15 Great food tips from Mens Fitness

Mens Fitness magazineMens Health is a great magazine for telling it like it is, sometimes with a little to much bravado  I think this article is really worth it to read though for food substitutions that can make a real difference.
If you keep eating the way you always have, you’ll never improve on the body you’ve got. And the prognosis — on the mom diet, at least — isn’t good. Look at your dad. That’s why we’re providing you with 15 sneaky ways to improve your diet. Same foods, better results. And nobody needs to be the wiser. Just think of these food strategies as the cork in your bat, the glue on your glove, your own personal, syringe-wielding East German Olympic swim-team coach. Only difference is, each one is simple, nutritionally sound, and perfectly legal in all 50 states.

Great Food Tips

1. Whey your options
Add a cup of ricotta cheese to your fruit smoothie. Ricotta is a soft, mild cheese that’s made almost entirely of whey, the liquid that separates from curd during the cheese-making process. Whey contains cysteine, an amino acid that helps produce a cancer-fighting antioxidant called glutathione. When Ohio State University researchers treated prostate cells with whey protein, glutathione levels jumped by 64 percent.

2. See red
Got leftover tuna salad? Stuff it into a red bell pepper instead of sandwiching it between two slabs of Wonder bread. Red peppers and other red-fleshed fruits such as tomatoes, watermelons, and ruby-red grapefruit are high in lycopene, a phytochemical that can reduce the risk of prostate cancer by 20 percent. Bake the pepper and you’ll make it even more potent; heat makes lycopene easier for your body to absorb.

3. Hit the sauce
Think of salsa as a vegetable, and eat it as often as you can. “Just take a fish fillet, pour salsa over it, and throw it in the oven — you’ve got an instant healthy meal,” says Cynthia Sass, M.P.H., R.D. In addition to containing lycopene from the tomatoes, salsa has no fat, only 4 calories per tablespoon, and as little as 70 milligrams (mg) of sodium.

4. Switch syrups
Move over, Aunt Jemima: A better syrup has come to take your place at the breakfast table. “Sorghum syrup is produced in much the same way that molasses is made from sugar-cane, and it’s one of the best, most concentrated sources of dietary antioxidants — period,” says Cheryl Forberg, R.D., author of Stop the Clock! Cooking. Like grits, sorghum syrup is more widely available in the South. But you can find it at specialty-food stores all over the country.

5. Spread the wealth
You could buy your own produce stand in order to keep up with the National Cancer Institute’s recommended nine daily servings of fruits and vegetables. Or you could just buy your fruit in a jar. One tablespoon of unsweetened fruit spread (not sugary jelly or jam) on your morning bagel counts as one of the day’s servings, says David Grotto, R.D., director of nutrition education at the Block Center for Integrative Cancer Care in Evanston, Illinois. Look for brands with a high vitamin content, like Crofters Organic.

6. Supplement with herbs
More oregano makes for a more powerful pizza. A tablespoon of fresh oregano (not the dried, bottled kind — natch) has a higher antioxidant yield than an entire apple, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture researchers, who measured the antioxidant levels of 39 common herbs. Bonus: Calorie counts for most herbs and spices are nonexistent. The same can’t be said for other pizza toppings, like, say, sausage.

7. Be crafty with broccoli
Power up your mac and cheese by stirring in a cup of chopped steamed broccoli. When you eat cruciferous vegetables — such as broccoli, cauliflower, kale, and brussels sprouts — your body produces a chemical compound called 3,3′-diindolylmethane that inhibits prostate-cancer cell growth by up to 70 percent, according to Leonard Bjeldanes, Ph.D., a professor of nutritional sciences and toxicology at the University of California at Berkeley. “I eat a large serving of them three to five times a week,” he says. You should, too.

8. Get a fruit fix
That muck on the bottom of most yogurts has more fructose — as in high-fructose corn syrup — than it has fruit. In addition to unnecessarily inflating the calorie count, HFCS can significantly increase blood levels of triglycerides, raising your risk of heart disease. Opt for plain yogurt instead and toss in some raisins or dried pineapple chunks. Dehydrated fruit offers all the health benefits of regular fruit, just concentrated.

9. Go to seed
Risk an encounter with patchouli-scented Birkenstock wearers and buy a bag of ground flaxseed at the health-food store. Add 3 or 4 tablespoons of it to cereal or oatmeal. Ground flaxseed contains omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, and compounds called lignans — the nutrients that can reduce your risk of colon and prostate cancers, heart disease, and age-related vision loss. “You can consume flaxseed as an oil,” Grotto says, “but the oil contains more calories and fewer lignans, even in products that boast high lignans content.”

10. Feel like a nut — sometimes
Nuts may have shed their unhealthy reputation, but that’s still no reason to . . . well, go nuts, cautions Sass. To keep their high calorie content in check, she suggests adding a golf ball-size serving of slivered almonds to cereal and steamed vegetables. Almonds are a rich source of vitamin E, which may reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by up to 70 percent, according to a National Institute on Aging study.

11. Turn over a new leaf
Banish iceberg lettuce from your sandwiches and salads; it has about as much nutritional value as it has taste. “Spinach gives you more bang for the buck,” says Forberg. A cup of spinach is an excellent source of folate (58 micrograms), which may help reduce your risk of heart attack.

12. Choc one up
It may sound weird, but try dropping a couple of chunks of chocolate into your pot of chili. Your chili will taste better (trust us), and you’ll feel better, knowing that the flavonoids and polyphenols in chocolate can lower your risk of heart disease by 20 percent and keep LDL (bad) cholesterol from oxidizing into an artery-damaging form. Dark or semisweet chocolate has more of the beneficial compounds than other types do.

13. Sow your oats
In recipes that call for crumbled crackers (such as burgers or meat loaf), bait and switch with an equal amount of rolled oats. “Oats contain soluble fiber, and that’s been shown to reduce cholesterol,” says Grotto. “Oats also contain glucans, which have been shown to enhance natural killer cells — a type of white blood cell that bolsters immune function.”

14. Add meal to your meal
Add cornmeal to watery soup to transform it into a hearty, healthier stew, says Forberg. Cornmeal contains an antioxidant called zeaxanthin, which helps preserve vision by increasing the concentration of macular pigment in your eyes. Cornmeal also contains starch that will thicken the soup broth, which is why you should whisk or stir a small handful of it in very slowly (otherwise, the soup may get lumpy).

15. Mash in milk
Whole milk helps make mashed potatoes fluffy. Unfortunately, it does the same for you. Whether you’re making the real thing or rehydrating potato flakes, use evaporated skim milk instead. “It’s thicker, so you get the creaminess but not the fat,” says Sass. You also get three times the calcium per cup (742 mg). Cans of it hide in that most alien of grocery-store aisles: the baking section.

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AntiOxidants for sports and fitness

Here is information from eVitamins on the value of Antioxidants for sports

Why do athletes use it?*
Some athletes say that antioxidants help protect the body from free radicals.
What do the advocates say?*
Antioxidants such as vitamin C, vitamin E, CoQ10, glutathione, and alpha lipoic acid are important supplements for everyone, but especially for those who exercise on a regular basis. The rational is that exercise is a highly oxidative process and, as a consequence, produces free radicals from aerobic metabolism. Antioxidant compounds help alleviate this process.

There is conflicting evidence whether the best time to supplement with an antioxidant is before or after a workout.

How much is usually taken by athletes?
Most research has demonstrated that strenuous exercise increases production of harmful substances called free radicals, which can damage muscle tissue and result in inflammation and muscle soreness. Exercising in cities or smoggy areas also increases exposure to free radicals. Antioxidants, including vitamin C and vitamin E, neutralize free radicals before they can damage the body, so antioxidants may aid in exercise recovery. Regular exercise increases the efficiency of the antioxidant defense system, potentially reducing the amount of supplemental antioxidants that might otherwise be needed for protection. However, at least theoretically, supplements of antioxidant vitamins may be beneficial for older or untrained people or athletes who are undertaking an especially vigorous training protocol or athletic event.

Placebo-controlled research, some of it double-blind, has shown that taking 400 to 3,000 mg of vitamin C per day for several days before and after intense exercise may reduce pain and speed up muscle strength recovery.3 4 5 However, taking vitamin C only after such exercise was not effective in another double-blind study.6 While some research has reported that vitamin E supplementation in the amount of 800 to 1,200 IU per day reduces biochemical measures of free-radical activity and muscle damage caused by strenuous exercise,7 8 9 several studies have not found such benefits,and no research has investigated the effect of vitamin E on performance-related measures of strenuous exercise recovery. A combination of 90 mg per day of coenzyme Q10 and a very small amount of vitamin E did not produce any protective effects for marathon runners in one double-blind trial,14 while in another double-blind trial a combination of 50 mg per day of zinc and 3 mg per day of copper significantly reduced evidence of post-exercise free radical activity.15

In most well-controlled studies, exercise performance has not been shown to improve following supplementation with vitamin C, unless a deficiency exists, as might occur in athletes with unhealthy or irrational eating patterns.16 17 Similarly, vitamin E has not benefited exercise performance,18 19 except possibly at high altitudes.

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