There’s been a lot of buzz about probiotics lately, and they seem to be showing up everywhere whether it’s in supplements, yogurt, smoothies or even ice cream! So what’s the big benefit and what do you need to know about them? We put together a question-and-answer guide to give you the 411 on probiotics!
What Are Probiotics?
Probiotics are live organisms, such as bacteria and yeast, most of which are similar to the healthy flora that we naturally have in our guts. Probiotics are naturally found in some foods like yogurt and kefir, along with other foods that are fermented such as miso, tempeh and sauerkraut. You can also buy probiotic supplements.
Why Are Probiotics Helpful?
Although there isn’t a lot of concrete research on this, doctors believe that having the right — or wrong — balance of bacteria in your stomach may play a role in digestive issues, obesity, immunity, eczema, and possibly even help with common childhood ailments such as strep throat, ear infections, colds and diarrhea, along with helping with food allergies.
Trying to lose weight often means dropping beloved high calorie foods from your diet. Sometimes a swap is barely noticeable – skim milk for whole, low fat cheese for full fat – but when trying to drop ice cream, you may not be pleased with your choices. Low fat or no fat ice creams are indeed lower in calories and fat, but many times have a different mouth feel or slightly bitter aftertaste. One of the most popular lower fat frozen desserts is frozen yogurt.
Drive through your city, and you’ll see an overwhelming number of businesses offering frozen desserts. Ice creams, custards, Italian ices, and the newest fad – frozen yogurt. From scoop shops to dispense your own, and many with massive topping choices, these dessert bars are popular for the ability to create a dessert that is exactly what you want – be it loaded with sugar and fats, or a more restrained, less calorically dense choice. Fro Yo (Frozen yogurt) is most often thought to be a healthier choice, with less fat and lower in calories, but is it really?
When you walk down the aisles of your local grocery store, you’re immediately bombarded with food advertising that promises to provide a healthier option. Certain brands make claims like: “20 percent less fat,” “fewer calories than other leading brands,” or “has a full serving of Vitamin C.” While these claims may be true, you never really know if you are picking out the best foods for you and your family. Shopping for the right food can really be a headache, but there are certain foods in all brands that will improve your diet.
Check out this list of foods that should be stocked up in your fridge or cabinets.
Mangoes: Throw them in a blender for a fruit smoothie, or eat them plain. Either way, this tropical fruit is rich in Vitamin E and could help lower the risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Researchers have identified a natural substance in dairy fat that may substantially reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. The compound, called trans-palmitoleic acid, is a fatty acid that is found in milk, cheese, yogurt and butter. It is not produced by the body and can only come from your diet.
Right now, you’re probably confused. After all, nutrition and health professionals have been telling us to choose low-fat dairy for years, right? Well according to the December issue of Annals of Internal Medicine, dairy fat is different in its make-up than other industrially produced trans fats found that are found in partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, which have been linked to higher risk of heart disease. On the other hand, trans-palmitoleic acid is almost exclusively found in naturally-occurring dairy and meat trans fats, which in prior studies have not been linked to higher heart disease risk, according to the study.
Would you eat four candy bars for breakfast? What if your kids asked for this for breakfast, would you let them? The answer is likely no, because it’s candy and we don’t eat that for breakfast. But did you ever stop to think that the things you typically grab for breakfast, for yourself or your kids, might as well be candy? It’s true! Most of our go-to breakfast items have as much sugar as our favorite candies. No wonder our kids can’t concentrate in school and we don’t have the energy to get through a 10 a.m. meeting without bum-rushing the coffee machine.
If you’re looking to make some healthy changes for the new year, we can tell you that changing the way you do breakfast should be a priority. The cliche that it’s the most important meal of the day is very true, and if you can conquer that meal, then you’ll be able to start conquering the others.
We compared 10 of the most popular breakfast items, some of which actually give the illusion of being health foods, to our favorite candies to show you that a cup of yogurt or bowl of cereal is sometimes no better than the treats Santa left in your stocking. (more…)
Yogurt is one of my favorite breakfast choices. It’s easy to eat, requires no cooking, and I can take it with me if I’m running late. (Ahem.) Yogurt is also one of my go-to snacks, especially for my kids, who tend to have blood sugar issues in the afternoon. The problem with many yogurts, though, is the high sugar content. Often, the yogurt has as much sugar as a candy bar – or even more! I look for low sugar content and fruit as opposed to jelly, and I was delighted to discover Siggi’s, made by the Skyr company.
From their website:
“Skyr is the traditional yogurt of Iceland. It is made by incubating skim milk with live active cultures. The whey, the water naturally found in milk, is then strained away to make for a much thicker, creamier, concentrated yogurt. So to make just one cup of Skyr, with all that water going out, you need 3 – 4 times the amount of milk required to make a regular cup of yogurt. As a result of this process Skyr comes out with 2-3 times the protein count of standard yogurt.”
The yogurt-maker Dannon agreed to drop various health claims made about its products, in addition to paying out $21 million in state and federal settlements. The Federal Trade Commission says that there is not enough scientific proof for Dannon’s claims that Activia yogurt can correct digestive irregularity or that DanActive can boost immunity.
“Consumers want, and are entitled to accurate information when it comes to their health,” FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz said in a statement. “Companies like Dannon shouldn’t exaggerate the strength of scientific support for their products.”
Even in the winter, when you wake up craving a warm meal, a yogurt parfait can be a surprisingly satisfying choice. Yogurt is full of calcium and protein and when you need a quick breakfast before work or school, it’s easy to make a parfait that tastes gourmet with whole grains and fresh fruit.
If you like to get your kids involved in the kitchen, you can make a fun event out of prepping your parfaits – set out bowls of granola, fresh and dried fruit and other favorite toppings and let them compile their own tasty morning treats.
My favorite combination is vanilla yogurt, fresh blueberries and strawberries but off-season, frozen fruits will work in a pinch.
Women’s Health has released a list of 9 Power Food Pairings – combinations of food items that give you more nutritional value when eaten together. Even better, they seem like pretty easy combinations to work into your diet. Check out Women’s Health for the full list and read my favorites below.
That time of the month may have you reaching for less nutritious foods, but research shows less pre-menstrual irritability in women who ingest the most calcium and vitamin D. Eggs are an excellent source of vitamin D, and broccoli provides easily-absorbed calcium. I tend to crave a little fat, so a broccoli and cheese omelet sounds ideal to me. (more…)
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