TIME Diet/Nutrition

In Defense of Fiber: How Changing Your Diet Changes Your Gut Bacteria

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Danny Kim for TIME

Finally, the motivation you've been waiting for to gorge yourself on fiber

You no longer live in a world where you can pretend you’re only eating for one; the trillions of bacteria in your gut, we now know, also feed on what you put in your mouth—and they behave very differently depending on what that is.

It’s increasingly clear that the composition of your gut bacteria likely influences your risk for many health problems, from obesity and type-2 diabetes and even certain autoimmune diseases. Scientists are hard at work trying to determine how and why that’s that case, as well as which bacteria are beneficial—and how to protect them. A recent study published in The BMJ adds to the growing evidence that fiber might be a critical gut-nourishing nutrient. (Unfortunately, less than 3% of Americans eat the government-recommended amount daily.)

“You really hold the reins to guiding this community [of bacteria] through the choices you make,” says Justin L. Sonnenburg, PhD, associate professor in the department of microbiology and immunology at Stanford University School of Medicine and author of The Good Gut. Sonnenburg was not involved with this study, but research from his lab also suggests that fiber plays a big role in promoting good bacteria.

The authors of the new study wanted to look at what changes in diet do to one particular gut microbe species: Akkermansia muciniphila—a strain that’s been associated with leanness and better glucose tolerance in mice. They wrangled a group of 49 overweight and obese adults, took stool and blood samples and asked them to follow a six-week calorie-restricted diet (between 1,500-1,800 calories per day) while increasing their fiber intake. The diet was followed by six weeks of eating normally. They kept a food journal throughout, and the researchers biopsied their fat tissue.

The people who had more Akkermansia in their gut from the very start had better clinical measures after they completed the diet, compared to the people with less of the bacterium. Both groups of people lost the same amount of weight, but the high-Akkermansia group had a stronger decrease in visceral fat than the others, says study author Patrice D. Cani, PhD, professor and group leader of the Metabolism and Nutrition Research Group at Université Catholique de Louvain in Belgium. “We discovered that the patients who exhibited higher amounts of Akkermansia were the patients who had a very strong improvement in cholesterol, in glycemia, in waist to hip ratio and also a reduction in different parameters in both cardiovascular disease and risk factors.”

Higher levels of Akkermansia, the findings suggest, seem to have favorable effects on health.

The good news is that your initial Akkermansia levels are not your fate. People who started out with lower stores of Akkermansia had more after they followed the fiber-rich calorie-restricted diet. You can increase these bacterial populations by eating fiber, Cani’s research suggests, which acts as a prebiotic in the gut and has a beneficial effect on some bacteria.

Now, Cani says he is working on an experiment with obese and diabetic patients to administer Akkermansia alone, without any dietary modifications, to see what effect it has on insulin resistance and cardiovascular disease risk factors. “If we can improve these different parameters, that would be something great,” he says.

Here’s why fiber is so important to intestinal flora: gut your microbes feed on it and produce short-chain fatty acids, which get absorbed into the bloodstream and regulate the immune system and attenuate inflammation, Sonnenburg says. “That means if you’re not eating dietary fiber, your immune system may be existing in kind of a simmering pro-inflammatory state,” he says—the very state that predisposes us to different Western diseases. “Our diet and deteriorated microbiota are really a major piece of the puzzle in trying to understand why Western diseases are rising like crazy.”

Sonnenburg says that when researchers try on mice what many of us do on a regular basis—eat food depleted of dietary fiber—their gut microbes behave erratically. “They turn and start eating the mucus lining of the intestine,” says Sonnenburg, “because that’s also a carbohydrate source and it’s kind of a fallback food for them.” In mice on a low-fiber diet, the mucus lining thins to about half of its normal width, he says. It’s so far unclear whether the same thing happens in humans, but Sonnenburg thinks it might. “We start to see these correlates that we think over the course of decades in a human could lead to something problematic,” he says.

Loading up on fiber-fortified processed foods isn’t likely a good way to increase the kind of fiber that benefits the gut. Studies done on single fibers—those, like inulin, which are added to foods—haven’t shown to have the same effects as fiber that occur naturally in whole foods. “All of the vegetables we’re encouraged to eat by our mothers and by the government guidelines, these are all filled with fiber, and filled with a diversity of fiber, and probably the best route for encouraging a diverse microbiota,” Sonnenburg says.

Nuts, seeds, whole grains, legumes and even dark chocolate are high in fiber—as are vegetables. “You can eat massive amounts of plant material and it can be incredibly good for you, you can feel really satisfied and full,” Sonnenburg says. “I find that a really nice way to eat—just kind of gorging myself on plant material.”

TIME Diet/Nutrition

Only a Third of People Consider Their Diet Healthy, Study Says

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Still, the number is up from last year

In a recent U.K. study, only 34% of people said they consider themselves to have a healthy diet.

Although most people in the study didn’t view their diets as healthy, that figure is still 5% more than last year, according to the 2015 Grocery Eye survey, which was released this month by the market research company Future Thinking. The findings are based on data from more than 2,000 consumers.

Even though there’s been more attention paid to the high sugar content in foods and drinks, 56% of people who answered the survey said they haven’t changed their eating habits because of that information. The research also revealed that when consumers want to purchase healthy food, a third of them will look at the fat content. 22% look at the amount of sugar and 20% use calories as a reference.

Cost may also be a factor when it comes to adopting healthy eating habits, the research suggests. The survey shows that 65% of the consumers believed that eating healthy was more expensive than eating unhealthy and that 52% reported they would eat healthier if it was more affordable.

“There continues to be confusion as to what being healthy really means and what foods you should and shouldn’t eat,” Claudia Strauss, Managing Director of FMCG and Shopper at Future Thinking said in a statement. “Consumers are bombarded with extensive and often contradictory messages which are leaving them feeling unengaged and helpless. It is clear that sugar is the villain of the piece and will likely remain so for a while but quite how to respond to this news is not yet clear for consumers.”

TIME Diet/Nutrition

Should I Eat Sushi?

You now have the blessing of five health experts to eat sushi—but there are some things you should know before ordering.

“Sushi is a nice and healthy meal if you make the right choices,” says Sunniva Hoel, a PhD candidate at Sør-Trøndelag University College in Norway. It comes with all the health benefits you’d expect from fish, like omega-3 fatty acids and lean protein, but the problem is often what it’s wrapped in. “Maki and nigiri sushi mainly consist of rice, which is just fast carbohydrates,” she says. Eating sashimi, slices of raw fish accessorized with vegetables, is the better way to order.

It should be noted, too, that sushi is raw, so people with immune deficiency, like the elderly or chronically ill, and pregnant women should take care when eating foods that haven’t been heat-treated, she says. “Raw fish can transmit infectious diseases,” adds Dr. David Katz, director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center, “so you need to choose a very well-run establishment.”

Store-bought sushi might face even more of a quality challenge than the kind you eat at a restaurant, since its longer shelf life gives bacteria more of an opportunity to flourish, Hoel says. A study by Hoel and her colleagues found that almost half of the 58 samples of supermarket sushi they sampled had unsatisfactory levels of bacteria. “The main concern is to maintain an unbroken cold chain during production, distribution, and display in stores and all the way to the consumer’s tables,” she says.

Needless to say, rolls that are deep-fried and smothered with mayo are less healthy choices, says Kristin Kirkpatrick, RD, manager of wellness nutrition services at Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute. She tells her patients to focus on lean sources of fresh fatty fish, get plenty of sea vegetables and wrap it in brown rice, or no wrap at all. “If that’s how you approach a night at the sushi bar, then a portioned controlled thumbs up to you,” she says.

Mercury is still a concern with sushi, says Roxanne Karimi, PhD, 
School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences at Stony Brook University
. Her research on mercury found that blood mercury levels were positively associated with eating a weekly tuna steak or sushi. But small-bodied fish lower on the food chain have less of it, she says.

Those lesser-known fish lower on the food chain are often the best ones to pick for sustainability, too, says Tim Fitzgerald, director of impact in the oceans program at the Environmental Defense Fund. “The sushi market in general is much more opaque than the larger seafood market,” he says. Unfortunately, three of the most popular items—tuna, salmon and shrimp—aren’t often fished or farmed sustainably, he says.

Opt instead for things with two shells, like scallops, clams and oysters. Roe—fish eggs—are a good choice too and have some of the highest omega-3 levels of any food per volume, Fitzgerald says. Other sustainable options are mackerel and arctic char, which is produced in a much more sustainable way than farmed salmon sushi, he says. (For more on the best fish to order, check out the Environmental Defense Fund Seafood Selector—complete with a sushi guide.)

Some restaurants, too, are raising the bar: Fitzgerald points to Bamboo Sushi in Portland, OR, Miya’s Sushi in New Haven, CT, and Tataki in San Francisco, CA as pioneers in sushi sustainability.

“You don’t have to give up sushi,” Fitzgerald reiterates. “It’s still good for you: just have a cheat sheet when you go in.”

Read next: Should I Eat Tilapia?

TIME Obesity

More Than Two Thirds of Americans Are Overweight or Obese

Most U.S. adults are an unhealthy weight

Most Americans are overweight, according to a new study looking at overweight and obesity rates in the United States.

In a report published in JAMA Internal Medicine, researchers from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis studied data from 2007 to 2012 of a nationally representative group of 15,208 people ages 25 or older.

The researchers estimate that during that time period, 40% of men were overweight and 35% of men were obese. They estimate that 30% of women were overweight and 37% were obese. The numbers are similar to those estimated by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)., which suggest that one third of American adults are obese.

“Our estimates are very close to CDC’s estimates, and there is clearly not a trend of decline on the prevalence of overweight and obesity in the United States,” says study author Lin Yang, a postdoc researcher at Division of Public Health Sciences in the Department of Surgery in an email. “Thus, we strengthen the case for implementing policies and practices that span multiple sections and [are] designed to combat overweight and obesity. This will need a political will to support multi-level approaches through individual, health professional, community, environment and policy engagement to address this epidemic as a whole.”

The new data show Americans’ waistlines have continued to grow over the last 20 years, the study authors write. People who are overweight or obese are also at a greater risk of other chronic diseases like heart disease and type 2 diabetes. According to the CDC, the estimated yearly medical costs of obesity in the U.S. reached $147 billion in 2008, the latest data available.

The researchers conclude that interventions should prioritize healthy diet, physical activity and healthy social norms to get Americans back in shape.

TIME Diet/Nutrition

Here’s a Secret to Living Longer You May Not Like

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Danny Kim for TIME

You have to cut those calories

Want to live longer? Eat a little less.

At least that’s what a growing body of research suggests. A new study published Thursday showed that occasionally adopting a diet that mimics fasting could slow aging.

In the study, published in the journal Cell Metabolism, the researchers looked at the effectiveness of periodic fasting on aging-related factors in yeast, mice and humans. The results showed occasionally cutting back on calories improved health, notably in areas that worsen with age. In the mice study, the researchers had the mice consume a four-day low-calorie diet that mimics fasting (FMD) and found that it improved their metabolism, decreased bone loss, improved cognitive function, lowered cancer incidence and extended their longevity.

Humans underwent three monthly cycles of a five day diet that mimics fasting and the researchers noted a drop in risk factors related to aging, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer.

The goal of the diet is to cut individuals calories down to between 34-54% of their normal consumption. For humans the diet comes out to about five days of a 750-1,050 calories per day, with very specific amounts of proteins, fats, carbohydrates, and micronutrients. “[It] looks like a low calorie plant-based diet but, in fact, [it] is designed to turn on stem cells and trigger regenerative effects and beneficial changes in many risk factors for aging and diseases,” says study author Valter Longo, director of the USC Longevity Institute.

The diet also decreased the amount of the growth hormone IGF-1 which is important for early development, but too much of it has been shown to spur faster aging.

Longo’s research is not the first to suggest occasional fasting could lead to a longer life. As TIME reported in February, several experts recommend intermittent fasting and some argue that a eating a diet with 25% fewer calories a day could lead to a longer life. Animal studies have shown promise, and human studies have shown that eating fewer calories can lower heart disease risk and impact longevity.

“I only eat a light breakfast, a full size dinner and a snack—all plant based and low proteins,” says Longo. “We believe everyone else will need to go on a diet like this more frequently. For example, someone obese with elevated fasting glucose and a family history of cancer may benefit from being on the 5-day FMD once per month.”
Longo says undergoing such a diet must be approved and supervised by a physician or registered dietitian.
Two of the study authors have equity interest in a medical food company called L-Nutra, which makes products that claim to “reduce markers associated with aging,” but neither author had a role in the data analysis.
TIME Diet/Nutrition

11 ‘Healthy’ Foods Diet Experts Avoid

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Smoothies can contain as many calories as a burger

You do your best to do right by your body by making healthy food choices every day. Unfortunately, a number of “health” foods you may go out of your way to eat don’t deserve their stripes. What’s worse, thanks to talented and tricky food marketers, unless you’re a trained professional, it’s really hard to tell when you’re being duped. All of those “sweetened with agave” and “added fiber” labels can confuse even the smartest shoppers. That’s why we’ve turned to some of the nation’s top diet experts and asked them to reveal which “healthy” foods they wouldn’t touch with a ten foot pole. What they had to say was pretty surprising. Scroll through to get in the know.

1. Agave Nectar

“Although agave is gaining popularity in health-minded circles, it’s not at all better than sugar and should be used sparingly like any other sweetener. Yes, it comes from a plant, but it has little to no nutritional value.” — Marisa Moore, MBA,RDN, LD, an Atlanta based registered dietitian nutritionist and national media spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

2. Fiber-Added Foods

“Recently many food manufacturers have cut fat from products like yogurt and snack foods and replaced it with fiber to increase the health factor. Although eating fiber-added foods is often a great way to cut calories from fat and boost satiety between meals, when you eat too many foods with fiber, inulin, or chicory root (common fiber additives) it can cause gas, bloating, nausea, flatulence, stomach cramps and even diarrhea. Stick with whole foods that are naturally good sources of fiber like fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains.” — Libby Mills, MS, RDN, LDN, Spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

3. Veggie Chips

“Although veggie chips have more fiber than a standard bag of crisps, many varieties are fried—not just simply dehydrated. If your go-to bag has oils and added sugars, you’d be better off snacking on fresh produce instead. Those ingredients transform the vegetables from nutritional superstars to full-on indulgences.” — Marisa Moore

4. Protein Bars

“Most high protein bars get their protein from unnatural sources like soy protein isolate, or SPI. The process of chemically engineering soybeans to isolate their protein strips out all of their other healthy nutrients and leaves behind potentially dangerous substances like hexane and aluminum. These bars also tend to have belly-bloating sugar alcohols and other unhealthy additives to cover up their terrible taste. If you’re looking for a bar, look for ones with less than 10 ingredients that you can recognize.” — Stephanie Middleberg, RD, founder of Middleberg Nutrition

5. Peanut Butter

“The only type of peanut butter I’ll eat is the natural variety. Non-natural nut butters usually contain partially hydrogenated oils, which is a type of trans-fat! Choose a natural or organic nut butter instead. The ingredient list should just be the nuts and maybe a little salt.” — Anne Mauney, MPH, RD, a Washington D.C. area Registered Dietitian

6. Gluten-Free Products

“Just because something is gluten-free doesn’t mean it’s calorie- or fat-free. In fact, many gluten-free products are higher in sugar and fat than their traditional counterparts. If you have to eat gluten-free for medical reasons, that’s one thing, but buying gluten-free products in an attempt to lose weight will not be effective.” — Ilyse Schapiro, MS, RD, a registered dietitian with private practices in New York and Connecticut

7. Processed Snack Bars

“The first few ingredients in many snack bars include brown rice syrup and corn syrup, which are both added sugars. Then food manufacturers add in low-quality chocolate—not the antioxidant-rich dark variety. Often times these bars contain less than one gram of fiber, so they won’t do as good a job keeping you satiated either. You’re better off grabbing a bar with whole food ingredients you can see, like nuts and dried fruit with minimal added sugar.”— Michelle Dudash, RDN, a registered dietitian nutritionist and author of Clean Eating for Busy Families

8. Smoothies

“People love smoothies because they can jam in a ton of ingredients and drink it all down in one sitting. The problem is, fruit, yogurt, milk, flaxseed and whatever else you put into your cup adds up! Before you know it, what you thought was a nutrient packed meal or snack, now has as many calories as a burger. Your best bet is to just eat a piece of fruit if you’re craving something sweet. You will feel fuller and it won’t break the calorie bank.” — Ilyse Schapiro

9. Reduced-Fat Mayonnaise

“Not only do low-fat foods not taste very good, they’re also filled with unhealthy and harmful ingredients like added sugars, vegetable oils and artificial preservatives. These ingredients have little nutritional value and decrease the body’s ability to absorb fat soluble vitamins. Regularly eating things like low-fat mayo can lead to inflammation, GI issues, heart disease and increased cravings that lead to weight gain.” — Stephanie Middleberg

10. Fat-Free Dressing

“Fat-free dressings often have added sugars or fillers, so even though you’re getting less fat, you’re not always saving calories. Plus, having a little fat with your salad can actually help you absorb more of the antioxidant-rich compounds from the vegetables. Carrots, tomatoes and dark, leafy greens are nutritious on their own, but a little fat actually helps you get more from them.” — Marisa Moore

11. Yogurt

“Many flavored yogurts pack a ton of sugar and carbohydrates. When possible, I go for plain Greek yogurt and add some fruit or all natural jelly to flavor it.” — Ilyse Schapiro

This article originally appeared on Eat This, Not That!

More from Eat This, Not That!:

TIME Diet/Nutrition

If You Want to Lose Weight, Don’t Pick Your Own Diet

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Danny Kim for TIME

The freedom to choose how to diet may mean less impressive weight loss results, a new study finds

The best diet is the one you’ll stick to, but a new study suggests that might not be the one you’d pick for yourself.

In the experiment published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, a group of 207 veterans, mostly men, followed a diet for 48 weeks. About half were given a choice between two diets—low-carb or low-fat—while others were randomly assigned to one diet or the other.

Of those who got to choose, 58% picked the low-carb diet, and 42% chose the low-fat diet. Everyone in the study got group and phone counseling over the course of the study, and the researchers measured weight loss, adherence, attendance and weight-related quality of life.

“We figured that if people chose the diet on their own or with assistance that they would be more invested in the diet,” says lead author Dr. William Yancy, a research scientist at the Durham VA Medical Center. “We also thought that if they chose the diet based on what foods they preferred that that would help them stick to the diet better, but that’s not what we found.” Contrary to what the researchers expected to find, choosing a diet didn’t improve weight loss or make people any more likely to stick to their diet. In fact, people in this group actually lost less weight (an average of 12.5 pounds) than those assigned a diet (an average of 14.7 pounds). Statistically, however, there was no difference between the groups in any of the measures.

That might be because people are more likely to overeat when following a diet that emphasizes the foods they like—which would likely be the diet they’d select, Yancy says. The weight loss disparity could also be due to something the researchers call a “personal trainer” effect: you adhere to a workout program better if you’re told which exercises to do. “We all know we can go and exercise on our own,” Yancy explains. “But a lot of people still prefer to have a trainer or go to a setting when someone is overseeing what they’re doing.”

Future research is needed, he says, but especially in the little-explored areas of prescribing diets for individuals. There may be promise in future weight loss interventions that focus on pairing a person with a diet through personality questionnaires, metabolic profiles like cholesterol tests or insulin tests, or even a person’s genetic profile, Yancy says.

TIME Diet/Nutrition

5 Non-Diet Ways to Trick Yourself into Losing Weight

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It's all about vegetable artistry

Convenient. Attractive. Normal. These three words (which are the basis for the even easier to remember acronym C.A.N.) may be the key to eating healthier without really trying, according to a recent paper from Cornell University. The review of 112 studies concluded that eaters make good choices when healthy foods are visible and within reach; they’re displayed enticingly; and they’re set up as the most obvious choices compared to other food options. It just makes sense: When you place gorgeous pieces of fresh fruit in a pretty bowl on your counter, you’re more likely to take one than if they’re hidden away—especially if the chips or cookies are even easier to grab. Bottom line, make it handy to eat healthfully and you’ll follow through, no “diet” or willpower required.

In addition to remembering C.A.N., there are plenty of other research-backed strategies for not dieting, and still shedding pounds. Here, four more easy tactics you can adopt.

Plate your veggies artistically

In a University of Oxford study, subjects in one group received salads arranged to resemble an artistic painting; a second group was provided with salads featuring vegetables lined up in neat rows, and salads in a third group were served in a typical piled-up fashion. While all the salads contained identical ingredients, dressing, and condiments, the artistic salad was rated the best by subjects, by a nearly 20 percent margin. In fact, people reported that they’d be willing to pay twice as much for the painting-like versions. The takeaway: We eat with our eyes as well as our stomachs, so if you’re trying to reach for healthy foods more often, put some effort into how you present them. (I think this study demonstrates one reason why Mason jar salads—and the myriad of photos of them on social media—have become so popular.)

Nosh before you shop

You’ve heard this one before, but it’s worth repeating: A 2013 study, also from Cornell University, found that skipping meals before heading to the supermarket is a surefire way to sabotage healthy shopping. Volunteers were asked to fast for five hours, then either given nothing to eat or crackers, and asked to make purchases at a simulated food market. The fasting group bought 18.6% more food—including a whopping 44.8% more calorie-packed items, like chips and ice cream—than the cracker eating crowd. In a follow-up study, researchers observed shoppers at an actual supermarket just after lunch and in the late afternoon. Compared to post-lunch shoppers, those who strolled the aisles in the late afternoon—when they were way more likely to be hungry—bought over a quarter fewer low-calorie foods like vegetables. To prevent hunger from keeping healthy food items out of your grocery cart, eat something to take the edge off pre-shopping. Stash a golf-ball sized portion of nuts or seeds in your bag, and try to finish them before you walk through the entrance of the supermarket.

Spend a little time in the morning sun

The timing, intensity, and length of your exposure to light during the day may significantly affect your weight. In a first-of-its-kind study, researchers at Northwestern University found that compared to people who got most of their light exposure later in the day, those who enjoyed even moderately bright light in the morning had significantly lower BMIs. In fact, the later the hour of light exposure, the higher a person’s BMI, and vice versa. The numbers held true independent of an individual’s exercise regime, calorie intake, sleep timing, and age. The powerful effect, researchers say, is due to how light influences our body’s circadian rhythms, which regulate metabolism and weight regulation. To keep those rhythms in sync and your weight in check, researchers advise getting 20 to 30 minutes of bright light exposure between 8:00 a.m. and noon. And no, you don’t have to be outdoors—a room brightened by natural sun (versus a room with no windows and only artificial light) will do.

Don’t dine while distracted

Bringing your lunch to work is a smart way to control your calories. But if you surf the Web while you eat, you may consume more than you would’ve if you’d focused on your meal, both during eating and later in the day. In a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, people who played a computer game while lunching felt less full, snacked more, and had more trouble recalling what they had eaten than those who’d eaten without distractions. So while it may feel weird to sit at your desk without checking email or doing anything but eating, that’s the best lunchtime strategy for your waistline. Bonus: You’ll actually enjoy your lunch.

Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD, is Health’s contributing nutrition editor, and privately counsels clients in New York, Los Angeles, and long distance. Cynthia is currently the sports nutrition consultant to the New York Rangers NHL team and the Tampa Bay Rays MLB team, and is board certified as a specialist in sports dietetics.

This article originally appeared on Health.com.

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TIME Diet/Nutrition

How Europe Will Help Ease America’s Egg Crisis

But it may not be enough

America has an egg crisis. The avian flu (H5N2) outbreak has killed or fatally infected more than 10 percent of domestic egg-laying hens—35 million in all. That has sent the price of a carton of eggs skyrocketing 120% in the past month, according to commodity market research firm Urner Barry.

The epidemic has opened the door to the first European egg imports in more than a decade, courtesy of the Netherlands and Germany. The first shipment of between 7 and 8.5 million eggs is already en route from Germany and will arrive in the U.S. next week. It’s part of an initial contract between the U.S. and Germany for up to 28 million German eggs, and a contract for another 28 million is “in the works,” Rick Brown, senior vice president of Urner Barry, told TIME.

However, you probably won’t taste the difference in the German and Dutch eggs, because so far the U.S. is only importing eggs that will be used in products—egg whites or yolks in liquid or powdered form—not sold as fresh eggs.

“The fresh eggs for the supermarkets need to be real fresh,” Hubert Andela, the chairman of the Dutch Association of Egg Packers (ANEVEI), told TIME. “Transporting them by ship from the Netherlands to the [U.S.] takes too long and flying them is very expensive.” Eggs sold in cartons at the supermarket need to be kept frozen or in a dry, cold environment, making the transportation process complicated and costly.

This means that the imports, which Andela said this week were “about to get started” from the Netherlands, are limited to egg products. That will likely result in a lot of egg white powder crossing the Atlantic, Andela said, noting that the protein is the most desired component of eggs for American consumers (who might actually be getting too much), and that domestic yolk remains cheap in the U.S. Contrary to popular belief, egg whites have more protein than egg yolks; the whites of one large egg contain 3.6 grams, while the yolk contains only 2.4 grams.

Most of the egg flavor comes from the yolk, according to Andela, so American consumers will almost certainly not notice a change in taste. Flavor is also “influenced by the feed for the laying hens and this can differ from one farm to another,” so different tastes can be found among domestic producers as it is.

This is the first time in more than three decades that American egg producers have been hit with such a large avian flu outbreak. Between 1983 and 1984, an outbreak in Pennsylvania killed 17 million hens.

To keep eggs flowing onto Americans’ plates during the current bird flu epidemic, the U.S. has approved egg imports from seven countries—Chile, Argentina, France, Spain and Portugal, in addition to the Netherlands and Germany—after the USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) has found that their safety standards were equivalent to those in the U.S.

While the European egg shipments will be a welcome addition to the American market, they will likely not be enough to make up for all the hens that were lost to the bird flu.

Brown, from Urner Barry, estimated that the 35 million hens affected by the bird flu had produced 28 million eggs per day; by comparison, the U.S. will likely be importing a maximum of 28 million eggs per month from Germany. The Dutch will also help, sending what Andela predicted would be the whites of several hundred million eggs per year. But even that will not be sufficient.

“We’ve lost a lot more than we could possibly import,” Brown said.

TIME Diet/Nutrition

10 Greens That Are Healthier Than Kale

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These green leafy cousins of kale are packed with great amount of nutrients

In the world of marketing, image is everything. If you’re James Franco or Roger Federer or Taylor Swift, your name and face can be used to sell anything from phones to watches to perfume—even if you’re not necessarily famous for the your tech-savvy, your promptness, or the way you smell.

In the food world, the biggest celebrity of all might be kale—the Shakira of salads, the Lady Gaga of leafy greens. It’s universally recognized that kale anything—kale chips, kale pesto, kale face cream—instantly implants a health halo not seen since the days of C. Everett Koop. Even 7-Eleven is making over its image by offering kale smoothies to help with your weight loss efforts. And yes, kale has plenty of benefits—including high levels of folate and more calcium, gram for gram, than a cup of milk.

But kale’s actually not the healthiest green on the block. In fact, in a recent report published by the Centers for Disease Control that ranked 47 “powerhouse fruits and vegetables,” kale only placed 15th (with 49.07 points out of 100 for nutrient density)! Here’s a roundup of the 10 leafy green cousins that researchers say pack a greater nutritional wallop, from Eat This, Not That!. Read em, eat em, and reap the benefits.

10. Collard Greens

Nutrition Score: 62.49

A staple vegetable of Southern U.S. cuisine, collard greens also boast incredible cholesterol-lowering benefits — especially when steamed. A recent study published in the journal Nutrition Research compared the effectiveness of the prescription drug Cholestyramine to steamed collards. Incredibly, the collards improved the body’s cholesterol-blocking process by 13 percent more than the drug! Of course, that won’t do you any good if you insist on serving them with ham hocks.

9. Romaine Lettuce

Nutrition Score: 63.48

Even more so than its cousin kale, the humble Romaine lettuce packs high levels of folic acid, a water-soluble form of Vitamin B that’s proven to boost male fertility. A study published in the journal Fertility and Sterility found supplemental folic acid to significantly increase sperm counts. Get the man in your life to start craving Caesar salads, and you may soon have a baby Julius on board. (Ladies, this green packs health benefits for you, too! Folate also plays a role in battling depression, so change out your kale for Romaine.

8. Parsley

Nutrition Score: 65.59

Yes, that leafy garnish that sits on the side of your plate—the one they throw away after you eat the rest of your meal—is a quiet superfood, so packed with nutrients that even that one sprig can go a long way toward meeting your daily requirement for vitamin K. Moreover, research suggests the summer-y aroma and flavor of chopped parsley may help control your appetite. A study in the journal Flavour found participants ate significantly less of a dish that smelled strongly of spice than a mildly scented version of the same food. Adding herbs, like parsley, creates the sensory illusion that you’re indulging in something rich—without adding any fat or calories to your plate.

7. Leaf Lettuce

Nutrition Score: 70.73

The nutritional Clark Kent of the salad bar, this common and unsuspecting leafy green is ready to take its place among the superfoods. Two generous cups of lettuce provides 100 percent of your daily vitamin K requirement for strong, healthy bones. A report from the Nurses’ Health Study suggests that women who eat a serving of lettuce every day cut the risk of hip fracture by 30 percent than when compared with eating just one serving a week.

6. Chicory

Nutrition Score: 73.36

Chicory is a family of bitter greens, but its most well-known member is radicchio, the small red or purple leaf that comes in a head about the size of a softball. It’s one of the best dietary sources of polyphenols—powerful micronutrients that serve a role in preventing disease. A study in the Journal of Nutrition found that people who consume 650 mg a day of polyphenols have a 30 percent chance at living longer than those who consume less than that. A cup of chicory leaves clocks in at about 235 mg (double that of spinach!), so consider adding a little leafy red into your leafy greens.

5. Spinach

Nutrition Score: 86.43

Spinach is to kale what Michael Jordan is to LeBron James—the once unrivaled king now overshadowed by the hot new thing. But like MJ, spinach has a few more championship rings than its more current rival—primarily its position as a top source of biceps-building iron. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, a 180 gram serving of boiled spinach provides 6.43 mg of the muscle mineral—that’s more than a 6 oz hamburger patty! Recent research also suggest compounds in the leaf membranes called thylakoids may serve as a powerful appetite suppressant. A recently published long-term study at Lund University in Sweden found that having a drink containing thylakoids before breakfast could significantly reduce cravings and promote weight loss. On average, the women who took the spinach extract lost 5.5 pounds more than the placebo group over the course of three months.

4. Beet Greens

Nutrition Score: 87.08

Yes, the stuff they cut off and throw in the garbage before charging you an arm and a leg for “beet salad.” A scant cup of the bitter green serves up nearly 5 grams of fiber—that’s more than you’ll find in a bowl of Quaker oats! Researchers at the University of Leeds found that risk of cardiovascular disease was significantly lower for every 7 grams of fiber consumed. Try them in stir frys and eat to your heart’s content!

3. Chard

Nutrition Score: 89.27

Chard. Sounds like “burnt.” It’s not as fun a name to drop as, say, “broccolini,” but it might be your best defense against diabetes. Recent research has shown that these powerhouse leaves contain at least 13 different polyphenol antioxidants, including anthocyanins–anti-inflammatory compounds that could offer protection from type 2 diabetes. Researchers from the University of East Anglia analyzed questionnaires and blood samples of about 2,000 people and found that those with the highest dietary intakes of anthocyanins had lower insulin resistance and better blood glucose regulation.

2. Chinese Cabbage

Nutrition Score: 91.99

Taking the silver medal in the powerfood Olympics is Chinese cabbage, also called Napa or celery cabbage. Rich sources of highly-available calcium and iron, cruciferous vegetables like the cabbage have the powerful ability to “turn off” inflammation markers thought to promote heart disease. In a study of more than 1,000 Chinese women, published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, those who ate the most cruciferous vegetables (about 1.5 cups per day) had 13 percent less inflammation than those who ate the least.

1. Watercress

Nutrition Score: 100

The top dog, the unrivaled champion, the chairman of the cutting board, watercress may also be the closest thing yet to a true anti-aging food. Gram for gram this mild-tasting and flowery-looking green contains four times more beta carotene than an apple, and a whopping 238 percent of your daily recommended dose of vitamin K per 100 grams—two compounds that keep skin dewy and youthful. The beauty food is also the richest dietary source of PEITC (phenylethyl isothiocyanate), which research suggests can fight cancer. Results from an eight-week trial published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggest daily supplementation of 85 grams of raw watercress (that’s about two cups) could reduce DMA damage linked to cancer by 17 percent. Exposure to heat may inactivate PEITC, so it’s best to enjoy watercress raw in salads, cold-pressed juices, and sandwiches.

This article originally appeared on Eat This, Not That!

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