1. Bacon or sausage?
ANSWER: BACON. A slice of bacon, cooked thoroughly, has fewer calories than a typical sausage. Your best bet is a slice of lean back bacon with the rind and fat cut off, rather than fatty streaky bacon.
2. A packed lunch or a purchased lunch?
ANSWER: A PACKED LUNCH. It’ll be healthier, it’ll probably have fewer calories, it’ll be cheaper and it’ll save you lots of time that you can use for walking, reading or socializing instead.
3. Lunch or graze?
ANSWER: GRAZE. Nibble food throughout the day, rather than having a large, formal lunch. Spreading out your calories stabilizes blood sugar and insulin levels, provides more frequent relief from stress, tension and boredom, and avoids the post-meal fatigue, because you don’t have a big meal. Plus, you never get really hungry, and so are less likely to make the regrettable food choices that you might when you’re starving. Best reason: all-day grazing frees up lunchtime for other things, such as a walk or catching up on work so you can get home a bit earlier and go for a walk then.
4. Coffee or tea?
ANSWER: TEA. Choose black or green tea. These are jammed with heart-healthy antioxidants that provide more than just an energy-boosting punch; as well as contributing to healthier arteries; they may also help to prevent cancer.
5. Fresh or powdered garlic?
ANSWER: FRESH. Technically, the jury is still out. A large American study on fresh garlic by Christopher Gardner, PhD, of Stanford University Medical Center, found that fresh garlic failed to reduce cholesterol levels, although further research is needed on its other possible medicinal benefits. But, Gardner notes, the active ingredient in garlic is allicin, which can easily be destroyed if you mess with it too much, which suggests that fresh is best. Other tests indicate that you’d usually need more powdered garlic than fresh to get the same benefits.
6. Strawberries or blueberries?
ANSWER: BLUEBERRIES. Of course, both are great for you, so try to eat lots of these two fruits. But when you compare the nutrients in an equal amount of each, blueberries have a slight edge. Blueberries are particularly rich in fiber – four times that of strawberries – as well as containing more natural sugars, much more vitamin E and some unique micronutrients that are good for memory.
7. Fresh fruit or dried?
ANSWER: FRESH. The higher water content (most fresh fruits are more than 80 percent water) means a larger volume, making the fruit more filling and satisfying with fewer calories. But for convenience and shelf life, use dried fruit as your back-up plan.
8. Fruit juice or fruit?
ANSWER: FRUIT. Get the real thing. Not only are most fruit juices loaded with sugar, they’ve been stripped of an important element found in fruit – fiber.
9. Broccoli or cauliflower?
ANSWER: BROCCOLI. At 2.6 grams of fiber per 100 grams, broccoli has twice the fiber oomph of cauliflower.
10. An apple or sugar-free apple sauce?
ANSWER: AN APPLE. You’ll get all the nutrients of the apple sauce, but you’ll also get the added fiber kick from the skin of the apple, which is removed before the apple sauce is made.
11. Natural sugar or white sugar?
ANSWER: NEITHER. They’re both sugar. Neither has any nutritional benefit or is any better than the other. Here’s a case where the brown color does not imply a healthier version.
12. Green olives or black olives
ANSWER: GREEN OLIVES. Green olives haven’t ripened fully, so they contain roughly half the fat levels that they would have achieved had they ripened and blackened.
13. Sparkling water or club soda?
ANSWER: SPARKLING WATER. There’s a reason soda and sodium sound similar. Club soda is based on the use of sodium bicarbonate to ‘carbonate’ it; thus it should come as no surprise that club soda is salt-rich. With only 3 milligrams of sodium, sparkling water beats club soda’s 75 milligrams hands down.
14. Sirloin steak or rib-eye?
ANSWER: SIRLOIN. A 300 grams sirloin steak contains 325 calories and 13 grams of fat, 6 of them saturated, compared to the 423 calories and 23 grams of fat (12 of them saturated) found in the same size of rib-eye steak.
15. Soup or salad?
ANSWER: SALAD. Of course, some soups are far healthier than some salads. But, in general, you’re better off with a salad of mixed greens and raw vegetables, coupled with a light, healthy dressing. You’ll get more fiber and thus more filling for your calories, not to mention the healthy dose of disease-fighting antioxidants found in raw vegetables. Many soups are very healthy, but the cooking process can diminish some of the ingredients’ nutritional value.
16. Bottled salad dressing or homemade?
ANSWER: HOMEMADE. Homemade is healthier almost every time. Not only can you use cholesterol-lowering monounsaturated fats such as olive oil, but many bottled dressings contain extra salt and additives.
17. Starbucks café au lait or caffe latte
ANSWER: CAFÉ AU LAIT. Café au lait comprises equal parts brewed coffee and steamed milk. A caffe latte is one or two shots of espresso with steamed milk and foam filling the rest of the cup. For a tall drink made with semi-skimmed milk, the au lait has just 91 calories and 3.4 grams of fat, while the tall semi-skimmed latte, because it uses so much more milk, has 148 calories and 5.6 grams of fat. You may find that the au lait has a bolder, more coffee-rich flavor, so you win on all counts.
18. Fresh tomatoes or tomato sauce?
ANSWER: TOMATO SAUCE.
Tomatoes are rich in lycopene, an antioxidant believed to reduce the risk of prostate cancer and possibly several other cancers. But only by cooking it will you release the lycopene from the tomato cell walls so that your body can absorb it. What’s more, lycopene is fat-soluble, meaning your body is better able to absorb and use it when you get it with a bit of fat – such as the olive oil found in most tomato sauces.
19. Apple or orange?
The old adage is true after all. A study from the University of Nottingham found that people who ate more than five apples a week had improved lung function, less wheeziness and fewer asthma-like symptoms. Eat them raw, try them baked, add them diced into a salad or sauté an apple with onions as a side dish for chicken or fish.
20. Airline food or bring your own food?
ANSWER: BRING YOUR OWN FOOD. And put some hot peppers on whatever you bring. The dry air of an airplane affects your senses of smell and taste, making anything you eat while airborne taste worse. That’s one reason airline food is often heavily salted and sugared – to compensate for the blandness.