Just when you're finally getting your health under control, the onslaught of holiday parties is here again, complete with the temptation to overeat, stay up late and fret about your To Do list.
For years, it's been widely reported that the average person gains five pounds this time of year. In reality, it's probably less. The kicker: Studies show that most people don't lose the pounds they pack on between Thanksgiving and New Year's. To add to the chaos, they tend to feel run down and stressed.
Instead of giving in to this phenomenon, arm yourself with the information you need to stay healthy and energized during the holidays.
Take the following Healthy Living quiz to find out if you know your stuff:
1. The omega fats in omega-3 eggs are derived from:
The answer is A. Eggs enriched with omega-3s get that way because the hens that lay the eggs are fed flax, a plant source of omega-3s.
Be aware that omega-3 enriched eggs aren't necessarily a so-called health food: They still contain the saturated fat, cholesterol and calories found in regular eggs. The difference is that they also contain fats of the omega-3 variety. Omega-3s are unsaturated fatty acids that experts from around the world proclaim prevent cardiac ailments, reduce inflammation, improve the transmitting capabilities of cell membranes and play a critical role in brain function.
You'll get better quality omega-3s from oily, deep-water fish such as salmon and sardines, however. The body is more able to use the omega-3s found in fish than the type found in plant sources.
2. Which is more likely to raise your LDL (bad cholesterol levels)?
A) Dietary cholesterol (the type of cholesterol naturally found in certain foods such as butter, egg yolks and meat).
B) Trans and saturated fats
The answer is B. Both trans-saturated fats and saturated fats tend to raise the so-called bad cholesterol in your blood -- the kind that narrows your arteries and increases heart attack risk.
Trans fats are oils commonly used to extend the shelf life of products. They are created when manufacturers blast plant-based oils with hydrogen. This, in turn, yields a sort of Franken-fat, something that is foreign to the body. Research shows trans fats are a double whammy on your system; they raise your bad cholesterol and lower your good cholesterol, the kind that protects your heart. Surprisingly, cholesterol that you eat in food seems to have less of an effect on blood-cholesterol levels, although experts suggest limiting dietary cholesterol if you have a cholesterol problem. HDL is the so-called good cholesterol that protects your heart. You can raise your HDL level by eating heart-healthy fats such as olive oil, salmon and avocado.
3. Which contains the most vitamin C?
A) Six brussels spouts
B) A mandarin orange
C) Six strawberries
4. The answer is A. Six brussels sprouts contain nearly 70 milligrams of vitamin C, an antioxidant vitamin researchers believe protects the cells from dangerous free radicals and may even lessen the duration of colds and flu.
A small mandarin orange contains about 20 milligrams of vitamin C. Six small strawberries (42 grams) contain about 24 milligrams of vitamin C.
5. Which activity burns more calories?
A) 30 minutes of race walking
B) 30 minutes of circuit training combining strength and cardio exercises
C) 30 minutes cycling on stationary bike at moderate speed
The answer is B. A cardio/strength circuit can burn 10 calories a minute, thereby burning 300 calories in 30 minutes. Circuit training is an excellent way to push your fitness limits when you're short on time. A 155-pound person will burn about 240 calories while race walking for 30 minutes. Meanwhile a 155-pound person will burn about 260 calories on a stationary bike for the same amount of time.
6. Which key word on your bread package will indicate the loaf likely has the most fibre and vitamins?
C) Whole wheat
The answer is C. Whole wheat contains the complete grain kernel, including the endosperm, the bran and the germ, which equates to more nutrients, including fibre, which helps keep you full longer. Be careful, though. Bread -- including whole wheat and multigrain -- can contain whole wheat combined with white flours, so read labels thoroughly before you buy. Limit your consumption of enriched bread, which usually indicates the nutrients have been stripped away in the manufacturing process before being artificially added back to the loaf.
7. Reducing sugar intake will cut calories and help your metabolic system run more efficiently. Which beverage contains the most sugar?
A) One cup of unsweetened apple juice
B) One can of pop
C) One venti skinny vanilla latte from Starbucks
The apple juice contains the most sugar, at 29 grams in a cup. That's about six teaspoons! Even though juice contains some vitamins, keep your juice consumption to a minimum. It's relatively high in sugar and calories. As well, it does not contain the fibre of its whole-fruit counterpart. That means juice causes extreme spikes in blood-sugar levels, which can lead eventually to extreme blood-sugar drops.
Have an interesting story you'd like Shamona to write about? Contact her at email@example.com