TIME Diet/Nutrition

5 Foods That Taste Better in April Than They Will All Year

Never know what’s growing now? Let’s take it one season at a time, with the Foods That Taste Better Now Than They Will All Year.

It’s officially spring, which means delicious produce is just around the corner. While it’s still too early for most juicy fruits and crisp veggies to reach their peak, April is the best time for a handful of items grown in warmer regions of North America. “April is a little ad hoc—a little of this and a little of that,” says Chris Romano, an associate produce coordinator at Whole Foods. Here are the four foods he thinks should zoom to the top of your grocery list this month.

Ataulfo mangos: Usually mangos are characterized by their green color with a reddish blush, but these are a bright yellow. Ataulfo mangos are grown all over the world, but in April, some of the tastiest varieties come out of Mexico. “They’re a little bit flatter, a little bit smaller, but the flavor is phenomenal,” says Romano. “They’re very fragrant and very juicy as far as a mango is concerned. It’s great as a salsa or chutney and great to eat out of hand.”

Blackberries: It’s true that they’re typically a summer berry, but keep an eye out for blackberries from Mexico that will start hitting groceries in April. “Blackberries are very prolific in Mexico in April,” says Romano. “They are very big, very plump, and they have virtually no tartness. You eat one out of the container and won’t make it to the car.”

Asparagus: Spring is asparagus season, and April is a great month to pick up some spears. At this time of the year, plenty of asparagus comes out of regions in California where the soil is black and soft. Warm days and cool nights are ideal for asparagus growing, Romano says. During April, asparagus will be nice and thick with less white to trim off the bottom. Go for the thicker varieties, Romano recommends. “A lot of people think thin spears are the way to go, but they’re actually less tender,” he says. “The thicker ones are more fibrous.”

Artichokes: “You can see artichokes year-round, but this is by far the time to eat them,” says Romano. “They’re the most meaty artichokes you will have in the season and all year, and they have the biggest hearts.” Though you can buy artichoke hearts in a can, now is the time to buy them fresh. Don’t let the daunting shape of the artichoke deter you from cooking them—a simple steam will do them justice.

Strawberries: According to Romano, some of the best-tasting strawberries will likely hit grocery store shelves in the next few weeks.

Read next: The Maryland Crab In Your Crab Cake is Probably Fake

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TIME Diet/Nutrition

The Maryland Crab In Your Crab Cake is Probably Fake

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Far from fresh, there's a good chance it's canned and imported

First, we discovered that the fish in our sushi isn’t what it claims to be; then, that 30% of U.S. shrimp is making fools of us. Now, a new report from the conservation group Oceana finds that your tasty Maryland crab cake isn’t safe from seafood fraud, either. A full 38% of Maryland crab cakes the group tested contained imported crab from places as far away as Indonesia and Thailand instead of Maryland blue crab.

“Local rare delicacies in seafood are frequently mislabeled because they’re not widely available,” says Dr. Kimberly Warner, report author and senior scientist at Oceana. “Once you take off the shell of the blue crab and mix it into a patty, it’s hard to tell what it is you’re eating.”

Warner and her colleagues went to restaurants in the Maryland and Washington DC area and collected 90 crab cakes. The researchers sent them to a lab for DNA testing to determine the species of the crab in the cakes. 38% of the crab cakes sold as local blue crab didn’t contain any local blue crab at all; instead, they were stuffed with imported canned swimming crab, mostly from the Indo-Pacific region. The scientists identified eight species, besides blue crabs, in the supposedly blue crab cakes.

MORE: 2,500 Tons of the Food We Eat Is Fake

The researchers found fraud regardless of a venue’s price point. And all that fraud is economically motivated, Warner says. When menus described jumbo lump crab cakes as coming from Maryland, they were $2.12 higher than those that didn’t specify a region.

Your chances of getting actual Maryland blue crab varied depending on where geographically you dined in or around Maryland. Nearly half of crab cakes found in Annapolis and Baltimore were mislabeled. Ocean City and Washington, D.C., had “fraud” levels of about 38%. Your best chance of getting a real Maryland crab cake is on the Eastern Shore, the researchers found, where only one crab cake out of 11 was mislabeled.

“This is kind of a not-so-secret secret in this area,” says Steve Vilnit, Director of Fisheries Marketing director for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and a contributor to the report. “Maryland does not produce enough crabmeat to supply all the restaurants in the region…but many consumers—tourists and even locals—come to this area and think they’re buying local crab meat because we’re simply in Maryland.” The sad fact, he says, is that not many restaurants use local crab meat.

Maryland blue crab is considered a “best choice” or “good alternative” according to the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch 2015 recommendations. Ironically, though, it’s often substituted with crab the same regulations mark “avoid”, due to the use of destructive fishing gear like bottom trawling, an industrial fishing method that ensnares any kind of marine species caught in its path.

In March, a presidential task force released an action plan to combat seafood mislabeling and illegal and unregulated fishing, including starting a traceability program and getting rid of harmful fishery subsidies that fuel overfishing by 2020.

In the meantime, however, steering clear of seafood fraud is largely up to you.”We always say to ask more questions from whoever you’re buying your seafood from, whether a restaurant or grocery store or market,” says report author Warner. “If the people who sell us seafood don’t understand that we care about that information, then they’re not going to provide it.”

Buy traceable seafood, the study authors say, which follows fish from where it’s caught or farmed up until it arrives on your plate, when you can, she says.

TIME Diet/Nutrition

An Apple a Day Keeps the Pharmacist Away

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But not the doctor

Researchers who set out to determine if the adage “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” is actually true have found it a bit more complicated.

In their study, published online Monday in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, they concluded that people who consumed apples daily were not less likely to stay overnight at a hospital or visit a mental health professional, but they were likely to use fewer prescription medications.

The study authors reached that conclusion after surveying 8,399 people (753 were apple-a-day folks). Apple eaters were more likely to be educated, less likely to smoke and more likely to be a racial or ethnic minority.

“Our findings suggest that the promotion of apple consumption may have limited benefit in reducing national health care spending,” the study authors write. “In the age of evidence-based assertions, however, there may be merit to saying ‘An apple a day keeps the pharmacist away.'”

Even if apple lovers still have to visit the doctor, there are other perks to eating fruit every day — a healthy habit Americans are encouraged to pick up.

Read next: Foods You Should Eat Instead of Taking Vitamins

TIME Diet/Nutrition

Finally, Some Good News About Kids and Fast Food

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Kids are eating fewer calories from burger, pizza and chicken restaurants

Fast food is rarely the harbinger of good news, but here’s some: kids are eating less of it. According to a new report published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics, the percentage of kids eating fast food on any given day has dropped, along with the number of calories they consume at certain fast-food joints.

Using data collected from National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, researchers found that back in 2003-2004, nearly 39% of American kids were eating fast food regularly. But in 2009-2010, about 33% of kids were eating it. In addition, children consumed fewer calories from burger, pizza and chicken fast-food restaurants. Calories from Mexican and sandwich fast-food restaurants remained stable.

MORE: This Is the Scary Amount of Pizza Kids Are Really Eating

“We’ve seen similar trends in adults, so we suspected the trend would be similar in children,” says study author Colin D. Rehm, a postdoctoral fellow at Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy. “What was surprising was the difference in trends by type of fast-food restaurant.”

The study didn’t look at why children were consuming fewer fast-food calories, but Rehm speculates that the trend is due to a combination of factors. “I think some are related to consumer preference and demand, and some are changes made by restaurants, which may include reducing the portion sizes, reformulating existing items or offering different items to potentially replace higher-calorie offerings,” he says. Less likely, he says, is the idea that people are eating less of their meals at each sitting.

During the eight-year period of the study, none of the restaurant types experienced a significant increase in the calories their children customers consumed.

“We saw a decrease in the number of calories per eating occasion, which suggests that a combination of consumer behavior and changes made by the restaurants can actually impact diet and change the amount of calories people are consuming,” says Rehm. “That’s promising. It means people are not unchangeable.”

The researchers acknowledge that their study looked purely at reported calorie consumption, and not on the quality of those calories. “If the calories are dropping and sodium, added sugar and refined grains are increasing, then we haven’t made much progress,” says Rehm. “We are going to need to drill deeper and figure out if the quality of the calories have changed or remained stable. The last thing we want to be doing is replace calories with even poorer quality calories.”

TIME Diet/Nutrition

Foods You Should Eat Instead of Taking Vitamins

If you're eating a healthy diet, you shouldn't need all those bottles of vitamins

The supplement chain GNC announced on Monday that it plans to overhaul its quality control systems with new high-tech testing. The move comes after an investigation by the New York Attorney General that revealed the quality of supplements is highly variable, and many pills do not contain the ingredients they say they do or contain other ingredients that may not be on the label.

Most experts say that if you’re eating a healthy diet and don’t have an underlying health conditions that interferes with your body’s ability to absorb nutrients from your food, you generally shouldn’t need to take supplements. The same vitamins and minerals are often available in food. We’ve listed several popular supplements, and suggested a food that you should eat instead.

MORE 8 Things You Should Know About Supplements

  • Vitamin C

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    Citrus fruits are some of the best sources of vitamin C, which acts as an antioxidant in the body and helps with the absorption of iron. Oranges in particular are high in vitamin C—one large orange boasts 97.9 mg. It’s recommended that adult men get 90mg of vitamin C a day and women get 75 mg. Other high sources are red and green peppers, kiwi and tomatoes.

  • Calcium

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    Kale may be a less obvious choice, but it’s a high source of calcium that’s needed for strong bones and teeth as well as muscle movement and nerve function. Just one serving of kale has 150 mg of calcium which is slightly over 10% of the recommended daily amount. Other sources of calcium are dairy products like yogurt, as well as other foods like broccoli and chia seeds.

    MORE: Here’s Why Kale is So Good For You

  • B Vitamins

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    Photograph by Danny Kim for TIME; Gif by Mia Tramz for TIME

    Vitamin B12 is commonly taken in supplement form since it’s important for red blood cell formation and neurological function. Eggs are a good source, and nutritional experts recently confirmed that eggs shouldn’t be chastised for being high in cholesterol. One large hard boiled egg has 0.6 micrograms of B12, which is about 10% of the recommended daily value. Just 3 oz of trout or salmon give you almost your entire daily needs.

    In addition, vitamin B6 which is involved in metabolism and brain development during pregnancy is found in foods like nuts, tuna and chickpeas.

  • Vitamin A

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    Vitamin A is important for vision, immune system function, reproduction and support for the heart, lungs and kidneys. Sweet potatoes are a particularly potent source of vitamin A. Just one sweet potato baked in the skin has 28,058 international units (IU) of vitamin A per serving, which is 561% of the daily recommended value. According to National Institutes of Health (NIH), around 28%–37% of the general population take supplements with vitamin A.

    MORE: Should I eat potatoes?

  • Vitamin E

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    Vitamin E acts as an antioxidant in the body and supports the immune system in fighting off bacteria and viruses. Almonds, as well as other nuts like peanuts and hazelnuts are high sources of vitamin E. One ounce of dry roasted almonds contains 6.8 mg of vitamin A, which is 34% of the daily recommended value.

     

  • Magnesium

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    Cashews are a high source of magnesium, which is important for regulating blood sugar and blood pressure levels as well as maintaining nerve function. The NIH says Americans consistently do not consume the recommended amount of magnesium. Not only are cashews tasty, but one ounce of dry roasted cashews host 74 mg of magnesium—19% of the daily recommended amount.

     

     

  • Iron

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    Around 14% to 18% of Americans use a supplement that contains iron, many of which are designed for women who are at a greater risk for not having enough. It’s recommended that men age 19 to 50 get 8 mg of iron a day and women in the same age group get 18 mg (and 27 mg if they are pregnant). Half of cup of boiled and drained spinach has 3 mg of iron which comes out to around 17% of the daily recommended amount.

  • Vitamin D

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    Vitamin D is a tricky nutrient. It’s available in very few foods, though fatty fish like salmon and tuna contain it. Lots of foods are fortified with Vitamin D, which is needed for calcium absorption and cell growth. Three ounces of cooked salmon contains 447 IUs (international units) of vitamin D which is 112% of the daily recommended value. People can also get vitamin D from sun exposure.

    MORE: Who Should—and Who Souldn’t—Take Vitamin D

  • Multivitamin

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    The NIH says more than one-third of Americans take multivitamins, even though they agency says they “cannot take the place of eating a variety of foods that are important to a healthy diet.” One of the problems with multivitamins is that there is no regulatory definition for what a multivitamin is, so a supplement from one company can be completely different from another company’s version. Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables can ensure that you are getting the nutrients you need.

    MORE: 50 Healthiest Foods of All Time

TIME Diet/Nutrition

12 Superfoods for Stress Relief

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Skip the chips and fill up on these stress-fighting foods

When work deadlines begin piling up and your social calendar is booked, the last thing you want to hear is to steer clear of the vending machine. Who has time for healthy eating? But when it comes to combating stress levels, what you eat may actually help relieve your tension. Indeed, some foods may help stabilize blood sugar or, better yet, your emotional response. Here, 12 foods to reach for when you’ve just about had enough.

Green leafy vegetables

It’s tempting to reach for a cheeseburger when stressed, but go green at lunch instead. “Green leafy vegetables like spinach contain folate, which produces dopamine, a pleasure-inducing brain chemical, helping you keep calm,” says Heather Mangieri, RDN, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. A 2012 study in the Journal of Affective Disorders of 2,800 middle-aged and elderly people and found those who consumed the most folate had a lower risk of depression symptoms than those who took in the least. And, a 2013 study from the University of Otago found that college students tended to feel calmer, happier, and more energetic on days they ate more fruits and veggies. It can be hard to tell which came first—upbeat thoughts or healthy eating—but the researchers found that healthy eating seemed to predict a positive mood the next day.

Read more: New Greens to Power Up Your Salad

Turkey breast

You’ve probably heard that the tryptophan in turkey is to blame for that food coma on Thanksgiving. The amino acid, found in protein-containing foods, helps produce serotonin, “the chemical that regulates hunger and feelings of happiness and well-being,” Mangieri says. On its own, tryptophan may have a calming effect. In a 2006 study published in the Journal of Psychiatry Neuroscience, men and women who were argumentative (based on personality tests) took either tryptophan supplements or a placebo for 15 days. Those who took tryptophan were perceived as more agreeable by their study partners at the end of the two weeks compared with when they didn’t take it. (The study was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.) Other foods high in tryptophan include nuts, seeds, tofu, fish, lentils, oats, beans, and eggs.

Watch: How to Make a Healthy Turkey Club Sandwich

Oatmeal

If you’re already a carb lover, it’s likely that nothing can come between you and a doughnut when stress hits. First rule of thumb: Don’t completely deny the craving. According to MIT research, carbohydrates can help the brain make serotonin, the same substance regulated by antidepressants. But instead of reaching for that sugary bear claw, go for complex carbs. “Stress can cause your blood sugar to rise, Mangieri says, “so a complex carb like oatmeal won’t contribute to your already potential spike in blood glucose.”

Yogurt

As bizarre as it may sound, the bacteria in your gut might be contributing to stress. Research has shown that the brain signals to the gut, which is why stress can inflame gastrointestinal symptoms; communication may flow the other way too, from gut to brain. A 2013 UCLA study among 36 healthy women revealed that consuming probiotics in yogurt reduced brain activity in areas that handle emotion, including stress compared to people who consumed yogurt without probiotics or no yogurt at all. This study was small so more research is needed to confirm the results—but considering yogurt is full of calcium and protein in addition to probiotics, you really can’t go wrong by adding more of it to your diet.

Salmon

When you’re stressed, it can ratchet up anxiety hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol. “The omega-3 fatty acids in salmon have anti-inflammatory properties that may help counteract the negative effects of stress hormones,” says Lisa Cimperman, RD, of the University Hospitals Case Medical Center and a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. In a study funded by the National Institutes of Health, Oregon State University medical students who took omega-3 supplements had a 20% reduction in anxiety compared to the group given placebo pills. One 3-ounce serving of cooked wild salmon can have more than 2,000 milligrams of omega-3s, double the daily intake recommended by the American Heart Association for people with heart disease.

Read more: 19 Natural Remedies for Anxiety

Blueberries

“When you’re stressed, there’s a battle being fought inside you,” Mangieri says. “The antioxidants and phytonutrients found in berries fight in your defense, helping improve your body’s response to stress and fight stress-related free radicals.” Research has also shown that blueberry eaters experience a boost in natural killer cells, “a type of white blood cell that plays a vital role in immunity, critical for countering stress,” says Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD, Health’s contributing nutrition editor.

Pistachios

When you have an ongoing loop of negative thoughts playing in your mind, doing something repetitive with your hands may help silence your inner monologue. Think knitting or kneading bread—or even shelling nuts like pistachios or peanuts. The rhythmic moves will help you relax. Plus, the added step of cracking open a shell slows down your eating, making pistachios a diet-friendly snack. What’s more, pistachios have heart-health benefits. “Eating pistachios may reduce acute stress by lowering blood pressure and heart rate,” Mangieri says. “The nuts contain key phytonutrients that may provide antioxidant support for cardiovascular health.”

Dark chocolate

Calling all chocoholics: a regular healthy indulgence (just a bite, not a whole bar!) of dark chocolate might have the power to regulate your stress levels. “Research has shown that it can reduce your stress hormones, including cortisol,” Sass says. “Also, the antioxidants in cocoa trigger the walls of your blood vessels to relax, lowering blood pressure and improving circulation. And finally, dark chocolate contains unique natural substances that create a sense of euphoria similar to the feeling of being in love!” Go for varieties that contain at least 70% cocoa.

Read more: 17 Surprising Reasons You’re Stressed Out

Milk

Fortified milk is an excellent source of vitamin D, a nutrient that might boost happiness. A 50-year-long study by London’s UCL Institute of Child Health found an association between reduced levels of vitamin D and an increased risk of panic and depression among 5,966 men and women. People who had sufficient vitamin D levels had a reduced risk of panic disorders compared to subjects with the lowest levels of vitamin D. Other foods high in vitamin D include salmon, egg yolks, and fortified cereal.

Seeds

Flaxseed, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds are all great sources of magnesium (as are leafy greens, yogurt, nuts, and fish). Loading up on the mineral may help regulate emotions. “Magnesium has been shown to help alleviate depression, fatigue, and irritability,” Sass says. “Bonus: When you’re feeling especially irritable during that time of the month, the mineral also helps to fight PMS symptoms, including cramps and water retention.”

Watch: 5 Healthy Seeds You Should Be Eating

Avocado

You can’t just reach for slice after slice of avocado toast during crunch time if you don’t want to gain weight, but this superfruit might help shut down stress-eating by filling your belly and making you feel more satisfied. In a 2014 study by Loma Linda University (which, full disclosure, was sponsored by the Hass Avocado Board), researchers had participants add half an avocado to their lunches, which reduced their desire to eat more by 40% for the three hours following the midday meal. That full feeling will make you less inclined to reach for unhealthy snacks when stress kicks in.

Cashews

One ounce of the buttery nut packs 11% of the daily recommended value of zinc, an essential mineral that may help reduce anxiety. When researchers gave zinc supplements to people who were diagnosed with both anxiety symptoms (irritability, lack of ability to concentrate) and deficient zinc levels over a course of eight weeks, the patients saw a 31% decrease in anxiety, according to Nutrition and Metabolic Insights. This is likely because zinc affects the levels of a nerve chemical that influences mood. If you’re already getting enough zinc, then it may not help your mood to chow down on cashews (or other zinc-rich foods like oysters, beef, chicken, and yogurt). But, cashews are also rich in omega-3s and protein, so they’re a smart snack no matter what.

Read more: 13 Ways to Beat Stress in 15 Minutes or Less

This article originally appeared on Health.com.

TIME Diet/Nutrition

Eating Eggs With Raw Veggies Boosts Nutritional Benefits, Study Says

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Cooked eggs increase carotenoid absorption in salads

Next time you’re eating a raw-vegetable salad, consider adding cooked eggs to the mix. A new study suggests that mixing eggs with raw vegetables increases carotenoid absorption almost ninefold, entailing a range of benefits including longer life span, fewer chronic illnesses and a reduced cancer risk.

Researchers at Purdue University in Indiana served 16 subjects three different varieties of the dish: an eggless salad, a salad with 1½ scrambled eggs and a salad with three scrambled eggs. There was a threefold to ninefold increase in carotenoid absorption from the salad containing the most eggs, according to Science Daily.

The salubrious ingredients — from beta-carotene to lycopene — serve as antioxidants protecting against cancer and heart disease.

“Americans underconsume vegetables, and here we have a way to increase the nutritive value of veggies while also receiving the nutritional benefits of egg yolks,” said the study’s researcher Wayne Campbell.

“Next time you visit a salad bar, consider adding the cooked egg to your raw veggies,” added Campbell. “Not only are lutein and zeaxanthin available through whole eggs, but now the value of the vegetables is enhanced.”

[Science Daily]

TIME Diet/Nutrition

17 Ways to Lose Weight When You Have No Time

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Trust us, you're not too busy for these easy tips

If packing your lunch, cooking dinner every night, and getting to the gym regularly sound like things you’ll be able to do half past never, you may think that real weight loss just isn’t in the cards for you right now. It’s true: healthy weight loss can be a time commitment, especially if you’re overweight thanks to a job that keeps you sedentary for much of the day or a schedule that lends itself to fast food and unhealthy snacking.

Don’t throw in the towel just yet. You don’t need extra minutes in your day to eat less or to move more, the two basic pillars of weight loss. Here’s how to reevaluate the time you do have, and smart strategies to make dropping pounds easier, no matter how swamped you are.

Ditch the all-or-nothing mentality

Every small step you take toward a healthier lifestyle matters, says Jeff Katula, PhD, associate professor of health and exercise science at Wake Forest University. “People often think they have to spend an hour at the gym or eat a diet full of hummus and superfoods, and when they can’t attain that level they just give up and don’t even try,” he says. Instead of looking at your whole day as a success or failure, says Katula, consider every decision you make a chance to do something healthy. Just because you skipped the gym doesn’t mean you shouldn’t watch your calorie intake for the rest of the day, for example. (In fact, it means the exact opposite!)

Eat smaller portions

“You don’t need to cook your own food or even eat different food to lose weight,” says Katula. “You just need to eat less, and eating less doesn’t take more time or cost more money.” Most people need to consume between 1,200 and 1,500 calories a day if they want to drop pounds in a healthy and sustainable way—and for a lot of people, eating appropriate portion sizes, skipping dessert, or not going back for seconds is one of the easiest ways to reduce their total calorie intake.

Watch: 5 Easy Ways to Measure Portion Sizes

Don’t skip meals

This may seem counterintuitive after advice to eat less overall, but busy people especially may need to space out their calories more throughout the day, says Jessica Bartfield, MD, clinical assistant professor at Loyola University’s Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care. That’s because going more than four or five hours without refueling can slow metabolism, affect hormones and insulin levels, and contribute to unhealthy food choices when you do finally sit down to eat. “A lot of our overweight patients aren’t necessarily overeating, but their eating patterns have become so erratic—they have a cup of coffee in the morning and then no real food until late afternoon,” she says. “They key is to avoid that and keep a consistent schedule, whether that’s three meals a day and a couple of snacks, or five mini meals.”

Squeeze in more movement

Setting aside time for a 30- or 60-minute workout is ideal, “but you can burn a lot of calories in not-so-ideal workout situations, too,” says Katula. In fact, there’s nothing wrong with breaking up your 150 recommended minutes of weekly moderate exercise into short bursts throughout your day. “If you can fit in 10 minutes in the morning, 10 minutes at lunch, and 10 minutes at night, and you can do that five days a week, you’re there,” he says.

Katula tells his patients to think of burning calories they way they think of saving money. “We do so many little things—clip coupons, buy store brands—to save a dime here or a quarter there, because we know it adds up,” he says. “Exercise is the same way: A few push-ups here and a few extra steps there can add up, too, if you do it regularly.”

Practice simple food swaps

Just like Katula tells his patients to think of exercise like they do clipping coupons, he tells them to think of their food choices the same way. “Whether it’s leaving the cheese off a hamburger or switching from mayo to honey mustard, there are so many little things you can do and so many little swaps you can make over the course of a day that can add up and save you calories without costing you any extra time.” Think about your daily beverages too, not just your solid foods. Switching from soda to seltzer water with lemon (or even to diet soda), or using less sugar in your coffee, for example, can save you several pounds a year.

Read more: 24 Food Swaps That Slash Calories

Don’t sit when you can stand

You’ve heard it before: Too much sedentary behavior is bad for your heart, your brain, and yes, your waistline. Turning some of that sitting time into standing time (or, better yet, fidgeting, walking, or working-out time) will help you burn more calories. “It may not add up to much weight loss on its own, but it certainly comes into play if you’re looking to maintain any weight you’re already losing,” says Dr. Bartfield.

Standing while you work may not be an option, especially if you use a computer and your office doesn’t offer a standing-desk setup. Instead, consider other times during your day you might be able to get up off your butt: your morning train ride, staff meetings, an evening phone call with your sister, or while you unwind after dinner in front of the TV.

Make sure you’re sleeping enough

When it feels like there aren’t enough hours in the day, it may be tempting to stay up late or wake up super early just to get everything done—especially if you’re trying to squeeze in regular exercise in addition to everything else you have to do. That strategy can backfire if you’re not getting enough quality shuteye for your body to function properly, says Katula. “If you’re trying to change your behavior and lose weight by eating less and moving more, you will be more likely to achieve that if you are getting the proper amount of sleep,” he says. Sell yourself short and you may lack the energy needed to complete your workouts; even worse, you’ll crave sugary and fatty foods that will help you stay awake, but will wreak havoc on your waistline.

Use your weekends wisely

Even if your job requires long and grueling hours, hopefully you have at least a couple of days off every week to regroup—and plan ahead. “Even though we’re pressed for time, most of us have pretty predictable schedules,” says Dr. Bartfield. “So it can help to spend some time on Saturday and Sunday shopping for healthy food, preparing some lunch and dinner items for the week, and deciding which days you’re going to eat what.”

You can also use your day or days off to get in longer workouts than you’d have time for during the week, says Katula. “If you can get in 120 minutes of exercise over the weekend, you really only need to dedicate small amounts of time throughout the week to reach your 150-minute goal.”

Read more: Skinny Up Your Weekend

Be active with friends and family

You may argue that weekends are for family time, or that you’d rather spend your precious free time with friends. Why not turn that social time into fitness time? “You don’t need to go to the gym for it to count as exercise,” says Katula. “You can play with your kids for a few hours and still get your heart rate up and see beneficial results.”

Join a pick-up sports league or a running group with friends, or swap your typical happy-hour date for a Spin class together. Or, start a weekly walking or hiking tradition with your family. Either way, being active with others can help you stick with it. “Social support is a key ingredient to any sort of behavior change,” says Katula.

Switch to a high-intensity workout

The best workout for fat loss doesn’t require hours upon hours in the gym. In fact, multiple studies show that a 20-minute high-intensity interval workout (HIIT) may burn more calories than 45 minutes chugging away on the elliptical. Try this workout, which you can do running, walking, biking, or with any type of cardio equipment: Warm up at a moderate pace for 5 to 10 minutes. Go all-out for 30 seconds, then switch to an easier pace for 45 seconds. Repeat the 30- and 45-second intervals five more times. Then cool off at an easy pace for 5 to 10 minutes.

Use healthy-meal shortcuts

We’re often told to steer clear of packaged foods for better health, but some frozen and pre-made goods can truly help you whip up a healthy meal in minutes, says Bartfield. “There are tons of good options in the freezer aisle, either for individuals or even family-size meals, that can be prepared quickly,” she says. “Or you could buy a rotisserie chicken—take the skin off and slice it on top of a salad, or buy frozen vegetables to serve with it.” (Keep in mind that rotisserie chickens can be high in sodium, so cut back your intake from other sources.) On nights when even that’s not an option, you still have choices about where you eat out or what prepared foods you bring home; the key is knowing ahead of time which restaurant you’ll choose and which items are healthiest, so you’re not stuck making a last-minute (bad) decision.

Set up a home gym

If you can’t devote time to driving to the gym or you’re stuck at home with kids, working out in your own home may be your best option for fitting in quick calorie-burning session. You don’t necessarily need to invest in a cardio machine—you can still get a great workout using nothing but your own body weight, or with a few simple tools (like hand weights and resistance bands) that take up next to no room in your home. Just roll out your yoga mat, set up a mirror, and you’re ready to go.

Watch: How to Set Up a Home Gym for Less Than $50

Use high-tech solutions

Few of us have the time (or patience) to keep track of all the numbers involved in weight loss—calories eaten, calories burned, steps taken, and so on. That’s why fitness trackers were invented. “These apps and devices can save an extraordinary amount of time and make it much easier to follow a specific plan or reach daily step goals or calorie goals,” says Katula. The type of tracker you wear on your wrist—think Fitbit, Jawbone, and Garmin Vivofit—typically log steps taken and calories burned, and pricier models may track your heart rate in real time. Plus, seeing the tracker on your wrist may serve as a constant reminder to get moving. You can also log your meals with an app like MyFitnessPal, which automatically calculates calorie totals and nutrition content for you.

Use social media

Put all that time you waste scrolling through Facebook or Twitter to good use. A 2014 Imperial College London study found that social networks can be affordable and practical alternatives to real-life weight-loss support groups like Weight Watchers. Talking about your weight loss journey with your virtual social circle can help you feel like part of a community. So join an Instagram fitness challenge, Tweet about your Pilates class, or start a Facebook group—all on your own time.

Read more: 30-Day Weight Loss Challenge

Eat more fiber

Here’s one weight-loss trick that requires zero extra time: Eat at least 30 grams of fiber a day (from food, not supplements). People who did that for a year lost almost as much weight as those who followed a complicated diet plan with 13 components in a recent University of Massachusetts study. “For people who find it difficult to follow complex dietary recommendations, a simple-to-follow diet with just one message—increase your fiber intake—may be the way to go,” said study author Yunsheng Ma, MD. The logic is simple: eating foods rich in fiber, like whole grains, beans, fruits, and vegetables, makes you feel full, so you have less room less room high-calorie junk food.

Get a handle on stress

The way you deal with that stress can mean a lot to your waistline. “I tell my patients the three areas affecting their weight they have the greatest control over is what they eat, how they move, and how they handle stress,” says Bartfield. “Stress has a big influence on appetite, food intake, and how the body processes calories, and I think people underestimate that.” And no, confronting your anxiety won’t add a ton of extra time to your day. Unwind with 13 ways to beat stress in 15 minutes or less.

Reflect on your priorities

Take a long, hard look at what’s eating up your time. “When my patients tell me they don’t have time to lose weight, I ask them to really think about what they do have time for,” says Katula. You may be able to pinpoint time sucks you weren’t conscious of before, or decide that certain commitments aren’t as important to you as they once were. (You may also want to talk with your boss or your partner about ways you might make your schedule more flexible.)

“Most people still find time to go to the doctor when they’re sick or get their hair done when they need a cut, but they’re not able to find a few minutes to exercise or eat well, because it just doesn’t seem as urgent,” Katula continues. But it should be just as important, he says, in order to ward off health problems in the future. The bottom line? If you truly can’t find time to take care of yourself, it’s probably time for a change.

This article originally appeared on Health.com.

Read next: 7 Reasons Why You’re Working Out and Still Not Losing Weight

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5 Habits of Vegetarians You Should Steal

vegetable-bunches
Getty Images

These habits can lead to weight loss, and lower risks of high blood pressure and diabetes

More and more of my clients consider themselves to be “part-time” vegetarians. While they may not want to give up meat altogether, they enjoy plenty of meatless meals or take part in ongoing movements, like Meatless Mondays. Today is another formal campaign focused on leaving meat off your plate: It’s the Great American Meat-Out, and getting on board can be a great opportunity to improve your health.

Even semi-vegetarians weigh less, and have lower risks of high blood pressure and diabetes. Plus, taking the focus off meat can be a simple way to boost your intake of plant-based foods you may not be eating enough of.

Here are five healthy veg-based habits you can adopt, even if you aren’t interested in embracing a total vegetarian lifestyle.

Make veggies the main attraction

When I ask most of my omnivore clients what they had for dinner last night, they typically reply with meat first (e.g. “I had chicken with…”). Veggies are often an afterthought. Obviously my vegetarian and vegan clients don’t eat meat, but I advise everyone—including omnivores—to think about veggies first and build the rest of their meals around them. It’s key, because eating more veggies is one of the most impactful dietary changes you can make, but about 75% of adults fall short of the minimum recommended three daily servings.

Fitting in just one additional portion per day can slash your risk of heart disease by as much as 11%, and making veggies the star of your plate can lead to a myriad of benefits. From today on, when choosing what’s for lunch or dinner, select your veggies to start, then add lean protein, good fat, and healthy starch to round out your meal.

Read more: 13 Ways to Make Veggies Taste Better

Choose plant-based fats over animal fats

My hubby, who’s from Texas, grew up eating not just plenty of meat, but also meals made with other animal-based fats, like butter, and bacon grease, as well as lots of dairy-based sauces. While he still eats these foods once in a while, he now prefers veggies sautéed in olive oil or dressed with EVOO and balsamic vinegar, as well as guacamole instead of sour cream, and sauces made from tahini (sesame seed paste) or nut butter—all staples for many vegetarians.

The switch has helped him lose weight, up his energy, and improve his health, and I see the same with many of my clients. Plant-based fats have been shown to reduce inflammation, a known trigger of premature aging and diseases, including obesity, and even help boost weight control and whittle waistlines—even without cutting calories (check out my previous post 5 Amazing Powers of Avocado). Make the switch more often yourself and monitor how you feel, as well as how your jeans fit.

Read more: 14 Best Vegetarian Protein Sources

Make “pulses” your protein

Pulses are my current obsession. Eating at least one serving a day is the cornerstone of my latest book Slim Down Now, and I truly believe that pulses are the most underrated superfoods on the planet. Pulses include beans, peas (e.g. chickpeas, black eyed peas), and lentils, and in numerous studies, eating more of them has been tied to weight loss, less belly fat, appetite suppression, a better overall nutrient intake, and a lowered risk of diabetes and heart disease. Vegetarians often opt for pulses as their protein source and there are plenty of delicious ways to enjoy them, including lentil or split pea soup, black bean tacos, and hummus.

Pea protein powder, also a pulse, is also becoming a hot plant-based protein. I love to whip it into smoothies, and use it as a protein-booster in oatmeal. In addition to providing protein, pulses are rich in filling, blood-sugar regulating fiber, as well as resistant starch, a unique kind of carb that’s been shown to naturally up your body’s fat-burning furnace. Pulses also pack antioxidant levels that rival berries, and they’re satisfying without making you feel sluggish. This Friday or any day, trade the meat in a meal for a serving of pulse, like cannellini beans, lentils, or oven-roasted chickpeas—they’ll fill you up while helping you slim down and stay healthy.

Read more: 9 Reasons You Should Eat More Beans

Snack on plants

While there are “junk food vegetarians,” many veg-heads make whole, plant-based foods their focus, including at snack time. Great options anyone can reach for include raw veggies with hummus or guacamole, fresh fruit with nuts, seeds or nut/seed butter, or a smoothie made with a plant-based “milk” (like almond or coconut) with fruit, leafy greens, and a plant-derived protein powder, such as pea or hemp. Even choosing dark chocolate over milk chocolate ups your plant-based game and boosts your antioxidant intake!


Build plants into desserts

I love baking (check out this video for my 5 healthy baking swaps) and one of my favorite challenges is to find delicious ways to sneak more plants into my splurges. I’ve added puréed spinach to vegan brownies, and in Slim Down Now I incorporate pulses into several goodies, including whipping white beans into chocolate pudding, and using garbanzo bean flour to make pumpkin spice mini muffins. Nutritionists and chefs are incorporating produce into desserts in lots of interesting ways, from tomato sorbet and chocolate eggplant cake to mushroom meringue.

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.

Read next: How the Nation’s Nutrition Panel Thinks You Should Be Eating

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12 Recalled Foods Not to Eat This Week

Frozen Vegetable Lasagna
FDA Frozen Vegetable Lasagna

There were 17 food recalls in total this week

Every week lots of foods are pulled from grocery shelves for contamination. There were over a dozen recalls just this week, but since not every recall reported by the Food and Drug Administration makes headlines, we’ve listed them for you.

MORE Organic Frozen Foods Recalled Over Listeria Scare

Spinach
Brands: Simply Balanced, La Terra Fina, Cadia, Meijer, Wild Harvest and Wegmans
Contaminated with: Listeria
Several companies had recalls related to listeria-contaminated spinach this week. Simply Balanced and Cadia, Meijer, Wild Harvest and Wegmans brands recalled organic spinach packages. Wegmans had to recall up to 12,540 packages. La Terra Fina recalled spinach artichoke & parmesan dips and organic spinach dip.

Frozen meals
Brands: Amy’s Kitchen
Contaminated with: Listeria
Amy’s Kitchen, the popular frozen organic dinner company, voluntarily recalled over 73,890 cases of products due to possible contamination with listeria. Foods ranged from tofu vegetable lasagna to spinach pizza.

Ice cream
Brands: Blue Bell
Contaminated with: Listeria
The company made headlines earlier in March when five people in a Kansas hospital became ill, and three people died, from consuming Blue Bell ice cream products contaminated with listeria. This week, three flavors of 3 oz. ice cream cups were also recalled for possible contamination with the same bacteria.

Chocolate covered raisins and almonds
Brands: Lindt, Essential Everyday
Contaminated with: Undeclared hazelnuts and undeclared peanut allergen
Lindt recalled some of its 6.4 oz chocolate covered raisin bags and 6.4 oz chocolate covered almond bags for having undeclared hazelnuts. The products were sold in nine Lindt Chocolate Shop locations in the U.S. In addition, Supervalu Inc. recalled Essential Everyday chocolate covered raisins due to the presence of undeclared peanuts. Having undeclared nut allergens in products can be a serious a risk for people with nuts allergies.

Cod filets
Brands: Giant Eagle
Contaminated with: Undeclared soy
Giant Eagle recalled all lots of its name-brand Japanese Breaded Cod Fillets due to having undeclared soy, which is a risk for people who have soy allergies.

Paninis
Brands: Giant Eagle
Contaminated with: Undeclared egg
Giant Eagle recalled all lots of its name-brand Little Italy Paninis sold in its supermarkets due to having undeclared egg allergen, which is a risk for people with egg allergies.

Frozen Ravioli
Brands: Rising Moon Organics
Contaminated with: Listeria
Carmel Food Group recalled some of its Rising Moon Organics frozen ravioli items after it was discovered spinach from its supplier was contaminated with the bacteria listeria.

Walnuts
Brands: Aurora, Martin Food Products, Stop&Shop, Giant Carlisle Food Store, Giant of Maryland, Whole Foods Market
Contaminated with: Salmonella
Aurora Products, Inc. recalled its Natural Walnuts and Trail Mixes Containing Walnuts sold through the above retailers due to possible contamination with the bacteria salmonella.

Macadamia nuts
Brands: Nature’s Eats
Contaminated with: Salmonella
Texas Star Nut and Food Co. Inc. recalled Nature’s Eats macadamia nuts due to the detection of salmonella.

Kale and quinoa salad
Brands: Wawa
Contaminated with: Undeclared soy
Taylor Farms Florida Inc. recalled some of its Wawa brand Kale and Quinoa Salad due to undeclared soy in the dressing packet in the salad which could put people with soy allergies at risk.

Cookies
Brands: Giant Eagle
Contaminated with: Undeclared milk
Giant Eagle is recalling its Raisin Filled and Apricot Filled cookies which are sold in its supermarkets due to having undisclosed milk allergen, a risk for people with milk allergies.

O’Coconut products
Brands: Nutiva
Contaminated with:
Salmonella
Organic company, Nutiva, recalled O’Coconut products after learning they may be contaminated with salmonella.

Read next: Here’s the Terrifying Truth About Metal Shards in Your Food

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