Is stevia an artificial sweetener?

Cathy writes:

“Regarding the recent Nutrition Diva episode about artificial sweeteners, how exactly do you define “artificial” when it comes to sweeteners?”

Cathy is absolutely right that the terminology used to talk about sweeteners is vague and I should be better about defining my terms!

Caloric vs. noncaloric

Sweeteners can be divided into two broad categories: caloric and non-caloric. Even there, it gets fuzzy because virtually all “non-caloric” sweeteners are not truly zero-calorie, just so low in calories that we consider them non-caloric.

I think it’s smart to limit your consumption of both caloric and non-caloric sweeteners to around 5% of calories (or the equivalent amount of noncaloric options).

See also: What’s a safe intake of noncaloric sweetener?

How natural is it?

Although we often use words like natural, processed, refined, synthetic, and artificial to describe various caloric and non-caloric sweeteners, these are not precisely defined terms or categories. Continue reading “Is stevia an artificial sweetener?” >

How Bad for You is Lowfat Milk?

Karina writes: “I am a fan of low-fat dairy. I prefer skimmed milk and fat-free yoghurt. But lately, people have been telling me that low-fat dairy is “bad for you ” and full fat is better. When I ask why, they say it’s something to do with how the fat is removed. Another person says most of the nutrients are in the fat. What is your take on it?” Continue reading “How Bad for You is Lowfat Milk?” >

Create a world of flavor from just ten spices

Fresh spices are the best spices.  But I’ll bet you have spices in your cupboard that have been there for longer than you can remember. Most likely, you bought them for a specific recipe and haven’t used them since.

It doesn’t make sense to have dozens of spice mixes gathering dust in the cupboard when you can create endless variety  with just a handful of foundational flavors.

I recently teamed up with McCormick Spice to create this fun infographic, showing how to create  a half dozen of today’s most popular flavor profiles using just ten basic spices. But the possibilities are endless!

Spice Recipe Poster

Does losing weight really lower your disease risk?

James writes:

“Everyone refers to weight as being a risk factor for various diseases. But is it true that losing weight actually lowers one’s risk?  Or could some other factor be responsible for both disease risk and a higher weight?”

If you’re overweight or obese, losing weight absolutely does reduce your risk of various complications and diseases. Because when you lose weight, it’s not just the the number on the scale that changes.  Losing weight can reduce your blood pressure as well as your fasting blood sugar, for example, and that in turn lowers your risk for stroke and diabetes.

And, by the way, losing even a small amount–as little as 5% of your current weight–can significantly reduce your risk of various conditions, even if you are still overweight. For this reason, you’d be better off losing a modest amount of weight and keeping it off than losing a large amount of weight and gaining it back!

(And if you’ve had enough of yo-yo dieting, you may be interested in a new project I’m working on.)
Continue reading “Does losing weight really lower your disease risk?” >

Trend Alert: What’s the deal with ginger shots?

Leah writes: “I’ve been hearing a lot about ginger shots as way to boost health and nutrition. Would they be good for everyone? What are the upsides and downsides of daily consumption?”

Fresh ginger juice can make for a zingy little pick-me-up. Will it detox your organs, kill cancer cells, or melt away fat? No. But ginger does have some legitimate health benefits. Continue reading “Trend Alert: What’s the deal with ginger shots?” >

Do Terra chips count as vegetables?

 veggie chipsNatalie writes:

“Are Terra Chips healthy ? The ingredients are just vegetables (sweet potatoes, carrots, beets, etc.) and oil. Am I getting a serving of vegetables by eating these?”

Technically, yes. These would constitute a serving of vegetables. But before you replace that side salad with a bag of veggie chips, let’s think about what eating vegetables offers us.

Before you replace that side salad with a bag of veggie chips, let’s think about what eating vegetables offers us. Click To Tweet

Continue reading “Do Terra chips count as vegetables?” >

Eating meat without feeling guilty

About ten years ago, I cut way back on the amount of meat I was eating, from 3-4 times a week to 3-4 times a month. I wasn’t worried about my health. And I enjoy a good steak or roasted chicken as much as anyone. I stopped eating meat mostly because I felt guilty about it.

I had concerns about the treatment of the animals I was eating, the environmental impact of large scale livestock operations, the sustainability of it all. I tried to research which farms and brands were raising their animals humanely and responsibly but it ended up being easier just to order (or cook) vegetarian meals instead. Continue reading “Eating meat without feeling guilty” >

Given up on losing weight?

The number of overweight and obese Americans has climbed steadily in recent decades, from 53% of adults in 1988 to 65% in 2014. At the same time, fewer overweight Americans are trying to lose weight--just 47%, down from 55% back in 1988.

The authors of the study, which was published in JAMA this month, wondered whether we've simply made our peace with being fat.

"As more people around us are getting heavier, we simply believe we are fine, and no need to do anything with it," lead author Liang Zhang told the AP News Service.

That may be part of it.

Continue Reading