Americans are drinking less soda. According to a new study, about half of American adults now drink sugary beverages on any given day—down from 61.5 percent in 2003. That’s good news for Americans’ health. But it’s not enough to stop our worsening obesity epidemic.
Per capita sugar consumption has been steadily falling since 1999. Yet, obesity rates continue to climb. Last month, the CDC reported that obesity among adults in the United States reached an all-time high of 39.8 percent in 2016.
So what happened?
In 2012, Americans collectively consumed 52.2 billion pounds of meat. Individually, we eat about 270 pounds per year. Compared to just a century ago, that’s nearly 150 additional pounds of meat per person each year. At the same time, cheese consumption has soared from just four pounds per person in 1909 to 36 pounds today. These foods are not only packed with calories, but also fat and cholesterol—which aren’t good for our arteries or our waistlines.
To start making progress against obesity, it’s time to move these high-fat foods off of our plates and start focusing on plant foods.
Populations who base their diets on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes are the healthiest and trimmest on the planet. Epidemiological studies have analyzed the diets of thousands of people and found that vegetarian and vegan diets are best for weight control. Clinical trials have come to the same conclusion, like the 2015 study finding those consuming vegetarian diets lost more weight, compared with those following omnivorous diets.
The results are clear: The more we set aside high-calorie foods like meat and cheese and embrace vegetables, fruits, whole grains and beans, the healthier we will be.
A plant-based diet, packed with leafy greens, legumes, and fruits and vegetables in place of animal-based foods, can slash the risk for type 2 diabetes in half. But, even so, are all plant-based foods created equal? Barnard Medical Center’s dietitian, Maggie Neola, R.D., dishes out a few tips to show you how to make your meals work for you, stabilize blood sugar, and boost insulin function.
For additional resources, visit BarnardMedical.org to sign up for free cooking and nutrition education classes or to participate in a free online nutrition program, the 21-Day Vegan Kickstart, which goes live the first day of every month.
Looking for healthy, festive treats to make with your kids in the week leading up to Halloween? We’ve got you covered!
In a new video, Physicians Committee dietitians Karen Smith, R.D., Susan Levin, M.S., R.D., and their kids share some of their favorite fall recipes, including dairy-free Pumpkin “Nice” Cream and homemade Sunflower Seed Butter Cups!
Something stinks about the British Food Standard Agency’s new recommendation that it is safe for pregnant women, infants, and older adults to start eating runny eggs. Maybe it’s because the advice only applies to eggs that bear the red British Lion symbol, a mark of the British Egg Industry Council, which is surely more interested in selling eggs than in health and safety. But British Lion symbol or not, salmonella will always be a risk—for everyone—when eating raw and undercooked eggs.
Here in the United States, our government’s advice on nutrition and food safety undoubtedly has some problems—and is also influenced by industry interests like the American Egg Board. But the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does get it right by warning that “because foods of animal origin may be contaminated with salmonella, people should not eat raw or undercooked eggs, poultry, or meat.”
Even with this warning, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration estimates that 79,000 cases of foodborne illness and 30 deaths each year are caused by eating eggs contaminated with salmonella. Most people develop diarrhea, fever, abdominal cramps, and vomiting that can last up to a week.
Of course, the United States and the United Kingdom have different food safety regulations regarding eggs, but salmonella knows no borders. It lives in the intestinal tracts of humans and animals worldwide.
So why take chances on eating runny eggs or feeding them to infants and children, who are at greatest risk for salmonella infection? Children under the age of 5 have higher rates of salmonella infection than any other age group. Older adults and people with weakened immune systems are the other groups most likely to have severe infections.
But salmonella is not the only danger found in eggs. All eggs, no matter how they are prepared (raw, runny, poached, scrambled, boiled), increase the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers.
In the United States, the industry-backed American Egg Board tried to get Americans to forget about these risks by attempting to get the federal government to remove cholesterol warnings the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
Eggs, which are loaded with cholesterol that contributes to heart disease, are the No. 1 source for cholesterol in the American diet. But the egg industry wanted to dupe Americans into believing that cholesterol isn’t a health concern. In a systematic review used to sway the Dietary Guidelines, 10 of the 12 studies were funded by the egg industry seeking to make cholesterol look innocuous. But the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine was able counter the American Egg Board to keep cholesterol warnings in the Dietary Guidelines.
In the United Kingdom or the United States (or anywhere else in the world), eggs aren’t what they are cracked up to be by the egg industry. From salmonella to cholesterol the only way to avoid the dangers of eggs is too simply stop eating them.
Formula One racing champion Lewis Hamilton has joined the growing number of hard-driving athletes who use plant power to fuel peak performance. He’s been on a plant-based diet a month now, and in a new Instagram post he says he feels the best he ever has!
He joins the ranks of tennis stars Serena and Venus Williams and Novak Djokovic; the NBA’s Damian Lillard, Wilson Chandler, and Jahlil Okafor; the NFL’s David Johnson and Cardale Jones; and dozens of other elite athletes whose plant-based diets put them on the inside track to success.
Across the spectrum of sports, athletes have attributed a plant-based diet to improved endurance, strength, recovery, and concentration.
Williams says a vegan diet actually helped her get back in the game after autoimmune disease halted her career in 2011. Djokovic says a vegan diet made him more aware of his body on the court and more alert.
The science backs them up. A plant-based diet, which emphasizes whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes, provides healthy complex carbohydrate for energy, balanced with the protein and fat the body needs for training sessions and competition, but without the blood-sludging saturated fat that predominates in cheese and meat. A vegan athlete will get all the vitamins and minerals he or she needs to best perform, recover, and perform again.