Nutrition News Roundup: Winter 2021

Get up to date on the latest nutrition research and trends.

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Five Fab Foods for Sore Muscles

Limping after leg day? Accelerate recovery by eating these foods with pain-relieving properties. For the best rest, avoid caffeine, alcohol, and spicy foods that can cause heartburn several hours before retiring for the night.

  • Sweet potatoes help restore glycogen, which is needed to initiate muscle tissue repair.
  • Salmon has tons of high-quality protein as well as omega-3 fatty acids, which help combat inflammation to reduce muscle soreness.
  • Turmeric contains the antioxidant curcumin, which can decrease delayed onset muscle soreness by reducing muscle damage and promoting repair.
  • Cottage cheese contains whey and casein — quick- and slow-acting proteins, respectively — which are known for replenishing and repairing muscle fibers.
  • Pumpkin seeds are a top source of magnesium, which helps prevent lactic acid buildup and promotes better and sounder sleep.

7-Day Challenge: Quit Alcohol for a Week

Kicking alcohol to the curb has many benefits, including clearer thinking, improved energy and even allergy relief. But the all-or-nothing approach can be overwhelming for some, especially long term. The good news is that even short-term sobriety offers significant benefits: Two recent studies showed that those who abstained from alcohol for one month cited a sense of achievement, better sleep and weight loss as their top three benefits, and biomarker results showed improvements in blood pressure and insulin sensitivity.

If you’re sober-curious but like to have a special beverage now and again, there’s no shortage of mocktail recipes to try. Here’s one of our favorites.

Moscow Mule Mocktail

  • 3⁄4 cup ginger ale
  • 1⁄4 cup club soda
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 3-4 fresh mint leaves
Macadamia milk in jug

Spotlight On: Macadamia Nut Milk

Oat milk may be the darling of the current alternative milk trend, but macadamia nut milk is not far behind. It is creamier and has a thicker mouthfeel than other nut milks, is midrange for calories and fat, and is a good source of vitamin B12 — an important and hard-to-get vitamin for vegans. What’s more, macadamia trees don’t require heavy irrigation (as opposed to water-hogging almond trees) and are a non-GMO crop, making it a soil- and earth-friendly choice.


…the milligrams of caffeine that most healthy adults can safely consume in a day without adverse effects (equivalent to about 4 cups of coffee). Everyone responds to caffeine differently, however, so if you have overdone it and are experiencing rapid heart rate, shakiness, anxiety or insomnia, you can minimize these effects by drinking water, going for a walk or eating a fiber-rich meal, all of which help slow the release of caffeine into your bloodstream. And remember that caffeine doesn’t just come from coffee or energy drinks. It’s also found in leaf tea, matcha, soft drinks and dark chocolate, as well as in herbs such as yerba mate and guarana.

Blood oranges and clementines on a wood background.

Orange Is the New Fat (Burner)

Move over açai: oranges are back in our good graces. A small orange has more than 50 milligrams of vitamin C, about 170 phytochemicals, 60 flavanoids and 2.4 grams of fiber to improve digestion and keep you in the pink during cold and flu season. And research published in Nutrition & Metabolism found that people with a low intake of vitamin C burned less fat during exercise than those with an adequate C intake. Orange you glad you know that?

Choose Wisely, Sleep Soundly

From baked goods to comfort foods, we tend to overload on carbs during the winter months. However, overindulging in foods high on the glycemic index (GI) — those that raise blood sugar the most and the fastest, such as simple sugars and refined and processed products — may prevent you from getting quality sleep. A new study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that eating high-GI foods is a risk factor for insomnia, especially for postmenopausal women. Researchers theorize that the body responds to a quick rise and drop of blood sugar by releasing hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol, which can interfere with sleep. Rest easier by swapping high-glycemic foods for minimally processed, fiber-rich foods, such as these below.

High-GI Lower-GI
Mashed potatoes Mashed butternut squash
Couscous Quinoa
White rice Basmati rice
Pastries Fruit and nut mix
Pretzels Roasted chickpeas

Breathing New Life into Fiber

You know fiber is good for your gut, but a recent data analysis from the University of Nebraska Medical Center showed that an intake of 20-plus grams of fiber a day also can help ward off asthma. Fiber appears to reduce the systemic inflammation that causes ailments such as asthma, heart disease and arthritis. Breathe easier: Get your daily grams with this quickie meal plan, which allots you a total of 24 grams of fiber.

  • Breakfast: 1 cup oatmeal + 1⁄4 cup berries = 7 grams
  • Lunch: 2 cups leafy greens + 1 carrot + 1 tbsp chia seeds = 6 grams
  • Dinner: 1 cup cooked quinoa or brown rice + 1⁄4 cup cooked beans = 7 grams
  • Snack: 3 cups air-popped popcorn = 4 grams
Two carrots on white background

“A” Simple Way to Burn More Fat

Make the colder winter temperatures work to your advantage: A recent study showed that when exposed to cold, fat-soluble vitamin A moves out of storage in the liver and into fat deposits, helping convert that inert adipose tissue into metabolically active brown fat, which burns calories to generate heat and energy. The Recommended Daily Allowance for vitamin A is 700 micrograms per day (1,300 if you’re breastfeeding), but don’t throw back a handful of pills and do a polar bear plunge just yet. Simply eating five servings of fruits and vegetables — such as leafy greens, carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin and cantaloupe — can naturally provide up to 65 percent of your RDA for vitamin A. Throw in a few servings of eggs, tuna and full-fat dairy and you’ll be vitamin A-bundant.

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