“I love sushi and eat it a few times a week. How healthy is it?” My clients ask about sushi all the time, as they aren’t sure whether it’s a light meal or a higher calorie option. And it’s no wonder, since options can range from fresh fish with no adornments, to architectural masterpieces requiring more than two bites per piece. I can tell you that if you’re eating sushi a few times a week, you’re probably doing a great job getting the 8 ounces of fish per week recommended by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans! But is your sushi restaurant order in line with a healthy diet?
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International Sushi Day is June 18th, but you don’t have to wait all year to enjoy this delicious dish. Sushi can be a healthy meal you can eat often and feel good about – as long as you know what to order.
Disclosure: this blog post is a collaboration with GOED. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.
Is #sushi healthy? Here's a #dietitian's tips on what to order! Click To Tweet Tips to order healthier sushiFocus on fish
Photo credit: Pexels
Fish is high in protein and either low in fat or contains healthy fats. Salmon, tuna and mackerel are abundant sources of omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA. Every cell in your body needs omega-3s for healthy cell membranes that can signal and communicate effectively.
These long-chain omega-3s are vital for eye, heart and brain health.
DHA is one of the main structural fats in the retinas of your eyes. This omega-3 plays a key role in the development and function of your vision in all stages of your life.
When it comes to your heart and the rest of your cardiovascular system, omega-3s may help promote healthy blood pressure and triglyceride levels as part of your healthy lifestyle.
Here’s a surprising fact: 95% of Americans don’t get enough EPA and DHA. All it takes is eating 2 servings of fatty fish a week, with a serving being about 3 ounces or the size of a deck of cards. Sushi is such a fun and delicious way to get more oily fish into your diet!
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To get more omega-3s when you’re out for sushi, up the portion size of the fish. Maki rolls that have the seaweed on the outside can contain only small amounts of fish, making it tougher to get enough omega-3s and protein if that’s all you order.
Try some nigiri sushi which has more fish. These are the ones that have a piece of fish layered over a ball of rice.
I love to order a sushi roll and some sashimi so I know I’m getting more fish. Fish that are darker in color versus white fish are the ones that are higher in omega-3s. Ask for salmon and tuna to get your omega-3s and another important nutrient: vitamin D.
One challenge with sushi is because it’s packed so tightly, it can be challenging to estimate portion sizes. Fun fact: a typical sushi roll contains 1 cup of rice, which is two servings of grains or like having two slices of bread. Depending on your goals and what else you order, that could be more than you wanted to get at your meal.
Mix it up and try ordering a combination of sushi rolls as well as sashimi. Sashimi is raw fish without the rice, so mixing and matching your sushi with some sashimi can help you bring up the protein and omega-3 content of your meal while dialing down on calories and carbohydrates. What a delicious way to create a better balance!
Try brown or black rice
Although white rice is the norm at most sushi restaurants, many are now offering the option to have your sushi rolls made with brown rice or black rice. Ask for these whole grain varieties because they’re higher in fiber than white rice and lower on the glycemic index, helping keep your blood sugar and insulin levels more stable. Whole grain rice is also higher in folate, selenium, magnesium and manganese compared to white rice.
If your favorite sushi bar doesn’t yet offer whole grain rice, ask often and be persistent. They’ll likely take the hint and start offering the rice customers are asking for!
Sushi is the main way most people enjoy seaweed, and that’s a beautiful thing. Seaweed is loaded with antioxidants and contains vitamins A and C, calcium, magnesium and zinc. It’s an excellent source of iodine, a nutrient that is in so few other foods that it’s the reason iodine is added to table salt (iodized salt). Iodine is important for thyroid function, which regulates your energy levels, metabolic rate, weight, mood and more.
Dynamite rolls and spider rolls contain deep-fried seafood, which means unhealthy fats and excess calories. Read the sushi roll descriptions carefully… anything that says “crunchy” “crispy” or “fried” is likely deep fried.
Tempura might seem like a light and airy choice, but don’t let that texture fool you. It’s vegetables or shrimp that’s breaded with panko bread crumbs and deep-fried.
Order some seaweed salad instead to up your vegetable intake at your meal.
Hold the mayo
Spicy salmon and spicy tuna tend to be mixed with lots of mayonnaise, which can add up to a high calorie option. Other rolls have mayonnaise served on top as a garnish or decoration. Choose rolls that don’t contain mayo and if you aren’t sure, ask!
Go light on soy sauce
Light soy sauce has 30% less sodium than regular soy sauce. This helps reduce overall sodium at your meal, but it’s still a salty addition to your meal. Try using less soy sauce and add ginger to your sushi rolls. Pour a small amount of light soy sauce into your small dish and you can stir in some wasabi if you don’t mind the heat. Adding some spice can help you add the soy sauce more sparingly!
What’s your favorite order at a sushi restaurant? Share in the comments below!
Are supplements safe? With 76% of American adults taking nutrition supplements, this is an important question. Headlines have been swirling about supplement quality and safety, giving the impression that the industry is unregulated. That’s not the case! Here’s what you need to know about choosing supplements that are high quality and safe.
This post is a collaboration with my client, NOW, a natural products manufacturer. As always, I only write about brands I enjoy myself and recommend. All opinions are 100% my own.
Does the FDA Regulate Supplements?
There’s plenty of confusion out there about what the FDA does and doesn’t do for regulating dietary supplements. Let’s set the record straight.
What the FDA Does to Regulate Supplements:
Requires manufacturers to test ingredients in their supplements to make sure they are what is listed in the Ingredients List.
Requires that current good manufacturing practice (cGMP) is established and followed by those who make, package, label or hold a dietary supplement. This includes inspection of facilities that manufacture dietary supplements.
Regulates what the label can and can’t say in terms of health claims.
Responds to reports of issues or complaints about dietary supplements – this system is called Adverse Event Reporting (AER).
Responsible for taking action against manufacturers and distributers of dietary ingredient and supplement with regards to adulterated or misbranded products on the market.
What the FDA Doesn’t Do:
Test the effectiveness of supplements before they’re sold.
Beyond the FDA’s oversight of dietary supplements, there are other programs in place that ensure dietary supplement quality and safety. Here are the key ones to know about and look for when you’re shopping for supplements.
How to Spot a High Quality Supplement: What to Look for on Supplement Labels GMP Logo
The GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices) logo on your supplement means it not only meets the FDA’s current good manufacturing practices (cGMPs) but has also undergone certification from the Natural Products Association (NPA).
The NPA is a third party organization that inspects and provides certification for supplements that follow good manufacturing practices to ensure quality. The NPA’s GMP certification program set standards based on best practices around the world and from other industries, such as the pharmaceutical industry and the food industry.
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When a supplement has the GMP logo on the bottle, that means it underwent extensive auditing and received an “A” rating from a third-party auditor. For example, NOW® was one of the first manufacturers to apply for GMP certification in 2000. They received an “A” rating and maintain it with re-certification each year.
Before you buy a supplement, look for scientific research findings from human studies rather than just animal or cell studies. The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS) are great places to search for information on supplements and the evidence for their effectiveness.
Then if you’re interested in trying the supplement, check with your doctor first to make sure there aren’t any potential interactions with medications or other supplements you’re taking. Know that natural doesn’t always mean safe.
Another step is to look for supplements from manufacturers that participate in the Natural Products Association’s TruLabel Program. This means that the manufacturer’s products are randomly tested to make sure that the product is consistent and is exactly what the label says. It also ensures that the supplement label is registered in a dietary supplement database. This extra layer of oversight means you can be confident that you’re getting the supplement quality you expect.
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NOW®’s founder was involved in the development of the NPA’s TruLabel program, and its products undergo this random testing every year. This shows that quality has always been important and continues to be a priority.
When you buy a supplement, you want it to be mostly active ingredients with fewer fillers and binders added. These “Non-Active Ingredients”, also called “Other Ingredients”, need to be listed so you know what you’re getting.
In NOW® products, non-active ingredients are used in minimal amounts and all of them are listed on the label. You can rest assured that there aren’t any hidden ingredients.
I recently worked with a client who was newly diagnosed with Celiac disease. She was taking quite a few dietary supplements, so we went through each of them to make sure they were 100% gluten free. In several cases I had to call the supplement company to find out whether there was any trace gluten in their products. I was shocked that many of them said they weren’t sure or couldn’t guarantee they were gluten free.
That’s why any potential allergens need to be clearly labeled on supplement bottles. NOW® not only makes it clear whether there is a possibility of cross-contamination with allergens, but they also manufacture their allergy-friendly, Certified Gluten-Free line of food products in a facility that doesn’t handles the most common food allergens.
Do you have a #foodallergy? Take a closer look at your #supplements! Click To Tweet Organic and Non-GMO Third-Party Certification
If you are looking for organic and non-GMO products, check the label for symbols showing certification.
Quality Assurance International is a US Department of Agriculture-accredited certifying agency for organic products. As part of the National Organic Certification Program, manufacturers are audited every year to make sure they are meeting all of the requirements.
When you see the Non-GMO Project verified symbol on a label, that means the product contains ingredients that are verified to be free of genetically-modified organisms (GMOs). This certification requires auditing of manufacturing facilities and more.
Supplement Quality: Other Things to Look For Internal Testing
Beyond the certifications above, do some digging and find out how much analytical testing your supplement manufacturer does on their products. If the information isn’t clearly laid out on their website, call and ask.
NOW® does extensive testing throughout the manufacturing process. Every month, they perform as many as 16,000 individual tests on their raw ingredients and finished products to assure their quality.
NOW® is producing 1,000,000 gold-cap supplement bottles across 50 of their select supplements and giving away 50 prizes of $10,000 each! If you find a golden ticket in a gold-cap bottle, you could instantly win $10,000!
Which foods heal broken bones faster? I fractured a bone in my foot at a group tennis lesson a couple of weeks ago, and I’m willing to do anything to speed up the healing process! Nutrition plays an important role in fracture healing, and I’ve taken a deeper look at the research to discover which fracture healing foods are essential to include to heal broken bones quickly.
Fracture healing takes place in three phases: inflammation, reparation, and remodeling.
Stage 1: Inflammation
Immediately after the bone is fractured, blood flow increases to the area to bring in cytokines, which are signaling cells released by the immune system. Cytokines signal for repair cells to rush into the broken bone. These repair cells immediately get to work producing proteins that will build new bone tissue and cartilage.
Stage 2: Reparation (Repair)
The reparative stage starts about two weeks after the fracture happens. During this stage, the proteins produced by repair cells start to condense into soft callus. Soft callus is new soft bone that will continue to condense and harden for about 6 to 12 weeks.
Stage 3: Remodeling
This stage reminds me of HGTV and remodeling a home. The final stage of fracture healing is similar: your body is sprucing things up and making some improvements. If only it could happen in a half hour time slot! In the remodeling stage, soft callus matures and remodels itself into strong, fully healed bone.
The entire process of fracture healing requires lots of energy, blood flow, and protein synthesis, so nutrition is an important factor in fast fracture healing!
Nutrition for Fracture Healing
When you fracture a bone, you might think that the only thing you can do to heal is rest and wait – but that’s not necessarily the case. The fracture healing process brings with it increased nutritional needs, and giving your body proper nutrition for fracture healing can support speedy recovery. Here’s how you can meet your nutrition needs for healing bone fractures:
Eat Enough Calories
Now isn’t the time to diet. Any major injury increases your energy needs (a.k.a. calorie needs) because energy gets sent to the broken bone for healing. You’re probably not able to workout like you used to, depending on where your fracture is, but don’t let that tempt you to undereat. alorie So how many calories should you be eating to help your broken bone heal? Calorie needs vary greatly from person to person, so it’s always a great idea to talk with a dietitian about your specific needs. A good rule of thumb is to eat 25-30 calories per kilogram of body weight while you’re healing. To get your weight in kilograms, take your weight in pounds and divide by 2.2. (Example: so if you weight 150 lbs, you’ll need about 1,700 to 2,050 calories).
Eat More Protein
About half of your bone’s structure is made of protein. When you have a fracture, the resulting inflammatory response gathers protein building blocks to create new bone tissue. That’s why getting enough protein is essential for fracture healing. Protein deficiency has been shown to slow down fracture healing, while getting enough protein significantly improves bone formation and healing after a fracture.
Eating 1-1.5 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight is recommended for optimal bone health. For example, if you weigh 150 lbs, you’ll need about 68 to 100 grams of protein daily.
Bone Healing Nutrients: Key Vitamins and Minerals for a Fracture
Calcium is probably the first nutrient you think of when it comes to building strong bones – and for good reason! Calcium is an essential component of bone, and high calcium levels are linked to high bone mineral density (which reduces your risk of fracture in the first place). Having enough calcium available in your blood is important during the reparative (repair) phase of fracture healing. The reason? That’s when new bone tissue gets woven together – and having more calcium included in that structure means stronger healed bone.
Fracture healing foods: Foods high in calcium include dairy products like milk, yogurt, and cheese, green veggies such as kale, spinach, and broccoli, and calcium-fortified products such as milk alternatives (think almond milk, soy milk and coconut beverage) and orange juice.
Vitamin D regulates your body’s calcium absorption, so getting enough vitamin D is essential for making calcium available for use in fracture healing and building new bone. Research on the effect of vitamin D supplementation on fracture healing is minimal but promising, and adequate vitamin D consumption is needed for improved bone health and fracture prevention.
Vitamin C is necessary for building collagen, a primary component of bone. Because of this, getting enough vitamin C while your fracture heals is essential for rebuilding strong bones, and high doses of vitamin C have been shown to speed up the fracture healing process. Vitamin C also supports a healthy immune system, which is responsible for triggering the inflammation stage of fracture healing.
Fracture healing foods: Many fruits and vegetables are good sources of vitamin C, particularly citrus fruit, strawberries, melon, kiwi, bell peppers, and broccoli.
Vitamin K helps bind calcium to bone, so it’s important for rebuilding healthy bone after fracture. Several studies have found that high levels of vitamin K are associated with a lower risk of fracture and improved bone strength. The recommended minimum intake of vitamin K is 120 mcg for men and 90 mcg for women, but getting more could be beneficial for preventing osteoporosis or accelerating bone fracture healing.
Fracture healing foods: You can find vitamin K in leafy greens and green vegetables like kale, collards, spinach, and broccoli.
Zinc is required for bone growth and maintenance of healthy bone because it stimulates osteoblasts (bone-forming cells) in the inflammation and reparative stages of fracture healing. The recommended daily intake of zinc is 11 mg for men and 8 mg for women.
Fracture healing foods: Oysters are higher in zinc than any other food (just 3 oysters have a whopping 74 mg zinc!), but beef, shellfish, chicken, beans, nuts, and whole grains are also rich in zinc.
Anti-Inflammatory Nutrients for Fracture Healing
When a bone fracture occurs, the damaged tissues release free radicals, which cause oxidative damage and inflammation. While inflammation is a necessary step in fracture healing, the increased free radical circulation can overwhelm your body’s natural antioxidant defenses. Getting more anti-inflammatory nutrients and antioxidants can bump up your body’s defenses against the inflammation and oxidative damage caused by fractures.
Steakhouse dinners are synonymous with celebration. When I was out for a steak the other night, I overheard people at the surrounding tables celebrating everything from graduations and promotions to birthdays, engagements and anniversaries. On these special occasions, worrying about calories is usually the farthest things from people’s minds. And that’s okay, because these are occasional celebratory meals. But what if you find yourself going more often, on weekly date nights and to get together with friends? Or if you’re like many of my clients and you dine out often as part of your job, is it even possible to make healthier, low calorie choices at a steakhouse?
This post is a collaboration with my client, Ruth’s Chris Steak House. As always, I only write about brands/food I enjoy myself and recommend. All opinions are 100% my own.
Decoding a restaurant menu to figure out what’s lower in calories and what isn’t can be a daunting task. Sometimes the salads have even more calories than the meat and potatoes! But there are some tricks you can use when ordering your meal to reduce the calories without compromising much on flavor. Plus, certain menu items tend to be lighter than others.
Ruth’s Chris Steak House is taking the guesswork out of low calorie healthy eating by launching a Lighter Recommendations Menu. For between 420 calories (for the Seared Ahi Tuna, 6 oz Filet & Shrimp and Fresh Broccoli) and 740 calories, you can have an appetizer, main course and a side dish. And yes, steak and mashed potatoes are on the menu! The calorie count is given for each part of the meal so you can mix and match to include your favorites.
Ruth’s Chris Steak House Lighter RecommendationsMenu 1: Surf and Turf
Appetizer: Steakhouse Salad with Thousand Island Dressing
The salad itself is only 50 calories because it’s loaded with lettuce: iceberg lettuce, baby arugula and other baby lettuces, plus grape tomatoes, garlic croutons and red onion. Starting your meal with a salad helps you fill up your stomach with volume for very few calories. Lettuce and other vegetables are mostly water with some fiber, which can trick you into feeling full.
Now what about the dressing? Classic Thousand Island Dressing has 170 calories. I like to order dressing on the side so I can tailor how much I add to my salad. Try doing a light drizzle onto your salad or dipping the prongs of your fork into the dressing and then loading up your fork with salad. It’s a great way to get plenty of flavor for fewer calories.
Entree: 6 oz Filet and Shrimp
If you want to eat healthy at a steak house and really enjoy it, go ahead and have some steak. Just make sure your portion size is in check if you’re watching your calories.
While massive steaks are as American as apple pie, it’s the first few bites that taste the best! Here’s how to get all the flavor for fewer calories: get the smaller portion. Order a 6 ounce filet without butter and with shrimp and savor every bite for only 210 calories.
This is my favorite entree to order at Ruth’s because it makes the meal feel special. Sometimes I’ll even add on a lobster tail without butter to elevate it even more. This high protein entree will fill you up, plus high protein meals can help speed up your metabolism.
Side: Fresh Broccoli
Ruth’s serves its broccoli side dish “simply steamed” so you don’t have to worry about oil or butter being added to it. Broccoli is high in fiber which helps you feel full, along with calcium and magnesium, minerals that may help you lose weight and keep it off.
Menu 2: Seafood Lovers
Appetizer: Seared Ahi Tuna
I love ahi tuna and eat it often, and I have to say Ruth’s version is the best I’ve ever tasted. It’s a creative fusion of Louisiana and Japanese flavors that just works. The ahi tuna is rolled in Cajun spices and then seared on all sides and sliced. It’s served in a delicious sauce that I could have sworn was miso, but it’s made with mustard and beer for a savory and slightly spicy flavor. This is on the regular menu at Ruth’s and just happens to be a lighter choice. Your tastebuds won’t know it!
Starting your meal off with a high protein appetizer is a great strategy for keeping your calories in check because it helps you feel full. That means it’s easier to say no to the bread basket to save room for your main course.
Entree: Ora King Salmon
You might be surprised to see that the salmon is higher in calories than the beef. That’s because the salmon has lots of fat, but don’t worry – it’s healthy fat. Oily fish such as salmon is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids which are linked to brain health, heart health and more.
Ask for your salmon broiled or baked with salt and pepper and you’ll bring out the flavor without needing to add any oil, butter or sauces.
Side: Grilled Asparagus
If you haven’t tried grilled asparagus, you’re in for a treat. The grill marks mean you’re getting smoky flavor and tender-crisp texture. Ask for your asparagus without hollandaise sauce and it’s only 100 calories. Plus, it’s high in filling fiber and vitamin K, which is important for healthy bones.
Menu 3: Steakhouse Favorites
Appetizer: Lobster Bisque
This Lobster Bisque had me wanting to lick the bowl. There is so much flavor in every bite and I loved the tender morsels of lobster meat. This appetizer tastes so rich and decadent, I couldn’t believe it was only 210 calories.
Having soup as an appetizer is a great strategy to keep your meal on the lighter side because soup is mostly water, which helps fill you up. Plus, choosing things that are this delicious helps you feel like you’re treating yourself, not depriving yourself.
Entree: Petite Filet
This 8 ounce cut of tender beef melts in your mouth. Order it with no butter and you’re enjoying a steak for under 300 calories.
Side: Mashed Potatoes
Yes, you can have steak and mashed potatoes and still stay on track! Ruth’s mashed potatoes are a generous 8 ounce portion with a hint of roasted garlic for plenty of flavor. This is the ultimate comfort food meal that fits with your healthy eating plan. Plus, potatoes are an excellent source of potassium which balances out the effects of sodium to help lower blood pressure.
What about wine and dessert?
I tell my clients that if they go out to eat often, choose between a glass of wine and a dessert. The exception is, if you’re out with other people who are interested in sharing a dessert. That way you can taste it without needing to eat the whole thing.
If you want your own dessert and are looking for something lighter, Ruth’s Chris Lighter Recommendations Menu has Fresh Seasonal Berries for 50 calories and Raspberry Sorbet Haagen-Dazs for 180 calories. If you’d like some vanilla or chocolate ice cream, they have that too: 380 calories for the vanilla Haagen-Dazs and 390 calories for the chocolate.
If you haven’t heard about reishi mushrooms yet, you will more and more! This powerful adaptogen may help boost your immune system and could fight cancer. The most delicious way to enjoy the is in my Reishi Mushroom Soup with Carrots and Kale. I’ve fused Japanese and European flavors to give this nutritious soup incredible deliciousness.
Reishi mushrooms are also called ling zhi or woody mushrooms. They’ve been used in traditional Chinese medicine for hundreds of years to help lower blood pressure, improve symptoms of arthritis and to cleanse the liver. Most of the research on reishi mushrooms so far has looked at their antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting effects.
Reishi Mushroom Soup with Carrots and Kale
This delicious energizing soup features anti-inflammatory reishi mushrooms along with 2 other types of mushrooms, carrots, fennel and kale for a nutritious and tasty soup. Miso gives this soup umami flavor that makes it a mouth-watering way to start your meal.
Moringa is the newest kid on the block in the holistic health scene. Moringa supplements are said to be packed with antioxidants and have numerous health benefits including helping to lower blood sugar and cholesterol, improve digestion, relieve pain, boost the immune system, and more. But does moringa live up to the hype? Here’s what the research says!
The leaves, seeds, roots, bark, and flowers of the Moringa Oleifera tree have been used medicinally for thousands of years, but recently the spotlight has been turned to moringa leaf supplements and powders for their proposed health benefits. The moringa tree is a fairly large tree grown in many tropical and sub-tropical areas like India, Africa, Central and South America, and Southeast Asia.
The moringa tree goes by several other names, as well: drumstick tree based on the shape of its seed pods, horseradish tree based on the taste of the root, and ben oil tree based on the oils derived from its seeds.
Moringa Nutrition Content
Though most parts of the tree are edible, the leaves have been highlighted as a source of antioxidants with several health benefits, spurring the release of moringa supplements made from dried and ground moringa leaves.
However, the verdict on just how much of each vitamin, mineral, and antioxidant compound the leaves contain is contradictory to say the least. One popular brand of moringa leaf powder claims that 10mg has just 10% of the daily value of calcium and iron, 8% of vitamin A, and 6% of magnesium. Another source claims that 10mg of moringa contains more than double the amounts of all of these nutrients, along with over 100% of the daily value of vitamin K and 67% of the daily value of vitamin E. Another brand claims that moringa capsules contain 7 times the vitamin C found in oranges, 4 times the calcium in milk, twice the protein in milk, 4 times the vitamin A in carrots, and more – but gives no serving size for the amount of moringa you’d need to consume to reach that amount of vitamins and minerals.
Several studies note that the nutritional value of moringa leaves varies greatly by growing region and what time of year the moringa was picked, so it’s tough to say exactly how much of each nutrient is in ground moringa – though it’s probably safe to say that moringa provides at least a small amount of several vitamins and minerals.
When it comes to inflammation and immune health, the only research I could find was on animal models and test tubes – human trials are seriously lacking here. Several animal trials are promising, with moringa being shown to reduce airway inflammationassociated with asthma, as well as stimulate immune system responses to inflammation. However, human trials with realistic daily doses are necessary before we can say that moringa is effective for boosting immune health or reducing inflammation.
To my knowledge, the only available research regarding moringa and metabolism or weight loss has been performed on rats. One study found that rats fed moringa extract alongside a high fat diet lost weight, while those on a high fat diet alone gained weight. Again, it’s unclear how this result would translate to humans taking realistic doses of moringa, so more research is necessary.
Is Moringa Safe to Consume?
No adverse effects of moringa supplements have been reported in any of the human studies conducted so far. Moringa has also been used for centuries in various preparations including fresh, dried, prepared as a tea, and more without any reports of ill effects. Most commonly these days, you’ll find moringa dried and in powder form as a tea (similar to matcha), or in capsules – all of which seem to be safe!
The Bottom Line: Should You Take Moringa?
While moringa carries numerous health claims, the most research exists for antioxidant, antidiabetic, and cholesterol-lowering effects. There’s little standardization between studies, so it’s difficult to compare and contrast the results of one study with another, but several animal studies have demonstrated that moringa supplements are generally safe to consume.
More research is needed in order for moringa to live up to all of the claims made about it, but if nothing else, moringa leaf powder seems to be a safe, natural source of vitamins and minerals.
A varied diet full of fresh produce should be enough to get you the same vitamins and minerals found in moringa, but adding a serving of moringa leaf powder isn’t likely to hurt.
If you’ve got the spare cash, go for it – but treat moringa like a multivitamin, not a cure for cancer.
Collagen is the latest buzzword in the nutrition world as it’s rumored to have benefits for anti-aging, wrinkle reduction, joint health, and more. It’s hard to know what collagen can really do and what’s a myth. So the question remains – should you take collagen? Here’s what the evidence says about collagen’s claims and my review on whether it lives up to the hype.
Collagen is a protein found in our connective tissue, cartilage, tendons, skin, bones, and joints. It’s made mostly of two amino acids, proline and glycine. Our bodies produce these amino acids and collagen naturally, but collagen production slows down with age.
Collagen supplements are made from animal connective tissue that’s been hydrolyzed, or broken down into amino acids for better absorption. The idea behind eating collagen is that consuming additional proline and glycine provides our bodies with the necessary building blocks to create more collagen, therefore warding off wrinkles, joint pain, and more.
Does Collagen Improve Skin Health?
While it sounds too good to be true that your protein powder could prevent wrinkles, there may be some scientific backing behind these claims. One study found that women who took 2.5 g of collagen hydrolysate for 8 weeks saw an improvement in skin elasticity compared to those who took a placebo supplement. Another study found that women who took 2.5 g of collagen peptides (another form of broken-down collagen) had smaller eye wrinkles after just 4 weeks, and their skin had higher markers of collagen content after 8 weeks. While these studies are small, they’re promising evidence of skin health benefits with collagen supplementation!
Does Collagen Improve Joint Health?
Since ligaments and other connective tissue that hold together joints are made of collagen, promoting collagen production helps strengthen joints to reduce joint pain – but do collagen supplements help?
Even though our bodies make collagen naturally, some foods are also rich in the protein. Cuts of meat that contain lots of connective tissue, like chuck, rump, and roast, are high in collagen. All the connective tissue and collagen in these cuts make them fairly tough, so they stand up well to slow cooking.
In addition to food sources, collagen can be found as a supplement that many people use in place of other protein powders. Most collagen supplements are sold as collagen peptides or collagen hydrolysate, both of which are broken down into amino acids for easier absorption. Several companies also make products like coffee creamers fortified with collagen, or instant coffee with collagen powder mixed in.
Since our bodies break down collagen into amino acids (or receive collagen already broken down via supplements), our bodies receive the same amino acids whether via food or a collagen supplement. That means supplemental collagen isn’t likely any better for you than eating collagen-rich foods, so my recommendation is always to take the route that has you eating whole foods, rather than powders.
It’s also important to note that eating collagen isn’t the only way for our bodies to get what it needs to build collagen. Foods rich in proline and glycine like meat, fish, dairy products, eggs, soy products, and beans provide your body with an “excess” of the amino acids needed for collagen production (remember – our bodies produce proline and glycine on their own, so any additional intake of these specific amino acids is supplemental).
Vitamin C is also important for collagen production, so eating vitamin C-rich foods like citrus fruit, strawberries, kiwi, broccoli, and bell peppers can help your body boost collagen production.
The Bottom Line: Should You Take Collagen Supplements?
There’s promising research surrounding collagen’s benefits for joint pain and skin health, but Colleen supplements won’t likely do more than a well-balanced diet with plenty of vitamin C and protein-rich foods.
That being said, high quality collagen powders can make a great replacement for other protein powders that might cause digestive issues, like whey or soy-based protein, especially since no side effects have been reported with collagen supplement use.
Using collagen specifically for anti-aging benefits likely can’t hurt, but I’d recommend making healthy changes like including high-quality food sources of protein and lots of produce in your diet, wearing sunscreen, quitting smoking, and cutting sugar (all of which benefit your health in countless other ways) before turning to a quick-fix supplement.
If you’ve ever searched the internet for a quick-fix weight loss solution, chances are you’ve come across Garcinia Cambogia pills. Carginia Cambogia extract has gained popularity as a weight loss supplement since it was touted on the Dr. Oz show several years ago, and many turn to it as a way to lose weight without putting in effort. But is there research to back the benefits of Garcinia Cambogia, and is it a safe way to lose weight? Here’s everything you need to know about Garcinia Cambogia safety and weight loss effects!
Garcinia Cambogia is a tropical fruit that looks a little like a small pumpkin, usually grown in Southeast Asia. Garcinia Cambogia, also known as Malabar tamarind, has been used for centuries as a cooking ingredient thanks to its sour flavor. More recently, Garcinia Cambogia extract from the rind of the fruit has been marketed as a weight loss supplement. The rind is high in hydroxycitric acid, an active ingredient thought to reduce appetite and prevent your body from storing fat.
What does research say about weight loss with Garcinia Cambogia?
Research on the weight loss effects of Garcinia Cambogia is largely inconclusive. One small study found that taking hydroxycitric acid in the form of Garcinia Cambogia supplements helped obese women lose more weight than a placebo for the first four weeks of supplementation, but after that, both the Garcinia group and the placebo group lost weight at similar rates. At the end of the study, the Garcinia Cambogia group had lost an average of 1.4 kilograms more than the placebo group. Another study of men and women found that those who took Garcinia Cambogia lost more abdominal fat over 12 weeks than those who took a placebo, but total weight loss was not significantly affected by the supplement.
A systematic review and meta-analysis of Garcinia Cambogia studies revealed a small difference in weight loss favoring the supplement over a placebo – but by “small,” I mean that across all eligible studies, Garcinia Cambogia helped participants lose an average of just 0.88 kilograms more than placebos. While that difference may be statistically significant, it’s hardly enough weight loss to justify shelling out cash on a supplement, especially since adverse gastrointestinal effects were twice as common in the hydroxycitric acid groups.
What does research say about Garcinia Cambogia safety?
Since supplements aren’t regulated by the FDA, you can’t always be sure that the supplement you’re purchasing contains exactly what the bottle lists. That’s why it’s important to buy any supplements from a reputable manufacturer. In the case of Garcinia Cambogia, Consumer Lab found that seven of the 13 tested brands contained only 14% to 81% of the listed amount of hydroxycitric acid!
The Bottom Line: Should you take Garcinia Cambogia for weight loss?
The research regarding Garcinia Cambogia’s efficacy for weight loss is fuzzy. Some studies report statistically significant weight loss using the supplement, while others report no difference compared to a placebo. While a meta-analysis of Garcinia Cambogia studies found that it did result in weight loss for many participants, that weight loss boiled town to less than one kilogram over several weeks of supplementation – and the side effects are just plain scary. Reports of liver failure, mania, digestive issues, and more are associated with Garcinia Cambogia. And on top of all that, you can’t even be sure how much of the active ingredient hydroxycitric acid you’re getting in most supplements.
My recommendation is to keep your money in your pocket when it comes to Garcinia Cambogia. Any results you can expect are too minimal to outweigh the potential side effects. If you’re looking to lose weight, you’re much better off spending your money on an extra bunch of greens or a gym membership. And if you need some assistance working towards your health goals, turn to a registered dietitian to help you make lasting changes for weight loss – not a supplement claiming to be a miracle.
It seems like every celebrity and natural health trendsetter is pouring mushroom powder into their green smoothies or drinking mushroom tea like it’s the new kombucha. Reishi mushrooms in particular are popping up as the latest health trend, with the claims that they can do everything from reverse signs of aging to cure cancer. If you’re whether reishi mushrooms are worth the hype, here’s everything you need to know about reishi mushroom health benefits, evidence behind them, and more.
Reishi mushrooms, also commonly known as ling zhi mushrooms are woody mushrooms that grow on wood and decaying trees. While they grow in several colors, red reishi mushrooms are the ones most commonly claimed to have health benefits. They’ve been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries to reduce symptoms of aging like high blood pressure, liver problems, and arthritis. More recently, reishi mushrooms have been researched regarding anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting benefits which are said to help with cancer treatment.
image: Jeff Moore via Flickr
Reishi mushroom health benefits
Reishi mushrooms are claimed to protect against inflammation, fatigue, liver problems, diabetes, tumor growth and cancer, heart disease, depression, asthma, viruses, frequent infections, and more. While there isn’t much research on the long-term health benefits of reishi mushrooms, several small short-term studies have found them to be beneficial – although they all note that further research needs to be done before conclusions can be made about significant health benefits
Reishi mushrooms’ healing potential is credited to two main components: beta-glucans and triterpenes. Beta-glucans are complex carbohydrates found in bacteria and fungi, which have been shown to have immune-boosting effects.Triterpenes are a family of compounds found in plants that have been shown to exhibit anti-inflammatory, cholesterol-lowering properties. While beta-glucans in several types of mushrooms have been fairly well studied, research on triterpenes is pretty new and mostly preclinical (meaning there’s limited research in humans). As for reishi mushrooms themselves, research on their health benefits is becoming increasingly popular, but is largely conflicting.
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Despite these promising results, it’s important to note that much of the research done so far related to reishi mushrooms and cancer has been done on isolated cancer cells in a lab, not on humans with cancer. There have been several studies with cancer patients, but the results haven’t shown enough evidence to justify using reishi mushrooms as a first line of defense for cancer treatment. It still isn’t clear whether or not reishi mushrooms help increase long-term cancer survival, but many study participants experienced more effective chemotherapy and radiation treatments when taking reishi mushrooms alongside these treatments.
While it’s certainly not advised to substitute reishi mushrooms for cancer treatment like chemotherapy or radiation, there’s some evidence that taking reishi mushrooms in addition to these treatments could be helpful. Some study participants have reported side effects like nausea and insomnia while taking reishi mushrooms, but most haven’t experienced any adverse effects. If you’re currently undergoing cancer treatment, you should absolutely talk with your doctor before taking reishi mushrooms.
How are reishi mushrooms different than other mushrooms?
Many types of mushrooms besides reishi mushrooms contain beta-glucans, including oyster, shiitake, maitake, and enoki mushrooms. However, reishi mushrooms specifically are notable for their high concentrations of triterpenes. Because of the combination of beta-glucans and triterpenes, reishi mushrooms have long been known as some of the most powerful medicinal mushrooms.
How to eat reishi mushrooms
Reishi mushrooms are edible when raw, but they’re incredibly bitter thanks to the triterpenes, so they’re not often eaten raw. There isn’t any research to say whether eating reishi mushrooms raw instead of dried (like they’re usually found) provides more benefits, and most research has been performed using dried reishi or extracts from them.
One of the trendiest ways to get reishi mushrooms right now is in tea, which is made with dried and sometimes ground reishi mushrooms steeped in hot water. Now that reishi mushrooms are a hot commodity in the health food industry, some companies have taken to adding ground reishi mushrooms to other beverages, like instant coffee and hot cocoa mix.
You can also find ground or extracted reishi mushrooms in capsule form, or dried in slices. Adding a few slices of dried reishi to soup broth is a great way to incorporate it without drinking a full cup of bitter mushroom-flavored liquid on its own!
The bottom line: should you use reishi mushrooms?
The research on the health benefits of reishi mushrooms is very preliminary and oftentimes conflicting, but there seems to be little risk associated with taking them. There’s potential for them to improve cancer outcomes, but much more research is still needed. They may not be miracle workers, but they also probably won’t hurt – so if you enjoy reishi tea or feel better when you incorporate them into your daily routine or cancer treatment (with your doctor’s permission), I say go for it. Just don’t spend your whole paycheck on them expecting to be cured of all ailments!
Have you ever tried reishi mushrooms? How did you eat them, and what did you think?
Most of us know that drinking water is important to health. Water makes up most of our bodies, and staying hydrated is necessary for every single bodily function. But could water be even better if it’s alkaline? Alkaline water is receiving lots of attention right now – fans claim it can do everything from slow the aging process to prevent chronic disease and help your body absorb nutrients. Is alkaline water healthier, or is it all hype? Here’s everything you need to know!
The term “alkaline” refers to the water’s pH level, which is a measure of how acidic or basic something is on a scale of 0 to 14. Substances with a pH level between 0 and 7 is considered acidic, a pH level between 7 and 14 is considered basic. Regular water usually has a neutral pH of 7, while alkaline water usually has a pH between 8 and 9.5.
What does alkaline water do?
Advocates claim that drinking alkaline water can help balance the acidity in your body. As I discussed in my alkaline diet review, lowering the acidity in your body is supposed to make you less prone to disease and improve your overall health. Alkaline water is also claimed to help slow the aging process, remove toxins from your body, and improve your body’s ability to absorb nutrients. The scientific evidence to back up these claims is seriously lacking. There’s no data proving its effectiveness for removing toxins (your body does a great job at doing that on its own – that’s why you have a kidneys and a liver!), slowing aging, or curing cancer (yes, that’s a real claim that’s been made about alkaline water).
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However, there are a few studies that suggest the usefulness of alkaline water for some conditions.
Does alkaline water work for acid reflux?
One study in 2012 found that alkaline water with a pH of 8.8 effectively denatured pepsin, an enzyme activated by stomach acid that contributes to acid reflux. Many antacid medications are aimed at inhibiting the release of pepsin, which has been shown effective for reducing symptoms of acid reflux in rats. Alkaline water’s ability to denature pepsin (which would then keep it from causing acid reflux) has only been proven in a lab, not with humans, so there’s no certainty that it will relieve symptoms, but it might be worth a shot if you experience acid reflux symptoms frequently.
Should athletes drink alkaline water?
A study published in 2016 found that alkaline water rehydrated athletes after exercise better than “normal” water. For this study, 100 participants exercised until they were dehydrated, and then drank either alkaline water or water with a normal pH. Those who drank alkaline water showed about a 6% decrease in blood viscosity two hours after exercise while normal water-drinkers showed about a 3% decrease. With lower blood viscosity, blood flows more efficiently, so more oxygen can be delivered throughout the body. Because of this, alkaline water could be helpful for recovery for serious athletes – but it’s not like the regular-water group didn’t get rehydrated at all, so don’t fret if you can’t afford to down a $10 bottle of alkaline water after each elliptical session.
How is alkaline water made?
There are two types of alkaline water: artificial and natural.
Artificial alkaline water is made by passing water through an electric ionizing machine, which essentially separates acidic and alkaline molecules, then filters out the acidic ones.
Natural alkaline water passes through rocks or soil and picks up minerals along the way, changing its pH. Natural spring water is typically alkaline and contains minerals like calcium, potassium, magnesium, and bicarbonate.
image: Thad Zajdowics via Flickr
You can buy ionizing filters to create alkaline water at home from regular water, but these machines simply separate out acidic molecules without adding any essential minerals. There’s no research comparing the effects of natural and artificial alkaline water, but if you’re going to spend the money on alkaline water either way, you may as well get the mineral boost and buy the natural stuff.
The bottom line: should you spend the money on alkaline water or filters?
In short: I wouldn’t spend extra money on alkaline water, especially if the cost would mean you drink less water than you would without an alkaline filter or stash of alkaline bottles.
Worldwide, about 1 in 9 people lack access to clean drinking water, so living in a country with easy access clean drinking water is nothing to scoff at. Let’s appreciate our access to clean water before we get too caught up in what pH level our water needs to be for maximum health benefits. Water will keep you hydrated whether it’s alkaline or not, and drinking “normal” neutral-pH water won’t adversely affect your health. My recommendation is to focus more on drinking enough water (which most of us don’t do anyways) and less on how alkaline your water is. Water needs are very individualized, but as a general rule of thumb: drink ½ to 1 ounce of water per pound of body weight. So, if you weigh 150 pounds, you should be drinking 75-150 ounces of water daily.
Alkaline water may be beneficial for people with acid reflux or for serious athletes, so if it fits in your budget, give it a shot and see if it helps. If you’re reaching for alkaline water for detoxifying, anti-aging, cancer-curing, chronic-disease-preventing benefits: just skip it. Alkaline water won’t override a poor diet or make-or-break your health, so turn your focus towards eating a nourishing, balanced diet, and drinking plenty of water – whether it’s alkaline or not.
Have you ever tried alkaline water? What did you think?