Category Archives: foods

Foods, Antioxidants, Vitamins, & Supplements for Immune System Health

One of the best ways to keep your immune system strong and prevent colds and fluis to shop your supermarket’s produce aisle.
Experts say a diet rich in fruits and vegetables can help you ward off infections likecolds and flu. That’s because these super foods contain immune-boostingantioxidants.
What are antioxidants? They are vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that protectand repair cells from damage caused by free radicals. Many experts believe thisdamage plays a part in a number of chronic diseases, including hardening of thearteries (atherosclerosis), cancer, and arthritis. Free radicals can also interfere withyour immune system. So, fighting off damage with antioxidants helps keep yourimmune system strong, making you better able to ward off colds, flu, and otherinfections.

Antioxidants for Immunity: Where to Find Them

Adding more fruit and vegetables of any kind to your diet will improve your health.But some foods are higher in antioxidants than others. The three major antioxidantvitamins are beta-carotene, vitamin C, and vitamin E. You’ll find them in colorfulfruits and vegetables – especially those with purple, blue, red, orange, and yellowhues. To get the biggest benefits of antioxidants, eat these foods raw or lightlysteamed; don’t overcook or boil.
Beta-carotene and other carotenoids: Apricots, asparagus, beets, broccoli,cantaloupe, carrots, corn, green peppers, kale, mangoes, turnip and collard greens,nectarines, peaches, pink grapefruit, pumpkin, squash, spinach, sweet potato,tangerines, tomatoes, and watermelon
Vitamin C: Berries, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cantaloupe, cauliflower, grapefruit,honeydew, kale, kiwi, mangoes, nectarines, orange, papaya, red, green or yellowpeppers, snow peas, sweet potato, strawberries, and tomatoes
Vitamin E: Broccoli, carrots, chard, mustard and turnip greens, mangoes, nuts,papaya, pumpkin, red peppers, spinach, and sunflower seeds
Other super foods that are rich in antioxidants include:
  • Prunes
  • Apples
  • Raisins
  • All berries
  • Plums
  • Red grapes
  • Alfalfa sprouts
  • Onions
  • Eggplant
  • Beans
Vitamins aren’t the only antioxidants in food. Other antioxidants that may helpboost immunity include:
  • Zinc: Found in oysters, red meat, poultry, beans, nuts, seafood, whole grains, fortified cereals, and dairy products
  • Selenium: Found in Brazil nuts, tuna, beef, poultry and fortified breads, and other grain products.
  • For optimal health and immune functioning, you should eat the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of the antioxidant vitamins and minerals. That’s the amount of a vitamin or nutrient that you need to stay healthy and avoid a deficiency.
    Here are the RDAs for some antioxidants:  
    Zinc: 11 milligrams for men, 8 milligrams for women; if you are a strict vegetarian, you may require as much as 50% more dietary zinc. That’s because your body absorbs less zinc when you have a diet rich in plant-based foods.
    Selenium: 55 micrograms for men or women
    Beta-carotene: There is no RDA for beta-carotene. But the Institute of Medicine says that if you get 3 to 6 milligrams of beta-carotene daily, your body will have the levels that may lower risk of chronic diseases.
    Vitamin C: 90 milligrams for men, 75 milligrams for women; smokers should get extra vitamin C: 125 milligrams for men and 110 milligrams for women.
    Vitamin E: 15 milligrams for men and women

    How Foods Boost Immunity

    Can’t you get antioxidants from taking a vitamin or a supplement? Yes, but you may be missing out on other nutrients that could strengthen the immune system. Foods contain many different nutrients that work together to promote health. For example, researchers delving into the mysteries of fruits and vegetables and the complex antioxidants they contain have discovered benefits of:
    • Quercetin: a plant-based chemical (phytochemical) found in apples, onions, teas, red wines, and other foods; it fights inflammation and may help reduce allergies.
    • Luteolin: a flavonoid found in abundance in celery and green peppers; it also fights inflammation, and one study showed it may help protect against inflammatory brain conditions like Alzheimer’s.
    • Catechins: a type of flavonoid found in tea; catechins in tea may help reduce risk of heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease.
    If you can’t get enough antioxidants in your diet by eating fresh produce, some experts recommend taking a multivitamin that contains minerals, too. But be cautious about taking individual immune system supplements to boost immunity. With antioxidants, as with most anything, moderation is key. Vitamins A and E, for example, are stored in the body and eliminated slowly. Getting too much can be toxic.

Top 10 Foods That Increase Sex Drive

Do you feel like your sex drive just isn’t what it used to be? You aren’t alone — many people feel that way at some point in their lives. In some cases, a decrease in libido may be due to a medical issue. For many people, however, the situation may be remedied without resorting to dangerous medications or other harmful supplements. These foods are natural, safe, and effective libido boosters.

1. Oysters – Oysters have long been suspected as a love drug. Cleopatra and Casanova had one thing in common, they loved oysters. Legend has it that Casanova ate dozens of oysters per day. The Venetian romancer once seduced a vestal virgin by seductively sliding an oyster from his mouth to hers. If that doesn’t get you in the mood, I don’t know what will! In fact, current research proves our suspicion. Oysters improves dopamine levels which boosts libido in men and women. Oysters are also high in zinc which is vital for testosterone production and healthy sperm.

2. Watermelon – Some experts have called watermelon the new Viagra. Bhimu Patil, researcher and director of the Fruit and Vegetable Improvement Center at Texas A&M University, stated eating watermelon delivers Viagra-like effects on blood vessels throughout the body and may increase libido! This cool refreshing fruit contains citrulline amino acid. Citruline is good for the cardiovascular system and helps relax the blood vessels that increase sex drive. 2 If you want to get in the mood, make this Watermelon Sorbet and share it with your partner. I’m all about the easy delicious recipes!

3. Chocolate – All chocolate comes from cacao bean. In its processed form it is known as cocoa. The Aztecs referred to cacao as nourishment of the Gods. Modern day foodies know raw cacao in its pure unadulteratedform is a superfood. It has more antioxidants than green tea or red wine. It also contains a stimulating chemical known as phenylethlamine, that stimulates the sense of excitement and well being. The Journal of Sexual Medicine published a study that found, women who enjoyed a piece of chocolate every day had a more active sex life than those who didn’t. I get my daily dose of raw cocoa with my Raw Cocoa Coconut Fudge Recipe. I eat it every day, and it’s literally a five minute recipe.

4. Asparagus – Known for its suggestive shape, asparagus is high in a B vitamin known as folate that aids in increasing the production of histamine. Histamine is important for a healthy sex drive in men and women.3 The most delicious asparagus is just picked, it is so sweet! Grow your own or buy it fresh and organic at your local farmers market.

5. Avacado – A recent report stated organic Sicilian avocados are taking Europe by storm. Apparently the Europeans can’t get enough of them. The ancient Aztec’s nickname for avocado was “ahuacatl,” or testicle because of the fruit’s shapely form. The Catholic Spanish priests found avocados so sexy, the forbade them to their parishioners.

6. Maca – Is known by many as Peru’s natural Viagra. Apparently this natural root has been known throughout Peru’s history as a sex enhancing root passed down by the Inca. According to Discovery Health’s medicine hunter Chris Kilam, the maca plant is used by the Peruvian culture to increase strength, stamina, energy, fertility and libido. Wow this sounds like a winning combination! Maybe I’ll start adding it to my morning smoothies.

7. Pumpkin seeds – Like oysters, pumpkin seeds are high in zinc which is essential for healthy sperm production and preventing testosterone deficiency in men. They are also loaded with libido vitamins and minerals like vitamin B, E, C, D, K and minerals including calcium, potassium, niacin and phosphorous.4 Next time Halloween comes around, now you know what to do with those left over pumpkin seeds, roast those babies.

8. Chiles – The stuff that makes chilies hot, capsaicin, can actually rev up your libido. Have you ever noticed a natural high when eating chilies? Capsaicin promotes the release of chemicals that can raise your heart rate and trigger the release of endorphins that give you a natural high, which pumps that libido!

9. Figs – Legend has it figs were one of Cleopatra’s favorite foods. According to Dr. Nalini Chilkov, L.Ac., O.M.D, figs have been prized as a sensual food for their resemblance of the female sex organs. The ancient Greeks valued figs more precious than gold and many cultures associated figs with fertility.

10. Garlic – Eating raw garlic may make your partner turn the other way in bed, but it can certainly stir up your sexual desire. The heat in garlic is what stirs up your libido. Garlic contains allicin, which is thought to increase blood flow to sexual organs. This trick doesn’t work overnight however, apparently you need to consume it for about a month to reap its rewards. If you can’t stand the raw garlic go for the capsules found at your local natural food market. 

Bad eating habits can be corrected by using the right workarounds

Published: September 24

We all have those moments when a fresh-baked cookie seems like a much tastier option than a fresh green pear. Or when potato chips on sale — and in bulk! — seem like a more fiscally sensible choice than pricey vegetables that might not last long in the refrigerator. With so many challenges to eating healthfully, can you really win the battle against bad eating habits?
Yes, with the right workarounds.
Here’s how to counter four common excuses that can get in the way of making good choices.
The excuse: Healthful food is too expensive.
How to fix it: Find the best nutrition deals.
Healthful food doesn’t have to be more expensive, says Dawn Jackson Blatner, a nutrition expert in Chicago and author of “The Flexitarian Diet.” If you’re looking for nutrient-dense but inexpensive foods, try fiber-rich grains such as barley and quinoa. Instead of planning meals around meat, choose less expensive proteins, including beans, eggs, skinless chicken thighs and canned salmon. And when buying fresh produce, get what’s local and in season, says Elisa Zied, a dietitian in New York and author of “Nutrition at Your Fingertips.” You’ll often save money, since the food didn’t have to be flown or trucked from a faraway place.
The excuse: It’s hard to eat healthfully at restaurants.
How to fix it: Do some research and plan ahead.
In particular, see if you can look up the restaurant’s menu online ahead of time. Many chain restaurants post nutrition information on their Web sites, allowing you to see which dishes best suit your dietary needs. If the restaurant you’re going to doesn’t provide nutrition information, scan the menu for grilled fish, chicken or vegetable dishes, which are often leaner and lower in calories than other items. Consider getting a baked potato or vegetables instead of french fries or mashed potatoes. And ask for salad dressings and sauces on the side.
The excuse: It’s too hard to change bad habits.
How to fix it: Try new, better-for-you foods — then try them again.
The best way to regularly get more-healthful food into your diet is to make it a habit. But that’s not always easy, especially since you might not like new items much the first time you try them. The trick is to keep trying them, according to Zied. “It can take up to 20 exposures to a new food for someone to accept it,” she says.
Experiment with different cooking techniques, temperatures and seasonings. Perhaps you prefer your asparagus grilled rather than steamed. Or maybe you find lentils more palate-pleasing with a little curry added.
“It helps to pair something you like with a food you’re not sure about,” Zied says. For example, if you like carrots but you’re wary of parsnips, chop them all up and saute them together. You’ll get a tasty dish with familiar flavors but twice the variety of produce.
The excuse: I don’t always know what’s healthful at the store.
How to fix it: Use the 50 percent rule.
Blatner offers this advice for grocery shopping: Your cart should contain 50 percent produce (canned, fresh or frozen), 25 percent lean protein (eggs, beans, fish, chicken, leaner cuts of meat and low-fat dairy) and 25 percent whole grains (breads, cereals, pasta and wraps). Read nutrition labels on packaged food and compare serving sizes, calories, saturated fat, sodium and fiber among similar products to make the best choices.
Other strategies to try
Eat breakfast. A meal of low-fat dairy, whole grains, fruit and protein is filling and sets a healthful tone for the rest of the day.
Avoid liquid calories. Skip sweetened drinks such as soda in favor of water, seltzer or tea. You’ll have more calories to spend on food.
Plan what you’ll eat. Plot out meals and snacks ahead of time so you have the right items on hand when you get hungry.
Eat mindfully. Turn off the TV, radio and computer, and focus on what you’re eating. This can make it easier to notice when you’re full.
Slow down. Savor each bite and chew it thoroughly. It gives your brain time to catch up with your stomach.
Don’t go shopping for food when you’re hungry. You’re liable to reach for higher-calorie food and overbuy in general.
Control portions. Use smaller plates (10-inch diameter or less) and keep serving dishes off the table.

Six of the best foods for diabetics

by PF Louis 

(NaturalNews) There are two forms of diabetes: Type one and type two. Both types involve imbalanced blood sugar and insulin issues. Insulin is the hormone that helps convert glucose into the cellular energy that’s needed for the cells to metabolize nutrients.

Type one diabetes is sometimes called juvenile diabetes because it usually occurs early in life. The pancreas doesn’t produce any or enough insulin and usually needs to be supplied externally.

That often means insulin injections by manual syringe, or an easier managed insulin injection pen, insulin pills, or a portable insulin pump.

The pancreas is usually functioning with type two diabetes, which normally occurs later in life. However, the body is insulin resistant, or not using the insulin well enough. Type two diabetes can often be controlled by exercise and diet while monitoring blood sugar.

Again, chronically high blood sugar is an indicator for both types of diabetes. But sometimes low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) occurs, especially with type two diabetes.

Many diabetic symptoms cross over with adrenal and thyroid issues as well as fibromyalgia. So it’s best to get your blood sugar tested to determine whether or not your health problems are diabetes related.

Foods for diabetics

Obviously, foods with high glycemic indexes (GI) need to be avoided. Those include refined starches and carbohydrates, sugar, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) honey, maple syrup, candies, cakes, and cookies. Synthetic sugar substitutes cook your brain cells.

Unsweetened fruit juices are short-term solutions for low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), but should be avoided unless diluted if one suffers from high blood sugar.

Did you know that many foods from fast food restaurants and processed foods off the shelf contain sugars even if they’re not meant to be sweet? Avoid them all. Buy bulk organic as much as possible.

(1) Veggies, especially greens, are items you can eat every day. Steamed veggies and raw salads are nutritionally beneficial for anyone and certainly if you have a low glycemic index.

Off-the-shelf salad dressings often contain sugar or other sweeteners. Use only unprocessed cold-pressed virgin vegetable oils, except soy, and vinegar or lemon/lime.

(2) Slice some avocado into your salad for taste variety and good nutrition. Avocados have low GIs. Avocados’ high omega-3 content contributes to healing chronic inflammation, which is often associated with diabetes; leading to other serious diseases.

Avocados are an excellent plant source of protein. (http://www.naturalnews.com/029864_avocados_health.html)

(3) Walnuts are also a good low GI source of omega-3. You can sprinkle them onto salads or veggies for a tasty change. Most other unsalted, raw nuts are also okay for diabetics. (http://www.naturalnews.com/032772_walnuts_omega-3s.html)

(4) Fresh wild (not farmed) fish, especially tuna or cold water salmon, are another high source of omega-3 with very low GI levels. All other meats are low GI high protein sources, if you are so inclined.

Then try to stick with grazing grass-fed livestock or poultry that’s free range, both to stem the excessive animal cruelty and avoid consuming the toxic antibiotics and hormones injected into factory farm animals.

(5) Grains are tricky. Obviously avoiding processed grains is necessary. But some whole grains have a higher GI (glycemic index) than you would think. Whole wheat is one of them. Quinoa and buckwheat are good substitutes. (http://www.naturalnews.com/036845_wheat_belly_weight_gain_gluten.html)

Organic brown rice may work for some diabetics since it is a complex carbohydrate that doesn’t convert to glucose rapidly. But most experts recommend diabetics not make brown rice an everyday meal.

(6) Various legumes (beans) can be added to a dish of brown rice for a delicious entree. Beans are high protein and fiber with lower GIs than potatoes. They can also be mixed in with veggies or prepared as a side dish. (http://www.naturalnews.com/025175_cancer_WHO_risk.html)

Sources for this article include:

http://www.ehow.com/about_5372662_safe-foods-diabetics.html

Six foods for a happy belly

by PF Louis 

(NaturalNews) What is a happy belly? Well, an unhappy belly will produce flatulence, bloating, nausea, cramps, and so called heartburn. You should be able to digest foods without any hassles, providing you don’t overeat. That’s a happy belly.

Considering that digestion begins in the mouth, it’s wise to chew your food thoroughly. In addition to reducing the food into smaller, easier to digest pieces, the saliva from chewing produces more digestive enzymes early in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract.

It’s also important to take your time and relax while eating. Rushed eating while stressed or hassled in any way will result in digestive stress that can create a very unhappy belly while depriving you of the food’s nutritional value.

Foods and beverages to help your belly’s happiness

As usual, organic food sources are the best choices. If you can purchase reliably clean raw milk for milk kefir, do so. Always use purified fluoride-free water.

Reverse osmosis is the best accessible system. Stations are available for filling containers in larger food markets. Make sure to re-mineralize with sea salt or some other mineral solution.

(1) Fermented foods provide probiotics that aid digestion and more. Having an intestinal flora microbial balance of 80 percent to 20 percent healthy bacteria to pathogenic bacteria is vital for even more than good digestion. It’s an important part of our immune system.

Without a well balanced intestinal flora stocked heavily with an abundance of healthy bacteria, Candida overgrowth is given a nice breeding ground. (http://www.naturalnews.com)

Fermented foods include sauerkraut, yogurt (unflavored and unsweetened) kimchi, miso, pickles, and tempeh or fermented soy, which is the only soy that’s consumable without digestive issues.

You can always add good honey or maple syrup to plain yogurts. Yes, you can make your own sauerkraut. (http://www.naturalnews.com/034788_sauerkraut_probiotics_recipes.html)

If you can get a good sourdough bread baked with sprouted grains without using bromide, that’s good for making your belly happy too. Sourdough is fermented. Sprouted grains reduce gluten’s harmful effects. Bromides block the enzyme that helps your thyroid produce adequate hormones for metabolism.

(2) Probiotic beverages can be as potent as some probiotic supplements, and a lot cheaper. Kombucha is a popular item that offers the same probiotic potential as fermented foods. Even more powerful are water and milk kefirs. You need starter grains specific to either purified water or milk, best to find raw milk.

Then you can make your own. (http://www.naturalnews.com/036419_probiotics_immunity_bacteria.html)

A woman who cured her really bad case of colitis with milk kefir showed this author how to make it. She didn’t even use raw milk, which is recommended. Here’s a good source for milk kefir starter grains with excellent instructions. (http://kefirlady.com/)

There are also several DIY kefir YouTube videos online.

(3) Prebiotic foods are essential for helping the healthy bacteria from probiotics flourish. They don’t contain healthy probiotic bacteria, but they provide the food energy to help probiotics maintain a GI tract stronghold.

Bananas, berries, artichokes, garlic, honey, legumes (beans) and whole grains such as brown rice are good prebiotic food sources.

(4) Apple cider vinegar is regarded as an excellent digestive aid by many alternative practitioners and nutritionists, but not so much by MDs and mainstream dieticians.

Us an apple cider vinegar that has not been pasteurized or filtered for best results. Before each meal, one or two tablespoons downed in a half glass of water can be beneficial. Water with meals should be room temperature for optimum digestion.

(5) When your stomach becomes unhappy, stay away from the Tums and try something healthier. Ginger root is one such choice. Only a few dare chew on a ginger root. It’s usually converted into a tea by peeling the root and cutting it into thin slices.

Make enough thin slices to cover the bottom of a pan, fill the pan with good non-fluoridated water from reverse osmosis. Simmer for 30 minutes after boiling. It can be refrigerated for several days. Ginger has been known to remedy queasy or cramping stomachs, and it’s good for general inflammation as well.

(6)The king of natural GI tract and stomach disorders is Aloe vera juice. Aloe vera juice needs to be shopped wisely. The cheap adulterated ones with preservatives or pasteurized stuff won’t cut it. Get only pure, whole unpasteurized aloe vera juice. Yes it’s pricier, but worth it.

Stomach ulcer sufferers swear by it. There have been many, many reports of Celiac disease and Crohn’s disease sufferers curing themselves with aloe vera juice, as well as some experiencing irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

With a disease as intense as Celiac, Crohn’s or IBS, it takes several days to a few weeks of daily use to get results. (http://www.naturalnews.com/021858_aloe_vera_gel.html#ixzz25fIbagIM)

Pure aloe vera juice has many, many other curative capabilities and health benefits. It has been clinically tested successfully on AIDS and cancer patients. (http://www.naturalnews.com/034738_aloe_vera_cancer_AIDS.html)

Melt away health harming belly fat with a nutrient-rich diet

(NaturalNews) Extra weight around the midsection is not only burdensome, it also sets the stage for serious health issues. From type 2 diabetes to cancer, belly fat contributes to a wide range of disease. Fortunately, certain foods have been found to specifically target abdominal fat. By integrating these foods into a balanced diet, a leaner and more healthful body is possible.

To comprehend the health risks of midsection fat, it is important to understand the different varieties. Subcutaneous fat is found just under the skin of the hips, buttocks, thighs and abdomen; whereas visceral fat is deep inside, surrounding the vital organs in the pelvis, abdomen and chest. This second type of fat can be extremely harmful to health. According to Kristen Hairston, MD, “We know that a higher rate of visceral fat is associated with high blood pressure, diabetes and fatty liver disease.”

Belly fat burning foods

Monounsaturated oils are especially effective in diminishing abdominal fat. A study at the Reina Sofia University Hospital in Spain observed a group of overweight individuals who were put on four different diets for a month. All ate the same amount of calories per day, but had varying ratios of carbohydrates and fat. The researchers found that the group who consumed monounsaturated fats had the best results in losing extra weight around the midsection – even without exercise. Good sources of monounsaturated fat include avocados, nuts, seeds and olive oil.

Dark chocolate is also rich in this slimming fat. Research has shown that when men consumed 3.5 ounces of dark chocolate two hours before a meal, they ate 17 percent fewer calories compared with those who consumed milk chocolate. Organic, raw chocolate that contains at least 70 percent cacao is optimal.

Soluble fiber found in vegetables, fruit and beans target abdominal fat as well. According to a study at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, fiber intake directly affects midsection fat. Participants reduced visceral fat 3.7 percent over a five year span simply by consuming an additional 10 grams of soluble fiber per day. Those who also included moderate exercise had a total fat loss of 7.4 percent.

Another belly fat blasting food is coconut. A study in the journal Lipids found that coconut oil reduced abdominal obesity. The double-blind clinical trial involved 40 women between the ages of 20 and 40. Each group received either soy bean or coconut oil dietary supplements during the 12-week period. All participants adhered to a balanced diet and walked 50 minutes each day. At the end of the study, a decrease in total body mass was seen in both groups, but only the women who consumed coconut oil saw a reduction in waistline circumference.

Sources for this article include:

“Delicious, fatty foods that will help you lose weight” Mike Oliva, News Room Jersey, July 19, 2012. Retrieved on July 22, 2012 from: http://www.newjerseynewsroom.com

“Effects of dietary coconut oil on the biochemical and anthropometric profiles of women presenting abdominal obesity” Assuncao ML, Ferreira HS, do Santos AF, Cabral CR Jr, Florencio TM, Lipids, 2009, Jul:44(7):593-601. Epub 2009 May 13. Retrieved on July 22, 2012 from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19437058

“Soluble Fiber Strikes a Blow to Belly Fat” Science Daily. June 27, 2011. Retrieved on August 1, 2012 from: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110627123032.htm

“Flat Belly Diet Cookbook” Liz Vaccariello, Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD, 2008 Rodale Inc.

Learn more: http://www.naturalnews.com/036872_belly_fat_nutrients_fat-burning_foods.html#ixzz2467tOTBP

Foods that are good–and bad–for your heart

By Robert Davis, Published: February 6

If you’re trying to eat a heart-healthy diet, figuring out what to believe can be overwhelming. The advice we get on everything from eggs to olive oil is often confusing and maddeningly contradictory.
Ironically, this growing confusion comes at a time when scientists who study nutrition know more than ever. Too often, though, we hear about only the latest study (which may be poorly designed) or research that’s cherry-picked to support an agenda. That’s like seeing one or two pieces of a jigsaw puzzle and trying to determine what the entire picture is.
To know what the science really shows, it pays to look at all the evidence, assigning greater weight to studies that are more rigorous. In many cases, this can give us a reliable indication of what’s really good or bad. Based on a thorough review of research, here’s what’s believable — and what’s not — regarding some familiar claims about heart health.
Nuts are good for your heart
True. Once regarded as high-fat nutritional villains to be avoided at all costs, nuts are now touted as a health food that can ward off heart disease. And perhaps rightly so. Several large cohort studies (the type in which people are asked about their dietary habits and then followed for years or decades) have consistently found lower odds of heart disease and heart-related deaths among nut eaters, regardless of sex, age, location or occupation.
These findings are bolstered by results from clinical trials demonstrating that nuts lower LDL cholesterol levels, the kind associated with an increased risk of heart disease. Nuts also appear to decrease inflammation in arteries, which may contribute to heart attacks.
So which nuts are best for you? If you listen to producers of walnuts, almonds or peanuts (which, technically, aren’t nuts but legumes), each will tell you that its nut is superior because of some ingredient it contains. The truth is that it’s impossible to say which is best because no one has done a head-to-head comparison.
All nuts are relatively high in unsaturated fats, which are thought to be good for the heart. And all nuts are relatively high in calories, so it’s important to pay attention to portion sizes. About a handful a day is enough to reap health benefits. It may even promote weight loss by helping you feel full. But going nuts and overindulging can lead to extra pounds.
Oats lower cholesterol
TRUE. Oats contain a type of soluble fiber known as beta-glucan, which is also found in barley. It’s thought to lower cholesterol by binding to bile acids and removing them from the body. Bile acids are made from cholesterol, so when the body has to deploy more of its cholesterol to help replace the eliminated bile acids, there’s less of it in the blood.
The Cochrane Collaboration, an independent group that assesses the evidence for various treatments, conducted an analysis in which it pooled results from eight randomized studies involving people with elevated cholesterol and other risk factors for heart disease. Subjects assigned to eat oat cereal every day lowered their total and LDL cholesterol levels seven or eight points more than those on a diet of refined grains. The studies lasted only four to eight weeks, so we don’t know about long-term effects.
To see a benefit, you need three grams of beta-glucan a day, which you can get from 1.5 cups of cooked oatmeal, three cups of instant oatmeal or three cups of Cheerios. Unfortunately, oatmeal cookies don’t count.
Fish oil protects your heart
True. Decades ago, scientists discovered that Greenland Eskimos rarely died from heart disease despite a diet high in fat from fish. Researchers theorized that the fish fat was somehow protective, an idea that subsequent research has largely supported.
Several cohort studies show that people who regularly eat fish are less likely to die of heart disease than those who don’t eat fish. Randomized trials involving heart attack survivors have found that subjects given fish oil supplements were less likely to die of heart disease than those who didn’t take the capsules. And in a randomized study of people with high cholesterol, participants who took fish oil had fewer heart attacks and deaths from heart disease.
The key ingredients appear to be the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, which are found in most fish but especially in oily ones such as salmon, mackerel, trout, sardines and tuna. Studies suggest that these fats may help relax blood vessels, reduce blood pressure, prevent abnormal rhythms and lower blood fats known as triglycerides.
While the evidence of benefits is strong for people who have heart disease or are at high risk for it, it’s less clear whether fish oil wards off heart attacks in those at low risk. Still, it seems reasonable to follow the American Heart Association’s recommendation and eat oily fish at least twice a week. People with heart disease are advised to get twice as much, or 1,000 milligrams per day of EPA and DHA combined.
Eggs cause heart disease
False. Researchers have conducted a number of long-term cohort studies on eggs and heart disease, which have collectively followed several hundred thousand people. In general, the research has exonerated eggs: Eating up to six a week was not associated with a higher risk of cardiovascular disease (i.e. heart attacks and strokes).
So how can this be if egg yolks are high in cholesterol? Most of our cholesterol is made by the liver, which ramps up production when we eat saturated and trans fats. But cholesterol from food appears to have little impact on most people’s cholesterol levels. And in people it does affect — so- called hyper-responders — studies show there can be an increase in good (HDL) cholesterol along with the bad kind, which helps offset any increased risk. Further, dietary cholestrerol may also result in larger LDL particles, which are thought to pose less of a threat than smaller ones.
Eggs are relatively low in saturated fat, and they contain unsaturated fats, which may be beneficial. Plus, they’re a good source of protein and several vitamins and minerals. They can be a healthful and more filling alternative to high-calorie muffins, bagels and sugary cereals.
Olive oil is the most healthful oil
False. Olive oil is often singled out as an especially heart-healthy vegetable oil because it’s high in monounsaturated fat. But it’s also lower in polyunsaturated fat than other oils. Both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are considered good fats that may reduce the risk of heart disease.
Which of these fats is better for us is unclear. Some research suggests that polyunsaturated fats may have an edge when it comes to lowering LDL cholesterol, while monounsaturated fats may result in higher HDL cholesterol. One analysis called it a draw, concluding that replacing saturated fat with either monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fat has an equally beneficial effect on cholesterol levels. Another found that substituting monounsaturated for saturated fat was associated with an increased risk of heart attacks, while polyunsaturated fat was linked to lower odds.
While these results aren’t necessarily an indictment of olive oil, they poke holes in the notion that its high levels of monounsaturated fat make olive oil more healthful.
Another theory is that olive oil antioxidants known as polyphenols make it more healthful than its rivals. Research suggests that virgin and extra-virgin oils, which are high in polyphenols, may be more heart-healthy than refined olive oil. But the evidence is preliminary and doesn’t shed much light on how virgin olive oils stack up against non-olive oils. The upshot is that other oils, such as canola, may be just as healthful as olive oil, possibly more so.
Coffee is bad
False. Cohort studies, which followed tens of thousands of people for many years, have found that coffee drinkers have no greater risk of heart attacks or strokes than those who abstain; indeed, they appear to have a slightly lower risk. Though coffee can temporarily increase blood pressure, there’s little evidence that it causes hypertension. Coffee drinkers appear to live just as long as abstainers, maybe even slightly longer.
One possible reason for the apparent benefits is that coffee is rich in antioxidants. Though some studies have found that as many as six cups a day are associated with benefits, that’s more than health authorities recommend because of the potential side effects of caffeine, which include insomnia, jitters and stomach upset. For many people, the biggest health risk from coffee is weight gain. Though a cup of black coffee has only two calories, that number can rise dramatically if you add cream and sugar or drink blended beverages, which can have several hundred calories.
Margarine is better than butter
Half-true. Margarine, which is made from vegetable oils, is lower in saturated fat than butter. But the process of converting those oils into solids can result in trans fats, which may be even more hazardous to the heart than the saturated kind.
Cohort studies have found that people who eat the most margarine have a higher risk of heart disease than those who use it only rarely. In other studies, researchers had subjects eat various types of spreads and then measured the effects on cholesterol levels. Compared with butter, margarine lowered LDL cholesterol, but it also reduced HDL, the good kind. The big loser in this face-off was stick margarine, which fared worse than butter. Semiliquid margarine, on the other hand, proved to have a more beneficial effect on cholesterol levels than butter.
Manufacturers have introduced some margarines that are low in saturated fat and virtually free of trans fat. That makes them a better option than butter. Still, margarine isn’t exactly a health food. Nor is butter. Your best bet is to minimize your use of both margarine and butter, going instead with healthful vegetable oils whenever possible.
Chocolate is good for your heart
Half-true. Cocoa, a main ingredient in chocolate, is high in antioxidants known as flavanols, which are also found in red wine, tea and certain fruits. Though the evidence overall is mixed, some cohort studies have linked high flavanol intake with lower rates of heart-related deaths. Generally, dark chocolate is higher than milk chocolate in flavanols.
Small, short-term experiments — many of them funded by the chocolate industry — show that chocolate (especially the dark variety) can lower blood pressure, improve blood vessel function, reduce inflammation in arteries and make blood less likely to clot. Even though it’s relatively high in saturated fat, studies show that chocolate doesn’t raise LDL cholesterol and may even lower it. One reason may be that some of the fat is a type known as stearic acid, which doesn’t adversely affect cholesterol levels.
Several European cohort studies of elderly men, middle-aged adults and heart attack survivors have linked greater chocolate and cocoa intake to lower rates of heart attacks, strokes and premature death. But since the chocolate consumed in Europe tends to contain higher levels of cocoa than the chocolate typically eaten in the United States, it’s unclear whether the findings apply to American chocolate eaters.
Many chocolate trials have fed subjects 31 / ounces a day. To get that amount, you’d need to eat two or more standard-size candy bars, which add as many as 500 calories and lots of extra pounds. That’s hardly a formula for better health. Nor is consuming the large amounts of sugar that are typically added to chocolate. Look for products that list cocoa or chocolate liquor — and not sugar — as the first ingredient.


Reprinted from “Coffee Is Good for You” by Robert J. Davis, PhD, by arrangement with Perigee, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc. Copyright 2012 by Robert J. Davis, PhD, MPH. Davis teaches health communications at Emory Unversity’s Rollins School of Public Health.

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Eat Like Laird Hamilton



Eat Like Laird Hamilton – Best Life Magazine

A big-wave legend’s 10 rules for eating healthfully

People think I look as good as I do at 44 because I exercise a lot. That’s only half the equation. The other half is what I eat. I love Japanese food. I love Hawaiian food. I love food in general. But I don’t eat haphazardly. I eat for performance and health, and let’s not forget pleasure. Those are the elements of what I call “food intelligence.” Not that I’m obsessive. My meals don’t take three hours to prepare, I don’t measure food by the gram, and if I get into a position where I have to eat an airplane meal or a Big Mac, I’m not going to love it, but it won’t put me into toxic shock. Instead of being like a high-performance car that is sensitive to any impurities in the fuel, I’m more like a diesel truck. If a little water gets in there, it’s still going to be okay. Here’s how I power my body.

1. Push Start
I like to begin the day at the blender with a smoothie. My favorite recipe contains five supplements that help me optimize my nutrition. A single tablespoon of Catie’s Organic Greens, for instance, equals seven servings of green vegetables. I also add apple or cherry juice and frozen bananas and berries for a nice consistency. My morning smoothie gives my body a huge amount of nutrients, which are easily absorbed because liquids are easier to digest than solids. Less than an hour later, I’m ready for whatever activity is on the agenda.

2. Don’t Graze
I don’t like to eat unless I’m hungry. When I sit down to a meal, I want my body to be in a state of craving. Not eating until you’re hungry means you’re not snacking much, if at all.

3. Chew Slowly
All too often we take our food for granted. I’m always reminding myself to eat more consciously, to savor what I’m chewing. Nature has given us millions of unique flavors. Our job is to explore and appreciate them. It also makes you hyperaware of how much you’re eating.

4. Eat Real Foods
Be wary of any food that has been created by humans rather than nature. The ingredients on the labels of processed foods, such as the average cracker or potato chip, are mind-boggling. If I don’t know what it is, it’s not going into my body.

5. Be Diverse
The food universe is vast, and in it there are hundreds of nutrients, minerals, enzymes, essential fatty acids, bioflavonoids, phytochemical, all kinds of elements. Each one provides something unique to our cells. That’s why the more diverse your diet, the healthier you’re going to be. Mix it up when you grocery shop. Don’t just buy the same stuff every time.

6. Experiment
Eating colorful, interesting foods exposes me to new flavors, and that’s really what makes eating fun. There are countless things you can try, but strange fruits, vegetables, and grains, such as acai berries, seaweed, and quinoa, are becoming easier to find. A palm fruit native to the Brazilian Amazon, has 30 times the amount of antioxidants of red wine. Try mixing it with bananas and granola for breakfast. Edible seaweeds such as limu kohu and nori contain minerals and elements you won’t get anywhere else. Next time you have sushi, try a seaweed salad instead of edamame. Quinoa, unlike other grains, is a complete protein, which means it contains all nine essential amino acids.

7. Listen to Your Body
Cravings have a bad reputation because they’re often related to sweets, but I think they’re the body’s way of indicating that it’s looking for something. Listen to your body to figure out what the craving really means. If my body wants sugar, I eat fruit, such as papaya or pineapple, instead of candy or doughnuts.

8. Don’t Be Thrifty
People say that buying quality food is too expensive, but then they’ll go out and buy giant plasma TVs. So you’re eating like crap but you’re staring at a nice screen? I don’t understand that logic. Instead, budget so that you can spend a little more money for better food. In particular, be sure to upgrade anything you eat on a regular basis. If you have coffee every morning, for instance, buy the best beans you can find. Or, even better, drink espresso. It contains less caffeine than drip coffee, delivers more antioxidants, and isn’t as acidic.

9. Skip Starches
If I eat any bread, it makes me want to go to sleep. In general, I avoid wheat and other starchy foods such as potatoes, rice, and pasta. I’m not saying I’ll never eat a waffle or a sandwich, but it’s a rare thing, and I’m not going out of my way to do it.

10. Eat Sustainable Foods
If you eat meat or seafood, look for terms such as free range, grass fed, organic, or locally caught. The closer it is to wild, the better. Sadly, one of my favorite wild foods is tuna. Buy only yellowfin or ahi, and make sure it’s caught by trolling or with poles; long-lining produces bycatch, which means that other ocean creatures are wastefully killed in the process.

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Cinnamon: The latest hope for Alzheimer’s? | Health

Can an extract from this fragrant spice ward off the devastating brain disease – and maybe even diabetes?

Cinnamon

Researchers discovered that an extract in the cinnamon can delay the effects of five aggressive strains of Alzheimer’s-inducing genes.
A new Israeli study shows that the common spice cinnamon seems to delay the progress of Alzheimer’s disease, a degenerative brain condition.
The research builds on the work of Prof. Michael Ovadia of Tel Aviv University, who discovered about a decade ago that an extract of cinnamon — one of the aromatic ingredients in the incense used in the ancient Jewish Temple – has powerful anti-viral properties.
Curious about other applications, Tel Aviv University PhD student Anat Frydman-Marom added Ovadia’s cinnamon extract, CEppt, into her line of research on compounds that may fight Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. Initial results surpassed her expectations and took her research in a new direction.
Now her work has the sweet smell of success: CEppt can delay the effects of five aggressive strains of Alzheimer’s-inducing genes, according to a multi-lab research paper co-authored by Frydman-Marom, Ovadia, Ehud Gazit, Daniel Segal and Dan Frenkel in the medical journal PLoS ONE.
Could help diabetes as well
Using in-vitro tests and then Drosophila fly and mice models, the team of scientists found that amyloid plaques, which can lead to Alzheimer’s, had been dissolved by CEppt.
The extract also showed pharmacological properties that could be more effective against Type 2 diabetes and Parkinson’s disease than other compounds they were studying, Frydman-Marom tells ISRAEL21c.
The notion that cinnamon works to fight disease is “for me, a matter of fact, but it’s also a spiritual story,” says Frydman-Marom, referring to the biblical connection.
In their paper, the researchers note that cinnamon is one of the world’s oldest herbal medicines, mentioned in Exodus, Proverbs and the Song of Songs, as well as Chinese texts as old as 4,000 years.
The special healing abilities of cinnamon are due to components such as cinnamaldehyde, eugenol, cinnamyl acetate and cinnamyl alcohol, and a wide range of other volatile substances like safrole, coumarin and cinnamic acid esters.
Scientists have already shown cinnamon can help control blood sugar and has both anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties. The researchers hope that this novel material, as a food additive, drug or vitamin, could be used in younger people to prevent the effects of Alzheimer’s later in life.
“My lab was in charge of the fly work, and in part was involved in the in-vitro work,” Segal tells ISRAEL21c. “It’s exciting because it seems we are onto finding some kind of molecule that may be able to alleviate some, if not all, the symptoms of Alzheimer’s so this could be prevented in younger ages, and in older ages too.
“Since it is an edible fraction of a common edible plant, it should be quickly translated to compounds made available for users pending doctors’ instructions. As a food additive in combination with others, we expect it to be highly effective,” Segal adds.
He believes that some health benefits could be derived from drinking cinnamon tea, but cautions against self-medicating, since the bark-derived spice also has elements that can be toxic in large doses.
But it’s certainly a pleasant material to work with, notes Frydman-Marom. “It’s very nice to work in the lab — where everything smells so bad — and then suddenly everything smells like cinnamon.”

>Food shock: what the labels don’t tell you

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(This article is adapted from the June 2011 issue of Consumer Reports ShopSmart magazine.)

You could be eating meat and drinking milk from cloned or genetically modified animals without knowing it. The reason: the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not require labeling on most products that contain genetically engineered plant materials, or on meat and milk from cloned animals. So there’s no way for consumers to tell.

The agency claims that such labeling could confuse consumers and turn them away from products that currently are deemed safe.

The genetic engineering issue has caused problems with imports and exports because the U.S. government stands virtually alone in its opposition to such labeling. Many importing countries require it and labeling is authorized by international guidelines.

Where the modified genes are

Genetically modified versions of corn, soybeans, canola, and cotton are widely sold in the U.S. The grains make their way into lots of stuff—an estimated 60 to 70 percent of processed food sold has genetically modified ingredients.

Last fall, AquaBounty Technologies petitioned the FDA for approval to sell salmon that is genetically engineered to grow at twice the normal rate. If approved, it would be the first genetically engineered animal to enter the U.S. food supply.

Along with other consumer and environmental organizations, Consumers Union (CU), the nonprofit publisher of this website and Consumer Reports, testified against the AquaBounty petition. CU’s testimony cited concerns that the fish could trigger or worsen allergic reactions, and also noted the overall lack of solid safety data.

The labeling of genetically modified fish also came under debate. CU noted that the FDA should require labeling based, in part, on the fact that the inserted genetic material, which is from the Chinook salmon growth hormone gene, and the resulting products are man-made food ingredients.

In addition, CU pointed out that FDA should require labeling to insure that any unexpected or unintended effects of engineering this salmon come to FDA attention. The decision whether to approve the salmon is on hold while the FDA is gathering more information.

What you can do

If you’d prefer to avoid milk and meat from cloned cows and genetically modified plant ingredients, you should buy products labeled “USDA Organic.” According to our Eco-label center, there also are some other reliable labels certifying “no genetic engineering.” They include: the Food Alliance (FA) label; the Maine Quality Trademark Seal.

Unlike the labels above, a label claim, such as “GMO-free,” is not independently verifiable or meaningful, according to our Eco-label center.

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