Mon. Jul 22nd, 2024

Our Favorite Nutrition Takeaways From 2024, So Far

If you’re looking to freshen up your food habits, summer is the season to do it. Farmers’ markets are overflowing. Backyard grills are firing. Picnic blankets are unfurling. And school pickups have slowed to a halt, giving us more time to cook and enjoy relaxed outdoor meals with friends.

Whatever your food goals, you’re bound to find at least a few morsels of wisdom in some of our favorite nutrition articles of 2024 — whether it’s learning to take the latest TikTok health hack with a grain of salt, or actually cutting back on salt.

Here are 10 important nutrition takeaways from the year, so far.

There’s a reason the Mediterranean diet is so beloved by nutrition experts: Decades of research have linked it to various health benefits, including reduced risks of cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes, cognitive decline and certain types of cancer. And best of all, it’s not a “diet” in the colloquial sense: There’s no counting calories or cutting out foods.

A few decades ago, it was commonly understood that a daily glass or two of red wine was good for your heart. It was an appealing idea that was backed by research at the time. But the science has since changed, experts say, and the latest evidence suggests that the risks of drinking alcohol — including red wine — outweigh any potential benefits.

Whether they’re rounding out a grain bowl or elevating a salad, avocados are a nutritional powerhouse. They’re rich in heart-healthy fats and fiber, as well as vitamin E (essential for healthy skin) and potassium (helpful for managing blood pressure). If you haven’t already considered incorporating avocados into your meal rotation, what are you waiting for?

Some online influencers claim that avoiding caffeine for the first hour or two of the day will help you wake up more naturally and thwart an afternoon energy slump. But experts say that the science to support this strategy is thin. And for people in certain professions, delaying your morning caffeine could even come with some risks.

Nutritionally speaking, shrimp is not a bad choice: It’s high in protein, calcium and vitamin B12, and low in unhealthy saturated fats. But both farmed and wild-caught versions can come with environmental and humans rights baggage, and some imported prawns have been found to contain unlawful substances, like banned antibiotics and unlabeled preservatives. How can you find the best shrimp for you and the environment? We have guidance.

In recent decades, researchers have debated how much sodium is really too much, with some suggesting that the federal guidelines may be too strict.

But the latest science has made it clear: Most people in the United States consume far more sodium than is recommended. And keeping an eye on your consumption — aiming for no more than 2,300 milligrams per day — is worthwhile, especially if you have high blood pressure or you’re worried about heart disease. (Think you can spot the saltiest foods? Take our quiz.)

Scroll through social media and you’ll find a laundry list of health woes that apple cider vinegar supposedly treats. Some online proponents claim it can settle your stomach, lower blood sugar, clear acne, help you lose weight and more. While most of these ideas have no science to back them, some studies suggest that there may be certain benefits to consuming this pungent kitchen staple.

Irritable bowel syndrome is a common and debilitating condition, with telltale signs like abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea and constipation. One gold standard treatment is the low-FODMAP diet. That involves avoiding foods like wheat-based products, legumes, some nuts, certain sweeteners, most dairy products and many fruits and vegetables, at least temporarily.

Giant Stanley tumblers have become hot fashion accessories, but it’s not necessary to guzzle water all day, experts say. How much water you need will depend on how active you are, how hot it is, your age and more. How can you tell if you’re drinking enough? Here’s what experts told us.

You’ve probably seen the headlines: Consuming too many ultraprocessed foods — like sugary sodas, processed meats, salty snacks and frozen meals — can increase the risk of health conditions like heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, obesity and certain gastrointestinal diseases.

Experts are still trying to understand how, or even if, ultraprocessed foods directly cause poor health. But in the meantime, it’s best to cut back when you can, they say.

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