Monday, March 23, 2009

Fit FactorY: Brain Food

Whenever I hear of "brain food", I vividly remember my mother telling me to eat a bowl of hot peanut soup on the day before my exams, so I could get a higher score. I've always laughed when she suggested this, and dismissed the peanut thing as an urban myth probably conjured up by the marketing-fit peanut factory manufacturers so they could get more sales, but after researching on it further, the idea behind "brain food" seems to have some scientific backing after all.

Apparently, peanut is high in Vitamin B6, protein, and sugars that the brain needs. The good thing about peanuts is that they are virtually cholesterol free so you can munch on them with less guilt as compared to eating a bag of greasy potato chips.

Speaking of Vitamin B, eggs are also a good source of Vitamin B, particularly Choline, which is said to enhance memory.

Studies have also been made, confirming that fish is a good brain food for boys. The omega-3 found in fish is what helps the brain develop better. Even more interesting to note is that pregnant women who eat fish tend to have more intelligent children. The study does not state why fish doesn't help women as much and I've been trying to scour Google for the answer but to no substantial avail.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Fit FactorY: The Truth about Chicken

Healthy eating is often associated with chicken. However, there are a lot of sneaky marketing tactics out there that can trick you into buying chicken products that aren't really as healthy as they claim to be.

"100% All Natural" is actually composed of 30% salt water pumped into the chicken
"100% Chicken Breast" or "100% All-White Meat" is actually just part Chicken and part water, flour, thickeners, etc.

How deceiving is that?! If you're like me, and you're always in a hurry, you just gravitate towards these seemingly healthy products, dump them in your grocery cart, and go check them out. You go home, cook them real quick, and eat with the satisfaction that you're actually eating healthy...

Well apparently, we've all been deceived.

How then do we avoid this?
Best thing to do is to actually buy your chicken from an organic store, or to buy them at your butcher's shop. You can ask your friendly butcher (always befriend your butcher as they say!) for boneless breast so you don't have a hard time at home with the cleaver.

~Fit FactorY

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Fit FactorY: Healthy Fit Cooking Tips from the American Heart Association

Here are a few cooking tips to stay fit, that I read from the American Heart Association:

1. Don't overcook your veggies. Not only are mushy vegetables unappealling, you also lose the nutrients.

2. Try to sneak in some essential healthy ingredients into your dishes as often as possible, catered to your needs. For instance, if you have mildly higher blood pressure than normal, a dash of cayenne pepper in your dishes may help you.

3. Go low-fat and fat-free as often as possible. A wide array of items now are being offered in this variant in common grocery stores, such as milk, salad dressings, etc.

4. Gulp down some smoothies! Smoothies are EASY to make. Just plunk in some fruits in your blender, whiz it around for a few seconds, add some fat-free yogurt, and you're good to go.

5. Prepared seasonings can have high salt content and increase your risk for high blood pressure. Replace salt with herbs and spices or some of the salt-free seasoning mixes. Use natural alternatives such as lemon juice and citrus for added flavor.

6. Factory canned, processed and preserved vegetables often have very high sodium content. Look for "low-sodium" veggies or try the frozen varieties. Always check and compare the sodium content on the Nutrition Facts label of products and get the one with the least amount of sodium.

7. Substitute! A cup of applesauce or 6 mashed bananas can substitute for a cup of butter/lard/shortening.

8. Choose whole grain for part of your ingredients instead of highly refined products. Use whole-wheat flour, oatmeal and whole cornmeal. Whole-wheat flour can be substituted for up to half of all-purpose flour. For example, if a recipe calls for 2 cups of flour, try 1 cup all-purpose flour and 1 cup minus 1 tablespoon whole-wheat flour.

9. In baking, use plain fat-free or low-fat yogurt or fat-free or low-fat sour cream.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Whats the "Extra virgin" in Extra virgin olive oil?

We all probably know by now that olive oil is good for you. But have you ever wondered what extra virgin olive oil is and how it differs from just pure olive oil?

Other than the price tag, these two types of olive oil also differ in taste, quality, and how much it has been processed.

In general, the less processed the olive oil is the better, and the more expensive. Extra virgin olive oil is the least acidic, and has the most excellent taste and aroma. It is the least processed and is extracted using the first cold press.

Virgin olive oil is the oil you obtain after the second pressing.

Pure olive oil is filtered and refined in a factory and does not taste or smell as good as the above.

In the health aspect, all three of them are good for you (good fat so to speak), with the small difference being that Extra Virgin olive oil contains more antioxidants and vitamin E. As I stated in another article, olive oil is one of the better oils to use when deep frying. As a general rule, I'd say buy the olive oil that will fit your budget.

What you should watch out for is the "Light olive oil", a neat marketing gimmick. Light here is referred to the color, as opposed to the amount of calories. Sometimes, it is mixed with other forms of vegetable oil.

~ Fit Factory

Monday, March 9, 2009

Easy Ways to Eat Less

Here's an interesting article on how to train your digestive system to eat less:

1. Eat 5 meals a day: Breakfast, snacks, lunch, snacks, dinner.

2. Routine is good. Lessen your food choices. Eat the same thing every breakfast.

3. Eat food rich in "good fat" a half hour before your meal. Food rich in "good fat": nuts and seeds.

4. Try walking to the office or at least try getting off at a farther spot from your destination. This will help you keep fit.

5. Get at least 7 hours of sleep. Having a hard time sleeping? Here are some tips to beat your insomnia.

Monday, March 2, 2009

The Wii Fit and other Wii Games: Who says getting fit can't be fun?

Gone are the days where you have to spend what seems like eternity running on a conveyor belt that takes you absolutely nowhere. If you're like me, and you don't like redundant exercises or hitting the gym where you are under the watchful eye of other people who are 10x more fit than you are and seem to have factory-built muscles, you can always just spring for a Wii and get yourself several exercise-intensive games.

There's the Wii Fit, of course, which, apart from giving you those routine step movements, also allows you to balance yourself on a beam, or hit soccer balls. A Wii Fit Factory Sealed Component will cost around $125.

The Wii Sports provides a lot of fun and exercise as well. Boxing is a total get fit program because it really works out both arms and if you're really into it you'll find yourself moving your legs and head as well, like you were Rocky or something.

If you want to get more creative, however, there are other Wii games guaranteed to make you sweat and flex minus the boredom:

Raving Rabbids
This is undeniably the sneakiest way a game has ever made me exert such physical effort. The games are nothing near "fitness-intensive". You've got burping games, snail races, chess, and rhythm games, but all of these require much shaking and moving that you are sure to sweat a lot... and have tons of fun in the process.

Cooking Mama
This isn't as strenuous as the above but when you're competing with your friend to chop or whisk the fastest, then it can help your arm muscles and give you a sweat as well.