Ask Elesha: Nutritional Vices Demystified
We are continually bombarded with information about what we should and shouldn’t eat. Fortunately, a few of the foods most of us consider to be vices can actually be healthy in moderation.
Can’t wake up without a cup of joe in the morning? There’s more good news than bad to report about coffee: it contains protective antioxidants, as well as magnesium and chromium, which aid the body’s ability to utilize insulin more effectively. Coffee may also help lower risk for heart disease, stroke, dementia and Parkinson’s disease.
Bonus: Caffeine can give you an extra jolt to get more out of your workout.
How much: No more than 300 milligrams (approximately 3 cups) per day; any more can interfere with sleep patterns and cause trembling.
Speaking of coffee…do you add skim milk to yours? Would you prefer half & half or whole milk, but feel they are an indulgence your waistline cannot afford? The truth is, the amount of milk or cream in coffee will not make or break any weight management plan, and does not make a significant difference in calories. You will be getting a little more saturated fat, but in reasonable amounts saturated fat can provide energy, build stronger bones, enhance liver health and support a healthy brain and immune system. While the majority of our fat intake should come from unsaturated sources (think: olive oil, avocado, nuts and fatty fish), saturated fat in moderation can provide some benefit.
Bonus: A little added fat will delay digestion, stabilize blood sugar levels and keep you satisfied longer.
We have all heard about the health benefits and antioxidant properties of red wine. But did you know that a martini or a can of beer provide similar benefits? Research shows that one liquor drink or beer a day can help prevent heart disease and high blood pressure.
Keep in Mind: While this is good news for those who aren’t wine drinkers, you won’t get the antioxidant value from beer and liquor that you do from wine.
How much: One drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men; any more can increase the risk of certain kinds of cancer.
Most of us are aware that dark chocolate has antioxidant properties, but did you know it can also reduce stress hormones?
How much: If you have a sweet tooth, aim for one to two ounces of dark chocolate (70% cocoa content) per day.
Don’t “diet”. A recent study by Alia Crum at Yale University revealed that if you feel you are depriving yourself with a “light” meal, you will not feel satisfied. This can cause the release of the hormone ghrelin, which slows metabolism.
Keep in Mind: For balance, focus on the more indulgent parts of a meal, such as a little avocado or nuts on a salad.
Do you love the bacon-and-egg breakfast, but think it’s too gluttonous for a weekday meal? One whole egg (additional whites can be added at only 17 calories each), two slices of bacon and one slice of Nature’s Own 100% Whole Wheat Bread only amount to about 195 calories. Many tend to reach for a bagel with cream cheese, thinking it’s a better option, but even whole wheat bagels typically contain 400+ calories.
Bonus: The protein in the bacon and eggs will keep you fuller longer, while the high carbohydrate content of a bagel will leave you famished by mid-morning.
Don’t bother with sugar-free, low-carbohydrate or double-fiber breads. You will be paying more for a negligible difference, and other undesirable ingredients are sometimes added to make up for flavor.
Recommended: Nature’s Own 100% Whole Wheat Bread; it has a mere 50 calories per slice plus four grams of protein.
It’s okay to eat a late dinner if you’re a night owl. We often hear it’s best to eat dinner before six o’clock; however, this is not practical if you eat dinner at six and stay up until eleven. By that time, your body will be asking for more fuel, and no one likes to go to bed hungry.