THE NEW YORK TIMES – Here are 10 science-backed pearls to carry you into the new year.
1. The Mediterranean diet really is that good for you.
Decades of research support the Mediterranean diet — which is centered on fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, olive oil, nuts, herbs and spices — as one of the healthiest ways you can eat. Its heart-health benefits are numerous, and it has been linked to a lower risk of Type 2 diabetes, cognitive decline and certain types of cancer.
2. It’s OK to drink coffee on an empty stomach.
Some people may experience heartburn, but there’s no evidence that drinking coffee on an empty stomach can damage your gastric lining or otherwise harm your digestive system, experts say. And there are reasons to feel good about your morning brew: Drinking coffee has been linked to a longer life and a lower risk of heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.
3. Start your day with a healthy breakfast.
Mornings can be hectic, and it may be tempting to grab a quick muffin or skip breakfast altogether. But nutrition experts say it’s worth prioritizing that morning meal — especially if it contains a balanced mix of protein, fiber and healthy fats. It will fuel your day, and studies have found that those who eat breakfast tend to enjoy a range of health benefits, including a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes and obesity.
4. Take good care of your gut.
Keeping your digestive system healthy and running smoothly can protect you from life’s discomforts — like heartburn, bloating and constipation — as well as lead to better overall health. Unsurprisingly, the best way to care for your gut is to feed yourself (and by extension, your gut microbes) well, by prioritizing fiber and consuming a variety of plant-based and fermented foods.
5. You probably don’t need protein bars.
They’re often marketed as a health food or as essential fuel for athletic performance, but most protein bars are loaded with sugar. You’re better off meeting your protein needs with whole foods like yogurt, nuts, beans or eggs, experts say.