Every week, we’re bringing you a roundup of the latest health and wellness news to hit the wire. This week, we look at why white meat may not be better for your cholesterol levels than red meat, how so-called reverse dieting might help you bust through a plateau, and exactly how much time in nature pays mental health dividends.
There may not be a right kind of meat for heart health
Many of us choose chicken over red meat hoping for better heart health. But experts in this New York Times post say that when it comes to cholesterol, there may be very little difference between the two.
A new study of 113 adults in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition looked at the effect of following high saturated fat diets with protein coming from different sources—red meat, white meat and non-meat (vegetables and some dairy products)—for four weeks. A second group followed a low saturated fat diet for the same period.
Not surprisingly, the high saturated fat diets resulted in higher LDL or “bad” cholesterol levels than the low saturated fat diets. And both meat diets led to higher levels of LDL and total cholesterol than plant-based diets.
What was surprising was that in both the high and low saturated fat programs, red and white meat resulted in the same levels of LDL and total cholesterol. There was no benefit in sticking to poultry.
The results point to the importance of a mostly plant-based diet in lowering cholesterol. However, the study’s authors say it doesn’t consider the total health effects associated with consuming either red or white meat, which could affect much more than just LDL.
What is “reverse dieting”?
For those who have hit a weight-loss plateau, the experts in this Harper’s Bazaar article say more calorie restriction is not necessarily the answer.
Stealing a page from the bodybuilder playbook, many nutrition coaches are recommending clients increase their calorie intake to deal with the metabolic slowdown caused by diets, coining the term “reverse diet.” While the jury is still out on the long-term effectiveness of this strategy, many fitness pros such as Kim Kardashian’s trainer Melissa Alcantara swear by it, claiming it has helped them lose more weight while feeling full.
This isn’t, however, a license to eat all the cheeseburgers you want. To raise your metabolism, experts recommend simply increasing the number of calories you are currently consuming by 50 to 100 calories a week for four to 10 weeks until you boost your metabolism and reach your desired pre-diet intake.
Just remember, it’s not all about how many calories you are taking in but getting the right balance of nutrients to fuel your body and keep hunger hormones in check.
Spend at least *this much* time outside this week
People who spend more time outdoors in parks or even strolling a tree-lined street tend to report higher levels of health and happiness. Now researchers are beginning to quantify just how much time outdoors leads to this greater sense of well-being, reports The Washington Post.
According to a study of 20,000 people published in the journal Scientific Reports, spending 120 minutes or two hours in nature each week led to a greater sense of fulfillment. Less time didn’t yield any significant benefit.
While the health effects of spending time in green spaces are well-documented and include lower risks of heart disease, asthma and diabetes, what was surprising was just how powerful nature’s effect is on an individual’s sense of life satisfaction.
Spending two hours or more in nature each week was as potent an influence on well-being as getting the recommended amount of exercise or living in a high socioeconomic status area versus a lower-status one, researchers say.
It’s one more reason to take your lunch outside a couple of days a week or go a little longer when walking the dog each day.
Photo credit: Holly Mandarich, Unsplash