#Dieters need good #sleep to #fight #fat

Getting too little sleep might prevent dieters from losing body fat, according to a small U.S. study.

good-sleep-jpgThe study, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, adds to evidence that sleep habits play a role in weight regulation and suggest people embarking on a weight-loss plan may want to make sure they are catching enough shut-eye each night.

The study included 10 overweight men and women who lived in a sleep lab for two separate two-week periods. During both periods they followed the same calorie-restricted diet but for one period, the participants slept for 8.5 hours per night, while during the other they got 5.5 hours. Researchers from the University of Chicago found the dieters lost the same amount of weight under both conditions — just under 7 pounds, on average.

But during the sleep-restricted period, they mainly lost muscle rather than fat. When participants got 8.5 hours of sleep, more than half of their weight loss came from shedding fat. But when they got 5.5 hours of sleep, only one-quarter of their weight loss came from fat — translating to a 55 per cent reduction in fat loss. The majority of their weight loss came from lean body tissue, which refers to muscle and any other body tissue that is not fat.

“So they lost the same amount of weight, but the composition was different,” said researcher Dr. Plamen Penev, an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Chicago. Penev said successful dieters always shed a certain amount of muscle but wanted to limit that loss in favor of shedding fat.

The study, however, has a number of limitations. Besides its small size, it also looked only at short-term weight loss. More research is needed to see how sleep duration might affect dieters’ body composition over time, Penev said. Penev said it was also unclear how well these findings from a tightly controlled sleep-lab setting might fit the “real world.” A number of studies have found self-described “short sleepers” — typically defined as those who get less than 6 hours of sleep each night — tend to weigh more or gain more weight over time than people who get more sleep.

Lab studies have suggested sleep loss may alter people’s levels of the “hunger hormones” leptin and ghrelin. Leptin is secreted by fat cells; low blood levels of the hormone promote hunger, while increases tell the brain that body is full and encourage calorie burning. Ghrelin is secreted by the stomach to boost appetite.

Penev’s study (http://link.reuters.com/kaf82n) found that under sleep-restricted condition, participants reported greater hunger during the day compared with the 8-hour sleep condition even though they consumed the same number of calories during both periods. They also had higher blood levels of acylated ghrelin, one form of the appetite-boosting hormone. Penev said there wsa no one-size-fits-all prescription for sleep and more studies are needed in real-world settings.

Some #sinful but very #nutritious #snacks

Here are some surprising contenders that have been given a thumbs up by nutritionists.

Peanut-butter-spread-jpgOrganic and natural food products are bursting with nutrients and anti-oxidants. But then so are some sinful snacks! Read on..

Cheddar cheese
Apart from being a good source of calcium, “It is also a good source of phosphorous for strong teeth and bones and even promotes brain tissue in growing children,” says sports dietician Deepshikha Agarwal. The zinc content is good for skin, immunity and fertility, riboflavin and Vitamin B12 for energy and Vitamin A for healthy skin and eyes. A cube after a meal will neutralise the acids in your mouth and increase saliva production that helps prevent tooth decay. But its high fat content means you can’t go overboard, says Deepshikha.

Peanut butter
This one is amongst the richest sources of heart-healthy mono-unsaturated fats. Low in saturated fat, it is an excellent source of protein and fibre which is good for bowel health, and also contains folate that can protect against colon cancer and heart disease. In fact, Harvard Medical School researchers recently reported that snacking on peanut butter five days a week can nearly halve the risk of a heart attack.
Plus, these health benefits seem to occur without also promoting weight gain – researchers found that people eat less after a snack of peanut butter compared with other snacks.

Popcorn
Catherine Collins, chief dietician at St George’s hospital in London, says, “A small serving of popcorn is equivalent to one daily portion of brown rice.” Agrees Dr Nupur Krishnan, a nutritionist, and adds, “Popcorn contains more fibre by weight than sunflower seeds, keeping you feeling fuller for longer, as well as balancing your blood sugar levels that helps cut down cravings for sweet snacks. You can enjoy it as long as it’s not loaded with too much salt or caramel. However, she adds, due to its high Glycemic Index (GI), obese and diabetic people should avoid snacking on popcorn.

Chocolate and hazelnut spread
These contains lecithin, a soy extract that is high in protein, calcium and iron, that protects bones, and helps you feel full for longer, says dietician Dr Sonia Kakar. “It’s also lower in calories than many jams, is lower-GI for slower-release energy.” The anti-oxidants in cocoa help balance blood pressure and reduce blood clotting. And hazelnuts are an excellent source of heart-healthy polyunsaturated and mono-unsaturated fats, Vitamin E that boosts immunity and B vitamins that improves mood. The potassium, calcium and magnesium help maintain a healthy blood pressure. But a word of caution. “As it’s high in sugar and fat, intake should be moderated,” says Dr Kakar.

#Discover the #magic of #mushrooms

Mushrooms not only taste good but also a great source of healthy food.

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Remember those stories of mushrooms making somebody big or playing shields against the dreaded monsters. So, if diseases are considered as monsters then you know how to deal with them. The answer is simple: Enjoy your share of mushrooms. Mushrooms are full of proteins, vitamins and minerals, amino acids, anti-biotic and anti-oxidants. From pizzas, pastas to omelettes, mushrooms can really add taste to a dish.

The health benefits of mushroom include the following:

B Vitamins are vital for turning food (carbohydrates) into fuel (glucose), which the body burns to produce energy. They also help the body metabolize fats and protein. Mushrooms contain loads of vitamin B2 and vitamin B3.

Mushrooms have zero cholesterol, fats and very low carbohydrates. The fiber and certain enzymes in them also help lower cholesterol level. The high lean protein content in mushrooms helps burn cholesterol when they are digested.

Mushrooms can be an ideal low energy diet for diabetics. They have no fats, no cholesterol, very low carbohydrates, high proteins, vitamins and minerals, a lot of water and fiber. Moreover, they contain natural insulin and enzymes which help breaking down of sugar or starch of the food.

Ergothioneine, a powerful anti oxidant present in mushrooms is very effective in giving protection from free radicals as well as boosting up immunity. Mushrooms contain natural antibiotics (similar to penicillin, which itself is extracted from mushrooms) which check microbial and other fungal infections.

Mushrooms are the only vegetable and the second known source (after cod liver oil) to contain vitamin-D in edible form. They are rich in calcium (good for bones), iron (cures anemia), potassium ( good for lowering blood pressure) and selenium. The best source of selenium is animal proteins. So, mushrooms can be the best choice for vegetarians to obtain selenium.

#Health #benefits of #spring #onions

Spring onions add great nutritive and taste value to a dish and can be used in different ways.

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Spring onions were grown in Chinese gardens 5000 years ago! Do you know the onion bulb was worshipped as the symbol of the universe by ancient Egyptians? Nutritionally, green onions have a combination of the benefits of onions and greens. They are an excellent source of vitamin K and vitamin C, and a very good source of vitamin A too.

Spring onions can be added to dal and make it a much tastier dish. Similarly, you can add it to vegetables like cauliflower and potatoes and it will make an excellent dish. Mushrooms go very well with spring onions and interestingly spring onions can be added to soy nuggets while making a Chinese dish. Spring onions are used in salads as the flavor tends to be milder than other onions. It is used widely in oriental food both as an ingredient and as a garnish.

Spring onion is a nutritious plant, and therefore it provides a host of health benefits to us. It is a rich source of vitamins and minerals which aids in curing the various ailments. It is seen to have helped in reducing the harmful impacts of various diseases.

Some of the health benefits of spring onions are as follows:
– Spring onion lowers the blood sugar level.
– It is a support against gastrointestinal problems.
– It is often used as a medicine for common cold.
– It is used as an appetizer as it helps digestion.
– It speeds up the level of blood circulation in the body.