Category Archives: Antioxidants

Experts offer tips on keeping your brain healthy

You can always do more to take better care of your brain, even if you haven't been experiencing any memory problems. In fact, a handful of Texas-based researchers have focused their efforts into finding more information on brain health, in order to help brains nationwide stay in better shape.

"The more knowledge we can share about the brain, the more we can empower individuals to take charge of their cognitive health," said Sandra Chapman, Ph.D., of the Center for BrainHealth at the University of Texas (UT).

As an ongoing yearly tradition at UT, Chapman and her associates are planning to host a series of lectures they've titled "The Brain: An Owner's Guide." This year, the speakers will focus on how the brain controls thought and action, decisions and emotions that affect our lives, and how the internet has changed the way brains work.

Chapman also recently published a book on the subject on brain health, titled "Make Your Brain Smarter." In the tome, she presents the theories that aging does not impact brain health the way many people assume it does. In addition, having a good memory may not necessarily mean your brain is in the best shape, according to her findings.

Some suggested vitamins for healthy brains
While scientists continue to advance our knowledge of how the brain works, there a few things some people are already convinced may help improve the brain's overall functioning.

For example, writing for the official website of television health celebrity Dr. Oz, Dr. Rovenia Brock, Ph.D., recommends consuming omega-3 fatty acids, known to be especially present in fish oil for the improvement of brain, joint, eye and heart health. The names of the two omega-3 acids most commonly found in fish oil are called eicosapentaenoic (EPA) acid and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). For people who don't already consume fish frequently, Rovenia encourages them to munch down a 500 milligram (mg) supplement per day. DHA, states Rovenia, is already
present in the brain's nerve cells and additional DHA could aid the brain's development and functionality.

Likewise, the Alzheimer's Prevention and Research Foundation (APRF) notes that omega-3 acid from fish oil could potentially lessen an individual's chances of developing memory loss or dementia during old age. Exercise and consuming additional healthy foods could also reduce chances of brain deterioration.

However, the awareness and research organization provides a handful of other substances a person could consume regularly to help their minds keep fit.

In addition to omega 3….
Next on its list of measures that could help prevent brain deterioration, the APFR lists taking a comprehensive multivitamins on a daily basis. The organization postulates that brain damage has been linked to low blood levels of folic acid. Therefore, a multivitamin for brain health should contain 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid, as well as 500 mg of vitamin C.

The organization also recommends the antioxidant CoEnzyme Q10. It's said that this antioxidant will improve overall energy, especially if an individual is older than 35 years of age. While it occurs naturally in the body, the amount of CoEnzyme Q10 within humans starts to reduce over the years, which results in a loss of energy. In terms of dosage, the APRF says people should take between 200 and 400 mg of the antioxidant. Another antioxidant, alpha lipoic acid, and gingko biloba are also also on the APRF's compilation of potentially brain enhancing supplements.

Create healthier meals for the whole family

You want your family to eat healthy, vitamin-rich dishes that will help them with weight management, but sometimes that can be a challenge. Children and adults alike often stray away from nutritious meals in favor of junk food, but luckily there are many ways to make healthy foods taste just as delicious as dishes that are filled with fat.

All it takes is a little creativity and the right mix of fruits and vegetables, and you can have a delicious meal that your entire family will happily devour.

Less cream, oil, sugar and fatFirst, Eating Well recommends that you make dishes that require heavy cream and butter, such as alfredo pasta and macaroni and cheese, with low-fat milk thickened with flour. Also, while olive oil is packed with healthy omega-3 fatty acids, it contains a fair amount of calories. So the next time you dress a salad, make a soup or go to sautee something, consider using slightly less oil.

Furthermore, the news source states that you can still eat fried foods, but you should bake them instead. For example, if you want onion rings, dip the vegetables into milk or egg, cover them in breadcrumbs, then add a little cooking spray. Then, simply pop the onions into the oven until they are crispy and enjoy your treat.

Also, when you're making cookies, cakes or other treats, you can easily cut the sugar that the recipe calls for in half. Simply add more vanilla, nutmeg or cinnamon to pump up the flavor.

Substitutions are key
There are also many simple ingredient substitutions that can make all the difference between a healthy or unhealthy dish. For example, when your family is craving bacon and eggs in the morning, the Mayo Clinic recommends you try turkey bacon or lean prosciutto.

Also, now that the winter is here, soup will probably become a regular part of your family's meals. In place of creamy soups, make ones that use fat-free milk, mashed potato flakes or pureed carrots, all of which can make delicious soups.

Furthermore, while salt is a key ingredient in many dishes, it doesn't have to be. You can simply look for herb-only spices mixes such as garlic powder, celery seed or onion flakes, which can deliver a ton of flavor without boosting your sodium.

You don't have to be a wiz in the kitchen to follow these simple steps to creating healthier meals. 

Is your salad actually healthy?

You might think that you are really healthy because you eat salads, but you may be wrong. Some salads contain high-fat dressings that can actually do more harm than good, and certain ingredients may not be giving you the vitamins and antioxidants you need. This is why it's important to choose your salads carefully, and know what you're getting into.

Even though it's winter and it might not be prime-veggie season, that doesn't mean that you should write off salads for good. There are plenty healthy and delicious winter salads that can help you reach your weight loss goals all year long. However, it's important that you recognize that not all salads are created equal, and there are some things you should avoid if you want to stay fit.

Not-so-healthy salads

If you're in a restaurant, you might be tempted to order a Cobb salad, which is a staple at many places. However, a traditional Cobb includes bacon, egg, blue cheese and creamy dressing, all of which are packed with fat and calories. Nutritionist Joy Bauer states that a standard restaurant chef's salad contains Swiss cheese, roast beef, eggs and dressing, which can add up to 1,000 calories and nearly 80 grams of fat. Does that sound healthy to you?

 

Eating Well Magazine has some tips for what you should be avoiding at the salad bar if you're trying to watch your calories. With some toppings it's just common sense, like bacon, which everyone knows is filled with fat and sodium. Along with bacon, you have to be careful about the crunchy toppings you choose for your salad. For example, one half of a cup of croutons can contain 100 calories and be packed with fat. Also, tortilla strips and crispy noodles should be avoided.

Most importantly, you have to be careful about dressings. When it comes to healthy or unhealthy salads, dressings care really make or break you. You want to avoid creamy dressings such as ranch, which can have 73 calories and nearly 8 grams of fat per tablespoon, and blue cheese, which is also packed with fat. As a rule, it's better to stick with oil-based dressings than creamy ones. Go for Italian or balsamic vinaigrette for a healthier option, or simply use olive oil, which contain healthy omega-3 fatty acids.

Create a better salad

So now that you know what to avoid, how can you create a healthy salad? First, you'll want to choose the right greens. The Huffington Post has a list of the most and least nutritious greens for your salad to help you make that decision.

First, choose your green based on color. Iceberg lettuce, which is usually light green, has some nutritional value but not a lot. You're better off choosing romaine, arugula or collard greens, which have more vitamins. If you really want to make your salad as healthy as possible, go with kale, which has more calcium than a glass of milk, and is packed with vitamin A.

Then, pile on as many vegetables as you like. Whether it's cruciferous vegetables like broccoli or cabbage, or sulfur-rich veggies such as onions or garlic, you really can't go wrong.

Finally, it's a good idea to have some sort of protein on your salad so you don't get hungry later, but be careful what you choose. For example, always select grilled chicken over fried, or tofu or chickpeas if you're a vegetarian. It's a good idea to stay away from high-fat meats such as ham, which is also packed with sodium. Finally, one hard-boiled egg is also a good choice for a healthy salad. 

Diets still help your health, even if you regain weight

Have you become frustrated by seeing a lack of results, after you've tried many weight loss methods? Or, have you shed pounds with diet and exercise but then put some of the weight back on? If so, then don't worry, because you've still improved your health. According to a recent study conducted by scientists from the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and Israel's Nuclear Research Center, low-carb and Mediterranean diets have long-lasting positive health effects, even if you put some pounds back on.

The study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine, as a follow-up to previous research that came to similar conclusions. These findings highlight the importance of eating a healthy diet, even if it doesn't always give you the weight loss results you want.

Long-term benefits

The scientists followed 322 individuals who originally participated in a study that examined the effects of the Mediterranean diet, a low-carb diet and a low-fat diet to see if they could help these people lose weight and improve their overall health.

Six years after the initial study, the researchers found that even if the individuals on the Mediterranean or low-carb diets regained some of the initial weight they lost, they still had significantly better cholesterol levels. This is extremely important for cardiovascular health.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that one out of every six Americans has high cholesterol, which may increase their risk of experiencing a cardiovascular problem. These findings suggest that eating a low-carb or Mediterranean diet may help these individuals improve their cholesterol levels and improve their heart health.

"This breakthrough, even years later, continues to yield valuable information that can help every one of us make healthier diet choices," said Doron Krakow, executive vice president of American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.

The right kind of fat

Both a low-carb and a Mediterranean diet revolve around the concept of "good" fats. Some people may mistakenly believe that all fat is bad, but that's simply not true. In fact, certain fats are necessary for brain health and overall well-being.

According to the National Institutes of Health, the Mediterranean diet has fewer meats and carbohydrates, and includes more plant-based foods and monounsaturated (good) fat, compared to the traditional Western diet. Some of the staples of this eating plan are fish and nuts, which are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, a healthy lipid. This diet also encourages you to use olive oil whenever possible instead of butter. While the latter contains unhealthy, artery-clogging saturated fats, olive oil has omega-3s and is the much better choice.

You won't find a great deal of eggs or red meat in a Mediterranean diet. This is good if you're trying to improve your cholesterol levels, since a study conducted earlier this year showed that consuming egg yolks can be as dangerous to your arteries as smoking.

Cut that cholesterol

The Mayo Clinic has a list of foods that you should consider consuming if you want to improve your cholesterol levels. For example, you want to be sure to get plenty of fiber, which can be found in oatmeal, oat bran and whole grain bread. You'll want to get five to 10 grams or more of soluble fiber a day, which really isn't that much. According to the Clinic, one-and-a-half cups of cooked oatmeal can deliver 6 grams of soluble fiber.

Also, you want to be sure to get regular physical activity in order to maintain a healthy weight and keep your cholesterol levels low. Weight management can be difficult, but following a Mediterranean diet can be a delicious way to help keep yourself trim.
 

How can you get your kids to eat healthy?

Getting kids to eat right can be tough, but it's an important part of a parent's job. Children need essential vitamins and minerals to help support their growing bodies, and without proper nutrition they may face a future filled with health problems. Luckily, there are many ways to get your kids to eat healthy foods without having them put up a fight.

For example, Kitchen Daily recently published an article explaining some of the different ways that you can can convince your kids to eat healthier food. 

Everything is better with chocolate
First, the news source pointed out that the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee recently recommended that both children and adults need to be getting more calcium, vitamin D, potassium and fiber. This is why it's important to determine ways to encourage your children to eat the healthy foods that contain these nutrients, and chocolate can help you do so.

For example, if your child doesn't like to drink milk, then stir in a bit of chocolate sauce. According to the news source, studies showed that when some schools removed chocolate milk from their cafeterias, kids drank 50 percent less of this healthy beverage, which is a good source of vitamin D. While chocolate syrup does contain sugar, there are many reduced sugar varieties that can help your kids get the calcium they need.

Also, if your child doesn't like fruit try dipping bananas, apples, strawberries or really any kind of fruit into a little bit of chocolate and see if they change their tune. Consider using dark chocolate, since the Cleveland Clinic states that this variety may be the better choice because it may contain more antioxidants to help boost cardiovascular health.

Have the right attitude
WebMD recommends that if you want your children to eat right, you have to have the right attitude about food. For example, don't ban any foods, since that will just make your children want to sneak them behind your back. The key is to make sure they understand the importance of moderation.

Also, don't nag kids when they make unhealthy food choices. Instead, talk to them about the other options they could have chosen. For example, instead of fried tortilla chips, they could have had baked ones that would have tasted just as good with some salsa on them.

Finally, never offer food as a reward, since this may create weight problems later in life.
 

Start supporting your bones now

What do you do to support your bone and joint health? Many people wait until their bones start to ache before they take action to protect them, but by then a lot of the damage has already been done. Just like with cardiovascular health, it's important to do things to take care of your bones while you're young.

The National Osteoporosis Foundation reminds people that when they think about staying healthy, they can't just focus on preventing things like heart disease –  they also need to focus on their bones. According to the organization, if people don't do things to help boost their joint health, they may develop conditions that can leave them vulnerable to having brittle bones that can break because of something as simple as a sneeze.

Recently, Time Magazine published an article with tips on how to build healthy bones and keep them strong.

Vitamins, minerals and family
First, the news source pointed out that when people think {of} bones, they usually think of calcium. Yogurt, cheese, milk, spinach and collard greens are all good sources of this mineral. However, calcium is not enough without vitamin D, since these two work together to help the bones absorb the nutrients they need. There are many ways to increase vitamin D levels. It can be found in salmon and fortified milk, as well as in supplements. However, the best way to get the body to produce this nutrient is to get 10 to 15 minutes of sun exposure each day.

Another nutrient that may improve bone health is vitamin K, which can stimulate calcium absorption. This vitamin is found in kale, broccoli, Swiss chard and spinach.

Also, like many other conditions, you may be able to predict the future of your bone health by examining your family's history with bone issues. If grandma has trouble with her joints and bones, then chances are you will as well.

Stay activeTime added that regular exercise is crucial to bone health. When you're overweight, you're putting a great deal of pressure on your bones and joints, which isn't good for them. The news source recommended weight-bearing exercises such as running, walking, jumping rope, skiing and stair climbing to help strengthen the bones

Remember, just like with the rest of your body, it's important to keep your bones in good condition, so start doing things to protect them sooner rather than later.

Eat more fruits and veggies to be happier

Do you want to be happy? Of course, everyone does, which is why all people need to make sure to get enough healthy fruits and vegetables each day. While you probably know by now that these foods are packed with vitamins and fiber that are good for the health of your body, did you know that they may be able to improve your mood as well?

According to a recent study conducted by researchers from the University of Warwick and Dartmouth College, happiness and mental health are the highest among people who consume seven portions of fruits and vegetables a day. This suggests that there are even more benefits to eating fruits and veggies than previously thought.

Eat healthy, be happyThe scientists examined the eating habits of over 80,000 people to come to their conclusions. They discovered that mental well-being rose along with the amount of fruits and veggies people ate. Furthermore, people seemed to be at their peak happiness levels when they consumed seven portions of fruits and vegetables a day.

Researchers were surprised by the findings, considering that fruits and veggies are usually only discussed when people bring up physical health.

"The statistical power of fruit and vegetables was a surprise. Diet has traditionally been ignored by well-being researchers," said study co-author professor Sarah Stewart-Brown, professor of public health at Warwick Medical School.

The scientists added that this goes against the fact that most western governments currently recommend five servings of these foods a day for cardiovascular health. However, the United States Department of Agriculture states that the amount of fruits and vegetables a person needs depends on their age, gender and level of physical activity.

How to get moreThe Harvard Family Health Guide offers tips for how people can get more fruits and vegetables into their diet. First, you should set a reasonable goal for yourself. For example, try adding one extra fruit or veggie to each meal. Next, there are many sneaky ways to eat more of these foods without even noticing. For example, you can add some finely grated carrots or zucchini to pasta sauce or chili.

Also, try different blends of fruits to make a tasty smoothie.

Finally, remember that there are many delicious and healthy spreads and dips that can spice up any vegetables. Hummus, spiced yogurt and low-fat dressings are all great examples of ways to make your veggies tastier. 

Tomatoes may boost heart health

Have you been getting your antioxidants lately? Many people don't, which is unfortunate considering the host of potential health benefits that these healthy vitamins and nutrients can bring. For example, vitamin C, a potent antioxidant, may benefit joint health, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Furthermore, all antioxidants help protect you from the effects of the free radicals that you encounter in your everyday life,
such as pollution from car exhaust and cigarette smoke.

Now, a recent study conducted by scientists from the University of Eastern Finland showed that lycopene, an antioxidant found in tomatoes, may be able to boost cardiovascular health and reduce a person's risk of experiencing a heart problem.

Even more reason to eat fruits and vegetablesAccording to the scientists, men who had the highest levels of lycopene in their blood were 55 percent less likely to experience a cardiovascular issue than those who were not consuming the antioxidant.

"The results support the recommendation that people get more than five servings of fruits and vegetables a day, which would likely lead to a major reduction in the number of [heart problems] worldwide, according to previous research," said study author Jouni Karppi, Ph.D.

While consuming tomatoes is a great way to get lycopene into your diet, the Mayo Clinic states that there are also supplements that contain this nutrient. People who may need to get more lycopene include those who smoke tobacco and drink alcohol regularly, since these substances may release more free radicals into the body.

Other antioxidants for heart health
Of course, lycopene is not the only antioxidant that has been associated with improvements in cardiovascular health. For example, the Mayo Clinic adds that resveratrol, an antioxidant found in red wine, may be beneficial to the heart.

There are also many foods that may improve your cardiovascular health. Purple potatoes, for instance, have been shown to have a variety of antioxidants that may help the heart, such as a phenolic acids, anthocyanins and carotenoids.

Also, salmon contains healthy omega-3 fatty acids that have been associated with cardiovascular health. The American Heart Association recommends that people increase the amount of omega-3s they eat each week if they want to keep the organ in good shape. This healthy lipid can also be found in olive oil, flaxseed, walnuts and avocados. 

The amazing benefits of apples

There are many reasons to get more antioxidants into your diet. These healthy nutrients have been shown to have a number of benefits for human health and may fight off damaging free radicals that get into the body as a result of exposure to everyday pollutants. Antioxidants such as vitamin C, resveratrol and lycopene can be found in a number of fruits and vegetables, which is why you should be sure to eat a balanced diet.

One great source of antioxidants is an apple. This fruit contains polyphenols, which are a potent antioxidant. According to a recent study from researchers at Ohio State University, these nutrients may be able to boost heart health, adding some truth to the old adage that "an apple a day keeps the doctor away."

More powerful than other antioxidants

The scientists found that apples appear to have a protective effect on the arteries. Furthermore, the researchers tested other antioxidants that came from curcumin, green tea and tomato extract, and found that they were unable to offer the same benefits as the apples. Also, taking a supplement containing these antioxidants wasn't as effective as simply eating an apple.

"We think the polyphenols account for a lot of the effect from apples, but we did try to isolate just the polyphenols, using about what you'd get from an apple a day," said lead researcher Robert DiSilvestro, professor of human nutrition at Ohio State University. "We found the polyphenol extract did register a measurable effect, but not as strong as the straight apple."

Other benefits of apples

The benefits of apples don't stop at potentially helping your cardiovascular health. According to Eating Well Magazine, the apple is packed with fiber, and the average-sized fruit contains less than 100 calories. This makes it a delicious and nutritious snack. Furthermore, apples are a good source of vitamin C.

Also, studies have shown that apples may be able to aid in weight management. Researchers from Florida State University said that this benefit may be due to a fiber in apples called pectin.

Shape Magazine adds that consuming five or more apples a week has been associated with increased lung function, due to yet another antioxidant in the fruit called quercetin.

Finally, this fruit may boost brain health by improving your memory skills, according to Shape.

So the next time you feel a hankering for an afternoon snack, consider reaching for an apple. 

Eat the right foods to keep you happy this winter

The winter can be a time when many people experience the blues. This is because in many parts of the U.S., the winter means there is less sunlight, and insufficient exposure to the sun's rays may make a person feel sadder than they would on a bright day. However, there's no reason to worry, because with the right amount of vitamins and nutrients you can help beat the winter blues.

Recently, The Herald, a newspaper based out of Ireland, published some tips on how to eat to avoid feeling sad during the colder months. This country is notorious for it's cloud cover, so people from the northern parts of the U.S. should listen to their expertise.

Vitamins and antioxidants

First, the news source recommended that people consume more fish during the colder months. This makes sense, considering that salmon is one of the few foods that is rich in vitamin D, a nutrient that are our body produces in response to exposure to sunlight. The Herald added that insufficient vitamin D may contribute to seasonal affective disorder (SAD), where people feel blue during the winter months.

Also, bananas may help fight off the depressive effects of winter. The natural sugars in this fruit are released into the bloodstream and may help you feel more energized. For double the benefits, you may consider trying bananas dipped in dark chocolate. Chocolate is packed with antioxidants, and has been shown to activate feel-good receptors in the brain.

Eggs and walnuts are other foods that you may to seek out, since these are good sources of omega-3 fatty acids that may not only boost your mood, but also your cardiovascular health.

Snacks to avoid

So now that you know the foods that may enhance your mood, you should also know the ones to avoid. WebMD cited a study called the Coronary Health Improvement Project, which found that people who decreased the amount of saturated fat they consumed experienced a boost in their mood. This suggests you should avoid fried snacks and junk foods if you want to fight off winter sadness.

Also, while alcohol may produce a temporary feeling of euphoria, it's actually a depressant, so try to limit how much you drink, particularly in the winter. Finally, consuming too much caffeine may disrupt your sleep at night, and cause you to feel cranky in the morning, so cut back on the coffee after 2 p.m.