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Egg yolks, avocado, and 9 other high-calorie foods that can help with weight loss

Egg yolks, avocado, and 9 other high-calorie foods that can help with weight loss

Avocados and egg yolks are calorie-dense — and healthy.

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Avocados and egg yolks are calorie-dense — and healthy.
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Ekaterina Markelova/Shutterstock

If you want to lose weight, you should eat fewer calories, right? Not necessarily. All calories are not created equal, and a diet that’s low in calories but high in the wrong type could still lead to weight gain. Alternatively, a diet that includes certain high-calorie, high-fat foods can help you achieve a healthy weight – and improve your overall health.

Even Weight Watchers has adjusted its programming to better reflect research on the benefits of healthy high-calorie foods. In 2018, the company introduced a new program that allows members to eat unlimited amounts of more than 200 foods – including higher-calorie options like beans and eggs.

Here are experts’ picks for high-calorie foods that can help you achieve a healthy weight.

Avocado is the king of good fats

Candice Seti, a San Diego-based psychologist, personal trainer, and nutrition coach known as The Weight Loss Therapist, called these ubiquitous fruits “king” when it comes to controlling hunger and increasing satiety levels.

“The monounsaturated fat in avocados is the heart-healthy, cholesterol-lowering kind, known as oleic acid,” she said. Avocados help defend against heart disease and are packed with fiber, which aids in digestion and helps you feel fuller, she said. “They also have a powerful dose of potassium and a bit of protein to round it all out,” Seti added.

Try slicing avocado in salads or on eggs, adding some slices to a burger, or even using it to replace butter in baking recipes.

One avocado clocks in at about 322 calories, according to the United States Department of Agriculture.

Read more: 6 fast ways to ripen an avocado

Macadamia nuts are high in the healthiest fats

At nearly 20 calories per macadamia nut, these are some of the fattiest nuts on the market. However, this pricey nut is “100% cholesterol free and contains palmitoleic acid, which can improve your metabolism and help your body maintain healthy levels of insulin,” Seti said.

Rachel Fine, a registered dietitian in New York City, recommended tossing a few fatty nuts on a dish to “help to reduce spikes in blood sugar and promote between-meals satiety and satisfaction.” In turn, you’ll help maintain appetite and “indirectly promote overall weight management,” she added.

Egg yolks help fill you up and provide excellent nutrients

The “healthy” option on a breakfast menu is often the egg-white omelette, but Seti suggested eating the yolks too, even though that adds about 60 calories per egg. “Even though egg yolks do contain cholesterol, most studies have shown that eating egg yolks actually improves your cholesterol levels and lowers the risk of heart disease,” she said. They can also be more satisfying and prevent you from craving that mid-morning snack.

Seti also lauded yolks for their high amounts of protein, selenium, choline, lutein, vitamin B2, vitamin B12, and vitamin A. Just don’t go overboard: Some experts recommend consuming less than one egg a day since some research still connects them with heart disease risk.

Avocado oil is good for your ticker, too

Dieting doesn’t mean cutting out all oils. Avocado oil, which has 124 calories per tablespoon, is “loaded with healthy monounsaturated fats and several antioxidants,” Seti said. It’s also high-heat-stable, meaning that – unlike, say, canola oil, which also has heart-healthy fats – it can better tolerate the high heats used in frying and searing. Using an oil with a lower smoke point risks releasing free radicals, which can harm your health.

Chia seeds are high in healthy fats and omega-3s

A 1-ounce serving of chia seeds contains about 138 calories, and about 40% of the chia seed is fiber. That fiber can “help you feel full while maintaining your digestive health,” Seti said. The seeds are also great for bone health because they’re high in both calcium and magnesium. Try them as a topping for oatmeal or yogurt, or blended into a smoothie.

Almonds are a great snack

A cup of raw almonds, which goes for about 200 calories, is a healthy and filling snack that can help with weight management – and more. A large handful of almonds contains 3 grams of fiber and 6 grams of protein; both help with satiety. The nuts also contain 35% of your recommended daily amounts of vitamin E and manganese, Seti said, and are a good source of magnesium, riboflavin, copper, and phosphorous. They’ve got some calcium and iron to boot, too.

Almond-crusted salmon.

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Almond-crusted salmon.
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The Cheesecake Factory

Eating more salmon is a great way to maintain weight

This dietitian favorite is abundant in omega-3 polyunsaturated fats, which, like all healthy fats, can help keep you full and prevent blood sugar dips and spikes. They also have anti-inflammatory properties are “metabolized into EPA and DHA, which are power nutrients for brain health,” Fine said. These healthy fats also “aid with digestion, hormone production, vitamin transport, vitamin absorption, and even bone health,” she added.

Ghee is calorie-dense but not necessarily unhealthy

Ghee, a type of clarified butter often used in Indian cuisine, contains less lactose than butter and seems to support gut health, which in turn can promote a healthy weight. “The [short-chain fatty acid] in ghee is now recognized as a ‘prebiotic,’ something which creates an environment conducive for the gut-friendly bacteria to prosper,” Business Insider India reported. Ghee has about 90 calories per tablespoon.

Sardines won’t pack on pounds, and are an excellent source of Vitamin D

At just under 200 calories per can of sardines, these little fish can make a great snack, salad topping, or spread addition. High in omega-3s, “just one can of sardines will meet your daily recommended dose of vitamin B12 and 63% of your recommended Vitamin D,” Seti said.

Full-fat dairy is the way to go

Skipping low-fat versions of yogurt and cottage cheese may help keep off the pounds. In fact, eating high-fat dairy has been linked to a reduced risk of obesity over time. “By eating the full-fat form of dairy products, you might actually eat fewer calories throughout the day than you would otherwise,” said Dr. Brian Quebbemann, a bariatric surgeon with the Chapman Medical Center in California. Full fat often means full flavor, so people can satisfy cravings with a smaller amount.

A study from Tufts University looking at data including over 3,000 people also found that those who ate the most dairy fat had a 46% lower risk of developing Type 2 diabetes than people who ate the least dairy fat.

“When someone eats full-fat dairy versus low-fat dairy, the fat will actually delay the absorption of the milk’s sugar,” which makes blood sugar rise more slowly over a longer period of time, said Laura Cipullo, a New York City registered dietitian, certified diabetes educator, and author of “Women’s Health Body Clock Diet.” “Consequently, insulin follows this same pattern [and] less circulating insulin means less risk for the development of insulin resistance and diabetes.”

Full-fat dairy products like Greek yogurt and heavy cream are also lower in lactose, so they may be easier to digest.

There’s a reason olive oil is so popular

Fine applauds olive oil for its abundance of omega-9 monounsaturated fatty acids (also known as oleic acid), which “protect our hearts,” she said. Even at 119 calories per tablespoon, this universally loved oil helps to decrease LDL cholesterol.

Plus, its been convincingly linked weight loss: A large 2016 study in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology journal found that people who were assigned a Mediterranean diet supplemented with olive oil lost more weight than those on a control diet or the same diet supplemented with nuts.

Tech elites are paying $7,000 to freeze stem cells from liposuctioned fat as a ‘back up’ for a longer life

Tech elites are paying $7,000 to freeze stem cells from liposuctioned fat as a ‘back up’ for a longer life

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Shutterstock
  • A startup called Forever Labs freezes and stores people’s stem cells as a kind of back-up drive for their future selves.
  • The company is now offering a way to bank stem cells from fat stores instead of bone marrow.
  • Stem cells have a range of potential therapeutic uses in conditions such as diabetes and heart disease, since they can turn into any kind of cell.
  • But for now, stem cells are used only for very limited purposes, like treating cancer.

Your next effort to prolong your life could involve an awkward conversation with your plastic surgeon. Don’t throw away the fat you’ve just removed from my liposuction procedure, you might ask them. Instead, save the excess material because it’s rich in stem cells.

Beginning this week, longevity startup Forever Labs will offer its customers the ability to bank the stem cells in their fat stores – the same material that’s removed and destroyed after liposuction. Those stem cells are seen as a key component of health. Some believe they may also hold the keys to a longer, better life.

Founded in 2015, Forever Labs collaborates with a network of specialized doctors to siphon stem cells from customers’ bone marrow. The company is now also partnering with some plastic surgeons to allow people who are already undergoing liposuction to bank the stem cells from the fat that would otherwise be discarded.

“If you’re going to throw them in the garbage, you might as well bank them,” Mark Katakowski, Forever Labs’ co-founder and CEO, told Business Insider.

Forever Labs then freezes the stem cells, delivers them to one of its cell-banking facilities, and maintains them under careful conditions. The hope is that one day, more advanced science will allow patients to have their own young cells injected back into their bodies. According to this line of thinking, these cells could then do everything from fight aging to help treat diseases like diabetes.

“This is like a back-up,” Katakowski said.

To harvest a customer’s stem cells from the bone marrow extracted by an orthopedic surgeon, Forever Labs charges $2,500 for the procedure plus $250 per year for storage – or a one-time payment of $7,000. The new method using fat is $1,000 cheaper for the procedure, but the annual storage fees or one-time payment cost the same.

What a bank of your stem cells might be used for

A tray of stem cells at the University of Connecticut's Stem Cell Institute.

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A tray of stem cells at the University of Connecticut’s Stem Cell Institute.
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Getty Images/Spencer Platt

A medical physicist and former research scientist for the Henry Ford Health System in Michigan, Katakowski was spurred to bank his own stem cells in 2015 after studying their therapeutic potential in mice.

Stem cells are unique because they can develop into many different cell types, from those that make up muscle tissue to those that form the neurons in our brain. For that reason, scientists have long hoped that stem cells could be used to regenerate failing tissues or organs as an alternative to transplants, which are expensive, time-consuming, and come with a risk of rejection. Instead of getting a transplanted kidney from a donor, for example, a patient could one day hope to receive a sample of his or her own stem cells, programmed to generate a new kidney.

But stem cells are only widely used today for one procedure: bone marrow transplants. The transplants are typically used by leukemia patients who undergo the treatment in conjunction with chemotherapy as a means of replacing the healthy stem cells that the chemo has destroyed.

“Right now that’s the only approved use of stem cells,” Allison Mayle, a cancer researcher at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, told Business Insider.

In recent years, scientists have been studying how to use stem cells to treat a range of other conditions that involve a specific type of failing cell, such as type 1 diabetes (where the body’s immune system destroys the pancreas’ insulin-producing beta cells), macular degeneration, and heart disease. So far, however, those trials have only included a very small number of patients; more extensive studies have only been carried out in lab animals.

Ronna Parsa, a Los Angeles-based orthopedic surgeon, contracts with Forever Labs to do bone marrow stem cell draws. Since she started in March, she’s done roughly five procedures, she said. Parsa also banked her own stem cells with Forever Labs.

“After doing the research I can just see the vast potential for these types of therapies in the future,” Parsa told Business Insider. “By freezing my 32-year-old stem cells, hopefully when I’m 50 or 60 or 70 I can use those.”

Mayle agrees that the therapies could have potential, but she isn’t sure they’ll come to fruition in time for most patients to see a benefit.

“Would this be something that’s going to happen in our lifetime? It’s hard to tell,” Mayle said. “There certainly are things that could work in the next five to ten years, but they also might not.”

‘An ace in my pocket’

Nevertheless, stem cell banking is beginning to emerge as a trend. One recent report projected that the global stem cell banking market would grow from $6.3 billion in 2018 to $9.3 billion by 2023. Katakowski wouldn’t share how many customers he’s had so far, but said most hail from areas with tech meccas, like Silicon Valley and New York City.

In the US, hundreds of providers currently offer stem cell banking. A handful also offer unproven anti-aging therapies using the cells. One such company, Houston-based Celltex Therapeutics, used to inject patients with retrieved stem cells, and once treated Texas governor Rick Perry. But Celltex stopped offering the service in the US in 2012 after regulators warned them that they lacked federal approval.

Katakowski said Forever Labs is not offering any stem cell therapies, just the ability to store the cells until peer-reviewed science makes proven therapies available.

“In the back of your mind you know you’ve got it,” Katakowski said. “It gives you a little piece of mind. Is it going to be a get-out-of-jail-free card or an ace in my pocket? It might.”

There’s even more evidence that cheese is good for you — and might even protect your heart

There’s even more evidence that cheese is good for you — and might even protect your heart

Cheese may not be such a heart-clogger after all.

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Cheese may not be such a heart-clogger after all.
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iStock
  • A study of middle-aged, overweight adults in Ireland suggests that eating cheese isn’t bad for your cholesterol. In fact, there’s some evidence full-fat cheese may have a protective effect on the heart.
  • Scientists think there might be something special about the way calcium and protein is arranged in cheese that creates this effect.
  • They call it the “cheese matrix.”

Cheese fans have long felt that enjoying some protein-packed, fatty cheese is the ticket to a better life.

Now science is starting to back them up.

Cheese is high in saturated fat, which is often considered dangerous for your heart. Most nutritionists say we should only nibble limited doses of the heart-clogging fat.

But nutrition experts around the world are discovering in study after study that dairy may not be as bad for your heart as once thought. Certain kinds of fatty dairy, including cheese, could even help lower cholesterol, though more robust studies of larger groups of cheese-eaters are needed to know for sure.

In the latest study, researchers found that middle-aged, overweight adults who ate full-fat cheddar cheese reduced their cholesterol more than peers eating reduced fat cheese or butter, suggesting there’s something special about the way old-fashioned cheese works inside the body. (The study was funded, in part, by Irish dairy companies, but the researchers reached their conclusions independently.)

Study participants ate huge amounts of full-fat cheddar cheese for six weeks straightcheese

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INSIDER

The food scientists behind the latest cheese investigation think they have zeroed in on something special about the aged, fatty food that makes it better for cholesterol than other dairy products.

This is what they call the cheese matrix: the specific way that nutrients like protein and calcium are arranged inside the yummy blocks.

“I suppose the ‘cheese matrix’ does make it sound very mystical,” lead study author Emma Feeney, who studies human nutrition and metabolism at University College Dublin, told Business Insider. “It’s really not, it’s just a fancy word for the overall structure.”

Feeney’s study of 164 overweight, middle aged Irish adults, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition earlier this month, found that participants who incorporated blocks of full-fat Irish cheddar cheese in their diets, while limiting other dairy intake to just two ounces of milk per day, didn’t gain weight.

Instead, participants lowered both their total cholesterol and levels of so-called “bad” LDL cholesterol. They ate a ton of cheese while doing it, too: 120 grams a day, or more than half a standard Irish cheese block. It’s the kind of cheese block meant to serve an entire household of cheese lovers.

The findings go hand in hand with another study published in July, which followed more than 2,900 American adults for more than two decades. That study found people who consumed full-fat dairy had no greater risk of dying from any cause, including heart attacks, than anyone else.

Increasingly, food scientists are discovering that counting calories or focusing on avoiding specific food groups, like carbohydrates or fat, isn’t really the secret to a long or healthy life.

“We need to stop thinking about foods in terms of their fat and their saturated fat content, and thinking about them as a whole food,” Feeney said.

During the study, Feeney broke participants down into four groups. The first group were the full-fat cheese eaters, ingesting the whopping 120 grams of cheddar a day. A second group of study participants ate reduced-fat cheddar and butter. A third ate butter in addition to protein powder and calcium supplements (mimicking the nutritional value of cheese), and a fourth group had no cheese at all.

Full-fat cheese eaters reduced their cholesterol most effectively, while the reduced-fat cheese eaters and butter-plus-supplement group lowered their cholesterol a bit, but not as well.

The study authors think this might be evidence that calcium and protein in cheese, eaten as a whole food and not as a supplement or reduced-fat diet food, may best reduce the artery-clogging effects of butterfat on the body.

There’s a big caveat, however. Since so many people dropped out of the no-cheese-allowed group (who wants to volunteer to not eat cheese for six weeks?) the study numbers in that category aren’t robust enough to know for sure that eating cheese can actively help reduce cholesterol, compared to not eating any cheese at all.

“We wouldn’t be able to conclusively say that from these results,” Feeney cautioned. “But certainly, it does look that way.”

What’s so special about cheese?

Cheddar cheese-making includes a process called 'cheddaring.'

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Cheddar cheese-making includes a process called ‘cheddaring.’
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Shutterstock

Nutritionists from around the world are starting to notice that people who eat more fermented dairy products, like cheese and yogurt, are at a lower risk for developing heart disease and Type-2 diabetes. While the reasons why aren’t fully understood, there are a couple big clues.

The first has to do with dairy protein.

Casein, a complete protein in cheese and milk, digests slower than most other animal proteins. Casein is a big part of the protein component in dairy: in sheep’s milk cheese, for example, anywhere between 76-83% of the proteins are casein.

Cheese is also more fat-concentrated than milk, because cheese-making separates liquid whey from curds, adding in bacteria and converting milk sugars into lactic acid, making the product less watery.

In the case of cheddar, there’s a “cheddaring” process in which salt is added and the product is stacked, turned, and aged. During this time, bacteria break down the proteins in cheddar cheese, giving it a characteristically chewy texture and cheesy flavor.

But not everyone thinks this aged dairy protein is good for us.

Thomas Colin Campbell, biochemist and author of The China Study, has taken a critical view of casein and spent decades studying how plant-based diets are better for health than animal products.

Campbell does acknowledge, however, that breaking nutrition down into individual components in food doesn’t create a clear picture of how our bodies process what we eat.

“Investigating the independent effects of one substance at a time, as with casein, is very incomplete and misleading, even though such information can be very valuable as a stepping stone to a larger truth,” he wrote on his blog.

Don’t break the membrane

There is one more potential explanation for why cheese fat may be better for us than butter fat, and it lies in something called the milkfat globule membrane. The “MGM” is a tiny outer shell that surrounds individual fatty acid droplets (lipids) in milk, and it isn’t preserved in butter.

“When you make butter, you break that membrane up, and it’s actually drained off,” Feeney said.

(Other MGM-rich dairy, like cream, contains twice the milkfat globule membranes of butter per gram of fat, and won’t raise LDL cholesterol levels, either.)

Despite the seemingly good news about cheese and cholesterol, Feeneysays moderation is still key:

“We would not recommend that people go off and eat 120 grams of cheese every day,” she said. But “a piece of cheese, the recommended portions of cheese, are not going to do you any harm.”

11 foods with a bad reputation that you can feel good about eating — including coffee, butter, and cheese

11 foods with a bad reputation that you can feel good about eating — including coffee, butter, and cheese

Cheese, carbs, gluten — none of these things are inherently bad.

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Cheese, carbs, gluten — none of these things are inherently bad.
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INSIDER

It seems like there are so many rules about what you can and can’t or should and shouldn’t eat.

Nutrition doesn’t have to be so complicated. Plenty of foods that people think of as unhealthy really aren’t that bad, and can even be good for you.

As a general rule, food – real food, with as little processing or packaging as possible – is not bad for you. You can eat too much of many foods, especially foods that aren’t vegetables, and most of us could improve our diets by eating more plant-based foods.

But that doesn’t mean eating carbs or fatty foods are off-limits. Many foods that have been demonized, like those containing gluten or dairy, can be important parts of a healthy diet for most people.

Here’s what the science actually says about ingredients like salt, caffeine, and fat – and why you shouldn’t worry about eating them, as long as it’s in moderation.


Let’s get straight to the good stuff — cheese can be part of a healthy diet.

Sure, cheese is often packed with saturated fat. It can be full of sodium too, and shouldn’t make up the majority of your plate. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t eat one of the most delightful foods on the planet.

Cheese is nutrient-packed. It’s also a good source of protein, calcium, vitamin B12, and healthy fatty acids that may lower diabetes risk. As a fermented food, it may help boost levels of good gut bacteria that are essential for health. Studies also indicate that cheese intake seems to be associated with a lower risk for heart disease and it may even lower levels of bad cholesterol, though more research is needed.


Eggs are excellent sources of protein and won’t raise your cholesterol.

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Wikimedia Commons

Eggs are fantastic sources of protein and they are full of other nutrients, including choline, a nutrient that’s essential for brain development.

But eggs are also full of cholesterol, which for many years led researchers to encourage people to limit egg intake. Fortunately, that dietary recommendation has changed.

It turns out that for the vast majority of people, dietary cholesterol (from foods you eat) doesn’t really have much of an effect on blood cholesterol.


Coffee — and caffeine in general — may provide significant health benefits and reduce cancer and liver disease risk.

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DGLimages/Shutterstock

You’ll often hear people say that they’re trying to limit themselves to one cup of coffee a day or to cut it out entirely.

But when you look at the health benefits associated with coffee consumption, you might wonder why. A significant body of research shows that drinking coffee is associated with a longer life. People who drink more coffee tend to have lower risk for heart disease, various cancers, liver conditions, and degenerative brain diseases.

It’s possible to overdo it with caffeine, as too much at once can trigger anxiety or even be deadly. People usually need to consume it in a concentrated form to get that much into their bodies. But caffeine itself, even from non-coffee sources, is also associated with good health.


High-fat foods have long been demonized, but there’s more and more recognition that they are essential.

More and more research shows that eating fat – the nutrient – doesn’t necessarily cause body fat to increase.

We need fat to survive, especially healthy fats like those found in eggs, olive oil, and avocados. High-fat diets are not necessarily associated with heart disease, according to large reviews of research. And eating enough fat can help fuel activity and keeps you full for longer, leading to healthier food consumption overall.


Pasta and other carbs shouldn’t necessarily be discarded either.

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Marina Burrascano/Shutterstock

As the pendulum has swung away from demonizing fat, people have started to consider carbs the enemy. But carbs, especially whole grain carbs, have long been part of a healthy human diet.

As with most foods, the key is moderation. A recent long-term study found that people who got around 50% of their calories from carbs tended to live longest. Eating too many or too few carbohydrates were both associated with a higher risk of death.

There is some concern that particularly processed carbs (like those in candy or cookies) that are absorbed quickly may raise blood sugar in a dangerous way. But whole grain carbs and carbs from plants are essential sources of energy. Just don’t forget to eat vegetables with your pasta.


During the years of fat avoidance, skim milk took off, but there are good reasons to opt for whole milk.

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Reuters/Ho New

Whole milk is a fantastic source of calcium, protein, fat, vitamin D, and other nutrients. A recent study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that dairy fat doesn’t seem to have a negative impact on cardiovascular disease or death rates.

Plus, research indicates that high-fat dairy consumption tends to be connected to a lower risk for obesity.


Fatty oils can be healthy — and that’s not limited to olive oil.

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dulezidar/iStock

People tend to recognize that olive oil is healthy at this point, despite having a high fat content – it’s healthy fat, after all.

But other oils that are similarly high in monounsaturated fat that can also be good choices for cooking, including peanut and sesame oil.


Potatoes aren’t always thought of as a health food, but they are full of nutrients.

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Shutterstock

Potatoes fall under the healthy carb category, and they are packed with healthy components. They’re great sources of potassium and vitamin C, and if you keep the skin on them, they can be good sources of fiber as well.


Butter’s vindication is part of the rethinking of full-fat dairy.

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Shutterstock/margouillat photo

To get away from butter decades ago, people started opting for artificial alternatives full of trans fat, which have turned out to be awful for your health.

As fats – including dairy fats – have been vindicated, it’s become more and more clear that butter isn’t necessarily bad for you. Again, moderation is key.


Even salt isn’t as bad as anti-sodium proponents might have you believe.

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Shutterstock

Salt makes everything taste better. And it turns out the evidence against seasoning food is far less conclusive than dietary recommendations would have you believe.

A growing body of research indicates that for people who don’t already have high blood pressure, salt consumption doesn’t really seem to have much of an impact on health. There’s even evidence that getting too little sodium might be connected to higher blood pressure, though more data is needed.

Perhaps the most useful thing is to be aware of how much salt we’re eating in the first place. Processed foods that are packed with sodium aren’t healthy for a variety of reasons, and those foods (and restaurant foods) make up 70% of the average person’s sodium intake. Salt added to food being cooked at home and added at the table are only about 10% of average salt intake.

Avoid too much processed food, but don’t feel bad about a sprinkle of salt on your home-cooked potatoes.


For the vast majority of people, gluten is just fine.

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Reuters/Charles Platiau

In recent years, “gluten-free” has become a marketing term attached to all kinds of foods, with gluten-free diets often cited by celebrities and other trend-makers.

But gluten simply refers to a mixture of proteins found in wheat, something humanity has eaten for thousands of years. For the approximately 1% of the world with Celiac disease, it can cause serious problems. A tiny percentage of other people may have some sort of non-Celiac sensitivity, where gluten makes them feel uncomfortable. But for the vast majority of us, gluten is totally fine.

The best way to avoid gaining weight as you age has little to do with your metabolism, according to science

The best way to avoid gaining weight as you age has little to do with your metabolism, according to science

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Flickr/Flying Kiwi Tours
  • Putting on a bit of weight as you get older is fairly normal, but there are simple ways to avoid it.
  • Contrary to popular belief, none involves trying to “boost” your metabolism, which doesn’t really budge.
  • Here’s what to do instead.

Like a favorite car that’s starting to show its age, many of us begin to put on weight as we get older.

“She’s not what she used to be!” I heard a friend say the other day as he lovingly slapped his belly in the way one gives the hood of their old clunker an affectionate tap.

Many people blame a sluggish metabolism for the weight gain. But as it turns out, our metabolism isn’t the real culprit when it comes to the pounds that seem to creep on with each passing decade.

In fact, age-related weight gain has far more to do with our activity patterns than it does with our metabolism, which barely budges after age 30, according to the National Institutes of Health.

‘Boosting your metabolism’ is a myth

healthy eating

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Flickr/IRRI Photos

Our metabolism, the term for the calorie-burning process our bodies do naturally, shifts based on the various activities we do throughout the day.

Unfortunately, the rate at which we digest our meals and burn energy can’t be altered significantly enough to cause weight loss. (No, spicy foods and green teas won’t move the needle.)

But as we age, we also get less active while sticking to roughly the same diet. Researchers say that this – not our metabolic rate – is the real culprit for the pounds we pack on as we get older.

Instead, move more

To avoid weight gain, adding regular movement to your day is crucial. That could involve taking the stairs at work or hitting the gym a few times a week – every little bit counts.

In fact, new research published this spring suggests that to achieve better health and reduce your risk of death from any cause, any kind of movement is better than little or none. That means any effort that gets you moving and breathing – whether it’s a twice-weekly heart-pounding kickboxing class or a 30-minute walk to work – has measurable benefits for your brain and body.

That study, published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, used data on physical activity and death rates from national surveys of more than 4,800 adults. It found that people with more “bouted” or concentrated activity (like a fitness class or gym session) fared no better than people who clocked the same amount of exercise in tiny bits throughout the day (like walking to the train or taking the dog for a stroll).

“The key message based on the results presented is that total physical activity (i.e., of any bout duration) provides important health benefits,” the study’s authors wrote.

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