viernes, 22 de noviembre de 2013

How to read food labels to make a smart choice

Understanding food labels can help you make wiser choices, but in today's hurried world most people take the claims on the fronts of food packages as the final word on nutrition, and this can be often misleading.

If you fail to read the small print, particularly the “Nutrition Facts panel" and the "Ingredient list," you may not be aware of the added sugars or the trans fats it contains.

For instance, the front of the package may say “no trans fats,” but in the ingredient list you might read it has hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils (= trans fats). The problem is that a product that contains less than 0.5 grams of trans fats per portion is not required to include them on the Nutrition Facts panel, so the only way to be 100% sure is to read the Ingredients List. 

You should choose products with fewer added sugars, such as sucrose, which is the technical word for the table sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, honey, or molasses. They add extra unwanted calories. Although natural sugars in milk and fruit are fine.

If a product claims to be sugar-free or fat-free, it means that one serving provides less than 0.5g of sugar or fat respectively.

"Reduced" or "less" mean the food has 25% less of a specific nutrient than the regular version of the food.

General guide to calories (based on a 2000kcal diet):

40kcal is low (thumbs up ;) )

100kcal is moderate

400 kcal or more is high

Use the calorie information to work out how a particular food fits into your daily calorie allowance on the weight loss plan.

% Daily value:

DV are the reference values that are used to assist consumers in understanding how nutrients fit into the context of the total daily diet. It allows you to compare nutritional values of food products.

5/20 Rule. Quick Guide to % DV:

5% DV or less is Low -  Select foods that are lowest in total fat, saturated and trans fats; as well as in cholesterol and sodium to help reduce your risk of high blood pressure and heart disease.

20% DV or more is High - Choose foods with the higher % DV for these nutrients: fiber, vitamins and minerals.

Always look at the serving size as it is probably smaller than you might assume. If you don't read the label, you may never realize that the juice you're buying is actually three servings, and you may think it has three times less sugars and calories that it really has... 


Most sodium comes from packaged foods.
 Similar packaged foods can vary widely in sodium content, including breads. Processed meats such as hams, sausages, frankfurters, and luncheon or deli meats have added sodium. Use the Nutrition Facts label to choose foods with a lower %DV (% Daily Value) for sodium.


The percent Daily Value (DV) for dietary fiber is based on the recommended daily amount of fiber which is 25 grams of fiber per day for a 2000 calorie diet.

This amount of fiber is necessary to maintain a healthy digestive system and to reduce your risk of heart disease and cancer.

High fiber: 5 grams or more (per RACC, which is the amount of food customarily consumed at one eating occasion)

Good source of fiber: 2.5 to 4.9 grams

Added fiber: at least 2.5 grams more per RACC (as compared to an appropriate reference food)

Tip: Ingredients are listed in descending order of predominance.


miércoles, 13 de noviembre de 2013

14 november: World Diabetes Day - Know the facts

1 in 2 people with diabetes don't know they have it.
  • Do you have its warning signs?:
    • Frecuent urination. 
    • Excesive thirst. 
    • Lack of energy. 
    • Weight loss.
      • These signs can be mild of absent in people with type 2 diabetes. 
      • If you think you are at risk, get tested.
  • There are several types of diabetes:
    • Type 1: When the pancreas doesn't produce insulin.
    • Type 2: When the pancreas doesn't produce ENOUGH insulin or the insulin can't be processed. 
    • Gestational diabetes: When insulin is less effective during pregnancy.
  • Up to 80% of type 2 diabetes is preventable by changing diet, increasing physical activity and improving the living environment. 
    • 30 minutes of exercise a day can reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 40%
  • Diabetes affects all age groups. People with diabetes are just like you and me.
  • Diabetes is a global killer, rivaling HIV/AIDS in its deadly reach. The disease kills more than 4 million people a year. Every 7 seconds a person dies from diabetes-related causes
  • Diabetes affects both men and women, and is rising among women. It is also increasing dramatically among youth and threatening to decimate indigenous populations.
  • Diabetes hits all populations, regardless of income. It is becoming increasingly common everywhere. 

This is the Diabetes Food Pyramid:

For more info visit

martes, 12 de noviembre de 2013

Pumpkin pancakes

Learn how to cook in 15 minutes this healthy low-calorie version of the pancakes. This meal is a good source of calcium and fiber. Your kids will love them and they will have fun helping you to make them.

Ingredients for 8 servings:

1 cup of whole-wheat pastry flour
2 tablespoons of baking powder
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of ginger
2 eggs
2 cups of buttermilk or sour milk
1/4 cup of olive oil
1 cup of pumpkin puree


In a large bowl combine flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and ginger. In a medium size bowl combine eggs, buttermilk, olive oil and the pumpkin puree. Mix well. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and combine well. Cook pancakes on a hot griddle.

Nutrient Information (per serving):

Calories: 236 kcal
Total fat: 8g
   Saturated fat: 2g
   Polyunsaturated fat: 1g
   Monounsaturated fat: 6g
Sodium: 810mg
Carbohydrates: 33g
Protein: 9g
Fiber: 5g
Calcium: 299mg

miércoles, 30 de octubre de 2013

Cardiovascular disease: How to prevent the number one killer

Since we are born a plaque can start building up in the walls of the arteries (this is known as atherosclerosis). As the cholesterol builds up, the arteries narrow and it's more difficult for the blood flow through to your heart, what can cause a heart attack or a stroke. But this need not happen. A lifestyle that includes a healthy diet and regular exercise play a large role in the prevention of CVD (cardiovascular disease) and it can even reverse it.

The behaviors or conditions that increase your chance of getting CVD are:
  • A diet poor in plant-based foods and high in animal foods (which are rich in saturated fats).
  • A sedentary life (less than 150 minutes of moderate activity, or vigorous activity for 75 minutes per week).
  • High blood cholesterol.
  • Diabetes or high blood sugar.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Overweight or obesity.
  • Smoking.
You can't change some of the risk factors, like being over 45 for men or 55 for women, or family history of early heart disease. But most of the risk factors can be modified, such as stop smoking, increase of physical activity and have a healthy diet which can reduce the blood levels of sugar and cholesterol, as well as reduce the blood pressure.

These are the key nutrients that can make bad cholesterol (LDL) levels rise:
  • Saturated fats: Found in animal products, specially fatty meat, cheese or other dairies high in fat like ice cream. As an exception, there are two vegetable oils rich in this unhealthy fats, the coconut and palm oil. 
  • Trans fats: Found in high amount in foods made with hydrogenated oils, such as margarine, french fries and other fried foods, many industrial products like pastries or crackers. This fat not only increase the bad cholesterol, but it also reduces the good cholesterol (HDL) what it's even worse.
  • Cholesterol: Your body makes its own cholesterol. Normally when you eat foods that have cholesterol, your body produces less to regulate it. But saturated or trans fats prevent the cholesterol in the blood from getting inside the cells that need it, so our body have to produce more cholesterol to make it up. This is why is even more important to reduce the intake of saturated and trans fats than reduce the intake of cholesterol. 
    • Cholesterol comes only from animal products, so if you want to reduce your intake of this nutrient, it would be as simple as to have a vegetarian diet (although in the case of high cholesterol due to a genetic condition I'm afraid it wouldn't be that easy...).
Being overweight is another major risk of CVD disease because it increases the blood pressure, the LDL cholesterol and the triglycerides (they are for themselves an independent risk factor of heart disease). In addition, it also lowers the HDL cholesterol (the good one). Losing weight can help to improve the profile of the fats on you blood and reduce your risk of not only this condition, but of most of the chronic diseases.

The good news is that you can make heart healthy lifestyle changes to prevent it. Think about if saving your life is worthwhile the effort of getting these new healthy habits:
  • Eat a minimum of 5 portions of fruits and vegetables a day. They are rich in antioxidants which are necessary to prevent the cholesterol from building up on the inside of the blood vessels.
  • Choose fat-free or low-fat dairy products.
  • Increase your intake of fiber-rich whole grains. Take 10–25 grams per day of soluble fiber, the one found in oats and legumes.
  • Cut back on foods that contain high amounts of simple sugars (like fructose). Drink water instead of sodas or juices.
  • Keep dietary fat to 25-35% of total diet.
  • 2 grams per day of plant stanols or sterols can help you to reduce the absorption of cholesterol.
  • Eat 30 grams of nuts a day (don't eat more than that amount because they have many calories).
  • Alcohol in high amounts increases triglyceride levels. Men shouldn't drink regularly more than 3-4 units per day and women not more than 2-3 units.
  • Increase your physical activity. Get at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity (such a brisk walk) on five or more days, for a total of at least 150 minutes per week.
  • Get your blood pressure under control. Reduce as much as you can your intake of salt or sodium as well as reduce your intake of alcohol.
  • Replace saturated fats with small amounts of mono and polyunsaturated fats. Normally you can tell it is a saturated fat because it is solid at room temperature while unsaturated fats are liquid.
    • For example, replace butter or margarine for olive oil or other vegetable oils (except for coconut or palm oil).
    • Less than 7% of your daily calories should come from saturated fat.
    • Take less than 200 mg a day of cholesterol.
  • Reach and maintain a healthy weight
  • Quit smoking to stop the damage on the lining of your arteries and reduce your blood pressure.
According to an important study publicated in 2003 in “The journal of the American Medical Association” a diet that include soy fiber, protein from oats and barley, almonds and margarine from plant sterols lowers the cholesterol levels as much as statins, the most widely prescribed cholesterol medicine.

martes, 10 de septiembre de 2013

Are detox diets safe and do they really work?

After the over-indulgences of the summer season, many of you will resolve to beat the effects of holiday overeating and to shed those excess pounds with the help of  “detox diets”. But I’ll explain why this is a big mistake despite it seems to be the simplest and quickest way to get fit and healthy again.

What detox diets consist of?

The detox (short for detoxification) diets are based on the idea that toxins build up in the body and can be removed by cutting out certain foods altogether, such as wheat or dairy, and eating a very limited range of foods. They are an attempt to cleanse the body by removal of toxins or other contaminants. They usually involve fasting or reduce drastically the intake of food and take certain nutritional supplements in order to get rid of toxins and drop several pounds in a very short space of time. Many people based these diets on products that are not necessary and potentially very dangerous.

Do we need to do detox diets?

They are neither necessary nor scientifically proven to work. And anyway we don’t need this kind of diets because our body have organs (
the liver, kidneys, skin, lungs and the digestive system)
to remove the contaminants in processed foods and the environment, so we don’t need the help of any special diet or supplements to help it along.

Are detox diets safe?

They can be very harmful for some people who have certain conditions like heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease, digestive problems, women who are pregnant, children, teens or elderly…

They can cause from dizziness to fainting to coma, since the diets affect electrolyte and blood sugar balance. Even in healthy people they can cause problems like vitamin and mineral deficiency and muscle breakdown, what reduces the metabolism and makes you later put on weight more easily.

How can I detoxify my body without having to do a detox diet?

If you think your liver is overstressed, you don’t really need any outside help, you just have to cut out your intake of contaminants, so you’ll gradually eliminate unhealthy substances from your body such as pesticides, alcohol, caffeine, heavy metals methyl-mercury or lead.

Detox diets are a quick fix and represent a very temporary solution to the problem, so if you don’t want to be a yo-yo dieter, the only way to to be a “successful loser” is to develop healthy lifestyle habits that will help you lose weight and keep it off.

jueves, 1 de agosto de 2013

Green salad with yogurt sauce

  • 150g Green beans, frozen
  • 150g Spinach leaves, fresh
  • 50g Red onion, sliced thinly
  • 1 Spring onion, chopped
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • 1 low fat yogurt (natural flavour)
  1. Boil the beans in salted boiling water for 10 minutes.
  2. Strain and set aside to cool.
  3. Mix all the vegetables except the spring onion and toss with one spoon of olive oil and venegar
  4. Pour yogurt over salad and then garnish with spring onion.
  1. Cook and serve vegetables just before eating to retain maximum nutrient value.
  2. Make your own healthy salad dressings to control the amount of fat, oil or seasonings.
  3. Milk and dairy products provide calcium, which is essential for healthy bone growth and development.
NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION (servings per dish: 4)
Per Serving:
Calories: 45 kcal
Protein: 2.7g
Fat: 0.2g
Cholesterol: 1 mg (unless you choose a yogurt without fat)
Carbohydrate: 7g
Fiber: 2g

viernes, 26 de julio de 2013

Foods you should avoid during pregnancy (3º part)

And finally these are the foods you should avoid for containing too much vitamin A (Retinol) which in large amount is teratogenic (cause malformations in the fetus):

  • Liver: Avoid liver, liver sausages or its spreads, such as pate.
  • Cod liver oil supplements.
    • The plant form of vitamin A found in fruit and vegetables (Carotene) is safe. 
  • Multivitamins supplements or any other supplements containing vitamin A.
You also should limit Caffeine while pregnant: don't drink more than 200mg of caffeine a day because too much caffeine can cause babies to have a low birth weight or even miscarriage. Remember that caffeine is also found in tea and coke. 

You should avoid drinking alcoholic drinks if you are pregnant or trying to get pregnant. Too much exposure to alcohol can seriously affect your baby's development, what is known as Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, a pattern of mental and physical defects that can develop in a fetus when a woman drinks alcohol during pregnancy.

Foods you should avoid during pregnancy (2º part)

And these are the foods you should avoid for their high risk of being contaminated with heavy metals:
  • Fish: some fish contain large amount of methylmercury which affect unborn baby's brain and nervous system. You should avoid completely:
    • Shark
    • Swordfish
    • King Mackarel
    • Tilefish
  • Seafood: Apart from having some amount of methylmercury, it can also have cadmium, so don't abuse of these kind of food. It's concentrated on shrimps' heads, so don't eat them or add them to soups.
    • Maternal exposure to Cadmium increase early delivery, which leads to a lower birth weight. 
    • You can eat up to 2 average meals a week of fish and shellfish that are lower in mercury, such as shrimp, salmon, pollock, catfish or canned light tuna (albacore -white- tuna has more mercury than canned light tuna).
Cadmium and Mercury are also transferred in part to the next generation through breast milk after birth. So when you are breastfeeding keep in mind these recommendations about fish and shellfish.

Food you should avoid during pregnancy (1º part) (because of their high risk of causing infections
Food you should avoid during pregnancy (3º part) (because of their high content in vitamin A)

Food you should avoid during pregnancy (1º part)

You should take extra precautions to avoid food that could harm your baby, e.g. with pesticides or methylmercury, too much vitamin A or with a high risk of food poisoning.

We should be concerned specially about these infections: 

  • Toxoplasmosis. Animals are infected with this parasite by eating infected meat, by ingestion of feces of a cat that has itself recently been infected, or by transmission from mother to fetus.
  • Listeriosis. A rare but potenctially lethal food-borne infection.
  • Salmonellosis. This bacteria (Salmonella) can't pass through to your baby, but it's advisable to avoid it anyway).

These are the foods that you should avoid for their high risk of causing infections: 
  • Unpasteurized milk: Avoid raw milk from cows, sheep and goats. 
    • Only drink pasteurized, sterilised or UHT milk. 
    • It's safe to eat any kind of yoghurt, fromage frais, soured cream and creme fraiche.
  • Soft cheeses made from unpasteurized milk: Soft ripened cheeses such as Brie, Camembert or Cambozola; or blue-veined cheeses such as Gorgonzola, Roquefort, Stilton, Blue Brie or Danish Blue. 
    • It is safe to eat hard cheeses such as Swiss, Parmesan, Mozzarella, Gruyere, Gouda, Cheddar, Babybel. 
    • It's also safe to eat soft and processed cheeses such as Mascarpone, Philadelphia, Ricotta, Quark, spread or Cottage cheese.
    • If you''re not sure you can check the label to know if it's made from pasteurized milk.
  • Undercooked eggs: The white and the yolk must be firm. Avoid also food containing raw eggs such as homemade mayonnaise or mousses. 
    • Commercially prepared food, made with pasteurised eggs are safe to eat (you can eat industrial mayonnaise).
    • Make eggnog with a pasteurized egg product or buy pasteurized eggnog.
  • Undercooked meat: Cook thoroughly the meat and all meat products until it is well done so that the juices run clear.
    • Even if the label says that the meat is pre-cooked, reheat the meat to steaming hot (sausages, burgers, luncheon meats, cold cuts, and other deli-style meat and poultry).
    • If you are not to cook with very high temperature de cold cults such as ham, DON'T EAT IT.
  • Undercooked fish: Avoid sushi or any other fish that is not cooked with high temperature.
  • Smoked meat or seafood: Refrigerated smoked meat, fish or seafood is not safe unless it has been cooked at a very high temperature.
  • Shellfish: You shouldn't eat it unless you cook it very well.
    • If you want to eat prawns for example, buy them from a reputable shop, pre-packaged and date-stamped. Make sure they have been thoroughly cooked or eat them in a trustworthy restaurant. 
    • Never suck or use the head of the shrimps because they are very contaminated with Cadmium. This is another reason why you shouldn't eat seafood very often.
  • Pate: Avoid any type of pate unless it is tinned. Anyway apart from the possible infections I'd avoid it because the liver is the organ which filter and get rid of the contaminants, so it may have unwanted substances, plus it's too high in vitamin A which in excess can harm your baby.
  • Raw dough or cake batter: Bake the cookies and cake. And don't lick the spoon!
  • Unpasteurized juice or cider (including fresh squeezed): Drink only pasteurized juice.
    • You can have it if you boil it for at least one minute before drinking.
  • Avoid soft-whip ice cream from machines and homemade ice cream made from unpasteurized eggs. 
    • Make it with a pasteurized egg product safer by adding the eggs to the amount of liquid called for in the recipe, then heat the mixture thoroughly.
  • Salads made in a store, such as chicken or seafood salad.
    • Make salads at home, following the food safety basics: clean, separate, cook, and refrigerate.
  • Raw sprouts (alfalfa, radish...): They need to be well cooked.
In the next posts I'll write about the foods you should avoid for having too much concentration of heavy metals such as methylmercury, cadmium or lead. (click here) or because they have a large amount of vitamin A which in excess can cause malformations in your baby (click here).

jueves, 25 de julio de 2013

Sexercise: How to lose weight in the most enjoyable way

We have good news! having regular sex can ward off several illnesses apart from energise and help you burn up to 200 calories per hour (if you are lucky to last that long ;) ).

When you are having sex your pulse rate increases from an average of 70 to 150 beats a minute. Just one love-in burns off the same number of calories as running for almost 15 minutes, and it's much more fun, isn't it?

100 calories in half an hour may not sound like much, but it adds up. So if you have 35 romps, you will lose 500g (more than 1lb), without even modify your diet. And if you want to lose even more weight, you can make love standing up to burn up to 600 calories per session.

But the benefits of sex go beyond of the fitness effect. Prior to an orgasm, the brain emits a dose of the oxytocin which results in the production of sedative endorphins (natural derivatives of morphine). This explain why after this exercise all the pains go away. Many people with joint problems such as arthritis find that they feel better one hour after intercourse because of the anti-inflammatory effect. So women can't use the "migraine excuse" to avoid having sex anymore, as orgasms can ease migraines faster than any medicine.

Making love lowers your blood pressure for up to a week, so you can lower the risk of heart attacks having sex regularly and moreover it will help you to live longer and improve your quality of life.

Here you have some easy ways to burn even more calories when having sex:
  • Make your partner sweat: Put some oomph into your love-making. Take the lead so you do the most work. 
  • Tone your butt and legs. Your bottom muscle perform a major function during the thrusting phase of sex. It has the same effect as squatting at the gym!
  • Go for the missionary position if you want to fatten your stomach (you have to be on top, of course). Hold tight your abdominal muscles as you move up and down.
  • Use your imagination to improve your flexibility. Try as many different positions in as many different places as possible.
  • The key to burn extra calories is to make it hot and make it last.
Although it's true sex is a great exercise, we can't considerate it as a true cardio workout because despite it increases your heart rate for an extended period of time and make you sweat (it has more to do with hormones and what's going on with your nervous system), sex doesn't normally use major muscle groups. So you shouldn't rely on sex as your only form or exercise. 

And remember your bottom is not there just to appeal to your partner, make it work hard! ;D

jueves, 4 de julio de 2013

Facts about alcohol you want to know

  1. Drinking water can lessen the effects of a hangover. If you don't want to feel awful the next day, drink water between alcoholic drinks and just before you go to bed. Remember that water won't make you any less drunk or protect your liver.
  2. Women are affected by alcohol doubly than men. Women have half of enzymes that metabolize alcohol, so we get twice the toxicity than men. Moreover, men have higher body water content than women (62% compared to 52%), meaning men are better able to dilute alcohol than women.
  3. Women who drink a lot find it more difficult to get pregnant. As few as five drinks every week may decrease a woman's chance of conceive. Alcohol also affect the fertility of men by its effect on sperm quality and quantity.
  4. One unit is 10 ml (8 g) of pure alcohol. Depending on your weight, it takes about one hour to process one unit of alcohol so there is none left in our blood. This is the equivalent to half a pint of lager, a glass of wine or a measure of a spirit.
  5. There is nothing that can sober you up except for time. Not even a cold shower, fresh air or hot coffee (you'll just feel less sleepy).
  6.  Alcohol is very fattening. It has 7 calories per gram (almost double than pure sugar!!!). For example, a large glass of red wine provides you with almost 200 "empty" calories. And any sugar in mixers or cocktails comes on top of the alcohol content of the spirits.
  7. Alcohol reduces our self-­control, making it easy to overeat.
  8. Alcohol reduces the amount of fat our body burns for energy. As we can't store alcohol, our body wants to get rid of it, and doing so takes priority. All of the other processes that should be taking place (including absorbing nutrients and burning fat) are interrupted.
  9. You should have a proper meal before you drink, high in carbohydrates and proteins. Lining your stomach with a big meal before drinking will delay the absorption of alcohol and it will take longer to get into your bloodstream, but it won't prevent it.
  10. Switching between different drinks won't make you more drunk. Mixing beer, wine or spirits may make you sicker by upsetting your stomach, but not more intoxicated.
  11. The more you drink, the more tolerance your body develops, but the more your body is harmed. Tolerance can actually be seen as a warning sign that your body has started to be affected by alcohol.
  12. Alcohol is a depressant. Although initially you may feel more energetic or cheerful because it depresses your inhibitions, at the end it is going to steal your energy and happiness and you'll lose the control of your emotions and reactions.

miércoles, 3 de julio de 2013

10 false beliefs about what makes you put on weight or lose it

Here are some common and enduring food myths:
  1. Bread makes you put on weight. What increases the calories of bread is usually what you spread on it (butters, sauces...) or you accompany with (sausages, bacon...).
  2. If you have fruit as a dessert, you´ll put on weight. You are going to get the same calories either you eat the fruit before or after the meal. But if you eat it before, thanks to its high amount of water and fiber, you´ll feel full sooner.
  3. Drink water during meals make you put on weight. Water doesn´t have calories, so it doesn´t matter when you drink it, except for the satiety it produces. That´s why it´s recommended to drink a glass of water just before you are going to eat.
  4. If you eat carbs and proteins in the same meal you´ll put on weight. The ¨dissociated diet¨ doesn´t make any sense as most of the foods contain both nutrients.
  5. Light food make you lose weight. Light products are those which have a minimum of 30% less calories. But they still can be very fattening. For exemple, the regular potato chips have an average of 530 calories per 100g, and the light chips have 460 calories. If we compare the light chips with a regular yogurt, which have around 50 calories, do you still think that the "light" version of chips is going to help you to lose weight?...
  6. Acidic fruits make you lose weight.  No food has the capability make you lose weight. There isn´t any food with "negative calories" that make your body spend more calories than that food is providing you.
  7. Mono-diets help you lose weight. These diets consist of eating only one type of food for that day. They are very low in calories so you are going to lose weight, but not only from fat, but also from lean mass. This is going to provoque your metabolism you slow down, so you´ll gain back all the weight you lost plus some extra grams.
  8. Vitamins make you put on weight. They don´t have calories, so it´s imposible they make you gain weight.
  9. Foods rich in carbohydrates are forbidden for diabetics.  They just have to adjust the intake of carbohydrates with the insulin and their physical activity to achieve adequate control glucose levels.
  10. Skipping a meal will make you lose weight. Actually what happens is the opposite, you are going to get very hungry and with anxiety to the next meal and you are going to overeat. You should have 5 or even 6 small meals a day.

miércoles, 26 de junio de 2013

How to lose weight eating out

If you have to eat out frecuently, you can still go on a low-calorie and healthy diet, you just have to follow these tips to learn how to choose wisely:
  • Ask for less oil. When you ask for a grilled meat or fish, It´s very common that the cook adds some oil on it after It´s cooked, so keep this in mind and ask the waiter not to add any extra oil or butter.
  • Order steamed, grilled, or broiled dishes instead of those that are fried or sautéed.
  • Choose main dishes that include vegetables
  • Ask for the salad dressing to be served on the side. Try to add as little as possible.
  • Choose the smallest portion. You can order child-size meals. This includes main dishes, beverages (if they have calories) and side dishes, unless they are mainly vegetables with little fat, because in that case you should choose the biggest portion.
  • Avoid “all-you-can-eat” buffets
  • Drink water instead of sodas or alcoholic drinks. Drink a glass of water before you start eating to make you feel full sooner.
  • Remove the skin from meat and poultry dishes.
  • Don´t choose dishes cooked with coconut milk or cream. Apart from being very fattening, coconut´s fat is very saturated and unhealthy for your heart.
  • Choose boiled rice over fried or flavoured rice.
  • It´s ok to go to fast food restaurants sometimes, but not everyday: 
    • If you go, you can ask for a plain hamburger or a grilled chicken sandwich. You can have it with lettuce, onion, tomatoes, princkes, and the only sauces you should choose are ketchup and mustard, but don´t add mayonaise or other sauces like garlic sauce.  
    • For side dish have a salad (without croutons or sauce) instead of fries.
    • If you are having pizza, order the thinnest crust. Try to eat only one or two slices. Top with veggies instead of meat. Accompany the pizza with a salad to make you feel more satisfied.
    • Have a small bag or a handful of baked chips (like Cassava) or pretzels instead of regular chips.
Do some workout that day to make it up, you will feel much less guilty about whatever treat you are indulging in ;)

martes, 18 de junio de 2013

Minestrone soup (recipe, nutritional information and tips)

INGREDIENTS (for 6 or 8 serves)
1 onion (chopped)
2 garlic cloves (crushed)
2 carrots (diced)
1 leek (sliced)
1 celery stick (sliced)
Half cup/50g/2oz of frozen peas
800g/14oz cans chopped tomatoes (or fresh tomatoes)
50g/2oz of soup pasta
2 and a half cups/600ml/1 pint of chicken stock
5ml/1 tsp of sugar (to reduce the acidity of the tomato)
1 tbsp/15g of chopped fresh basil
1 tbsp/15g of chopped fresh parsley
Large pinch of saffron strands (optional)
Salt and black pepper

  1. Soak the pinch of saffron strands in 1 tablespoon of boiling water. Leave to stand for 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, put the prepared onion, leek, celery, carrots and garlic into a large pan. Add the chicken stock, bring to the boil, cover and simmer for about 10 minutes.
  3. Add the canned tomatoes, the saffron with its liquid and the frozen peas. Bring back to the boil and add the soup pasta. Simmer for 10 minutes until tender.
  4. Season with sugar, salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the chopped herbs just before serving.
You can also made it out of whatever vegetables are in season and beans, like Italians do.
For extra flavour and calcium, you can sprinkle it with grated Parmesan cheese.
Saffron strands aren't essential for this soup, but they give a wonderful delicate flavour, with the bonus of a lovely rich orange-yellow colour.
Etymology: Literally means "that which is served" as It comes from minestrare, "to serve".

Energy: 85 kcal
Fat: 0.7g
Saturated Fat: 0.1g
Cholesterol: 0mg
Fibre: 3.3g
It's very high in Vitamin A (one portion contain half of the requiriments), and also in Potassium and Manganese. If you use fresh tomatoes It'll also be very rich in Vitamin C. This soup is ideal for a weight loss plan.

jueves, 13 de junio de 2013

Best tips to eat more vegetables

  • Include at least one vegetable-based dish for lunch or dinner.
  • Have always as a first course a salad, a soup, a vegetable stir-fry or any other dish made mainly with vegetables.
  • Keep a bowl of cut-up veggies in a see-through container in the fridge. You can keep there carrots, celery sticks, red or green pepper strips, broccoli or couliflower florets and cucumber slices.
  • Ask for more vegetables when eating out. Ask for steamed or sauteed veggies instead of fries as a side.
  • Buy enough vegetables to provide 2 servings each day.
  • Add grated carrots or zucchini to your traditional dishes or even to your muffins.
  • When cooking following a recipe, duplicate the quantity of vegetables.
  • Try a new vegetable every week. You can look for a recipe to cook it. Don't be afraid of experimenting with new veggies or recipes, It can be a lot of fun, specially if you get somebody else involved to go with you to the market to choose the new vegetables and cook them afterwards.
  • Choose seasonal vegetables because they'll be more in line with your budget and moreover they'll be at their peak flavor
  • A quick and easy way to cook is with the microwave. Sweet or white potatoes can also be baked this way
  • Buy frozen vegetables. They keep all the vitamins and you can cook them in the microwave when you don't have much time.
  • Stock up on a variety of vegetables, so you don't get bored of eating always the same ones.
  • Try raw or lightly steamed vegetables, like sugarsnaps, carrots or cauliflower. When they are crunchy you'll feel full sooner and moreover you'll obtain more vitamins.If you don't like them, you can use sauces or seasoning, but keep in mind you are adding many calories, saturated fat and sodium to the vegetables.
  • You can buy canned vegetables for when you don't have time to cook.
  • For dinner, a salad made up with pasta and tunna or chicken can be a great option. Go light on the salad dressing or use the low fat alternative.
  • When having pizza, top it up with vegetables like onions, mushrooms, peppers, fresh tomatoes...
  • If you have a barcacue, make grilled vegetable kabobs.
  • Add color to salads by adding shredded carrots, red cabbage or spinach leaves.
  • Decorate plates with colorful vegetables slices.
  • Include cooked dry beans or peas in mixed dishes such as stews or soups. 
  • Aim for variety as different vegetables are rich in different nutrients:
    • Dark green leafy vegetables are rich in iron, folate and calcium
    • Vegetables with intense colours contain more nutrients and phytochemicals (beneficial plant substances) than pale-coloured ones.
So eat a variety for maximum health benefits! 
And be creative! Experiment with vegetables in your cooking.

Best tips to eat more fruit
Best tips to improve your nutrition

miércoles, 29 de mayo de 2013

Best tips to eat more fruit

There are plenty of ways to add more fruit to your everyday eating habits. Here you have a few tips to get you started:
  • If you see it, you fancy it! 
    • Refrigerate cut-up fruit to store for later.
    • Keep a bowl of whole fruit on the table, counter, or in the refrigerator.
  • Swap sugary snacks, such as biscuits, for fruit. As a snack, eat cheese with grapes, the best food combination ever! (after the combination of melon with Serrano ham, of course...).
  • Make fruit kabobs using bananas, pears, apples, pineapple chunks, grapes, strawberries, etc.
  • Grill pineapple and add it to your sandwiches, you´ll love it!
  • Top your pizza with pineapple or apples.
  • Top yogurt with fruits such as berries, kiwi, banana... with frozen yogurt is even nicer!
  • Frozen juice bars (100% juice) make healthy alternatives to high-fat snacks.
  • Many fruits taste great with a dip or dressing. Try low-fat yogurt or pudding as a dip for fruits. Spread peanut butter on apple slices, it´s really delicious.
  • Make a healthy smoothie by blending low-fat milk or yogurt with fresh or frozen fruit. 
  • To make fruit salads, mix apples, bananas, or pears with acidic fruits like oranges, pineapple, or lemon juice to keep them from turning brown.
  • Pack a tangerine, banana, or grapes to eat for lunch, or choose fruit from the salad bar.
  • Try meat dishes that incorporate fruit, such as chicken with apple, oranges, or mango chutney.
  • Snack on an apple, banana, or strawberries.
  • Add a fruit to your breakfast. Top your cereal, porridge or yogurt with bananas, berries or your favorite fruits.
  • For dessert, focus on fruit by having baked apples, pears, or a fresh fruit salad. 
  • Bring a piece of fruit to work. Placing the fruit on your desk will remind you of the reward that awaits you after a hard days work.
  • Although It´s preferably to eat fresh fruit, you can also eat canned fruit, but choose the ones which are in juice rather than in sugary syrup.

jueves, 16 de mayo de 2013

How to store and cook whole grains

  • You should store whole grains in airtight containers away from heat, light and moisture.
  • Whole grains such as brown rice or pasta, don't keep as well as refined grains, so you should buy them in small amounts. 
  • Wholemeal bread has a shorter shelf life than white bread, so check the expiration date when purchasing. Store it in the fridge to prolong its shelf life.
It is not difficult to include whole-grains in your cooking. You may have to pre-soak the grains a little longer or add more water, especially if you are cooking brown rice:
  • If you want to shorten cooking time, soak whole grains in water before cooking.
  • Add more water when you cook whole grains as whole grains absorb more water than refined grains.
  • Add the pasta only after the water is boiling with a few drops of oil to prevent the pasta from sticking. Wholemeal pastas will take 12 to 25 minutes to cook depending on their size. Remember that you still want your wholemeal pastas to be al dente, firm but not too mushy or hard on the inside.
  • Cook whole-grains using healthier preparation methods too, such as with less oil and salt.
  • One of the easiest ways to boost your intake of whole grains is to substitute a portion of plain flour with wholemeal flour. In other words, if the recipe calls for 2 cups plain flour, you can use 1 cup of wholemeal flour and 1 cup of plain white flour. By doing this, you may need to add an extra pinch of baking powder.
  • You can also use cooking oats or crushed wholegrain cereal as breading for fish and chicken. Remember to use cooking oats instead of instant oats so that your coating will not burn before your fish or chicken is cooked. You can also semi-cook your fish or chicken before you coat them with your wholegrain crumbs. This can shorten the cooking time in the oven so your coatings won't burn before the insides are cooked.
  • Apart from this general advices, check the package for cooking instructions.
Note: You may see the unpolished rice in different colours (yellow, brown, red...) but they all are equaly nutritious regardless of their colour, as it is only due to the pigments in the bran of the grains.

It is possible to have wholegrains even if you don't cook. Use ready-to-eat wholegrain products such as wholegrain cereals and wholemeal bread.

Practical tips to eat more fiber

lunes, 13 de mayo de 2013

Practical tips to eat more fiber

Keep in mind that fiber is only found in food from plants, such as fruit and vegetables, wholegrain bread, oats, brown rice and pasta, beans, peas and lentils... So if you want to increase your fiber intake you have to eat more of this kind of foods and less animal products.

Here are some easy ways to increase fiber:
  • As a general rule, include at least one serving of whole grain in every meal. For exemple oatmeal porridge in the breakfast, whole-grain pasta, rice or bread in the lunch and the dinner, and popcorns as snacks.
  • Buy packaged grain products with ‘whole’ stated on the ingredients label. You should read “whole” in the grain or flour name of the first 3 ingredients.
  • Keep a jar of oat bran or wheat germ handy. Sprinkle over salad, soup, breakfast cereals and yogurt.
  • Try a new whole grain breakfast cereal. Look on the label for cereals with the highest amount of fiber per serving. They must have at least 6 grams of fiber per serving.
  • Snack on a ready-to-eat, whole-grain cereal.
  • Add whole-grain flour or oatmeal when making cookies or other baked treats.
  • Substitute a whole-grain product for a refined product, such as eating whole-wheat bread instead of white bread or brown rice instead of white rice. If the rice switch is hard to make, start by mixing them together (but start cooking first the brown rice because it needs some more time to get cooked).
  • Add kidney beans, garbanzos or other bean varieties to your salads. Experiment with international dishes (such as Indian or Middle Eastern) that use whole grains and legumes as part of the main meal or in salads.
  • Eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables each day. Fresh fruit is slightly higher in fiber than canned. Leave the skin on fruits, such as apples and pears, and on vegetables, such as potatoes or courgettes
  • Eat whole fruits instead of drinking juices. Juices don't have fiber.
  • Add dried fruits to your cereals, salads... they have a higher amount of fiber than the fresh versions.
Note: ‘Wheat flour’ and ‘enriched flour’ are not whole grains.

The good news is that the development of new fiber ingredients and improvements in food formulations have improved the taste of fiber-containing processed foods, so the taste is not a problem (or a excuse...) anymore. Check out for this names in the ingredients label: inulin, polydextrose, and oligofructose. They enhance the inherent fiber content of certain foods or they can be added to foods that typically don't contain fiber in order to increase the fiber content.

Caution: If you don't drink enough water on a high-fiber diet you may develop abdominal pain and constipation.


Fiber effects on health

domingo, 12 de mayo de 2013

¿How much fiber should I have?

While the average intake of dietary fiber per day is 15g, we should eat 25 to 30g of fiber per day or  14g per 1,000 kcal, from fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grain breads, pastas, rice and cereals.

Men should eat at least 10g of fiber more than women. This is because males are at a higher risk for developing colon cancer, and there seems to be a link between the amount of fiber that people eat and their risk for certain cancers as colon cancer. Anyway men usually have higher calorie needs (around 1/3 more!!!), so as a proportion of their calories, you would see that the total grams of fiber goes up.

The major food sources of dietary fiber (accounting for 85% of the fiber) are:
  • Grain products:  Of this total, grain products account for more than a third of the fiber. Whole grain foods supply about 1-5g per serving with fiber amounts reaching 9g or more per serving for bran cereals. White flour is considered a major contributor, yet it has only about 40% of its original fiber content. One-half of grain intake should be whole grains.
  • Fruits and vegetables: They have around 1-4g per serving, depending on whether the skin is consumed or not.
  • Legumes and soy:  They provide 6-9g of fiber per 1⁄2-cup serving.
  • Nuts and seeds.
But, many of the foods that are large components of our diet, are actually quite low in fiber:
  • Most beverages
  • Dairy foods
  • Eggs
  • Meat and poultry
  • Oils and fats
You should add fiber-rich foods a little at a time to let your body get used to them. Too much fiber at one time may cause discomfort. Let your body adjust to the additional fiber gradually.  And make sure to drink plenty of water (six to eight glasses a day).

If you want to get all the health benefits from fiber I explained in the the previous post, but you don't know how to increase your intake of fiber, don't miss the next post where I'll give practical tips to get easily the 30g of fiber you need per day.

sábado, 4 de mayo de 2013

Fiber effects on health

Fiber is not just important to prevent constipation, it has many other benefits for your health such as:
  • Reduces cholesterol levels, specially the beta glucans from oats and barley, and the pectins in apples, berries, and citrus fruits. This protect against  chronic diseases such as heart disease and stroke.
  • Protects against certain cancers such as colorectal cancer. Fiber’s effect on increasing bulk and decreasing transit time helps to “sweep” cancer-causing substances out of the large intestines. Fiber may also protect against breast cancer by decreasing blood levels of estrogen.
  • Reduces the risk of type II diabetes and help to manage the disease by stabilizing blood sugar as it slows down the rate of glucose absortion. It also decreases insulin concentration and requirements.
  • Promotes a healthy digestion.
  • Promotes proper bowel function: lowers the pressure in the colon resulting in less risk of diverticular disease (pockets that form in the colon and are prevalent in older adults) and hemorrhoids.
  • Provides bulk by absorbing fluid. It is important to consume enough fluids daily (1.5 - 2.0 litres) to prevent constipation.
  • Helps you reach your weight management goals by promoting satiationMeals rich in fiber are processed more slowly by the body, provide more volume, and tend to produce a feeling of fullness with fewer calories. In addition, high fiber foods require more chewing and may take longer to eat, thus potentially limiting the quantity you are going to eat.
  • Additionally, whole grains have more vitamins (vitamins B and E), minerals (iron, zinc and magnesium), and phytochemicals (beneficial plant substances) than refined grains.
Yet, intake of fiber is consistently below recommended amounts (about half the amount of fiber recommended).

Note that these health positive effects have not been proven from supplemental sources of fiber. So you can't eat a crappy diet and then turn around and eat a lot of  fiber supplements, and think that you are going to get the same benefits. You have to focus on the foods. Eat more whole wheat, bran, fresh or dried fruit, vegetables and legumes.

In the next posts I'll write about how much fiber we should eat and I'll give you some practical tips to increase the fiber in your diet.

And please don't be shy and take advantage of the comments to ask me any question about nutrition or food ;)

domingo, 28 de abril de 2013

Why you shouldn't skip breakfast

Skipping breakfast is a common strategy for people who are trying to lose weight, but unfortunately it has the opposite effect. It encourages us to snack more throughout the day because we feel more hungry. So have breakfast to crave less all day.

Research shows that having breakfast helps us control our weight. Eating the biggest meal of the day earlier, increases the chances that you can burn off the calories you take in and reduces the temptation to snack on foods high in fat and sugar.

Moreover, breakfast can be a valuable source of nutrients, if we skip it, we can miss out on essential nutrients (like the ones on the dairy).

It's a fact that people who eat breakfast are less likely to be overweight, perform better at school/work and have better concentration than those who don‘t. So remember, food is fuel for your body, start your day right.

If your excuse is the lack of time, as you head out the door, grab a drinking non-fat yogurt and a snack bar ;)

lunes, 22 de abril de 2013

Best tips to improve your nutrition

In today's post I will list a few tips that will help you to achieve a healthy weight and to reach an optimum nutritional status. In the next posts I will explain in more detail each item below.
  1. Don't skip breakfast. Skipping breakfast is like trying to start and run a car without gas: you won't get very far.
  2. Eat six meals a day and set regular times for them. Try not to skip any.
  3. Drink at least 8 glasses of water everyday.
  4. Drink a glass of water before you start a meal.
  5. Drink Fewer Calories. Sugary drinks only have "empty calories".
  6. Eat fresh fruit instead of drinking fruit juice.
  7. Watch the sugar. You should always check out the sugar content of anything you put in your mouth, even if it appears to be healthy.
  8. Choose whole grains instead of refined, processed carbohydrates (bread, pasta, rice...).
  9. Have cereals with at least 7g of fiber per serving.
  10. Fuel up with carbs. 55% of your energy intake should come from grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables.
  11. Use fats and oils sparingly. Preferably use olive oil or other vegetable oils except for the coconut or palm oil.
  12. Choose appropriate portion sizes and eat a varied diet according to your lifestyleAdjust your intake to suit your needs (remember that a manual worker needs more calories than an office worker). 
  13. Understand Food claims and labels. Knowing how to read food labels can help you choose healthier options, and keep a check on the amount of calories, fat, salt and sugars you eat.
  14. Eat at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day. This protects against a whole variety of different nasty things: It reduces considerably the risk of stroke, diabetes, heart disease, cancer...
  15. Don’t forget dairy. Eat at least two servings of low-fat dairy each day.
  16. Eat fish at least twice a week. This won’t stop you having a heart attack in itself, but it reduces the likelihood of you dying from it by 50%.
  17. Choose more low-fat sources of protein (such as skinless chicken, turkey, and soy products) while choosing leaner cuts of beef and pork.
  18.  Limit sodium intake to 2,400 mg per day or less (5g of salt).
  19. Avoid crash diets. They are bad for health and once you take a break every kilo will bounce back with a vengeance :S.
  20. Keep a food diary.
  21. Get more active. Regular activity is key to losing weight and keeping it off. As well as providing numerous health benefits. 
Just keep this in mind: Everything in moderation with nothing in excess is the key to a balanced diet and lifestyle.

sábado, 20 de abril de 2013

The unhappy truth about soda

The Center for Science in the Public Interest (a non-profit organization for consumer protection), has launched "Real Bears" a dramatic parody anti-soda, whose characters are the famous polar bears of Coca-Cola, who suffer from some of the problems associated with excessive consumption of sugary drinks including: cavities, obesity, erectile dysfunction and the appearance of diabetes (and limb amputation).

Research has proven a direct relationship between consumption of sugary drinks and an increase in obesity, which promotes diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and many other health problems.

Big soda companies have billions of dollars to tell their story, but we have each other. Oh—and we have the truth. Help The Real Bears spread the truth about soda by sharing this film.