Kourtney Kardashian Reveals Her Secrets to Eating Healthy at Restaurants (Like How to Avoid the Bread Basket)

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This article originally appeared on People.com.

Kourtney Kardashian is sharing her secrets to keeping a healthy diet despite a busy life on the road.

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.

RELATED: Khloé Kardashian Reveals the ‘Sooo Easy’ 3-Ingredient Breakfasts She Eats to Fuel Her Workouts

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.

Source: Nutrition

What Is High-Protein Bread—and Should You Try It?

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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

Source: Nutrition

Khloé Kardashian Reveals the 'Sooo Easy' 3-Ingredient Breakfasts She Eats to Fuel Her Workouts

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This article originally appeared on People.com.

Khloé Kardashian is all about simplifying her mornings.

In a new post on her website, the reality star—who often documents her efforts in the gym with her sister Kourtney on Snapchat—says she likes to start her day with dishes that are “quick and easy, yet packed with lots of vitamins and protein to power my early morning workouts.”

“We all know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but that doesn’t mean it has to be so much f—— work to prepare,” she says. Kardashian then went on to share her favorite “and sooo easy” 3-ingredient breakfasts: spinach and bell pepper omelets, yogurt parfaits, and almond butter and banana toast.

The first is the only one that requires a little bit of skill in the kitchen. Kardashian starts by sautéing chopped red, yellow and green peppers with a handful of spinach in a skillet until the peppers are soft and spinach is wilted. She removes the veggies and then adds whisked eggs (or egg whites) to the pan. “Once the top surface of the eggs has cooked, add back in your bell peppers and spinach mixture to one side of the pan and fold the eggs over, creating a little pocket,” she says. “That’s it!”

RELATED: Khloé Kardashian Says These Healthy Snacks Keep Her ‘On Track’

Her Greek yogurt parfait with strawberries, blackberries and raspberries, and her almond butter toast recipe topped with freshly sliced bananas are both more about assembly—and having the proper ingredients. Kardashian favors Purely Elizabeth granola for her parfaits, and Justin’s Vanilla Almond Butter for her toast.

“Almond butter and bananas are two of my favorites before or after a sweat sesh—but put the two together and !” she says of the latter. “This breakfast is packed with fiber and potassium. It will keep you full well into lunchtime!”

Source: Nutrition

5 Nutrition Myths Even Health Fiends Get Wrong

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At least once a week, a client tells me how confused they are about nutrition—and I get it. With so much information and conflicting advice floating around, it’s easy to feel mixed up. But busting myths, and explaining the science behind healthy eating is one of my favorite parts of my job. Here are six of the most common misconceptions I hear, and why you can let them go for good.

MYTH: When you eat junk food, you can just burn it off.

It's not that simple. The quality of what you eat matters—a lot. And the damage from unhealthy food simply can't be undone with a tough workout. A 2015 study, for example, found that artificial additives from processed foods may raise a person's risk of developing autoimmune diseases.

Trying to compensate for poor diet choices with exercise is actually a double whammy: Physical activity puts stress on the body, and without adequate nutrition to recover from the wear and tear, you can become weaker rather than stronger. A balanced, whole foods diet is important for everyone. And if you’re regularly active, it’s even more important, not less.

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MYTH: It's OK to eat as much protein as you want.

Most of my clients are concerned about overdoing it on carbs. But the truth is you can eat too much of any macronutrient, including protein. The protein you eat maintains, heals, and repairs tissues in the body made up from this building block. But you only need so much protein to accomplish these tasks. When you exceed the amount, the surplus protein can either prevent weight loss, or cause weight gain.

To strike a good balance, include some protein in each meal, but don’t go crazy. A good rule of thumb: If you’re active, to aim for half a gram of protein per pound of your ideal weight. So if your goal is 130 pounds you need no more than 65 grams per day.

You can achieve this amount with two eggs at breakfast (12 grams), one cup of lentils at lunch (16 grams), a quarter cup of almonds as a snack (6 grams), and 6 ounces of salmon at dinner (33 grams). Timing also matters. To help your body make the most of the protein you eat, it should be spread out throughout the day.

RELATED: Eating at Night Can Make You Gain Weight, But What If You're Actually Hungry?

MYTH: Eating after your exercise cancels out your workout.

Nope, the calories you consume post-exercise aren’t immediately shuttled back into your fat cells. In fact, it's important to refuel after a sweat session.

Working out takes a toll on your body, and afterward your body is primed for recovery: Eating a clean, nutrient-rich meal or snack provides your cells with the raw materials needed to heal and repair. This recovery process is key, because it’s not just the training itself, but the healing from the training that builds and maintains muscle mass, boosts metabolism, and improves your fitness level.

For the best results, choose post-exercise foods that deliver vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, lean protein, and healthy fat, like a salad topped with salmon or beans and avocado; or a protein smoothie with veggies, fruit, and almond butter.

MYTH: Fruit is as bad as candy.

Some of my clients avoid fruit, fearing that all that natural sugar leads to added pounds. But a recent Harvard study found that shunning fruit altogether isn’t necessary for weight management. The researchers looked at more than 130,000 adults, and found that those who ate an extra daily serving of fruit shed an additional half a pound over a four-year period. While that may not sound significant, it could help offset typical age-related weight gain.

Fruit is also packed with important nutrients, water, and fiber. And its naturally occurring sugar is less concentrated than other sweet foods. For example, one cup of whole strawberries naturally contains about 7 grams of sugar, compared to about 13 grams in one tablespoon of maple syrup, 17 in a tablespoon of honey, 21 grams in 17 gummy bears, or 30 in a 12 ounce can of cola.

Some research even shows that compared to veggies, fruit may have a more powerful effect on lowering weight. This may be because fruits tend to replace higher-calorie goodies and treats, whereas veggies tend to be add-ons. Bottom line: with so many benefits, fruit is definitely worth including in your daily diet, as long as you don’t overdo it. Aim for at least two servings a day, maybe one with breakfast, and another as a snack or dessert. Reach for more if you’re especially active.

RELATED: Is It Possible to Eat Too Much Fruit?

MYTH: Eating fat makes you fat.

Despite the best attempts of nutrition experts (including me) to dispel the notion that eating fat makes you fat, fat phobia still exists. Clients continue to tell me they avoid avocado, or choose low-fat salad dressing because they’re watching their waistlines.

Eating the right fats, however, is actually a smart strategy for weight loss. Healthy fats are incredibly satiating. They keep you fuller longer, and research shows that plant-based fats like olive oil, avocado, and nuts increase appetite-suppressing hormones.

Plant fats have also been shown to reduce inflammation and boost metabolism, and they can be rich sources of antioxidants. Aim to include a portion of healthy fat in every meal and snack.

Need some ideas? You could add avocado to an omelet, or whip it into a smoothie. Add nuts or nut butter to oatmeal. Drizzle garden salads and vegetables with extra virgin olive oil. Snack on veggies with guacamole or tahini as a dip. And enjoy a bit of dark chocolate as a daily treat.

Cynthia Sass is Health’s contributing nutrition editor, a New York Times best-selling author, and a consultant for the New York Yankees.

Source: Nutrition

You Can Now Snort Chocolate, But Doctors Aren't Happy About It

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There are lots of ways to get a caffeine-induced energy boost: There’s coffee and chocolate, of course, along with soda and energy drinks. Then there are the non-conventional sources of caffeine—energy supplements, gum, mints, edible powders, and even stick-on patches that promise to deliver a jolt when you need it the most.

But even with all that, the newest caffeine craze still has us scratching our heads in disbelief: Coco Loko, a product marketed as “infused raw cacoa snuff,” hit store shelves last month, as reported this week by The Washington Post. That’s right, you can now buy tins of snortable chocolate.

Coco Loko’s creator, Nick Anderson, told The Washington Post that the product is mostly cacao powder—an unprocessed form of chocolate and a naturally occurring source of caffeine—but that it also contains gingko biloba, taurine, and guarana. These three ingredients are also stimulants, and are commonly found in energy drinks.

There’s a lot to take in here (although we don’t mean that literally, because, well, just keep reading), but you may be wondering: Is this even legal? Is it safe? And will it actually give you energy?

RELATED: 28 Healthy Chocolate Recipes

Yes, it’s legal—but here’s the thing: Since it’s not marketed as a food or drug, Coco Loko isn’t subject to approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration—much like dietary supplements aren’t. That means there is little oversight, and little guarantee, as to what’s in each package and how it might affect its users.

Paul Arciero, PhD, professor of health and exercise science at Skidmore University, tells Health that the product probably does provide a quick and powerful boost of energy, assuming its advertised ingredients are accurate.

“When you talk about snorting something through the nasal cavity, that’s a very rapid mode of entry—quicker than eating or drinking, which requires some digestion,” says Arciero, who has studied caffeine extensively. “It’s going to give people an acute and immediate buzz and a heightened alertness, but it will also cause a heightened sympathetic nervous response.”

RELATED: 12 Surprising Sources of Caffeine

That’s where the third question—whether it’s safe—comes in. Caffeine can temporarily raise blood pressure and affect heart rate, and can make people feel anxious and jittery. And it is possible to overdose: In May, a South Carolina teenager died from caffeine-induced cardiac problems after drinking a Mountain Dew, a latte, and an energy drink. In 2015, two college students became seriously ill after accidentally consuming too much caffeine during a scientific experiment.

How the body might react to inhaled cacoa powder (which is different than pure caffeine powder) is largely a mystery, Candice Dye, MD, a pediatrician at the University of Alabama at Birmingham tells Health. “My initial reaction is that it just sounds scary and unsafe,” she says. “We don’t know what it is and we don’t really know how the body absorbs it.”

Then there are the physical ramifications of snorting powder up your nose—something else Dr. Dye worries about. While some legitimate medications are given intranasally, those drugs are in the form of a mist, not a solid.

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Andrew Lane, MD, director of the Johns Hopkins Sinus Center, told The Washington Post that “as far as I can tell, no one’s studied what happens if you inhale chocolate into your nose.” But he also expressed concern about putting powder into the nasal passages. “You could imagine it getting stuck in there,” he said, “or the chocolate mixing with your mucus to create a paste that could block your sinuses.”

Arciero says there’s also potential for cacao to cause irritation the same way that other stimulants are known to when inhaled. “It could cause a heightened reaction from the nasal membrane, so there might be potential for blood vessels to be aggravated, and for nose bleeds to occur,” he says. “We don’t know because this is fairly new, but I would imagine it’s going to cause some side effects.”

Anderson told The Washington Post that he uses Coco Loko as an alternative to drinking alcohol, and during long car rides and music festivals. But Arciero worries that consumers might begin inhaling cacao powder on top of other forms of caffeine they’re already consuming in their daily life.

“This is a new behavior that people are going to be engaging in, but there’s not really any evidence that they will minimize their other lifestyle behaviors,” he says. “Are they going to be snorting the cocoa in addition to drinking their normal amount of caffeine or taking other stimulants? There’s real potential there for overdoing it.”

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Then there’s the that no-government-regulations thing: A spokesperson for the FDA told The Washington Post it had not decided whether, or how, the agency would regulate the product. Last year, both the FDA and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency told U.S. News & World Report that snortable chocolate is outside the scope of what the agencies normally have control over.

For now, that means there is no way to know for sure that what’s on the label is actually what’s in the product—or to know how much of each ingredient is included. “The quantities of each ingredient could even vary from batch to batch,” says Dr. Dye.

Most experts agree that up to 400 mg of caffeine per day, or about four 8-ounce cups of coffee, is safe for adults. Coco Loko’s online store does not include information on the amount of caffeine, or other ingredients, per serving. (Health has not personally examined a container, and an email to the company was not immediately returned.)

RELATED: 27 Ways to Boost Your Energy Without Caffeine

Anderson told ABC News that he did not consult any medical professionals while creating the product, and that he was inspired by similar snortable chocolate products for sale in Europe. He also said he believed that a warning on the label—"to not do more than half the container”—should be enough to keep consumers safe. (According to Coco Loko’s parent company, Legal Lean, each tin of powder contains 10 servings.)

Dr. Dye says she’s especially concerned about reports that the product is popular among college campuses, and worries about teenagers using or abusing it. “It’s such a vulnerable time, more of an experimental time, and if something is legal and marketed as 'natural,' it can influence people to take risks that they probably shouldn’t,” she says.

She adds that if anyone—of any age—needs an energy boost badly enough to snort chocolate, they should take a nap or look at their sleep and lifestyle patterns, rather than turning to quick fixes with so many unknown factors. “People should be aware of what they’re putting into their bodies and what the effects might be," she says, "and with this product we simply have no idea.”

Source: Nutrition

How to Cook Your Food for the Biggest Health Benefits

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Is a grilled burger bad for you? Are veggies best steamed? Our health pros explain which food-prep techniques are safest to use day-to-day.
Source: Nutrition

Is French Yogurt the New Greek?

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You've heard all about the health benefits of Greek yogurt. And maybe you’ve tried (even thicker) Icelandic yogurt, also known as skyr. But did you know there's such a thing as French yogurt?

Yoplait has announced it will launch a line of French-style yogurts, called Oui, in July. So how is French yogurt different from Greek and Icelandic—and which is the healthiest yogurt of them all?

According to General Mills, the Oui yogurt recipe is based on the way yogurt was made in French farmhouses more than a century ago. While most commercial yogurt is cultured in large batches and then poured into individual cups, Oui yogurt is cultured in individual (and recyclable or reusable) glass pots. If you’ve been to France you’ve likely seen this type of yogurt in stores. And if you’re a big fan of yogurt, you may have come across instructions on how to make your own on sites like Chowhound.

The ingredients are nice and simple: just whole milk, yogurt cultures, cane sugar, and fruit. And the plain variety contains only the first two ingredients. So in other words, Oui yogurt lacks the additives found in traditional Yoplait yogurts, such as gelatin, modified corn starch, preservatives, and artificial sweetener. 

Each jar of the plain variety of Oui plain contains 130 calories, 8 grams of fat, 8 grams of carbohydrate, 5 grams of protein, 4% of the Daily Value (DV) for vitamin A, and 15% of the DV for calcium. The flavored varieties are a bit higher in calories and carbs. Blueberry, for example has 160 calories and 19 grams of carbohydrates.

RELATED: 17 High-Protein Snacks You Can Eat on the Go

So should you switch from Greek or skyr to French?

Oui is lower in protein than both Greek and Icelandic yogurts made with similar simple ingredients. For example, a single-serve container of Stonyfield's plain whole milk Greek yogurt packs 14 grams of protein—that's 9 more grams than Oui! And a single-serve container of Siggi's whole milk blueberry skyr delivers 12 grams of protein.

What's more, Oui yogurt isn't organic or grass-fed. Organic milk provides a greater amount of iodine and certain vitamins and antioxidants, according to researchers from Newcastle University in the UK. And milk from grass-fed cows contains more anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids, as well as another beneficial fat called CLA (conjugated linoleic acid), which is thought to boost immunity, lower inflammation, protect the heart, and even help with weight loss.

The bottom line is that I will advise my clients to stick with organic, grass-fed Greek yogurt or skyr. While the adorable Oui jars may be tempting, here's an expert tip: You can buy French yogurt glasses on Etsy, and fill them with anything you like.

Cynthia Sass is Health’s contributing nutrition editor, a New York Times best-selling author, and a consultant for the New York Yankees.

Source: Nutrition

15 Foods That Help You Stay Hydrated

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These high-water-content foods are refreshing, filled with nutrients, and naturally low in calories.
Source: Nutrition

3 Healthy Excuses to Add More Pineapple to Your Life

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Pineapple is one of my absolute favorite fruits, and I know I'm not the only one who loves the tropical treat. There's no question it's refreshing and delicious. But pineapple also packs some pretty powerful health benefits. Here are three healthy excuses to add more of the nutritious fruit to your diet, along with a few of my favorite ways to enjoy it.

It's loaded with vitamin C

One cup of pineapple provides more than 100% of your recommended daily amount of vitamin C. And while you're probably well aware that this nutrient helps support immunity, it does so much more. Vitamin C is involved in the growth and repair of tissues throughout the body. Plus it acts as an antioxidant, protecting cells against premature aging and illnesses such as cancer and heart disease. The vitamin may also have an effect on your waistline: One study found that exercisers who weren't getting enough vitamin C burned about 25% fewer calories during their workouts. And too little vitamin C in the bloodstream has been linked to higher body fat and waist size. 

RELATED: 12 Foods With More Vitamin C Than Oranges

It supports healthy skin

Pineapple is rich in manganese. (Just one cup contains more than 75% of the amount recommended for one day). This mineral, along with vitamin C, is required for building collagen—a structural component of skin that prevents sagging and wrinkles.

Manganese also functions as an antioxidant that protects skin cells from damage against UV light, making pineapple especially crucial in the summertime.

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It promotes healthy digestion

If you’ve ever tried to add fresh pineapple to a gelatin dessert you know that it just won’t work. That’s because pineapples contain an enzyme called bromelain, which breaks down the gelatin into its amino acid building blocks, preventing it from becoming or staying solid. For the same reason, pineapple is often used in marinades, to help tenderize meat. And the enzyme doesn't just affect cooking—if you eat pineapple along with a meal, bromelain may help you digest proteins, potentially reducing bloating, indigestion, and sluggishness. The dietary fiber in pineapple also helps maintain bowel regularity, and prevent constipation.

Easy ways to eat more pineapple

While fresh pineapple is amazing as is, you can also try incorporating it into recipes. Here are a few of my favorite ways to add the fruit to smoothies, cookouts, cocktails, and more.

  • Whip pineapple into a smoothie with coconut milk, coconut butter, pea protein powder, half of a yellow bell pepper, and a bit of fresh ginger root.
  • Add fresh pineapple to slaw. Whisk together a tablespoon of raw apple cider vinegar, a tablespoon of juice from fresh pineapple, a teaspoon of honey, half a teaspoon each of fresh grated ginger and minced garlic, and a dash of black pepper and sea salt. Toss with a half cup each of shredded cabbage and pineapple chunks. Chill and serve as a side dish or topping for fish or black beans.
  • Grill up slices of fresh pineapple at your next cookout.
  • For a healthier version of a frozen umbrella drink, whip together a cup of fresh pineapple, a handful of ice, and a quarter cup each of unsweetened coconut milk and frozen banana slices, and then stir in an ounce of rum.

Not sure how to cut up a fresh pineapple? Check out my Instagram slideshow below.

Cynthia Sass is Health’s contributing nutrition editor, a New York Times best-selling author, and a consultant for the New York Yankees.

Source: Nutrition

Will Activated Charcoal Actually Detox My Body?

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Throughout my career I've seen dozens of supplements come and go in terms of trendiness, from herbs and amino acids to antioxidants and extracts. Recently, activated charcoal has been having a moment as a must-try natural remedy.

Early on in my career I worked in a hospital, as well as a substance abuse rehabilitation center, so I am familiar with the medicinal use of activated charcoal. Similar to common charcoal for your grill, activated charcoal is typically made from peat, coal, wood, or coconut shells, treated in a way that makes it very porous, or "activated." It's used commonly in emergency rooms to treat poisoning and drug overdoses due to its ability to trap chemicals and prevent them from being absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract into the blood.

Apparently some health enthusiasts theorized that if activated charcoal can soak up dangerous substances, it should be used routinely, as a way to cleanse the body of other toxins we're exposed to (such as pesticides and chemicals in food packaging). And a trend was born.

Activated charcoal has been making an appearance in a number of bottled beverages, like charcoal water, lemonade and other pressed juices. There are also a myriad of activated charcoal supplements you can buy online, promising to help with gas, and some people are even using it to whiten their teeth. Unfortunately, though, it's not that simple (nor totally harmless). Here are three things you should know about the fad.

RELATED: I Tried a 'Mind Cleanse' and It Was Just the Emotional Detox I Needed

Activated charcoal can bind to beneficial substances too

Activated charcoal doesn't distinguish between wanted and unwanted substances. That means it can also bind to nutrients, including vitamin C and B vitamins, as well as other dietary supplements, and prescription medications, preventing them from getting into your bloodstream.

In other words drinking it in juice, for example, may actually make the produce you're gulping less healthy in some ways, not more. The most important thing to remember about anything claiming a "detoxifying" benefit is that your body is equipped with a liver, kidneys, lungs, and digestive system, which work around the clock to perform "detoxing" functions. If you want to help them out, the best things you can do are to drink plenty of water, eat foods that naturally enhance your body's ability to "detox," such as beets, ginger, turmeric, and cruciferous veggies (broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale), and avoid artificial additives and processed foods.

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Activated charcoal can actually cause digestive distress

The use of activated charcoal to help with gas isn't well studied and the research is conflicting, but it has also been known to cause nausea and vomiting. It can also trigger constipation, slow the movement of food or waste through the digestive system, or even lead to a serious intestinal blockage. And one 2014 report from George Washington University suspects that activated charcoal may have caused colitis (inflammation in the colon) in one patient who repeatedly used it to detoxify his body on his own. In other words, it's unclear how it will affect you individually.

RELATED: 20 Best Foods for Fiber

There is no known safe dosage

Because activated charcoal is not routinely used preventatively, studies haven't been conducted about its long-term effectiveness, or safety, much less an optimal amount to take. So while it may seem beneficial and benign, you could be harming your health in ways we don't yet understand. Bottom line: activated charcoal has been used as medicine for years in emergencies. And some physicians may recommend it to reduce the side effects of chemotherapy or long-term dialysis. However, more research is needed in both of these areas, and in my opinion it's too early to embrace as a home remedy or everyday wellness strategy.

Cynthia Sass is Health’s contributing nutrition editor, a New York Times best-selling author, and a consultant for the New York Yankees.

Source: Nutrition