Nutrition

4 Ways to Substitute Greek Yogurt to Make Healthier Snacks and Meals

Greek YogurtGreek yogurt has skyrocketed in popularity during the past several years as consumers have started recognizing the health benefits of this once obscure dairy product.

The difference between the Greek yogurt and regular yogurt is in the straining process. The Greek variety is strained more extensively, which removes more of the liquid whey, lactose and sugars. This also produces Greek yogurt’s thicker consistency.

Both low- and non-fat versions of Greek and traditional plain yogurts can play a part in a healthy diet by improving bone health and reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes in adults. Yogurt, Greek or otherwise, is a good source of calcium, potassium, Vitamin D and protein. Both regular and Greek yogurts also contain active cultures (probiotics), which promote better digestive health.

One of Greek yogurt’s primary benefits is it delivers higher protein and less sugar than the regular variety. Six ounces of Greek yogurt can deliver as much protein as three ounces of lean meat. As a result, Greek yogurt promotes the sense of fullness with fewer calories than many other protein sources. On the downside, Greek yogurt can be higher in cholesterol and lower in calcium than regular yogurt. Full-fat versions of Greek yogurt can be higher in saturated fats.

Aside from all the great benefits of Greek yogurt, you may be getting bored with breakfast parfaits, don’t really like yogurt to begin with or have never been able to acquire a taste for Greek yogurt’s more intense flavor.

With just a few creative reconfigurations, you can introduce the healthy benefits of Greek yogurt into your favorite snack foods, recipes or toppings, while getting the benefits of active cultures (to promote digestive health), higher protein and lower fat. Remember to choose a low-fat or no-fat Greek yogurt.

  • Sour cream. For the simplest of swaps, top your tacos or baked potatoes with a dollop of Greek yogurt. Compare the numbers: one ounce of low-fat sour cream (which is half a tablespoon) contains 51 calories, 4 grams of fat, 2 grams of carbohydrates and 2 grams of protein. On the other hand, the same amount of Greek yogurt contains 22 calories, 0.6 grams of fat, a little more than 1 gram of carbohydrates and 2.9 grams of protein.

   You can also thin out Greek yogurt with a bit of 2% milk and add your favorite Ranch dressing or French onion seasoning to make a healthier version of your favorite dip (make      it even healthier by substituting raw veggies for the potato chips).

  •  Mayonnaise. Mayonnaise is a creamy dressing made mostly from eggs and oil, which are both fats. Using Greek yogurt replaces fat with protein in recipes like tuna, macaroni, chicken, or potato salads. It works well in deviled egg recipes and in creamy salad dressings, like Caesar and Ranch.
  • Heavy cream or milk. Use Greek yogurt in your mashed potatoes, soups or sauces. Chef’s tip: To prevent curdling, remove the dish from the heat source before adding Greek yogurt to the recipe. Yogurt as a milk substitute is one of the reasons yogurt parfaits have become popular.
  •  Use in baked goods. Reduce the fat content in store-bought mixes for cakes, muffins, pancakes by replacing eggs and oil with Greek yogurt and water. You can also substitute Greek yogurt for cream cheese when making cake frosting.

Finally, make sure you check the nutrition label. The ingredient list should be fairly short, with milk and active cultures at the top of the list. Some brands contain more sugars and less protein than others. Fat content can also vary. As with any dairy product, opt for the low-fat or no-fat version for maximum health benefits.

Vegetable Oils: A Simple Switch to Improve Heart Health

Cooking with OilIf you want to improve your heart health, you can make simple changes to your recipes, such as switching your butter/shortening/lard for vegetable based oils, like olive or canola oil. While fat is an essential macronutrient that our body needs to provide energy, support cell growth, absorb key vitamins and insulate and protect our body’s vital organs, not all fats are created equal. Butter, lard, and processed foods contain saturated and trans fats, which increase the LDL (bad) cholesterol in your body.

Olive oil, canola oil and other vegetable oils are great heart healthy choices because they contain mono and poly unsaturated fats, which decrease LDL cholesterol. Unsaturated fats are usually liquid like olive or canola oil, but can also be found in fish, nuts, seeds and avocados. Each oil contains a different combination of mono and poly unsaturated fats, and provides its own unique flavor. Because of its robust flavor, olive oil is great to use for salad dressing or marinades. Vegetable oils also are excellent for grilling, sautéing, roasting, baking, poaching and steaming . Consider switching canola oil for solid fat when baking to decrease calories, saturated and trans fats. Use 25 percent less oil than solid fat. For example, substitute ¾ cup oil for one cup solid fat.

Although these vegetable oils are heart healthy, it’s important to be mindful of portions. One gram of fat provides nine calories, while one gram of carbohydrate or protein only provided four calories. For example, 1 Tbsp of oil= 140 calories, 14 grams of fat . If you’re not careful, you can easily add 500 calories or more s to a meal with 3 ½ Tbsp of oil. To avoid this pitfall, when you are cooking, consider how many servings you intend to make. Aim to limit one to two tsp per serving (or 45-90 calories, 5-10 grams of fat).

Each oil also has its own smoke point. A smoke point is the temperature at which an oil will start to smoke. Heating oils past their smoke point can impact flavor, leaving food with a burnt taste.. Canola, safflower, and sunflower oils have high smoke points >460◦F, while olive oil has a lower smoke point of 330◦F. Consider how much heat you will use while cooking when choosing an oil.

Tropical oils such as coconut, palm, or palm kernel oils recently have been receiving a lot of attention in the media. It is important to note that these oils have a high amount of saturated fat. The American Heart Association recommends limiting saturated fat to no more than five to six percent of total calories when trying to control cholesterol levels.

Check out some of our heart-healthy recipes online, and check out our Pinterest boards for even more health tips and recipes!

 

Health Benefits of Mint

mintThe use of mint for medicinal purposes dates back thousands of years. According to ancient Greek mythology, mint came to be when Persephone, wife of Hades, became jealous over her husband’s relationship with the river nymph Minthe. In her jealous rage, Persephone turned Minthe into a lowly plant. As Hades didn’t have the power to turn her back, all he could offer was a sweet scent, giving us the aromatic plant we know today.

While you might not buy the story of how this popular herb came to be, there’s no denying the medicinal qualities of this plant. Aside from the obvious oral care advantages, mint provides many health benefits. Check out a few of our favorites below!

  1. Allergy relief. Extracts from mint leaves have been shown to inhibit the release of histamines, which often spur on the severe nasal symptoms that are associated with hay fever and seasonal allergies. Extracts of peppermint have also been shown to help relieve the nasal symptoms of allergic rhinitis (colds related to allergy). 2
  2. Digestion and IBS relief. Mint promotes healthy digestion and soothes stomachs in cases of indigestion or inflammation. Studies also have revealed peppermint oil to relieve symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), including indigestion and colonic muscle spasms.3
  3. Weight loss. Mint stimulates digestive enzymes that absorb nutrients from food and consume fat and turn it into usable energy.1 So by adding mint to your diet, you are increasing the amount of fat that is being consumed and put to use, rather than being stored and contributing to weight gain!
  4. Fights depression and fatigue. Mint is a stimulus, and when inhaled, it can give a healthy burst of energy. It has also been proven to revitalize and contribute to better overall mental health, combatting both depression and anxiety.

So next time you’re looking to freshen up your favorite springtime beverages or recipes, mix things up and add some mint. Not only will its cooling qualities help keep you cool and relaxed in the warmer weather, but you might just find a few unexpectedly healthy side effects!

If you’re looking for a delicious and healthy beverage that incorporates fresh mint, check out our infused water recipes!

Related sources:

References:

  1. Ramakrishna Rao, R., Platel, K. and Srinivasan, K. (2003), “In vitro influence of spices and spice-active principles on digestive enzymes of rat pancreas and small intestine.” Nahrung, 47: 408–412.
  2. Osakabe N1, Takano H, Sanbongi C, Yasuda A, Yanagisawa R, Inoue K, Yoshikawa T. (2004), “Anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic effect of rosmarinic acid (RA); inhibition of seasonal allergic rhinoconjunctivitis (SAR) and its mechanism.” Biofactors, 21(1-4):127-31.
  3. Merat S1, Khalili S, Mostajabi P, Ghorbani A, Ansari R, Malekzadeh R. (2010), “The effect of enteric-coated, delayed-release peppermint oil on irritable bowel syndrome.” Dig Dis Sci., May;55(5):1385-90.
  4. Raudenbush B, Koon J, Meyer B, Flower N: “Effects of ambient odor on pain threshold, pain tolerance, mood, workload, and anxiety.” In Second Annual Meeting of the Society for Psychophysiological Research. Washington DC: Society for Psychophysiological Research; 2002.

Top 5 Health Benefits of Cherries

Health Benefits of CherriesWhen you think of cherries, we’re willing to bet that “amazing superfood” doesn’t immediately jump to mind. You’d be surprised to know that cherries are one of the most nutrient-rich fruits available! From fighting cancer to helping you get a good night’s sleep, cherries are one food that you shouldn’t be underestimating. Here are a few reasons why:

  1. Sleep better. Tart cherries contain melatonin, which is a hormone that makes you feel sleepy. Cherries increase melatonin levels in the blood, therefore improving the way you sleep. Try cherry juice for a fun new nightcap!
  2. Lose weight. A cup of cherries is less than 100 calories and packs 3 grams of fiber, which will keep you feeling full longer. They also contain many B-vitamins which are aid metabolism and convert nutrients into energy.
  3. Gets gout out. Cherries can help mitigate the intense symptoms of arthritis and gout. The pain from arthritis is due to excess uric acid in the bloodstream. A study done by the USDA found that uric acid can be reduced by as much as 15% by eating two cups of Bing cherries. 1
  4. Reduce muscle soreness. Cherries provide natural osteoarthritis relief, and can even help relieve post-workout soreness. Studies suggest a cup and a half of tart cherries or one cup of tart cherry juice can significantly reduce muscle inflammation and soreness.3 Another plus—if you cut down on post-workout soreness, you can feel free to exercise more often, contributing to overall weight loss and a healthier lifestyle!
  5. Cancer prevention. Cherries contain a compound called perillyl alcohol (POH), which is useful in reducing the occurrence of cancer. Researchers found that POH stops the growth of cancer cells by depriving them of the proteins they need to grow.2 Cherries, along with many other berries, are also a rich source of antioxidants, which replace free radicals in your body before they can cause any damage to cells.

Of all the varieties of cherries, tart cherries have been found to have the most significant health benefits. While they’re in-season now, they’re also readily available in freeze-dried, frozen and juice form year- round!

Related Resources:

References:
1. United States Department of Agriculture: “Fresh Cherries May Help Arthritis Sufferers” http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/ar/archive/may04/cherry0504.htm
2. American Institue for Cancer Research “Foods that Fight Cancer” http://www.aicr.org/foods-that-fight-cancer/tab-content/cherries-research.h…
3. Connolly DA, McHugh MP, Padilla-Zakour OI, Carlson L, Sayers SP. Efficacy of a tart cherry juice blend in preventing the symptoms of muscle damage. Br J Sports Med 2006;40:679-683.

Top 5 Health Benefits of Cauliflower

Health Benefits of CauliflowerHailed as this year’s kale, cauliflower is an often overlooked superfood. Low in saturated fat, carbohydrates and cholesterol, cauliflower is an excellent source of protein, dietary fiber, and vitamins.

Not only is cauliflower packed with nutrients, it’s also a popular choice of vegetarians. When cooked properly, cauliflower’s strong flavor is robust enough to stand on its own without other meat or fatty sides, and can even be used as a substitute for starchier, high-carb foods, like mashed potatoes. Check out our post on substituting cauliflower in your favorite mashed potato recipe for examples! Check out some of the other great benefits of this versatile superfood below:

  1. Cancer prevention. Studies link cauliflower to cancer prevention, particularly with respect to bladder, breast, colon, ovarian and prostate cancer. In fact, according to an article in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, high intake of cruciferous vegetables, including cauliflower—may be associated with reduced risk of aggressive prostate cancer.1 How? Cauliflower contains a compound called indole-3-carinol, or I3C, as well as an important phytochemical called sulforaphane. Both of these components stimulate enzymes in the body that detoxify and repair damaged DNA that can prevent cells from turning cancerous.2
  2. Antioxidant benefits and detox support. Cauliflower contains antioxidant nutrients, namely vitamin C, manganese and beta-carotene. Eating cauliflower regularly will help protect you from free radical damage and reduce your risk for diseases caused by oxidative stress, such as cardiovascular diseases and some cancers.4
  3. Anti-inflammatory benefits. Cauliflower is an excellent source of vitamin K, which regulates our bodies’ inflammatory responses. It also contains an anti-inflammatory compound that can prevent the initiation of inflammatory responses. Since chronic inflammation leads to conditions such as arthritis, chronic pain, and ulcerative colitis, eating cauliflower can help prevent these conditions and can have a calming effect on inflammatory diseases such as Crohn’s.
  4. Defend against diabetes. In recent years, studies have shown that chronic inflammation can induce insulin resistance, which can lead to the development of type II diabetes. Thanks to cauliflower’s anti-inflammatory benefits, you can reduce your risk for the disease just by eating this veggie. Also, since it’s a great source of potassium, cauliflower could help regulate glucose metabolism and insulin levels.3
  5. Digestive support. Did you know that there are almost 10 grams of fiber in every 100 calories of cauliflower you consume? Good news for you, because fiber helps clean your digestive system and gets rid of unwanted toxins. Additionally, a substance called glucoraphanin present in cauliflower can help protect the lining of your stomach.

Cauliflower is one of the most versatile veggies out there. Its unique texture and ability to absorb flavor makes it one of the most flexible and useful vegetables on the market, serving as a nutritious main course or a tasty substitute in gluten-free and low-carb dishes. Check out our related resources section below for recipes and tips on how to incorporate cauliflower into some of your favorite dishes!

Related Resources:

References:

1  Journal of the National Cancer Institute: “Prospective Study of Fruit and Vegetable Intake and Risk of Prostate Cancer” http://jnci.oxfordjournals.org/content/99/15/1200
2  National Cancer Institute: “Cruciferous Vegetables and Cancer Prevention” http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/diet/cruciferous-vegetables
3  Chatterjee R, Yeh HC, Edelman D, Brancati F. Potassium and risk of type 2 diabetes. Expert Rev Endocrinol Metab.2011 Sept;6(5):665-72.
Lee JH, Khor TO, Shu L, Su ZY, Fuentes F, Kong AN. Dietary phytochemicals and cancer prevention: Nrf2 signaling, epigenetics, and cell death mechanisms in blocking cancer initiation and progression. Pharmacol Ther. 2012 Oct 3. [Epub ahead of print]

Top 5 Health Benefits of Quinoa

Health Benefits of Quinoa Quinoa dates back 3,000 to 4,000 years ago, and originated in the Andean region of Ecuador, Columbia, Bolivia and Peru1. It’s been called a “super grain,” but quinoa is actually a seed from a vegetable related to spinach and beets. It’s become so popular that the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) officially declared that the year 2013 be recognized as “The International Year of the Quinoa.” Want to know why this little grain is so awesome? Check out the top five health benefits of quinoa:

  1. Protein: quinoa is packed with protein. One cup (185 grams) packs a whopping 8 grams of protein per serving. While most grains are considered to be inadequate as total protein sources because they lack sufficient amounts of the amino acids lysine and isoleucine, quinoa contains an abundance of both of these and is considered a complete protein source.
  2. Fiber: Most Americans don’t get enough fiber – on average we take in roughly 15 grams a day of the 25 to 38 grams that are recommended depending on your gender2. Fiber has been linked with heart health, blood sugar control, weight loss and gastrointestinal health, to name a few. One cup of quinoa contains more than 20% of your recommended daily intake.
  3. Quinoa is gluten-free. Many people are finding they feel better and lose weight when they reduce gluten grains and wheat products from their diets.
  4. Quinoa is high in Riboflavin (B2). B2 breaks down proteins, fats, and carbohydrates, and helps produce energy. It also helps control free radicals and is useful in preventing cancer and heart disease.
  5. Quinoa has lots of iron. Iron is essential for the formation of hemoglobin, which is the principal carrier of oxygen throughout the body and gives the dark red color to blood. Iron is also necessary for muscle and brain function.

If you’ve never cooked with quinoa before, check out our related resources section below for tips on how to prepare and cook quinoa.

Related Resources:

Sources:

1Kolata, Alan L. (2009). “Quinoa”. Quinoa: Productiononsumption and Social Value in Historical Context. Department of Anthropology, The University of Chicago.
2: Trends in dietary fiber intake in the United States, 1999-2008. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22709768

Dr. Hart to Host Online Chat on Getting Motivated to Exercise

Dr. Chris HartExercise provides numerous benefits—from reducing cardiovascular disease to fighting depression. While we all know we should exercise regularly, the trick is working up the motivation to start exercising. Overcoming couch-potato inertia can be difficult particularly during the dreary winter months and especially after most of us have spent the holidays celebrating with family, friends—and a lot of comfort food.

Join Christopher J. Hart, MD, Chief of Staff at Emory Johns Creek Hospital and Medical Director of Emory Johns Creek’s Atlanta Bariatric Center, on Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014 from noon to 1 p.m. as he provides tips and guidance to help you get moving.

Exercise Motivation Chat Sign Up

 

Whether you are simply working toward a healthier lifestyle in the New Year, or you are trying to lose weight for a surgery, Dr. Hart can address issues and questions such as:

  • I really want to start exercising but I can’t seem to work it into my schedule.
  • What if I don’t like to exercise?
  • I can’t carve out an entire hour to exercise. What are my options?
  • What if I can’t afford a gym membership?
  • I’m exhausted all the time, and just the thought of exercising wears me out. How do I get over that mental hurdle?
  • I’ve tried exercising before, but I can’t stick with it. What can I do to stay motivated?

If you’re looking for a good way to get motivated in the New Year, join Dr. Hart for what’s sure to be a great online chat!

Top Health Benefits of Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potato health benefitsHow sweet it is for your health to eat sweet potatoes! This orange-fleshed (and sometimes purple) vegetable not only tastes delicious, but also provides some unique health benefits. It’s surprising just how many health benefits sweet potatoes have, including antioxidants, anti-inflammatory nutrients, high fiber content and they’re very heart healthy.

Antioxidant benefits
Sweet potatoes are loaded with beta carotene – a vital antioxidant – and in some studies, sweet potatoes have been shown to be a better source of bioavailable beta-carotene than green leafy vegetables1 2. But there’s so much more to the antioxidant benefits of sweet potatoes than that. In purple-fleshed sweet potatoes, cyanidins and peonidins are concentrated in the starchy core, and recent research shows these phytonutrients may be able to lower the health risk posed oxygen radicals and heavy metals.3

Top Health Benefits of Kale, the Ultimate Superfood

Health Benefits of KaleOver the last few years, kale has seen its popularity soar amongst vegetable and nutrition lovers, earning such monikers as the “queen of greens” and being well known for its health benefits. But why has kale risen to such prominence in recent years? What is it about this delicious vegetable that makes it so healthy?

We’ve all heard how adopting a plant based diet consisting of raw vegetables can do great things for your health, but adding more kale to your diet may provide some unique benefits. Here’s a list of eight awesome nutritional facts about kale:

  1. Kale can help lower cholesterol. The high fiber content in kale helps lower blood cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease, especially when cooked.
  2. Kale is loaded with antioxidants. Kale is high in both carotenoids and flavonoids, which are associated with anti-cancer health benefits.
  3. Kale is rich in Vitamin K. According to the American Cancer Society, Vitamin K is required for necessary blood clotting and has been shown to be useful for various bodily functions, such as bone health and eyesight. Maintaining a diet with high levels of Vitamin K has also been shown to ward off liver cancer.
  4. Kale is high in Vitamin A. Vitamin A is important for the immune system, and also helps fight cancers by inhibiting the production of DNA in cancerous cells.
  5. Kale has an abundance of Vitamin C. Vitamin C helps protect against immune system deficiencies, cardiovascular disease, prenatal health problems, eye disease, and even skin wrinkling.
  6. Kale is rich in calcium. Kale has more calcium than milk per calorie, and calcium has been shown to aid in preventing bone loss and osteoporosis, while helping to maintain a healthy metabolism.
  7. Eating kale can provide anti-inflammatory benefits. Just one cup of kale contains roughly 10% of the required daily intake of omega-3 fatty acids, which help to reduce inflammation in the blood vessels, the joints and elsewhere, helping to prevent arthritis and lower blood pressure.
  8. Per calorie, kale has more iron than beef. Iron is essential for the formation of hemoglobin, which is the principal carrier of oxygen throughout the body and gives the dark red color to blood. Iron is also necessary for muscle and brain function.

That’s the list. So next time you want to reach for a snack, give kale a shot and you can experience all the great benefits this nutrient-rich veggie has to offer.  And if you’re looking for a way to squeeze more leafy greens into your kids’ diet, or even your own, try blending kale in a smoothie with bananas, orange juice, and frozen berries. You won’t even be able to taste it!

Happy eating!

10 Small Steps You Can Take for Your Health, Today!

Healthy Tips Weight Loss Tips

Improving the health and wellness and of our community is our number one priority. Recently, Joe, one of our most successful weight loss patients, reminded us during an online chat that no matter how small the steps or how large the goal, small changes can add up to have a big impact on our health. To help you take the first step(s) toward improved health, we’ve outlined our top ten steps for improving your health today!

1) Take the Stairs
If you’re looking for ways to take baby steps towards better health, taking the stairs is (literally) one of the best places to start. Making small lifestyle changes that incorporate more physical activity into your daily life can add up to have a big impact. Climbing just two flights of stairs a day can lead to 6 pounds of weight loss per year!

2) Don’t Skip Meals, Especially Breakfast
When you skip meals, especially breakfast, you lose an opportunity to kick start your metabolism and may often end up consuming more calories on the days you skip meals. As our registered dietitian, Meagan Moyer puts it, “Eating only one or two large meals at the end of the day is like throwing wood into a fire that has no flame.” Skipping meals will slow your metabolism and trick your body into storing fat in anticipation of an upcoming period of starvation. Consuming small snacks between meals–instead of simply eating three large meals per day–can increase your metabolism and curb your hunger.

Here are a few snack ideas & tips to try >>

3) Stay Hydrated
Making up more than 60% of our total body weight, water is clearly a critical component to our health and well being. Just a few of the benefits of staying hydrated include:

  • improved weight loss efforts
  • healthier, glowing skin
  • increased mental & physical energy
  • illness prevention

Check out these additional hydration benefits & tips >>

4) Breathe…Deeply!
Many of us forget that oxygen is the most important chemical in our body. 70% of our bodies ‘waste products’ are removed through breathing. Proper breathing can make the heart stronger, improve weight loss efforts, boost energy levels and stamina, and increase circulation.

Learn more about the benefits of breathing >>

5) Skip Dessert…Unless It’s Fruit…or Dark Chocolate
Reducing or eliminating simple sugars from your diet is a good way to lower your risk for excess weight gain, diabetes and heart disease. Many baked confections and desserts contain trans fats that should be avoided. If you’re sweet tooth won’t leave you alone, grab a bowl of fruit or a piece of dark chocolate. The phenols in dark chocolate may help lower blood pressure, while its flavanols help keep LDL cholesterol from becoming oxidized and clogging up coronary artery walls.

Learn more about the health benefits of dark chocolate >>

6) Nap
As a culture, Americans are becoming more and more sleep deprived. There are countless negative side effects of sleep deprivation, but an easy remedy for most of them– napping! Alertness and physical performance can be improved by napping, and so too can our psychological well being. Furthermore, sleep deprivation can also cause your hormones to fluctuate, which can result in unnecessary weight gain. Remember, no matter how busy you are, sleep is not a luxury, it is a priority.

7) Wash Your Hands More Often
Washing your hands regularly, and in the right way, can drastically help limit the spread of illness and harmful bacteria. Here are a few tips to make your hand washing most effective:

  • Rub hands together with warm water and soap for at least 15 seconds
  • Always wash your hands after using the bathroom, changing diapers, cleaning up after your pets, or handling money.
  • Always wash your hands before eating.
  • Don’t cough or sneeze into your hands.
  • Refrain from putting your fingers in your eyes, nose, or mouth.
  • Avoid touching people and surfaces with unclean hands.

Check out these additional hand washing tips >>

8) Reduce Your Sodium Intake
Salt consumed at the recommended serving size of 2300 mg a day is fine for seventy percent of the population who are not considered sodium sensitive. The problem is that on average Americans consume two to three times the recommended serving size…every day. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), about ninety percent of Americans eat more than the recommended amount of salt. In fact, if you dined out for even just one meal today, it’s possible you’ve already reached or exceeded your sodium allotment for the day.

Learn more on why it’s a good idea to be mindful of your salt intake >>

9) Act Now to Strengthen Your Bones & Joints!
Joint pain can be debilitating. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to strengthen your bones and joints now and protect them in the future. For example, maintain a healthy weight. Carrying extra weight can cause significant joint pain and damage over time. Help prevent osteoporosis by getting plenty of calcium via dairy products, leafy green vegetables, or in supplement form. Eat more fish to up your intake of omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to reduce joint pain and stiffness in people suffering from arthritis. If you’re not a fish fan, you can take fish oil supplements instead. Also make sure to get plenty of vitamin C, which helps speed the recovery of damaged muscles and ease joint pain. Citrus fruits, guavas, red bell peppers, and Brussels sprouts are all great sources of vitamin C.

Learn more about joint health >>

10) Moderate Your Alcohol Intake
Alcohol not only adds hundreds of calories to your diet – a regular beer can add up to more than 150 calories while a glass of wine can cost you 100 calories – but it also temporarily halts your body’s ability to burn fat. So, while the beer you had with pizza and wings might not be a major caloric offender, your body insists on breaking down the calories from the alcohol first, leaving the calories from what you ate to get stored as fat.

Learn more about how wine affects your waistline >>

Do you have additional tips that have helped you improve your health? Share them with us in the comments below!