It is likely to contain little fruit juice—but a lot of water and sugar (generally corn syrup). Thus your “tropical punch” may contain only 10% juice or your “cranberry juice cocktail” just 25% juice. Manufacturers must disclose the type and percentage of juices in a fruit beverage on the labels.
Compare “low fat” or “low carb” cookies and cakes carefully: Many contain nearly as many calories as conventional products.
If you’re looking for the most nutritious yogurt, skip the fruit-flavored varieties. Most of these contain fruit jam, which is not a significant source of nutrients but does add the equivalent of eight or nine teaspoons of sugar per cup. The jam also takes up space otherwise filled by yogurt—so jam sweetened.
varieties contain less calcium, protein, and other nutrients than plain yogurt or flavors such as vanilla or lemon, which don’t contain jam. The best option: add fresh fruit to plain yogurt.
Be careful when wiping up juices from uncooked poultry, which can contain harmful bacteria such as salmonella. You don’t need a special “disinfectant” sponge or soap, just common sense. Sponges can harbor the germs and then spread them counters or dishes, even the next day. So use one sponge or dishcloth for such spills, another one for washing dishes. At the very least, wash your sponges with soap and very hot water (or use the dishwasher), and replace them often. You can use paper towels for cleaning up after handling poultry and meat.
Bring cooking water to a boil before adding vegetables.
Allowing water to heat up slowly with the vegetables in it destroys more nutrients. Watch what you order at the coffee bar. Plain coffee is virtually free of fat and calories. But add lots of whole milk or cream and it’s a different story. Look at a mocha “grande” (16 ounces) at one national chain: almost 400 calories and 25 grams of fat. Even a merely “tall” caffè latte (12 ounces) containing whole milk has 180 calories and 10 grams of fat.
Catch a cantaloupe—it’s the most nutritious melon. One cup (cubed) or a six-ounce slice (without skin) supplies more than the recommended daily intake of vitamin A, in the form of beta carotene. In fact, a serving of cantaloupe contains nearly 5 milligrams of beta carotene and 68 milligrams of vitamin C— nearly the daily RDA.
Weigh your pizza options.
If, as is often the case, the slice from your local pizzeria weighs 8 ounces and is loaded with cheese and pepperoni or sausage, it probably has more than 700 calories and 40 grams (or about half a day’s worth) of fat. Frozen pizzas, at least, have nutrition labels, so you can compare brands.
Give celery a second look. A satisfyingly crunchy snack, it adds flavor to soups, salads, and stews. A large stalk has only 6 calories, plus small amounts of potassium, vitamin C, folate, and fiber. It has 35 milligrams of sodium—not much, but more than most vegetables. Like all vegetables, it contains phytochemicals, including lutein (a carotenoid). However, chewing celery does not result in a net loss of calories, as some people claim. Eating celery won’t subtract inches from your waistline—but at least it won’t add any.
If cooking dried beans seem like a project, try split peas or lentils. These require no soaking, so lentil or split pea soup cooks up fairly fast. Simmer the dried legumes with seasonings and cutup vegetables until the peas or lentils are tender. You’ll get lots of fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals.
You should have your blood pressure tested every two years, more frequently if you are over 60 or have elevated readings. And have your blood cholesterol measured every five years— but more often if your results are abnormal or if you are at high risk for heart disease.
Women should have an annual mammogram starting at age 50. Those at higher risk should start earlier, and some should also have annual MRI scans, starting as early as age 30. Clinical breast exams are important, too—consult your doctor.
All women need a regular schedule for Pap smears to detect cervical cancer.
you should have your first screening by age 21 (depending on when you become sexually active), then annually until 30. After 30, if tests are negative for three consecutive years, you can be screened every two or three years, unless you are at high risk. Young women should get the HPV vaccine to greatly reduce the risk of cervical cancer.
Get tested for colon cancer, starting at age 50, but earlier if you are at high risk. You can have an occult blood test annually plus a sigmoidoscopy every five years or, preferably, a colonoscopy every 10 years. If you have abnormal results, you need more frequent colonoscopies.
If you are 60 or older, get the vaccine for shingles (called Zostavax), which was approved in 2006. It prevents about half of all shingles cases and greatly reduces the severity and duration of those cases that do occur. It is a more powerful version of the vaccine currently given to children to prevent chickenpox. No one knows how long immunity will last, but one shot should protect for at least four years, probably much longer.
Get your annual flu shot—October is the ideal time. In particular, if you are over 50, have asthma, lung or heart disease, an impaired immune system, or are otherwise at high risk for serious complications from the flu, don’t put off getting the shot. In fact, recent research suggests that even healthy adults under 50 (including children) can benefit dramatically and should consider getting an annual flu shot. The current vaccine is unlikely to cause side effects.
Get vaccinated against pneumonia.
The shot protects against strains of pneumococcal bacteria, which are responsible for up to half of all cases of pneumonia in this country. The vaccine has few side effects, usually nothing more than a sore arm. Those over 65 should get the pneumonia shot, as well as anyone at high risk for serious or life-threatening complications from pneumonia (such as people with chronic kidney disease, diabetes, lung or heart disease, and HIV disease).
One of many reasons to quit smoking: a report based on the Framingham Heart Study’s 26year follow up of over 4,000 subjects concluded that independent of other factors, “the risk of stroke increased as the number of cigarettes smoked increased.” Simply by quitting, even longterm smokers can reduce this risk to the same level as nonsmokers within five years.