TIME Research

The Scientific Reason Why Airplane Food Tastes Bad

It has to do with the dry cabin air

Why does airline food taste so lousy? A new study from Cornell University has come up with an answer, and it ain’t bad cookin’.

Turns out, the noisy environment inside a claustrophobic airplane cabin may actually change the way food tastes.

In the study, 48 people were handed a variety of solutions that were spiked with the five basic tastes: sweet, salty, sour, bitter and umami (basically, a Japanese word for the savory flavor found in foods like bacon, tomatoes, cheese, and soy sauce). First, the testers sipped in silence, then again, while wearing headsets that played about 85 decibels of noise, designed to mimic the hum of jet engines onboard a plane.

What the researchers found: While there wasn’t that much of a change in how the salty, sour, and bitter stuff tasted, the noisy surroundings dulled the sweet taste, while intensifying the savory one—which might explain why a meal eaten on a plane will usually seem a little, well, off.

“Our study confirmed that in an environment of loud noise, our sense of taste is compromised. Interestingly, this was specific to sweet and umami tastes, with sweet taste inhibited and umami taste significantly enhanced,” said Robin Dando, assistant professor of food science. “The multisensory properties of the environment where we consume our food can alter our perception of the foods we eat.”

This isn’t the first time airlines have tried to figure out the reason behind funky in-flight food. The Fraunhofer Institute, a research institute based in Germany, did a study on why a dish that would taste just fine on the ground would taste, “so dull in the air,” as Grant Mickles, the executive chef for culinary development of Lufthansa’s LSG Ski Chefs, put it to Conde Nast Traveler.

German researchers tried taste tests at both sea level and in a pressurized condition. The tests revealed that the cabin atmosphere—pressurized at 8,000 feet—combined with cool, dry cabin air numbed the taste buds (kind of like when you’ve got a bad cold). In fact, the perception of saltiness and sweetness dropped by around 30% at high altitude. Multiplying the misery: The stagnant cabin dries out the mucus membranes in the nose, thus dulling the olfactory sensors that affect taste. All of which adds up to a less-than-fine dining experience.

The good news: This research may help airlines find a way to make in-the-air meals more palatable. (That is, for flights and airlines that still offer any food at all!)

The key, according to Mickles, may be using ingredients or foods that contain a lot of umami to enhance the other flavors. He may be on to something: The folks at the Lufthansa have found that passengers guzzle as much tomato juice as beer (to the tune of about 425,000 gallons a year). Turns out, cabin pressure brings out the savory taste of the red stuff.

Good to know. Now pass the earplugs—and bring on the Bloody Marys.

This article originally appeared on Health.com.

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TIME Diet/Nutrition

15 Eating Habits That Make You Live Longer

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The secrets to living long (and well) from the world's healthiest people

For more than a decade, I’ve been working with a team of experts to study hot spots of longevity—regions we call Blue Zones, where many people live to 100 and beyond. They are the Greek island of Ikaria; the highlands of Sardinia; the Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica; Okinawa, Japan; and Loma Linda, Calif., home of the highest concentration of Seventh-day Adventists in the U.S. Remarkably, we’ve learned that folks in all these places share similar rituals and practices surrounding food. (Hint: They don’t count calories, take vitamins or weigh protein grams!) After analyzing more than 150 dietary studies conducted in Blue Zones over the past century, we came up with a global average of what centenarians really eat. Here are 15 age-old diet tips to borrow from the longest-living people on the planet.

Get 95% of your food from plants

Produce, whole grains and beans dominate meals all year long in each of the Blue Zones. People eat an impressive variety of vegetables when they are in season, and then pickle or dry the surplus. The best of the best longevity foods are leafy greens. In Ikaria, more than 75 varieties grow like weeds. Studies found that middle-aged people who consumed the equivalent of a cup of cooked greens daily were half as likely to die in the next four years as those who ate no greens.

Consume meat no more than twice a week

Families in most of the Blue Zones enjoy meat sparingly, as a side or a way to flavor other dishes. Aim to limit your intake to 2 ounces or less of cooked meat (an amount smaller than a deck of cards) five times a month. And favor chicken, lamb or pork from family farms. The meat in the Blue Zones comes from animals that graze or forage freely, which likely leads to higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids.

Eat up to 3 ounces of fish daily

The Adventist Health Study 2, which has been following 96,000 Americans since 2002, discovered that people who ate a plant-based diet and included a small portion of fish up to once a day were the ones who lived the longest. In the Blue Zones overseas, fish is a common part of everyday meals. For the most part, the best fish choices are middle-of-the-food-chain species such as sardines, anchovies and cod, which aren’t exposed to high levels of mercury or other chemicals.

Cut back on dairy

The human digestive system isn’t optimized for cow’s milk, which happens to be high in fat and sugar. People in the Blue Zones get their calcium from plants. (A cup of cooked kale, for instance, gives you as much calcium as a cup of milk.) However, goat’s- and sheep’s-milk products like yogurt and cheese are common in the traditional diets of Ikaria and Sardinia. We don’t know if it’s the milk that makes folks healthier or the fact that they climb the same hilly terrain as their goats.

Enjoy up to three eggs per week

In the Blue Zones, people tend to eat just one egg at a time: For example, Nicoyans fry an egg to fold into a corn tortilla and Okinawans boil an egg in soup. Try filling out a one-egg breakfast with fruit or other plant-based foods such as whole-grain porridge or bread. When baking, use 1/4 cup of applesauce, 1/4 cup of mashed potatoes or a small banana to sub in for one egg.

Add a half cup of cooked beans every day

Black beans in Nicoya, soybeans in Okinawa, lentils, garbanzo and white beans in the Mediterranean: Beans are the cornerstone of Blue Zones diets. On average, beans are made up of 21 percent protein, 77 percent complex carbohydrates and only a little fat. They’re also an excellent source of fiber and are packed with more nutrients per gram than any other food on earth. The Blue Zones dietary average—at least 1/2 cup per day—provides most of the vitamins and minerals that you need.

Switch to sourdough or whole-wheat

In three of the five Blue Zones, bread is a staple. But it’s an altogether different food from the loaves most of us buy. Breads in Ikaria and Sardinia, for example, are made from a variety of 100 percent whole grains, including wheat, rye and barley—each of which offers a wide spectrum of nutrients and high levels of fiber. Other traditional Blue Zones breads are made with bacteria that “digest” the starches and glutens while helping the bread rise. This process creates an acid that lends the sour flavor to sourdough. The result is bread that actually lowers the glycemic load of meals. (It also has less gluten than some other breads.) To find true sourdough, visit a bakery and ask about their starter. If they can’t give you an answer, they’re probably not making their sourdough in the traditional way.

Slash your sugar consumption

Blue Zones dwellers consume about a fifth as much added sugar as we do. Centenarians typically put honey in their tea and enjoy dessert only at celebrations. The lesson to us: Try not to add more than 4 teaspoons of sugar a day to your drinks and foods. Have cookies, candy and bakery items only a few times a week. And avoid processed foods with sweeteners—especially when sugar is listed among the first five ingredients.

Snack on two handfuls of nuts per day

This appears to be the average amount that Blue Zones centenarians are eating. A recent 30-year Harvard study found that nut eaters have a 20% lower mortality rate than those who don’t eat nuts. Other studies show that diets with nuts reduce LDL, or “bad,” cholesterol levels by up to 20%.

Stick with foods that are recognizable for what they are

Throughout the world’s Blue Zones, people eat foods in their entirety: They don’t throw away the egg yolk or juice the pulp out of their fruits. They also don’t take supplements. They get everything they need from whole foods that are often grown locally. The takeaway? Avoid products with long lists of ingredients and shop at your farmers market when you can. Scientists are only beginning to understand how the elements in whole plants work together synergistically to bring forth ultimate health.

Up your water intake

Adventists recommend having seven glasses daily, pointing to studies that show that being hydrated lessens the chance of a blood clot. Plus, if you’re drinking water, you’re not drinking a sugar-laden or artificially sweetened beverage.

When you drink alcohol, make it red wine

People in most Blue Zones have one to three glasses per day. Wine has been found to help the system absorb plant-based antioxidants. But it may also be that a little alcohol at the end of the day reduces stress, which is good for overall health.

Drink this kind of tea

Okinawans nurse green tea all day long, and green tea has been shown to lower the risk of heart disease and several cancers. Ikarians drink brews of rosemary, wild sage and dandelion—all herbs with anti-inflammatory properties.

Get your caffeine fix from coffee

People who live on the Nicoya Peninsula and the islands of Sardinia and Ikaria all down copious amounts of coffee. Research findings associate coffee drinking with lower rates of dementia and Parkinson’s disease.

Perfect protein pairings

Worried about getting enough protein on a plant-based diet? The trick is to partner legumes, grains, nuts and veggies that supply all nine of the essential amino acids your body can’t make on its own. Try these match-ups in the ratios described below.

1 1/3 parts chopped red peppers to 3 parts cooked cauliflower

1 part cooked chickpeas to 3 parts cooked mustard greens

1 part lima beans to 2 parts cooked carrots

1 1/2 parts cooked broccoli rabe to 1 1/3 parts cooked wild rice

1/2 part firm tofu to 1 1/4 parts cooked soba noodles

This article originally appeared on Health.com.

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TIME Diet/Nutrition

6 Simple Ways to Boost Your Metabolism

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Forget the "calories in, calories out" equation

Throughout my years counseling clients I’ve seen many achieve fantastic weight loss results, including those who had not had success with other approaches, or thought they couldn’t possibly lose weight due to various circumstances, like being injured and unable to exercise, or being post-menopausal.

Based on my experience, I always believe that results are possible, but I’ve also learned that weight loss isn’t predictable or easy—and it certainly isn’t as simple as a “calories in versus calories out” equation. A new study from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) illustrated this and backs what I’ve seen in my own practice—one person’s metabolic response to eating less may not mimic another’s, due to biological differences.

NIH researchers studied a dozen obese men and women in a metabolic unit. The study measured the subjects’ calorie expenditures, both before and after a day of fasting, followed by a six-week phase during which they reduced their calorie intakes by 50%. After accounting for factors including age, sex, and starting weight, scientists found that those who lost the least weight during the reduced calorie period were those whose metabolisms decreased most during the one day fast. These people have what scientists refer to as a “thrifty” metabolism. The opposite results were also found: those with “spendthrift” metabolisms, which decreased the least during the fast, lost the most weight.

In a nutshell, the theory behind “thrifty” metabolism is that when faced with a sudden shortfall of food, some people’s bodies quickly compensate to conserve energy, by burning fewer calories. So if, for example, you went from eating 3,000 calories a day to 1,500, a thrifty metabolism would trigger a conservation mode, designed to shrink the calorie deficit. Historically, people with this adaptation were better able to survive during times of famine; but today, it presents a challenge for those trying to shed excess pounds. It’s also one of the reasons why simply slashing your intake by 500 calories a day isn’t a guarantee that you’ll shed one pound in a week (for more check out my previous post Why You Can’t Rely on Calorie Counts and Why Dieting Makes You Fat).

If you think you may be in this group, and your biology is making it tough for you to see results, don’t give up. Here are six things you can do to maximize your metabolism, and counter the effects of possible “thriftiness.” While your results may be slower than a “spendthrift” counterpart, losing weight isn’t an impossibility.

Become a tea drinker

Natural substances in green tea—antioxidants called catechins, and caffeine—have been shown to help boost metabolism, and trigger increased fat burning. Aim for about five cups a day, the amount tied to a reduced risk of chronic diseases, including heart disease. Based on the research on how green tea impacts metabolism, this quantity could also translate into the loss of eight pounds over a year’s time.

Drink more water

In addition to naturally curbing calorie intake, water has been shown to positively affect metabolism. One German study found that drinking two cups (16 ounces) of water upped calorie burning by 30% within 10 minutes, and the effect was sustained for more than an hour. Shoot for a solid eight cups (64 ounces) daily, and if you dislike the taste, spruce it up with healthy add-ins like sliced cucumber, fresh grated ginger, mashed fruit, lemon, lime, basil, or mint.

Eat more produce

We all know that veggies and fruits are nutrient rich, but research shows they may also impact leanness, due to their ability to help preserve metabolism-boosting muscle. In one study, University of Florida researchers found that when two groups consumed the same number of daily calories, those who ate more plant-based foods had smaller waist circumferences, and lower body fat percentages. Aim to eat produce at every meal. One simple formula is to include one serving of fruit in every breakfast and snack, and two serving of veggies in each lunch and dinner. For more about how to build meals around veggies check out my previous post 5 Perfect Pasta Alternatives.

Eat more whole versus processed foods

More proof that a calorie isn’t a calorie came from research conducted at Pomona College. Researchers found that when healthy women consumed meals that were similar in terms of carb, protein, and fat content, they burned about 50% more calories eating whole foods versus highly processed foods. To reap this metabolism-boosting benefit, stick with foods as close to their natural state as possible. For example, rather than a turkey sub on a processed roll and a bag of baked chips for lunch, order a chopped salad made with greens and veggies, topped with lean protein and avocado. At snack time trade anything that comes from a package with a tennis ball sized portion of fresh fruit and a golf ball sized serving of nuts.

Eat more pulses

You know about beans—black, red, white…well, pulses are a unique food group that includes beans, as well as peas, like chickpeas, and split peas, and lentils. I made a daily dose of pulses a key strategy in the weight loss plan in my new book Slim Down Now, in part because they’re so filling, nutrient rich, and gluten free, but also because of their impact on metabolism. A review published in the British Journal of Nutrition concluded that pulses increase calorie and fat burning, and help reduce visceral fat, the deep internal belly fat known to up the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. To bolster your metabolism, include a half cup of a pulse in one of your daily meals, like a side of black beans with your veggie avocado omelet, lentils in your lunch salad, oven-roasted chickpeas or hummus in a snack, or white bean and kale soup at dinner. You can even incorporate pulses into desserts! For more about pulses check out How to Keep the Carbs and Still Lose the Pounds.

Drink coffee pre-exercise

Exercise itself can help boost metabolism, but according to a study published in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism drinking java before you get your heart rate up may further up your metabolic rate. Researchers found that compared to those who took in a placebo, athletes who consumed caffeine pre-exercise torched about 15% more calories for three hours post-exercise. The dose used in the study was 4.5 mg of caffeine per kilogram of body weight. That’s about 300 mg of caffeine for a 150-pound woman (68 kg), the amount in about 12 ounces of brewed coffee. For more about the benefits of coffee for exercisers, check out my previous post.

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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Trans Fats Are Hiding All Over Your Grocery List

A new report finds that 37% of foods in grocery stores may have trans fat

Eating trans fat raises the risk of coronary heart disease, and evidence suggests that no amount of it is safe. But more than a third of packaged foods found in grocery stores likely contain trans fat, found a new analysis by the Environmental Working Group (EWG).

Trans fats used by the food industry are manmade by adding hydrogen to vegetable oil, which makes it solid at room temperature and good at extending the shelf life of snacks. The World Health Organization supports “virtual elimination” of trans fats from the food supply.

But still it persists, found the EWG. The group used their Food Scores database to analyze more than 87,000 foods for trans fat-containing ingredients: most famously partially hydrogenated oil. Seeing that phrase on an ingredient list is a red flag for trans fat.

It’s not the only ingredient that signifies trans fat, according to EWG’s investigation. Refined oils like soybean, canola, cottonseed and corn oil, fully hydrogenated oils and perhaps even some emulsifiers like monoglycerides and diglycerides contain trans fat in smaller amounts, the report says. Flavors and colors even use partially hydrogenated oils sometimes and are a “likely source” of trans fat, according to EWG.

27% of the analyzed foods contained partially hydrogenated oils, refined oils or fully hydrogenated oils on their ingredient lists. EWG identified more than 400 foods with four or more grams of trans fat per serving.

MORE: How Trans Fat Eats Away At Your Memory

And another 10% of foods likely have trans fat, the report concluded—even those labeled “zero” grams of trans fat. Food companies are allowed to claim a product has no trans fat if it contains less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving. “Serving sizes are notoriously small,” says Dawn Undurraga, report author and registered dietitian at EWG, so even fractions of a gram can add up quickly.

The biggest sources of trans fat were the foods with a non-zero amount of trans fat listed on the label. The 16 foods with the most trans fat were breakfast sandwiches (0.94 g/serving), frozen pies (0.83 g), frosting and icing (0.75 g), eclairs and snack cakes (0.65 g), frozen cakes (0.50 g), frozen mini burgers (0.47 g), croissants (0.43 g), frozen cheesecakes (0.41 g), pastry shells (0.37), canned chili (0.36 g), heady-to-heat potatoes (0.33 g), frozen muffins (0.33 g), beef in a can (0.32 g), snack pies (0.32 g), cheese sauce (0.32 g) and popcorn (0.31 g).

“In some ways these products are bad, but at least they let you know that they’re bad,” says Undurraga.

Of equal concern were the foods claiming to have 0 grams of trans fat but which included partially hydrogenated oil on their ingredient lists—some brands of breakfast bars, granola, peanut butter, pretzels, crackers, bread, fruit snack candies, cereal, graham crackers, whipped topping, non-dairy creamer, pudding mixes, cupcakes and ice cream cones. “There’s a lot of kids foods here,” Undurraga says. “It’s really disconcerting.”

Even though we’re eating less trans fat than ever, Americans still have a long way to go towards adopting a diet free of trans fats. The findings add to recent research that trans fat lurks in all kinds of packaged foods. One study last year found that 9% of the packaged foods it surveyed listed partially hydrogenated oils in their ingredients, yet 84% of those claimed to be trans-fat free.

“It’s a little bit disingenuous to say trans fat intake is decreasing,” says Undurraga. “It is decreasing, but without data to be able to drive your analysis, how are you really getting an accurate picture of what is actually happening?”

In response to a request for comment, an FDA spokesperson said the government body is still reviewing the report. The FDA is currently in the midst of litigation about trans fat; in 2013, 98-year-old heart disease researcher Fred Kummerow sued the FDA for failing to ban the use of partially hydrogenated oil, claiming it “calcifies both the arteries and veins and causes blood clots.” The FDA said it will file a status update with the court today.

TIME Food & Drink

How to Stay Healthy While Eating at Chain Restaurants

The best and worst options from popular restaurants

Making smart choices when dining out is not as difficult as you might think. Research the restaurant’s nutrition information in advance, so you know what to avoid. More than likely, the culprit is portion size—so ask if a dish can be halved or check to see if a lunch portion is available. In general, stick to grilled, baked, or steamed dishes over fried, choose leaner proteins such as chicken, fish, or sirloin steak, and load up on the veggies.

With the Cooking Light Diet, you can enjoy delicious homemade meals, and eat at your favorite restaurants when you choose foods like these in your calorie range.

  • Arby’s

    Do:
    Junior Roast Beef Sandwich
    Cal: 210, Fat: 8g, Sat Fat: 2.5g, Sodium: 530mg
    or Roast Beef Classic Sandwich (without Arby’s Sauce)
    Cal: 360, Fat: 14g, Sat Fat: 5g, Sodium: 970mg

    Don’t:
    One small packet of mayo-based Horsey Sauce adds 50 calories, 5g of fat, and 160mg of sodium. Choose barbecue-flavored Arby’s Sauce instead.

  • Chick-Fil-A

    Do:
    Grilled Chicken Sandwich
    Cal: 320, Fat: 5g, Sat Fat: 2g, Sodium: 800mg
    with a Fruit Cup (medium)
    Cal: 50, Fat: 0g, Sat Fat: 0g, Sodium: 0mg

    Don’t:
    With 430 calories, 22g of fat, and 1370mg of sodium (all before salad dressing!), Chick-Fil-A’s Chicken Cobb Salad is a poor choice. Opt for a salad that avoids fried chicken nuggets, bacon, and cheese, such as the Grilled Market Salad.

  • Chipotle

    Do:
    Kid’s Steak Tacos with 2 Soft Corn Tortillas, Fajita Vegetables, Cheese & Chips

    Cal: 380, Fat: 11g, Sat Fat: 3g, Sodium: 350mg
    Or Chicken Tacos with 3 Soft Corn Tortillas, Lettuce, Cheese & Tomato Salsa
    Cal: 515, Fat: 7g, Sat Fat: 3g, Sodium: 1030mg

    Don’t:
    When it comes to tacos, fajitas, or quesadillas, choose corn tortillas whenever possible. Flour tortillas—even whole-wheat varieties—are usually higher in calories, fat, and sodium.

  • California Pizza Kitchen

    Do:
    Kid’s Traditional Cheese Pizza
    Cal: 560, Fat: 12g, Sat Fat: 6g, Sodium: 1180mg

    Don’t:
    CPK’s pizzas strike out in nearly every category—they are all loaded with calories, fat, and sodium. TheThai Chicken Pizza may look like more salad than pizza, but it has 1290 calories, 45g of fat, 15g of saturated fat, and 3190mg of sodium. Even halving this pizza still sets you back significantly.

  • Domino’s Pizza

    Do:
    Small Cheese Pizza with Chicken with Spinach & Mushroom Marinara Sauce & Hand-Tossed Crust
    Cal: 380, Fat: 11g, Sat Fat: 4g, Sodium: 810mg

    Don’t:
    When ordering pizza, use your common sense. Any pizza likened to a cheeseburger or Philly Cheesesteak is probably not a smart choice. We recommend building your own pizza using the menu’s healthiest ingredients. Beef, pepperoni, sausage, bacon, and extra-cheese are the greatest fat and sodium offenders, so opt for leaner proteins such as chicken or ham, and make sure to pile on the veggies!

  • Jack in the Box

    Do:
    Hamburger

    Cal: 280, Fat: 11g, Sat Fat: 4g, Sodium: 620mg
    with a Side Salad
    Cal: 20, Fat: 0g, Sat Fat: 0g, Sodium: 10mg
    with Low-Fat Balsamic Dressing
    Cal: 30, Fat: 1.5g, Sat Fat: 0g, Sodium: 350mg

    Don’t:
    After 9 p.m., Jack in the Box offers“Munchie Meals” menu. Most of the options are overloaded with fat and sodium. The worst offender—Loaded Nuggets—has 760 calories, 56g of fat, and 2030mg of sodium. Stick to the regular menu.

  • Jason’s Deli

    Do:
    Half Mediterranean Wrap

    Cal: 180, Fat: 5g, Sat Fat: 0g, Sodium: 610mg
    with a Fruit Cup
    Cal: 60, Fat: 0g, Sat Fat: 0g, Sodium: 0mg
    and Steamed Veggies
    Cal: 60, Fat: 0g, Sat Fat: 0g, Sodium: 55mg

    Don’t:
    If you’re eyeing a sandwich with the word “club” in its title, think twice. A club sandwich might be tasty, but it’s little more than a fat and sodium bomb. Jason’s Deli’s version, the California Club Sandwich, piles guacamole on top of roasted turkey, Swiss cheese, bacon, and mayo, and clocks in at 770 calories, 52g of fat, 19g of saturated fat, and 1400mg of sodium. Yikes!

  • McDonald’s

    Do:
    Egg White Delight

    Cal: 250, Fat: 8g, Sat Fat: 3g, Sodium: 770mg
    or Egg McMuffin
    Cal: 300, Fat: 13g, Sat Fat: 5g, Sodium: 750mg
    with Clementines
    Cal: 40, Fat: 0g, Sat Fat: 0g, Sodium: 0mg

    Don’t:
    McDonald’s offers several healthy breakfast options, but the Steak & Egg Biscuit, with 540 calories, 32g of fat, 16g, of saturated fat, and 1470mg of sodium, is not one of them. The Egg McMuffin is a much healthier choice.

  • Olive Garden

    Do:
    Baked Tilapia with Shrimp

    Cal: 360, Fat: 12g, Sat Fat: 6g, Sodium: 980mg

    Don’t:
    Olive Garden’s Cucina Mia menu allows customers to create their own pasta dishes from a selection of noodles, sauces, and proteins. In theory, this sounds like a smart choice. However, a simple combination of Cavatappi pasta, Five-Cheese Marinara sauce, and grilled chicken has 1080 calories, 49g of fat, 22g of saturated fat, and 1510mg of sodium. Stick to smaller portions, such as the lunch-size Spaghetti with Meat Sauce.

  • Panera Bread

    Do:
    Power Steak Lettuce Wraps

    Cal: 230, Fat: 10g, Sat Fat: 4g, Sodium: 250mg
    or Half Roasted Turkey & Avocado BLT on Sourdough
    Cal: 250, Fat: 9g, Sat Fat: 2g, Sodium: 490mg
    with Fresh Fruit Cup
    Cal: 60, Fat: 0g, Sat Fat: 0g, Sodium: 15mg

    Don’t:
    We often associate Mediterranean flavors with health, but the Greek with Chicken Salad (with Greek-Herb Vinaigrette) has 710 calories, 58g of fat, 13g of saturated fat, and 1620mg of sodium. Opt for a different salad dressing, such as reduced fat balsamic, and ask for it on the side.

  • Red Lobster

    Do:
    Oven-Broiled Wild-Caught Flounder/Sole

    Cal: 340, Fat: 8g, Sat Fat: 0g, Sodium: 460mg
    with a Plain Baked Potato
    Cal: 200, Fat: 0.5g, Sat Fat: 0g, Sodium: 310mg
    and Broccoli
    Cal: 50, Fat: 0.5g, Sat Fat: 0g, Sodium: 105mg

    Don’t:
    The Cheddar Bay Biscuits
    are delicious, so indulge with one—but stop after that. Each biscuit has 160 calories, 10g of fat, 3g of saturated fat, and 380mg of sodium.

  • T.G.I. Friday’s

    Do:
    Thai Pork Tacos
    Cal: 280, Fat: 14g, Sat Fat: 3.5g, Sodium: 700mg
    or BBQ Chicken Flatbread
    Cal: 460, Fat: 23g, Sat Fat: 8g, Sodium: 790mg

    Don’t:
    The majority of T.G.I. Fridays’ signature Jack Daniel’s-glazed items are sodium bombs—the burger has 4040mg, the chicken sandwich has 2770mg, and the ribs has 3220mg! The plainer, the better. Order a simple steak “From the Grill” to save on calories, fat, and sodium.

  • Subway

    Do:
    6” Turkey Breast on 9-Grain Wheat with Lettuce, Tomatoes, Onion, Green Peppers & Cucumbers

    Cal: 280, Fat: 3.5g, Sat Fat: 1g, Sodium: 670mg
    or Double Chicken Chopped Salad(without dressing)
    Cal: 220, Fat: 4.5g, Sat Fat: 1.5g, Sodium: 490mg

    Don’t:
    The 6” Chicken & Bacon Ranch Melt
    sub has 570 calories, 28g of fat, 10g of sat fat, and 1050mg of sodium. Stick to the “6 Grams of Fat or Less” menu.

  • Tim Hortons

    Do:
    Oatmeal with Mixed Berries

    Cal: 210, Fat: 3g, Sat Fat: 0.5g, Sodium: 220mg

    Don’t:
    Timbits—Tim Horton’s version of doughnut holes—give you much more bang for your buck than the traditional doughnuts. Four Apple Fritter Timbits have significantly less calories, fat, and sodium than one Apple Fritter Donut!

  • Dairy Queen

    Do:
    Grilled Chicken Garden Greens Salad
    Cal: 150, Fat: 2g, Sat Fat: 0.5g, Sodium: 730mg
    with Light Ranch Dressing
    Cal: 80, Fat: 4.5, Sat Fat: 0.5g, Sodium: 330mg

    Don’t:
    Dairy Queen’s Veggie Quesadilla Basket
    sounds harmless, but it’s loaded with calories, fat, and sodium. Cut the damage by eating only half of the quesadillas, skipping the sour cream, and substituting a side salad for the onion rings.

    This article originally appeared on CookingLight.com.

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Healthy Convenience Store Foods for Your Next Road Trip

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These light snacks are available for grabs at any convenience store

This summer, millions of Americans will take to the roads. If you’re one of them you may think that means hours with nothing to nosh on but convenience store staples like chips and cookies. Not anymore. While convenience stores still have their fair share of less-than-optimal eats, many now stock a surprising selection of fresh and healthy choices. Next time you stop to refuel, test drive these light snacks.

Whole grain cereal cups

Why start your day with a donut when you can get wholesome whole grain cereal? You may need to dig through the cereal display to find it, but it’s in there. Just be sure to read the label, as some varieties are more healthful than others. Look for brands that supply at least 4 grams of fiber and about 160 calories per cup (Cheerios are a safe bet that are almost always available). Mix with low-fat yogurt and a banana and you’ve got a wholesome breakfast you can take along for the drive.

Energy bars

Energy bars make a savvy snack to have on hand for times when you’re stuck in traffic and your stomach starts to growl. Yet they’re not all created equally. Many are low in fiber, high in calories and loaded with sugar. For maximum hunger control, aim for bars with a combo of at least 5 grams of fiber and 7 grams of protein and fewer than 170 calories such as Kellogg’s Special K Protein Meal Bar or Kashi Go Lean Protein & Fiber Bar.

Peanuts in the shell

Packed with vitamin E, monounsaturated fat and resveratrol (the compound responsible for the benefits of red wine), peanuts are a heart-healthy snack. But, if you’re not careful it’s easy to wolf down several servings before you know it. Enter in-shell peanuts. Shelling your own peanuts automatically slows you down, so you’ll be less likely to eat too many. About ½ cup supplies 7 grams of protein, 3 grams of fiber and 20% of your daily vitamin E for a respectable 160 calories.

Low-fat yogurt

When you crave something cool and creamy, head to the refrigerator case instead of the ice cream case. There you’ll find low-fat yogurt (some stores even stock organic varieties). It will satisfy your taste buds while also delivering on the nutritional front. For about 140 calories or less, you’ll get one-quarter of your daily calcium and as much protein as you’d get from a large egg. Look on the label and you’ll see many brands are now fortified with vitamin D as well.

V8 100% vegetable juice

Squeezing in your 9 daily servings of produce when you’re on the road can be a major challenge. While fresh is best, it isn’t always possible. That’s when 100% veggie juice can help. One 12-ounce bottle provides the equivalent of 3 servings of vegetables for just 70 calories. It’s packed with vitamins A and C, heart-healthy potassium, and lycopene, a phytochemical cousin of beta-carotene. Each bottle also offers 3 grams of filling fiber.

Trail mix

Put down the peanut M&Ms and reach for a bag of trail mix instead. Its dried fruit and nuts provide the perfect mix of sweet, salty and crunchy – but with a healthful twist. You’ll not only slash fat and calories, you’ll get half the saturated fat you’d find in chocolate bars or M&Ms. Be sure to keep an eye on portions. Even though it’s good for you, trail mix is high in calories. Three tablespoons supply 140 calories and 9 grams of fat.

Single serve bags of baby carrots

You no longer need to stumble across a roadside stand to get your fill of fresh veggies. Conveniently packaged single-serve bags of baby carrots make it easy to sneak in a serving of produce. Precut, prewashed and easily portable, they make a smart alternative to other bagged snacks. One 2¼ ounce bag delivers 90 percent of your daily dose of vitamin A and 2 grams of fiber for only 25 calories.

Fresh fruit cup

Stores like 7-Eleven are making it easier for you to get your fruit fix. Now instead of gravitating toward the snack aisle, check out the fresh food case. There you’ll find juicy fruit cups made from pre-cut cantaloupe, honeydew, and grapes. Not only are they a calorie bargain, they’re rich in fiber and also supply healthful antioxidants like vitamins A and C and beta-carotene. They’re filling too. One 8-oz container provides roughly 2 servings of fruit for only about 100 calories. If you can’t find fresh cut fruit, look for fruit packed in water or extra-light syrup.

Part skim string cheese sticks

It’s hard to squeeze in your 3 daily servings of dairy when you’re cooped up in the car all day. Calcium-rich snacks like string cheese can help. Grab a couple of these and you’ll get as much calcium as you would from a glass of milk. What’s more, their protein (one piece supplies 7 grams) helps you focus and stay alert behind the wheel. For a balanced snack, pair them with a bag of baby carrots.

Bananas

Most convenience stores offer single pieces of fresh fruit like bananas, oranges, and apples year round. You don’t have to look far to find them either—they are usually at the front of the store next to the cash register. If you don’t want to worry about washing an apple or trying to peel an orange while driving, reach for a banana. This sweet fruit is packaged in its own skin for easy clean up and nonsticky fingers. Bananas are a potassium powerhouse, delivering energy to help keep you going on that long drive.

This article originally appeared on CookingLight.com.

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TIME Diet/Nutrition

Drinking Coffee May Fight Against Erectile Dysfunction

Researchers have found a link between higher caffeine consumption and lower ED

Good news for coffee drinkers: a few cups a day could help curb men’s risk for erectile dysfunction.

A new study from the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston found that men who drink more caffeine (the equivalent of about two or three cups of coffee) are less likely to experience erectile dysfunction than their peers who consume little or no caffeine, according to CBS News. Researchers can’t prove causality in this finding, but they suggest the correlation could be true because caffeine helps relax muscles and arteries, allowing freer blood flow.

The finding does not seem to apply, however, to diabetics, who face higher risks of erectile dysfunction.

[CBS]

TIME Diet/Nutrition

Dozens of People in 9 States Sickened After Eating Raw Tuna

Tuna Sushi
Getty Images

The source of the outbreak is unknown, but most who fell ill reported eating sushi containing raw tuna

(LOS ANGELES) — Health officials are investigating a salmonella outbreak likely linked to raw tuna that has sickened 53 people in nine states.

The California Department of Public Health said Thursday that 31 of the cases are there. Other affected states include Arizona, Illinois, Mississippi, New Mexico, South Dakota, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.

Ten people have been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported.

The source of the outbreak is unknown, but most who fell ill reported eating sushi containing raw tuna.

Salmonella is a bacteria and the most common source of food poisoning in the U.S. It causes diarrhea, cramping and fever.

Health officials say the elderly, young children, pregnant women and people with weak immune systems should not eat raw fish or raw shellfish.

TIME Diet/Nutrition

61% of Your Calories Are From Highly Processed Food: Study

Most of the foods we buy are highly processed and loaded with sugar, fat and salt

As much as Americans like to pretend to worship at the altar of kale, many of us are cheating with chips, a new study suggests.

We like junk food so much that 61% of the food Americans buy is highly processed, according to research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. And almost 1,000 calories a day of person’s diet come solely from highly processed foods.

Not all processed food is the same, however. The USDA classifies processed food as any edible that’s not a raw agricultural commodity, so even pasteurized milk and frozen fruits and vegetables count. “It’s important for us to recognize that a processed food is not just Coca-Cola and Twinkies—it’s a wide array of products,” says study author Jennifer Poti, a research assistant professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

So in the first study of its kind, researchers scrutinized our diets by analyzing a massive set of data of the foods we buy while grocery shopping. The stats came from 157,000 shoppers, who tracked their edible purchases with a barcode scanner from 2000-2012, for anywhere from 10 months to 14 years.

Using software that picked out words in the nutrition and ingredient labels, the 1.2 million products were placed into one of four categories : minimally processed—products with very little alteration, like bagged salad, frozen meat and eggs—basic processed—single-ingredient foods but changed in some way, like oil, flour and sugar—moderately processed—still recognizable as its original plant or animal source, but with additives—and highly processed—multi-ingredient industrial mixtures that are no longer recognizable as their original plant or animal source.

No surprise, our favorite categories are those last two. More than three-quarters of our calories came from highly processed (61%) and moderately processed (16%) foods and drinks in 2012. Best-selling products were refined breads, grain-based desserts like cookies, sugary sodas, juice, sports drinks and energy drinks.

Preferences for highly processed foods were remarkably stable over time, Poti says, which likely has implications for our health, since the study also found that highly processed foods were higher in saturated fat, sugar and salt than other purchases. But interestingly, no U.S. study has yet looked at the link between highly processed foods and health outcomes like obesity and diabetes, Poti says.

To be clear, the researchers aren’t pooh-poohing processing, per se. “Food processing is important for food security and nutrition security of Americans,” Poti says. The study wasn’t able to capture the full spectrum of our diets—loose spinach doesn’t come with a barcode, after all—and the authors acknowledge that food purchasing doesn’t always directly translate to dietary intake. But the results suggest that we might want to swap some bags of chips for, say, cans of beans. “Foods that required cooking or preparation”—like boxed pasta and raw eggs—”were generally less than 20% of calories purchased throughout the entire time period,” Poti says.

TIME Diet/Nutrition

Should I Eat Tempeh?

4/5 experts say yes.

Tempeh goes back ages in Indonesia, its birthplace, but the nutty, mushroomy plant protein is fairly foreign in the U.S. to all but the most hardcore of vegans. Still, most of our experts say tempeh is well worth trying.

But first: what is it? Tempeh is a cake of partially cooked whole soybeans aged overnight in an incubator at a tropical temperature, explains vegan food manufacturer Tofurky on its website. During incubation, a “thick, white mat of mycelia”—a kind of fungus—branches over the tempeh, which binds the beans together. It’s then steamed and ready to eat. Other types of tempeh can be made with barley, flax, oats, brown rice and other grains.

Tempeh is mainly used as a meat substitute, and it stands up well to the real thing structurally and nutritionally. A standard 3-ounce serving of tempeh has about 16 grams of protein, while an equal serving of grilled steak has about 26 grams. Plus, tempeh comes with about 8% of the recommended daily amount of both calcium and iron. It’s great for the nutrients it adds to your diet, says David Katz, MD, director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center, and for the meat it subtracts.

“If you’re looking to cut meat from your diet but are fearful that protein will be cut along with it, tempeh is a no-brainer substitution,” says Kristin Kirkpatrick, RD, manager of wellness nutrition services at Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute. So agrees the author of a 2015 review on the rise of veganism. “Tempeh is a popular source of plant-based protein for vegans due to its versatility, great earthy flavor, and overall nutritional value,” says review author Cynthia Radnitz, PhD, professor at Fairleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey. (Her favorite tempeh dish: steamed, mashed and mixed with chopped celery and scallions, plus eggless mayo and lemon juice for a mock chicken salad.)

“Tempeh offers all the health benefits of soy without the drawbacks of more processed soy,” she says. Some soy processing involves hexane, a chemical solvent sometimes used to extract oil from soy in processed products that aren’t organic. By buying organic, you can avoid both hexane and genetically modified ingredients, if that is a concern for you. GMOs are ubiquitous in soy; 94% of soy in the U.S. is genetically modified.

Many experts believe that whole-food forms of soy are beneficial to the body. In a 2015 study by Robert Sorge, PhD, assistant professor in the department of psychology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Sorge and his team looked at how certain foods can activate immune cells that spur inflammation in the body and other foods that have anti-inflammatory effects on those cells. Soy proteins, like those found in tempeh, seem to fall into the second group, he found. “Tempeh is a soy product with a decent amount of the isoflavone genistein,” he says. “Genistein is known to have anti-inflammatory and even anti-tumor effects and can be very good for general health, provided too much is not eaten.”

Fermenting whole soy makes it extra special, Radnitz says, by helping nutrients like calcium, zinc and iron become more available for the body to use. According to a thesis on tempeh made from barley, the fermented kind had 2.5 times the iron of unfermented barley. (Unfortunately, though, not everything you do to tempeh gives it a health boost. One Malaysian study found that battered and deep-fried tempeh had about half the isoflavones as raw tempeh.)

Even though it has many fans among these experts, not everyone is aboard the tempeh train. Tempeh is for uninspired vegans, declares Frédéric Leroy of the Research Group of Industrial Microbiology and Food Biotechnology in Belgium. His 2014 review of fermented foods concluded that there’s not enough quality evidence to make functional health claims for most fermented foods on the market. “Outside Asia, this idiosyncratic food is culturally irrelevant to most, and will seem odd to the average palate,” he says. “Granted, it contains isoflavones, but scientific evidence in support of true in vivo“—meaning in people—”health benefits of tempeh is far from being solid.”

Leroy is firmly in the more-research-is-needed camp. But for now, says Kirkpatrick, who cooks it several times a week it, “I’m in love with tempeh.”

tempeh
Illustration by Lon Tweeten for TIME

Read next: Should I Eat Tofu?

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