Science Feed

Let's make muffins for science!

I don't really mention it much on my blog but my kid is in high school marching band and this is his senior year, which makes me #bandmom on steroids. 

marching band gauntlets drum major
My son, the drum major

This time of year is especially frenzied, what with football games, fundraisers, competitions and lighting a fire under the kid's butt to get the college applications going. 

I've also been stepping up my freelancing work and fighting a cold.

Which is to say, I haven't been blogging much.

I've been feuding with my beautiful new Withings Body Cardio scale because the poundage isn't budging no matter what I do, and that's been making me kinda frantic. But the one nice thing about the Body Cardio is that I can see even though the pounds aren't budging, my body fat is going down while my lean mass is going up. Still ...

So I made chocolate chip muffins.

Self-sabotaging, you say? Actually, these muffins are a nutritional experiment.

I had picked up a supermarket ladymag last month that featured a breathless cover line touting a muffin that "works like a tummy tuck!" 

Seriously, no. Muffins don't work like a tummy tuck.

But the story behind the muffin is pretty intriguing. 

 A University of Maryland School of Medicine study looked at a way to substitute animal-based saturated fats for plant-based unsaturated fats in muffins made for patients with metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is the name for a cluster of symptoms that include high blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess abdominal obesity, and abnormal cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

The researchers made two batches of muffins -- one with monounsaturated fats (sunflower oil), the other with polyunsaturated (safflower oil) and had the study participants eat these muffins every day for 6 months, while also reducing their daily calories to make up for the calories in the muffins. 

The upshot: The PUFA muffin eaters lost more weight, had lower blood pressure and triglyceride levels, and increased dilation of blood vessels. Hooray! But one other effect piqued my interest even more. I'll quote it and then translate into normal speak.

A potential reason for the greater weight loss in PUFA than in MUFA subjects is suggested by greater increases in the anorexigenic hormone peptide YY after PUFA intake compared to MUFA or SFA.

Translation: the PUFA muffins triggered satiety compared with the other fats.

Want to try and decipher the entire study? Find it HERE.

Peptide YY, or PYY, is a gut hormone that may help regulate satiety. My guess is that my PYY hormone receptiveness is broken somehow from perhaps decades of dieting. Long story short -- I'm always hungry, but when I ate one of these tiny muffins at the end of a meal I felt a tangible switching on of my satiety, so much so that I was able to go 4 hours between meals yesterday.

So now I'm deep into research into what else can increase satiety. So far I've found that foods high in beta glucan also raise PYY. It's found in certain mushrooms, dates, oats and barley. 

Want the recipe? Here it is. It calls for brown sugar and regular sugar, but I substituted coconut sugar for both of them because that's all I've got in the house right now. I also used a 1-for-1 gluten-free flour instead of wheat flour. I figure it wasn't the sugar and flour but the oil in the recipe, so I wasn't worried about the substitutions.

University of Maryland Safflower Oil Muffins

  • 1 cup safflower oil Minimuffins
  • ½ cup packed brown sugar
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup Egg Beaters
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 ¼ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ cup mini chocolate chips
  • ¼ cup chopped walnuts

Lightly coat two mini muffins pans with cooking spray or use mini muffin liners. (I used a silicone mini muffin pan and didn't use cooking spray or liners. The muffin batter has a lot of oil so nothing stuck.)

Mix all ingredients together.  Fill each muffin cup with 1 tablespoon batter.  Bake 10-12 minutes or until baked through.

Let cool. Makes approximately 48 mini muffins.

I only got 46 muffins out of the batter. What I did was after the muffins cooled, I put three muffins into individual sandwich bags and put those bags into two gallon-sized plastic bags, and everything went into the freezer. You end up with about two weeks' worth of muffins.


That New York Times story on the Biggest Loser contestants and weight regain: Hoo boy.

I think half my Facebook friends shared the link to the New York Times article on the season 8 Biggest Loser contestants and their weight.

Did you read it yet? If not, here's the upshot: We're all screwed.

OK, perhaps that was a bit of an overstatement, but the biggest takeaway is that after weight loss -- be it 10 pounds or 150 pounds, your body fights like hell to get back to your previous weight, lowering your metabolism and sending your leptin levels plunging. You are left a starving sloth.

And just to be clear, it's not the show's fault (so step off, Loser haters!)-- it happens to pretty much everyone who cuts food consumption and increases activity. 

Dr. Kevin Hall, an obesity researcher, followed the contestants for six years after the confetti rained down and found sobering news:

“It is frightening and amazing,” said Dr. Hall, an expert on metabolism at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, which is part of the National Institutes of Health. “I am just blown away.”

It has to do with resting metabolism, which determines how many calories a person burns when at rest. When the show began, the contestants, though hugely overweight, had normal metabolisms for their size, meaning they were burning a normal number of calories for people of their weight. When it ended, their metabolisms had slowed radically and their bodies were not burning enough calories to maintain their thinner sizes.

Researchers knew that just about anyone who deliberately loses weight — even if they start at a normal weight or even underweight — will have a slower metabolism when the diet ends. So they were not surprised to see that “The Biggest Loser” contestants had slow metabolisms when the show ended.

What shocked the researchers was what happened next: As the years went by and the numbers on the scale climbed, the contestants’ metabolisms did not recover. They became even slower, and the pounds kept piling on. It was as if their bodies were intensifying their effort to pull the contestants back to their original weight.

Here's the leptin part (#sadface):

Slower metabolisms were not the only reason the contestants regained weight, though. They constantly battled hunger, cravings and binges. The investigators found at least one reason: plummeting levels of leptin. The contestants started out with normal levels of leptin. By the season’s finale, they had almost no leptin at all, which would have made them ravenous all the time. As their weight returned, their leptin levels drifted up again, but only to about half of what they had been when the season began, the researchers found, thus helping to explain their urges to eat.

Like I say when I read any of these articles, I'm not discouraged, I'm intrigued. There's no getting around science and facts, so I start Googling.

And, oh, what a load of crap is there on the Internet!

Always check your sources before you click on anything. And when you do find something reputable, make sure they're referencing real studies (footnotes FTW!). 

This morning I Googled "what increases leptin resistance" because that's the key. It's not the amount of leptin that you can increase (without increasing your body fat, and who wants that?) but your sensitivity to the leptin that you still have.

After scrolling past a bunch of unsubstantiated garbage (something to sell me, eh?) I came across this article, 23 Foods That Increase Leptin Sensitivity, on a site called Before I even read the article, I checked its "about us" page, which reads:

Anything we write and publish on is based on proper scientific research. All articles are written by either medical doctors or by premeds and medical students.


In the Medlicker article is a good, layman's-level description of leptin and what it does in the body, which you should read if you have no idea about the hormone. (HERE'S another credible article on leptin from Authority Nutrition.) But the real fun comes with the 23 foods, which include oats, lean protein, green tea, almonds, eggs, beans, lowfat yogurt and milk, and fruits and vegetables. Funny, it didn't mention diet ice cream and Snackwells. (KIDDING.)

What are the main components of these foods? Pectin, fiber (soluble and insoluble), omega-3's, zinc, calcium and protein. 

Personally, oats, almonds and Greek yogurt are a few of my "happy foods" in that they keep me full for a long time.

So what is my takeaway from the New York Times article? 

Your body tries like the dickens to put back the weight that you lose. I know -- in the past month I actually won a DietBet, which I almost never do, and the loss of those 11 pounds have left me with an almost constant gnawing in my stomach. SHUT. UP. STOMACH. So now that both my cataract surgeries are done and I can go back to the gym, my goal is to focus on strength training, because another reason why metabolism slows is the loss of muscle as you age. Muscle is more metabolically active than fat, so my goal is to really pump things up. 

Which can make women more hungry.

Oh, FML.

So yesterday, I blended up this thing in the bathroom (I know that sounds gross, but my kitchen is being remodeled and my blender is in the bathroom):

Doctor oz green smoothie drink

It's the Doctor Oz Veggie Flush, which was featured this week on his show. I like what he's doing this month. All this month, he's introducing studied, proven tips that you pick and choose, layering the ones you want on top of each other for weight loss that just might work. So far I've been incorporating a 12-hour fast and this Veggie Flush.

The 12-hour fast wasn't started for weight loss though -- my hiatal hernia was acting up something fierce last week and I figured the less I had in my stomach the better. So from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. (or 9 'til 9, 7 'til 7 -- you get the drift) I don't consume anything. The easy thing about this is for 7 to 8 hours of this fast I'm asleep, and since I've been taking Synthroid since the 1980s, I can't eat an hour after I take it in the morning so that's 1 more hour not to eat.  If I busy myself at the computer, it's pretty easy to get to 12 hours.

And the gaping maw at the top of my stomach has calmed down.

The Veggie Flush is a cucumber, two stalks of celery, 2 cups of spinach, a pear and the juice of a lemon, thinned out with a little water (I used a little coconut water). You don't juice it, you process it in the blender, so you're keeping all the fiber from the produce. I used an English cucumber so I didn't peel it -- more fiber! I let it process awhile in my NutriNinja and was impressed that all those celery strings disappeared. 

How does it taste? I liked it a lot. It tastes like a Suja Mighty Greens but thicker. I drank a third of it yesterday and had a third today, and it was even thicker today than it was yesterday. The pear lends just enough sweetness to temper the green flavor. 

The plan with it is to drink it throughout the day whenever you get the urge to eat and it's not meal or snack time. And while I'm tracking my food in My Fitness Pal, I'm not tracking the Veggie Flush because ...

Track celery calories

So, yeah, once again we come to the conclusion that losing weight is hard, keeping it off is harder, and Ben and Jerry's tastes better than celery. 

Greetings from Planet Yogurt! (Stonyfield Grassfed review)

I am a member of the Stonyfield Clean Plate Club. I received products and coupons to write this post, and all opinions are 100 percent my own.

We go through a lot of yogurt at our house, so much so that one of the produce bins has been reclaimed as the yogurt bin. It's usually filled with a variety of yogurts -- Greek, "regular," plain, fruit flavored and so on. There's usually a bottle of kefir in the fridge, too, (I'm a recent convert to plain kefir), and a quart of plain yogurt for recipes.

Got a lot of culture up in here!

Have you noticed that fat is making a comeback in the yogurt section? Hold up, dieters, it's actually a good thing. The past couple of years have seen the release of studies showing that America's fat phobia has come back to bite us in the ever-growing posterior. By taking out all the fat and replacing it with gobs of sugar, we're actually doing ourselves a disservice. The satiety that a little bit of naturally occurring fat provides works much better than sugar, which basically burns through you like jet fuel. For reference, HERE'S a study showing that people who consume full-fat dairy were actually leaner and had less cardiovascular risk than people who eat the fat-free stuff.

Let's get science geeky!

If those cows are fed 100 percent grass, instead of the corn, distillery waste and gummy worms (I AM NOT KIDDING) that many get, their milk is much higher in omega-3 fatty acids (good for lots of things) and conjugated linoleic acid, or CLA. What's so great about CLA? It may help people lose body fat. Hilarious, huh? 

OK, science geek - how's the yogurt?

Stonyfield grassfed yogurt
I like to play with my food.

Stonyfield recently sent me a variety of its new 100 percent grassfed whole milk yogurts, and I'll admit, at first I was a little freaked out. We've been programmed for so long to believe that fat is the enemy that it's unsettling to see the words "whole milk" on a label. 

But soldier on I did!

The yogurts I was sent were "old school" thinner yogurt, instead of thicker Greek yogurt, so these are lower in protein than strained varieties. Looking at the plain container, it has 120 calories, 5 grams of protein, 8 grams of carbs and 7 grams of fat in a 6-ounce container. See? That's not scary at all. Grassfed is also organic, non-GMO and made without artificial hormones.

My husband's favorite combo is cereal and frozen berries topped with a container of yogurt. He appreciated the thinner texture of these yogurts as he mixed up his big bowl of yum. The flavored ones -- vanilla, strawberry and blueberry -- are 140 calories per container.

What did I do with the plain? Lemme tell ya: 

  • I subbed it for the milk and butter in boxed macaroni and cheese, and the teenager thought it was great. The tang of the yogurt gives the cheese powder some needed sharpness.
  • I used it in place of the liquid and fat in a boxed cornbread mix, giving the cornbread a little tang and moisture.
  • I mixed it with ranch dressing powder to make a super simple veggie dip. 

I know what you're thinking: Where's the smoothie recipe? Sure, you can make a smoothie with yogurt, frozen berries, crushed ice and a little stevia, but I wanted to give you some ideas you might not have thought of. But go ahead and make an awesome smoothie with it. The added fat will help with satiety, something that people often complain of when subbing a smoothie for a meal.

If you're wondering where to pick up Stonyfield grassfed yogurt, you can check the bottom of Stonyfield's product page HERE for a store locator.


I know, I know, it's only been four days, but - - geez! - - my eyes are not playing nicely with each other. Now I know why senior citizens don't bitch and moan after cataract surgery. For the most part, they don't work or noodle around on social media or take their kid to school.

Like I do.

Currently I'm fumbling around with a pile of glasses:

  • My old prescription eyeglasses
  • My old prescription sunglasses
  • Non-prescription sunglasses
  • Drugstore readers
  • Drugstore magnifying sunglasses

And a bottle of Tylenol.

It's why I haven't been blogging much. The simple act of looking at a computer screen is exhausting. It's actually easier sticking my phone up to my face, like I did while writing most of this post.

And did I mention I can't exercise? Turns out I really love working out.

Don't get me wrong, I'm amazed at how my vision has improved in my left eye since Monday. As of now my distance vision is 20/20, colors are much brighter (that was a big surprise) and most importantly, the big, blurry cataract is gone.

I would love to just sit down with a big stack of magazines or binge-watch something on Netflix. Instead I'm squinting into the middle distance.

Need a topical Halloween costume? Try my Killer Bacon idea!

Killer bacon costume idea

So listen, I know some people may be freaking out about the World Health Organization study that came out this week linking processed meats to death and mayhem, but really, how much bacon are you eating? Let's keep things in perspective. 

This processed meat-gruesome death connection is nothing new -- the (sausage) link (ha!) has been around for quite a few years. Just treat things like BLTs and ham sammies as a once-in-awhile treat, not the foundation of your diet.

The increased risk was shown to be the equivalent of two slices of bacon a day ... EVERY DAY. Do you eat bacon every day? Really? You need to vary your diet, hun. 

I can't remember where exactly I heard this but the upshot is:

Treat a treat like a TREAT.

Bacon is a treat. It's meat candy. Do you eat candy every day? Really? Well, there's a depressing study for you, too, champ. 

This one on sugar being a monster.

Yeah, sugar will kill you, too, so definitely don't make THIS recipe:

image from

That would be Paula Deen's Brown Sugar Bacon, which is basically bacon slathered in sugar.

Ooooh, super scary! 

Or maybe make it and serve it for Halloween, like a "Fear Factor" sorta thing.

What's my point? Well, actually, I just wanted an excuse to run my Halloween costume idea but, sure, I'll come up with an upshot: Bacon and candy aren't health food, so don't eat them all the time.

Once again, I go back to Michael Pollan's credo:

Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

Time to reset my clock (and a lot of other things, too)

image from
Gotta punch in earlier.

Yet again, I find myself staying up way too late and waking up way too late. Sure, I get in my 7 to 8 hours of sleep but it's too late in normal human sleep cycles and that's not good.

If that study I just linked to is too "tl;dr" for you, here's a snippet:

"Late sleepers went to sleep at an average time of 3:45 am and woke up by 10:45 am, ate breakfast at noon, lunch at 2:30 pm, dinner at 8:15 pm and a final meal at 10:00 pm. Normal sleepers on average were up by 8:00 am, ate breakfast by 9:00 am, lunch at 1:00 pm, dinner at 7:00 pm, a last snack at 8:30 pm and were asleep by 12:30 am.

The study showed that in addition to the number of calories consumed each day, the timing was important. Those who ate after 8:00 pm were more likely to have a higher BMI, even after controlling for sleep timing and duration."

I'm not as bad as those 3:45 folks, but I have been averaging around 1:30 a.m. 

As I have said countless times before, this changes now.

Perhaps a better way to state that is that I've gotten off track and I'm getting back on that track today. 

Pushing all my waking hour stuff to the afternoon and evening has been making me feel very unproductive. I'm basically wasting the morning, which makes me start to slack off in other things like hydrating and food journaling and getting to the gym and ... everything.

It's one of the perils of working from home. I can set my own hours! 

Or reset my own hours.

Here's another peril of working from home. Behold, my dining room table:

Messy desk

This makes me crazy because I am a neat freak, and this is NOT neat. 

So while I should have been at the gym hours ago, I'm sitting at my dining room table getting caught up on emails and posts and tasks.

... which tomorrow I'll be doing AFTER my morning workout and WITH a big bottle of water at my side, enjoying the post-workout glow of productivity.

Purging but not binging on the diet 'garbage'

Spring cleaning came a little late to me this year. All summer I've been cleaning out the office, donating books and DVDs and tossing out old boxes and things that I felt I had to hang on to. Like this:

Trash can

I have an accordian file filled with various short-term diets that come packaged with DVD workout plans. I kept a few, just for snack ideas and some recipes that looked good, but a lot of them went in the trash because they had a caveat something like this:

The plan has a very low calorie level so it's suggested you take it easy during the duration.

Wait, what? 

You sell me a workout plan, then tell me NOT to do it while I'm barely eating for 3 or 5 or 10 days? 

I'm not going to tank my metabolism while your magic diet works its wonders. No one should eat 1,000 calories a day, even if those are 1,000 perfectly balanced calories.

I really don't understand why those crash diets come packaged with perfectly great workout programs. I'm guessing that people are clamoring for IMMEDIATE SUCCESS RIGHT NOW! and that little pamphlet with the skinny chick tugging on her loose skinny jeans is enticing. 

I don't know why I held onto those diet pamphlets -- possibly like weight-loss talismans. But there are no magic powers in those diets, so into the trash they go.

I met with my trainer on Friday and we were figuring out how many calories I should eat in a day, because I was SO confused. So she whipped out the science and came up with a number that surprised me -- 1,800 calories a day. She calculated it by plugging in my TDEE (total daily energy expenditure) plus my exercise level. It actually made me happy because that "big" number gives me permission to log everything I eat.

Which sounds weird, doesn't it?

For years I've gotten really good at logging my calories until I hit 1,400 or 1,500 calories. Was I done eating? No, and those "invisible" calories never get logged. So using 1,800 as the upper level of my calories, I'm going to log every dang thing. I did it the past couple days and found it very doable.

On the days when I do a big cardio workout, I'll shoot for 1,800, on other workout days, anywhere from 1,600 to 1,700, and on days when I don't do anything, I'll keep it closer to 1,600. 

That's a "magic plan" I can get behind.

Starchy carbs, I wish I knew how to quit you

I took last week’s New York Times Sunday Review section to the gym this morning. It was the one with the giant multi-decker sandwich on the cover. The article, titled "Always Hungry? Here's Why," written by David S. Ludwig and Mark Friedman, poses the question:

“What if we’ve confused cause and effect? What if it’s not overeating that causes us to get fat, but the process of getting fatter that causes us to overeat?”

Things that make you go hmmm

To boil it down, the laws of thermodynamics go screwy in the presence of excess body fat, and you end up in a vicious circle of losing and gaining the same few pounds because your body is perfectly happy at its set point -- even if that set point is too high. Cutting back calories only exacerbates the problem as the body seeks its normal.


So what's the enemy? What can we blame?

Rapidly digested carbohydrates, aka, everything that isn't a broccoli or a chicken.

Dang it, I love those starchy things! But I know that my weight loss goes much better when I replace those foods with -- gasp -- fats.

And it totally effs with my mind.

But I really need to wrap my head around the fact that, for me at least, 100 calories of avocado is a better choice than 100 calories of bread. I've written about this before, I know, but the paradigm shift is so radical for members of "Generation SnackWell" that it bears repeating.

Put down the air-popped popcorn; pick up the almonds.

I thought about my breakfast as I read and pedaled on the bike. Two eggs scrambled with spinach and a couple pieces of gluten-free cinnamon-raisin bread. You wanna talk about rapidly digested -- most gluten-free products are as starchy as starchy can be. When you take out the wheat gluten (protein) you're often left with a low-fiber, low-protein product. Why am I eating gluten-free raisin bread? Because it's freaking delicious. (It's Rudi's, by the way. Celiacs, have at it.)

While I didn't have to completely forgo the bread, I could have been perfectly happy with one piece.

I read and pedaled some more, waiting for the "magic bullet" paragraph that would tell me exactly what I need to do to improve my weight loss. There really wasn't one but the recommendation is fewer refined grains, concentrated sugars and potato products.

(Cue the whining.)

It's funny -- I had a 100-calorie bag of popcorn this afternoon and it did NOTHING to satiate me. In fact, it made me want another bag of popcorn. Instead, I ate a serving of fatty, fat, fat pistachios and -- BOOM -- I felt satiated.

I'm not sure if I need to completely get rid of starches but they do need to go to the back burner of my go-to snacks.


Want to eat vs. should eat vs. need to eat

Breakfast lunch and dinner
In addition to getting myself to bed earlier, I've been trying an "everything old is new again" tactic the past couple of days:

Eating three meals a day.

I know! How old school. 

For years and years and years, I've been doing what the gurus have said and eating every 2 to 3 hours.

How's that workin' out for me? Not that great lately.

So to goose my hunger, satiety and fat-burning hormones, I started eating three 500-calorie meals a day. That leaves 100 calories of wiggle room for calorie discrepencies or abject arm-chewing hunger attacks.

I've read about the return to "three squares" in many places:

But Dr. Fuhrman explained it best on a recent episode of "The Dr. Oz Show," oddly enough, illustrated with a golf cart.

Watch this video HERE -- he gets into the science behind leaving more room between "eating occasions" at the 2-minute mark.

The upshot: Your body never gets a chance to burn any fat because it's busy burning the food that you keep sending down the pie hole every couple hours.

Makes sense to me. But of course I could scour the Internet and find just as many articles saying frequent small meals are the key to weight loss. 

Dr. Yoni Freedhoff, author of the new book "The Diet Fix," takes a "do what works for you" approach in his article "How often should you eat?" He cites the studies that show three protein-rich meals a day can be more satiating, but notes that he prefers to add in healthy snacks. 

Lemme tell ya, getting to 500 calories is hard when you eat at home! Eating at a restaurant, getting to 500 is pretty darn easy. In fact it's hard to stay below that, even when you order a "healthy" entree.

I'm not shoveling down Pop-Tarts or ice cream bars to get to 500. Instead I'm adding a fruit, yogurt, a healthy baked good or extra protein. Empty calories are a lousy way to fill your day and will only make you crave more of them.

Breakfast on Monday, for example, was two eggs cooked in a half tablespoon of butter, a piece of Rudi's gluten-free raisin bread, a navel orange and coffee with a couple tablespoons of half and half. Total calories: 380. See? I couldn't even make it to 400! And did you notice, no diet foods were harmed in the making of that meal.

Even though I didn't hit 400 calories, that meal at 8 a.m. powered me through an hour at the gym, errand running and a dentist appointment and I didn't eat lunch until 1:30. 

Haven't weighd myself yet to see how the plan is working but I'm noticing that the compulsion to eat between meals is slowly ebbing away.


Hello bloodwork, my old friend

Today's email from my doctor, on top of my (perfectly normal) mammogram results, read:

"Your cholesterol is much improved compared to last year. Your chemistry panel, glucose, liver enzymes are normal."


While most people would celebrate with a "whoo hoo! and a plate of cookies, I'm not satisfied.

While my HDL is over 50 and my HDL to LDL ratio is perfect, my LDL is a bit too high and my triglycerides are hovering around 200 -- at least 50 points too high.

Y'know what causes high triglycerides? Carbs. 

I like to think that I eat pretty darn healthfully but I do tend to veer toward the sweet side of the flavor spectrum. I eat far more fruit than vegetables and I love fruity yogurt and fro-yo.

So my latest eating project is to rethink my snacking. Over the past year or so I've been using more and more plain Greek yogurt adorned with a teaspoon or so of honey or maybe some dried fruit. I think I'll be sticking with the plain for the time being. I'll grab more salads and stuff more spinach into my smoothies instead of bananas.

I follow Dr. Melina Jampolis on Facebook and -- perfect timing -- she's running a Cholesterol Reduction Challenge this month. So I printed out her guidelines and in 60 days I'll get my blood rechecked to see how I turned things around. These are her guidelines:

  1. Aim for at least 25 grams of fiber per day.
  2. Eat at least 1 ounce of nuts or seeds daily.
  3. Eat at least 1 serving of the following daily: oats, barley, beans or psyllium.
  4. Eat at least 1 serving of fruit high in soluble fiber per day (apples, pears, berries)
  5. Go meatless at least once a week, more often if you can.
  6. Aim for at least 2 cups of colorful vegetables each day.
  7. Cut back on saturated fat (red meat, butter, cheese) and sugar as much as you can.
  8. Make the majority of your grains whole grains.
  9. Aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise every day. If you skip a day, do more the next day.

If you want to improve your numbers, you can still take part -- just go to her Cholesterol Reduction Challenge page. Oh, did I mention that there are cash prizes? You can win anywhere from $50 to $250.

This post isn't sponsored or anything -- I just happened upon Dr. Melina's challenge at the perfect time.