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Counting Calories? Consider the Cream and Sugar

TUESDAY, Feb. 7, 2017 (HealthDay News) — Before you pour anything into your coffee cup besides coffee, heed the findings of a new study that shows a lot of extra calories come with that cream and sugar.

“Our findings indicate that a lot of coffee and tea drinkers regularly use caloric add-ins to improve the flavor of their beverages, but possibly without fully realizing or taking into consideration its caloric and nutritional implications,” said study author Ruopeng An. He is a professor of kinesiology and community health at the University of Illinois.

In the study, the researchers analyzed more than a decade of data on nearly 13,200 adults who reported recently drinking coffee and just over 6,200 adults who reported drinking tea.

About two-thirds of coffee drinkers and one-third of the tea drinkers put sugar, cream, flavorings or other calorie-rich additives in their drinks, the study found.

That choice comes with a price: Compared with those who drink their coffee black, those who add sweeteners, cream and other substances consume an average of about 69 more calories a day. More than 60 percent of those extra calories come from sugar, and fat accounted for most of the rest, the study authors said.

Compared with those who drink their tea black, those who add sweeteners, cream and other substances consume an average of 43 more calories a day. Sugar accounts for nearly 85 percent of those added calories, the researchers found.

While the daily intake of extra calories may seem small, it can add up to extra pounds, An noted in a university news release.

More than 51 percent of American adults drink coffee and nearly 26 percent drink tea on any given day, according to the study.

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Whole-Grain Foods May Help You Stay Slim

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 8, 2017 (HealthDay News) — Switching to whole-grain foods might help keep your weight in check as much as a brisk 30-minute daily walk would, a new study suggests.

Whole grains seem to both lower the number of calories your body absorbs during digestion and speed metabolism, explained study author J. Philip Karl. He’s a nutrition scientist who did the research while a Ph.D. student in nutrition at Tufts University in Boston.

While other studies have found that people who eat whole grains are slimmer and have lower body fat than those who do not, Karl said it has been hard to separate the effects of whole grains from regular exercise and a healthier diet overall.

So, for the new study, “we strictly controlled diet. We didn’t let them lose weight,” he said.

The researchers did that by pinpointing the specific caloric needs of each of the 81 men and women, aged 40 to 65, in the study.

For the first two weeks of the study, everyone ate the same types of food and the researchers computed their individual calorie needs to maintain their weights. After that, the researchers randomly assigned people to eat either a whole-grain or refined-grain diet.

The men and women were told to eat only the food provided and to continue their usual physical activity.

Those on the whole-grain diet absorbed fewer calories and had greater fecal output. Their resting metabolic rate (calories burned at rest) was also higher. The fiber content of whole-grain foods, about twice that of refined-grain foods, is believed to play a major role in those results, Karl said.

“The energy deficit in those eating whole grains compared to refined grains would be equivalent to the calories you would burn if you were to walk about a mile [in] about 20 or 30 minutes,” he said. But the study did not prove that whole grains cause weight loss.

”We don’t know over the long term if it would translate to weight loss,” Karl said, but his team suspects it would. “This would translate to about 5 pounds in a year,” Karl estimated.

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Dueling Quarterback Diets: Matt Ryan vs. Tom Brady

Nutritionists Weigh In: Brady’s Diet

Sports and conditioning specialists Clark and Marie Spano, a registered dietitian and certified sports and conditioning specialist, applaud Brady’s emphasis on a plant-based diet. Research has found that plant-based diets can improve body mass index, blood pressure, blood glucose, and cholesterol while reducing the need for medication for chronic disease and lowering your chance of dying from heart disease.

However, they aren’t sure omitting the nightshade vegetables is crucial. While some diets recommend avoiding them, claiming they lead to inflammatory reactions, Clark says evidence supporting that is lacking.

Spano says that nightshade vegetables may disagree with certain people. But “I don’t see any reason to take out nightshades unless you have tested positive for an allergy or food sensitivity,” says Spano, a sports nutritionist for the Atlanta Hawks NBA team.

Another nutritionist gives their “no-dairy” rule a thumbs-down. “Any diet that restricts entire food groups almost always puts someone at risk for nutrient deficiencies,” says Tim Ziegenfuss, PhD, a sports nutrition and exercise scientist. He has done consulting for the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars, among other football teams.

Clark says that eliminating all sugars isn’t necessary. Under the U.S. Dietary Guidelines, 10% of total calories can come from added sugars, she says. And while Brady’s emphasis on whole grains is good, the dietary guidelines say only half of all grains need to be whole grains.

Neither Clark nor Spano favors coconut oil. “It has a couple of fatty acids that can increase cholesterol,” Spano says. She prefers using olive, pecan, or avocado oil, citing their vitamin E content and other benefits. Vitamin E is key for a healthy immune system and vessel functioning.

“I have great respect for people who pay attention to what they eat.” Clark says. “An athlete’s diet is a reflection of how they live their life, how they train.”

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Many Fast-Food Containers Have Risky Chemical

Feb. 1, 2016 — The next time you get a muffin with your coffee or pick up a hamburger at a drive-thru, you could also be getting a side of chemicals that have a poor safety and environmental record, a new study shows.

Researchers tested more than 400 samples of bags, wrappers, boxes, and cups from 27 fast-food and fast-casual restaurant chains in the U.S. in 2014 and 2015.

Many of these kinds of paper packaging and paperboard containers are laced with per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFASs, they found.

PFASs, also called fluorinated chemicals, are a big class of more than 3,000 widely used chemicals that make things grease- and stain-resistant. The problem is, the substances don’t break down over time. That means they build up in the environment and in our bodies.

They have been linked to a variety of human health issues, including cancers, reproductive problems, immune system damage, and high cholesterol. These typically happen when people are continuously exposed to small amounts over long periods of time.

“There are some studies showing that they come off on the food, so you’re basically eating them, and that’s not a good idea,” says study author Arlene Blum, PhD, a visiting professor at the University of California, Berkeley, and the executive director of the Green Science Policy Institute.

One-third of all the samples, or 33%, tested positive for PFASs, according to the study. Bread and dessert wrappers were the most likely to have them — about half tested positive. Burger wrappers were second — 38% of those tested had PFAS. About 1 in 5 paperboard containers, like the boxes that hold french fries, also tested positive. Paper cups seemed to be in the clear — none tested positive for PFAS.

Perhaps most concerning, during a second test to confirm the results in 20 containers, six containers tested positive for PFOA, or C8, a chemical that was once a major component of Teflon nonstick coating.

PFOA is a specific kind of PFAS. For safety reasons, the EPA asked manufacturers to stop making it in the U.S., and last year, the FDA officially banned it in food packaging used in this country. But PFOA is still being made in other countries, like China. The study authors say it’s not clear exactly how PFOA ended up in some of the food packaging they tested, but it’s not a good sign.

Want to Leave Dinner Feeling Full? Try Beans

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 11, 2016 (HealthDay News) — Legumes such as beans and peas make people feel fuller after a meal than meat, a small study shows.

The study included 43 men who were served three different protein-rich meals in which patties made of beans and peas or veal and pork were a centerpiece.

Not only were the vegetable patties more filling than the meat, the men ate 12 percent fewer calories at their next meal. That suggests that beans/peas patties may help with weight control, according to the researchers at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark.

“The protein-rich meal composed of legumes contained significantly more fiber than the protein-rich meal of pork and veal, which probably contributed to the increased feeling of satiety,” lead researcher Anne Raben said in a university news release.

The findings are “somewhat contrary to the widespread belief that one ought to consume a large amount of protein because it increases satiety more. Now, something suggests that one can eat a fiber-rich meal, with less protein, and achieve the same sensation of fullness,” said Raben, a professor in the Department of Nutrition, Exercise and Sports.

“While more studies are needed for a definitive proof, it appears as if vegetable-based meals — particularly those based on beans and peas — both can serve as a long term basis for weight loss and as a sustainable eating habit,” she concluded.

The study was published recently in the journal Food Nutrition.

DASH Diet Wins Top Spot Again

“It’s super, super restrictive,” says Angela Haupt, assistant managing editor of health for U.S. News.

Other diets given poor marks include the Dukan and Paleo diets. Paleo emphasizes meats, fruits, and vegetables and cuts out processed foods, dairy, grains, and legumes. The Dukan Diet also includes lean protein and eliminates most carbs. They all earned poor marks for severely limiting what people can eat and being difficult to sustain long-term.

The experts emphasized well-balanced diets “that are not restrictive and remain sustainable over the long-term,” the report says, ”teaching dieters lifelong positive eating habits.”

Melissa Hartwig, who co-created Whole30, says the plan is a “short-term reset” based on eating whole, nutrient-dense, anti-inflammatory foods. She says the “real foods” eaten on the Whole30 plans are healthier than the meal replacement shakes or processed foods eaten on other plans.

“Our program’s efficacy speaks for itself, as evidenced by the countless medical doctors who successfully use our program with their patients, and the hundreds of thousands of life-changing testimonials we’ve received,” Hartwig says.

Loren Cordain, PhD, founder of the Paleo Diet movement and professor emeritus at Colorado State University, says that the Paleo Diet suggests deleting two food groups — dairy and grains, along with processed foods. He points out that the U.S. Department of Agriculture endorses and recommends vegetarian and vegan diets which also eliminate two entire food groups — dairy and meats.

Most if not all of U.S. News and World Report‘s experts “agree that Americans should cut down on refined sugars, salt and high glycemic load refined grains. These are exactly the same dietary recommendations that contemporary Paleo diets endorse,” he says.

Representatives of the Dukan Diet did not immediately respond to WebMD requests for comment.

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