Beans, lentils, and dried peas are all good sources of soluble fiber, which, if consumed regularly, may help lower blood cholesterol levels.
Cook with fresh herbs. They contain powerful antioxidant compounds, according to a USDA analysis. Herbs that scored highest by far were oregano and marjoram—just a tablespoon or two of the chopped.
herbs would supply significant amounts of antioxidants. Fresh herbs are more potent (in flavor and antioxidant power) than their dried counterparts, and culinary herbs, in general, have more antioxidant potential than medicinal ones, such as ginkgo.
To boost your calcium, eat sardines. When eaten with their small edible bones, three small fish (one ounce each) supply 370 milligrams of calcium, more than a cup of milk. Canned salmon, also eaten with its bones, supplies nearly as much calcium.
Try pink or red grapefruit. Ounce for ounce, the pink variety has more than 40 times more beta carotene than white grapefruit. And the darker the pulp, the more lycopene. This carotenoid, also plentiful in tomatoes, may help lower the risk of certain cancers.
Don’t blindly trust those plastic pop-up timers on poultry. They work fairly well but doublecheck the results. Insert a meat thermometer in the thickest part of the thigh. The temperature should reach 185°, and the leg should move easily. Juices should run clear from breast meat. Most labels also suggest that you time your bird: multiply the weight (in pounds) by 20 minutes—or more for a stuffed bird. Cook it that long even if the popper pops earlier or never pops at all.
Don’t believe rumors about the artificial sweetener aspartame, claiming that it causes everything from multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, and brain tumors to Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, headaches, and blindness. Aspartame has been more intensively studied than almost any other food additive. The FDA, the American Medical Association, and the World Health Organization have concluded that it is safe. Aspartame’s only proven danger is for people with phenylketonuria, an uncommon genetic disorder— the labels warn about this.
Weigh your bagel. Many fresh baked bagels now weigh six or seven ounces and pack 500 calories or more. Plain bagels, like any plain bread, have 70 to 80 calories per ounce.
Eat canned salmon—it’s an easy way to get lots of heart-healthy omega3 fatty acids and, if you eat the soft bones, calcium. But if you want wild salmon, check the label. Until recently, nearly all canned salmon was wild caught, which has fewer contaminants than farmed. But more companies are now using farmed. Alaskan salmon is usually wild, and the label will say “wild.” If it’s called “Atlantic salmon,” it is farmed.
Limit your intake of vitamin A, since it can weaken your bones. A study found that consuming more than 6,600 IU of vitamin A from food or supplements increased the risk of fractures. The main problem is supplements: don’t take a separate A pill, and check how much is in your multivitamin. And check the labels on highly fortified breakfast cereals. Beta carotene, which the body converts to vitamin A, is safe for your bones.
To keep dried peas and beans from causing flatulence, discard the soaking water, and don’t consume the cooking water. This eliminates more than half of the indigestible carbohydrates that cause gas.
Don’t stuff a turkey hours before cooking it. Stuff the bird only when you’re ready to put it in the oven. If you refrigerate a large stuffed turkey for later cooking, the stuffing may not chill fast enough. Because any stuffing (bread or rice) is starchy, it provides an environment bacteria can thrive in. Cooking the stuffing separately is easier and safer. And don’t let the bird sit around after dinner. Always remove the stuffing from the cavity and refrigerate separately.
Don’t assume that a wine cooler is “light.” It isn’t: a 12ounce bottle has more alcohol than a 12ounce can of beer, 5ounce glass of wine, or an ounce of liquor. It also contains 150 to 300 calories.
It’s okay to eat an egg with a blood spot. That does not indicate that an egg has been fertilized or is old. Most eggs with blood spots are removed during the grading process, but they are safe to eat.
Don’t shy away from shellfish. Many types—notably crab, scallops, mussels, clams, and lobster—are actually slightly lower in cholesterol than chicken or beef. Even though shrimp and crayfish have about twice as much cholesterol as meat, they contain much less fat, and their fat is largely unsaturated and includes heart-healthy omega3 fatty acids.
Drink the leftover milk from your breakfast cereal bowl. A significant amount of the vitamins added to fortify most cereals winds up in the milk, so it’s especially nutritious.
Try carrot juice. A cup has as much beta carotene and vitamin C as three medium carrots. Unfortunately, it has less fiber than one carrot.
Don’t think that fruit only preserves are healthier. Most jams and jellies are about half fruit, half added sugar. Fruit only preserves are usually sweetened with fruit juice concentrate, which is mostly fructose and has as many calories as table sugar and no nutritional advantage. Cook in castiron pots to increase the iron in foods cooked in them. The more acidic the ingredients (such as tomatoes) and the longer you cook them, the more iron ends up in the finished dish.
It’s safe to refrigerate meat or poultry in-store wrapping. Actually, by not rewrapping it you may reduce the health risks, since every time you handle raw meat you increase the chance of bacterial contamination.
Don’t shy away from olives. They are high in fat, but the fat is mostly monounsaturated and thus heart healthy. An ounce of pitted olives (about four “jumbo”) averages only 30 calories and 3 grams of fat. Olives also supply some calcium, fiber, vitamin E, and healthful phytochemicals, such as phenols and lignans. The main drawback is sodium, about 200 milligrams per ounce— but you can rinse off some of this.
Look for lean cuts of pork. Many cuts are about one-third leaner than they were 25 years ago. The leanest is pork tenderloin, which has just 4 grams of fat and 135 calories in a well-trimmed 3ounce cooked serving.