What’s Really in That Bowl of Salad?

Although a salad seems fairly simple, that little bowl can contain some significant health benefits! It can also pack a walloping calorie total if you aren’t careful. Today we’re going to check out the nutritional content of your average green salad, suggest some extra add-ons, and explore how to avoid hidden calorie bombs.

Green Salads
The green salad may be a bit basic, but it’s also a deceptively delicious mini-meal.

The bulk of a typical green salad is made up of crisp leafy greens like romaine, spinach or arugula, and garnished with chopped vegetables such as cucumber, peppers, onions, avocado, and tomatoes. You can add almost any dressing you like to a green salad, a simple balsamic/olive oil mix, a creamier dressing like bleu cheese, or even something fruity like a raspberry vinaigrette.

Although the exact ingredients used in a salad will affect its nutritional content, Livestrong estimates that a 1.5 cup serving of green salad without dressing can provide “approximately 21 calories, 2 grams of protein, 0.39 gram of fat, 3.5 grams of carbohydrate, [and] 2 grams of fiber”.

If you use spinach as a base, you’re also getting:

  • 28 milligrams of vitamin C (approximately 47 percent of the recommended daily value)
  • 194 micrograms of folate (approximately 48 percent of the RDV)
  • More than 100 percent of the RDV for vitamin A

Making a green salad with arugula gives you:

  • 47 milligrams of magnesium (approximately 12 percent of the RDV)
  • 369 milligrams of potassium (more than 10 percent of the RDV)

A fantastic nutrient boost, for very few calories – even after you add a few tablespoons of your favourite dressing.

Delicious Add-Ons
To take that basic green salad up a notch, you can add hard boiled eggs, fruit, cheese, and nuts/seeds.  Changing up the ingredients you add to a green salad keeps it delicious and interesting day after day – there’s an endless combination of flavours, tastes, and textures to enjoy.

Not only do these add-ons create variety in your pre-meal salads, they also provide essential fats, proteins, vitamins, and minerals.

Hard boiled eggs: Adding a hard-boiled egg to your salad adds 71 calories, and 6 g of protein, making it a healthy, filling choice.

Cheese: Adding an ounce of cheddar cheese to your salad adds 6.5g protein, and 15% of your RDV for calcium, while an ounce of feta cheese provides slightly less of a nutritional punch with 4g of protein and 11% of your recommended calcium – but also fewer calories than cheddar, too (75 vs 115).

Fruit: Chopping up five fresh strawberries only adds 29 calories to your green salad but also provides 88% of your vitamin C and gives your green salad a delicious sweet spin.

Nuts and Seeds: Adding a handful of nuts and seeds to your salad gives a satisfying crunch and also supercharges the nutritional content of each bite. An ounce of almonds will add 6g of protein and 4g of fibre while an ounce of sunflower seeds provides 5.5 grams protein and 37% of the RDV for vitamin E.

Don’t Get Carried Away
Although each of these options adds something great to your salads, it can be easy to go overboard- especially if you’re trying to lose weight. Adding an egg, cheese, and nuts to a green salad can easily pack on more almost 350 calories – and that’s before adding salad dressing!

A simple homemade olive oil/balsamic vinegar salad dressing can clock in at 194 calories for 2-3 tablespoons and while good quality oils are great for providing healthy fats, after adding it your simple green salad is now almost 600 calories.

When weight loss is your goal, it’s best to choose one (or none) of the salad add-ons and focus mostly on the wonderful benefits of all those fresh greens and veggies. Limit your salad dressing to a tablespoon or so (consider adding lemon juice if you find your salad too dry). This is especially important when eating salad before lunch or dinner – if you aren’t paying attention, you could easily eat almost 30% of your daily calories before you even begin your main meal!

If weight loss isn’t a goal for you, feel free to fill up on the healthy fats that a fully-stocked salad can provide – although fat is often demonized, it’s essential to have healthy fats in our diet to become as healthy as we can.

 

Eating a bowl of salad before tucking in to lunch and dinner is such a wonderful gift to give your body. Packed with nutrients, vitamins, minerals and good fats, these salads are hiding some wonderful secrets – and the benefits are all just a bowlful away.

10 Delicious Herbal Teas to Try

There are thousands of herbal tea blends out there – choosing just one can be overwhelming! To find a tea you truly love we recommend finding a local tea-shop and doing a small taste test, but we’ve also put together a list of ten popular teas that’ll hit the spot, no matter what you’re looking for.

If your first priority is a tasty cuppa…
When you just want to sip something yummy, these fresh, flavourful brews will hit the spot:

Lemon Balm Tea: With a tart, slightly sweet flavour, lemon balm tea is relatively mild with a bit of a citrus kick. Contrary to its name, this tea isn’t made from lemons but from the lemon balm plant, which is a member of the mint family. Many find lemon balm tea to be relaxing and help ease anxiety, too.

Berry Teas: Teas made from dried fruits like blueberry, strawberry, or raspberry have strong, pleasing fruity notes, although they aren’t as sweet as fruit juice. They’re richly colourful and offer many of the same antioxidant benefits of berries in whole form.

Licorice Tea: If you’re looking for something dark and sweet, licorice tea might be your best bet. Made from licorice root, this tea is silky smooth and faintly sweet, with a distinctive black licorice taste. It’ll also help if you’re suffering from indigestion or constipation.

 

If you want to wind down…
These teas can help soothe your frazzled nerves:

Chamomile Tea: This is often the first tea people think of when it comes to calming down. Made from the flowers of the chamomile plant, chamomile tea is mild and slightly sweet tasting – it somehow even tastes relaxing, as there aren’t any strong flavours. Chamomile can help you relax and is a great tea to sip in the evenings or before a nerve-wracking presentation.

Passionflower Tea: The name of this tea might make you think it’ll light a fire within you or get you all worked up, but the opposite is true! Passionflower has been used for centuries to soothe spirits and calm the mind. Passionflower tea is a gentle taste, often described as pleasant and earthy.

Skullcap Tea: It may have a spooky name, but skullcap tea is anything but frightening. Also hailing from the mint family, this tea gets its name from the plant’s delicate blue flowers which were thought to look like medieval helmets – or skull caps. This tea is great for calming down in times of stress or tension.

 

If you want to rev up…
These teas are energizing and stimulating – definitely worth a try:

Ginger Tea: Ginger is a strong taste and ginger tea is a powerful brew. It’s invigorating, refreshing, and a bit spicy, too. Ginger is also a powerful digestive aid, so this tea can do double duty as an energizer and an after-dinner stomach soother.

Holy Basil/Tulsi Tea: This tea has a minty taste and can inspire an energizing, uplifting effect when sipped during those dreaded mid-afternoon energy slumps. Minty tastes can have a refreshing effect, even when sipped hot.

Ginkgo Biloba Tea: Many take this powerful herb in capsule form but sipping a cup of ginkgo biloba tea is another great way to take advantage of its many benefits. The herb has long been known for its memory-boosting properties, and it can also work to help fight fatigue.

Periwinkle Tea: Winning the award for cutest name, periwinkle tea is thought to reduce sluggishness and increase energy levels, making it a perfect caffeine-free way to perk up your morning.

Whichever tea you choose, try to really savour it. Find a few moments of silence if you can, close your eyes and focus on your senses. Pay attention to the smell of the tea, the warmth of the steam, the tastes during your first sip.

Make a ritual of your cups of herbal tea – whether you’re drinking a soothing chamomile or energetic tulsi. Done right, drinking herbal tea each day will soon become one of your favourite habits.

How to Decide When You’re Too Sick to Work

SUNDAY, Feb. 10, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Even if you think you can go to work when you have a cold or flu, you need to think about others, an infectious disease expert says.

“I see a lot of patients whose jobs and stress make them feel torn between staying home and going in when they’re sick,” said Dr. Robin Wigmore. She is a primary care physician and infectious disease specialist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.

“But viral infections like the common cold and flu are contagious. It’s important to consider your co-workers’ health as well,” Wigmore said in a medical center news release.

To make an informed decision, first consider how long you’ve been feeling ill.

“You are most contagious in the first 48 hours of a viral illness,” Wigmore explained. “This is often even before you begin feeling symptoms.”

This means you should stay home at the first sign of symptoms. That will avoid spreading your illness and allow you to rest, stay hydrated and take care of yourself.

Ask yourself if your symptoms are contagious. Viruses can be passed through the air by coughing or sneezing, and some cold and flu germs can survive on surfaces such as countertops, doorknobs and phones for up to 24 hours.

“As a general rule, if you have a wet cough, a runny nose, fevers or aches, you should probably stay at home,” Wigmore advised.

If you have a runny nose without aches or fever, you may be suffering from allergies. A dry, “clear your throat” type of cough or tickle may also be allergies or irritation. In that case, it’s likely OK to go to work, she said.

“But if your runny nose is accompanied with thick, yellow or green mucus, this is an indication that your body is fighting off an illness,” Wigmore noted. “In this case, you should stay home.”

Stay home and call your doctor if your throat hurts and you have aches, including headache, and/or you see white patches on your tonsils. This could be strep throat.

If your temperature is higher than 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit, that’s a strong sign of infection — and maybe the flu. In that case, “you should call your doctor and stay home,” Wigmore said. “It is often best — and many times, company policy — that employees stay out of work until they are fever-free for 24 hours, especially with the flu.”

Nasal congestion with sinus or facial pain indicates a sinus infection. Sinus infections can be viral or bacterial. Viral sinus infections are often contagious. “Either way, it’s best to stay home,” Wigmore added.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on colds and flu.

Continuous Glucose Monitors Make Managing Diabetes Easier

Monitoring blood sugar is essential for many people with diabetes, but self-testing is a hassle. For some patients, using a continuous glucose monitor might be the solution.

The monitors were originally designed for people with type 1 diabetes to keep track of their blood sugar throughout the day. Using a sensor and a receiver, these devices track factors such as exercise, stress, certain foods and sleep that can affect blood sugar.

It’s become more common to see these monitors used by people with type 2 diabetes, because continuous glucose monitors are now much easier to use.

“Even my patients in their 70s are doing a great job of using these devices,” said Dr. Elena Toschi, a staff physician in the Adult Diabetes Center at Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston.

These devices are recommended for all people with type 1 diabetes, those who have hypoglycemia or those who are not able to achieve an A1c below 7 percent, Toschi explained in a Joslin news release. A1c is a measure of a person’s average blood sugar level over the past two to three months.

“Continuous glucose monitors have an alarm, which will let you know if your blood glucose level is high, but more importantly, they can tell you if you blood sugar is dangerously low,” Toschi said in the news release. “Many people with type 1 develop hypoglycemia unawareness, meaning that they don’t have symptoms until they lose consciousness.”

For people with type 2 diabetes — specifically those who take several daily insulin injections, have unexplained highs or lows or have hypoglycemia unawareness — a continuous glucose monitor may be a useful tool since newer devices are smaller and more accurate.

For women with gestational diabetes (a form of diabetes that develops during pregnancy), a continuous glucose monitor is an important tool for keeping blood sugar in check. Pregnant women need to have very tight blood sugar control, and the monitor provides real-time feedback on different types of foods, helping them to figure out what to eat and when.

Some people may not want to wear a device that lets others know they have diabetes. “The device may highlight the fact that you have diabetes, when you want to keep your condition private,” Toschi said. “It’s really about personal preference.”

And some people may not want to keep being shown their blood sugar levels. Getting feedback every five minutes may raise anxiety and stress about diabetes, making its use counterproductive, she said.

These devices may be covered by Medicare. For people with type 2 diabetes whose insurance does not cover one, there are models that are affordable, Toschi noted.

But you also need to factor in any out-of-pocket expenses and ongoing costs, such as supplies like sensors and dressings to cover them.

To make the best decision, talk to your doctor or certified diabetes educator, Toschi advised.

More information

For more on living with diabetes, visit the American Diabetes Association.

One Key Step Can Help Cancer Patients Quit Smoking

Cancer patients are already fighting a tough battle, so quitting smoking while doing so is a real challenge.

Now, research from Northwestern University in Chicago and the University of Pennsylvania shows that a combo of counseling and extended use of an anti-smoking medication can boost their odds for success.

One lung cancer patient understands how tough quitting smoking can be.

“When someone tells you that you have cancer, you get scared,” said Chicago resident Billie Green, 70, a smoker for 50 years. She said the stress of her diagnosis made the prospect of quitting even tougher.

“Smoking used to be my best friend when I was upset, after I ate,” she explained in a Northwestern news release.

“But I knew it didn’t make any sense to keep smoking if I’m going in for treatment all the time,” Green said.

But as the research team related, even though quitting smoking can boost the effectiveness of cancer treatment, nearly half of cancer patients keep smoking after their diagnosis.

Quitting smoking is possible, however, and medications like varenicline (Chantix) can help. But in their new study of 207 cancer patients, the researchers found that people were more likely to stop smoking and less likely to resume only if they had counseling and also took the anti-smoking medication varenicline for 24 weeks. It’s usually prescribed for 12 weeks.

The higher success of quitting was true only for the 43 percent of patients who took varenicline as directed for the full 24 weeks, the investigators said. The 57 percent who didn’t adhere to that schedule showed no better success than if they hadn’t taken the medication at all.

Forty percent of the study participants had current cancer; the rest had had cancer in the past five years. The types of cancer included breast, skin and lung cancer.

“With the stress cancer patients are under, they tend to be at higher risk of relapsing for a longer period of time. So we thought providing treatment for longer would be more effective,” said study senior author Brian Hitsman. He’s an associate professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, in Chicago.

All of the study participants had concurrent behavioral therapy. Though this therapy wasn’t a focus of the research, Hitsman said that it needs to be studied more closely because it can be a powerful tool to help cancer patients quit smoking.

“You can imagine how someone going through a severe or significant disease and treatment process could benefit from the support we provided in this study,” he said in a university news release.

For her part, Green said her daughter told her of Northwestern’s quit-smoking study and asked her to enroll. Although Green hasn’t quit smoking altogether, she now smokes just one cigarette every two days, versus the pack-a-day habit she had before.

According to Green, the effort to quit and the education she received in the study helped her better understand how smoking was harming her.

The study, published recently in the journal Psycho-Oncology, is only the second to examine the use of varenicline in cancer patients, and the first to examine its safety when used for 24 weeks alongside counseling.

Study first author Robert Schnoll added, “We hear from cancer patients and oncologists that varenicline may cause serious side effects or that managing the stress of the disease makes addressing tobacco use among patients inappropriate.”

But this study shows that varenicline is effective for cancer patients, doesn’t increase their risk, and benefits those who take it as prescribed, he said in the news release. Schnoll is associate director for population science at the University of Pennsylvania’s Abramson Cancer Center in Philadelphia.

“We need now to focus on how we can get more patients who smoke to use the medication and use it sufficiently if we are to see broader population-level gains,” he added.

The trial was funded by the U.S. National Cancer Institute.

More information

The American Cancer Society offers advice on quitting smoking.

Does Social Media Push Teens to Depression? New Study Says No

Time spent on Instagram, Snapchat or Facebook probably isn’t driving teenagers to depression, a new study contends.

In fact, Canadian researchers found the relationship worked in the opposite direction — teenage girls who were already depressed tended to spend more time on social media, to try to feel better.

These findings run counter to a series of recent studies that said teens and young adults were more likely to grow depressed if they used social media more often.

But those studies only looked at adolescents’ depression and social media use at one point in time, taking a single survey “snapshot” that couldn’t assess which factor influences the other, explained Pamela Rutledge, director of the Media Psychology Research Center in Santa Barbara, Calif.

The new study looked at people over time and tried to make sense of their behaviors over time, said Rutledge, who was not involved in the research.

“To me it makes a lot of sense, because we also know that social media can have a lot of benefits,” she said. “With anything, there is positive and negative. Social media is this great big thing, and there are all sorts of ways to use it.”

Beginning in 2017, researchers led by Taylor Heffer from Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario, surveyed nearly 600 sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders in Ontario once a year for two years. They also conducted annual surveys of more than 1,100 college students for six years, beginning in 2010.

The investigators used a standard questionnaire to measure symptoms of depression. They also asked participants to estimate their average weekday and weekend use of social media, their regular screen time, and the time they spend on non-screen activities like homework or exercise.

They then looked at each participant’s responses over time, to see how depressive symptoms or social media use changed from one year to another.

Social media use did not predict the development of depression symptoms among school kids or college students, researchers found.

Instead, school-age girls with greater symptoms of depression tended to use more social media over time. The researchers did not find the same association among school-age boys or college students.

“It’s definitely more sophisticated than the prior reports,” said John Piacentini, director of the UCLA Center for Child Anxiety Resilience Education and Support. “I believe it. I think it’s a nice contribution, and it clarifies this question in an important way.”

Rutledge said it could be that girls suffering depression might find solace in Snapchat or Instagram.

“If their offline life is unpleasant, they’re feeling marginalized at school, when you go online and you’re in one of these communities it feels good, because you’re now a valued member of something,” she said. “Maybe they use social media more to connect with people, and if they didn’t, maybe they’d be more isolated.”

It makes sense that children would use social media differently based on their individual characteristics, said Dr. Paul Weigle, a child and adolescent psychiatrist in Mansfield Center, Conn.

“We need to take a closer look at groups and what makes young people different in their experiences with social media,” he said. For example, teens dealing with depression or anxiety might prefer socializing online because it’s easier to control interactions.

“They can stop and think before they respond,” Weigle said. “They don’t have to worry about changes in their voice or how they appear while they are responding.”

Moderation is important, as it is in all things, he added.

“It can lead to a pattern of avoiding,” Weigle said. “Some depressed youth use social media and other types of screen media as an escape from their real-world problems. When they avoid their real-world problems, these problems tend to grow rather than shrink.”

Rutledge suggested parents talk openly with their kids about how they use social media and how they feel, rather than assume Facebook is causing their son or daughter to feel depressed.

“What often happens is that parents are so negative about social media that kids won’t talk to them about it, because they’re afraid they’ll take it away,” Rutledge said, adding that it’s important to understand what’s going on with kids and see how all the pieces fit together.

“It’s possible, on the negative side, they’re looking at all these people whose lives look better than theirs and they’re feeling inferior,” Rutledge said. “Or it’s possible that it’s an escape from the things that are really bothering them. They’re just watching cat videos or watching people on Twitch channels play video games.”

The new study was published recently in the journal Clinical Psychological Science.

More information

The Mayo Clinic has more about teen depression.

Get The Most From Frozen Vegetables

When it comes to cooking veggies, fresh from the farmer’s market always tastes best. But when you’re cooking produce out of season, head to the freezer section of your favorite store.

Veggies are typically frozen at the height of freshness, making them a great winter staple.

Dense vegetables in particular are ideal for freezer storage, because they retain their texture when reheated. Put peas, edamame, Brussels sprouts and artichokes at the top of your list. As long as you don’t overcook them, they’ll also retain their nutrients.

Microwaving can dry out some vegetables. To defrost them quickly, place them in a colander under cold running water for a few minutes. Then add them to green salads or fold into any cooked dish.

One of the easiest ways to use frozen vegetables is to add them straight from the freezer to soups, stews and chilis during the last few minutes of cooking.

Frozen vegetables also are great in breakfast smoothies: Simply blend frozen edamame — a protein powerhouse — along with your fruits and yogurt.

Frozen artichokes are far less expensive than fresh, plus all the prep work has been done for you. Here’s a simple recipe that’s both a crowd pleaser and a great alternative to bottled dressings when you want a dip for carrot sticks.

Artichoke Dip

  • 1/2 cup frozen artichokes, defrosted
  • 1/2 cup olive-oil mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Cayenne to taste

Finely chop the artichokes and transfer to a bowl. Add in the rest of the ingredients and stir well to combine. Serve cold or transfer to a 4-cup, heat-safe baking dish or ramekin and bake at 350 degrees until the cheese has melted, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Yield: 4 servings.

More information

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has a comprehensive guide to choosing frozen as well as canned foods.

Developing Self-Compassion: How to Show Yourself Some Love

A lot of importance is placed on developing self-esteem to create emotional well-being and to quiet the inner critic that causes people to doubt themselves. But even more essential to emotional wellness might be self-compassion — extending to yourself the same feelings of empathy and concern that you show others.

Self-compassion leads to contentment and offers a kind of immunity against negative influences like fear, according to researcher Kristin Neff, associate professor of educational psychology at the University of Texas at Austin.

More than self-esteem, self-compassion can soothe you when you’re upset, help you gain perspective, and allow you to accept your faults. With that mindset, you can flourish.

Neff has identified three important elements of self-compassion:

  • Self-kindness: This simply means being understanding with yourself, rather than judgmental.
  • Feeling connected with others in life: This is what Neff calls “common humanity.”
  • Mindfulness: This is often described as viewing a situation in real time without coloring it with “what ifs?”

Self-compassion doesn’t depend on your reaching ideal and possibly unrealistic goals, but from caring for yourself as you are, with your own balance of weak and strong points.

People with self-compassion experience less anxiety and are more comfortable in their own skin.

What’s more, if you’re a mom or dad, having self-compassion can help you feel more at ease with your parenting skills, which will benefit your kids. Other research shows that children of parents who are less judgmental about their parenting abilities report fewer symptoms of depression and anxiety.

More information

Read more from Kristin Neff about the importance of self-compassion.

Health Tip: Put Your Obese Dog on a Diet

Being overweight isn’t just an issue for people. The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention says more than half of all dogs are overweight.

A dog that weighs too much is at greater risk of osteoarthritis, high blood pressure, orthopedic problems, ligament injuries, skin disease, heart and respiratory disease, some cancers and lower life expectancy, the American Kennel Club says.

If your dog needs to trim down, the AKC suggests:

  • Carefully measure meals.
  • Set a schedule for mealtime.
  • Limit treats between meals.
  • Opt for low-calorie treats.
  • Get your dog moving by walking, swimming or playing fetch.

Health Tip: Recognize Signs of Sleep Deficiency

You probably have sleep deficiency if you don’t get enough sleep in general, you sleep at the wrong time of day or you don’t fall asleep normally or stay asleep, the U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute says.

The agency says you may be sleep-deficient if you often doze off while:

  • Reading or watching TV.
  • Sitting n a public place, such as a movie theater, meeting or classroom.
  • Riding in a car.
  • Talking to someone.
  • Sitting quietly after eating.