Healthy Drinks : Sparkling water with a splash of juice

Sparkling juices may have as many calories as sugary soda pop. Instead, make your own sparkling juice at home with 12 ounces of sparkling water and just an ounce or two of juice. For additional flavor, add sliced citrus or fresh herbs like mint.
Beverages to limit

Drinks that are loaded with sugar are the worst choice; they contain a lot of calories and virtually no other nutrients. Consuming high-sugar drinks can lead to weight gain and increased risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and gout.

The average can of sugar-sweetened soda or fruit punch provides about 150 calories. If you were to drink just one can of a sugar-sweetened soft drink every day, and not cut back on calories elsewhere, you could gain up to 5 pounds in a year. (2) Cutting back on sugary drinks may help control your weight and may lower your risk of type 2 diabetes.

Sports beverages are designed to give athletes carbs, electrolytes, and fluid during high-intensity workouts that last an hour or more. For other folks, they’re just another source of sugar and calories.

Energy drinks have as much sugar as soft drinks, enough caffeine to raise your blood pressure, and additives whose long-term health effects are unknown. For these reasons it’s best to skip energy drinks.

Healthy Drinks : Water

There are many options for what to drink, but for most people who have access to safe drinking water, water is the best choice: It’s calorie-free, and it’s as easy to find as the nearest tap.

Water provides everything the body needs—pure H2O—to restore fluids lost through metabolism, breathing, sweating, and the removal of waste. It’s the perfect beverage for quenching thirst and re-hydrating your system.

How much water do I need?

There is no one estimate for how much water the average American needs each day. Instead, the Institute of Medicine has set an adequate intake of 125 ounces (about 15 cups) for men and 91 ounces (about 11 cups) for women. (1) Note that this is not a daily target, but a general guide. In most people, about 80% of this water volume comes from beverages; the rest comes from food.

Water is an excellent calorie-free, sugar-free choice. For some people who are accustomed to drinking sweet beverages, water can initially taste bland. To increase water consumption without losing flavor or to spice up your daily water intake, try these refreshing water-based beverages:

Infused water

Instead of purchasing expensive flavored waters in the grocery store, you can easily make your own at home. Try adding any of the following to a cold glass or pitcher of water:

Sliced citrus fruits or zest (lemon, lime, orange, grapefruit)
Crushed fresh mint
Peeled, sliced fresh ginger or sliced cucumber
Crushed berries

Sparkling water with a splash of juice

Sparkling juices may have as many calories as sugary soda pop. Instead, make your own sparkling juice at home with 12 ounces of sparkling water and just an ounce or two of juice. For additional flavor, add sliced citrus or fresh herbs like mint.

What’s the best salmon to buy for your health and the environment?

The new U.S. Dietary Guidelines recommend Americans eat two servings of fish a week. Salmon is great choice. There are so many different types of salmon, which is loaded with heart-healthy, brain-boosting omega-3 fats, and ways to serve them that it would be hard to get bored with this fish. But that said, there are certain types of salmon to stay away from and certain questions to always ask before you buy. Here are 7 tips to help you buy the best salmon.

1. What type of salmon should I buy?

The six species of North American salmon vary in price, color and taste, but all are healthy choices. The largest is the king or chinook, prized for its high fat content, rich omega-3s and buttery texture. Sockeye, an oilier fish with deep-red flesh, has a stronger flavor and stands up well to grilling. Coho is milder and often lighter in color. Pink and chum are smaller and most often used in canning or smoking. The most common fish you will find at the market is a farmed species known as Atlantic salmon, now endangered in the wild and not a recommended choice.

2. Farmed or wild?

If possible, choose wild salmon over farmed. Groups like Seafood Watch and the Environmental Defense Fund have put nearly all farmed salmon on their “red” or “avoid” list for multiple reasons. Many farms use crowded pens where salmon are easily infected with parasites, may be treated with antibiotics and can spread disease to wild fish (one reason Alaska has banned salmon farms). Also, it can take as much as three pounds of wild fish to raise one pound of salmon. However, salmon producers are in talks with environmental groups about improving practices and a proposal is before Congress to set standards for aquaculture. Already some farms, such as Sweet Spring in British Columbia, are raising coho in closed pens, which reduce the impacts. Others, such as Verlasso in Patagonia, are using omega-3 feed additives produced from yeast rather than smaller fish, which helps cut back the ratio of pounds of fish needed to feed the salmon to 1-to-1.

3. Should I buy organic salmon?

There is no USDA organic standard for salmon and no guarantee an “organic” label means anything except the salmon was farmed.

4. Do salmon carry PCBs or other toxins?

Wild Alaskan salmon, which spend most of their lives in open oceans, generally have very low levels of toxins. Coastal and farmed salmon, depending on their feed, may have higher levels. The Environmental Defense Fund lists farmed salmon as an “Eco-Worst” choice and recommends people eat no more than one to two servings a month due to high PCB levels.

5. Is “fresh” much better than frozen or canned?

Most fish is flash-frozen when caught to preserve it for shipping. Frozen salmon is good for up to four months, when properly defrosted overnight in the refrigerator. Canned wild salmon is an excellent and economical choice. Look for BPA-free cans (Wild Planet has these) or, better yet, pouches.

6. Why is some salmon more orange than others?

Thank carotenoids, the same pigments that make carrots orange. Those magical antioxidants combat the damaging effects of free radicals. The carotenoid in salmon is a particularly potent antioxidant known as astaxanthin, which has been shown to protect against heart disease, cancer, inflammation, eye diseases, general aging and many other conditions. Astaxanthin is produced by phytoplankton, tiny plants that use it to shield themselves from ultraviolet radiation. Shrimp, krill and other tiny crustaceans eat the phytoplankton and accumulate astaxanthin in their bodies (which is what makes them pink), then salmon eat them and store the astaxanthin in their skin and muscles. Sockeye, which feed mainly on plankton, have the deepest orange color, whereas pink and chum salmon (most often canned) are the lightest. Many farmed Atlantic salmon are given feed with added synthetic astaxanthin (and sometimes another manufactured pigment, canthaxanthin) to turn their flesh orange.

7. Are fattier fish healthier?

In the case of salmon, the answer is yes. Salmon are fantastic sources of DHA, the omega-3 fatty acid that is essential for brain development, which they also get from phytoplankton. DHA is stored in salmon’s fat, most often in the belly, and a 4-ounce serving of salmon can dish up 2,400 mg omega-3s. Larger species, such as king, and those which have longer upstream journeys, tend to store more fat and have more omega-3s. Farmed salmon are often fattier than wild salmon, but that’s because they are fed a diet that includes grains and vegetable oils that are high in omega-6 fats, which combat the beneficial effects of omega-3s. However, the higher fat content (often as high as 16 percent versus 8 percent for wild fish) means the fish is easier to cook and retains its

A Beginner’s Guide to More Natural Eating

It can be really intimidating to shop for groceries. The more we learn about the food we eat, the more complicated our diet becomes, whether we want it to or not! With signs labeling foods as organic, gluten-free, soy, and vegan, it’s hard to know where to start when you just want to make healthier choices.

So, how do we organize all this info in order to make the best choices for ourselves and our families?

I think the most important thing we can do when thinking about our diet is to get back to basics. Think about the traditional foods that people have eaten for centuries: vegetables straight from the garden, grains straight from the Earth, meat straight from the farm, and dairy straight from the cow. The words “preservatives,” “genetically-modified ingredients,” “hormones,” and “fillers” simply weren’t a part of everyday kitchen conversation.

Getting back to those basics should be simple, right? Unfortunately, it’s exactly those buzz words that have complicated our dinner. So how do we begin to sort through all this info?

Read labels – Ideally, ingredients shouldn’t contain more than 5 items, and they should all be ingredients you recognize in nature and you can pronounce!
Shop outer aisles – There’s a reason the store is set up the way it is (produce on one end, dairy on the other). Most of the products in the inner aisles are loaded with preservatives (exactly why some of those products can sit on the shelf for weeks at a time!).
Use bulk bins– Need a cup of cornmeal, rolled oats, slivered almonds, dried fruit, a serving of pasta, peanuts, trail mix, or granola? All of these all natural products can be found in bulk bins. Not all grocery stores have these but if yours does, use it! It’s much cheaper, almost always all natural, there’s no waste, and you limit packaging, which helps the Earth.
Meal plan – Planning meals ahead of time will allow you to use natural ingredients to your advantage. Most of the meals I make aren’t anything special or complicated, but I research foods ahead of time so that it’s not easier to buy prepackaged ingredients, and I make a list, so I don’t find myself wandering the cookie aisle.
Research “slow food” – Slow food means the food is local, fresh, and sustainable. Look around and find local butchers, markets, and farms you never knew existed. Most importantly, visit your local farmer’s markets, many of which still run in the winter. Local farms often use far less pesticides and chemicals than “big box” farms, but can’t afford the organic certification. There’s no better way to get back to basics than to buy food straight from the source!
Shop In-Season – Look online for what fruits and vegetables are in season and bulk up on those. Eating in cycle with what the Earth is growing is great for our bodies, and when you buy in-season produce, you know you’re getting fresh, often local, goods! Make sure you look into local farmer’s markets for the best produce your area has to offer.

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