Category Archives: Health

Get Your Sugar Facts Straight!

There’s been a lot of hype in the news lately about sugar and its effects on our bodies. How much sugar should we consume everyday? What kind of sugar is right for you? In my latest College Candy post, I give it to you straight:

pouring spoon of sugar

Click to read my latest College Candy post: everything you need to know about SUGAR.


Bring on the Bathing Suits!

[Read the edited version on the CollegeCandy site.]

Sodium is like that annoying, socially awkward neighbor you avoid inviting to your parties. He must know he’s not welcome, but he can’t take a hint. Somehow he always manages to arrive sporting a neon bandana, jorts, and a case of Natty Light (somewhat tolerable). But I digress. Clearly your sodium is not clad in ridiculous cut-off jeans – the point is that the amount of salt we consume daily can add up when  you least expect it. Summer happens to bring out the worst in my issues with salt (read: bloating). No matter how hard we hit the gym to get fit for bathing suit season, that extra water retention always manages to come back and haunt us right before we hit the beach. I say to hell with it.

I’ve written about the other negative effects that sodium has on the body, too. Think high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, etc… my personal fave has to be fluid retention though. You can become bloated because your body  retains water to dilute all of the sodium you’ve consumed. The Mayo Clinic recommends less than  2,300 mg of sodium a day for healthy adults. Thousands of milligrams, you say? Puh-lease. Why am I even reading this article?
HOLD UP, girl. Put that daily recommendation of 2,300 mg of sodium into perspective! Let’s say you decide your salad needs a little more flava: a measly teaspoon of table salt. Be prepared – you’re adding 2,325 mg of sodium, which means you are already over your daily recommended intake.
NOW think about this: on average, only 5% of our daily sodium intake is from adding it into our foods. The real culprits are processed and prepared foods – a whopping 77% of our daily sodium intake, to be exact! You don’t need to cut out salt completely – it would be near impossible because it’s in practically everything you eat. We need a small amount for our bodies to function anyway.  For example, when the annoying neighbor inevitably makes his way over to your party, you can’t just kick him out and be done with it. He lives next door, for chrissake! So don’t stress, just become more aware of what you’re putting into your body.

In my personal war against all bloat-inducing-foods (BIFs?), I’ve come across a few unlikely salt culprits that you should consider before slipping on your bikinis this summer – and probs during the rest of the year too. Remember we only need 2,300 mg of sodium (at most) a day, so look out for these surprisingly salty foods:
•    Dairy foods. Unprocessed dairy products have pretty low amounts of sodium, but once they are processed the sodium is way higher than expected!
⁃    1 cup low-fat milk = 107 mg
⁃    1 oz. slice American cheese = 406 mg
⁃    1 cup cottage cheese = 851 mg
•    Condiments. Who knew mustard and ketchup contained this much sodium? And I don’t feel so guilt-free now ordering the low-sodium soy sauce with my sushi…
⁃    1 tbsp. mustard or ketchup = 190 mg
⁃    2 tbsp. fat free italian dressing = 430mg
⁃    1 tbsp. low sodium soy sauce = 600mg
⁃    1 tbsp. soy sauce = 1,000 mg

•    Soup & Sauces. I knew about the sodium content in soup before, but this is borderline obscene. Watch out for those processed tomato products!
⁃    1 cup Cream of Chicken soup = 1,047 mg
⁃    1 cup Chicken Vegetable soup = 1,068 mg
⁃    1 cup tomato sauce = 1,284 mg

•    Frozen/canned/packaged foods. I was expecting these to be high, but not for canned beans to have nearly the same amount of sodium as a chicken pot pie! Cray cray.
⁃    2 slices deli turkey meat = 450 mg
⁃    1 cup canned beans = 856 mg
⁃    1 frozen chicken pot pie = 857 mg
⁃    1 cup mac & cheese = 1,061 mg

•    Snacks & Grains. Bread & cereal are never places I expected to find sodium in! And holy dessert – pudding, too!?
⁃    2 slices whole wheat bread = 268mg
⁃    1 cup Honey Nut Cheerios = 269 mg
⁃    1/2 cup pudding = 470 mg
⁃    10 pretzels = 1,029 mg

•    Fast food. I knew it would have more sodium because it’s obviously processed, but this really makes me rethink my love for Taco Bell.
⁃    Cheeseburger = 1,108 mg
⁃    Egg & sausage biscuit = 1,141 mg
⁃    Large taco = 1,233 mg

Clearly we can’t just NOT eat any of these foods anymore. So here are really simple ways we can get around the high sodium problem until the food industry shapes up:
•    Limit the toppings. Get the dressing on the side, use unsalted butter if you have to use butter, and just leave extra sauce on your plate.
•    Get creative. Instead of lamenting your lack of sodium, you could be discovering an entirely new world of herbs and spices! Think garlic, vinegar, basil, cilantro, pepper, etc., which won’t put your tummy (literally) over the edge.
•    Pick fresh over processed foods…  Unsalted peanuts have 8 mg of sodium. Three oz. of steak has 55 mg of sodium. A plain baked potato has 5 mg of sodium. Yes, you can eat well sans salt. And if you need something pre-made, just look for the low sodium options.
•    Skip the fast food. There will be less salt if you just make yourself  – it’s just not worth it!

Whether you want to make these changes in the long run or not, you might need a quick fix. Maybe you’re about to catch some rays, go to a pool party later, or you’ve just annihilated a half a box of Cheez-Its while reading this article. Never fear. You can prevent and/or alleviate bloating by:
⁃    Eat fiber & probiotics. Eating fiber-rich foods like spinach and whole grains to help regulate your system. Also, anything with probiotics (like yogurt) help too!
⁃    Drink water! Not enough will definitely cause water retention, and drinking a little more than usual can help flush sodium out of your system.
⁃    Consume anti-bloat foods. Incorporating a mild diuretic like parsley or pineapple into your meals can ease bloating considerably. Bananas and chamomile tea are purported to ease symptoms as well.
Have you checked your labels lately? Which foods surprised you with their high levels of sodium?

My Latest CC Post: Stay Motivated!

Here’s a link to my latest College Candy post. It will help you stick to your health goals for the summer!

My Latest CC Article: Your Post Workout Snack!

Wondering what to eat after your workout? Or if you should even have a snack after? I’ve got you covered. Check out my latest article for College Candy!

High Fructose Corn Syrup: What’s the Deal, Yo?

At first I avoided it at all costs.  I heard high fructose corn syrup messes with your metabolism, creates chemical imbalances, makes you gain weight and yada yada yada. Enter ads sponsored by the Corn Refiner’s Association (people who make high fructose corn syrup):

So now that you’ve commercially educated yourself, what is high fructose corn syrup, anyway? According to the Mayo Clinic, HFCS is a sweetener and preservative made from corn. It’s like sugar, but chemically changed into another kind of sugar. And it’s in so many of our foods because it makes food last longer and is relatively cheap.

But is High Fructose Corn Syrup bad for you?

The Corn Refiner’s Association sponsored site says that HFCS has the same chemical content as sugar and that it gets broken down in the body similar to the way sugar would. And in legit studies at different universities, HFCS was shown to not wreak havoc on your metabolism or spike your blood glucose levels. What a sweet surprise, indeed.

But just yesterday, the LA Times published a study on high fructose corn syrup from Duke University. Move aside alcohol! Apparently High Fructose Corn Syrup has a similar effect on our livers! That’s right – you can stop worrying about weight gain and metabolism. Higher amounts of HFCS are now linked to liver scarring (which can lead to liver cancer) and liver inflammation. Oh, and did I mention lower levels of good cholesterol, as well?

And the Washington Post published an article about finding mercury in foods that contain HFCS. Thermometers are old news. We should probably just stick mercury in our food, right?

Americans don’t care. On average, 10% of our caloric intake over the last decade was made up of yup, you guessed it – high fructose corn syrup. Yummy (see visual below):

Basically, it’s chemically altered (like pretty much everything else we eat anyway). And even though the FDA says it qualifies as “natural”, don’t get carried away. You can clearly have HFCS in moderation – the Mayo Clinic said so! Since I try to eat healthy, I just eat less sugar in general. That includes both HFCS and normal sugar.

Food for thought: High Fructose Corn Syrup is cheap and therefore used more widely by food companies because of corn subsidies from the U.S. government. Hm.

Latest CC Article: It’s Obama’s Workout Plan!

Ever wondered how the Obamas sweat? Click the link or image below to read my latest College Candy article. Sorry for posting so late – it’s been HECTIC around here! Enjoy 🙂

Easy, Delicious Recipes I Need to Make ASAP

I’m a college student. There are many connotations one can take from this declaration. Namely, that I have no money and live off of Ramen noodles. It’s somewhat true – my bank account is unimpressive. So I wanted to find recipes that will be manageable, delicious (worth all that time slaving away in my kitchen) and won’t cost me an arm and a leg… or this semester’s textbooks. And for anyone who’s been through the current higher education system, we all know that they are practically equivalents.

So check out these cheap, quick, easy, HEALTHY recipes:

Salad – Tuna Salad

Take the recipe above and do what you will with it. I know I did! Everyone always has a can of tuna somewhere in their abode. Get yours out of hibernation, cut up cucumbers, tomatoes, celery, or whatever veggies you have that still go with tuna. Add your standard olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, etc. Mix it all together, maybe throw some cheese on top, and DEFINITELY eat with some pita bread/whole wheat wraps/crackers.

Pasta – Florentine Ravioli

Don’t be fooled – you can do this with whatever pasta product you have laying around at home – penne, linguine, rotini, ravioli… seriously. ANYTHING PASTA will work well with this recipe. Try whole wheat for a healthy kick. Basically, all you have to do is 1) Boil the pasta 2) Saute frozen spinach with garlic, olive oil, salt, pepper, etc. 3) Mix ’em together. Gosh I love simplicity.

Dessert – Apple Cobbler (using Cake Mix)

Yes, I linked to their homemade recipe, but really, I don’t want to make theirs. I don’t have 60 minutes just to make freakin’ dessert – it’s optional! So here’s what you can do to get the same delicious results. Slice the apples pretty thin, sprinkle cinnamon over them, and then buy some white cake mix. Follow those directions, spread it on top, and bake it at 350 degrees until its nice and golden brown. My roomie made this a few weeks ago, and I swear that if heaven somehow landed in my mouth, that’s what it would’ve tasted like. And of course, no apple dessert is complete without vanilla ice cream!

Sandwich – Grilled Veggie Mozzarella Panini

It sounds fancy, but it’s not in the slightest. You literally can’t go wrong. In my version, I’m just going to take whatever vegetables I have lying around, slice ’em, coat ’em with balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper (which every respectable college student should own). Stick it between two slices of bread with shredded mozzarella, spray with cooking spray, and broil for 7-8 minutes. You never knew what that Broil setting was for, did you? Ha, neither did I.