21 NovEat Or Don’t Eat… The Rules Keep Changing!

disease-fightingOld think Egg yolks, nature’s most concentrated source of artery-clogging cholesterol, should be eaten no more than three times a week.

New think Saturated fat is the main culprit in rising cholesterol levels, so eggs (which are moderate in saturated fat) are off the hook. Plus, the yolks contain a pigment that may help prevent vision loss in elderly people.

Bottom line Eggs are also an excellent source of protein, so an egg a day can be part of a healthy diet. But beware of the egg’s friends–butter, bacon, and sausage. They can send cholesterol levels soaring.


Old think The disease-fighting substances in green tea make it the top choice.

New think Green is good–but so are black and oolong. Antioxidants in these teas help the body maintain healthy cells and tissues. Tea drinkers may have lower rates of heart disease and cancer than nondrinkers do, and early studies suggest that tea may increase bone density and enhance weight loss.

Bottom line To get the greatest benefit from tea (regular or decal), steep the bag in boiled water for five minutes. One caution: Tea can decrease your body’s ability to absorb iron, so if you’re prone to anemia, have your tea between meals.


Old think Oat bran is a champ at fighting cholesterol. Just add it to anything. Newer think Oat bran is a fraud–the benefits aren’t real.

Newest think Oat bran is back, with FDA assurances that it really can lower cholesterol–if you eat three servings per day as part of a healthy diet. The fiber in oats may also help with weight control: One study found that people who eat oatmeal for breakfast consume less food at lunchtime.

Bottom line Oats can lower cholesterol. Cheerios, oatmeal, and low-fat oat-bran muffins are good bets. But adding a dash of bran at breakfast won’t combat the effects of glazed donuts and mocha lattes.


Old think Eat more fish! The healthiest choices, including cod, flounder, and sole, are packed with protein and are low in calories and fat.

New think Eat even more fish, especially the fatty ones! Omega-3 fatty acids help prevent heart trouble and may lessen rheumatoid arthritis pain, fight depression, and reduce the risk of premature birth.

Bottom line Salmon, sardines, trout, and tuna have the highest content of omega-3s. The American Heart Association recommends at least two servings of fish per week. Because fish may contain high levels of mercury, women who are pregnant, nursing, or of childbearing age, and young children should eat only 12 ounces a week. (They should eat a variety of fish but be cautious about locally caught fresh-water fish and avoid king mackerel, shark, swordfish, and tilefish.)


Old think Saccharin causes cancer in lab animals. It’s a health risk not worth taking.

New think Scientists have determined that saccharin doesn’t cause cancer in humans.

Bottom line In theory, no-cal sweeteners like saccharin, aspartame, and Splenda are supposed to help people control their weight, but they’ve done little to slow the upward spiral of obesity in the United States. They can help you cut calories, but the real culprit is that big bag of chips in your hand.


Old think Nuts get about 85 percent of their calories from fat. Eat them sparingly if you eat them at all.

New think Nuts contain good-for-you fats that lower “bad” cholesterol (LDL), along with other heart-protecting nutrients. Research suggests that including nuts in a weight-loss diet may actually help you stick to the plan.

Bottom line Sprinkle nuts over cereal, yogurt, salad, or even a stir-fry. A one-ounce serving (about a handful) has 160 to 200 calories, a good substitute for 20 potato chips or three small cookies, such as Fig Newtons or Oreos.


Old think Calcium-rich foods like yogurt milk, and cheese build strong bones.

New think Better yet, dairy foods ward off high blood pressure, reduce symptoms of PMS, and lower your risk of colon cancer. If that’s not enough, eating more calcium-rich dairy can speed up weight loss and help you keep the pounds off.

Bottom line Three servings of dairy daily is the way to go. Opt for low-fat or fat-free milk, yogurt, and cheese. True, cheese is high in saturated fat, but a little bit can provide a lot of calcium. Choose hard cheeses like Parmesan and extra-sharp Cheddar, which offer more Calcium–and flavor–per ounce than softer cheeses do.


Old think Choose margarine over butter.

New think

Choose olive oil or canola oil over margarine. Both are rich in heart-smart monounsaturated fats. And the newer margarine-like spreads (Benecol and Take Control) contain plant-based ingredients that actually lower blood cholesterol levels.

Bottom line Olive oil is great for extra flavor, and canola’s neutral taste and reasonable price make it a good choice for everyday cooking. If your cholesterol is high, Benecol or Take Control may be worth the relatively high price; otherwise, when you do use margarine, go for softer spreads that are free of artery-clogging trans fats.


Old think Eat all you want. Complex carbohydrates like breads, pasta, and rice cakes supply energy without fat, so you’ll be less likely to pile on unwanted pounds.

New think Too much of anything will make you gain weight, so keep your eye on the calorie content. Also, some carbs are healthier than others. For instance, those made from whole grains help stabilize blood sugar levels and reduce your risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, and some types of cancer.

Bottom line Eat three servings of whole grains per day (think brown rice, oats, and whole-grain breads). Don’t be fooled into buying “healthy carbs” based on color or fancy names: Dark breads like pumpernickel often get their rich look from caramel coloring; stone-ground wheat crackers are usually made with refined flour, instead, choose products with the words wholegrain or whole first on the ingredients list.


Old think Look out! Avocados are a major fat trap.

New think It’s true, they do have fat, but relax–it’s the heart-healthy kind. Avocados also contain vitamin E and other nutrients that can help reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease.

Bottom line Avocados are higher in calories than other fruits. But if you use them as a substitute for mayonnaise or butter (spread avocado on your toast–it’s delicious!), you can actually save calories.


Old think The Switzerland of food: not bad, not extra-healthful either.

New think Herbs and spices not only add flavor but also contain compounds that may fight disease and discourage bacteria that could cause food poisoning.

Bottom line While it’s still too early to depend on herbs and spices for disease protection, use them liberally to enhance the flavor of foods while adding virtually no calories, fat, or sodium. Adding a dash of cinnamon or nutmeg to a bowl of oatmeal, a baked apple, or a cappuccino can also add a hint of sweetness without sugar.

FACT: Drinking tea helps you fight diabetes by boosting insulin production by 15 times the average!

FACT: 72% of women say that conflicting information about proper eating habits confuses them.

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