8 Healthy Summer Foods to Add to Your Diet

Food & Nutrition, recipes
It’s summer—that amazing time of year when fresh produce abounds. Better yet: many of summer’s fruits and vegetables are brimming with secret health benefits.
Corn

1. Corn

Nothing says summer like fresh sweet corn. And did you know that two antioxidants—lutein and zeaxanthin—in corn may act like natural sunglasses, helping to form macular pigment that filters out some of the sun’s damaging rays? It’s true. The same antioxidants may also help lower your risk of developing age-related macular degeneration—the leading cause of blindness in people over the age of 60 (though much of the damage occurs decades earlier).

Iced Coffee

Pictured Recipe: EatingWell Frozen Mochaccino

2. Iced Coffee

An iced pick-me-up is a great way to start your summer mornings. Better yet: drinking a single cup of coffee daily may lower your risk of developing skin cancer. In one study of more than 93,000 women, published in the European Journal of Cancer Prevention, those who drank one cup of caffeinated coffee a day reduced their risk of developing nonmelanoma skin cancer by about 10 percent. And the more they drank—up to about 6 cups or so per day—the lower their risk. Decaf didn’t seem to offer the same protection.

Tart Cherries

3. Tart Cherries

They deliver a host of health benefits. You may have heard that drinking tart cherry juice can help you get a better night’s sleep and quell post-workout pain (read more about that here). But did you know that compounds in tart cherries may also help you slim down and get leaner? When scientists at the University of Michigan Health System put rats on a high-fat diet supplemented with either a tart-cherry powder (equal to 1% of the weight of their total diet) or the same number of calories from carbohydrate, those that got the cherry powder gained less weight and body fat. Why? The anthocyanins in tart cherries activate a molecule that helps rev up fat burning and decrease fat storage.

Tomatoes

4. Tomatoes

There’s no question that sunscreen should be your first line of defense against the blazing summer sun. But eating tomatoes could give you a little extra protection: consuming more lycopene—the carotenoid that makes tomatoes red—may protect your skin from sunburn. In one study, participants who were exposed to UV light had almost 50 percent less skin reddening after they ate 2 1/2 tablespoons of tomato paste (or drank about 1 2/3 cups of carrot juice daily), in addition to their regular diet, for 10 to 12 weeks. Supplements, however, weren’t as effective: in the same study, those who received a lycopene supplement or synthetic lycopene weren’t significantly protected against sunburn.

5. Watermelon

5. Watermelon

Staying hydrated keeps your memory sharp and your mood stable. It also helps keep your body cool (by sweating) during hot summer months. The good news is that you don’t just have to drink water. You can eat it, too: in addition to delivering skin-protecting lycopene, watermelon is 92 percent water (hence the name). Another boon? Research shows that eating foods that are full of water helps keep you satisfied on fewer calories. (Interestingly enough, drinking water alongside foods doesn’t have the same effect.)

Raspberries

6. Raspberries

Raspberries are a great source of fiber—some of it soluble in the form of pectin, which helps lower cholesterol. One cup of raspberries has 8 grams of fiber—and a study in the Journal of Nutrition suggests that eating more fiber may help prevent weight gain or even promote weight loss. Over the course of a two-year study, researchers found that when study participants boosted their fiber by 8 grams for every 1,000 calories, they lost about 4 1/2 pounds. Try it for yourself. If you’re consuming 2,000 calories per day, aim to increase your fiber by 16 grams

Iced Tea

7. Iced Tea

Sure, a tall glass of iced tea on a hot day is refreshing, but did you know it might also do your body good? Studies show if you drink tea regularly, you may lower your risk of Alzheimer’s and diabetes, plus have healthier teeth and gums and stronger bones. How? Tea is rich in a class of antioxidants called flavonoids. Regardless of the variety—black, green, oolong, white or herbal—maximize the power of tea’s flavonoids by drinking it freshly brewed. If you want to keep a batch of cold tea in your refrigerator, “add a little lemon juice,” recommends Jeffrey Blumberg, Ph.D., director of the Antioxidants Research Laboratory at the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University in Boston. The citric acid and vitamin C in that squeeze of lemon—or lime, or orange—help preserve the flavonoids.

Blueberries

8. Blueberries

Fresh blueberries straight from the berry patch are a special treat! Turns out the antioxidants in them may help ward off muscle fatigue by mopping up the additional free radicals that muscles produce during exercise, according to recent research out of New Zealand.

Source: —Brierley Wright, M.S., R.D.

How to eat healthy while still enjoying graduation party season

Food & Nutrition, Holiday Fast Track, Humor, Motivation, Inspiration and Encouragement

graduation gif 2.gif

 With the end of the year and warmer weather comes celebration. And celebration often means delicious, decadent food and lots of it. Whether it be at a graduation party, family reunion or backyard barbecue with friends, there always seems to be a scrumptious spread calling your name. And let’s not forget the dessert table.
Overindulging at one celebration might not be so bad, but what happens when you have three parties to attend in one weekend? Before you know it, you’ll find yourself feeling tired, bloated and a perhaps a few pounds heavier—just in time for swimsuit season.

So how can you keep your body happy and healthy without missing the fun that summer celebrations bring? Read on for nine tips on how to enjoy parties while still keeping your health in mind.

1. Eat before you go.

Heading out to a graduation soiree where you know there will be killer desserts? Try eating a light, healthy meal before you go. You won’t be hungry for the main event like fatty fried chicken and instead will have room for that slice of cake. Even the smallest snack can help when it comes to having control over the buffet table. Just remember, no matter what you do, don’t go to a party starving. You’re likely to enter a “see-all-eat-all” mentality and go overboard.

2. Bring a healthy dish to pass.

By bringing a dish to pass, you’ll at least know there will be one healthy option to eat. Serve yourself a portion of your healthy contribution and supplement it with smaller portions of a few more indulgent items. Not only can you keep your diet in check, but you’ll also enable others to enjoy a lighter option.

3. Taste test.

The first time you visit the food spread, take a little bit of everything you want to try. Give it all a taste and decide on your favorites. Then go back and dish up what you know you will truly enjoy. This will prevent you from eating foods that are just so-so to your taste buds but are also high in calories and fat.

4. Distract yourself.

After trip one to the dessert table, walk away. Don’t stand or sit near it, as this can increase the temptation to make a return trip. Instead, offer to help the host out with dishes, take a break from the party to walk around the park or venture to the backyard to check out what else might be going on.

5. Be active.

graduation gif

After eating, don’t just sit around. Instead, get up and join in that slow-pitch softball game, round of cornhole or sand volleyball match. You might even burn enough calories to warrant an extra piece of cake!

6. Be mindful of your beverages.

Sure, nothing says it’s a party like a cold Spotted Cow or a fruity margarita. And by “a,” I mean one. Calories from beverages — whether it be from beer, mixed drinks, lemonade, punch or soda — can add up fast. Guzzle down two cans of Coke and you’ve just consumed 280 calories and nearly 80 grams of sugars. That’s about 20 teaspoons! Bottom line: it’s just as important to choose your beverages carefully as it is to choose your eats. Stick to one beverage of choice and then switch to water, diet soda or unsweetened tea.

7. Pack along a piece of gum.

After you’ve finished your first plate, whip out this little lifesaver. Choose a minty flavor to curb any cravings for another piece of chocolate cheesecake and to help take your mind off of food.

8. Balance your plate.

Just as you would for a typical dinner around the table at home, try to balance your plate. Load at least half of it with fruits and veggies, a quarter with lean protein, and the other quarter with grains. (Whole grains are best!)

9. Use a dessert plate.

Swing by the dessert table first before hitting up the food, but only to snatch a smaller, dessert-sized plate. Ditching an oversized dinner plate in favor of a smaller plate aids in portion control and will prevent you from overindulging right off the bat.

Now, I’d have to admit that part of the “party” is definitely the food, and that it’s perfectly okay to indulge every once in a while. But for all those other times, stick to these nine tips and you’ll be on your way to celebrating not only the occasion but also your commitment to a healthier lifestyle!

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