Archive for August, 2010|Monthly archive page

When to Buy Organic

Not all of us can afford to go 100% organic every time we shop so it is  important to know when you should spend the extra few bucks. According to the Environmental Working Group, consumers can reduce their pesticide exposure by 80% just by avoiding the most contaminated foods and eating only the cleanest.

This is the 2010 list of fruits and vegetables with the highest pesticide residue. I recommend you buy organic when shopping for these foods to avoid contamination.

1. Celery
2. Peaches
3. Strawberries
4. Apples
5. Blueberries
6. Nectarines
7. Bell Peppers
8. Spinach
9. Kale
10. Cherries
11. Potatoes
12. Grapes (imported)

On the other hand, here is the 2010 list of the cleanest fruits/veggies where it isn’t necessary to buy organic.

1. Onions
2. Avocado
3. Sweet Corn
4. Pineapple
5. Mangos
6. Sweet Peas
7. Asparagus
8. Kiwi
9. Cabbage
10. Eggplant
11. Cantaloupe
12. Watermelon
13. Grapefruit
14. Sweet Potato
15. Honeydew Melon

Whole Foods vs Trader Joes

Just curious as to what my healthy readers like the best! If you have another favorite just leave a comment below.

Phys Ed: Does Music Make You Exercise Harder?

For a study published last year, British researchers asked 12 healthy male college students to ride stationary bicycles while listening to music that, as the researchers primly wrote, “reflected current popular taste among the undergraduate population.” Each of the six songs chosen differed somewhat in tempo from the others.

The volunteers were told to ride the bicycles at a pace that they comfortably could maintain for 30 minutes. Then each rode in three separate trials, wearing headphones tuned to their preferred volume. Each had his heart rate, power output, pedal cadence, enjoyment of the music and feelings of how hard the riding felt monitored throughout each session. During one of the rides, the six songs ran at their normal tempos. During the other rides, the tempo of the tracks was slowed by 10 percent or increased by 10 percent. The riders were not informed about the tempo manipulations.

 

But their riding changed significantly in response. When the tempo slowed, so did their pedaling and their entire affect. Their heart rates fell. Their mileage dropped. They reported that they didn’t like the music much. On the other hand, when the tempo of the songs was upped 10 percent, the men covered more miles in the same period of time, produced more power with each pedal stroke and increased their pedal cadences. Their heart rates rose. They reported enjoying the music — the same music — about 36 percent more than when it was slowed. But, paradoxically, they did not find the workout easier. Their sense of how hard they were working rose 2.4 percent. The up-tempo music didn’t mask the discomfort of the exercise. But it seemed to motivate them to push themselves. As the researchers wrote, when “the music was played faster, the participants chose to accept, and even prefer, a greater degree of effort.”

The interplay of exercise and music is fascinating and not fully understood, perhaps in part because, as a science, it edges into multiple disciplines, from physiology to biomechanics to neurology. No one doubts that people respond to music during exercise. Just look at the legions of iPod-toting exercisers on running paths and in gyms. The outcry when USA Track and Field banned headphones in 2007 at sanctioned races like marathons was loud and pained (and the edict was widely ignored until it was revised last year). The neurologist and author Oliver Sacks has talked about personally experiencing the elemental power of music after he injured his leg mountain climbing and had to push himself slowly down the slope with his elbows. He told an interviewer: “Then I found the Volga Boatmen song going through my mind. I would make a big heave and a ho on each beat in the song. In this way, it seemed to me that I was being ‘music-ed’ down the mountain.”

Just how music impacts the body during exercise, however, is only slowly being teased out by scientists. One study published last year found that basketball players prone to performing poorly under pressure during games were significantly better during high-pressure free-throw shooting if they first listened to catchy, upbeat music and lyrics (in this case, the Monty Python classic “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life”). The music seemed to distract the players from themselves, from their audience and from thinking about the physical process of shooting, said Christopher Mesagno, a lecturer at the University of Ballarat in Victoria, Australia, and the study’s lead author. It freed the body to do what it knew how to do without interference from the brain. “The music was occupying attention that might have been misdirected otherwise,” Mr. Mesagno said.

In fact, it’s music’s dual ability to distract attention (a psychological effect) while simultaneously goosing the heart and the muscles (physiological impacts) that makes it so effective during everyday exercise. Multiple experiments have found that music increases a person’s subjective sense of motivation during a workout, and also concretely affects his or her performance. The resulting interactions between body, brain and music are complex and intertwined. It’s not simply that music motivates you and you run faster. It may be that, instead, your body first responds to the beat, even before your mind joins in; your heart rate and breathing increase and the resulting biochemical reactions join with the music to exhilarate and motivate you to move even faster. Scientists hope to soon better understand the various nervous system and brain mechanisms involved. But for now, they know that music, in most instances, works. It eases exercise. In a typical study, from 2008, cyclists who rode in time to music used 7 percent less oxygen to pedal at the same pace as when they didn’t align themselves to the songs.

But there are limits to the benefits of music, and they probably kick in just when you could use the help the most. Unfortunately, science suggests that music’s impacts decline dramatically when you exercise at an intense level. A much-cited 2004 study of runners found that during hard runs at about 90 percent of their maximal oxygen uptake, a punishing pace, music was of no benefit, physiologically. The runners didn’t up their paces, no matter how fast the music’s tempo. Their heart rates stubbornly stayed the same, already quite high, whether they listened to music or not. That result, according to a 2009 review of research by Costas Karageorghis and David-Lee Priest, researchers who have extensively studied music and exercise, is likely due to the ineluctable realities of hard work. During moderate exercise, they write, music can “narrow attention,” diverting “the mind from sensations of fatigue.” But when you increase the speed and intensity of a workout, “perceptions of fatigue override the impact of music, because attentional processes are dominated by physiological feedback.” The noise of the body drowns all other considerations. Even so, about a third of the runners in the 2004 study told the researchers that they liked listening to the music, especially at the start of the run. It didn’t increase their speed or make the workout demonstrably easier. But it sounded nice.

And that result, obvious as it seems, may be the ultimate lesson of how and why music is effective and desirable during exercise, says Nina Kraus, a professor of neurobiology at Northwestern University in Illinois, who studies the effects of music on the nervous system. “Humans and songbirds” are the only creatures “that automatically feel the beat” of a song, she said. The human heart wants to synchronize to music, the legs want to swing, metronomically, to a beat. So the next time you go for a moderate run or bike ride, first increase the tempo of some insidiously catchy Lady Gaga downloads (or Justin Bieber or Katy Perry or whatever reflects the current popular taste in your household), and load them on your iPod. “Our bodies,” Dr. Kraus concluded, “are made to be moved by music and move to it.”

By GRETCHEN REYNOLDS

5 Reasons Why Dudes Should Practice Yoga

I’m not your typical yoga person.

In fact, I don’t even come close to fitting the profile of a yoga person. First of all, I’m a dude. I’m tall (6’7″ to be exact). Yes, is the answer to your next question: I played basketball. I played for four years in college at Columbia, in New York City. I also was president of my fraternity.

After college, I worked on Wall Street as an equities trader for five years. Did I even mention the injuries I have? Dislocated shoulders, separated shoulders, stress fractures, bone spurs and disc problems. I’ll stop there because I’m totally fine — have absolutely no pain — partly due to yoga. I practiced yoga weekly for two years, was just starting to get the hang of it, before work travel took over. The discs in my lower back derailed (literally) and I was off my yoga train. I’m only about three months back into my practice, but I’m back on board the yoga train, full-speed ahead.

So how does a tall-ex-wall-street-trading-fraternity-boy-jock end up practicing yoga? Well, it just sorta happened.

Competitive sports are rough on the body.

I’m 35 and playing pick-up basketball just really isn’t an option, as I’m always just one rebound (or I’d still like to think one dunk) away from my shoulder popping out. Not fun.

The gym lacks camaraderie and community.

Since I turned 15, I’ve been hitting the gym an average of three to five times a week, lifting weights, doing the elliptical (or the ‘perpetual motion’ machine as my good friend, Michael Taylor likes to call it). Granted, lifting weights in the gym was a lot more fun in college when our whole team would lift together in the off-season or before practice. But since then, it just isn’t the same.

I got married.

Yes, another benefit of marriage other than love and tax benefits, is finding an activity that’s good for the body that you can do together. Since we both work a ton, finding ‘date’ time is sometimes difficult. So what better date than a ‘fitness’ date? Lifting weights together isn’t a viable option for us and neither is running (not so good on my knees).

I found a class that was a fit for me.

For a tall dude who who is looking for a workout, finding the right class is key. Quick movements with my body curled up scare me, but long and gentle movements where I feel a stretch and my quads or triceps burning is something that my body can handle. God bless, Tara Stiles and Michael Taylor at Strala Yoga.

So, for me it was a blend of finding a replacement for my ex-athletic, gym-going, yet-injured body, that my wife and I could enjoy together. But enough about me. Let’s talk about all the other dudes out there who are sitting on the perpetual yoga-fence. Here are five reasons why other dudes should practice yoga.

1. Your upper body will get stronger. I feel stronger, I’m more defined, and I haven’t lifted a weight in the past two months. This is all due to yoga. Just working plank pose in a basic yoga series will provide an upper body workout. I’m not even talking about handstands, crow pose and all those poses that require a lot of strength (and concentration), which strong yogis can make look easy. They are hard.

2. Your core will thank you. Sit-ups and crunches and all those other fun exercises only take you so far, as they become repetitive and your body becomes familiar with the movement. I’m not saying that you won’t get some sort of results doing these exercises. But Yoga will help you use and develop your core in relation to your other muscles and body parts. Hello six-pack abs and Speedo season. Well, maybe not Speedo season.

3. You’ll alleviate stress. Unlike our female counterparts, who often deal with stress outwardly, most dudes (I’m guilty too) often hold stress in, and don’t necessarily deal with it in a healthy way. The result is often sleep deprivation, lack of focus, unreflective eating or a little too much Happy Hour. Go to a yoga class that’s challenging and you’ll be 100 percent focused on your pose and breath. Your stress will most likely be left at the door. You’ll be more mindful. You know that concept called “mindfulness” that seems to be all the rage these days? You know, being present? Paying attention to all the little things, concentrating on your breath and focusing on the moment. You’ll do all that better, too.

4. It’s a cheap date. Dinner and/or movie, or drinks can’t compete with $10 yoga. You get a workout, don’t have to talk (sometimes guys just don’t have a lot to say), and your female companion will be happy. Priceless.

5. The women. Yes, the women — probably the most important reason for dudes on why they should practice yoga. If you’re single, there’s no better place to meet a woman. First of all, the girl-to-guy ratio is heavily in your favor. Odds are that the women will be in-shape, smart and probably run deep as opposed to superficial. It beats the hell out of Happy Hour.

Convinced? Sorta convinced? So what to do? As a fellow dude I’d hate to embarrass myself in class (wait, I’ve already done that), I’d suggest a few things:

First, take a look at some of the key beginner yoga poses so you know what’s coming your way. Just getting familiar with how they look will prove to be tremendously helpful.

Second, ask around, poke around and find the right class for you. There’s no one-size-fits all approach for yoga, and it might take a while to find your class or instructor. Just like love, you’ll know when you “know.” And when you “know,” you’ll be on your way.

Last, yoga is a marathon, not a sprint. I’m not doing handstands or anything fancy yet, and I don’t know when I’ll be ready for that challenge. What I do know is what’s right for my body and I try to take my practice one class at a time. (Kathryn and Elena, I’ll be bringing my extra-long mat to your classes soon).

Happy yoga.

By Jason Wachob

Is Black the New Brown?

According to ancient Chinese legend, black rice was so rare, tasty, and nutritious that only the emperors were allowed to eat it.

Times have changed. Although black rice is still relatively rare, researchers are trying to bring its distinctive flavor and mix of antioxidants to the masses — or at least to a grocery store near you.

If you’ve never heard of black rice, much less seen it, the dark-hued grain is now available at supermarkets such as Whole Foods and appears to be gaining a foothold in kitchens and restaurants in the U.S.

Health.com: America’s healthiest superfoods for women

Like brown rice, black rice is full of antioxidant-rich bran, which is found in the outer layer that gets removed during the milling process to make white rice. But only black-rice bran contains the antioxidants known as anthocyanins, purple and reddish pigments — also found in blueberries, grapes, and acai — that have been linked to a decreased risk of heart disease and cancer, improvements in memory, and other health benefits.

One spoonful of black-rice bran — or 10 spoonfuls of cooked black rice — contains the same amount of anthocyanin as a spoonful of fresh blueberries, according to a new study presented today at the American Chemical Society, in Boston.

“I think the black-rice bran has an advantage over blueberries, because blueberries still contain a high level of sugar,” says the lead researcher, Zhimin Xu, Ph.D., an associate professor at Louisiana State University Agricultural Center, in Baton Rouge.

Health.com: Amazing benefits of blueberries

Black rice isn’t currently grown on a commercial scale in the U.S., but Xu hopes that his research will spur farmers in the Southeast to start growing it.

The combination of antioxidants found in black rice packs a one-two punch that could make it a particularly good food for your health.

Some antioxidants in black (and brown) rice are fat-soluble, while anthocyanins are water-soluble and can therefore reach different areas of the body, says Joe Vinson, Ph.D., a professor of chemistry at the University of Scranton, in Pennsylvania.

Black rice is still a niche product, but its popularity seems to be growing.

“I have to order it [from our supplier] a lot more often than I used to, that’s for sure,” says Linda Barry, the manager of Barry Farm Foods, a food distributor in Wapakoneta, Ohio, that began carrying black rice about three years ago.

Health.com: 10 easy ways to eat natural

Lotus Foods — which first introduced black rice to the U.S. market in 1995 — has seen steadily increasing sales as well, says Caryl Levine, the co-owner of the El Cerrito, California-based company.

Levine has been a believer ever since she tried her first bowl of steaming black rice in China. “I loved the taste and texture, and the color,” she says. “You get this up-front nutty taste, and almost a hint of fruit or floral at the finish. It’s very complex.”

The taste won’t win everyone over. The notoriously finicky American palate may be the biggest obstacle facing black rice, says Marisa Moore, R.D., a national spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association.

Health.com: Carbs that help you lose weight

Some of her clients still find it “a challenge to incorporate brown rice [in their diets], because it is a different flavor and is chewier,” Moore says — and black rice is even chewier and more intense than brown rice. (To address this problem, Xu and his colleagues are developing a patented process to make black rice fluffier and less coarse.)

Because the health benefits of black rice lie in the bran, it’s important to choose whole-grain varieties when shopping. As with brown rice, Moore suggests, you should look for “whole black rice” at the top of the ingredients list.

There are other ways of using the rice besides eating it straight. Levine makes homemade black-rice bran powder by putting the dried kernels in a coffee grinder. A dusting of the powder on fish or in pancakes adds a nice flavor boost, she says.

Health.com: 9 healthy stir-fry recipes

Use enough of it, and the powder will add a distinctive purplish hue. In fact, if black-rice cultivation grows in scale, powder from the rice bran could be used as a healthful food coloring in sodas and other products, Xu says.

Even if black rice becomes a staple on your dinner table, you should still make room in your diet for fruits like blueberries, cranberries, and raisins, Moore says.

Blueberries and black rice “have different offerings,” she points out. “With the blueberries, you get an additional amount of vitamin C.”

Article Via CNN.com

Pool Workouts!

Want to lose weight without breaking a sweat? Hop in the pool! This fun water workout burns mega calories and tones every trouble spot.

How It Works
“This water workout burns tons of calories but feels like play,” says Greg Moe, a master trainer for Rough-Fit outdoor fitness programs in Tustin, California, who created these insanely trimming moves (just see what they do for your abs!) exclusively for FITNESS. Simply treading water vigorously can zap 11 calories a minute, same as a six-mile-per-hour run. “Plus, water’s continuous resistance forces you to engage more muscle fibers through a larger range of motion,” says Moe, so you’ll firm from every angle.

Perform as many reps of each exercise as you can in 30 seconds, rest, then repeat. (As you get fitter, aim for 45 to 60 seconds.) Do this workout on nonconsecutive days and emerge with a body to dive for!

What You’ll Need: A beach ball (the larger the ball, the tougher the workout)

K-Tread

Targets: Arms, back, chest, abs, butt, and hamstrings

  • In the deep end, tread water, making small circles with cupped hands, and lift right leg straight in front of you at hip level while reaching toes of left leg toward bottom of pool. Hold for 5 seconds.
  • Switch legs quickly, bringing right leg down as you raise left leg, and hold for 5 seconds. Continue for 30 seconds, alternating sides.

 

Otter Roll

Targets: Back, abs, butt, and legs 

  • Hugging beach ball to chest, float on back, legs extended, feet together.
  • Roll toward left and over top of ball (like an otter spinning in the water), using entire body — shoulders, back, core, legs — to make a full revolution, returning to start. Take a breath. (Beginners can rock from side to side with head above water throughout.)
  • Continue for 30 seconds, alternating direction of roll.

 

Tip: Really drive your leading shoulder and hip into the water to get rolling.

Ball Lever

Targets: Shoulders, back, triceps, and abs 

  • Holding beach ball with arms stretched straight in front of you, float facedown in chest-deep water so legs are extended behind you, feet together.
  • Keeping arms straight, pull ball underneath you, drawing it as fast as you can through water toward thighs in an arc. (As the ball is pressed underneath, it will lift you out of water to take a breath; beginners can keep head above water throughout.)
  • When ball reaches thighs, bend elbows to bring it back to surface and press it forward to return to start position. Continue for 30 seconds.

 

Tip: Keep your arms as straight as possible and your body straight and stiff to get the most muscle sculpting.

Pike Scull

Targets: Abs, hips, and arms 

  • Standing in shallow end of pool, simultaneously sit back into water, treading with hands by sides, and lift both legs together so that you fold at the hips (like a jackknife) and your body forms a wide V, with head and toes just above surface.
  • Maintaining V position, move cupped hands in small circles by hips to tread water and propel yourself forward (sculling) down length of pool for 30 seconds.

 

Tip: If your toes start sinking under the water, widen the angle of the V and tighten your abs.

Wave Maker

Targets: Back, abs, butt, and legs 

  • Facing pool wall in chest-deep water, hold on to edge of pool deck with left hand and place right palm, fingers pointing down, against wall just below water line for stability.
  • Extend legs behind you at water level with both feet and knees together, then kick like a dolphin: Initiate the motion with abs and hips and transfer it through thighs to knees and finally to feet. Kick as hard and as fast as you can for 30 seconds, trying to make the biggest waves possible.

 

Tip: If you can’t make waves for a full 30 seconds, don’t stop! Separate your legs and do flutter kicks. Article Via FitnessMagazine.com

Another Time Saver…

Not having enough time to work out is always one of the biggest excuses used by people avoiding the gym.  It’s a valid concern for some, but studies have shown that even a 20 minute high-intensity sessions can have the same benefits as an hour in the gym will bring. 

Typically, when the average Joe works out in the gym, they mosey from one exercise to the next, don’t keep a good pace, and as a result, their heart rate takes forever to reach the appropriate levels it needs to be.  By taking part in a short, hard 20 minute workout, your heart rate will shoot up to were it should be.  The intense exercises will keep it there for the next 30 minutes, thus providing you with a calorie burning and cardio healthy, workout.

The problem now, lies in the fact that many people either can’t push themselves that hard for 20 minutes, or simply don’t know what to do to create this intense workout.  At Share It Fitness, we have recognized and addressed this problem.  We are going to deliver hundreds of super intense, 20 minute or less workouts for people on the go.  Just follow along with your trainer on the screen and prepare to be exhausted.

Work in 3-4 of these a week and you can forget about even getting a gym membership.  All of these workouts can be done in the comfort and privacy of your own home.  No more time spent driving to the gym.  Take care of your health in just 20 minutes a day using our condensed workouts.

These workouts will all be intense and cardio-centered, but are designed to target a different area of your body.  For example, the workout below is a 20 minute ab blaster that will get the cardio up and your abs sore.

  • 20 V-sit ups, no rest
  • Max burpees for 2 minutes, no rest
  • 20 Eagle sit ups, 30 seconds rest
  • Max tuck jumps 2 minutes, no rest
  • Plank for 1 minute, 30 second rest
  • 15 Supermans, no rest
  • Max jump rope 2 minutes, no rest
  • 50 Bicycles, no rest
  • Plank for 1 minute, 30 seconds rest
  • 50 crunches, no rest
  • Max burpees 2 minutes
  • Ab roller 2 minutes, 30 seconds rest
  • 100 crunches

Top 10 Healthiest Ethnic Cuisines

It’s dinnertime, and you’re craving something with a little flavor. Maybe you’ll grab Indian takeout or whip up a taco salad. But, uh-oh, these days it’s easy to find yourself biting into the ethnic version of a triple burger and fries.

“We’ve Americanized dishes to the extent that they don’t have their original health benefits,” says Daphne Miller, M.D., author of “The Jungle Effect: The Healthiest Diets from Around the World — Why They Work and How to Make Them Work for You.”

Enjoy global cuisines in their purest state, on the other hand, and you get meals that are light, nutritious, and incredibly yummy. So we asked experts to rank the 10 healthiest cuisines and reveal what makes them good for you.

1. Greek

There’s a good reason docs love the Mediterranean diet: Traditional Greek foods like dark leafy veggies, fresh fruit, high-fiber beans, lentils, grains, olive oil, and omega-3-rich fish deliver lots of immune-boosting and cancer-fighting ingredients that cut your risks of heart disease, diabetes, and other diet-related ailments.

In fact, eating a traditional Mediterranean-style diet is associated with a 25 percent reduced risk of death from heart disease and cancer, according to Harvard University research. And people lose more weight and feel more satisfied on this type of diet, which is rich in healthy fats, than on a traditional low-fat diet, another Harvard study suggests.

This cuisine also ranks high because of how it’s eaten, says Miller, who is also an associate professor of family medicine at the University of California, San Francisco.

“The Greeks often share small plates of food called meze,” she says, having just a bite of meat along with low-cal, healthy Greek staples like fresh seafood, slowly digested carbs (beans, eggplant, or whole-grain breads), and small portions of olives and nuts.

If you’re eating out, order grilled fish and spinach or other greens sautéed with olive oil and garlic.

“This dish gives you the anti-inflammatory combo of olive oil and greens with the blood-pressure-lowering effects of garlic,” Miller says.

Danger zone: Unless you make it yourself and go light on the butter, the classic spinach pie (spanakopita) can be as calorie- and fat-laden as a bacon cheeseburger.

Health.com: The 50 fattiest foods in the states

2. California Fresh

You don’t have to live on the West Coast to reap the body benefits of the California style of cooking. California Fresh is all about enjoying seasonal, local foods that are simply prepared — and that’s a healthy style you can adopt no matter where you live, says supermarket guru Phil Lempert, a leading consumer trend-watcher.

Eating plenty of disease-fighting, naturally low-cal, nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables from a local farmers’ market or farm is good for your body, and it’s satisfying, says Frances Largeman-Roth, R.D., Health magazine’s senior food and nutrition editor.

“Foods grown locally are going to taste better and may have more nutrients,” she explains, while produce that’s shipped cross-country after being harvested can lose vitamin C and folate, not to mention flavor.

And what should you whip up from your local riches? Chef Annie Somerville at Greens Restaurant in San Francisco serves orrechiette with mushrooms, broccoli rabe, Italian parsley, hot pepper, olive oil, and Parmesan cheese, or grilled veggie skewers over quinoa or couscous.

Danger zone: Relying on high-fat cheese to flavor veggie-based dishes is not a waist-friendly move, Largeman-Roth warns.

3. Vietnamese

Fresh herbs, lots of vegetables and seafood, and cooking techniques that use water or broth instead of oils — these are some of the standout qualities of Vietnamese food.

“This cuisine, prepared the traditional way, relies less on frying and heavy coconut-based sauces for flavor and more on herbs, which makes it lower in calories,” Largeman-Roth explains.

Traditional Vietnamese flavorings (including cilantro, mint, Thai basil, star anise, and red chili) have long been used as alternative remedies for all sorts of ailments, and cilantro and anise have actually been shown to aid digestion and fight disease-causing inflammation.

One of the healthiest and most delicious Vietnamese dishes is pho (pronounced “fuh”), an aromatic, broth-based noodle soup full of antioxidant-packed spices.

Danger zone: If you’re watching your weight, avoid the fatty short ribs on many Vietnamese menus.

Health.com: 25 diet-busting foods you should never eat

4. Japanese

When Miller was traveling around the world doing research for her book, she found that traditional Japanese cuisine — especially the version eaten on the island of Okinawa, where people often live to 100-plus — was superhealthy.

“Not only are Okinawans blessed with a diet rich in cancer-fighting fruits and vegetables, but they also prepare them in the healthiest way possible, with a light steam or a quick stir-fry,” Miller explains.

They also practice Hara Hachi Bu, which means “eat until you are eight parts (or 80 percent) full,” she says. These simple diet rules may be why people in Japan are far less likely than Americans to get breast or colon cancer.

Japanese staples that are amazing for your health include antioxidant-rich yams and green tea; cruciferous, calcium-rich veggies like bok choy; iodine-rich seaweed (good for your thyroid); omega-3-rich seafood; shiitake mushrooms (a source of iron, potassium, zinc, copper, and folate); and whole-soy foods.

“The soy that’s good for you is unprocessed, not made into fake meat,” Miller says. Think: tofu, edamame, miso, and tempeh, a nutty tasting soybean cake made from fermented soybeans.

Healthy choices the next time you visit a Japanese restaurant? Miso soup, which typically contains seaweed and tofu, or a simple veggie-and-tofu stir-fry.

Danger zone: White rice can cause a spike in blood sugar, so ask for brown rice, rich in fat-burning resistant starch (RS).

Health.com: 9 scrumptious stir-fry recipes

5. Indian

Say “Indian food,” and you probably think of its aromatic spices, such as turmeric, ginger, red chilies, and garam masala (a mixture of cumin, cardamom, black pepper, cinnamon, coriander, and other spices).

These distinctive flavors do more than perk up your favorite curry: They may actually protect against some cancers. And turmeric and ginger help fight Alzheimer’s, according to recent studies. Researchers point to the fact that rates of Alzheimer’s in India are four times lower than in America, perhaps because people there typically eat 100 to 200 milligrams of curry everyday.

Turmeric, a main ingredient in curry, may have anti-inflammatory and healing properties; its benefits are now being studied at the University of California at Los Angeles.

Other good-news ingredients in Indian cuisine include yogurt and lentils, a fiber-and-RS all-star that has significant amounts of folate and magnesium, and may help stabilize blood sugar. Lentils are often combined with Indian spices to make dal, usually served as a side dish.

“A vegetable curry with dal is a great choice at an Indian restaurant,” Largeman-Roth says.

Danger zone: Avoid anything fried, like samosas (pastry puffs) as well as heavy curries made with lots of cream and butter.

Health.com: Four spice-filled Indian recipes

6. Italian

The Italian tradition of enjoying a leisurely meal is good for digestion. But what really makes this cuisine a winner is its star ingredients: tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, oregano, parsley, and basil.

“Studies have shown that the lycopene in tomatoes may help protect women from breast cancer,” Miller says.

One of the best ways to get cancer-fighting lycopene is in cooked tomato products: a half-cup of tomato sauce has more than 20 milligrams. Plus, garlic and traditional Italian herbs provide vitamins A and C. And olive oil helps lower cholesterol, fight heart disease, and burn belly fat.

Notice that melted cheese isn’t on that list of power Italian staples: Italians typically use Parmesan or another hard cheese instead, grated in small amounts for a big flavor boost.

Danger zone: Americanized dishes like double-cheese pizza or gooey lasagna tend to be loaded with fat and calories, Largeman-Roth says.

7. Spanish

Our judges applaud the Spanish tradition of eating tapas (small plates of food): “I love the idea of being able to sample little portions of tasty, healthful foods and making a dinner of it,” Largeman-Roth says.

The Spanish eat tons of fresh seafood, vegetables, and olive oil — all rock stars when it comes to your weight and well-being. Superhealthy dishes to order: gazpacho (full of cancer-fighting lycopene and antioxidants) and paella (rich in fresh seafood, rice, and veggies).

Danger zone: Avoid fatty sausages and fried items, which can show up on tapas menus in the United States.

Health.com: Throw a healthy tapas party

8. Mexican

Forget those high-fat, calorie-stuffed options at many popular Mexican restaurants: Authentic Mexican cuisine can be heart-healthy and even slimming, our judges say. In fact, a Mexican diet of beans, soups, and tomato-based sauces helped lower women’s risk of breast cancer, a study from the University of Utah found.

And the cuisine’s emphasis on slowly digested foods like beans and fresh ground corn may provide protection from type 2 diabetes.

“Slow-release carbohydrates have been shown to lower blood sugar and even help reverse diabetes,” Miller says.

Danger zone: It can be easy to overeat rich queso dip; keep fat and calories in check by portioning a little out of the dip bowl.

9. South American

With 12 countries within its borders, South America has a very diverse culinary repertoire. But our judges applaud the continent’s traditional diet of fresh fruits and vegetables (including legumes) along with high-protein grains like quinoa. In fact, a typical South American meal of rice and beans creates a perfect protein, Largeman-Roth says.

While some parts of South America are famous for their huge steaks, a healthier option (unless you share the steak with friends) is ceviche. This mélange of fresh seafood boasts a variety of healthful spices and ingredients, from cilantro and chile peppers to tomatoes and onions.

Danger zone: Brazilian or Argentine restaurants often have fried items like sausage, yams, and bananas. If you’re trying to lose pounds, steer clear or split an order with the table.

Health.com: America’s healthiest superfoods for women

10. Thai

Can a soup fight cancer? If it’s a Thai favorite called Tom Yung Gung, the answer just might be yes.

Made with shrimp, coriander, lemongrass, ginger, and other herbs and spices used in Thai cooking, the soup was found to possess properties 100 times more effective than other antioxidants in inhibiting cancerous-tumor growth.

Researchers at Thailand’s Kasetsart University and Japan’s Kyoto and Kinki Universities became interested in the soup’s immune-boosting qualities after noticing that the incidence of digestive tract and other cancers was lower in Thailand than in other countries.

Many common Thai spices have feel-great benefits, our judges point out. Ginger aids in digestion, turmeric is an anti-inflammatory, and lemongrass has long been used in Asian medicine to help treat colds and ease tummy troubles.

Danger zone: When you’re eating out, avoid soups with coconut milk because they’re high in saturated fat (and calories).

Aritcle Via CNN.com

Randy Coutoure’s Expendables Workout

Everyone knows Randy Coutoure is already in shape.  One of the greatest MMA champions of all time is going to be in shape.  That being said, there’s always room for improvement.  When Randy was getting ready for his new movie, The Expendables, he employed a personal trainer to help get him up to speed.  The following workout is high-intensity and designed for serious athletes.  Try giving this a shot once or twice a week as a supplement to your regular workouts and see how it works for you.

  • 5 minute jog, 30 seconds rest upon completion
  • 5 minutes agility ladder, high steps between each opening, 30 seconds rest
  • Alternating leg crunch, 12 reps per side, no rest
  • V-crunch, 12 reps, no rest
  • Supermans, 8 reps, no rest
  • Hip Crossovers, 12 reps, no rest
  • Ab wheel, 15 reps, 45 seconds rest
  • Stiff legged deadlift with shrug, 5 reps, 30 seconds rest
  • 4 sets of 8 hang and cleans, increase weight each set, 30 seconds rest between sets
  • 3 sets 4 reps, front squats, increase weight each set, 30 seconds rest between sets
  • 5 reps squat jumps, no rest
  • 3 sets of 7 dumbbell stability ball press and chest throw a medicine ball against the wall, superset, no rest
  • 3 sets of 10 dumbbell curls, increase weight each set, no rest
  • 3 sets of 10 dips, 30 seconds rest between sets
  • 3 sets of 10 overhead barbell lunge, 30 seconds rest between sets

 

There you have it.  This is a serious workout for serious individuals.  If you are a beginner and want to try this workout, allow yourself more rest time and go lighter on the weights.

A few other key points from Randy:

  • Eat carbs early, protein later in the day
  • Eat a lot of greens
  • Find a workout partner
  • Give your body enough recovery time
  • Eat when you are hungry

Lower Weights Build Bigger Muscles?

A recent study published in PLoS One has caught the attention of many dedicated gym goers.  The claims in the press release are quite surprising, as they go against decades of “common knowledge”.  The study makes the claim that, “building muscle doesn’t require lifting heavy weights“.  This waves in the face of normal thinking that they only way to increase muscle mass is to lift heavy weights, traditionally with low repetitions. 

While the study focuses more on “stimulating muscle protein synthesis” and “inducing acute muscle anabolism”, rather than on measuring the size of muscles, the results are still dramatic.  Further, they come from a well-respected group (Stuart Phillips at McMaster University).

The study looked at their different workout routines:

  1. Those who lift at 90% of their max until failure;
  2. Those who lift at 30% of their max for as many reps as those in the 90% group;
  3. Those who lift at 30% of their max until failure.

Most would assume those in the first group realized the best progress, but the researchers injected tracers and took muscle biopsies four and 24 hours after each workout.  By doing so, they were able to accurately see what was going on inside the muscle on a cellular level.  The findings showed that protein synthesis (the building blocks of muscle) were about equal in the first and third routine.  In some instances however, protein synthesis was better in the third group.  The conclusion was, as long as you are lifting until failure, you are going to notice gains without having to use heavy weights.

Ultimately, one study does not prove anything.  More testing and research will have to be done in order to make any definite claims.  As we all know, the health and fitness field is filled with equally impressive experts constantly contradicting themselves.  The purpose of this blog is to give you the best, most up to date information available; not try to paint you a black and white picture of what is right and wrong. 

Personally, I broke away from my heavy lifting, lower rep routine after hearing about this new study and have never been so sore in my life.  I’ve been doing 3-4 sets of 12-18 reps and can tell my muscles are being shocked into growth.  Ideally, I’ll stick with this routine for another 3-4 weeks then change it up to something else.  Ultimately, I think this is the best way to add muscle mass.

%d bloggers like this: