Sunday, April 18, 2010

Reading Nutrition Labels

Today, manufacturers are required to provide Ingredient Lists and Nutrition Fact Labels on any packaged food. These labels are your tools in helping you make healthier food choices. Be- coming savvy about how to read these labels will help you to make better decisions about foods you buy and prepare.
 
How to Read the Ingredients List
The Ingredients List will provide you with information on what foods, spices, and possible chemicals make up the food. Ingredients listed on food labels are listed in order by weight. The largest ingredient in the food is listed first and the one in the least amount is listed last. You want to avoid any foods that have fat, oils and sugars (or any derivatives of these ingredients) listed first. Further, if you never heard of the ingredient or can’t pronounce it, there is a good chance it is a chemical or an unnatural ingredient. Whole foods are best and you should be able to recognize all or most of the ingredients. Below are some examples of ingredients you don’t want listed first on a package label.


How to Read the Nutrition Facts Label
The Nutrition Facts label provides you with more detailed nutritional information about the food or product. Here you will understand how different foods and products stack up against one another so that you can choose healthier options.



1. Serving Size: The serving size tells you what is a recommended serving size of the food.  Here are some tips to consider:

    * If you aren’t used to measuring or weighing your food, measure your portions until you become comfortable with standard portion sizes.
    * If you eat more or less than the recommended serving size, the rest of the information on the label needs to be adjusted to reflect the amount you are consuming. (E.g., if you have 2 times the serving, all nutritional values must be multiplied by 2)
    * When comparing foods, ensure you are comparing based on equal portion sizes

2. Calories: Calories provides you with a measure of how much energy you get from a serving of the food. Remember that the number of servings you consume determines the number of calories you actually eat.  For instance, if you have two servings of a food, you will have to double the calories listed per serving size to know how many calories you have consumed.  A good gauge to understand if something is high in calories is listed below:

    * 40 Calories is low
    * 100 Calories is moderate
    * 400 Calories or more is high


3. Calories from Fat: Fat Calories tells you how many calories of the food are specifically fat calories. Each gram of fat is worth 9 calories. No more than 30% of your calories for the day should come from fat. A good rule of thumb is to eat a maximum of 3 grams of fat or 30 fat calories per 100 calories of food.

4a. Total Fat: Total fat explains how much of both good fats (monounsaturated and polyunsatu- rated fats) and bad fats (saturated and trans fats) are in the food.

    * Optimally, you should have no more than 3 grams of fat per 100 calories
    * When comparing products/foods, be sure to compare the same serving sizes and 

       then look at the amounts of total fat, saturated fat and calories in a serving of each 
       product. Choose the one with the least amount of each.

4b. Saturated Fat: A ‘bad fat,’ saturated fat is found in foods including butter, margarine, fats from meat and pork, full-fat dairy products, eggs, palm and coconut oils and many fast foods. It is best to avoid or limit foods that have saturated fat. Your daily intake should be no more than 10% of your daily caloric intake (less than 1 gram per 100 calories).

4c. Trans Fat: Also a ‘bad fat,’ Trans Fats are created during cooking and/or processing. These fats are often found in commercially baked products. These fats should be eliminated from your diet. 5a. Cholesterol: A combined number telling you how much of both good (HDLs) and bad cholesterol (LDLs) are in the serving.

    * It is best to eat no more than 300mg per day

    * When comparing products/foods, first ensure you are comparing the same amount 
       for a serving size and then look at the amounts of cholesterol in each and choose 
       the one with the least amount

5b. Sodium: The amount of sodium in the serving.

    * It is best to eat no more than 2,400mg per day.

    * When comparing products/foods, first ensure you are comparing the same amount 
       for a serving size and then look at the amounts of sodium in each and choose the 
       one with the least amount.

6a. Carbohydrates: The total amount of carbohydrates in the food. It includes simple carbs and sugars, complex carbs and fiber. When foods contain carbohydrates, it is best if those carbo-hydrates contain some amount of fiber (see dietary fiber).

6b. Dietary Fiber: How much fiber is in a serving of the food. It is found mostly in complex carbohydrates such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables and beans.

    * Try to eat between 20 and 35 grams per day
    * The higher the fiber content of a product, the lower the sugar content in the food


6c. Sugars: The number of grams of carbohydrates per serving specifically made up of sugar. It is best to have this number low. When looking at total carbohydrates, the closer the sugar gram value is to the total carbohydrate gram value, the less fiber you have in the food, meaning the less satiated you will feel.

7. Protein: How many grams of protein are in a serving. It is always good to maintain a balance of protein, carbohydrates and fats in a meal. If this food doesn’t contain proteins, try to combine it with another food that has protein.

8. % Daily Values: Tells you what percentage of your recommended daily allowance is provided by the serving of food. Note however, It is based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Generally, a value of 5% is considered low and a value of 20% is considered high. If you consume other than 2,000 calories a day to maintain a healthy body weight understand that these percentages may be different. Regardless, it is a good way to compare other products.

9. Vitamins and Minerals: How much of recommended vitamins and minerals are in the serving. You should aim to reach 100% for all required vitamins and minerals. To ensure you are getting your required daily intake, take a multivitamin.

10. Recommended Amounts: The recommended daily amount for each nutrient for both a 2,000 calorie diet and a 2,500 calorie diet. If you need to consume more or less calories than 2,000 or 2,500 day to maintain a healthy body weight, the recommended amounts for fat, carbohydrates and protein will change.

11. Calories per Gram: This shows the caloric weight of each macronutrient – Fats, Carbohy-drates and Protein. It is best to choose foods that are well balanced, containing all nutrients.

Source: http://www.sheerbalance.com

5 Ingredients to Avoid

Reading ingredient labels doesn’t have to be difficult. It is pretty simple in fact. Basically, if you don’t know what the ingredient is, or if you have never heard of it, there is a good chance that it is a chemical or processed ingredient that you don’t want to ingest. In general, each ingredient should be a whole food that isn’t processed. That said it can still be a bit daunting.

Below, I’ve listed five typical ingredients that you should avoid at all costs. And if they are listed first, second or third on the ingredient list of a packaged product, you definitely want to take a pass and opt for something else.

1. Sugar
Refined sugars should be avoided for several reasons:
       * They raise your insulin levels and as a result, can depress the immune system,  
          weakening your ability to fight disease.
       * Further, they cause weight gain and promote storage of fat.
       * Lastly, refined sugars provide you with no vitamins or minerals, so in order for 
          them to be metabolized, they draw on the body’s reserves of vitamins and 
          minerals, depleting your body’s nutrients.

Solution: Look for foods that are naturally sweetened (fruit or honey). If you must have sugar, opt for pure cane sugar that has not been refined.

2. Bleached White Flour 
Unbleached flour is a perfectly fine ingredient. However, if the product has bleached flour, stay away. The bleaching process takes a lot of the nutrients and fiber out of the flour. As a result, the product ends up having mostly empty calories, providing little to no nutritional value to your diet.

Solution: If choosing a wheat or grain based product, consume those that have whole grains or unbleached flour.

3. Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil / Hydrogenated  
   Soybean Oil
Hydrogenated soybean oils are created because they have a higher melting point, which makes them attractive for baking and extends their shelf-life. Unfortunately, they aren’t attractive to you or your waistline. These fats can cause coronary disease and may be linked to cancer.

Solution: Don’t consume products with these ingredients. Opt for those that have mono- unsaturated and polyunsaturated fats instead.

4. High Fructose Corn Syrup
In short, high-fructose corn syrup is an unnatural product that is a very, very sweet, highly processed and refined cornstarch. This manufactured substance is sweeter than and digested differently than sugar.
       * The body processes it directly through the liver and is then stored as fat.
       * Further, there is once again, no nutritional value, giving you only empty 
          calories to digest.
       * Lastly, this sweetener may be linked to several diseases including type 2 
          Diabetes.

Solution: Opt for only natural sweeteners, foods that are naturally sweet (fruit or honey) or  natural herbs, such as stevia.

5. Aspartame/Saccharin/Sucralose/Phenylalkaline
Any artificial sweetener is bad for you. They are unnatural and are processed derivatives of food and/or chemicals that aren’t natural for us to digest. They can cause havoc on your metabolism and your energy levels. Further, there is strong evidence that these are toxic and may cause cancer, as well as other diseases.

Solution: Opt for only natural sweeteners or stevia, a natural sweet herb.
   
Notice, these five ingredients are all either fat or sugar related. In general, the more you can avoid bad fats and refines sugars, the better off you are. When possible, always look for natural and whole foods. If a food is packaged, there is a good chance that there might be unwanted added preservatives or ingredients that you want to avoid.

Source: http://www.sheerbalance.com

Saturday, April 17, 2010

10 Commandments of Food Safety

Every year 76 million Americans get sick from food, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Nothing you can do will ever guarantee 100 percent protection against foodborne illness, but there are some simple precautions that help to reduce your risk. Below are our “10 Commandments of Food Safety--basically the advice that we keep hearing again and again from food-safety experts. How many do you follow?

1. Use a “refrigerator thermo- meter” to keep your food stored at a safe temperature (below 40°F).
Cold temperatures slow the growth of bacteria. Ensuring that your refrigerator temperature stays at 40°F or colder is one of the most effective ways to reduce your risk of foodborne illness. You can buy a “refrigerator/freezer thermometer” at appliance stores, home centers (e.g., Home Depot) and kitchen stores--including online ones, such as cooking.com.

2. Defrost food in the refrigerator, the microwave or in 
cold water, never on the counter. 
Perishable foods should never be thawed on the counter for longer than 2 hours because, while the center of the food may remain frozen, the outer surface may enter the Danger Zone, the range of temperatures between 40° and 140°F, in which bacteria multiply rapidly. If you’re short on time, use the microwave--or you can thaw meat and poultry in airtight packaging in cold water. Change the water every half hour (so it stays cold) and use the thawed food immediately.

3. Always use separate cutting boards for raw meat/  
poultry/fish and produce/cooked foods. 
Bacteria from uncooked meat, poultry and fish can contaminate cooked foods and fresh produce. An important way to reduce this risk is to use separate cutting boards for raw meat/poultry/fish and produce/cooked foods.

4. Always cook meat to proper temperatures, using a calibrated instant-read thermometer to make sure.
One effective way to prevent illness is to use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature of meat, poultry and egg dishes. The USDA Recommended Safe Minimum Internal Temperatures are as follows: beef, veal and lamb (steaks and roasts), fish, 145°F; pork and ground beef, 160°F; poultry, 165°F. In the EatingWell Test Kitchen we often recommend cooking meats like roasts and steaks to lower temperatures, closer to medium-rare, so that they retain their moisture. However, we recommend that those who are at high risk for developing foodborne illness--pregnant women and their unborn babies and newborns, young children, older adults, people with weakened immune systems or certain chronic illnesses--follow the USDA guidelines.

5. Avoid unpasteurized (“raw”) milk and cheeses made from unpasteurized milk that are aged less than 60 days.
Raw milk is milk from cows, sheep or goats that has not been pasteurized (heated to a very high temperature for a specific length of time) to kill harmful bacteria that may be present. These bacteria--which include salmonella, E. coli and listeria--can cause serious illness and some- times even death. The bacteria in raw milk can be especially dangerous to pregnant women, children, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems. Raw-milk cheeses aged 60 days or longer are OK, since the salt and acidity of the cheesemaking process make for a hostile environment to pathogens.

6. Never eat “runny” eggs or foods, such as cookie dough, that contain raw eggs.
Even eggs that have clean, intact shells may be contaminated with salmonella, so it’s important to cook eggs thoroughly until both the yolk and the white are firm. Casseroles and other dishes containing eggs should be cooked to 160°F (use an instant-read food thermometer to check). In the EatingWell Test Kitchen, we don’t always recommend cooking eggs fully. However, we recommend that those who are at high risk for developing foodborne illness--pregnant women and their unborn babies and newborns, young children, older adults, people with weakened immune systems or certain chronic illnesses--follow the USDA guidelines. If you can’t resist runny eggs--or sampling cookie batter--use pasteurized eggs. They’re found near other eggs in large supermarkets.

7. Always wash your hands in warm soapy water for at least 20 seconds before handling food and after touching raw meat, poultry or eggs.
You can pick up a lot of bacteria out in the world, so it’s important to always wash your hands before you eat or prepare food. You should also wash your hands after touching any uncooked meat, poultry and fish or eggs, as bacteria from these foods can contaminate cooked foods and fresh produce. Use soap and warm water and wash thoroughly--for at least 20 seconds.

8. Always heat leftover foods to 165ยบF.
The USDA recommends heating all cooked leftovers to 165°F in order to kill all potentially dangerous bacteria.

9. Never eat meat, poultry, eggs or sliced fresh fruits and vegetables that have been left out for more than 2 hours (1 hour in temperatures hotter than 90°F).
If you leave perishable foods out of the refrigerator or freezer for more than 2 hours they may enter the Danger Zone--the unsafe temperatures between 40° and 140°F, in which bacteria multiply rapidly.

10. Whenever there’s a food recall, check products stored at home to make sure they are safe.
You should discard any food that’s been recalled because it’s associated with the outbreak of a foodborne illness. But according to a survey conducted by Rutgers University during the fall of 2008, only about 60 percent of Americans search their homes for foods that have been recalled because of contamination. For more information on food recalls, visit www.recalls.gov.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Healthy Aging Diet Guidelines

Aging is inevitable. The so-called fountain of youth? Sadly, just a beautiful fantasy. Still, you can exert some control over your decade-by-decade destiny. By following a healthy lifestyle--that is, eating a nutrient-packed diet and staying active throughout life (or starting right now)--you can help slow the aging process and perhaps even stave off age-related chronic diseases, including osteoporosis, diabetes and heart disease. While basic nutrition needs remain pretty constant throughout life, requirements for specific nutrients may increase--or decrease--slightly as you get older. Also, as we age, caloric needs drop, making it ever more important to pack your diet with the good stuff--vegetables, fruits and whole grains, for example--and limit less-healthy treats. The nutrition experts at EatingWell recommend the following eating tips for healthy aging.

Pack your diet with plant-based foods.
Fruits, vegetables, whole grains and other plant-based foods are rich sources of phyto-chemicals, beneficial compounds that may help protect against age-related conditions like heart disease, high blood pressure and macular degeneration, a leading cause of blindness in older people. Fill at least two-thirds of your plate with vegetables, fruits, whole grains and beans and the remaining one-third or less with lower-fat sources of protein, like fish, poultry or lean meat. Choose vegetables and fruits that represent a rainbow of colors: dark leafy greens (e.g., kale and spinach), deep yellow and orange vegetables (e.g., corn and sweet potatoes), tomatoes and other red foods (e.g., bell peppers, strawberries) and blue and purple powerhouses like blueberries and purple grapes.

Keep weight in check.
As you get older, your body loses lean body mass (muscle) and your metabolism, or the rate at which you burn calories, slows. Bottom line: Through the years, you’ll need fewer calories to maintain a healthy weight. Stay within a healthy range by filling up on lower-calorie nutrient-packed foods--particularly vegetables and fruits--and cut back on foods that contain a lot of fat or added sugars. Carrying around extra pounds can increase your chances of developing heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, joint problems and some cancers.

Go easy on fat.
Eating some fat is important for health but certain fats are better than others. Vegetable oils like olive or canola are your best choices because they are high in heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and low in the saturated fats that are associated with increased risk for conditions including heart disease and cancer. Limit foods that are high in saturated fats: animal products like fatty red meats and full-fat dairy products.

Concentrate on calcium.
Getting enough calcium (and vitamin D, see below) can help prevent osteoporosis, the leading cause of bone fractures in older adults (see our Bone Health Center). If you’re 50 or older, you need 1,200 mg of calcium. Good sources of calcium include low-fat dairy products, calcium-fortified soymilk and orange juice, and fish with edible bones (like canned salmon or sardines). Other food sources of calcium include dark green vegetables, such as kale, broccoli and okra. If meeting your calcium needs through food seems daunting, talk with your doctor about whether you may need a supplement.

Don’t forget about D.
Vitamin D, which you need to absorb calcium properly, is a unique nutrient in that it’s available only in a few foods: fatty fish, egg yolks and fortified milk. We get most of our vitamin D through sun exposure: when UV light penetrates skin, skin cells produce a compound that the liver and kidneys convert to vitamin D. But as you age, skin becomes less efficient at syn- thesizing D. To meet increased needs with age, many experts recommend a supplement. (The recommended daily intake for people aged 51 to 70 is 400 IU; those over 70 need 600 IU--but many medical experts say that these recommendations are outdated and that most people, particularly those aged 50-plus, should aim for 1,000 IU.) Talk with your doctor about what’s best for you.

“B” aware of changing nutrient needs.
As you age, your stomach produces less gastric acid, which makes it harder for the body to absorb vitamin B12--a nutrient that helps keep blood and nerves healthy--from natural food sources. (These include meat, fish, eggs and dairy products like yogurt and milk.) Since data suggest that up to one-third of older people can no longer absorb the vitamin from food, nutrition experts advise that people aged 50-plus get the recommended daily intake (2.4 mcg) of B12 from fortified foods, such as cereal or supplements. A multivitamin that supplies 100 percent the daily value should do you fine.

Keep moving!
It's never too late to reap the benefits of exercise. Research shows that regular exercise--at any age--not only helps prevent heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis and some cancers, but also burns calories, gives you energy, relieves stress, helps you sleep better and improves strength and balance. What’s more, studies show exercise increases blood flow to the brain and may even help new brain cells grow, which keeps the mind sharp. The key to reaping the benefits of physical activity is sticking with it, so choose any exercise you enjoy and aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate activity a day.

If you drink, do so in moderation.
Studies show that drinking moderate amounts of alcohol may protect against heart disease. But consuming alcoholic beverages may interfere with the effectiveness of certain medications. It also may increase the risk for some kinds of cancer. (The American Institute for Cancer Re- search recommends avoiding alcohol altogether.) It’s important to weigh for yourself the risks and benefits. If you decide to drink, limit alcoholic beverages to no more than two drinks a day for men and one for women.

Play it safe with food storage and prep.
As you get older, your risk of foodborne illness increases (likely in part due to an aging immune system, say experts). Store and handle food properly (think: keeping your fridge at a safe temperature; avoiding cross-contamination in the kitchen).

Source: http://www.eatingwell.com

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Antidotes for Aging Parts

Brain
From our mid-twenties on, the brain--particularly the frontal lobe, where much of problem-solving and short-term memory is processed--shrinks at a rate of 2 percent per decade. A 2006 study in Neurology showed that people who ate two or more daily servings of vegetables, especially leafy greens, had the mental focus of people five years their junior.

GI Tract
As we age, nerve cells that control muscles that move food through the digestive tract gradually die off, especially in the large intestine--one reason why constipation may occur more frequently as you get older. Fiber helps keep things moving. Men 50-plus should aim for 30 grams of fiber per day; women, 21 grams. Get your fill by eating plenty of whole-grain cereals and breads, fruits, vegetables and beans.

Skin
In our twenties, production of collagen (a fiber that keeps skin firm) slows and dead skin cells shed less quickly. Good genes can keep you looking young but research suggests that lycopene and beta carotene also may help by scavenging for free radicals that contribute to skin aging. Eat sweet potatoes, carrots, cantaloupe and leafy greens for beta carotene and include lycopene-packed tomatoes and watermelon in your diet.

Muscle Mass
Metabolism slows by 1 to 2 percent each decade after age 30. When you’re young, muscle burns up to 10 times more calories per pound than fat. As you age, muscle metabolism de- creases. So even if you maintain the same level of exercise and calorie intake, you tend to accumulate fat. Regular exercise can help offset reduced muscle metabolism and help you stay lean. So will choosing nutrient-dense, lower-calorie foods.

Eyes
Years of exposure to UV light and smoke may contribute to age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a leading cause of blindness in older people. But an antioxidant-rich diet may help. Studies link higher intakes of vitamins C and E, beta carotene and zinc as well as lutein and zeaxanthin (antioxidants in yellow and green vegetables and egg yolks) and omega-3 fats with reduced risk for AMD.

Heart (and Blood Vessels)
Over the years, the heart and artery walls thicken and stiffen, which often results in high blood pressure and plaque buildup. Earlier this year, Greek scientists reported that the more closely people followed a Mediterranean diet--rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, fish and poultry, dairy and olive oil, with moderate amounts of wine and little red meat--the less likely they were to develop high blood pressure, high cholesterol or obesity.

Bones
From age 30 on, cells that build bone become less active while those that dismantle bone keep working. (In women, decreasing estrogen during menopause accelerates this loss.) Bone- strengthening calcium and vitamin D, which enhances calcium absorption, become increasingly important as you age. New research indicates that vitamin K--essential to the proteins that rebuild bone and abundant in leafy green--also helps reduce age-related bone loss.

Source: http://www.eatingwell.com

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Cardiologist Offers 9 Longevity Tips

Dr. Frederic J. Vagnini, a medical director of the Heart, Diabetes & Weight Loss Centers of New York, after more than 20 years of performing heart surgery and helping prevent heart diseases, shares his 10 secrets to a long life:

1. Reduce your risk factors.
Know your family health history. Lower your blood pressure and stress level. Exercise daily. Make sure you get enough sleep. If you smoke, stop. Maintain a proper weight.

2. Know your numbers.
Many doctors do not order all the blood chemistry tests you need. Tell your doctor you want a metabolic profile, a comprehensive thyroid profile, a check of your vitamin levels and a fractionated lipids test.

3. Eat for longevity and prevention.
He recommends the Mediterranean diet (see website eldr.com/Mediterranean). People with insulin, weight or diabetes problems may do better with a low-carb version.

4. Exercise.
Do some type of cross-training, which included aerobic exercise and resistance training. Swimming is also excellent. Increase walking.

5. Reduce inflammation and increase immunity.
Take antioxidants and other nutrients including omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D and resveratrol.

6. Stabilize blood vessel walls.
A new blood test, Lp-PLA2, measures the amount of a specific enzyme in the blood that occurs when there is an active atherosclerotic process that could lead to a heart attack or stroke.

7. Become proactive about fighting Alzheimer's disease          and dementia.
Following a sound heart program will go a long way toward preventing neurocognitive problems. Thyroid and adrenal function are also important. Very frequently, high glucose levels are associated with brain problems.

8. Check for toxic heavy metals.
A simple blood test can determine the levels in your body, and there are strategies for removing these toxins. Discuss this with your doctor or check eldr.com.

9. Balance your hormones.
Declining hormone levels can have a detrimental impact on health and longevity.

Source: http://www.thespec.com

Tea: The Elixir of Life

Delicious, low-calorie, and brimming with antioxidants, tea is quickly becoming the most commonly consumed beverage worldwide, after water. Even in the U.S., its popularity is rapidly growing. And why not? With the health benefits you stand to gain, you, too, will want to drink up.

Soak Up the Health Benefits
It is no wonder that tea is the beverage most commonly enjoyed by centenarians around the world. Tea is full of powerful antioxidants that improve concentration, gently boost energy, and make people happier. The free radical-inhibiting property of tea is more potent than that of vitamin E, and tea is a proven preventive and treatment for atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). The polyphenols in tea, especially the catechins, are powerful antioxidants that help ward off diabetes and cancer.

To get the most health from your tea, brew it fresh from tea bags or loose leaves and herbs, as instant and bottled teas contain less active compounds. Let the tea steep for three to five minutes to extract the most beneficial compounds. Drink to your health!

Cut the Morning Coffee
For many people, the first thing they reach for in the morning is coffee. Although it may initially give you a jolt, coffee actually depletes your vital essence, "borrowing" energy that you didn't have in the first place.

Caffeine acts as a central nervous system stimulant. It causes you to experience stress, anxiety, a racing mind, and even insomnia, working against your attempts to relax the body and calm the mind. A healthier alternative to coffee is herbal tea. On average, a cup of black tea contains about one third of the caffeine you would get from the same cup of coffee. Green tea contains about one sixth of that amount.

Of course, caffeine content will vary depending on the particular tea and the brewing time. One way to naturally decaffeinate your tea is to steep for 45 seconds, pour out the liquid but keep the tea leaves, then add fresh boiling water and let it steep for 3-5 minutes or longer to allow the beneficial polyphenols to be extracted from the tea.  

Slim Down with Tea
As a weight loss tool, tea is a wonderfully cleansing way to flush the system, replace fluids - and pump the body full of powerful antioxidants at the same time. Aside from the health benefits, tea is a zero-calorie beverage, making it your best choice for weight loss. Pass on the diet soda, loaded with sugar and bone-weakening bubbles, and go for tea.

It is best to drink tea unsweetened and without milk, which can minimize some of the health benefits. To sweeten the tea without the extra calories, forgo the sugar and try instead honey, stevia products, or a stick of cinnamon.

The Healthy Varieties of Herbal Teas
Aromatic and chock full of amazing health benefits, herbal teas are made from various leaves, roots, bark, or flowers. Here are just a few:

    * Ginger: Soothes the digestive system and keeps your energy fired up
    * Chamomile: Settles the stomach and is calming and soothing for the 
       nervous system
    * Peppermint: Increases healthy gastric secretions, relaxes the intestines, 
       and settles the stomach 
    * Dandelion: Detoxifies and supports healthy liver functions
    * Valerian: A natural herbal substitute for sleeping pills

You can combine these herbs in any combination according to your taste and health pre- ferences. Among my patients, an incredibly popular herbal tea is Internal Cleanse Tea, which is specially combined to detoxify, calm nerves, clear the mind, balance emotions, and ease digestion. This tea formula is available online at askdrmao.com.

Source: http://www.askdrmao.com