5 Energy Boosting Snacks

Watching this video inspired me to write this post about some additional energy boosting snacks that do not contain caffeine or processed sugars.

1. Apple and Peanut Butter

Apples are a great source of vitamin C, antioxidants, and fiber. The natural sugars in the apple will be sure to provide you with energy fast. The peanut butter contains a lot of protein, which will help you feel full and satisfied.

2. Popcorn

Popcorn also contains fiber which will help fill you up in between meals. However, make sure you get the fat-free kind because buttered popcorn contains a lot of saturated fat that can be harmful to your health and provides your body with zero benefits.

3. Vegetables and Hummus

Again, vegetables are a great source of fiber and provide your body with various vitamins and nutrients. Hummus is personally one of my favorite snacks (I highly recommend the Trader Joe’s brand). Hummus also has lots of protein since it is made from garbanzo beans. Red peppers, carrots, and even asparagus all taste great with hummus.

4.  Plain non-fat Yogurt and fresh blueberries

Yogurt is also a good source of protein. Opt for plain yogurt because many flavored yogurts are packed with artificial sugars.  Adding fresh fruit like blueberries will give it a naturally sweetened taste.

5. Oatmeal

Oatmeal is a great source of whole grains. Buy plain oatmeal to avoid processed sugars and instead add fruit to boost flavor. Blueberries, strawberries, and bananas all taste great in oatmeal!

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Why Eating Chocolate is Beneficial to Your Health

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Don’t let the title of this post fool you. Eating chocolate IS beneficial to your health, but only in the form of dark chocolate (sorry milk chocolate lovers). Dark chocolate is a great source of antioxidants, which protect the body from aging and free radicals that can be harmful to your heart. It has been proved that a small bar of dark chocolate can actually keep your cardiovascular system running smoothly by lowering your blood pressure and lowering your cholesterol. Studies have shown that dark chocolate can reduce LDL cholesterol, which is the bad form of cholesterol, by up to 10 percent!

Dark chocolate also has other benefits besides  helping to protect you from heart problems. For example, it contains serotonin which acts like an anti-depressant and stimulates endorphin production, which releases hormones that make you feel happy.

Now with this being said, it is important to remember that just because dark chocolate contains health benefits, it does not mean you should consume it in mass amounts. Chocolate in general is high in fat, so it is important to watch your intake. Dark chocolate contains a more bitter taste then milk chocolate, but if you choose  to switch over, I can almost assure you that your taste buds will adjust (mine did!). So, find a brand you like and eat it for dessert instead of that big bowl of ice cream. You can even add a few nuts to boost flavor and add some protein!

Source:

http://longevity.about.com/od/lifelongnutrition/p/chocolate.htm

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Why Zumba?

Zumba has been around for a couple years now, but just recently it seems to have become increasingly popular in the fitness world. Many people have heard about Zumba, but few really know exactly what it is or what kind of fitness benefits it provides. Zumba is a mix of Latin and International music. The workout itself is essentially a dance routine that incorporates aerobic and fitness interval training.

The benefits? A sculpted torso and toned body. Zumba is a great way to tone your core and strengthen your back and torso. It also helps shape your arms, legs, hips, heart and mind.  So what do you have to lose? Nothing. Contact your local gym to see if they offer Zumba classes and give it a try!

An Apple a Day Keeps The Doctor Away

Apple

Yep, your mom really wasn’t lying when she told you that an apple a day keeps the doctor away. Although apples are not the only fruit to contain health benefits, they seem to contain a larger combination of the health benefits. So if your looking for a fruit loaded with nutrients, vitamins and antioxidants, grab an apple.

First, apples contain significant amounts of vitamin C. Vitamin C not only boosts your immune system, but also promotes healthy gums which will ultimately help  reduce your visits to the dentist. Furthermore, the juices inside the apple have properties that can kill up to 80% of bacteria, preventing tooth decay. Another way to avoid the dentist!

Additionally, apples are rich in flavonoids, or highly beneficial anti-oxidant compounds. Flavonoids can help prevent heart diseases such as coronary heart disease and cardiovascular disease. It has also been suggested that they may delay/prevent the onset of other diseases like cancer as well. A study conducted by the Canadian government found that apples, specifically red apples, can add  powerful antioxidant benefits to one’s diet. However, there is a catch. In order to receive the full health benefits from the apple, you must consume the skins. Apple skins are the most antioxidant rich part of the fruit. This study, which was published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, even brought to light the possibility of  developing a way to extract these antioxidant compounds to create and sell even more anti-oxidant rich “super apples.” Interesting thought.

Another study at the University of Nottingham concluded that people who ate five or more apples per week had lower respiratory problems, including asthma. So overall, people who ate apples had healthier lungs.

So now the next time you hear someone say “an apple a day keeps the doctor a way” you will know that it is not just a childhood phrase, it’s the truth!

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Breakfast: The Most Important Meal Of The Day

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If you want to start your day off right don’t skip breakfast. Breakfast in the morning boosts our metabolisms and provides us with the most energy to help us get through the day. Adults and children who don’t skip breakfast will not only feel more awake and energized, but will actually perform better in both school and the workplace. You may think that skipping breakfast will allow you ten more minutes of sleep in the morning, but the reality is that you will just end up feeling even more tired later because your body has no fuel to run off of.

Not only is it important to eat breakfast in the morning in general, but it is important to eat a healthy, balanced breakfast and not just a poptart as you run out the door. A meal with both fiber and protein will fill you up and keep you satisfied until lunch. An example of a balanced breakfast may be a bowl of whole grain cereal or oatmeal with low fat milk and a piece of whole grain toast with peanut butter (for some protein). You can even add fruit to your cereal to boost flavor and add natural sugars. Kashi has some great cereals full of fiber, protein and whole grains that I highly recommend, one of my favorite’s being Honey Sunshine cereal pillows which contains 6 grams of fiber, 20 grams of whole grains and no artificial sweeteners, flavors, or preservatives.

Comment and share healthy breakfast suggestions!

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Is Reusing Your Gym Water Bottle Dangerous to Your Health?

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Are you one of those people who constantly reuse the same water bottle when going to the gym? If you just answered yes to this question, you may want to read on to discover how potentially dangerous this can be to your health.

I am all for reusing water bottles to save our environment, but it is important you are making sure to sterilize them after every use. You may think one or two days of reusing the same water bottle is not big deal, but tests done by the Coffey Laboratories in northeast Portland discovered that a water bottle used only a couple days of week (without washing) contained a shocking 4,100 bacteria colonies!

A similar study, analyzed at the University of New South Wales,  found back wash to be a main contributor to bacterial build up in reused, unwashed water bottles. They also discovered that people who share water bottles could be spreading a common food poisoning bacteria known as staphylococcus. Too much consumption of this bacteria can potentially make you very sick.

Another study conducted at Calgary elementary school, brought to light an even more shocking discovery. Researchers found that about a third of the sampled water bottles contained bacteria content. Some of them even contained traces of fecal coliforms! The bacteria content found in the water bottles most likely came from the students forgetting  to wash their hands, and repeatedly coming in contact with their unsterilized water bottles.

Hopefully these studies have now convinced you to not only wash your water bottles in warm water and mild detergent after every use, but also to think twice before sharing your water bottle with a friend. Read more about these studies on the following sites:

Sources

http://www.kptv.com/news/15424379/detail.html#

http://health.ninemsn.com.au/whatsgoodforyou/factsheets/694247/are-water-bottles-safe-to-be-reused

http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/people-who-frequently-reuse-their-water-bottles-may-be-risking-their-health.html

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Why Eat Organic?

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It seems like these days eating organic foods has become increasingly popular. But why? Is it just a health trend we picked up from various celebrities, or has eating organic really turned into a lifestyle? Personally, I do not think eating organic is just a trend. Many people have turned to organic foods for a variety of reasons:

1.  Its healthier for you! Organic foods tend to have higher levels of vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, iron etc. than those grown non-organically.

2. Organic foods lack food additives that can potentially cause health problems such as heart disease and osteoporisis. The Soil Association bans additives such as hydrogenated fat, aspartame, and monosodium glutamate in all organic products.

3. By eating organic, you are also avoid pesticides. Conventionally farmed products are exposed to over 400 chemical pesticides, but because most of us are not there to see how our food is being grown, we remain oblivious. Pesticides are actually very dangerous to our health and can lead to reproductive problems and cancer.

4. Reliance on drugs are removed. Often times farmers use antibiotics on farm animals that have questionable consequences on human health. By eating organic, you can ensure that none of these are being consumed in your food.

5. Lastly,  it  tastes better! Many people agree that organic fruits and vegetables have a better flavor compared to those grown non-organically. I think knowing that your food is grown all-natural is a very mentally satisfying benefit to most people.

What do you choose to eat organic foods? Comment and share your thoughts!

Sources:

1. http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/7290.php

2. http://www.puristat.com/standardamericandiet/pesticides.aspx

 

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What Exactly are “Whole Grains”?

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We are constantly told that if we are going to eat any type of carb that it better be whole grain. However, most people don’t even know what a  “whole grain” really is, or why consuming them is more beneficial to your health.  Hopefully after reading this post you become clear on what whole grains are so the next time your told to eat them you know why.

When you eat carbs like white rice or white bread, you are consuming refined grains. This means you are consuming milled grains.  Milled grains have been through a  process that removes the bran and germ of the grain. They give a finer texture and help improve the shelf life of the product, but what most people don’t realize is the process also removes nutritious dietary fiber, iron, and B vitamins.

Foods containing whole grains, such as brown rice, mean you are literally eating the entire grain kernel which includes the bran, germ and endosperm.  The bran is the outer shell of the kernel and contains fiber and B vitamins, while the germ provides nourishment for the seed and provides antioxidants, vitamin E and B vitamins.

Learn more about foods containing whole grains at:

http://www.mypyramid.gov/pyramid/grains.html

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The Best Nutrition/Fitness Iphone Apps

If your an iphone lover like myself, you are constantly looking for new and interesting apps that make your life a little easier. To save you the trouble of searching, I have found some of the best nutrition/fitness apps offered so far:

1. Good Food Near You: This app is great for those of you who are health conscious and constantly on the road. The app allows you to type in your current location (or track your location automatically via GPS) and will then recommend nearby healthy food options. It categorizes food based on distance, lowest fat, calories and carbs. It even allows you to view other options on the menu! The best part of this app? Its FREE!

2. Fitnio: This app uses GPS to track your choice of exercise whether it be walking, jogging, running, or cycling and provides you with basic fitness-related information about your workout such as mph, calories burned (based on your body weight and height), and miles completed.  What I love best about this app (besides that it is free) is how easy it is to use. You can also track your fitness progress at http://www.fitnio.com

3. B.iCycle: If your favorite way to exercise is cycling this is the app for you. For a price of $9.99 (a little steep if you ask me) this application tracks the distance, time, calories burned, and speed of your rides. It even grants you access to mapped bike trails based on your GPS location.

4. Nutrition Menu: At a reasonable price of just $2.99 this app is the “largest  freestanding nutritional information database on the market.” You can search for over 79,000 food items and discover their calorie, fat, carb and fiber content without even connecting to the internet!

5. iBody: This app recently recieved the Mobile Award for best app in the Healthcare and Fitness category. It allows users to stay in top shape by recording weight, blood pressure, pulse rates, and BMI. Depending on what your health concern is, the app useful for a variety of people ranging from those trying to maintain a healthy weight to those wishing to maintain a healthy blood pressure level. My only complaint about the app is the rather expensive price of $9.99, but I guess you can’t really put a price on health.

If you guys know of any other health/fitness/nutrition based apps (or even fun and interesting iphone apps in general) feel free to comment and share them here!

Are you getting enough sleep?

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Many people often underestimate the importance of sleep. With our busy schedules and hectic lives we begin to view sleep as more of  a luxurious activity rather than a necessity.  What many people don’t realize is that sleep is essential to living a healthy lifestyle.  Chronic lack of sleep can lead to high blood pressure, obesity, memory loss, fatiuge, reduced concentration, and even weight gain. According to the National Sleep Foundation, it is suggested that adults get around 7-9 hours of sleep a night. With this amount of sleep, getting up in the morning shouldn’t be the worst part of your day.  Here are some helpful tips to finally getting a good nights sleep:

1. Establish consistent sleep and wake schedules.

2. Create and begin a relaxing bedtime routine an hour or more before you go to bed.

3. Finish eating at least 2-3 hours before your bedtime.

4. Exercise regularly.

5. Your sleeping area shouldn’t be too warm.

6. Warm up your feet with socks can help with a more restful sleep.

If you know of any other sleeping tips feel free to comment and share with the rest of us!

(Source: http://www.sleepfoundation.org/)

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