Health-Food Fight: The Healthiest Buys at the Grocery Store
Food Face-OffTurkey Burger vs. Veggie Burger
The winner: Veggie burger
When made with ground breast meat, turkey burgers can be a lean source of protein. The reality? Premade patties are usually a blend of white and dark meat, so they can have five times the fat and up to 20 times more cholesterol than meat-free versions. "Veggie burgers also have about four grams of fiber and half the calories -- around 100," says Lori Lieberman, RD, a dietitian in South Weymouth, Massachusetts. They can be high in sodium, however, so choose a brand with 300 milligrams or fewer.
The winner: It's a tie.
"Agave syrup and honey both have 64 calories, about 16 grams of carbs, and between 14 and 17 grams of sugar per tablespoon," says Elizabeth DeRobertis, RD, the founder of the Nutrition Center at Scarsdale Medical Group in Harrison, New York. The kind of sugar, however, differs: Agave has a higher percentage of fructose to glucose, so it raises your blood sugar more slowly but may also trick your brain into thinking your stomach isn't as full as it actually is. More research needs to be done before experts can recommend one over the other; in the meantime, use the sweetener you think tastes better, but only in moderation. "The best way to sweeten yogurt or even baked goods is with whole or pureed fruit, as it contains fiber and nutrients that concentrated sweeteners don't," DeRobertis says.
The winner: Sweet potatoes
Sweet potatoes have about the same amount of fiber (four grams) as potatoes but 60 fewer calories. Where they really shine is in the vitamin A department: One sweet potato delivers 438 percent of your daily value, while a single spud serves up none. They also provide a third more vitamin C, which -- surprise! -- could help you score flat abs. "When your body's level of the stress hormone cortisol is chronically elevated, excess fat gets relocated to your abdominal area," says Erin Palinski-Wade, RD, the author of Belly Fat Diet for Dummies. "Vitamin C helps lower cortisol levels."
The winner: Steel-cut oats
While both types of oats are good sources of cholesterol-lowering soluble fiber, "the instant kind are rolled out and steamed before being packaged to make them cook faster," says Julie Kaye, RD, a dietitian in New York City. Steel-cut oats, however, are the whole oat groat (picture a grain about the size of barley) cut into two or three pieces. Because they're less processed, they take more time to digest, which means they keep your blood sugar steady and help you feel full for up to three hours -- twice as long as instant oats do.
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