Do what’s right for your body – and your wallet. From dieting to dining out, Dr. Oz makes it easier for you to make the smartest decisions with his guide to the best and worst of 2010.
The Best and Worst for Weight Loss
With the surplus of goods and information available, it’s often hard to differentiate what actually works from what’s full of empty promises. Learn about the products that will help you to effectively drop the pounds, and avoid the ones that don’t deliver.
Glucomannan is a natural thickening agent derived from a root. It is used in Asia to thicken noodles and tofu. You can add glucomannan powder to thicken soups and stews; this added fiber will keep you fuller for longer periods of time and less likely to eat mindlessly. Glucomannan is also available in capsule form, and is available at most vitamin stores for under $10; take it with a lot of water.
Ephedrine dangerously speeds up the heart rate which can ultimately damage the arterial walls. The FDA has rejected three prescription diet pills this year alone. To learn more about the dangers of diet pills, click here. To learn about the diet shortcuts Dr. Oz would never take, click here.
Best: Inca Peanuts
Inca peanuts, grown in the Andes mountains and Amazon rainforest of peru, are loaded with vitamin E, and have 3 times the amount of omega-3s and twice the fiber as walnuts. An ounce of these nuts contains 5 grams of fiber – that’s 20% of the recommended daily value. They are also known as Sacha Inchi nuts and are available online or at health food stores for about $10 a bag. To learn more about Dr. Oz-approved superfoods, click here.
Worst: Anything in Bar Form
From granola bars to protein and meal replacement bars, anything that’s a bar is your worst weight-loss snack choice. Many are loaded with sugar and fat. Some are made with sugar alcohol to cut down on calories, but this often causes gas and bloating as side effects.
Best: Cayenne Pepper
Cayenne pepper is proven to boost metabolism and burn through fat. By adding spices like cayenne pepper to your diet, you can burn up to 50 extra calories a day. To learn more about other calorie-burning spices, click here. For your guide to boosting your metabolism after 40, click here.
Worst: Energy Drinks
Loaded with sugar and caffeine, energy drinks only give you a temporary boost. Your body can quickly burn through the sugars, but these sugars are inflammatory and damage your cells.
Best: Whole Wheat Pasta
Whole wheat pasta is has more fiber than white pasta. It’s low in sodium and fat, and high in protein to keep you satiated. Protein and high-fiber foods pass through your system more slowly so you won’t be hungry for hours.
Worst: Frozen Diet Meals
While these frozen meals brand themselves as healthy, diet-friendly options, many can be high in fat, sodium, simple carbs and sugar – and they don’t give your body the nutrients it needs. Your body absorbs these foods more quickly, and before you know it, you’ll be hungry again.
If you are going to buy frozen meals, follow Dr. Oz's guidelines:
Fat: Less than 4g per serving
Sodium: Less than 500 mg per serving
Cheese: None (Cheese has both fat and salt. You can add the cheese yourself – but practice portion control.)
Only One Compartment: Frozen meals with more than one dividing compartment usually means vegetables you won’t eat or an added dessert you shouldn’t eat!
No Bigger Than Your Hand: Keep your portions under control.
Click here to learn how to avoid fake health foods.
Lunges work the largest muscles in the body, so it burns the most calories as you exercise. You use your own body’s weight to get stronger and you need no special equipment. To try the workout Dr. Oz does every day, click here.
Most of us do sit-ups incorrectly and risk hurting our backs and necks. Try holding a plank position instead. This exercise engages all of your stomach muscles, arms and legs.
The Best and Worst at the Drugstore
The drugstore has dozens of aisles and thousands of products. When you’re searching for relief, it’s easy to make the wrong choice. Don’t spend money on products that don’t work or could be damaging to your health. Dr. Oz helps you navigate the drugstore successfully.
Best: Heating Pad
Actual heat from the heating pad relaxes tense muscles and eases the aches and pains away.
Worst: Menthol Muscle Ache Cream
There’s little evidence to support that menthol creams work. It also contains an ingredient similar to aspirin that can be toxic; be careful not to overuse these creams.
Research shows that sage extract, used every day for 3 months, alleviated symptoms of menopause, including hot flashes. For other hot-flash helpers, click here.
Worst: Evening Primrose Oil
There’s no evidence to show that evening primrose oil works. One study found that it had no greater benefit than placebo.
Best: Cough Expectorant
If you have a wet cough, you want your body to get rid of the phlegm. An expectorant thins the mucous that blocks the airways leading up to the lungs. Your body will be better able to move the mucous so you can recover more quickly.
Worst: Cough Suppressant
A cough suppressant is the worst option for a wet cough. They work by simply lessening your urge to cough – but this allows mucous to stay in your body and keep you sicker longer.
Best: Moisturizing Foaming Hand Soap with Olive Oil
Regular soap can effectively kill germs. Olive oil contains antioxidants like vitamin A and E that help to repair and renew skin damage caused by the sun and air pollutants.
Worst: Antibacterial Soap
There is no need for an antibacterial agent – regular soap works just fine. Antibacterial soaps are thought to lead to antibiotic resistance. To learn more about the threat of antibiotic resistance, click here.
Best: Probiotic Supplement
A probiotic supplement restores the natural flora and live cultures, or the good bacteria, that live in your gastrointestinal system. Look for a “broad spectrum” probiotic that has several strains to help with digestion. For more on constipation relief, click here.
Laxatives, especially those with stimulants, can actually become addictive. If overused, your body forgets how to move those digestive muscles on its own.
The Best and Worst Ways to Get a Good Night’s Sleep
Many Americans complain of exhaustion. Your daily habits could be robbing you of the sleep you need. Dr. Oz lists the best and worst sleep solutions.
Chamomile is a natural sedative and has anti-anxiety properties. A cup or two before bed can help you calm down and ease you to sleep. The smell of chamomile is also used in aromatherapy as a relaxant.
Wine alters your brain chemistry, resulting in a poor night of sleep. Studies have found that alcohol will put you to sleep faster, but it will reduce the amount of REM sleep you get, preventing you from feeling rested.
Best: Sleeping on Your Right Side
Sleeping on your right side allows your heart to have extra room during the night, so it doesn’t have to work so hard pumping blood. This position also fits the natural curvature of your spine. To learn about the best sleep positions for your body, click here.
Worst: Sleeping on Your Left Side
Studies show that people who sleep on their left side compress the heart. Those with heart disease also have a bigger risk of heart failure.
Best: Sleeping With a Humidifier
Humidifiers circulate air and moisture, keeping the membranes in the back of your throat moist. This prevents bacteria from getting stuck in your throat and making you sick. Humidifiers will also keep your skin from drying out.
Worst: Sleeping With a Fan.
A fan dries out your throat and trachea, making you thirsty in the middle of the night and disrupting your sleep. Fans also dry out the mucus in your throat and nasal passages, making these areas more susceptible to bacteria infections.
Quiz yourself on what it takes to really get a good night's sleep.
Best and Worst Herbal Supplements
Looking for a way to solve that pounding headache or soothe your aching joints? Dr. Oz lists his best and worst supplements, all for under $10.
Feverfew works by targeting the cause of migraines – blood vessels that don’t reach the brain. A member of the sunflower family, it contains the compound parthenolide, which helps prevent the constriction of blood vessels. Try taking 1200 milligrams, which will cost about $6 at a vitamin store. The learn more about the right and wrong ways to treat a headache, click here.
The key benefit of chamomile is relaxation, which is not the problem with migraines. Instead, try chamomile to de-stress.
This supplement has been shown to reduce pain and swelling by blocking the enzymes that cause cartilage breakdown. It can also increase mobility. The average dose is 1200 milligrams per day and it costs about $9 at a vitamin store.
Arnica comes from a plant and is primarily sold as a topical cream that soothes muscle aches and pains. It is also used for bruise, sprains and muscle aches. However, it won’t help your joints. Joint pain needs to be treated internally.
Best: Korean Red Ginseng
This supplement has been known to improve arousal for both genders. Take only about 600 milligrams a day and look out for some of the drug interactions, which can be dangerous. It costs about $7 at health stores. For a list of the best natural libido boosters, click here. For Dr. Oz's better sex diet, click here.
Yohimbe is derived from tree bark in Africa. It causes an increase in blood pressure and subsequently your heart rate. While you’ll get excited, it won’t be for the right reasons.
This supplement has anti-viral properties, which stimulate the immune system. It contains antioxidants, which help protect cells from damage against free radicals and also helps prevent respiratory infections. The common dosage is about 1200 milligrams per day every day. It costs about $5 at vitamin stores. To learn about which immunity boosters work and which don't, click here.
DHA is a steroid and a precursor of sex hormones in the body. No long-term studies on the supplement have been completed, so it’s important that you talk to your doctor before you consider taking DHA.
The Best & Worst Restaurant Meals
Dining out can lead to dieting disasters. Dishes that can seem healthy can actually be packed with fat or salt – making them the worst choices. Dr. Oz decodes the menus at your favorite restaurants, and identifies the best and worst options. Click here to learn 5 secrets the restaurant industry doesn't want you to know.
Best: Beef Enchiladas (520 calories and 28 grams of fat)
Worst: Vegetable Burrito (1490 calories and 68 grams of fat)
Enchiladas are made with mole sauce, which contains peppers, nuts, seeds and Mexican chocolate, making it a healthy choice. Burritos are often loaded with unhealthy extras like rice, sour cream, and cheese. Avoid these toppings for a healthy meal.
Best: Chicken Chow Mein with Crispy Noodles (700 calories and 10 grams of fat)
Worst: General Tso’s Chicken (1300 calories and 86 grams of fat)
This dish is fried and has a thick sauce loaded with sugar. For a healthier version, ask for the sauce on the side. To cut additional calories, eat Chinese food with chopsticks – you’ll eat slower and scoop up less oil than with a fork.
Best: Spinach and Cheese Ravioli (480 calories and 16 grams of fat)
Worst: Chicken Scampi (1070 calories and 53 grams of fat)
This dish is loaded with cream, butter and oil. Sauce on the chicken is like dressing on a salad; it can ruin what would be a healthy meal. For a healthier dish, choose tomato-based sauces.