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Though food is supposed to be one of life's simple pleasures, few things cause more angst and confusion. It's no wonder why. We're constantly being told which foods we should eat to be healthy, which diets we should follow to be skinny, which preparation methods we should use to be safe, and which chemicals and contaminants in food we should shun to avoid illness. It's enough to give anyone indigestion.

If you're confused about what to believe, you've come to the right place. In "Coffee Is Good for You," I'll give you the bottom line on an array of popular diet and nutrition claims in a quick, easily digestible way. Research about diet and health rarely yields the equivalent of DNA evidence, which provides incontrovertible proof. All types of studies come with caveats. However, if interpreted properly, a body of research can allow us to make sound judgments about how believable a claim is.

Read more: Can Certain Foods Help You Burn More Fat?

Seeing the words "diet" and "fun" in the same sentence might seem like an oxymoron. When we decide to lose weight, ideas of deprivation, boredom, sacrifice and even misery usually come to mind. But they don't have to. Weight loss CAN be fun and enjoyable—if you have the right attitude and set out on your journey with the right tools—and rules—for long-term success.

Research shows that what we tell ourselves is a predictor of results. A positive mindset greatly increases one's chances of success, and when we make the journey towards any goal enjoyable, we achieve it with greater speed and stick with it for the long haul.

So throw out the "dieting" rules that make you feel deprived and bored. To start, follow these rules of weight loss that not only work—but actually make the process more fun! And whatever you do, focus on enjoying the journey, not just reaching your destination.

Read more: 13 Weight-Loss Rules You'll Love to Follow

Although barefoot running has been practiced in some parts of the world for hundreds of years, the concept has only recently gained popularity as an alternative to traditional running shoes in the Western world. The book "Born to Run," published in 2009, explored the patterns of distance runners who are able to avoid common injuries by running without shoes. This sparked a whole new interest in barefoot running and minimalist running shoes, which are lightweight and flexible and have very little padding or support. Proponents of barefoot exercise claim that the excessive support and cushioning of traditional running shoes leads to muscle weakness and injury, while opponents contend that running in minimalist footwear (or no shoes at all) doesn't provide enough protection or support.

Read more: The Pros and Cons of Barefoot Running

An interesting new study (University of Western Ontario) has isolated a substance found in tangerines that "not only prevents obesity, but also offers protection against type 2 diabetes, and even atherosclerosis, the underlying disease responsible for most heart attacks and strokes".

The substance – a flavonoid called Nobileton, has been shown to have anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer effects. Nobiletin also helps to lower cholesterol levels and some studies indicate that it may improve impaired memory loss and treat acne.

In this particular study, two groups of mice were fed a typical "western" diet – high in sugar & fat.

Read more: Got Fat? Get Tangerines

If you're seeking to reduce your caloric intake, then sugar substitutes are worth a look. Sweeteners like sucralose and stevia are 200 to 600 times sweeter than granulated cane sugar, and they contain 0 to 5 calories per 1 g serving. When used in moderation, they are a great way to help achieve and maintain a healthy weight. (Learn more about the science and concerns of artificial sweeteners here.)

We commonly think about sugar substitutes as colorful little packets at the coffee shop or on a restaurant table. In fact, these ingredients are primarily used to sweeten hot and cold drinks. But more and more, calorie-conscious home cooks are looking to these alternatives to help reduce the sugar content of their favorite desserts and baked goods.

Read more: Sweet Swaps: Baking with Sugar Substitutes

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