Simple Swaps to Reduce Your Sugar Intake

Simple Swaps to Reduce Your Sugar Intake

In 2015, the World Health Organization strongly recommended that both adults and children should reduce the intake of free sugars to less than 10% of total energy.

Free sugars includes monosaccharides and disaccharides added to foods and beverages by the manufacturer, cook or consumer, and sugars naturally present in honey, syrups, fruit juices and fruit juice concentrates.

So where to start? Modern packaged food is packed with sugar in such staggering levels that the dietary-minded must become label sleuths to avoid it. But once you get the hang of it, it becomes pretty easy; and thankfully, it doesn’t always mean eating an apple instead of a cookie. The following are great examples of where you can start cutting sugar … without giving up too much.

1. Eat applesauce instead of applesauce
What? Well, more specifically, eat unsweetened applesauce instead of regular applesauce. A single serving cup of Mott’s Applesauce delivers 22 grams of sugar; a single serving cup of Mott’s Applesauce Natural Applesauce (unsweetened) has only 11 grams — and seriously, you may not even notice a difference in taste.

2. Eat grown-up cereal instead of kids’ cereal
You wouldn’t eat a Twinkie for breakfast, would you? Well you might as well if you’re eating one of the uber-sweetened cereal brands on the supermarket shelf. Case in point: Post Golden Crisp cereal rings in at 14 grams of sugar per three-fourths of a cup, while a full cup of Cheerios has a barely-noticeable one gram of sugar.

3. Drink coconut water instead of Gatorade
If you are an endurance athlete running marathons and such, your muscles will appreciate the carbohydrates from the sugar in Gatorade and other performance drinks. But if you’re not running 26.2 miles in a stretch, do yourself a favor and shun the sugary drinks. Twenty ounces or Gatorade Orange will set you back 34 grams of sugar, while 17 ounces of Vita Coco coconut water has 22 grams; and coconut water offers the sodium and potassium that other sports drink promise … without the sludge of artificial ingredients.

4. Eat Graham crackers instead of Oreos.
Oreos may be milk’s favorite cookie, but they are crammed with sugar. Two Double Stuff Oreos supply 13 grams of sugar; meanwhile, two sheets of Graham crackers provide only eight grams. And while we’re on the subject of cookies, remember that you can control the amount of sugar you use when making them at home, like, if you were thinking of trying homemade versions of Girl Scout cookies or something.

5. Use all-fruit spread instead of jam.
Have you tried a fruit spread before? A product like Polaner All Fruit is so sweet and fruity it’s confounding why anyone would opt for a product that has more sweetener than fruit. And as for sugar? One tablespoon of Polaner All Fruit Strawberry contains six grams of sugar; one tablespoon of  Smucker’s Strawberry Jam gives you 12 grams.

6. Eat fresh pasta sauce instead of commercial tomato sauce.
Beware the surprising sugar bomb that is commercial pasta sauce. Popular brands of tomato sauce in a jar can pummel an eater with up to 11 grams of sugar (and more) for a half-cup serving.  If you want tomato, a much better bet is to dice half a cup of fresh tomatoes, toss them with olive oil, garlic and fresh basil, and add to hot pasta for a delicious uncooked pasta sauce … and less than 3 grams of natural sugar. Otherwise, there are endless recipes for homemade pasta sauces, sans sugar, that you can make yourself.

7. Eat a chocolate bar instead of a nutrition bar.
Nine out of 10 people would reach for a nutrition bar over a chocolate bar when trying to make the healthy choice … but no, step away from the PowerBar. Some nutrition bars sneak up to 32 grams of sugar into a serving, while an earnest chocolate bar, like Equal Exchange’s Organic Ecuador Dark Chocolate Bar has a mere 12 grams of sugar. (For the worst of the bunch, read 7 nutrition bars that are worse than candy.)

Do you have other need-to-know sugar swaps? Tell us in the comments below!

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Eat Smart! Every Meal Counts Infographic

Every Meal Counts

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Move! Is it time to replace your walking shoes?

Replace worn shoes

Walking can be done with almost any kind of comfortable footwear. If you’re wearing running shoes, over time, they can start to wear down, A good, comfortable pair of shoes can make your walking routine more enjoyable. They can relieve stress on your feet, legs and joints.

Your shoes may need to be replaced when they are no longer comfortable, the tread is worn or you start having pain. Over time your shoes begin to lose cushioning and stability, which results in more stress on your feet and legs and increases risk of injury. You can replace inside cushions with shoe inserts if the rest of the shoe is in good shape.

Have two pairs of shoes, if possible. Rotating them daily will allow them to air out and last longer. And when you notice a difference between the two, like aches and pains in your bones or joints with one pair over the over, you will know it is time to replace that pair.

When shopping for a new pair of shoes, take advantage of the trained sales staff the shoe store and learn what style and brand works for you. Let the sales person know what type of walking you do — outdoor, indoor track, treadmill, mall walking, etc. — so they can recommend a style that will fit your needs.

Shoe fitting tips

  • Try on new shoes after you have been on your feet a while. Feet tend to swell during the day
  • Wear the type of socks you will be wearing with the shoes
  • Walk around the store; see how the shoes feel on both hard and carpeted surfaces.
  • The shoes should fit snuggly and your foot should not slide from side to side.
  • They should not slip at the heel.
  • They should have plenty of cushioning.
  • They should bend easily at the ball of your feet (just behind your toes).
  • They should not have to be broken in.
  • Let fit and comfort be your ultimate guide.

The success of your walking wellness plan can depend on having a comfortable pair of shoes.. Take the time to find the right ones. Your feet will love you for it.

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The 9 Least Healthy Restaurant Meals In America

The results are in and they’re not pretty. The Center for Science in the Public Interest has released its annual Xtreme Eating Awards, which features nine of the unhealthiest meals from American chain restaurants. This year, nearly all of the winners have more than 2,000 calories (remember, that’s per dish!), and one even has a week’s worth of saturated fat.

Since three of of the nine spots went to The Cheesecake Factory, the chain garnered a special mention as the winner of the 2014 XXXtreme Eating Award.

Here are the “winners”:

1. Bruléed French Toast from The Cheesecake Factory

It sounds delicious, but this brunch item, described as the “best” French toast ever, has 2,780 calories and a whole week’s worth of saturated fat (93 grams) when ordered with the optional bacon. And don’t even think about all that sugar.

2. Red Robin’s A.1. Peppercorn Monster Burger

To start with, the burger is topped with bacon, cheese and crispy onion straws, and you can take this to the next level by adding another beef patty to make it a “monster.” Then, there’s the fact that the burger comes with bottomless steak fries.

If you eat this meal with a Monster Salted Caramel Milkshake (1,500 calories all on its own), the grand total comes to 3,540 calories and four days worth of sodium. We can’t even believe this is legal.

3. The Big Slab of St. Louis-Style Spareribs from Famous Dave’s

The ribs come with two sides (such as fries and baked beans) bringing this winner to 2,770 calories and 14 teaspoons of sugar in a single meal. Yikes!

4. Deep Dish Chicken Bacon Ranch Pizza from BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse

The name really says it all here, but the 2,160 calories and 4,680 milligrams of sodium in this 11-inch “signature” pizza confirms that this is about as bad as it gets.

5. The Super Cinco Combo from Chevys Fresh Mex

If you guessed that eating one beef enchilada, one chicken enchilada, one beef taco, one hand-rolled pork tamale and one Chile Relleno could be overkill for a single meal, you’re not wrong. This comes out to 1,920 calories and a whole lot of fat and sodium.

6. Farfalle with Chicken and Roasted Garlic from The Cheesecake Factory

This one doesn’t sound so terrible, but remember, it’s from The Cheesecake Factory, which makes it less surprising that this pasta dish turns out to have 2,410 calories and 93 grams of saturated fat. Yuck.

7. The Big “Hook” Up Platter from Joe’s Crab Shack

Remember when you thought seafood was the “healthy” option? Well … when seafood and crab balls stuffed with jalapeños and cream cheese coated in panko breadcrumbs with a side of ranch are served with fish and chips, coconut shrimp, crab stuffed shrimp and sides, the dish has an insane 3,280 calories and FIVE DAYS worth of sodium.

8. Prime New York Steak Contadina Style from Maggiano’s Little Italy

This dish has 2,420 calories, half of which are from the Contadina-style topping. How is this possible?

9. And … we’re back to: Reese’s Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake Cheesecake from The Cheesecake Factory

It ends where it begins! With a dessert that packs 1,500 calories and 21 teaspoons of sugar. Crazy.

And there you have it … the nine unhealthiest meals of 2014. Just nine more reasons to love wonderful, nutrient-dense home-cooked meals.

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Top 5 Herbal Remedies To Reduce Pain And Inflammation

Pain can take over our thoughts, messing up our good times and can seriously impair our quality of life.

As positive as we try to be, it’s almost impossible to be our happiest, shiniest, best-ever selves when we’re dealing with pain, whether it’s from a splitting headache, a stubbed toe or a chronic disease like fibromyalgia or osteoarthritis.

People with chronic pain are three times more likely to develop psychiatric symptoms like depression and anxiety, and it’s no wonder. When you’re in pain, it’s harder to enjoy doing the things that you love.

Luckily, we have options. While over-the-counter painkillers can be really helpful, and in some cases may be the best option, they can also cause gastrointestinal upset and definitely aren’t the best long-term strategy for coping with chronic pain. My goal is, of course, to try and help relieve pain by getting to the root cause.

But sometimes, we need a little something to take the edge off. At those times, I turn to the power herbs and nutrients, whether in food form or ready-blended supplement.

Here are five remedies to reduce joint pain and inflammation:

1. Bromelain

Bromelain is a powerful enzyme found in the most delightful tropical fruit, pineapple.

While most enzymes get broken down in the digestive tract, bromelain actually gets absorbed into our bodies whole, resulting in system-wide effects. Once absorbed into the bloodstream, studies have shown that it can reduce inflammation and reduce pain (though it’s not well-understood why this happens).

Eating pineapple can provide you with some bromelain, especially if you juice the hard stem and drink it on an empty stomach. Juicing pineapple in a combo with aloe, ginger and turmeric (see below) is a powerful of anti-inflammatory pain relief remedy.

Bromelain can also be found on its own as a supplement.

2. Turmeric

Turmeric is a root. It looks a lot like ginger, but it’s bright orange inside. It’s available as a whole fresh fruit, or more commonly in North America, as a dried, ground spice.

Turmeric has been used for 4,000 years to treat a ton of different conditions ranging from infections to cancers to inflammation to digestive problems. Amazingly, in a 2009 study, researchers found that turmeric eased pain as much as ibuprofen did in patients with arthritis.

Turmeric can be enjoyed as a tea, or used in recipes (many Indian-inspired dishes call for turmeric). You can also buy curcumin (the powerful compound in turmeric) in capsule form.

3. Devil’s Claw

Devil’s claw is definitely not the paw of a devil but it kind of looks like one! It’s a creepy looking root that’s well worth a google image search to to catch a glimpse of its funny shape.

Studies have shown that it can reduce pain and physical functioning in patients with osteoarthritis. Devil’s claw contains components called iridoid glycosides, which are thought to be the source of its pain relieving properties.

Devil’s claw root can be taken as a tea, and it is also often sold in capsules and ointments.

4. White Willow Bark

White willow bark is the bark of the white willow tree, obviously! Please ensure are very familiar with identifying the tree before you start peeling the bark and brewing a tea!

White willow bark has been used for thousands of years to reduce fever and inflammation. It contains salicin, a compound very similar to aspirin. Studies have shown that willow bark is effective for reducing lower back pain. I like to keep a bottle of this on hand when traveling, as the pressure in airplanes tends to help with my headaches.

White willow is available dried as a tea, powdered in capsules or as a tincture. It’s also often used as an ingredient in combination pain-relief supplements.

5. Egg Membrane

The egg membrane is that transparent layer between the eggshell and the gel-like part inside of an egg. It’s easy to see on hard boiled eggs.

Egg membrane contains the components of the membrane that is designed to protect the egg, including collagen and glucosamine. According to a recent study, egg membrane significantly reduced joint pain and stiffness in patients with arthritis of the knee when compared to a placebo.

Egg membrane can be purchased in supplement form. If you have a cut or a wound you can also use the membrane from your boiled egg in place of a Band-Aid for accelerated healing.

What are some of your favorite natural pain management strategies?

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