Is your shopping cart filled with heavily processed foods? Some might seem to be time-savers, yet cost more than fresh foods and offer few nutrients. Others might actually harm your health. The first foods to avoid are processed meats from hot dogs to deli cold cuts, including salami and bologna. Even those labeled “low calorie” are likely to have questionable preservatives, such as salts and nitrates. Studies show that these are the worst types of meats for your heart. Try freshly prepared turkey and chicken instead. In a hurry? A rotisserie chicken cooked at your favorite market is a good alternative. Next, pass on processed foods made with refined flour. These include typical breakfast cereals, white breads and similar baked goods. For the most nutrition, look for stone-ground whole-grain breads and steel-cut oats. Substitute a mashed slice of avocado for typical sandwich spreads. You’ll get great taste and great nutrition. Instead of bagged chips and other packaged snacks, crunch an ounce of nuts. For only a slight difference in calories, you get protein, healthy fats and fiber. Bottled salad dressings — even diet or low-fat versions — often have corn syrup along with many additives. Whisk up your own vinaigrette with extra virgin olive oil and vinegar, or try nonfat yogurt with lemon juice, herbs and garlic. If you’re short on time during the week…  read on >

(HealthDay News) — If you have diabetes, it’s important to make every food decision count. The American Diabetes Association identifies these “superfoods” that offer plenty of potential health benefits: Beans Dark-green leafy vegetables Citrus fruit Sweet potatoes Berries Tomatoes Fish that is high in omega-3 fatty acids Nuts Low-fat milk and yogurt

If cookies, pizza and potato chips seem to pull you in, you’re not alone. A new study finds that images of junk food are, indeed, more distracting than those of healthy food. The researchers also found, though, that just a few tastes of junk food can significantly reduce its appeal. “We wanted to see if pictures of food, particularly high-fat, high-calorie food, would be a distraction for people engaged in a complicated task,” said co-author Howard Egeth, a professor in the department of psychological and brain sciences at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. The researchers showed the pictures to 18 participants, most of them undergraduate students. “We showed them carrots and apples, and it slowed them down,” Egeth said in a university news release. “We showed them bicycles and thumb tacks, and it slowed them down. But when we showed them chocolate cake and hot dogs, these things slowed them down about twice as much.” The researchers then repeated the experiment with 18 new participants, but first gave them two small candy bars before they began their task. This time, the study found that images of junk food were no more distracting than pictures of healthy food or nonfood items. The findings were published online Oct. 26 in the journal Psychonomic Bulletin and Review. The researchers believe the study findings highlight people’s built-in bias for…  read on >

When you were growing up, Mom might have told you that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. But when you’re an adult trying to lose weight, you may not need to eat breakfast if you’re just not hungry first thing in the morning. Dieters have long been told to start the day with breakfast to stave off mid-morning hunger pangs and a dash to the breakroom for donuts. But when researchers compared the weight-loss results of a group of dieters who ate breakfast to those who didn’t, they found no differences on the scale. The study, published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, followed nearly 300 people over a 4-month period. Another study done in the United Kingdom and published in the same journal found similar results. While skipping breakfast in an attempt to starve yourself could backfire and find you gorging at lunchtime, it’s OK to simply wait until you’re really hungry to eat your first meal of the day. Postponing the calorie intake could give you more flexibility later on, should you have a snack craving at midday or want an extra protein portion at dinner. Another option is to eat a very small morning meal, like a half-cup of cereal with a splash of nonfat milk. If you’ll be on the run and unable to stop when hunger…  read on >