Don’t Drink Your Wallet Dry!

man pouring water from a water purifying pitcher into a glassIt’s hot out, so make sure you’re drinking up!

You probably already know water is the best beverage choice for your health and for your money. But did you know bottled water may be costing you a fortune?

It’s true: Many people pay exorbitant amounts of money for bottled water without even realizing how inflated the price is.

So, let’s take a look at the costs of bottled water when compared to ordinary tap water.

For 1,000 gallons of tap water, it will cost you approximately $11. With that amount of water, you could fill 7,570 bottles of water at 16.9 fluid ounces each, with each bottle costing you just $0.0014!

Assuming you drink three 20-oz bottles of water a day, you’ll need 1,095 bottles a year. If you’d fill those bottles with tap water, you’ll only pay $1.53 a year!

There are many ways to get sweet-tasting water without busting your budget. Here are some options to consider:

DIY chilling
Love the taste and convenience of bottled water? Save big by buying your bottles in packs of 24 and refrigerating them at home instead of buying them cold on the go. Instead of $1 a bottle, you’ll pay just $0.16.

Water coolers
Water coolers cost an average of $170 and can help you fill all your water needs at home. After springing for the machine, you’ll only be paying for refills.

A 5-gallon refill of spring water will run you approximately $7. Order multiple bottles at once, and you can get discounts as steep as $5 a bottle. With each gallon filling 7.5 water bottles, you’re getting more than 37 bottles worth of bottled water for the price of one purchased bottle!

Pitcher filters
These contraptions snap right onto your pitcher of water and filter it on the spot. You can also purchase a pitcher with the filter already attached. Either way, you’ll have your bottled water needs met with just a one-time purchase averaging $20.

The downside here is the minimal amount of water a pitcher filter can purify in one shot.

Water treatment system
Having an indoor water treatment system installed in your faucet will give you access to unlimited amounts of filtered water. These filters average $250 to $400, but usually work with only one faucet. Some companies will install a purified water tap alongside your existing faucet instead of filtering it.

Take the tap challenge!
Tap water is definitely the cheapest way to drink up. If it’s a safe option in your area, try drinking only tap water for a month. It may just become a lifelong habit!

Here are some ways to make tap water more palatable:
Slice some citrus fruits and let them float in your pitcher.
Invest in a SodaStream to add some sparkle to your glass.
Freeze pureed blueberries and strawberries and use them as ice cubes.

Drink wisely this summer and save big!

Your Turn:
How do you hydrate? Share your own cost-effective water sources with us in the comments!


Health Benefits of Chocolate

A piece of chocolate a day keeping the doctor away? It may not be as absurd as it sounds

When one imaginesChoco_Featured the kind of indulgences that quickly derail diets, chocolate is certainly one of the first things to come to mind. It may come as something of a surprise, however, to learn that there are actually a number of health benefits to eating chocolate.

Before you go grab a whole handful of chocolate candies, it is important to understand the caveats. If you eat chocolate with reckless abandon, you will gain unwanted weight. Commercial chocolate products are high in added fat and refined sugar, which adds up to unnecessary calories. Eating chocolate to excess puts you at risk not only for weight gain, but also for high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes. As such, you should always eat chocolate in moderation; using a calorie-counting app to monitor your intake will help prevent adding on extra pounds.

It is also important to note that not all chocolate is created equal. Of all varieties of chocolate, dark chocolate, cacao and cocoa are considered by several experts to have the most beneficial qualities. According to Scientific American, a 2012 review of 20 different studies found that daily, moderated consumption of dark chocolate or cocoa resulted in an average drop of two to three points in blood pressure readings over a period of time.

To be sure that you are getting the proper benefits, Mary Engler, Ph.D., a professor of physiological nursing at the University of California at San Francisco, recommends to Women’s Health that, in a day, you eat no more than seven ounces of chocolate that consists of no less than 70 percent cacao or cocoa.

Just what are those benefits, though?

According to WebMD, if a chocolate product contains a sizable amount of nonfat cocoa solids, then it tends to have a high level of antioxidants. Dark chocolate in particular contains a great deal of antioxidants, which help rid your body of cell-damaging free radicals. Steady consumption of antioxidant-rich foods is associated with a lowered risk of cancer and a slowing of the aging process.

Reduced heart attack risk
The presence of flavanols in cocoa not only introduces antioxidants into the body, but the flavanols are also the ingredient best associated with lowered blood pressure and a lower risk of cardiovascular disease. According to Diane Becker, M.P.H., Sc.D., a researcher at the John Hopkins University School of Medicine, daily consumption of flavanol-rich dark chocolate can reduce the risk of heart attack by up to 50 percent due to its connection with slowing clotting in blood vessels.

Weight loss
Overconsuming chocolate will lead to gaining unnecessary weight, but according to the University of Copenhagen, tempered chocolate intake can actually help you shed pounds. The research also showed that eating a small amount of dark chocolate on a daily basis helps curb your appetite for other sweets and fatty foods. By indulging your sweet tooth within reason, you will better overcome the mental hurdle that comes with cutting junk foods out of your diet.

Rich in essential vitamins and minerals
Another added benefit of dark chocolate in particular is its high potassium, copper, magnesium and iron content. These vitamins and minerals are key components to ensuring your health: copper and potassium are useful in lowering your risk of stroke and heart disease; iron helps prevent anemia; and magnesium fights high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes.

Again, it should be noted that chocolate will only prove beneficial for your health if you consume it in an appropriate fashion. If you are able to regulate your intake and limit it only to the purest chocolates possible, then you may find yourself benefitting in a number of surprising ways.

Used with Permission. Published by IMN Bank Adviser Includes copyrighted material of IMakeNews, Inc. and its suppliers.

Five Tips for Sustainable Eating

Eat healthier by supporting locally grown products

Sustainable eating meansSustainableEating1 eating whole foods that come from a local source. Most sustainable foods do not have labels and do not come in a box. In addition, they are foods that minimize harm to the environment during the growth and production process. Locally grown fruits and vegetables, as well as protein from animals that are raised in a humane way by independent farmers, are considered sustainable foods.

Sustainable eating provides a healthier lifestyle for you and your family versus buying processed, boxed meals, often found on your neighborhood grocery store shelves.

It may be easier than you think to put healthier and more environmentally friendly meals on your dinner table. Follow these five tips to make sustainable eating a part of your everyday life.

Grow your own vegetables
Even if you live in an apartment or have a very small yard, it may be possible to grow your own vegetables. There is tons of information available on container gardening and growing in small spaces. Start with just a few plants and grow vegetables you know your family will eat and are easy to prepare. As you become more knowledgeable about gardening, add different varieties.

Buy from local farmers and/or farmers markets
You can practice sustainable eating by purchasing your produce and meats from your local farmers if you are unable to grow your own vegetables (or just not interested in gardening). Most communities offer farmers’ markets through the summer season, and some cities in warmer climates offer farmers markets year-round.

Learn the art of cooking
While it is possible to practice sustainable eating without knowing how to cook, a little cooking experience will take you far in your goals of eating whole and unprocessed foods. While you can begin with fruit and vegetable salads, eventually you might want to add roasted vegetables or stir-fries to your menu. Learning to prepare a few tried and true recipes will help you expand your family’s go-to menus.

Eat with the seasons
Fruit and vegetables taste much better in season, and they are far less expensive during that time. Adjust your eating habits to eat foods when they are in their prime. Eat apples and squash in the fall, and savor watermelon and berries in the summer.

Learn to preserve and store food
Although canning and preserving food is a lost art, this domestic skill seems to be making a comeback. Canning and preserving foods when they are in season lets you enjoy many types of food all year long. You will also know exactly what is in your food and can ensure there are no unknown or strange ingredients you cannot pronounce. Begin by preserving simple items (such as jam) and progress to more difficult tasks, such as canning meats.

With a little patience and practice, adopting a sustainable lifestyle around your dinner table is an effort that will yield big results in your family’s health and local environment.

Used with Permission. Published by IMN Bank Adviser
Includes copyrighted material of IMakeNews, Inc. and its suppliers.

Nuts for a Healthy Diet

If you’re looking for a nutNuts_Diet_2 that’s also a nutritional powerhouse, don’t let those popular peanuts fool you — they’re not nuts, but legumes. Instead, consider cracking open these five protein-rich tree nuts to nosh your way to a healthier you.

These teardrop-shaped nuts, both sweet and raw, are all-stars in the nut kingdom. Delivering delicious flavor and a favorite of fitness and beauty devotees, these gluten-free kernels are jam-packed with B-complex vitamins, like riboflavin and folates, that boost cellular growth. Add heavy doses of monounsaturated fatty acids and fiber and you also can lower your “bad” (LDL) cholesterol, prevent coronary heart disease, as well as colon cancer and constipation. Beauty devotees swear by almond oil’s ability to rejuvenate skin and hair by combating damaging oxygen-free radicals. Read more here.

Did you know there are 30 varieties of these all-natural snacks? Yet there is only one universal truth: antioxidant walnuts contain the highest level of omega-3 of all nuts. These essential fatty acids as are known to reduce the risk of dementia, cardiovascular disease and inflammation. Walnuts also receive props in the medical community for their ability to boost cognitive functions. It’s no wonder, then, these unshelled nuts look a little like the human brain. Lean more at

Frequently found in Mediterranean diets, these green-hued nuts are a go-to for diabetics because they stem a tissue-damaging process called glycation. For the rest of us, pistachios’ beta carotene, just like carrots, improves your vision function. Dieters beware: these seemingly harmless nuggets are high in calories (more than 550 calories per half cup). However, that may good news for underweight folks looking to tack on an extra pounds. For more information, visit webmd.

Strengthen your teeth and respiratory health with these low-calorie, starchy nuts, best known for roasting on an open fire. Chestnuts, an antioxidant high in vitamin C, also help repair tiny tears and leaks in blood vessels. European and Asian recipes frequently draw on these nuts, jam-packed with minerals, like iron, calcium, zinc and potassium, which thwart anemia and high blood pressure while boosting bone metabolism. Read more at

Need some sleep? Crunch a handful of magnesium-rich hazelnuts, also known as filberts, to catch a little shuteye. These natural sleep inducers also rank number one among tree nuts for their high folate content, which helps prevent neural tube birth defects. Also, complex nutrient compounds, called proanthocyanidin, reduce the risk of urinary tract infections and blood clots. Discover more benefits at

Remember, even these super foods can be turned into a dietary sabotage. Consume nuts that are raw, unsalted and not drenched in cooking oil to achieve maximum health benefits.

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Includes copyrighted material of IMakeNews, Inc. and its suppliers.

Going Green with Food

Purchasing locally sourced ingredients can lead to a healthier and more environmentally responsible lifestyle. More and more people are becomingLifestyle_Going_Green_With_Food1 aware of the environment and making a conscious effort to become more responsible. Without exception, food is one of the most important ways consumers can live a more efficient (and often healthier) lifestyle. A few simple changes can yield big results in your budget, health and environmental footprint.

Grow and can your own foods
Canning is making a comeback. Consider growing some of your own fruits and vegetables and “putting up” jars of fruits, vegetables or soups for future months. Not only is home-grown food healthier for you, but you can control the ingredients when it’s time to preserve them. Once you make the initial investment for supplies, canning can also be economical. Save your vegetable peels and organic leftovers for a compost pile – this provides rich soil that can keep your garden going. The USDA offers a free guide on home canning at the website

Purchase foods with minimal packaging
Select items with as little packaging as possible. Less energy was used in the production of those items, and there will be less waste once you open the food. Minimally packaged foods are often healthier choices, which is also an added bonus.

Shop at local farms and farmers markets
When possible, shop for fresh ingredients from local farmers. The produce will be noticeably fresher than the food you find at the grocery store, and your money will support your local economy (your friends and neighbors).

Eat at restaurants that buy from local farmers
When dining out, choose restaurants that buy from local farmers. You’re guaranteed a vibrant, healthy meal, and you’ll support a local business.

Avoid fast food restaurants with lots of packaging
Skip the local fast food joint, which gives you three bags, a drink carrier and a large plastic cup for purchasing a value meal. The excess packaging creates waste. The energy used in shipping the products across the country is not environmentally friendly, and the food itself may include processed products, additives and unknown preservatives.

Bring your own coffee mug
Many coffee shops now allow you to bring your own travel coffee mug with you when you purchase coffee. Some will even provide a small discount for providing your own cup. If you stop for coffee every morning, consider taking your own cup to prevent the waste of a paper cup each day.

Only buy what you need or can store for future use
Purchasing more food than you can eat (before spoiling) will just produce waste that must be composted or thrown in a landfill.

Keep a pantry of food
Having a stash of food will prevent you from running to the store more often than necessary. You will also be prepared if there is a large storm or power outage.

Use cloth grocery bags
Not only will you use less plastic by bringing your own bags, but you may save a few cents, as some stores provide a discount for using your own cloth bags.

Buy a reusable water bottle
A good water bottle can be used for years, and you’ll prevent hundreds of water bottles from going to waste.

A few small changes in your purchasing and eating habits can lead to a healthier and environmentally responsible lifestyle.

Used with Permission. Published by IMN Bank Adviser
Includes copyrighted material of IMakeNews, Inc. and its suppliers.