By Joe Leech
The human body comprises around 60% water.
It's commonly recommended that you drink eight 8-ounce (237-mL) glasses of water per day (the 8×8 rule).
Although there's little science behind this specific rule, staying hydrated is important.
Here are 7 evidence-based health benefits of drinking plenty of water.
1. Helps Maximize Physical Performance
If you don't stay hydrated, your physical performance can suffer.
This is particularly important during intense exercise or high heat.
Dehydration can have a noticeable effect if you lose as little as 2% of your body's water content. However, it isn't uncommon for athletes to lose as much as 6–10% of their water weight via sweat.
This can lead to altered body temperature control, reduced motivation, and increased fatigue. It can also make exercise feel much more difficult, both physically and mentally.
Optimal hydration has been shown to prevent this from happening, and it may even reduce the oxidative stress that occurs during high intensity exercise. This isn't surprising when you consider that muscle is about 80% water.
If you exercise intensely and tend to sweat, staying hydrated can help you perform at your absolute best.
Losing as little as 2% of your body's water content can significantly impair your physical performance.
2. Significantly Affects Energy Levels and Brain Function
Your brain is strongly influenced by your hydration status.
Studies show that even mild dehydration, such as the loss of 1–3% of body weight, can impair many aspects of brain function.
In a study in young women, researchers found that fluid loss of 1.4% after exercise impaired both mood and concentration. It also increased the frequency of headaches.
A fluid loss of 1–3% equals about 1.5–4.5 pounds (0.5–2 kg) of body weight loss for a person weighing 150 pounds (68 kg). This can easily occur through normal daily activities, let alone during exercise or high heat.
Mild dehydration (fluid loss of 1–3%) can impair energy levels, impair mood, and lead to major reductions in memory and brain performance.
3. May Help Prevent and Treat Headaches
Dehydration can trigger headaches and migraine in some individuals.
Research has shown that a headache is one of the most common symptoms of dehydration. For example, a study in 393 people found that 40% of the participants experienced a headache as a result of dehydration.
What's more, some studies have shown that drinking water can help relieve headaches in those who experience frequent headaches.
A study in 102 men found that drinking an additional 50.7 ounces (1.5 liters) of water per day resulted in significant improvements on the Migraine-Specific Quality of Life scale, a scoring system for migraine symptoms.
However, not all studies agree, and researchers have concluded that because of the lack of high quality studies, more research is needed to confirm how increasing hydration may help improve headache symptoms and decrease headache frequency.
Drinking water may help reduce headaches and headache symptoms. However, more high quality research is needed to confirm this potential benefit.
4. May Help Relieve Constipation
Constipation is a common problem that's characterized by infrequent bowel movements and difficulty passing stool.
Increasing fluid intake is often recommended as a part of the treatment protocol, and there's some evidence to back this up.
Low water consumption appears to be a risk factor for constipation in both younger and older individuals.
Increasing hydration may help decrease constipation.
Mineral water may be a particularly beneficial beverage for those with constipation.
Drinking plenty of water may help prevent and relieve constipation, especially in people who generally don't drink enough water.
5. May Help Treat Kidney Stones
Urinary stones are painful clumps of mineral crystal that form in the urinary system.
The most common form is kidney stones, which form in the kidneys.
Higher fluid intake increases the volume of urine passing through the kidneys. This dilutes the concentration of minerals, so they're less likely to crystallize and form clumps.
Water may also help prevent the initial formation of stones, but studies are required to confirm this.
Increased water intake appears to decrease the risk of kidney stone formation.
6. Helps Prevent Hangovers
A hangover refers to the unpleasant symptoms experienced after drinking alcohol.
Alcohol is a diuretic, so it makes you lose more water than you take in. This can lead to dehydration.
Although dehydration isn't the main cause of hangovers, it can cause symptoms like thirst, fatigue, headache, and dry mouth.
Good ways to reduce hangovers are to drink a glass of water between drinks and have at least one big glass of water before going to bed.
Hangovers are partly caused by dehydration, and drinking water can help reduce some of the main symptoms of hangovers.
7. Can Aid Weight Loss
Drinking plenty of water can help you lose weight.
This is because water can increase satiety and boost your metabolic rate.
Some evidence suggests that increasing water intake can promote weight loss by slightly increasing your metabolism, which can increase the number of calories you burn on a daily basis.
A 2013 study in 50 young women with overweight demonstrated that drinking an additional 16.9 ounces (500 mL) of water 3 times per day before meals for 8 weeks led to significant reductions in body weight and body fat compared with their pre-study measurements.
The timing is important too. Drinking water half an hour before meals is the most effective. It can make you feel more full so that you eat fewer calories.
In one study, dieters who drank 16.9 ounces (0.5 liters) of water before meals lost 44% more weight over a period of 12 weeks than dieters who didn't drink water before meals.
The Bottom Line
Even mild dehydration can affect you mentally and physically.
Make sure that you get enough water each day, whether your personal goal is 64 ounces (1.9 liters) or a different amount. It's one of the best things you can do for your overall health.
- 9 Evidence-Based Health Benefits of Avocado Oil ›
- 7 Nutrient Deficiencies That Are Incredibly Common ›
- The Best Natural Remedies for Kidney Stones ›
It's unlikely that taking a swig of apple cider vinegar in the morning will significantly affect weight loss.
Q: Is drinking apple cider vinegar in water first thing in the morning good for cleansing and weight loss? If so, how much is recommended?
Countless tips and tricks on how to lose weight quickly and "cleanse" the body are circulating online. However, most of them are unsubstantiated and ineffective.
Taking a shot of apple cider vinegar in the morning on an empty stomach is one practice that many wellness gurus claim helps you lose weight, reduce hunger, and remove toxins from your system.
Although limited research suggests that vinegar may have a beneficial effect on hunger levels and body composition, results are far from conclusive. Plus, the majority of this research has taken place in animals, not humans.
A few human studies have shown that supplementing with apple cider vinegar may help suppress appetite and have a modest beneficial effect on weight loss. This is mainly attributed to acetic acid, a type of acid concentrated in apple cider vinegar that may have hunger-suppressing effects.
However, it's important to note that there's a lack of high quality human research in this area. While apple cider vinegar may slightly affect hunger levels, it's unlikely that drinking apple cider vinegar will have any meaningful effect on your waistline — unless, of course, it's combined with increased physical activity and healthy modifications to your diet.
Additionally, drinking apple cider vinegar can cause adverse side effects, such as tooth erosion and nausea.
What's more, there's no evidence to say that throwing back a drink containing apple cider vinegar will rid your body of toxins. Your body has an entire system dedicated to detoxification, and it does not depend on supplements for optimal functioning.
Lastly, there's no scientific evidence to suggest that taking apple cider vinegar in the morning is more beneficial than doing so at any other time of the day.
In closing, although it's unlikely that taking a swig of apple cider vinegar in the morning will significantly affect weight loss, it's generally harmless for most people. Just make sure to limit your daily dose to 1–2 tablespoons diluted in a glass of water and rinse your mouth with water afterward to prevent dental erosion.
- 8 Reasons to Drink Lemon Water in the Morning - EcoWatch ›
- 6 Health Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar, Backed by Science ... ›
Throughout Texas, there are a number of solar power companies that can install solar panels on your roof to take advantage of the abundant sunlight. But which solar power provider should you choose? In this article, we'll provide a list of the best solar companies in the Lone Star State.
Our Picks for the Best Texas Solar Companies
Each product featured here has been independently selected by the writer. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
- Sunpro Solar
- Longhorn Solar, Inc.
- Solartime USA
- Kosmos Solar
- Sunshine Renewable Solutions
- Alba Energy
- Circle L Solar
- South Texas Solar Systems
- Good Faith Energy
How We Chose the Best Solar Energy Companies in Texas
There are a number of factors to keep in mind when comparing and contrasting different solar providers. These are some of the considerations we used to evaluate Texas solar energy companies.
Different solar companies may provide varying services. Always take the time to understand the full range of what's being offered in terms of solar panel consultation, design, installation, etc. Also consider add-ons, like EV charging stations, whenever applicable.
When meeting with a representative from one of Texas' solar power companies, we would always encourage you to ask what the installation process involves. What kind of customization can you expect? Will your solar provider use salaried installers, or outsourced contractors? These are all important questions to raise during the due diligence process.
Texas is a big place, and as you look for a good solar power provider, you want to ensure that their services are available where you live. If you live in Austin, it doesn't do you much good to have a solar company that's active only in Houston.
Pricing and Financing
Keep in mind that the initial cost of solar panel installation can be sizable. Some solar companies are certainly more affordable than others, and you can also ask about the flexible financing options that are available to you.
To guarantee that the renewable energy providers you select are reputable, and that they have both the integrity and the expertise needed, we would recommend assessing their status in the industry. The simplest way to do this is to check to see whether they are North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) certified or belong to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) or other industry groups.
Types of Panels
As you research different companies, it certainly doesn't hurt to get to know the specific products they offer. Inquire about their tech portfolio, and see if they are certified to install leading brands like Tesla or Panasonic.
Rebates and Tax Credits
There are a lot of opportunities to claim clean energy rebates or federal tax credits which can help with your initial solar purchase. Ask your solar provider for guidance navigating these different savings opportunities.
Going solar is a big investment, but a warranty can help you trust that your system will work for decades. A lot of solar providers provide warranties on their technology and workmanship for 25 years or more, but you'll definitely want to ask about this on the front end.
The 10 Best Solar Energy Companies in Texas
With these criteria in mind, consider our picks for the 10 best solar energy companies in TX.
SunPower is a solar energy company that makes it easy to make an informed and totally customized decision about your solar power setup. SunPower has an online design studio where you can learn more about the different options available for your home, and even a form where you can get a free online estimate. Set up a virtual consultation to speak directly with a qualified solar installer from the comfort of your own home. It's no wonder SunPower is a top solar installation company in Texas. They make the entire process easy and expedient.
Sunpro Solar is another solar power company with a solid reputation across the country. Their services are widely available to Texas homeowners, and they make the switch to solar effortless. We recommend them for their outstanding customer service, for the ease of their consultation and design process, and for their assistance to homeowners looking to claim tax credits and other incentives.
Looking for a solar contractor with true Texas roots? Longhorn Solar is an award-winning company that's frequently touted as one of the best solar providers in the state. Their services are available in Austin, Dallas, and San Antonio, and since 2009 they have helped more than 2,000 Texans make the switch to energy efficiency with solar. We recommend them for their technical expertise, proven track record, and solar product selection.
Solartime USA is another company based in Texas. In fact, this family-owned business is located in Richardson, which is just outside of Dallas. They have ample expertise with customized solar energy solutions in residential settings, and their portfolio of online reviews attests to their first-rate customer service. We love this company for the simplicity of their process, and for all the guidance they offer customers seeking to go solar.
Next on our list is Kosmos Solar, another Texas-based solar company. They're based in the northern part of the state, and highly recommended for homeowners in the area. They supply free estimates, high-quality products, custom solar designs, and award-winning personal service. Plus, their website has a lot of great information that may help guide you while you determine whether going solar is right for you.
Sunshine Renewable Solutions is based out of Houston, and they've developed a sterling reputation for dependable service and high-quality products. They have a lot of helpful financing options, and can show you how you can make the switch to solar in a really cost-effective way. We also like that they give free estimates, so there's certainly no harm in learning more about this great local company.
"Powered by the Texas sun." That's the official tagline of Alba Energy, a solar energy provider that's based out of Katy, TX. They have lots of great information about solar panel systems and solar solutions, including solar calculators to help you tabulate your potential energy savings. Additionally, we recommend Alba Energy because all of their work is done by a trusted, in-house team of solar professionals. They maintain an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau, and they have rave reviews from satisfied customers.
Circle L Solar has a praiseworthy mission of helping homeowners slash their energy costs while participating in the green energy revolution. This is another company that provides a lot of great information, including energy savings calculators. Also note that, in addition to solar panels, Circle L Solar also showcases a number of other assets that can help you make your home more energy efficient, including windows, weatherization services, LED lighting, and more.
You can tell by the name that South Texas Solar Systems focuses its service area on the southernmost part of the Lone Star State. Their products include a wide range of commercial and residential solar panels, as well as "off the grid" panels for homeowners who want to detach from public utilities altogether. Since 2007, this company has been a trusted solar energy provider in San Antonio and beyond.
Good Faith Energy is a certified installer of Tesla solar technology for homeowners throughout Texas. This company is really committed to ecological stewardship, and they have amassed a lot of goodwill thanks to their friendly customer service and the depth of their solar expertise. In addition to Tesla solar panels, they can also install EV charging stations and storage batteries.
What are Your Solar Financing Options in Texas?
We've mentioned already that going solar requires a significant investment on the front-end. It's worth emphasizing that some of the best solar companies provide a range of financing options, allowing you to choose whether you buy your system outright, lease it, or pay for it in monthly installments.
Also keep in mind that there are a lot of rebates and state and federal tax credits available to help offset starting costs. Find a Texas solar provider who can walk you through some of the different options.
How Much Does a Solar Energy System Cost in Texas?
How much is it going to cost you to make that initial investment into solar power? It varies by customer and by home, but the median cost of solar paneling may be somewhere in the ballpark of $13,000. Note that, when you take into account federal tax incentives, this number can fall by several thousand dollars.
And of course, once you go solar, your monthly utility bills are going to shrink dramatically… so while solar systems won't pay for themselves in the first month or even the first year, they will ultimately prove more than cost-effective.
Finding the Right Solar Energy Companies in TX
Texas is a great place to pursue solar energy companies, thanks to all the natural sunlight, and there are plenty of companies out there to help you make the transition. Do your homework, compare a few options, and seek the solar provider that's right for you. We hope this guide is a helpful jumping-off point as you try to get as much information as possible about the best solar companies in Texas.
Josh Hurst is a journalist, critic, and essayist. He lives in Knoxville, TN, with his wife and three sons. He covers natural health, nutrition, supplements, and clean energy. His writing has appeared in Health, Shape, and Remedy Review.
By Gudrun Heise
"Although I hadn't used the stove at all, I touched every ring to check that it was off. Finally I had to keep telling myself: 'Off! Off! Off!'" Michaela says (her name has been changed by the editor).
Even when Michaela was a child, there were rituals that she always had to observe and from which her mind would not permit her to deviate. There were things that were simply not "allowed."
Every evening, for example, the procedure was exactly the same: Her parents always got given four goodnight kisses on each side, no more and no fewer. This number was fixed, as if set in stone. "Two on the right, two on the left and then the other way around: two on the left, two on the right," Michaela says.
Today she is 48, but her compulsion for rituals and double-checking and symmetry has stayed with her. Everything still has to be exactly symmetrical for her. On her yoga mat, she lies exactly in the middle, with exactly the same distance to the right and left. "If I scratch myself on the right, I have to scratch myself on the left," says Michaela.
For many people, this may sound strange or exaggerated. But it is a serious mental illness that is not easy to diagnose. "There has to be an impairment in everyday life, either professionally or socially," says Andreas Wahl-Kordon, medical director of the Oberberg Specialty Hospital in the Black Forest. "An important criterion for diagnosis is the length of time consumed by the obsessive thought or the actions taken to deal with it. If you check once whether the coffee maker is really switched off, then that is fine. But if you do this 20 times or more, it is already compulsive."
For Michaela, compulsions are part of her everyday life. They are exhausting and demand a lot of strength and energy. But things have got much better now, she says. She owes this above all to her psychiatrist, Andreas Wahl-Kordon. He is a person she trusts and has treated her several times as an inpatient.
OCD Is a Common Illness
Checking compulsions often begin at a young age, but can also develop in adulthood. "It is a common mental illness, but it is usually not obvious because it is often made a taboo and concealed," says Wahl-Kordon.
Sometimes sufferers and the people around them do not really take the somewhat strange behavior seriously. People with this form of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) must first become aware that their behavior is not normal and be prepared to start treatment.
One Step Forward, Two Steps Back
To find out whether someone has OCD, therapists usually work with various screening questions, such as: "Do you clean or wash extremely often? Are you often concerned with symmetries? Are there thoughts that do not let go of you?"
Wahl-Kordon says that "what is most significant is the intensity at which such actions are carried out and the time the sufferer actually spends on them or thinks about them," he says.
"With many sufferers, we can achieve very good results through behavioral therapy. Exposure and confrontation exercises are core elements here," Wahl-Kordon says.
Michaela has also been taking part in these kinds of therapies, which force her to permit situations that she fears and would otherwise try to avoid. They are meant to help her deal with her compulsions and fears, which often have their roots in the past.
'I Thought It Was My Fault'
When Michaela was 16, her sister-in-law died at the age of just 28. For Michaela, this was a traumatic experience and one that triggered severe feelings of self-blame.
"About a week before my sister-in-law died, I told a friend of mine that there was nothing to look forward to and that I dreamed that my sister-in-law was in the cemetery behind the cemetery wall and could not get out. When my sister-in-law died, I blamed myself a lot. I thought it was because of me, because I had moaned so much for no reason," she says.
She still has these feelings of self-blame and fears some kind of punishment if she complains about something without there being an obvious reason. And it is just one of many fears that she has developed.
Trouble Leaving the Apartment
Michaela studied law; during her time at university, her checking compulsion continued to accompany her and became a never-ending ordeal.
"My apartment had a kitchenette within sight of the bed. In the evening I always had to start checking from left to right to make sure that all appliances were turned off: stove, coffee maker and kettle. Had I pulled out all the plugs? Then check the fridge door again to see that it was really closed. Then I'd start all over again," she says.
Sometimes the whole procedure lasted several hours, she says, and on occasion she would go and sit outside the front door at 4 o'clock in the morning in desperation because she had not managed to go to bed.
Checking the Checks
During her studies, Michaela met her husband. She immediately got him involved, asking him to help her with her checking. "My husband was my salvation back then. I asked him to do a very last follow-up check after my check-ups. This gave me the feeling that he had taken the responsibility from me in case something started to burn because I had forgotten to check everything thoroughly," she says.
For about 20 years, Michaela checked every evening whether her husband had checked everything properly — checking the checker, so to speak. Thanks to the therapy, this, too, has now improved.
'I Was Afraid of Doing Everything Wrong'
Michaela was a specialist lawyer for criminal law and social law. She was on committees, gave lectures and received requests from various associations to join their boards of directors. She was a successful lawyer, at least on the outside. But her constant self-doubt and her checking compulsion made her life so difficult that she finally had to give up her profession.
"I was always just afraid of not doing anything right, of not being able to do anything, of being too stupid for everything, and thought that it was just a matter of chance that I had a particular position. In my work, I never felt as though I had done enough preparation," she says. "If, for example, I had an appointment at 2 p.m. on one day, it was not possible for me to do anything else that day. I always thought I had to prepare myself more and more and more for this one thing."
At some point, her fears increased so dramatically that she was no longer able to go in to work at the law firm at all.
"At some point, compulsions determine their entire lives," Wahl-Kordon says. "Some sufferers withdraw completely, no longer eat properly and lose weight. Those are the most serious cases — when everything revolves around the compulsions."
More Than One Compulsion
In addition to her constant drive to check things, Michaela developed other compulsions. Compulsive hoarding is a particular problem for her. People with this form of OCD collect all sorts of things without any necessity or good reason: small notes, old receipts, papers that are no longer valid. Michaela even finds it difficult to part with daily newspapers.
After one three-week vacation, the newspapers piled up in the apartment, but throwing them away was impossible for her. After all, something important could be hidden somewhere among the countless pages, and then she wouldn't be able to find it again.
"It is incredibly difficult for me to throw something away. It takes me a very long time to put things in order. I never finish. There is simply no end. I always think that maybe I could use the things again sometime," Michaela says.
Your partner doing the cleaning and throwing things away does not work either, says Wahl-Kordon. "That can mean that the world collapses for the sufferer, so it doesn't work at all. Hoarding often has to do with objects that I associate with certain events or experiences and which I simply can't get rid of for that reason alone."
Disposing of those objects thus becomes a difficult and confronting task that the patient must tackle with the support of a psychotherapist. Often the compulsive need to hoard affects older people in particular. In severe cases, they literally become buried in clutter because they simply cannot bring themselves to throw things away.
'But First I Have to Clean Up'
Michaela always tries to organize and prepare everything as perfectly as possible and have control over as many things as she can — even when she had suicidal thoughts because her condition was becoming too much for her.
"It was on a Sunday, and I had actually managed to organize replacements for my appointments for the entire coming week," she relates. After all, she was planning to not be alive the following week. But then, she says, her husband came home unexpectedly and thwarted her plans.
"Later, I always thought that I couldn't ever kill myself because I would have to clean up first. The thought of someone tampering with my things is simply unbearable for me!" she says.
Michaela has now taken up other forms of employment, including teaching social law to special education teachers. This is easier for her than her work as a lawyer. She can engage with it in a completely different way and sometimes even uses herself as an example.
After all, aspiring teachers must learn to deal with disabled people like her, she says. She says everyone in her environment knows about her obsessive-compulsive disorder — with the exception of her family.
In recent years, she has undergone trauma therapy, depression therapy and exposure therapy, which have helped. "I still check the stove and the refrigerator. I still have to do everything right. I'm still afraid that I am doing everything wrong. But compared to the way it used to be, everything is much, much better now."
Reposted with permission from Deutsche Welle.
By Alexandra Rowles
Oregano is a fragrant herb that's best known as an ingredient in Italian food.
However, it can also be concentrated into an essential oil that's loaded with antioxidants and powerful compounds that have proven health benefits.
Oregano oil is the extract and, although it's not as strong as the essential oil, it appears to be useful both when consumed or applied to the skin. Essential oils, on the other hand, are not meant to be consumed.
Interestingly, oregano oil is an effective natural antibiotic and antifungal agent, and it may help you lose weight and lower your cholesterol levels.
What Is Oregano Oil?
Botanically known as Origanum vulgare, oregano is a flowering plant from the same family as mint. It's often used as an herb to flavor food.
Although it's native to Europe, it now grows all over the world.
Oregano has been popular ever since the ancient Greek and Roman civilizations used it for medicinal purposes. In fact, the name oregano comes from the Greek words "oros," meaning mountain, and "ganos," meaning joy or delight.
The herb has also been used for centuries as a culinary spice.
Oregano essential oil is made by air-drying the leaves and shoots of the plant. Once they're dried, the oil is extracted and concentrated by steam distillation.
Oregano essential oil can be mixed with a carrier oil and applied topically. However, it should not be consumed orally.
Oregano oil extract, on the other hand, can be produced via several extraction methods using compounds like carbon dioxide or alcohol. It's widely available as a supplement and can often be found in pill or capsule form.
Oregano contains compounds called phenols, terpenes, and terpenoids. They have powerful antioxidant properties and are responsible for its fragrance:
- Carvacrol. The most abundant phenol in oregano, it has been shown to stop the growth of several different types of bacteria.
- Thymol. This natural antifungal can also support the immune system and protect against toxins.
- Rosmarinic acid. This powerful antioxidant helps protect against damage caused by free radicals.
These compounds are thought to underlie oregano's many health benefits.
Here are 9 potential benefits and uses of oregano oil.
Oregano and the carvacrol it contains may help fight bacteria.
The Staphylococcus aureus bacterium is one of the most common causes of infection, resulting in ailments like food poisoning and skin infections.
One particular study looked at whether oregano essential oil improved the survival of 14 mice infected with Staphylococcus aureus.
It found that 43% of the mice given oregano essential oil lived past 30 days, a survival rate nearly as high as the 50% survival rate for mice that received regular antibiotics.
Research has also shown that oregano essential oil may be effective against some potentially antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
This includes Pseudomonas aeruginosa and E. coli, both of which are common causes of urinary and respiratory tract infections.
Although more human studies on the effects of oregano oil extract are needed, it contains many of the same compounds as oregano essential oil and may offer similar health benefits when used as a supplement.
One mouse study found oregano essential oil to be almost as effective as antibiotics against common bacteria, though much more research is needed.
2. May Help Lower Cholesterol
Studies have shown that oregano oil may help lower cholesterol.
In one study, 48 people with mildly high cholesterol were given diet and lifestyle advice to help lower their cholesterol. Thirty-two participants were also given 0.85 ounces (25 mL) of oregano oil extract after each meal.
After 3 months, those given the oregano oil had lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and higher HDL (good) cholesterol, compared with those who were just given diet and lifestyle advice.
Carvacrol, the main compound in oregano oil, has also been shown to help lower cholesterol in mice that were fed a high fat diet over 10 weeks.
The mice given carvacrol alongside the high fat diet had significantly lower cholesterol at the end of the 10 weeks, compared with those that were just given a high fat diet.
The cholesterol-lowering effect of oregano oil is thought to be the result of the phenols carvacrol and thymol.
Studies have shown that oregano may help lower cholesterol in people and mice with high cholesterol. This is thought to be the result of the compounds carvacrol and thymol.
3. Powerful Antioxidant
Antioxidants help protect the body from damage caused by free radicals.
It's thought that free radical damage plays a role in aging and the development of some diseases, such as cancer and heart disease.
Free radicals are everywhere and a natural product of metabolism.
However, they can build up in the body through exposure to environmental factors, such as cigarette smoke and air pollutants.
One older test-tube study compared the antioxidant content of 39 commonly used herbs and found that oregano had the highest concentration of antioxidants.
It found that oregano contained 3–30 times the levels of antioxidants in the other herbs studied, which included thyme, marjoram, and St. John's wort.
Gram per gram, oregano also has 42 times the antioxidant level of apples and 4 times that of blueberries. This is thought to be mostly due to its rosmarinic acid content.
Because oregano oil extract is very concentrated, you need much less oregano oil to reap the same antioxidant benefits as you would from fresh oregano.
Fresh oregano has a very high antioxidant content. In fact, it's much higher than that of most fruits and vegetables, gram per gram. The antioxidant content is concentrated in oregano oil.
4. Could Help Treat Yeast Infections
Yeast is a type of fungus. It can be harmless, but overgrowth can result in gut problems and infections, such as thrush.
The most well-known yeast is Candida, which is the most common cause of yeast infections worldwide.
In test-tube studies, oregano essential oil has been found to be effective against five different types of Candida, such as those that cause infections in the mouth and vagina. In fact, it was more effective than any other essential oil tested.
Test-tube studies have also found that carvacrol, one of the main compounds of oregano oil, is very effective against oral Candida.
High levels of the yeast Candida have also been associated with some gut conditions, such as Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis.
A test-tube study on the effectiveness of oregano essential oil on 16 different strains of Candida concluded that oregano oil may be a good alternative treatment for Candida yeast infections. However, more research is needed.
Test-tube studies have shown that oregano essential oil is effective against Candida, the most common form of yeast.
5. May Improve Gut Health
Oregano may benefit gut health in a number of ways.
Gut symptoms like diarrhea, pain, and bloating are common and can be caused by gut parasites.
One older study gave 600 mg of oregano oil to 14 people who had gut symptoms as a result of a parasite. After daily treatment for 6 weeks, all participants experienced a reduction in parasites, and 77% were cured.
Participants also experienced a reduction in gut symptoms and tiredness associated with the symptoms.
Oregano may also help protect against another common gut complaint known as "leaky gut." This happens when the gut wall becomes damaged, allowing bacteria and toxins to pass into the bloodstream.
In a study on pigs, oregano essential oil protected the gut wall from damage and prevented it from becoming "leaky." It also reduced the number of E. coli bacteria in the gut.
Oregano oil may benefit gut health by killing gut parasites and protecting against leaky gut syndrome.
6. May Have Anti-Inflammatory Properties
Inflammation in the body is linked to a number of adverse health effects.
Research has shown that oregano oil may reduce inflammation.
One mouse study found that oregano essential oil, along with thyme essential oil, reduced inflammatory markers in those that had artificially induced colitis.
Carvacrol, one of the key components in oregano oil, has also been shown to reduce inflammation.
One study directly applied different concentrations of carvacrol to the swollen paws or ears of mice. Carvacrol reduced paw and ear swelling by 35–61% and 33–43%, respectively.
Oregano oil and its components may help reduce inflammation in mice, though human studies are needed.
7. Could Help Relieve Pain
Oregano oil has been investigated for its painkilling properties.
One older study in mice tested standard painkillers and essential oils, including oregano essential oil, for their ability to relieve pain.
It found that oregano essential oil significantly reduced pain in mice, exerting effects similar to those of the commonly used painkillers fenoprofen and morphine.
The research proposed these results were likely due to the carvacrol content of oregano.
A similar study found that oregano extract reduced pain in rats, and that the response was dose-dependent, meaning the more oregano extract the rats consumed, the less pain they appeared to feel.
Oregano oil may significantly reduce pain in mice and rats, exerting pain-relieving effects similar to those of some commonly used medications.
8. May Have Cancer-Fighting Properties
A few studies have indicated that carvacrol, one of the compounds of oregano oil, may have cancer-fighting properties.
In test-tube studies on cancer cells, carvacrol has demonstrated promising results against lung, liver, and breast cancer cells.
It has been found to inhibit cell growth and cause cancer cell death.
Although this is promising research, no studies have been carried out on people, so more research is needed.
Preliminary studies have shown that carvacrol — the most abundant compound in oregano oil — inhibits cancer cell growth and causes cell death in lung, liver, and breast cancer cells.
9. May Help You Lose Weight
Thanks to oregano's carvacrol content, oregano oil may aid weight loss.
In one study, mice were fed either a normal diet, high fat diet, or high fat diet with carvacrol. Those given carvacrol alongside their high fat diet gained significantly less weight and body fat than those just given a high fat diet.
Furthermore, carvacrol appeared to reverse the chain of events that can lead to the formation of fat cells.
More research is needed to demonstrate that oregano oil has a role in weight loss, but it may be worth trying as part of a healthy diet and lifestyle.
Oregano oil may be beneficial for weight loss through the action of carvacrol, though human studies are needed.
How to Use Oregano Oil
Oregano oil extract is widely available in capsule and tablet form. It can be bought from most health food shops or online.
Because the strength of oregano supplements can vary, it's important to read the directions on the individual packet for instructions on how to use the product.
Oregano essential oil is also available and can be diluted with a carrier oil and applied topically. Note that no essential oil should be ingested.
There's no standard effective dose of oregano essential oil. However, it's often mixed with around 1 teaspoon (5 mL) of olive oil per drop of oregano essential oil and applied directly to the skin.
Like other essential oils, keep in mind that oregano essential oil should not be consumed orally.
If you're interested in taking oregano oil extract but currently taking prescription medications, make sure to consult your healthcare provider before adding it to your regimen.
In addition, oregano oil extract is not generally recommended for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Oregano oil extract can be purchased in pill or capsule form and taken orally. Oregano essential oil is also available and can be diluted with a carrier oil and applied to the skin.
The Bottom Line
Oregano oil extract and oregano essential oil are both relatively cheap and readily available.
Oregano is higher in antioxidants than most fruits and vegetables, and it's packed full of powerful compounds called phenols.
Oregano also contains compounds that may be effective against bacterial and fungal infections, inflammation, and pain, among other conditions.
Overall, it appears to have several health benefits and may be useful as a natural treatment for some common health complaints.
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It has been linked to an increased risk of many diseases, including obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer.
Many people are now trying to minimize their sugar intake, but it's easy to underestimate how much you're actually consuming.
One of the reasons is that many foods contain hidden sugars, including some foods that you wouldn't even consider to be sweet.
In fact, even products marketed as "light" or "low fat" often contain more sugar than their regular counterparts.
The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends that women limit their added sugar intake to 6 teaspoons (25 grams) per day, while men should limit their intake to 9 teaspoons (37.5 grams).
Here are 18 foods and drinks that contain way more sugar than you'd think.
1. Low Fat Yogurt
Yogurt can be highly nutritious. However, not all yogurt is created equal.
Like many other low fat products, low fat yogurts have sugar added to them to enhance flavor.
For example, a single cup (245 grams) of low fat yogurt can contain over 45 grams of sugar, which is about 11 teaspoons. This is more than the daily limit for men and women in just a single cup of "healthy" yogurt.
Furthermore, low fat yogurt doesn't seem to have the same health benefits as full fat yogurt.
It's best to choose full fat, natural, or Greek yogurt. Avoid yogurt that has been sweetened with sugar.
2. Barbecue (BBQ) Sauce
Barbecue (BBQ) sauce can make a tasty marinade or dip.
However, 2 tablespoons (around 28 grams) of sauce can contain around 9 grams of sugar. This is over 2 teaspoons worth.
In fact, around 33% of the weight of BBQ sauce may be pure sugar.
If you're liberal with your servings, this makes it easy to consume a lot of sugar without meaning to.
To make sure you aren't getting too much, check the labels and choose the sauce with the least amount of added sugar. Also, remember to watch your portions.
Ketchup is one of the most popular condiments worldwide, but — like BBQ sauce — it's often loaded with sugar.
Try to be mindful of your portion size when using ketchup, and remember that a single tablespoon of ketchup contains nearly 1 teaspoon of sugar.
4. Fruit Juice
Like whole fruit, fruit juice contains some vitamins and minerals.
However, despite seeming like a healthy choice, these vitamins and minerals come with a large dose of sugar and very little fiber.
It usually takes a lot of fruit to produce a single glass of fruit juice, so you get much more sugar in a glass of juice than you would get by eating whole fruit. This makes it easy to consume a large amount of sugar quickly.
In fact, there can be just as much sugar in fruit juice as there is in a sugary drink like Coke. The poor health outcomes that have been convincingly linked to sugary soda may also be linked to fruit juices.
It's best to choose whole fruit and minimize your intake of fruit juices.
5. Spaghetti Sauce
Added sugars are often hidden in foods that we don't even consider to be sweet, such as spaghetti sauce.
All spaghetti sauces will contain some natural sugar given that they're made with tomatoes.
However, many spaghetti sauces contain added sugar as well.
The best way to ensure you aren't getting any unwanted sugar in your pasta sauce is to make your own.
However, if you need to buy premade spaghetti sauce, check the label and pick one that either doesn't have sugar on the ingredient list or has it listed very close to the bottom. This indicates that it's not a major ingredient.
6. Sports Drinks
Sports drinks can often be mistaken as a healthy choice for those who exercise.
However, sports drinks are designed to hydrate and fuel trained athletes during prolonged, intense periods of exercise.
For this reason, they contain high amounts of added sugars that can be quickly absorbed and used for energy.
Sports drinks are therefore categorized as sugary drinks. Like soda and fruit juice, they've also been linked to obesity and metabolic disease.
Unless you're a marathon runner or elite athlete, you should probably just stick to water while exercising. It's by far the best choice for most of us.
7. Chocolate Milk
Chocolate milk is milk that has been flavored with cocoa and sweetened with sugar.
Milk itself is a very nutritious drink. It's a rich source of nutrients that are great for bone health, including calcium and protein.
However, despite having all the nutritious qualities of milk, an 8-ounce (230-mL) glass of chocolate milk comes with an extra 11.4 grams (2.9 teaspoons) of added sugar.
Granola is often marketed as a low fat health food, despite being high in both calories and sugar.
The main ingredient in granola is oats. Plain rolled oats are a well-balanced cereal containing carbs, protein, fat, and fiber.
However, the oats in granola have been combined with nuts and honey or other added sweeteners, which increases the amount of sugar and calories.
In fact, 100 grams of granola contain around 400–500 calories and nearly 5–7 teaspoons of sugar.
If you like granola, try choosing one with less added sugar or making your own. You can also add it as a topping to fruit or yogurt rather than pouring a whole bowl.
9. Flavored Coffees
Flavored coffee is a popular trend, but the amount of hidden sugars in these drinks can be staggering.
In some coffeehouse chains, a large flavored coffee or coffee drink can contain 45 grams of sugar, if not much more. That's equivalent to about 11 teaspoons of added sugar per serving.
Considering the strong link between sugary drinks and poor health, it's probably best to stick to coffee without any flavored syrups or added sugar.
10. Iced Tea
Iced tea is usually sweetened with sugar or flavored with syrup.
It's popular in various forms and flavors around the world, and this means the sugar content can vary slightly.
Most commercially prepared iced teas will contain around 35 grams of sugar per 12-ounce (340-mL) serving. This is about the same as a bottle of Coke.
If you like tea, pick regular tea or choose iced tea that doesn't have any sugars added.
11. Protein Bars
Protein bars are a popular snack.
Foods that contain protein have been linked to increased feelings of fullness, which can aid weight loss.
This has led people to believe that protein bars are a healthy snack.
While there are some healthier protein bars on the market, many contain around 20 grams of added sugar, making their nutritional content similar to that of a candy bar.
When choosing a protein bar, read the label and avoid those that are high in sugar. You can also eat a high protein food such as yogurt instead.
Vitaminwater is marketed as a healthy drink that contains added vitamins and minerals.
However, like many other "health drinks," Vitaminwater comes with a large amount of added sugar.
As such, despite all the health claims, it's wise to avoid Vitaminwater as much as possible.
You could opt for Vitaminwater zero, the sugar-free version. It's made with artificial sweeteners instead.
That said, plain water or sparkling water are much healthier choices if you're thirsty.
13. Premade Soup
Soup isn't a food that you generally associate with sugar.
When it's made with fresh whole ingredients, it's a healthy choice and can be a great way to increase your vegetable consumption without much effort.
The vegetables in soups have naturally occurring sugars, which are fine to eat given that they're usually present in small amounts and alongside lots of other beneficial nutrients.
However, many commercially prepared soups have a lot of added ingredients, including sugar.
To check for added sugars in your soup, look at the ingredient list for names such as:
- barley malt
- high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and other syrups
The higher up on the list an ingredient is, the higher its content in the product. Watch out for when manufacturers list small amounts of different sugars, as that's another sign the product could be high in total sugar.
14. Breakfast Cereal
Cereal is a popular, quick, and easy breakfast food.
However, the cereal you choose could greatly affect your sugar consumption, especially if you eat it every day.
Some breakfast cereals, particularly those marketed at children, have lots of added sugar. Some contain 12 grams, or 3 teaspoons of sugar in a small 34-gram (1.2-ounce) serving.
Check the label and try choosing a cereal that's high in fiber and doesn't contain added sugar.
Better yet, wake up a few minutes earlier and cook a quick healthy breakfast with a high protein food like eggs. Eating protein for breakfast can help you lose weight.
15. Cereal Bars
For on-the-go breakfasts, cereal bars can seem like a healthy and convenient choice.
However, like other "health bars," cereal bars are often just candy bars in disguise. Many contain very little fiber or protein and are loaded with added sugar.
16. Canned Fruit
All fruit contains natural sugars. However, some canned fruit is peeled and preserved in sugary syrup. This processing strips the fruit of its fiber and adds a lot of unnecessary sugar to what should be a healthy snack.
The canning process can also destroy heat-sensitive vitamin C, although most other nutrients are well preserved.
Whole, fresh fruit is best. If you want to eat canned fruit, look for one that's been preserved in juice rather than syrup. Juice has a slightly lower amount of sugar.
17. Canned Baked Beans
Baked beans are another savory food that's often surprisingly high in sugar.
A cup (254 grams) of regular baked beans contains about 5 teaspoons of sugar.
If you like baked beans, you can choose low sugar versions. They can contain about half the amount of sugar found in regular baked beans.
18. Premade Smoothies
Blending fruits with milk or yogurt in the morning to make yourself a smoothie can be a great way to start your day.
However, not all smoothies are healthy.
Many commercially produced smoothies come in large sizes and can be sweetened with ingredients like fruit juice, ice cream, or syrup. This increases their sugar content.
Some of them contain ridiculously high amounts of calories and sugar, with over 54 grams (13.5 teaspoons) of sugar in a single 16-ounce or 20-ounce serving.
For a healthy smoothie, check the ingredients and make sure you watch your portion size.
The Bottom Line
Added sugars aren't a necessary part of your diet. Although small amounts are fine, they can cause serious harm if eaten in large amounts on a regular basis.
The best way to avoid hidden sugars in your meals is to make them at home so you know exactly what's in them.
However, if you need to buy prepackaged food, make sure you check the label to identify any hidden added sugars, especially when buying foods from this list.
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By Sara Lindberg
Whether you've hit a workout plateau or you're just ready to turn things up a notch, adding more strenuous exercise — also known as high-intensity exercise — to your overall fitness routine is one way to increase your calorie burn, improve your heart health, and boost your metabolism.
However, to do it safely and effectively, there are some guidelines you should follow. Keep reading to learn more about the benefits of vigorous exercise and how to safely dial up the intensity of your workouts.
What Is Considered Strenuous Exercise?
When it comes to exercise, the intensity of how hard you work out is just as important as the duration of your exercise session. In general, exercise intensity is divided into three categories:
- vigorous or strenuous
For an activity to be vigorous, you need to work at 70 to 85 percent of your maximum heart rate, according to the American Heart Association. Examples of vigorous exercise include:
- cycling at 10 mph or faster
- walking briskly uphill with a heavy backpack
- jumping rope
Low to moderate exercise is easier to sustain for longer periods since you work below 70 percent of your maximum heart rate and, sometimes, well below that level.
To reap health benefits, the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends that people age 18 and older get one of the following:
- 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week
- 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity per week
- combination of both types of activity spread throughout the week
Strenuous Exercise Vs. Moderate Exercise
Increasing your exercise intensity is fairly simple to do. You can still participate in your favorite activities — just at a more vigorous pace.
One of the benefits of more strenuous exercise is that you can reap the same rewards as moderate-intensity exercise but in less time. So, if time is of the essence, doing a more strenuous 20-minute workout can be just as beneficial as doing a slower 40-minute workout session.
Here are some examples of strenuous vs. moderate exercise.
|Moderate intensity||Strenuous intensity|
|bicycling at less than 10 mph||bicycling at more than 10 mph|
|walking briskly||running, or hiking uphill at a steady pace|
|jog-walk intervals||water jogging/running|
|shooting baskets in basketball||playing a basketball game|
|playing doubles tennis||playing singles tennis|
|raking leaves or mowing the lawn||shoveling more than 10 lbs. per minute, digging ditches|
|walking stairs||running stairs|
Benefits of Vigorous Exercise
Besides being more efficient, turning up the heat on your fitness sessions can benefit your health in a variety of ways. Let's take a closer look at some of the evidence-based benefits of a higher intensity workout.
- Higher calorie burn. According to the American Council on Exercise, working out at a higher intensity requires more oxygen, which burns more calories. It also contributes to excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) or the "afterburn effect" that allows you to continue burning calories even after you finish working out. This means your metabolism will stay elevated for longer after a vigorous exercise session.
- More weight loss. A higher calorie burn and an elevated metabolism will help you lose weight more quickly than doing low- or moderate-intensity exercise.
- Improved heart health. According to a 2012 study, high- and moderate-intensity exercise appears to offer low chance of cardiovascular events, even in those with heart disease. Cardiovascular benefits may include improvements in:
- Improved mood. High-intensity exercise may also boost your mood. According to a large 2015 study that analyzed the data of more than 12,000 participants, researchers found a significant link between strenuous exercise and fewer depressive symptoms.
- Lower risk of mortality. According to a 2015 study, researchers found that vigorous activity may be key to avoiding an early death. The study, which followed 204,542 people for more than 6 years, reported a 9 to 13 percent decrease in mortality for those who increased the intensity of their exercise sessions.
How to Measure Exercise Intensity
So, how do you know for sure that you're exercising at a strenuous level? Let's look at three ways to measure the intensity of your physical activity.
1. Your heart rate
Monitoring your heart rate is one of the most reliable methods for measuring exercise intensity. Exercising at 70 to 85 percent of your maximum heart rate qualifies as vigorous exercise intensity.
WHAT IS YOUR MAXIMUM HEART RATE?Your maximum heart rate is the fastest your heart can safely beat. To find out what your maximum heart rate is you need to subtract your age from 220. For example, for a 40-year-old person:
To work out at a vigorous pace, you'll want to exercise within 70 to 85 percent of your maximum heart rate. For example:
- 220 bpm (beats per minute) minus age
- 220 – 40 = 180 bpm
For a 40-year-old person, a vigorous training range is 126 to 153 bpm.
- 180 x 0.70 (70 percent) = 126
- 180 x 0.85 (85 percent) = 153
You can check your heart rate while you're working out by wearing a heart rate monitor or taking your pulse.
2. The talk test
The talk test is one of the easiest ways to measure exercise intensity.
- If you find it difficult to carry on a conversation, you're probably working out at a vigorous or strenuous pace.
- If you can talk fairly easily with some breathlessness, you're likely exercising at a moderate pace.
- If you find it easy to sing out loud, your pace may be too slow. To get more benefits from your workout, you may want to consider picking up the pace.
3. Rate of perceived exertion (RPE)
The rate of perceived exertion (RPE) scale is a subjective measure of exercise intensity.
When using RPE, you'll pay attention to your heart rate, breathing, and muscle fatigue, and rate your exertion level based on a scale that ranges from 1 to 10. No exertion is rated as a 1 and maximum effort is rated as 10.
To be considered vigorous, an activity should meet or exceed a level of 6 to 7, which is considered hard on the RPE scale. This includes jogging, biking, or swimming. Running without stopping is ranked as 8 to 9 on the RPE scale.
How to Add Vigorous Activity to Your Workout
Adding strenuous activity to your weekly workout routine requires some careful planning. Fortunately, many of the activities that you do at a moderate level can easily be performed at a higher intensity.
One way of incorporating vigorous aerobic activity into your routine is to do a high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workout. This type of workout combines short bursts of intense activity — typically performed at 80 to 95 percent of your maximum heart rate — with recovery periods at 40 to 50 percent maximum heart rate.
To sustain this level of training, consider following a 2:1 work to rest ratio. For example, a treadmill workout or outdoor running session could include:
- running at 9 to 10 mph for 30 seconds
- followed by walking at 3 to 4 mph for 60 seconds
- alternating this work-to-rest ratio for 20 to 30 minutes
Playing a fast-paced sport like soccer, basketball, or racquetball is another effective way to add strenuous activity to your fitness routine. Participating in cycling classes or swimming laps are other ways to build more strenuous exercise into your workouts.
Before you turn up the intensity on your workouts, it's important to keep the following safety tips in mind.
Check with your doctor
If you have a health condition or you haven't been active in a while, make sure you talk to your doctor before you start a high-intensity exercise routine. Your doctor can advise you on a safe level of exercise or how to become more active in the safest way possible.
Build up the intensity slowly
Going from low- or moderate-intensity workouts to vigorous exercise requires time and patience. While you may be ready to jump in with both feet, the safest way to add more vigorous exercise is to do it in bite-size increments. Pushing yourself too quickly can result in injuries and burnout.
- Week 1: Swap out one moderate-paced cardio session for a HIIT workout.
- Week 2: Swap one moderate-paced session with a HIIT workout, and also add a circuit strength training session to your weekly routine.
- Week 3 and 4: Repeat weeks 1 and 2 before you start adding more high-intensity exercise to your weekly routine.
It's also a good idea to space out your vigorous workouts throughout the week. Try not to do two strenuous sessions back-to-back.
Don't forget the recovery time
Your body requires more time to recover from a vigorous workout compared to a low- or moderate-intensity session.
To help your body recover, make sure to always include a cooldown and stretch routine after strenuous physical activity.
Staying hydrated is especially important when you're exercising hard. Not drinking enough fluids can affect the quality of your workout and make you feel tired, lethargic, or dizzy. It may even lead to headaches and cramps.
The Bottom Line
Turning up the intensity of your workout sessions can be an effective way of boosting your overall health and fitness. It's also an easy way to save time when trying to fit a workout into your day.
To play it safe, always start slow and pay attention to how your body feels.
While vigorous exercise offers many health benefits, it's not appropriate for everyone. If you have a health condition or you haven't been active in a while, make sure to talk with your doctor before working out at a more strenuous level.
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Surprisingly, people consider some of these foods healthy.
Here are 15 "health foods" that are really junk foods in disguise.
1. Processed ‘Low-Fat’ and ‘Fat-Free’ Foods
The "war" on saturated fat could be considered one of the most misguided decisions in the history of nutrition.
It was based on weak evidence, which has now been completely debunked.
When this discussion started, processed food manufacturers jumped on the bandwagon and started removing the fat from foods.
But there's a huge problem. Food doesn't taste well when the fat has been removed. That's why they added a lot of sugar to compensate.
Saturated fat is harmless, but added sugar is incredibly harmful when consumed in excess.
The words "low fat" or "fat free" on packaging usually means that it's a highly processed product that's loaded with sugar.
2. Most Commercial Salad Dressings
Vegetables are incredibly healthy.
The problem is that they often don't taste very good on their own.
That's why many people use dressings to add flavor to their salads, turning these bland meals into delicious treats.
But many salad dressings are actually loaded with unhealthy ingredients like sugar, vegetable oils, and trans fats, along with various artificial chemicals.
Although vegetables are good for you, eating them with a dressing high in harmful ingredients negates any health benefit you get from the salad.
Check the ingredients list before you use a salad dressing or make your own using healthy ingredients.
3. Fruit Juices … Which Are Basically Just Liquid Sugar
A lot of people believe fruit juices are healthy.
They must be because they come from fruit, right?
But most fruit juice you find in the grocery store isn't really fruit juice.
Sometimes they don't have any actual fruit in them, just chemicals that taste like fruit. What you're drinking is basically fruit-flavored sugar water.
That being said, even if you're drinking 100% quality fruit juice, it's still not the best choice.
Fruit juice actually contains a similar amount of sugar as a sugar-sweetened beverage.
4. ‘Heart-Healthy’ Whole Wheat
Most "whole wheat" products aren't really made from whole wheat.
The grains have been pulverized into very fine flour, which causes them to raise blood sugar just as fast as their refined counterparts.
In fact, whole wheat bread can have a similar glycemic index as white bread.
But even true whole wheat may be a bad idea because modern wheat is unhealthy compared to the wheat our grandparents ate.
Around 1960, scientists modified the genes in wheat to increase the yield. Modern wheat is less nutritious and has some properties that make it much worse for people who have a gluten intolerance.
There are also studies showing that modern wheat may cause inflammation and increased cholesterol levels, at least when compared to the older varieties.
Wheat may have been a relatively healthy grain back in the day, but the stuff most people are eating today should be consumed with caution.
5. Cholesterol-Lowering Phytosterols
Phytosterols are nutrients that are basically like plant versions of cholesterol.
Some studies have shown that they can lower blood cholesterol in humans.
For this reason, they're often added to processed foods that are then marketed as "cholesterol lowering" and claimed to help prevent heart disease.
However, studies have shown that despite lowering cholesterol levels, phytosterols have negative effects on the cardiovascular system and may even increase the risk of heart disease and death.
People with phytosterolaemia (a genetic condition that raises plant sterol level in blood) are more susceptible to the negative effects of phytosterols.
Butter was labeled a bad food choice in the past because of its high saturated fat content.
Various health experts started promoting margarine instead.
Back in the day, margarine used to be high in trans fats. These days, it has fewer trans fats than before, but it's still loaded with refined vegetable oils.
Not surprisingly, the Framingham Heart Study showed that people who replace butter with margarine are actually more likely to die from heart disease.
If you want to improve your health, try to eat real butter (preferably grass fed), and avoid margarine with trans fat. Trans-fat-free margarine has become more available in recent years.
Always read nutrition facts carefully and limit products that contain trans fat.
Recommending trans fat-laden margarine instead of natural butter may be considered some of the worst nutrition advice in history.
7. Sports Drinks
Sports drinks were designed with athletes in mind.
They contain electrolytes (salts) and sugar, which can be useful for athletes in many cases.
However, most people don't need additional salt or liquid sugar in their diet.
Although often considered "less bad" than sugary soft drinks, there's really no fundamental difference in the two, except the sugar content in sports drinks is sometimes slightly lower.
It's important to stay hydrated, especially when working out, but most people will be better off sticking to plain water.
8. Low-Carb Junk Foods
Low carb diets have been incredibly popular for many decades.
In the past 12 years, studies have confirmed that these diets are an effective way to lose weight and improve health.
However, food manufacturers have caught up on the trend and brought various low carb "friendly" processed foods to the market.
This includes highly processed foods like the Atkins bars. If you take a look at the ingredients list, you see that there's no real food in them, just chemicals and highly refined ingredients.
These products can be consumed occasionally without compromising the metabolic adaptation that comes with low carb eating.
However, they don't really nourish your body. Even though they're technically low carb, they're still unhealthy.
9. Agave Nectar
Given the known harmful effects of sugar, people have been looking for alternatives.
One of the more popular "natural" sweeteners is agave nectar, which is also called agave syrup.
You'll find this sweetener in all sorts of "healthy foods," often with attractive claims on the packaging.
The problem with agave is that it's no better than regular sugar. In fact, it's much worse.
One of the main problems with sugar is that it has excessive amounts of fructose, which can cause severe metabolic problems when consumed in excess.
Sugar is about 50% fructose and 55% high fructose corn syrup, but agave contains even more — up to 70-90%.
Therefore, gram for gram, agave is even worse than regular sugar.
"Natural" doesn't always equal healthy. Whether agave should even be considered natural is debatable.
10. Vegan Junk Foods
Vegan diets are very popular these days, often due to ethical and environmental reasons.
However, many people promote vegan diets for the purpose of improving health.
There are many processed vegan foods on the market, often sold as convenient replacements for non-vegan foods.
Vegan bacon is one example.
But it's important to keep in mind that these are usually highly processed, factory made products that are bad for almost anyone, including people who are vegan.
11. Brown Rice Syrup
Brown rice syrup, also known as rice malt syrup, is a sweetener that's mistakenly assumed to be healthy.
It's made by exposing cooked rice to enzymes that break down the starch into simple sugars.
Brown rice syrup contains no refined fructose, just glucose.
Rice syrup is also highly refined and contains almost no essential nutrients. In other words, it's considered "empty" calories.
Some concerns have been raised about arsenic contamination in this syrup, which is another reason to be extra careful with this sweetener.
There are other sweeteners out there, including low calorie sweeteners like:
In general, try to use all sweeteners wisely and follow recommended serving sizes.
12. Processed Organic Foods
Unfortunately, the word "organic" has become a typical marketing buzzword in many instances.
Food manufacturers have found all sorts of ways to make the same products, except with ingredients that happen to be organic.
This includes ingredients like organic raw cane sugar, which is basically 100% identical to regular sugar. It's still just glucose and fructose with little to no nutrients.
In many cases, the difference between an ingredient and its organic counterpart is next to none.
Processed foods that happen to be labeled organic aren't necessarily healthy. Always check the label to see what's inside.
13. Vegetable Oils
However, it's important to keep in mind that blood cholesterol is a risk factor. It's not a disease in itself.
Even though vegetable oils can help improve a risk factor, there's no guarantee that they'll help prevent actual health outcomes like heart attacks or death, which is what really counts.
In fact, several controlled trials have shown that despite lowering cholesterol, these oils can increase the risk of developing heart disease and memory impairment.
Also, follow the recommended serving size, but limit processed vegetable oils as if your health depended on it, which it does.
14. Gluten-Free Junk Foods
According to a 2013 survey, about a third of people in the United States are actively trying to limit or avoid gluten.
Many experts believe this is unnecessary, but the truth is, gluten, especially from modern wheat, can be problematic for a lot of people.
Not surprisingly, the food manufacturers have brought all sorts of gluten-free foods to the market.
The problem with these foods is that they usually have the same negative effects on your body as their gluten-containing counterparts, if not worse.
These are highly processed foods containing few nutrients and often made with refined starches that can lead to very rapid spikes in blood sugar.
Try to choose foods that are naturally gluten free, like plants and animals, not gluten-free processed foods.
Gluten-free junk food is still junk food.
15. Most Processed Breakfast Cereals
The way some breakfast cereals are marketed can be deceiving.
Many of them, including those that are marketed toward children, have various health claims listed on the box.
This includes claims like "whole grain" or "low fat" that may be misleading.
This is especially true when you look at the ingredients list and see that these products mostly contain:
- refined grains
- artificial chemicals
It's important to always review product packaging to confirm what you're actually putting in your body and whether it's healthy for you.
Truly healthy foods are whole, single-ingredient foods. Their health benefits speak for them.
Real food doesn't even need an ingredients list, because real food is the ingredient.
Even with evidence to support them, mainstream and alternative practitioners often disagree on best practices.
However, some people hold beliefs about nutrition that have no scientific support.
This article looks at some of the myths that people sometimes share in the field of alternative nutrition.
1. Sugar: Eight Times More Addictive Than Cocaine?
Sugar occurs naturally in many foods, especially fruits and vegetables. However, it's also a popular additive.
There's plenty of evidence that adding too much sugar to food is harmful. Scientists have linked it with obesity, insulin resistance, increases in belly fat and liver fat, and diseases such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
However, avoiding added sugar can be difficult. One reason is that manufacturers add it to many premade foods, including savory sauces and fast foods.
In addition, some people experience cravings for foods that are high in sugar.
This has led some experts to believe that sugar and the foods that contain it have addictive properties.
There's evidence to support this in both animals and humans. Sugar can activate the same areas in the brain as recreational drugs, and it can cause similar behavioral symptoms.
Some go as far as to claim that sugar is 8 times more addictive than cocaine.
This claim stems from a study that found that rats preferred water sweetened with sugar or saccharin over intravenous cocaine.
It was a striking result but didn't prove that sugar has an eightfold addictive lure for humans, compared to cocaine.
Sugar can trigger health problems, and it may be addictive. However, it's unlikely to be more addictive than cocaine.
Sugar can be an unhealthy addition to food, and it may be addictive. However, it's unlikely to be 8 times as addictive as cocaine.
2. Calories Don't Matter at All
Some people think that calories are all that matter for weight loss.
Others say that you can lose weight no matter how many calories you eat, as long as you choose the right foods. They consider calories irrelevant.
The truth is somewhere in between.
Eating certain foods can help support weight loss, for example, by:
- boosting metabolism, which increases the number of calories you use
- reducing appetite, which decreases the number of calories you consume
Many people can lose weight without counting calories.
However, it's a fact that if you lose weight, more calories are leaving your body than entering it.
This doesn't mean that you need to count calories to lose weight.
Changing your diet so that weight loss happens on "autopilot" can be just as effective, if not better.
Some people believe that calories make no difference to weight loss or gain. Calorie counting isn't always necessary, but calories still count.
3. Cooking With Olive Oil is a Bad Idea
Extra virgin olive oil is one of the healthiest fats available.
However, many people believe it's unhealthy to use it for cooking.
Fats and antioxidants are sensitive to heat. When you apply heat, harmful compounds may form.
The polyunsaturated fat content of olive oil is only 10–11%. This is low, compared with most other plant oils.
Indeed, studies have shown that olive oil maintains some of its healthful properties, even at high heat.
Although there may be a loss of antioxidants, vitamin E, and flavor, olive oil retains most of its nutritional properties when heated.
Olive oil is a healthy choice of oil, whether raw or in cooking.
Olive oil can be a suitable choice for cooking. Studies show that it can withstand cooking temperatures, even for long periods of time.
4. Microwaves Damage Your Food and Emit Harmful Radiation
Heating food in a microwave oven is fast and highly convenient, but some people believe this comes at a cost.
They claim that microwaves produce harmful radiation and can damage the nutrients in food. However, there doesn't appear to be any published evidence to support this.
Microwave ovens use radiation, but their design prevents this from escaping.
In fact, research suggests that microwave cooking may be better for preserving nutrients than other cooking methods, such as boiling or frying.
There's no scientific evidence that microwave cooking is harmful.
No published studies show that microwave ovens are harmful. On the contrary, some research suggests they may help preserve nutrients that other cooking methods destroy.
5. Blood Cholesterol Doesn't Matter
Nutritionists often disagree on the effect of saturated fats and dietary cholesterol.
Mainstream organizations, such as the American Heart Association (AHA) recommend limiting the intake of saturated fats to 5–6% of calories, while the 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend a maximum of 10% for the general population.
Meanwhile, some evidence suggests that consuming foods that are high in cholesterol and saturated fats may not increase the risk of heart disease.
The Dietary Guidelines no longer contain advice on limiting cholesterol intake to 300 mg a day in 2015. However, they still recommend eating as little dietary cholesterol as possible while following a healthy diet.
However, some people have misunderstood this and believe that blood cholesterol levels are also unimportant.
Having high levels of cholesterol in your blood can increase your cardiovascular disease and other health conditions. You shouldn't disregard them.
Following a healthful lifestyle — including a diet that's rich in fresh fruits and vegetables and low in processed foods, fat, and sugar — can help you maintain suitable cholesterol levels.
Cholesterol and saturated fat in foods may be harmless, but cholesterol levels in the bloodstream can affect your heart disease risk.
6. Store-Bought Coffee Contains High Levels of Mycotoxins
Mycotoxins are toxins that come from molds.
They're present in many popular foods.
There's a myth that most coffee contains harmful levels of mycotoxins.
However, this is unlikely to be true. There are strict regulations controlling mycotoxin levels in foods. If a crop exceeds the safety limit, the producer must discard it.
Studies show that if you drink 4 cups of coffee a day, you would consume only 2% of the mycotoxin intake that's deemed safe. These levels are well within the safety margin.
There's no need to fear coffee due to mycotoxins.
Mycotoxins are everywhere, but the levels in coffee are well within safety limits.
7. Alkaline Foods Are Healthy, Acidic Foods Cause Disease
Some people follow an alkaline diet.
- Foods have either an acidic or an alkaline effect on the body.
- Acidic foods lower the pH value of the blood, making it more acidic.
- Cancer cells only grow in an acidic environment.
However, research doesn't support this view. The truth is, the body regulates the blood's pH value, regardless of diet. It only changes significantly if a person has severe poisoning or a health condition such as chronic kidney disease.
A person's blood is slightly alkaline by default, and cancer can also grow in an alkaline environment.
The alkaline diet may be healthy, but that's because it's based on healthy, whole foods. Whether these foods are "alkaline" or "acidic" is unlikely to have an effect.
Foods cannot change the pH value (acidity) of the blood in healthy people. There's no convincing evidence to support the alkaline diet.
8. Eating Dairy is Bad for Your Bones
Another myth states that dairy causes osteoporosis. This is an extension of the alkaline diet myth.
Supporters claim that dairy protein makes the blood acidic and the body takes calcium out of your bones to neutralize the acidity.
In reality, there are several properties in dairy foods that support bone health.
They're a good source of calcium and phosphorus, the main building blocks of bones. They also contain vitamin K-2, which may contribute to bone formation.
They're also a good source of protein, which is useful for bone health, according to research.
Studies indicate that dairy products can improve bone health in all age groups by increasing bone density and lowering the risk of fractures.
Many of these studies are controlled trials in humans.
While dairy isn't essential for bone health, it can be highly beneficial.
Some people claim that dairy products can harm bone health, but most studies show the opposite.
9. Carbs Are Inherently Harmful
Low-carb diets have numerous benefits.
Studies show they can help people lose weight and improve various health markers, especially for metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes.
If lowering carbs can help treat certain health problems, some people believe carbs must have caused the problem in the first place.
As a result, many low-carbers have come to demonize all high carb foods, including those that offer a range of benefits, such as potatoes, apples, and carrots.
It's true that refined carbs, including added sugars and refined grains, can contribute to weight gain and metabolic disease.
However, this is not true for whole carbohydrate sources.
When metabolic problems already exist — such as with obesity and type 2 diabetes — a low carb diet can help.
However, that doesn't mean that carbs caused these health problems.
Many people remain in excellent health while eating plenty of unprocessed high carbohydrate foods, such as whole grains.
A low carb diet is a healthy option for some people, but it's not necessary or suitable for everyone.
Low carb diets can help some people, but this doesn't mean that carbs are unhealthy, especially those that are whole and unprocessed.
10. Agave Nectar is a Healthy Sweetener
The health food market has expanded rapidly in recent years, but not all of its products are healthy.
One example is the sweetener agave nectar.
Added sugars can cause health problems, and one reason is their high fructose content.
The liver can only metabolize certain amounts of fructose. If there's too much fructose, the liver starts turning it into fat.
Agave nectar has a higher fructose content than both regular sugar and high fructose corn syrup.
This may make agave nectar one of the least healthy sweeteners on the market.
Agave nectar is high in fructose, which can be difficult for the liver to metabolize. It is better to avoid sweeteners and added sugar where possible.
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By Kris Gunnars
Green tea is touted to be one of the healthiest beverages on the planet.
It's loaded with antioxidants that have many health benefits, which may include:
There may be even more potential health benefits.
This article looks at the evidence behind 10 possible health benefits of green tea.
1. Green Tea Contains Healthy Bioactive Compounds
Green tea is more than just a hydrating beverage.
The green tea plant contains a range of healthy compounds that make it into the final drink.
Tea is rich in polyphenols, which are natural compounds that have health benefits, such as reducing inflammation and helping to fight cancer.
Green tea contains a catechin called EGCG (epigallocatechin-3-gallate). Catechins are natural antioxidants that help prevent cell damage and provide other benefits.
These substances can reduce the formation of free radicals in the body, protecting cells and molecules from damage. These free radicals play a role in aging and many types of diseases.
EGCG is one of the most powerful compounds in green tea. Research has tested its ability to help treat various diseases. It appears to be one of the main compounds that gives green tea its medicinal properties.
Green tea also has small amounts of minerals that can benefit your health.
Try to choose a higher quality brand of green tea, because some of the lower quality brands can contain excessive amounts of fluoride.
That being said, even if you choose a lower quality brand, the benefits still outweigh any risk.
Green tea is loaded with polyphenol antioxidants, including a catechin called EGCG. These antioxidants can have various beneficial effects on health.
2. Green Tea Can Improve Brain Function
Green tea does more than just keep you alert, it might also help boost brain function.
The key active ingredient is caffeine, which is a known stimulant.
It doesn't contain as much as coffee, but enough to produce a response without causing the "jittery" effects associated with taking in too much caffeine.
Caffeine affects the brain by blocking an inhibitory neurotransmitter called adenosine. This way, it actually increases the firing of neurons and the concentration of neurotransmitters like dopamine and norepinephrine.
Research has consistently shown that caffeine can improve various aspects of brain function, including mood, vigilance, reaction time, and memory.
Studies show that caffeine and L-theanine can have synergistic effects. This means that the combination of the two can have particularly powerful effects in improving brain function.
Because of the L-theanine and the small dose of caffeine, green tea might give you a much milder and different kind of "buzz" than coffee.
Many people report having more stable energy and being much more productive when they drink green tea compared to coffee.
Green tea contains less caffeine than coffee, but enough to produce an effect. It also contains the amino acid L-theanine, which can work synergistically with caffeine to improve brain function.
3. Green Tea Increases Fat Burning
If you look at the ingredients list for any fat burning supplement, chances are, green tea will be on there.
In one study involving 10 healthy men, taking green tea extract increased energy expenditure by 4%. In another involving 12 healthy men, green tea extract increased fat oxidation by 17% compared to those taking a placebo.
However, some studies on green tea don't show any increase in metabolism, so the effects may depend on the individual and how the study was set up.
Caffeine may also improve physical performance by mobilizing fatty acids from fat tissue and making them available for use as energy.
Two separate review studies reported that caffeine may increase physical performance by approximately 11–12%.
Green tea may boost metabolic rate and increase fat burning in the short term, although not all studies agree.
4. Green Tea Antioxidants May Lower the Risk of Some Cancers
Cancer is caused by uncontrolled growth of cells. It's one of the world's leading causes of death.
Research has shown that oxidative damage can lead to chronic inflammation, which can lead to chronic diseases, including cancers. Antioxidants can help protect against oxidative damage.
Green tea is an excellent source of powerful antioxidants.
Research has linked green tea compounds with a reduced risk of cancer, including the following studies:
- Breast cancer: A comprehensive review of observational studies found that women who drank the most green tea had an approximately 20–30% lower risk of developing breast cancer, one of the most common cancers in females.
- Prostate cancer: One study found that men drinking green tea had a lower risk of advanced prostate cancer.
- Colorectal cancer: An analysis of 29 studies showed that those drinking green tea were around 42% less likely to develop colorectal cancer.
Many observational studies have shown that green tea drinkers are less likely to develop several types of cancer, but more high-quality research is needed to confirm these effects.
To get the most health benefits, avoid adding milk to your tea. Some studies suggest it can reduce the antioxidant value in some teas.
Green tea has powerful antioxidants that may protect against cancer. Multiple studies show that green tea drinkers have a lower risk for various types of cancer.
5. Green Tea May Protect the Brain From Aging
Not only can green tea improve brain function in the short term, it may also protect your brain as you age.
Alzheimer's disease is a common neurodegenerative disease and the most common cause of dementia in older adults.
Parkinson's disease is another common neurodegenerative disease and involves the death of dopamine-producing neurons in the brain.
Several studies show that the catechin compounds in green tea can have various protective effects on neurons in test tubes and animal models, possibly lowering the risk for dementia.
Bioactive compounds in green tea can have various protective effects on the brain. They may reduce the risk of dementia, a common neurodegenerative disorder in older adults.
6. Green Tea Can Reduce Bad Breath
The catechins in green tea also have benefits for oral health.
Test tube studies suggest that catechins can suppress the growth of bacteria, potentially lowering the risk for infections.
Streptococcus mutans is a common bacterium in the mouth. It causes plaque formation and is a leading contributor to cavities and tooth decay.
Studies indicate that the catechins in green tea can inhibit the growth of oral bacteria in the lab, but no evidence shows that drinking green tea has similar effects.
However, there's some evidence that green tea can reduce bad breath.
The catechins in green tea may inhibit the growth of bacteria in the mouth, reducing the risk for bad breath.
7. Green Tea May Help Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
The rates of type 2 diabetes are increasing in recent decades. The condition now affects about 1 in 10 Americans.
Type 2 diabetes involves having elevated blood sugar levels, which may be caused by insulin resistance or an inability to produce insulin.
Studies show that green tea can improve insulin sensitivity and reduce blood sugar levels.
One study in Japanese individuals found that those who drank the most green tea had an approximately 42% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
According to a review of 7 studies with a total of 286,701 individuals, tea drinkers had an 18% lower risk of developing diabetes.
Controlled trials show that green tea can cause mild reductions in blood sugar levels. It may also lower the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
8. Green Tea May Help Prevent Cardiovascular Disease
Cardiovascular diseases, including heart disease and stroke, are the leading causes of death worldwide.
Studies show that green tea can improve some of the main risk factors for these diseases, which includes improving total cholesterol and LDL (bad) cholesterol levels.
Green tea also increases the antioxidant capacity of the blood, which protects the LDL particles from oxidation, which is one part of the pathway toward heart disease.
Given the beneficial effects on risk factors, it may not be surprising that people who drink green tea have up to a 31% lower risk of dying from a cardiovascular disease.
Green tea may lower total and LDL cholesterol, as well as protect the LDL particles from oxidation. Studies show that people who drink green tea have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease.
9. Green Tea May Help You Lose Weight
Given that green tea can boost the metabolic rate in the short term, it makes sense that it could help you lose weight.
Several studies show that green tea can help reduce body fat, especially in the abdominal area.
One of these studies was a 12-week randomized controlled trial involving 240 people with obesity.
In this study, those in the green tea group had significant decreases in body fat percentage, body weight, waist circumference, and belly fat compared with those in the control group.
However, some studies don't show a statistically significant increase in weight loss with green tea, so researchers need to perform further studies to confirm this effect.
Some studies show that green tea leads to increased weight loss. It may be particularly effective at reducing the dangerous abdominal fat.
10. Green Tea May Help You Live Longer
Given that some compounds in green tea may help protect against cancer and heart disease, it makes sense that it could help you live longer.
In one study, researchers studied 40,530 Japanese adults over 11 years. Those who drank the most green tea — 5 or more cups per day — were significantly less likely to die during the study period:
- Death of all causes: 23% lower in women, 12% lower in men.
- Death from heart disease: 31% lower in women, 22% lower in men.
- Death from stroke: 42% lower in women, 35% lower in men.
Another study involving 14,001 older Japanese individuals found that those who drank the most green tea were 76% less likely to die during the 6-year study period.
Studies show that people who drink green tea may live longer than those who don't.
11. The Bottom Line
Green tea has a range of possible health benefits.
To help you feel better, lose weight, and lower your risk for chronic diseases, you might want to consider making green tea a regular part of your life.
If you'd like to try it, there's a wide variety of green tea products available online.
Reposted with permission from Healthline.
For detailed source information, see original story at Healthline.
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It's rich in several medium-chain fatty acids that can have powerful effects on your metabolism.
Fractionated coconut oil is made from coconut oil and mainly consists of two medium-chain fatty acids.
It has been marketed as a coconut oil that can stay in liquid form in the fridge.
This is a detailed review of fractionated coconut oil and its health effects.
What is Fractionated Coconut Oil?
Fractionated coconut oil is an oil made from regular coconut oil.
Both regular and fractionated coconut oils are great sources of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), providing fatty acids that contain 6 to 12 carbon atoms.
However, their fatty acid composition is vastly different.
While the main fatty acid in coconut oil is the 12-carbon lauric acid (C12), most or all of this fatty acid has been removed from fractionated coconut oil.
The long-chain fatty acids present in coconut oil have also been eliminated.
Thus, the main medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs) in fractionated coconut oil are:
- C8: caprylic acid or octanoic acid
- C10: capric acid or decanoic acid
MCFAs are metabolized differently than other fats.
They're transported directly to the liver from the digestive tract, where they may be used as a quick source of energy. They can also be turned into ketone bodies, which are compounds that may have therapeutic effects in those with epilepsy (1Trusted Source).
Fractionated coconut oil is tasteless, odorless, and usually more expensive than regular coconut oil.
It's very similar or even identical to MCT oil.
Fractionated coconut oil is made from regular coconut oil and mainly consists of the medium-chain fatty acids caprylic acid (C8) and capric acid (C10).
How is Fractionated Coconut Oil Made?
Fractionated coconut oil is produced via a process called fractionation.
The different melting points of various fats make fractionation possible.
For example, lauric acid and long-chain fatty acids have higher melting points than caprylic acid and capric acid. Therefore, they will become solid sooner when cooled.
The fractionation of coconut oil is carried out by heating the oil above its melting point. Then, it's left to cool, and the solid fraction of the oil is separated from the liquid.
The whole process of fractionation can take several hours.
A process called fractionation is used to produce fractionated coconut oil. This method uses the different melting points of fats to separate them.
Fractionated Coconut Oil May Help You Lose Weight
A diet high in MCTs, the main component of fractionated coconut oil, may aid weight loss.
Most studies on this effect replaced other fats in the diet with MCTs.
MCTs may help you lose weight because they:
- reduce hunger and calorie intake (3Trusted Source, 4Trusted Source)
- help you burn more fat and calories (5Trusted Source, 6Trusted Source, 7Trusted Source, 8Trusted Source)
- are less likely to be stored as fat (9Trusted Source)
However, the amount of weight lost is generally quite modest.
One review of 13 studies found that MCTs reduced body weight by an average of 1.1 pounds (0.5 kg) over three weeks, compared with other fats (10Trusted Source).
The authors also noted that about half of these studies were funded by MCT oil producers. Therefore, there is a high risk of bias.
Eating a diet rich in MCTs may lead to modest weight loss by helping you eat less and burn more fat. MCTs are also lesslikely to be stored as fat.
Other Potential Health Benefits
The MCTs in fractionated coconut oil have been associated with several other health benefits, including:
- Reduced insulin resistance: One small study found that taking MCTs may reduce insulin resistance and improve other risk factors in people with diabetes and excess weight. More studies are needed to confirm this effect (11Trusted Source).
- Epilepsy treatment: Children with epilepsy may benefit from a ketogenic diet enriched with MCTs. Adding the MCTs may allow them to eat more carbs and protein, making the diet easier to stick to (12Trusted Source, 13Trusted Source).
- Improved brain function: One study reported that in some people with mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease, MCTs may improve brain function. However, further studies are needed (14Trusted Source ).
The MCTs in fractionated coconut oil have been suggested to enhance exercise performance and improve various health conditions. However, more research is needed.
Most Fractionated Coconut Oils Don't Contain Lauric Acid
Lauric acid is a major component of coconut oil. In fact, the oil comprises about 50% lauric acid and is one of the world's richest dietary sources of this saturated fat.
Most fractionated coconut oils do not contain any lauric acid, or only very small amounts of it.
Thus, fractionated coconut oil doesn't offer all of the health effects that regular coconut oil does.
Fractionated coconut oil is able to stay in liquid form because its lauric acid has been removed. Thus, the oil does not offer lauric acid's many health benefits.
How Is It Used?
Fractionated coconut oil has been marketed under three different names.
You may know it as:
- Fractionated coconut oil: This oil is mainly used for various household and personal care purposes, such as a moisturizer, hair conditioner, and massage oil.
- MCT oil: It's often used as a dietary supplement, with 1–3 tablespoons per day being a common dosage recommendation.
- Liquid coconut oil: This oil is advertised as an edible cooking oil.
Ultimately, these are the same product that has been marketed for different consumer uses.
Fractionated coconut oil is also marketed as MCT oil and liquid coconut oil, but fundamentally, these are all the same product. Its uses include skin care and cooking.
Safety and Side Effects
Consuming fractionated coconut oil appears to be safe for most people.
However, there have been reports of people experiencing digestive symptoms.
These include stomach cramps, diarrhea, and vomiting, and they seem particularly common in children on an MCT-enriched ketogenic diet (18Trusted Source).
These people may experience adverse reactions when consuming fractionated coconut oil.
Fractionated coconut oil is well tolerated by most people. However, it may cause digestive problems in some cases, as well as adverse symptoms in people who are allergic to coconut products.
The Bottom Line
Fractionated coconut oil is made by separating the different types of fats in regular coconut oil.
What remains are two medium-chain fatty acids that may lead to modest weight loss and several other health benefits.
While fractionated coconut oil may offer some benefits, it's more processed than the regular kind. Plus, lauric acid, one of the most beneficial fats, has been removed.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Healthline.
Apple cider vinegar appears to be safe, as long as you don't take excessive amounts of it. Michelle Arnold / EyeEm / Getty Images
Many people claim it can relieve a wide range of health complaints, but you may wonder what the research says.
Apple cider vinegar has various healthful properties, including antimicrobial and antioxidant effects. What's more, evidence suggests it may offer health benefits, such as aiding weight loss, reducing cholesterol, lowering blood sugar levels, and improving the symptoms of diabetes.
However, little research exists, and further studies are needed before it can be recommended as an alternative therapy.
This article looks at the evidence behind 6 possible health benefits of apple cider vinegar.
1. High in Healthful Substances
Apple cider vinegar is made via a two-step process.
First, the manufacturer exposes crushed apples to yeast, which ferments the sugars and turns them into alcohol. Next, they add bacteria to further ferment the alcohol, turning it into acetic acid — the main active compound in vinegar.
Acetic acid gives vinegar its strong sour smell and flavor. Researchers believe this acid is responsible for apple cider vinegar's health benefits. Cider vinegars are 5–6% acetic acid.
Organic, unfiltered apple cider vinegar also contains a substance called "mother," which consists of strands of proteins, enzymes, and friendly bacteria that give the product a murky appearance.
Some people believe that the "mother" is responsible for most of its health benefits, although there are currently no studies to support this.
While apple cider vinegar does not contain many vitamins or minerals, it offers a small amount of potassium. Good quality brands also contain some amino acids and antioxidants.
Apple cider vinegar is made by fermenting the sugar from apples. This turns them into acetic acid, which is a main active ingredient in vinegar and may be responsible for its health benefits.
2. Can Help Kill Harmful Bacteria
Vinegar can help kill pathogens, including bacteria.
People have traditionally used vinegar for cleaning and disinfecting, treating nail fungus, lice, warts, and ear infections.
Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, used vinegar to clean wounds more than 2,000 years ago.
Vinegar is also a food preservative, and studies show that it inhibits bacteria like E. coli from growing in and spoiling food.
If you're looking for a natural way to preserve your food, apple cider vinegar could help.
Anecdotal reports also suggest that diluted apple cider vinegar could help with acne when applied to the skin, but there doesn't seem to be any strong research to confirm this.
The main substance in vinegar — acetic acid — can kill harmful bacteria or prevent them from multiplying. It has a history of use as a disinfectant and natural preservative.
3. May Help Lower Blood Sugar Levels and Manage Diabetes
To date, one of the most convincing applications of vinegar is helping treat type 2 diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes is characterized by high blood sugar levels caused by insulin resistance or the inability to produce insulin.
However, people without diabetes can also benefit from keeping their blood sugar levels in the normal range, as some researchers believe that high blood sugar levels are a major cause of aging and various chronic diseases.
The most effective and healthiest way to regulate blood sugar levels is to avoid refined carbs and sugar, but apple cider vinegar may also have a beneficial effect.
Research suggests that vinegar offers the following benefits for blood sugar and insulin levels:
- A small study suggests vinegar may improve insulin sensitivity by 19–34% during a high carb meal and significantly lower blood sugar and insulin response.
- In a small study in 5 healthy people, vinegar reduced blood sugar by 31.4% after eating 50 grams of white bread.
- A small study in people with diabetes reported that consuming 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar before bedtime reduced fasting blood sugar by 4% the following morning.
- Numerous other studies in humans show that vinegar can improve insulin function and lower blood sugar levels after meals.
The National Centers for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) says it's very important that people do not replace medical treatment with unproven health products.
If you're currently taking blood-sugar-lowering medications, check with your healthcare provider before increasing your intake of any type of vinegar.
Apple cider vinegar has shown great promise in improving insulin sensitivity and helping lower blood sugar responses after meals.
4. May Aid Weight Loss
Perhaps surprisingly, studies show that vinegar could help people lose weight.
Several human studies show that vinegar can increase feelings of fullness. This can lead you to eat fewer calories and lose weight.
For example, according to one study, taking vinegar along with a high carb meal led to increased feelings of fullness, causing participants to eat 200–275 fewer calories throughout the rest of the day.
Furthermore, a study in 175 people with obesity showed that daily apple cider vinegar consumption led to reduced belly fat and weight loss:
- taking 1 tablespoon (12 mL) led to a loss of 2.6 pounds (1.2 kg)
- taking 2 tablespoons (30 mL) led to a loss of 3.7 pounds (1.7 kg)
However, keep in mind that this study went on for 3 months, so the true effects on body weight seem to be rather modest.
That said, simply adding or subtracting single foods or ingredients rarely has a noticeable effect on weight. It's your entire diet or lifestyle that creates long-term weight loss.
Overall, apple cider vinegar may contribute to weight loss by promoting satiety, lowering blood sugar, and reducing insulin levels.
Apple cider vinegar only contains about three calories per tablespoon, which is very low.
Studies suggest that vinegar can increase feelings of fullness and help you eat fewer calories, which may lead to weight loss.
5. Improves Heart Health in Animals
Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death.
Several biological factors are linked to your risk of heart disease.
Research suggests that vinegar could improve several of these risk factors. However, many of the studies were conducted in animals.
These animal studies suggest that apple cider vinegar can lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels, as well as several other heart disease risk factors.
Some studies in rats have also shown that vinegar reduces blood pressure, which is a major risk factor for heart disease and kidney problems.
However, there is no good evidence that vinegar benefits heart health in humans. Researchers need to do more studies before reaching any strong conclusions.
Several animal studies have shown that vinegar can reduce blood triglycerides, cholesterol, and blood pressure. However, there is no strong evidence that it leads to a reduced risk of heart disease in humans.
6. May Boost Skin Health
Apple cider vinegar is a common remedy for skin conditions like dry skin and eczema.
The skin is naturally slightly acidic. Using topical apple cider vinegar could help rebalance the natural pH of the skin, improving the protective skin barrier.
On the other hand, alkaline soaps and cleansers could irritate eczema, making symptoms worse.
Given its antibacterial properties, apple cider vinegar could, in theory, help prevent skin infections linked to eczema and other skin conditions.
Some people use diluted apple cider vinegar in a face wash or toner. The idea is that it can kill bacteria and prevent spots.
However, one study in 22 people with eczema reported that apple cider vinegar soaks did not improve the skin barrier and caused skin irritation.
Talk to your healthcare provider before trying new remedies, especially on damaged skin. Avoid applying undiluted vinegar to the skin, as it can cause burns.
Apple cider vinegar is naturally acidic and has antimicrobial properties. This means it could help improve the skin barrier and prevent infections. However, more studies are needed to know how safe and effective this remedy is.
Dosage and How to Use It
The best way to incorporate apple cider vinegar into your diet is to use it in cooking. It's a simple addition to foods like salad dressings and homemade mayonnaise.
Some people also like to dilute it in water and drink it as a beverage. Common dosages range from 1–2 teaspoons (5–10 mL) to 1–2 tablespoon (15–30 mL) per day mixed in a large glass of water.
It's best to start with small doses and avoid taking large amounts. Too much vinegar can cause harmful side effects, including tooth enamel erosion and potential drug interactions.
Some dieticians recommend using organic, unfiltered apple cider vinegars that contain "mother."
Read more about the right dosage of apple cider vinegar here.
A common dosage for apple cider vinegar ranges from 1 teaspoon to 2 tablespoons (10–30 mL) per day, either used in cooking or mixed in a glass of water.
The Bottom Line
Many websites and natural healthcare proponents claim that apple cider vinegar has exceptional health benefits, including boosting energy and treating disease.
Unfortunately, there's little research to support most claims about its health benefits.
That said, some studies suggest it may offer some benefits, including killing bacteria, lowering blood sugar levels, and promoting weight loss.
Apple cider vinegar appears to be safe, as long as you don't take excessive amounts of it.
It also has various other non-health-related uses, including as a natural hair conditioner, skin care product, and cleaning agent.
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Though it's most commonly used topically to heal burns and promote skin health, it has also been used to treat a variety of other conditions.
In recent years, it has even become a key ingredient in juices, herbal supplements, and diet drinks geared toward weight loss.
This article reviews the benefits and side effects of aloe vera for weight loss, as well as how to use it.
There are two ways in which aloe vera may aid weight loss.
May Boost Metabolism
Some research shows that aloe vera could boost your metabolism, increasing the number of calories you burn throughout the day to promote weight loss.
In one 90-day study, administering dried aloe vera gel to rats on a high fat diet reduced body fat accumulation by increasing the number of calories they burned.
Other animal research has shown that aloe vera could affect the metabolism of fat and sugar in the body while preventing the accumulation of belly fat.
Still, more studies are needed to determine whether aloe vera may offer similar health benefits in humans.
May Support Blood Sugar Control
Aloe vera may help improve blood sugar control, which may help increase weight loss.
In one study, consuming capsules containing 300–500 mg of aloe vera twice daily significantly reduced blood sugar levels in 72 people with prediabetes.
Another study in 136 people found that taking an aloe vera gel complex for 8 weeks reduced body weight and body fat, as well as improved the body's ability to use insulin, a hormone involved in blood sugar control.
Improving blood sugar control can prevent spikes and crashes in blood sugar levels, which could prevent symptoms like increased hunger and cravings.
Aloe vera could help promote weight loss by boosting your metabolism and supporting better blood sugar control.
Aloe vera intake has been associated with several adverse health effects.
Some of the most common side effects include digestive issues, such as diarrhea and stomach cramps.
While aloe vera can act as a laxative to help promote regularity, excessive use could increase your risk of adverse effects like dehydration and electrolyte imbalances.
It's important to note that while its laxative effects may reduce water retention, the resulting loss of water weight is only temporary and not a sustainable weight loss strategy.
What's more, since this succulent may reduce the absorption of certain medications, it's important to consult your healthcare professional before using it if you have any underlying health conditions or are taking any medications.
There is also concern about the cancer-causing effects of aloin, a compound found in non-decolorized, whole leaf aloe extract.
However, most aloin is removed during processing, so it's unclear whether commercial aloe vera products may also be harmful.
Furthermore, it's important to avoid eating aloe vera skin gels and products, as they may contain ingredients and additives that should not be ingested.
Finally, products containing aloe vera latex, a substance found within the leaves of the aloe vera plant, have been banned by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) due to safety concerns.
Aloe vera intake can cause several side effects and may decrease the absorption of certain medications. Unprocessed and unrefined extracts may also contain aloin, which is a carcinogenic compound.
How to Use It
Aloe vera leaves are comprised of three main parts — the skin, latex, and gel.
The gel is safe to consume and can be prepared by cutting the leaf in half and using a spoon or knife to scoop out the gel.
Be sure to wash the gel thoroughly to remove any dirt and latex residue, which can give the gel a bitter taste.
Try adding the gel into smoothies, shakes, salsas, and soups to bolster the health benefits of your favorite recipes.
You can also eat the skin of the aloe leaf by adding it to salads and stir-fries.
After slicing and washing the skin, you may also opt to soak the leaves for 10–30 minutes before adding them to your recipes to help soften them up.
The gel and leaves of the aloe vera plant can be consumed in a variety of recipes, including smoothies, soups, salsas, salads, and stir-fries. Always be sure to remove the latex layer.
The Bottom Line
Aloe vera is commonly found in weight loss products, including herbal supplements, juices, and diet drinks.
It may help promote weight loss by boosting your metabolism and improving your blood sugar control.
However, it may also be associated with several adverse effects and should be used in moderation as part of a healthy diet.
If you decide to give aloe vera products a try, be sure to purchase them from a reputable supplier.
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