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Spring Diet Makeover

Are you ready to shed those bulky winter clothes? Follow these four diet makeover tips for a healthier, fitter springtime you

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3. Think Green. When it comes to beverages, green tea is a healthier choice than soda, says Molly Kimball, RD, sports and lifestyle nutritionist at the Ochsner Clinic's Elmwood Fitness Center in New Orleans. One can of regular soda has about 140 calories, says Kimball, which translates into 9 teaspoons of sugar. Green tea, on the other hand, has 0 calories (if you skip the pre-sweetened variety).

Study findings reported in the January 2005 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition report that substances known as catechins, which are found in green tea, may stimulate the body to burn calories, in turn decreasing body fat. These same catechins are also rich in anti-inflammatory and anticancer properties, giving green tea even more of a punch. An added bonus: Green tea can be as satisfying as a frosty cold soda. Look for different varieties; pear green tea, for example, served iced, will make a tasty and refreshing drink in the hot months to come.

4. Chocolate Break. "One square of good-quality chocolate can go a long way in curbing cravings," says Ochsner Clinic's Molly Kimball. That means, yes, chocolate is not only permitted in a healthy eating program but actually encouraged. But stick to dark chocolate, says Kimball. Not only does the stronger flavor give you more satisfaction for every bite, but the antioxidant properties of dark chocolate have been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, lower blood pressure, and diabetes. Dark chocolate is also a good source of magnesium, iron, and potassium, and it boosts serotonin, which can have a positive influence on your mood

"Having a piece of chocolate every day is relaxing, indulgent ... and healthy," says Kimball. "Not to mention, it tastes good!"

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Reviewed on March 03, 2008

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