps in increasing the metabolism. Capsaicin is a thermo genic food, so it causes the body to burn extra calories for 20 minutes after you eat the chilies.
6. Cardamom: Cardamom is a thermo genic herb like Capsaicin that increases metabolism and helps burn body fat.
7. Curry leaves (Curry Patta): Curry leaves flush out fat and toxins, reducing fat deposits in the body.
8. Garlic: An effective fat burning food.
9. Proteins: Protein rich foods and high fiber foods are the best as foods burning belly fat. Protein needs more energy to digest than fat as so eat low calorie dairy products, beans, whole grains, oatmeal, eggs, etc. as much as possible.
Lentils are
high in protein and soluble fiber, two nutrients that stabilize blood sugar levels, therefore lentils are a great tummy flattener," according to Tanya Zuckerbrot, R.D., author of The F-Factor Diet.
10.  Green Tea: Studies show that green tea revs up your metabolism, so drink several cups a day.
11.  Fish oil: Fish oil supplements are a great way to shed pounds. A recent study found that fish oil is great for helping your body burn fat more efficiently. You may lose up to 2 kg over 3 months.
12.  Some of the other foods that may be included in the list of fat burning foods are asparagus, beet root, broccoli, cabbage, carrot, chillies, beans, soybeans, sweet potatoes, blueberries and watermelon.
13.  Honey: Honey mobilizes the extra fat deposits in the body.
14.  Avoid Salt and Sugar: Avoiding salt and sugar can shape you up very fast.
Note that in order to lose weight you have to burn more calories than you consume. This can be done by eating fat fighting foods and doing some physical activity. This will help your body burning up the excessive stored fat.
Article By: Padma Mehta and Prakash Mehta (www.fatfreekitchen.com)

Monday, January 3, 2011

5 Healthy Ways to Post-Holiday Detox

By Jennipher Walters - DietsInReview.com

So the holidays are almost over and you're probably feeling like the rest of Americans right now: bloated, tired and a little heavier than usual. Instead of going on a crash diet or thinking that you have to go to the gym for hours on end to start feeling like your pre-holiday self, follow these five tips to post-holiday detox in a healthy way!

  1. Break the sugar and salt habit. If you feel especially bloated, cutting out the extra sugar, refined carbs and salt you've been having at holiday gatherings is the first step to getting back to your usual self. Do this for at least three days to get back on track and give your system time to reset. 
  2. Load up on veggies. Detoxing is all about getting the bad out and the good back in. So after the holidays challenge yourself to eat seven to 12 servings of fruits and veggies a day -- and make clean food the bulk of your diet. Get a variety of produce to ensure that you're getting all those vitamins and minerals you probably skimped on over holiday break. Try our "vegetarian for a week" challenge, or give "meatless Monday" a try!
  3. Start off easy at the gym. You're probably gung-ho about working out right now and think a killer workout is what it will take to get you back on track, but ease back into the gym. It's better to do a little bit every day then go to the gym, push it too hard, and then be so sore that you can't move for days!
     
  4. Make water your new BFF. Hydration is the name of the game when it comes to post-holiday detoxing. Guzzle that water throughout the day, trying to get at least 64 ounces. Water helps flush out toxins and helps your body eliminate waste! (A good rule of thumb is to divide your total body weight in half, and drink that many ounces. i.e. A 150-pound person should drink 75 ounces of water.)
     
  5. Ignore the scale for a few days. Because of all the extra holiday goodies, which included added sugar, salt and fat, you're probably a few pounds heavier than normal. Instead of stepping on the scale and feeling down about the number, just forgo the scale. Follow these tips and weigh yourself in a week. You'll probably be back to your normal size!
Extreme detoxes aren't necessary to get back on track after the holidays, nor are they any kind of healthy for your body. It's also not healthy to beat yourself up over what you ate and those workouts you may have missed. Today is a new day -- so appreciate the holidays for what they are (or were) and get back on the healthy track!