TIME Diet/Nutrition

This Kind of Tea Lowers Blood Pressure Naturally

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The best brew for your heart

Recent research has come down squarely on the side of caffeinated morning beverages, suggesting that coffee can protect against cancer and type 2 diabetes. Tea has enjoyed a healthy reputation for years as a heart-protector, and a study published in the October issue of British Journal of Nutrition suggests it might even help lower blood pressure.

Researchers were intrigued by the inconclusive link in studies so far regarding blood pressure and tea intake, so they analyzed 25 randomized controlled trials—the gold standard of scientific research—to further explore on the association.

They found that in the short term, tea didn’t seem to make a difference for blood pressure. But long-term tea intake did have a significant impact. After 12 weeks of drinking tea, blood pressure was lower by 2.6 mmHg systolic and 2.2 mmHg diastolic. Green tea had the most significant results, while black tea performed the next best.

Those might not seem like big numbers, but small changes in blood pressure can have a significant impact on health, the study authors write. Reducing systolic blood pressure by 2.6 mmHg “would be expected to reduce stroke risk by 8%, coronary artery disease mortality by 5% and all-cause mortality by 4% at a population level,” they write.

Tea is thought to offer endothelial protection by helping blood vessels relax, allowing blood to flow more freely. It’s a high source of antioxidants that have been linked to better cardiovascular health.

The researchers weren’t able to pinpoint the optimal number of cups to drink to get the benefit, but other studies have shown protective effects at 3-4 daily cups. The researchers said they didn’t see a difference in caffeinated tea vs. decaf.

“These are profound effects and must be considered seriously in terms of the potential for dietary modification to modulate the risk of CVD [cardiovascular disease],” the authors write.

TIME Diet/Nutrition

You’ll Never Guess What Chia Seeds Can Do To Your Esophagus

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How to eat the superfood safely

Chia, the superseed du jour, is all the rage for its abundant fiber and plant-based protein and fat. But swallowing chia seeds, warns new research presented at the American College of Gastroenterology Annual Scientific Meeting, should also come with a note of caution.

That’s because the seeds can absorb 27 times their dry weight in water—expanding in size so much that the thickened, gel-like mass got lodged in a man’s esophagus, sending him to the ER. The 39-year-old man swallowed a tablespoon of dry chia seeds and then chased them with water. When he did, he discovered he couldn’t swallow any of his own saliva. The man had a history of intermittent dysphagia—or the sensation of things getting stuck as he’s swallowing them.

Chia Seeds Esophagus
Courtesy of Carolinas HealthCare System

How could a seed so tiny actually cause a blockage? “It got to be this sort of almost Play-Doh-like consistency, very hard in terms of a liquid but also sort of soft,” says Dr. Rebecca Rawl, MD, the gastroenterology fellow at Carolinas HealthCare System who helped treat the patient. None of her regular tools worked at dislodging it, so using a tiny endoscope meant for babies, she broke of little chunks of chia until it got small enough to push the whole thing through. “It was labor intensive,” she says.

MORE: The Truth About 6 “Superfood” Seeds

Rawl has seen plenty of things get stuck in the esophagus, but the obstructions are usually meat: things like steak, chicken and hot dogs. “Generally, vegetative matter and seeds at least can get broken down and slide through,” Rawl says, and the chia case was the first she’s heard of. “The popularity of chia seeds is growing, and I think this will come up more frequently,” she says.

You don’t have to swear off the smoothie-enhancer for good: just let them expand fully in liquid before eating or drinking them, Rawl recommends.

TIME Diet/Nutrition

12 Superfoods That Warm You Up

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When the weather gets cold, turn to these hot and spicy comfort foods to stay snug as a fall sweater

As the temperature drops, don’t be tempted to warm your belly with rich macaroni and cheese and creamy soup. Instead, get that toasty feeling from superfoods: healthy eats that are loaded with nutrients, antioxidants, and immune-boosting powers that your body needs to power itself through cold weather. Read on to find the best hot foods to eat on chilly days and a few healthy tidbits to prepare them for ultimate nutrition.

Oatmeal

When it gets cooler, it’s the perfect time to break out the oatmeal. Oats are a whole grain, so you’ll get a dose of fiber and plant-based protein to stop hunger with just one bowl. Plus, oatmeal contains a powerful starch called beta-glucan. Research in Nutrition Reviews found that just 3 grams a day of the beta-glucan in oats may reduce your bad cholesterol levels by 5 to 10%, whether they start out normal or high. You can get extra nutrition if you choose the right toppings too. “To get some healthy fat mixed in, I add almond butter and chia seeds,” says Keri Gans, RD, a dietitian in New York City and author of The Small Change Diet.

Try this recipe: Chai Oatmeal

Hot chocolate

Curling up with a cup of hot cocoa is one way to feel snug—just nix the sugary powdered mix with marshmallow bits. “When I make it, I like to melt two squares of dark chocolate and stir it into regular or almond milk,” says Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD, Health‘s contributing nutrition editor. Adding a little dark chocolate to your diet is a great health booster too. The sweet contains flavonoids, a type of antioxidant thought to reduce the damage caused by free radicals, potential instigators of cancer and cardiovascular disease. A study in the Journal of Immunology Researchfound that red blood cells were less susceptible to free radicals after people consumed a drink with flavonoid-rich cocoa.

Try this recipe: Parisian Hot Chocolate

Black bean soup

There’s nothing like a soup with cumin and chili pepper to heat you up when things get cold. The nutrition star of this dish, though, is the beans. Black beans are a good source of iron and copper. So sipping on this soup will help your muscles use more oxygen and boost your immune system, Gans says. A typical serving of soup would include nearly a cup of black beans, which provides 15 grams each of protein and fiber. Unlike animal protein sources, black beans contain almost no saturated fat. Research from the American Chemical Society also shows their black skins contain higher levels of the disease-fighting antioxidants flavonoids than any other type of bean.

Try this recipe: Black Bean Soup

Brussels sprouts

Eating these mini cabbages may just help you fight a cold this fall. In addition to being packed with fiber and cancer-fighting phytonutrients, Brussels sprouts run high in vitamin C at 74.8 milligrams a cup. It won’t prevent the sniffles completely, but vitamin C has been shown to reduce the length of cold symptoms. Though the bitter taste of Brussels sprouts tends to scare some people away, heating them up can make a huge difference in flavor. “I would roast them with olive oil,” Gans says. That will help bring out the sweetness. (You can make these 12 other veggies taste better too.)

Try this recipe: Sautéed Brussels Sprouts with Parmesan and Pine Nuts

Pumpkin soup

If you’re lacking vitamin A, the nutrient critical for promoting vision, a dose of pumpkin will do you good, Gans says. Most adult women should be getting 700 micrograms a day, according to the National Institutes of Health. In a serving of soup, you would use a third to a half cup of pumpkin puree, Gans says. So you could be getting more than a day’s worth of this vitamin in most recipes. Be mindful of a recipe with cream, though, if you’re looking to cut back on calories. Pumpkin also has antioxidant properties thanks to beta-carotene, Gans says. It’s a pigment usually found in bright-colored produce, and it’s thought to have cancer-fighting powers. A study in Anticancer Research treated human breast cells using carotenoids, including beta-carotene and lycopene, and found they can prevent their growth.

Try this recipe: Curried Pumpkin Soup

Chili

The peppers in your stew contain a compound called capsaicin, which gives them their spicy kick. It’s also thought to boost metabolism and fight the buildup of fat. When paired with a high-fat diet, capsaicin was found to decrease body weight by 8%, according to an animal study conducted by Korean researchers. No matter the variety, the beans in chili also pack protein to help you build muscle. That’s not all. Tomato paste is rich in lycopene, and the onions provide unique antioxidants, Sass says. Think about cutting back on the meat in your chili from time to time though. A National Institutes of Health study found that men and women who consumed the most red meat were at increased risk for death from cancer and cardiovascular disease.

Try this recipe: All-American Chili

Avocado

There’s a way to enjoy this creamy fruit when it’s chilly. “Oven roasting avocado makes it even creamier,” Sass says. “Chop it up warm and put on top of another vegetable.” Bonus: about half of the fat of avocado comes from monounsaturated fat, which helps lower your bad cholesterol levels and provide nutrients for cells to function, according to the American Heart Association. They might also help you stay full. A study in Nutrition Journal found that eating a meal with avocado increased satisfaction by 23% over a five-hour period. Just watch your portion size: a serving is just one-fifth of an avocado.

Try this recipe: Chilled Avocado Soup

Walnuts

Walnuts are good any time of year, but they make a lovely roasted snack in the fall. “Walnuts toast awesome on a cookie sheet at 350 degrees for 5 minutes,” Sass says. Lightly misting with oil and adding seasonings like pepper can up the flavor in a healthy way. Even better, walnuts are rich in alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), one omega-3 fat thought to boost heart health. In the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, a study found that people who ate a diet of walnuts, walnut oil, and flax oil had reduced resting blood pressure and blood flow resistance in their arteries than those who ate a diet lower in ALA.

Try this recipe: Walnut Coffee Cake

Apples

Baked apples make the perfect sweet treat for fall. The fruit packs soluble and insoluble fiber. One slows digestion and the other helps food pass through your system more smoothly. That means less hunger and tummy troubles. Just make sure you leave the skins on—they’re a more concentrated source of fiber than the flesh, says Melissa Rifkin, RD, a bariatric dietitian at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City. An unpeeled medium-sized apple contains 4.4 grams offiber. “If you sprinkle some cinnamon on top you get more antioxidants,” Rifkin says. Plus, apples are made up of nearly 86% water, so munching on the fruit will help you stay hydrated as you bundle up.

Try this recipe: Baked Apple Fritters

Sweet potatoes

Like pumpkin, sweet potatoes are particularly high in vitamin A. One baked, medium-sized spud contains 438% of your daily value. Plus, you’ll get nearly 4 grams of fiber—mostly found in the skin—to fill your tummy. Sweet potatoes are also rich in vitamin C, calcium, potassium, and a bit of iron. “If you bake the sweet potato by itself, it’s generally a low-calorie food,” Rifkin says. Just try to avoid slathering fatty butter or margarine on top. A better bet: rosemary. It has B vitamins and cancer-fighting phytochemicals, Rifkin says. The compounds are thought to block carcinogens from acting on your body’s tissues, according to the American Cancer Society. Bonus: a little rosemary will give your sweet potatoes amazing flavor.

Try this recipe: Twice-Baked Sweet Potatoes With Bacon and Sour Cream

Squash

In addition to having some calcium and vitamin C, most varieties of squash are high in potassium. A study in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found a diet high in potassium (while also curbing sodium) could reduce risk of stroke by 21% and lower odds of developing heart disease. Squash is also rich in vitamin A and contains hunger-busting fiber. Take one of Rifkin’s favorites, butternut squash. A cup of baked cubes has 457% of your daily vitamin A, 7 grams of fiber, and just 82 calories. Even better, you can warm up all its parts. Bake the insides and season with garlic salt, pepper, even cumin or turmeric, Rifkin suggests. “You could also take out the seeds and bake them like pumpkin seeds,” Rifkin says.

Try this recipe: Gingery Butternut Squash and Tofu Curry

Ginger tea

If you’re thinking of reaching for a cup of tea, opt for a brew with ginger. “Ginger has thermogenic properties that can keep you warm,” Rifkin says. Because of its heating powers, ginger may also boost metabolism and promote blood flow. A study in Metabolism had one group of men consume 2 grams of ginger powder in a hot drink with their breakfast. Researchers found the men who drank the ginger beverage reported less hunger and greater fullness a few hours later than those who didn’t consume the ginger. Adding the spice to your tea could also help relieve body aches, like the ones you get after an intense workout. In a study for theInternational Journal of Preventative Medicine, one group of female athletes took three grams of ginger daily and reported less muscle soreness after six weeks than those who didn’t receive ginger.

Try this recipe: Honey-Ginger Tea

MORE FROM HEALTH.COM:

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TIME Diet/Nutrition

6 Strange But True Health Tips

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Grabbing a 100-calorie snack pack of cookies or pretzels may seem virtuous, but it's more likely to make you hungrier than if you ate something more substantial

Many methods to improve your health are pretty straightforward: to lose weight, eat less and exercise more; to boost your energy, get more sleep; to prevent dehydration, drink more water. Others, however, are totally counterintuitive. The following tips really do work—but they may leave you scratching your head.

Drink coffee to have a better nap

In a Japanese study that examined how to make the most of a nap, people who took a “coffee nap”—consuming about 200 milligrams of caffeine (the amount in one to two cups of coffee) and then immediately taking a 20-minute rest—felt more alert and performed better on computer tests than those who only took a nap.

HEALTH.COM: 12 Surprising Sources of Caffeine

Why does this work? A 20-minute nap ends just as the caffeine kicks in and clears the brain of a molecule called adenosine, maximizing alertness. “Adenosine is a byproduct of wakefulness and activity,” says Allen Towfigh, MD, medical director of New York Neurology & Sleep Medicine. “As adenosine levels increase, we become more fatigued. Napping clears out the adenosine and, when combined with caffeine, an adenosine-blocker, further reduces its effects and amplifies the effects of the nap.”

For healthy teeth, don’t brush after eating

Don’t brush your teeth immediately after meals and drinks, especially if they were acidic. Acidic foods—citrus fruits, sports drinks, tomatoes, soda (both diet and regular)—can soften tooth enamel “like wet sandstone,” says Howard R. Gamble, immediate past president of the Academy of General Dentistry. Brushing your teeth at this stage can speed up acid’s effect on your enamel and erode the layer underneath. Gamble suggests waiting 30 to 60 minutes before brushing.

HEALTH.COM: 20 Things That Can Ruin Your Smile

To wear a smaller size, gain weight

Muscle weight, that is. If two women both weigh 150 pounds and only one lifts weights, the lifter will more likely fit into a smaller pant size than her sedentary counterpart. Likewise, a 150-pound woman who lifts weights could very well wear the same size as a 140-pound woman who doesn’t exercise. The reason: Although a pound of fat weighs the same as a pound of muscle, muscle takes up less space, says Mark Nutting, fitness director of SACO Sport & Fitness in Saco, Maine. “You can get bigger muscles and get smaller overall if you lose the fat,” he says. “The bulk so many women fear only occurs if you don’t lose fat and develop muscle on top of it.” Cut back on calories and add weight to your workout to lose inches.

To eat less, eat more

Grabbing a 100-calorie snack pack of cookies or pretzels may seem virtuous, but it’s more likely to make you hungrier than if you ate something more substantial, says Amy Goodson, RD, dietitian for Texas Health Ben Hogan Sports Medicine. “Eating small amounts of carbohydrates does nothing but spike your blood sugar and leave you wanting more carbs.” Goodson recommends choosing a protein such as peanut butter or string cheese with an apple. “They are higher in calories per serving, but the protein and fat helps you get full faster and stay full longer—and you end up eating fewer calories overall,” she says.

HEALTH.COM: 17 High-Protein Snacks That Speed Up Weight Loss

Skip energy drinks when you’re tired

Energy drinks contain up to five times more caffeine than coffee, but the boost they provide is fleeting and comes with unpleasant side effects like nervousness, irritability, and rapid heartbeat, says Goodson. Plus, energy drinks often contain high levels of taurine, a central nervous system stimulant, and upwards of 50 grams of sugar per can (that’s 13 teaspoons worth!). The sweet stuff spikes blood sugar temporarily, only to crash soon after, leaving you sluggish and foggyheaded—and reaching for another energy drink.

HEALTH.COM: 14 Reasons You’re Tired All the Time

Drink a hot beverage to cool off

Which will cool you off faster on a steamy summer morning: iced coffee or hot? Two recent studies say the latter—and so do others where drinking hot tea in hot weather is the norm, like in India. When you sip a hot beverage, your body senses the change in temperature and increases your sweat production. Then, as the sweat evaporates from your skin, you cool off naturally.

This article originally appeared on Health.com

TIME Diet/Nutrition

Soda May Age You as Much as Smoking, Study Says

The link between soda and telomere length

Nobody would mistake sugary soda for a health food, but a new study published in the American Journal of Public Health just found that a daily soda habit can age your immune cells almost two years.

Senior study author Elissa Epel, PhD, professor of psychiatry at University of California San Francisco, wanted to look at the mechanisms behind soda’s storied link to conditions like diabetes, heart attack, obesity, and even higher rates of death. She studied telomeres, the caps at the end of chromosomes in every cell in our body, from white blood cells. Shorter telomeres have been linked to health detriments like shorter lifespans and more stress, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer, the study notes.

Epel and her team analyzed data from 5,309 adults in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) from about 14 years ago. They found that people who drank more sugary soda tended to have shorter telomeres. Drinking an 8-ounce daily serving of soda corresponded to 1.9 years of additional aging, and drinking a daily 20-ounce serving was linked to 4.6 more years of aging. The latter, the authors point out, is exactly the same association found between telomere length and smoking.

Only the sugary, bubbly stuff showed this effect. Epel didn’t see any association between telomere length and diet soda intake. “The extremely high dose of sugar that we can put into our body within seconds by drinking sugared beverages is uniquely toxic to metabolism,” she says.

She also didn’t see a significant link between non-carbonated sugary beverages, like fruit juice, which Epel says surprised her. But she thinks the results might be different if the data were more modern. “We think that the jury’s still out on sugared beverages—theoretically they’re just as bad,” she says. “But 14 years ago people were drinking a lot less sugared beverages…they were mostly drinking soda.” At the time of the study, 21% of adults in the study reported consuming 20 ounces or more of sugar-sweetened soda each day, but soda consumption has been on the decline for years.

Telomere length dwindles naturally as we age, but it may not be an irreversible process. Previous research shows that it’s possible to increase telomere length by as much as 10% over 5 years by stressing less and eating a healthy diet—no soda included.

Read next: Here’s How to Stop Teens From Drinking Soda

TIME Diet/Nutrition

How Healthy Are ‘Secret Menus’ at Restaurants?

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The answer is more complicated than we expected

For years, Jamba Juice has marketed healthy and nutritious smoothies blended with 100% fruit juice. But the website Hack the Menu points out a “secret menu” with items like “Red Gummy Bear” and “Pink Starburst“—both allegedly blended to taste like their candy namesakes. The rumored off-menu offerings sound a little sweeter, but potentially less healthy.

Jamba Juice is not alone in its reputation for having a secret menu: according to Hack the Menu, restaurant chains like Starbucks, In-N-Out Burger and Chipotle also oblige off-menu requests for those in the know. TIME looked into why restaurants might bother with a whole other menu, and whether secret menu options are always less healthy than their advertised counterparts. The answer is more complicated than we expected.

MORE: Try Ordering These Delicious-Sounding Drinks From Starbucks’ Secret Menu

Surprisingly, most nutritionists we spoke to had never heard of the concept of secret menus. Their feelings were mixed, but most said they were concerned about the lack of readily accessible nutritional information for off-menu items.

“So many consumers are looking for transparency,” said Keri Gans, a registered dietitian and author of The Small Change Diet. “If you want a secret menu, at least make it obvious what the calories are and [put] the nutrition analysis where it’s available for people to see.”

MORE: There’s a $10 Secret Menu Item At Arby’s Called the Meat Mountain

Excluding unhealthy items from a menu helps avoid having to disclose their lack of nutritional value. This is especially true in places like New York, where the law requires restaurant chains to display certain nutritional information in menus. That regulation doesn’t apply to items that aren’t on the menu, or those listed on a menu for less than 30 days, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene wrote in an e-mail to TIME. Secret menu items “undermine the intention of the rule,” though they’re technically legal, it said.

A lack of transparency becomes a potential problem for people with allergies, who may not be aware of what ingredients are included in the item they’re ordering, nutritionists said.

“To me, the most important thing is that the staff would be educated on what the ingredients are,” said Gans.

Spokespeople for most of the chains contacted by TIME denied the existence of a “secret menu,” but acknowledged that customers can customize their orders.

“Our people are trained to make what customers want with the ingredients we have,” said Chipotle communications director and spokesperson Chris Arnold in a statement. Nachos and a quesarito, a mammoth burrito blanked inside a quesadilla, are among the items that customers order off-menu at Chipotle, according to Hack the Menu.

MORE: Taco Bell Is Adding A Quesarito To Its Menu

But despite their shroud of secrecy, secret menus don’t appear to be all bad news, nutritionists said. Some have options that appear healthy, while others allow customers to modify a menu offering in a way that makes it healthier, said Jessica Levinson, founder of nutrition consulting business Nutritioulicious. She cited an option to swap out mayo for mustard at Burger King as one such option.

Registered dietitian Judy Caplan praised efforts to offer healthy options, but said she wasn’t surprised that some fast food restaurants would offer less healthy options off the menu. While fast food has become more nutritious in recent years, and chains have recently cut calories in new menu items by 12%, there are still many customers who want unhealthy food, she argued.

“When you’re in business,” she said, “the customer is always right.”

TIME Food & Drink

10 Ideas for Portable Breakfast Recipes

Ten Ideas for Breakfast
Danny Kim—Real Simple

These healthy, homemade treats are ready to fuel your commute

This article originally appeared on RealSimple.com.

1. Peanut Butter Granola: Maple sugar sweetens old-fashioned rolled oats and roasted peanuts. Get the recipe.

2. Whole-Grain Banana Muffins: Grab-and-go muffins are made healthier with Greek yogurt and flax meal. Get the recipe.

(MORE: 11 Recipes That Prove Bacon Makes Everything Better)

3. Creamy Mango Smoothie: Could breakfast get any easier? This tropical-flavored drink is ready in just five minutes. Get the recipe.

4. Avocado Toast: Here’s a benefit to starting your day with toast topped by creamy avocado: The fruit is loaded with fiber plus cholesterol-lowering monounsaturated fats. Get the recipe.

(MORE: 9 Healthy Predinner Snacks)

5. Bacon-Cheddar Grits: When there’s no time to eat at home, grits (and the parfait on the next slide) can be transported easily: Pack them in a spillproof jelly jar or a reusable container with a tight-fitting lid. Get the recipe.

6. Almond Butter, Yogurt and Fruit Parfait: Not an almond butter fan? Swap in peanut butter. You can also use agave nectar in place of the honey. Get the recipe.

(MORE: Easy Halloween Cupcakes)

7. Single-Serving Sausage Stratas: You can vary the taste of these delicious little all-in-one breakfasts with the sausages you use. Get the recipe.

8. Open-Faced Egg and Tomato Baguette: Think of this as a whole new (and healthy) take on the breakfast sandwich. Get the recipe.

(MORE: 12 Easy Snacks for Kids)

9. Breakfast Burrito: Just wrap the egg-filled tortilla in foil straight from the pan and head out the door. So much better than hitting the fast-food drive-up. Get the recipe.

10. Spiced Oat and Pear Scones: Nutmeg gives golden scones a slightly spicy, slightly nutty flavor. Get the recipe.

(MORE: Which Halloween Candy is Healthier?)

TIME Diet/Nutrition

Here’s How to Stop Teens From Drinking Soda

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When kids learn how far they’d have to walk to burn off the calories in a soda, they tend to buy smaller sizes or stop buying it altogether, suggests a new study published in the American Journal of Public Health.

Researchers analyzed more than 3,000 drink purchases by children ages 7 to 18 at stores in low-income Baltimore neighborhoods and found that sugary drinks accounted for 98% of the beverages kids bought. But when researchers put up colorful signs with calorie information, that figure dropped to 89%. The most effective sign was the one that said it would take a five-mile walk to burn off the calories in the drink. Researchers argue that while laws already require beverage manufacturers to post caloric information, calorie numbers may not mean all that much to many consumers. More practical information, including statistics about how long it will take to burn calories, is easier to grasp.

“This is a very low-cost way to get children old enough to make their own purchases to drink fewer sugar-sweetened beverages, and they appear to be effective even after they are removed,” says study author Sara N. Bleich, an associate professor at Johns Hopkins University.

MORE: The Soda Industry’s Promises Mean Nothing

Sugar-sweetened beverages like sodas and energy drinks contribute significantly to a number of public health ailments that harm children, including obesity. In low-income communities the problem is especially rampant: Sugary drink consumption accounts for about 15% of a minority adolescent’s caloric intake, more than twice the recommended quantity. Interventions like this might help decrease that disparity.

“People don’t really understand what it means to say a typical soda has 250 calories,” says Bleich. “If you’re going to give people calorie information, there’s probably a better way to do it.”

Read next: The Soda Industry’s Promises Mean Nothing

TIME Diet/Nutrition

Should I Eat Eggs?

Welcome to Should I Eat This?—our weekly poll of five experts who answer the food questions really gnawing at you.

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Illustration by Lon Tweeten for TIME

4/5 experts say yes.

The great breakfast conundrum seems a lot simpler when you ask a bunch of science types who know eggs inside and out (and sunny-side up). And most of them are pretty wild about eggs.

Each of the five experts noted that eggs are a fantastic source of vitamins—“one of nature’s most perfect foods,” gushes Kristin Kirkpatrick, RD, a nutrition expert at Cleveland Clinic, since a fatty neon yolk makes lots of those fat-soluble nutrients way easier for your body to use. Unlike many other foods packed with vitamins—like kale, say—you don’t have to combine eggs with fat to get the most out of them. “Whole eggs are a source of highly bioavailable lutein and zeaxanthin, two carotenoids that protect against oxidative stress, inflammation and age related macular degeneration,” says Maria Luz Fernandez, PhD, professor in University of Connecticut’s nutritional sciences department. One egg contains 35% of your daily choline, a key component for cognitive function that may protect against Alzheimer’s disease.

You can make a compelling “vitamin-filled” case for nearly any food Mother Nature manufactures, but egg’s secret sauce is what it doesn’t have. “When we eat more of A, we eat less of B,” says David Katz, MD, director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center. Eating eggs in the morning, for instance, helps steer us away from the carbier, meatier breakfast offerings, and that’s a good thing. A recent study showed that when people followed a low-carb diet for a year, they lost more weight and cut their heart disease risk factors more than the low-fat group.

Eggs don’t wreak havoc on your heart or cholesterol, several experts pointed out. Recent clinical studies have debunked that myth, and some evidence suggests they might actually be good for cholesterol. “They help raise your HDL ‘good’ cholesterol and may help in the prevention of some eye diseases,” says Thomas Wilson, associate professor of nutritional sciences at University of Massachusetts Lowell. And they keep you full. One large egg has 6 grams of protein.

Our lone dissenter Ronald Ross Watson, PhD, professor at the University of Arizona College of Public Health, doesn’t take issue with the nutritional composition of eggs—“When cooked and/or processed otherwise, they become a great source of essential protein, lipids, vitamins & minerals,” he writes in an email. He’s more miffed by the misappropriation of eggs, whose noble destiny is species survival and life development in birds, not to become your fancy frittata. “It remains a shame to use eggs for such purpose as feeding,” he says.

Sorry, chickens—but it looks like the egg comes first in this debate.

Read next: You Asked: Will Eating Before Bed Make Me Fat?

TIME Diet/Nutrition

Why Health Officials Are Concerned About Energy Drinks

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WendellandCarolyn—Getty Images

New report advocates for more regulation

The energy drink market is booming, but that’s not necessarily a good thing when it comes to public health, says the World Health Organization’s regional office for Europe.

In a new report in the journal Frontiers in Public Health, João Breda, who works in the division of noncommunicable diseases at WHO Europe, and his colleagues reviewed data on the health risks of energy drinks and the current policies that regulate them. They concluded that health concerns from the scientific and medical community are valid, and that consuming high levels of caffeine very quickly can cause negative health effects or “caffeine intoxication.” Those effects can include nausea, high blood pressure and heart palpitations. Some deaths have even been linked to energy drink consumption, like that of a 16-year-old girl who went into cardiac arrest after drinking the beverages, but none have been definitively proven.

MORE: What’s In Your Energy Drink?

WHO is especially concerned about what happens when people mix energy drinks and alcohol. “The consumption of high amounts of caffeine contained within energy drinks reduces drowsiness without diminishing the effects of alcohol resulting in a state of ‘wide-awake- drunkenness,’ keeping the individual awake longer with the opportunity to continue drinking,” the authors write in the journal. (A small study in July suggests the same thing: people who drank spirits mixed with energy drinks had a greater desire to keep drinking than those sipping regular mixed drinks.)

Sleep-starved college students aren’t the only ones guzzling energy drinks. The WHO report cites estimates that energy drinks make up 43% of caffeine exposure in children.

In Europe, some countries are taking energy drink regulation very seriously: Sweden has banned the sale of energy drinks to kids. In the U.S., energy drink regulation is incredibly weak, and depending on how an energy drink makes it to market, it may not even have to disclose how much caffeine it contains. The WHO report recommends that policymakers adopt more measures to get a tighter grip on the industry, including establishing an upper limit for caffeine content, enforcing labeling and marketing standards, regulating the sale of energy drinks to kids, training healthcare workers about the risks and even screening patients with a history of diet issues and substance abuse for dangerous energy drink consumption. They also call for more research on how energy drinks affect us. “From a review of the literature, it would appear that concerns in the scientific community and among the public regarding the potential adverse health effects of the increased consumption of energy drinks are broadly valid,” they write—a finding that warrants further research, policy and caution.

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