Before you say goodbye to ice cream and mozzarella, here's what you should know.
You do not need a diet avocado. I repeat: You do not need a diet avocado. But there is indeed a “skinny” version on the way. Called Avocado Light, the new variety is marketed by Spanish food company Isla Bonita as a fast ripening, slow-to-turn-brown fruit, with 30% less fat than traditional avocados.
According to the company's site, the Avocado Light was created by cultivating a particular avocado breed in specific growing conditions. No additional info on its overall nutritional value is provided. The new variety is only available in Spain for now. But here’s my take on why your regular old avocados are perfect just the way they are.
First, the fat in avocado isn’t fattening. Avocados may actually help you keep weight off: The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey revealed that people who ate about half of an avocado every day weighed, on average, 7.5 pounds less than those who didn’t. They also had smaller waist measurements, and were 33% less likely to be overweight or obese.
One potential explanation is that the healthy, monounsaturated fat in avocados helps you feel full. Research from Loma Linda University found that adding half of a Hass avocado to meals resulted in a significant boost in self-reported satiety among study participants. avocado eaters also experienced a reduction in their desire to eat, which lasted for up to five hours. (One caveat to note: this study was funded by a grant from the Hass Avocado Board.)
In addition to healthy fat, avocados provide antioxidants, which have also been linked to weight management. And the fruit helps fight inflammation, too—another benefit that may help you stay slim. (For more on the link between inflammation and weight, click here.) In a study done at UCLA (and also supported by the Hass Avocado Board), researchers compared people who ate burgers with or without half of a Hass avocado; they found those who had the topping produced fewer inflammatory compounds afterward. The avocado eaters also experienced improved blood flow, compared to the other group; and their triglycerides (blood fats) didn’t rise above the levels seen in the plain-burger group.
What's more, regular avocados are overall nutrient powerhouses. They provide fiber, and nearly 20 other key nutrients, including vitamins E and K, magnesium, and potassium. The fruit's good fat also significantly boosts the absorption of certain antioxidants and fat-soluble vitamins, which hitch a ride with fat to get transported from the digestive system into the blood stream. Without knowing the overall nutrient levels in the Avocado Light, I’m hesitant to recommend them.
To eat clean (and save money!) this fall, sign up for the Healthy Lunch Challenge
Now, you may be thinking, Hmmm, if I eat diet avocados, can I have them more often, or eat a whole avocado instead of half? Maybe, but keep in mind that the new variety contains only 30% less fat, so you shouldn’t go crazy. And, it’s important to include a variety of healthy fats in your diet beyond avocados (think nuts, seeds, olives, and tahini), to provide your body with a broader spectrum of nutrients.
After years of fat phobia, health conscious eaters are finally embracing the notions that eating fat doesn’t make you fat, and that not all fats are created equal. avocados are high up on the good-for-you fat list, so, in my opinion, they were never in need a makeover.
That said, if skinny avocados become available in the U.S. and you decide to try them, be strategic about how you eat them. For example, if avocado is going to be the only or primary fat source in a meal, stick with the full-fat kind. If you want to add avocado to a dish that already contains healthy fat—like extra virgin olive oil or nuts—the light version may help you better balance your macro-nutrients.
Cynthia Sass is Health’s contributing nutrition editor, a New York Times best-selling author, and a consultant for the New York Yankees and Brooklyn Nets.
You know healthy fats like salmon, avocado, and olive oil are good for you, but can you overdo it? The most recent Dietary Guidelines for Americans don't give a strict upper limit for how much total fat you should eat (though they do recommend keeping saturated fat consumption to less than 10 percent of your daily calorie intake). And as you know, healthy fats found in foods like avocado, nuts, salmon, and extra-virgin olive oil have many benefits: They provide your body with lasting energy, keep you feeling full longer, and help your body absorb fat-soluble vitamins. However, all dietary fat—both unhealthy trans and saturated fats and good-for-you monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats—is more calorie-dense than protein and carbohydrates, so eating too much could lead to weight gain.
If you’re a generally healthy adult, I suggest getting anywhere from 25 to 35 percent of your daily calories from mostly monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which is a moderate amount. (So if you eat, say, 2,000 calories per day, shoot for 65 grams or so of fat, which is equivalent to roughly one avocado plus 2 1/2 tablespoons of EVOO.) A registered dietitian can look at your diet and tailor that number to fit your needs.
Health’s medical editor, Roshini Rajapaksa, MD, is assistant professor of medicine at the NYU School of Medicine.
Need a healthy pick me up? I often advise my clients to look for Starbucks when they're out and about, and craving a snack or drink—even the folks who don't drink coffee. The chain offers plenty of nutritious bites, like nuts, pumpkin seeds, kale chips, fresh bananas, and popcorn. And now Starbucks is serving up a decent selection of healthy beverages, too. And I don't just mean black coffee and tea. Below are my picks from the menu (including some that are naturally caffeine-free), based on calories, sugar content, and ingredients:
If you're craving juice …
Get an Evolution Fresh. This juice brand, owned by Starbucks, is available in other stores as well. While Starbucks doesn’t carry the complete line, there is one regularly stocked option I recommend: Sweet Greens and Lemon. The blend is like a liquid salad, with celery, apple, cucumber, spinach, romaine lettuce, kale, lime, lemon, and parsley. The entire 16-ounce bottle provides 100 calories, 32% of the Daily Value (DV) for potassium, 16% of the DV for vitamin A, and 12% of the DV for vitamin C.
If you're jonesing for caffeine …
Order a tall caffè latte with almond milk (iced or hot). The iced version has just 50 calories from 5 grams of carbohydrate, 3 grams of fat, and 1 gram of protein. It provides 25% of your daily calcium needs and 8% of the DV for vitamin A, with a reasonable 75 mg of caffeine. The hot version contains the same amount of caffeine and 80 calories, from 7 grams of carb, 5 grams of fat, and 2 grams of protein. It also has slightly more calcium (35% of the DV) and vitamin A (10%).
If you need chocolate …
Ask for a hot cocoa made with coconut milk. A tall with "no whip" clocks in at just 210 calories—not too bad considering you’ll get your chocolate fix along with 25% of the DV for calcium, 20% of the DV for iron, 10% of the DV for vitamin A, and 12% of the DV for fiber. Just keep in mind, it’s not low-carb. The cocoa includes 28 grams of sugar, which is about 7 teaspoons worth and more than the recommended daily cap. In other words, make it an occasional treat.
If you want something cozy …
Get a short (8 oz.) steamed apple juice. While a whole apple is a better choice, of course, this fall treat can count toward your daily fruit intake. Made from 100% pressed apple juice (not from concentrate) and with no added sugar, you can sprinkle in a little cinnamon and nutmeg and warm up sans caffeine for 120 calories.
For more nutrition tips, sign up for the HEALTH newsletter
If you're looking to hydrate …
Pick up a San Pellegrino sparkling mineral water. Flat water is better for your digestive health (bubbles can cause bloating) but sometimes a little fizz can make H2O feel like a fancy treat. A plain San Pellegrino provides a bubbly fix for zero calories, only 20 milligrams of sodium in a 16-ounce bottle, and nothing artificial.
Cynthia Sass is Health’s contributing nutrition editor, a New York Times best-selling author, and a consultant for the New York Yankees and Brooklyn Nets.
They’re key for your immune system, sleep, brain function, and more—and they can be found in some of your favorite foods.
Fans of anti-inflammatory diets say they can transform you inside and out. Is this another Hollywood “health” fad like the Master Cleanse and “vampire facials”…or do we all really need to go AI?
If a hot mug of joe or an icy cup of Starbucks is your preferred way to start the day, you've probably noticed that you feel, well, off when don't get your coffee fix. On those especially hectic mornings, you might even sort of hate the world. But that reaction isn't in your head, says Michael J. Kuhar, PhD, professor of neuropharmacology at Emory University.
Caffeine can make you feel energized, alert, and less depressed, Kuhar explains. It can even improve your motor skills and learning ability. When you skip your usual stimulant high, you might feel down, drowsy, sluggish, clumsy, and irritable. You may also experience headaches, and a drop in blood pressure. In a Johns Hopkins University review of studies, researchers found that some people deprived of caffeine even experienced flu-like symptoms, like nausea, vomiting, and muscle pain and stiffness. Yikes.
"You’re basically going through withdrawal," says Kuhar. While you can't become addicted to caffeine in the same sense as people become addicted to drugs, your body can become dependent on it. And since it takes about 24 hours for caffeine to completely leave your system, it makes sense that you wake up craving it.
“Lots of people have their coffee in the morning when they read the newspaper, or when they meet up with friends, and it’s viewed as this very enjoyable moment,” says Kuhar. “And the feelings you get from caffeine reinforce that association. It’s embedded in our lives as this friendly and socially acceptable ritual.”
But there are, of course, reasons you might want to wean yourself off coffee—if you're having trouble sleeping, for example, or dealing with digestive issues. It’s difficult to say when the crappy withdrawal effects will go away, says Kuhar, because it’s different for everyone. And simply seeing a Dunkin Donuts cup—or smelling a freshly brewed pot—can trigger cravings. If you're trying to cut back, it's best to do so gradually, he says, until you’re drinking a more reasonable amount, or none at all.
Ever notice how when your tummy is rumbling, you're more likely to lash out at unsuspecting loved ones or even innocent bystanders? This sudden, irrational rage is often referred to as "hanger" (a combo of hunger and anger) and experts say it is a very real thing.
"When we do not eat, blood sugar goes low," explains Deena Adimoolam, MD, an assistant professor in the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Bone Disease at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. When your blood sugar falls, the hormones cortisol and epinephrine are released in an attempt to raise it back to normal. But those hormones also happen to lead to irritability, which explains why you're so crabby when you skip breakfast.
Another hormone, called Neuropeptide Y, plays a role in hanger too, adds Dr. Adimoolam. Neuropeptide Y helps create a hungry feeling when your body needs more food—and it's also linked to aggression.
Researchers have documented the hangry phenomenon in relationships: A study from Ohio State University on married couples found that the lower the participants' blood sugar level, the angrier and more aggressive they felt toward their partners.
So when, exactly, does hanger kick in between meals? "It varies by every individual," says Dr. Adimoolam. "But the lower your blood sugar goes, the hangrier you are. It's our body's defense mechanism to get food ASAP." The tricky part is, hangry people tend crave cookies, pastries, chocolate, or candy, she says. These sugary snacks will raise your blood sugar quickly. But that spike inevitably leads to another crash—and you'll be acting like a crankpot all over again.
So what's a girl to do when hanger strikes? "Carry healthy snacks with you—like vegetables, fruit, and yogurt—so that when you are hungry [they] will hold you over until the next meal," says Dr. Adimoolam. Eating three full meals a day will also help curb intense hunger, and the freakouts that come with it. (Sign up for our 21-Day Healthy Lunch Challenge to get recipes for balanced, protein-packed midday meals that will keep you full well into the P.M.!)
And if hanger sneaks up on you still, try to avoid any mentally or emotionally taxing tasks until you've had a chance to refuel, says Dr. Adimoolam. "Get in a meal and your mind will be in a much better place."
Kourtney Kardashian Reveals Her Secrets to Eating Healthy at Restaurants (Like How to Avoid the Bread Basket)
This article originally appeared on People.com.
In a new post on her website, the reality star reveals how she wards off temptation while eating out—like how to avoid devouring the infamous bread basket—and how she prepares food before a big trip with her three kids.
“When I go to a restaurant for lunch or dinner, I always order green tea with almond milk and honey, right when I arrive,” she says. “Having a green tea to sip on gives me something to do, so I don’t get tempted to eat the bread basket while I’m waiting.”
When it comes to picking her entree, Kardashian avoids dishes with sauces and requests a lettuce wrap if something comes with bread. “I’ve found there are healthy options everywhere—they even had gluten-free pizza crust in Italy!” she says.
The dairy-free, gluten-free star is also not one to use up her calories on alcohol. She’s more likely to stick with water when dining out but if she does order a drink, her go-to is a tequila on the rocks with fresh lime.
Doing her research is a big part of how Kardashian stays on track. “I talk to the restaurants in my neighborhood and find out where they source their food. I’ll ask if their meat is grass-fed, whether or not their produce is organic or local, things like that,” she says. “Being informed helps me choose the best local restaurants to go to with my family.”
And for times when no Kardashian-approved eatery is within reach, like in the airport, the mom to Mason, 7, Penelope, 5, and Reign, 2, makes sure to pack her own snacks. “Bringing your own snacks—especially for the kids—is a great way to have healthy options that everyone likes. Also, if we’re gone for a big trip, I’ll pack a bag full of gluten-free snacks to bring with us, so we have our pantry staples wherever we go,” she adds.
But, of course, she’s also not immune to the occasional cheat day while abroad. “You only live once, so traveling is a time that we cheat here and there—especially when we’re in other countries, where the quality of food can be so much better,” she says.
You may have seen pics of high-protein bread (or bagels, waffles, or tortillas) popping up on Instagram lately. High-protein baked goods are really taking off, as the popularity of protein-packed everything (from snack chips to coffee creamer!) reaches a fever pitch. But what is high-protein bread exactly—and should you be adding it to your shopping cart? Here are a few things to know before you try a loaf.
Different brands use different sources of protein
Some high-protein breads include the same ingredients typically found in protein powders—such as isolated whey protein, pea protein, soy protein, or egg white protein. Other brands use wheat protein, or vital wheat gluten; while others use ground nuts or pulses, such as almond flour or chickpea flour.
You should always check the ingredients
Because there's no standard formula for high-protein bread, it's important to scan the packaging for things you may want to avoid. For example, many of my clients with inflammatory conditions (like eczema, psoriasis, arthritis, chronic sinusitis, and IBS) avoid gluten, as well as dairy and soy. Other clients are allergic to nuts or eggs. In general, I recommend skipping packaged products made with artificial colors, flavors, preservatives, or "mystery" additives (any ingredients you don't recognize or can't pronounce).
RELATED: 7 Healthy Sandwich Recipes
High-protein may or may not mean low-carb
It depends on the bread's other ingredients. One product I looked at had a whopping 14 grams of protein. But the first ingredient was whole wheat flour, and each slice packed 12 grams of carbohydrate (which is nearly the same amount in white bread!) with only 2 grams as fiber. Thanks to all the added protein (from added whey and wheat proteins), the bread was higher in calories than traditional whole grain bread, with 50 more calories per slice.
Meanwhile a high-protein bagel I reviewed, also with 14 grams of protein, packed 16 grams of carbohydrate—but 14 of those grams came from fiber (meaning a net of 2 grams of carb). That's much different from a regular bagel, which may contain more than 50 grams of carb, just a few grams as fiber, and about 9 grams of protein.
How you eat your bread matters
If you enjoy toast with salmon or an egg on top, for example, or you eat it with Greek yogurt, do you really need your bread to pack an extra 14 grams of protein per slice? Probably not.
Remember, simply adding protein to a food doesn’t make it healthy (much like removing fat from foods didn’t make them good for us, and actually contributed to the obesity epidemic). And keep in mind that it is possible to get too much protein. Excess protein can either prevent weight loss or even lead to weight gain.
Eat clean (and save money!) this fall with our 21-Day Healthy Lunch Challenge
The bottom line
The wide variation in ingredients and macronutrient content makes it tricky to say whether high-protein bread is worth buying.
If you’re trying to eat more protein and curb excess carbs, I recommend focusing on whole foods first. Most of my clients easily meet their protein needs by consuming foods like eggs, seafood, meat, Greek yogurt, and pulses.
If you’re vegan, or your protein sources are limited for some reason (maybe due to allergies or food preferences), a protein-packed bread may help you fill the gap. But again, be sure to check the for ingredients you need to avoid, and choose products that are clean and natural.
If you’re Paleo or gluten-free, some of the high-protein bread products aren’t for you. Take the high-protein, high-fiber bagel I described above: It's low in absorbable carbs, but contains wheat (a no-no for both diets).
If you’re a clean eater, you want to avoid any type of bread that’s highly processed, whether it's high-protein or not. Instead, stick with whole food options, like sweet potato toast, or homemade cauliflower “buns.” As long as you’re not grain-free, there are plenty of regular breads made simply with whole grain flour (including gluten-free options), yeast, honey, water, and salt.
Finally, if you’re a competitive or professional athlete with protein needs that are higher than the average person, high-protein bread might be something to consider. I work with some athletes who get tired of protein shakes and bars, and can only eat so many eggs or chicken breasts. Just remember quality is king, and strategy is important. Eating protein-rich bread without regard to how the bread was made, or the overall balance of one’s diet isn’t smart nutrition.
Protein may be trendy right now, but it isn’t the only answer for your health, fitness, or weight loss goals. So look beyond labels, marketing claims, and Insta trends before you spend your money or your macros on high-protein bread (or any other buzzy food).
Cynthia Sass is Health’s contributing nutrition editor, a New York Times best-selling author, and a consultant for the New York Yankees and Brooklyn Nets