Nothing says summer has arrived like the Fourth of July! Just in time for an all-American backyard barbecue, we've rounded up the healthiest stories and links for you this week. While the holidays are meant to be enjoyed, you don't have to sacrifice all the work you put in at the gym this year. Follow these tips for an enjoyable, guilt-free Independence Day.
1. Upgrade your grilling experience. Marketing firm Symphony found that while Americans used to spend upwards of $1.7 billion on hot dogs and are expected to consume 150 million of them this Fourth of July, sales are down by about 3 percent. Not a fan of dogs? Elevate your BBQ game by grilling up one of these 12 tasty and surprising foods.
2. Skip the soda. Pepsi and Coke get their classic brown hue from caramel color, which contains 4-methylimidazole (4-MEI), a chemical listed as a carcinogen in California. Back in 2011, the state set limits for how much 4-MEI a soda can contain. While Coca-Cola responded by changing their formula nationwide, Pepsi has been slower to switch their caramel coloring, but the transition should be complete by February 2014, NPR reports.
In other carbonated news, Coca-Cola, the world's largest soda company, announced last week that it plans to invest more in stevia and is going to start selling a stevia-sweetened variety of its iconic soda in Argentina. For now it won't be available in the U.S., but because Coca-Cola owns 50 percent of the market in Argentina, it seemed a natural choice to start there.
3. Try a skinny cocktail instead. If you're feeling festive, skip the piña coladas and rum punch and have a Rocket's Red Glare or a Stars and Stripes instead. Both clock in at less than 200 calories and are the perfect patriotic thirst quenchers.
4. Don't forget your SPF. Not only can regular application of sunscreen prevent sunburn, it might also help turn back the clock. A recent study suggests that people who apply daily sunscreen have fewer wrinkles, less damage, and look younger. Since you'll most likely be spending a lot of time outdoors this holiday, don't forget to slather it on!
5. Take earplugs. Fireworks are an Independence Day staple, but can have a sound decibel of 150, meaning they can leave you with hearing damage. Ear protection is recommended for sounds above 85 decibels, so toss some ear plugs in your purse before you go.
6. Keep your kids active. Calling all moms and aunts: Studies have found that children are actually more susceptible to inactivity and obesity during the summer, perhaps due to the less-structured days. When you can't make it to the park, stream videos from Adventure to Fitness that will educate your kids while keeping them moving.