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Swap these four food fads with nutritious kitchen staples

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(BPT) – With new so-called “healthy” food trends popping up all the time, it’s hard to keep track of what’s actually good for your health and what’s just a fad. Luckily, new research continually shows consumers which fads to ditch and which kitchen staples stand the test of time and should be kept in our diets. For example, did you know that coconut oil, a recent consumer favorite in health and beauty circles, has been found in a new study to increase cholesterol?

If you are looking for simple changes that have a big impact on nutritional health, consider clearing some unhealthy eating habits from your diet. Here are a few health fads that aren’t as nutritious as you may have heard, and helpful swaps that can benefit your health.

Cooking with coconut oil

Over the last few years, coconut oil has gained prominence on grocery store shelves, in the news and on social media. Long considered a multipurpose beauty oil, coconut oil began to make its way into recipes, and consumers hoped its health benefits extended to the kitchen. However, a recent study has found that coconut oil increases cholesterol. Adding corn oil to one’s diet, on the other hand, was found by the study to result in better cholesterol levels compared with coconut oil. Similarly, a previous study published in The Journal of Clinical Lipidology found that corn oil can help lower cholesterol two times more than extra virgin olive oil. With a high smoke point, versatile usage and a neutral flavor, corn oil makes a great staple for any pantry.

Juice diets and cleanses

While it’s important to include fruits and vegetables in your diet, “cleansing” your body with a diet limited to cold-pressed juices won’t provide enough essential vitamins and minerals for a healthy diet. According to research by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, there is no real evidence that juice cleanses work. The human body is great at keeping the good stuff in and filtering out the bad, and a varied diet is important for maintaining energy throughout the day. Plus, according to Vive Nutrition, juice diets tend to make people feel hungrier and lead to overeating. If cold-pressed juices are something you enjoy, go ahead and include them in addition to your meals.

Skipping dessert

Everything in moderation! Indulging every once in a while is an important part of a balanced diet. Harsh dietary restrictions, especially on the foods you love, may lead to short-term results, but aren’t sustainable in the long run, according to research by the National Center for Biotechnology Information. Rather than cutting sugar completely, avoid binges by allowing yourself a treat every once in a while on a cheat day to maintain balance in your diet.

Snacking on granola bars

Packed with whole grains, granola bars seem like the perfect healthy snack, but many contain an unhealthy amount of added sugar, which creates a caloric and less-than-nutritious food choice. In fact, according to a survey in the New York Times, less than 30 percent of nutritionists would call granola a healthy food. Replacing granola bars with healthier options like whole nuts will greatly benefit your health. This snack choice is less sugary, more filling and full of omega-3 fatty acids, which are shown to reduce the risk of chronic diseases.

With contradicting information about health coming out daily, it’s important to research the facts to learn which tips are fads and which are truly good for you. By making these diet swaps that benefit your body, you can start the year as your healthiest self ever.

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Steps to get your yard ready for spring

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(Family Features) As the weather begins to warm and days get longer, it’s important to begin preparing your yard for a healthy growing season. While factors like climate, soil type and grass type can all impact how your yard grows, there are a few steps you can take during the spring months to help your lawn thrive.

From dethatching and aerating to fertilizing and mowing, tackling these simple chores can help ensure your yard looks its best and is prepared to fight off seasonal weeds, disease and drought.

Tune Your Mower
Before it’s time for the first mowing of the season, inspect your mower and perform any routine maintenance necessary. That goes beyond sharpening, or replacing, the blade, and includes changing the oil, spark plugs and filter as well as filling with a fresh tank of gas.

Loosen the Thatch Layer
While it’s important to avoid working on your lawn until after the final freeze to avoid damaging the grass, raking your yard with a spring tine rake to loosen thatch – the layer of leaves, roots and dead grass that builds up between live grass and soil – before the first mow is equally important. Be sure to rake when the soil is dry; if it’s too soft or muddy, you may pull up healthy grass crowns.

Combat Compacted Soil
If your soil has become compacted – likely the effect of heavy foot traffic – and is too dense for water, air and other nutrients to reach the roots of your grass, aerating can help break it up and reduce thatch. A core, or plug, aerator can introduce tiny holes into your soil by removing plugs of grass and soil, which lets nutrients more easily reach the roots. An added bonus, the plugs can decompose on top of your grass, supplying more nutrients.

Fill in Bare Spots
If your lawn is looking sparse, overseeding, which involves spreading grass seed over your existing lawn, can help fill in bare spots. Be sure to choose the right type of seed for your climate and soil type to ensure proper growth. Applying a slow-release nitrogen fertilizer at the same time can provide additional nutrients that are important for promoting healthy growth.

Start Seasonal Mowing
When the ground is dry enough and your grass is long enough to require cutting, begin seasonal mowing. Be sure to use proper techniques, including varying your mowing direction each time to avoid creating patterns or ruts, and avoid cutting grass too low, which can make the lawn more susceptible to weeds and drought stress. In general, never remove more than one-third of the grass blade at a time.

Find more tips to help get your yard ready for warm weather at eLivingtoday.com.

Photo courtesy of Unsplash


SOURCE:
eLivingtoday.com

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6 tips to improve sleep quality for overall well-being

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(Family Features) Despite a rising number of people searching for the term “sleep” in 2023, nearly 1 in 3 U.S. adults report not getting enough of it, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

As a foundation for overall well-being, getting quality sleep is key to achieving goals and being present in daily life. Without it, you’re more likely to lack the stamina and energy to follow through on your ambitions.

To help people realize the foundational role sleep plays in everyday successes, Natrol – a leading sleep, mood and stress supplement brand based on Nielsen data – alongside Dr. Jess Andrade are working together to help people improve their sleep quality and habits so they can conquer their wellness goals this year and beyond.

“From consistent exercise to eating healthy and even daily journaling, it may seem like all your priorities are in order, but without sleep, you won’t be able to reap the full benefits of your hard work,” Andrade said. “Often overlooked, getting quality sleep is a fundamental piece to improving overall wellness and it doesn’t have to be complicated. Creating small, achievable changes in our daily sleep routines can lead to long-lasting lifestyle habits for the better.”

Consider these tips from Andrade to help improve your sleep quality so you can achieve your goals.

1. Prioritize Movement and Light Exposure in the Morning
Whether you’re a yogi or prefer a simple stretch when your feet hit the floor, movement and light during the day can help stimulate quality sleep later that night.

2. Understand Sleep Gains are Just as if Not More Important Than Gym Gains
If you’re focusing on fitness goals, you’ll need adequate sleep to see successful results. If you’re a morning workout warrior, schedule earlier bedtimes to ensure you get the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep. For evening workouts, aim to end your sweat session as early in the evening as possible; too much physical activity before bed can keep you up at night.

3. Make Your Bedroom a Sanctuary
Make your bedroom a sleep sanctuary. Keep the room dark, noise-free and comfortable with the thermostat set at 65-67 F for better sleep conditions.

4. Set Nightly Rituals to Unwind
Create nightly rituals that activate circadian rhythms and allow your body to unwind. Consider activities that relax you the most, like taking a bath, reading a book, journaling or sipping decaffeinated nighttime tea.

5. Try Incorporating a Drug-Free Sleep Aid
If you follow good bedtime habits but still occasionally struggle to fall or stay asleep, try a low-milligram melatonin supplement, like those from Natrol, that are designed to help you get a good night’s sleep so you wake up refreshed and ready to conquer your goals.†

6. Follow the 10-3-2-1-0 method
To help you fall asleep and wake up feeling revitalized, Andrade recommends the 10-3-2-1-0 method: Decrease caffeine intake at least 10 hours before bed. Avoid eating bothersome foods 3 hours prior to heading to off to sleep. Engage in relaxing activities like reading at the 2-hour mark and cut out screentime with 1 hour to spare. Ultimately, these habits can lead to zero times hitting snooze the next morning.

Find more ways to improve sleep habits by visiting Natrol.com.

† These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.


SOURCE:
Natrol

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Find your perfect spring escape

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(Family Features) Whether you’re a family with kids or a young professional looking for a getaway, it isn’t too late – or out of budget – to plan a memorable spring trip. All you need is a full tank of gas and your furry best friend to make an unforgettable getaway.

Data from online travel agency Booking.com shows that half of traveler’s plan to choose vacation destinations where the cost of living is less than their hometowns in 2024. Exploring lesser-known destinations with a variety of outdoor activities, opting for a road trip with your pet rather than a large group and traveling outside of peak season can all help make adventures more affordable.

To help travelers feel confident selecting their road trip destinations this spring, Motel 6, where pets always stay for free, and Bert Sperling’s Best Places recommend these undiscovered destinations that offer sight-seeing, access to dog parks, cultural experiences, green spaces, authentic cuisine, dog-friendly restaurants and affordable lodging.

Santa Fe, New Mexico
Dive into desert culture in Santa Fe with stunning views of the Sangre de Cristo mountains, Pueblo-style architecture, historic landmarks and pet-friendly dining patios. With near-endless activities like shopping for handcrafted jewelry, visiting the Museum of International Art Folk or walking the Santa Fe Plaza, there are entertainment options for everyone to enjoy. There are also plenty of affordable lodging options within walking distance of downtown attractions.

Branson, Missouri
Situated in the iconic Lake of the Ozarks, Branson is a dream small-town getaway for family vacations with a plethora of dining and entertainment options such as Silver Dollar City, Dolly Parton’s Stampede and the Titanic Museum. The city has a dog-friendly culture with plenty of parks and outdoor activities. Located just two miles from many of these local attractions, Motel 6 Branson welcomes the whole family, including those on four legs, at no additional cost. This location also offers amenities like free Wi-Fi, an expansive cable channel selection, a microwave and refrigerator in each room and guest laundry facilities.

Tempe, Arizona
If you’re seeking sunshine and fresh air, look no further than Tempe, a vibrant city located just south of Phoenix. From festivals and outdoor activities like golfing, hiking, kayaking or stand-up paddle boarding on Tempe Town Lake to visiting the Tempe Center for the Arts or local pet-friendly eateries, there are plenty of things to do in the low desert valley.

Chattanooga, Tennessee
For those looking to escape fast-paced city life with an outdoor getaway, Chattanooga is a perfect destination to enjoy outdoor activities, such as exploring Lookout Mountain or walking along the Tennessee River. In a city full of culture and history, visitors can enjoy local artwork at the Hunter Museum of American Art or go sightseeing in the historic Bluff View Art District. As the temperatures rise, embrace the rays at the seasonal pool alongside pet-friendly lodging at Motel 6 Chattanooga.

As you look to plan your getaway, visit Motel6.com to find pet-friendly and affordable lodging accommodations as well as more ideas to point you in the right direction on your spring excursion.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock


SOURCE:
Motel 6

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