Contributed by the The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. Soy products have recently enjoyed increasing popularity. Soy products include soybeans (also called edamame) and any other items made from soybeans, including soymilk, tofu, tempeh, miso, and vegetarian meat and dairy substitutes like soy meats and soy cheeses. Like most other plant foods, the most healthful choices are those that are minimally processed so they retain all of their original nutrients. But because soy products are so widely consumed, some people have raised the question as to whether they are safe. Let’s take a look at what medical studies show: more→
One teaspoon of table salt has 2,325 mg of sodium, which is more than the amount that anyone should have per day. We do need some sodium in order for nerve and muscle function, and to conserve the level of fluids in the body. But when there’s too much sodium intake, it can cause havoc in a number of ways. more→
Believe it or not, the size and color of your plates have a lot to do with portion control. Most of us really do eat with our eyes, so to speak. If you’re given a large plate or bowl do you only fill half of it? Most of us would fill the entire thing, and once it’s in front of us, we feel compelled to to eat it all. If, on the other hand, you use a smaller plate or bowl, you’re likely to eat — and be satisfied with — that portion.
A couple of years ago, I made one simple switch — I started serving my portion of dinner on smaller plates. Kind of like the difference between a standard plate as shown in the photo, and the smaller size, which might be more like a lunch plate. Even though I didn’t particularly need to lose weight, I have very slowly lost 5 or 6 pounds in that time. We tend to fill up whatever kind of plate we use, and I find I’m just as satisfied with the portion that fits on the smaller plate. In fact, I enjoy not feeling stuffed after a meal. I have another rule — I wait 15 to 20 minutes before taking seconds, and 95% of the time, I no longer want to after the wait, as that’s how long it takes for the message to reach the brain that you are satiated. Consider:
- Since the early 1900s, the size of a normal American dinner plate has become at least 25% larger. In the 1960s, plates were roughly 9 inches in diameter. In the 1980s, they grew to around 10 inches. By the year 2000, the average dinner plate was 11 inches in diameter, and now, it’s not unusual to find dishes that are 12 inches or larger. And that’s aside from restaurant plates, which can sometimes resemble small boats! And of course, the larger the plate, the calories the food that’s on it can really add up.
- Even the sizes of drinking glasses have grown, which means we’re adding even more calories by drinking them. It is better to use tall, thin glasses, unless you’re drinking water, in which case go for a big glass!
- Some studies have shown that there’s a correlation between the color of your dinner plate and how much you’re likely to eat. People are less likely to overeat when there is a high contrast between the food, plates, glasses and tablecloths, for example. While you might take these studies with a grain of salt, one thing that’s hard to argue with is that most people will eat whatever is put in front of them, even if it’s too much.
- An empty stomach is the size of a fist, more or less. It can expand up to 10 times its original size to accommodate food. But why stretch it? Once expanded, over time, it’s less likely to shrink back to its original size. That’s why smaller meals, and smaller portions are the wise route to take. And the size of your plates, bowls, and glasses can help you limit your intake at each meal.
For more tips on plant-based nutrition, make sure to browse VegKitchen’s Nutrition page.
Shana Paluba is a regular contributor to VegKitchen.
An apple a day really does keep the doctor — and dentist, away. Just one a day, or at least 5 a week, will help you get the full benefits of this common fruit. One apple has only 100 calories or less, 5 grams of fiber, no sodium or fat and are 5% protein. The skin contains many of the vitamins and other nutrients properties, so enjoy your apples unpeeled. more→
Contributed by Julia B. Greer, MD, MPH, adapted from The Anti-Breast Cancer Cookbook.* Antioxidants are substances that may protect cells from damage caused by the unstable molecules known as free radicals. Damaging free radicals can come from many sources: sunlight, carcinogens in cigarette smoke and charred meat, chemicals such as benzene, and the heme iron found in red meat. Free radical damage to cells may lead to DNA damage, which can contribute to cancer risk. Antioxidants interact with and stabilize free radicals, thereby preventing some of the damage free radicals might cause. Examples of antioxidants include beta-carotene, lycopene, resveratrol, quercetin, anthocyanidin, vitamins C and E, and many other substances. more→
Nut butters are more than just delicious. Studies show that consuming nuts regularly may reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease and protect against certain cancers, type 2 diabetes, and other chronic diseases. Despite the fact that nuts and seeds contain a higher fat and calorie content, research indicates that consuming nuts does not lead to weight gain. Including about an ounce of nuts and seeds in your diet per day can have significant health benefits, especially when the serving of nuts replaces the calories from elsewhere in the meal, such as a piece of bread. Because of their rich flavors, only a small amount of nut butter is needed to add “wow” to wide range of recipes. more→
Grown and used for thousands of years, garlic is in the allium family, along with onions, chives and leeks. Known as the ‘stinking rose,’ garlic gets its aroma from its sulfur-containing compounds. These are also in part why garlic so good for you. more→
Real, dark chocolate and cacao contain numerous natural compounds offering a myriad of health benefits. No wonder that chocolate has long been known as “Food of the Gods” due to its many health-enhancing qualities. What’s the difference between cocoa and cacao? Cacao is the bean from the plant in its raw, unprocessed state. It becomes cocoa once roasted and processed. While dark chocolate still retains a lot of nutritional benefits, only cacao nibs can rightly claim superfood status. Here are the top reasons to enjoy this well-loved food. more→