Category Archives: Vitamins

Autumn foods for stress management

It's fall, and that means it's time for pumpkins, office pranks, Halloween, falling leaves, chilly air, and yes, even happy thoughts. Autumn brings with it foods that are considered by some to improve mood, and here's a list of five ways you could benefit from a fall diet, courtesy of PsychCentral.

1. Vitamin D
Vitamin D is considered good for your mental wellbeing because it boosts neurotransmitters in the brain that regulate mood, including melatonin, dopamine and serotonin. Sun exposure isn't the only way to get this key vitamin. You can find the nutrient in fish, dairy products, sweet potatoes and even mushrooms.

2. B Vitamins
Vitamins B-6 and B-12 have also been shown to boost serotonin production. They can be found in avocados, potatoes, green beans, eggs, fish and dairy products. Some studies also suggest that B vitamins could benefit brain health.

3. Selenium
If you're not familiar with selenium, you should be. Selenium is only required in small doses to benefit health, and preliminary studies show it could be useful in treating mild mood problems. It's found in beans, whole grains, nuts, lean meats and low-fat dairy products.

4. Seratonin
Vitamin D and B vitamins aren't the only ways to get your serotonin boost this fall. While carving pumpkins, consider scooping out some of the pulp for a pie. The particular carbohydrates in pumpkins, carrots, tomatoes, spinach and oats are thought to increase serotonin levels. Spinach also contains dopamine-producing folic acids and magnesium.

5. Omega-3 fatty acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are world-famous for their potential health benefits, but is it true that they may improve mood? According to Psychology Today, the brain is 60 percent fat, and evidence is mounting that insufficient levels of Omega-3 can lead to unsatisfactory moods. Omega-3 can be found in wild rice, walnuts, beans and fish.

Meals to put step in your heels
Thanksgiving celebrations can include pumpkin pies and mashed sweet potatoes that raise B vitamins and vitamin D as well as increase serotonin. Patrons of wild rice, fish and beans can make a tasty complete protein this fall, with some spinach or carrots on the side for greater dopamine production. And hey, have you ever actually roasted walnuts over an open fire? Doing so this holiday season may give you an unexpected smile.

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. 

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.
 

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. 

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.

Turn to portion control, not calorie counting

 

Meeting your weight loss goals can be a challenge, especially if you're spending all of your time counting calories. Luckily, there are ways to lose weight that don't require you to keep track of every single calorie that's on your plate. Recently, U.S. News published an article by Keri Gans, M.S., R.D., who explained ways that you can learn how to make sensibly portioned meals that are packed with vitamins and antioxidants.

Learning portion control is simpler and more effective than counting calories, and the right meals can leave you more satisfied than any 100-calorie bag of chips.

It's all about the right balance

According to the expert, a healthy plate is ideally divided into half vegetables, one-fourth lean protein and one-fourth high-fiber carbohydrates. For lean protein, Gans recommended beans, skinless chicken, egg whites and fish.

Out of all of these options, fish may be the best one. According to the Washington State Department of Health, many fish contain omega-3 fatty acids, which are healthy lipids that may benefit brain health. Also, fish has vitamins such as B12 and D.

With vegetables, you can't really go wrong no matter which ones you choose, but determining high-fiber carbohydrate options can be a bit trickier. Gans suggested oats, barley, quinoa, brown rice, whole-wheat pasta and whole-wheat bread.

Of course, you can't forget about fruits.

"Where does fruit fit in? Fruit can replace (or share) the veggie portion of your plate, or serve as your high-fiber carbohydrate. It can also simply be eaten as part of a snack or dessert," wrote Gans for U.S. News.

Tips for portion control

Gans explained some simple ways to figure out how much you are eating without using a measuring cup. For example, a one-ounce serving of cheese looks like six playing dice, while one ounce of nuts can fit inside a shot glass. Also, one cup of pasta is about the size of a tennis ball, and a medium potato should look like a computer mouse.

The Mayo Clinic states that one serving of most fruits is the size of a tennis ball as well. This is important to keep in mind, because while fruits are good sources of antioxidants and vitamins, they can also contain high amounts of sugar. 

Eat your way to a glowing complexion

 

Over the years, plenty of research has come out regarding antioxidants and their potential benefits for human health. For example, the National Institutes of Health states that antioxidants such as vitamin C, E and lycopene may be able to boost cardiovascular health and protect against a number of medical conditions. Studies have also suggested that antioxidants may help ward off the effects of aging and keep the skin looking younger.

Recently, The Canadian published an article explaining how the foods you eat – especially ones that contain antioxidants – may be able to impact the look and feel of your skin.

Water and vitamins are key

According to the news source, before you start choosing antioxidant-rich foods to help improve the look of your skin, you need to make sure that you are drinking plenty of water. Water flushes out toxins from the body, and helps the body function properly. The Mayo Clinic recommends that people drink eight eight-ounce glasses of fluids a day. While this doesn't necessarily mean it all has to be water, you want to avoid consuming too many sugar-sweetened beverages, which may caused weight gain.

After you've made sure that you're properly hydrated, it's time to seek out some antioxidants to help improve the look of your skin.

"Antioxidants are also proven to [potentially] protect the skin from sun damage – a common cause of premature aging. Exposure to the sun without adequate sunscreen causes wrinkles in the long term because it dries out the skin. Individuals wanting to improve their physical appearance in the later stages of life can do so by very basic means. It is important to maintain a healthy diet with adequate nutrition and remain hydrated," according to The Canadian.

Which antioxidants are right for you?

So which antioxidant-rich foods should you choose in order to help boost the look of your skin? There are many to choose from. First, the news source suggested blackberries, which are high in folic acid and vitamin C, two nutrients that may help replenish skin cells.

Next, walnuts have been shown to potentially help the skin glow and are not only packed with antioxidants, but also omega-3 fatty acids. These are healthy lipids that have been shown to help improve cardiovascular and brain health.

Finally, cranberries contain antioxidants that may help fight off infections, so they are always a good choice for overall well-being.

Do you know how to make brain food?

 

Are you looking to boost your brain health? What about the health of your children? Now that it's back to school time, it's important for children to eat well so that they can stay focused in the classroom. This means ensuring that their diet is rich in important nutrients such as omgea-3s, vitamin C and fiber. Of course, it isn't always easy to know the best foods to choose for your family, but there are some simple rules to follow for healthy eating.

Recently, The Washington Post spoke to experts on how the right foods can improve your brain health, and where to find them.

Healthy foods make for focused people

First, the news source spoke to neurologist Majid Fotuhi, chairman of the Neurology Institute for Brain Health and Fitness in Baltimore, who explained that food can affect the brain in a few short minutes. For example, you may have noticed that when you consume sugary snacks, you'll feel a burst of energy, followed by a bout of sleepiness due to a "sugar crash." This is why it's important to choose foods that will help the brain, not work against it.

According to the Post, all of the experts interviewed stated that omega-3 fatty acids are essential to brain health. These lipids can be found in salmon, walnuts, olive oil and many other foods that are part of the Mediterranean diet. Fotuhi recommended this eating plan, which has also been shown to help people reach their weight loss goals and potentially improve their cardiovascular health.

Prevention magazine suggests consuming leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, bok choy and brussels sprouts, which are packed with antioxidants that help fight off the effects of harmful free radicals in the body.

It's never too late

While it's especially important for children – who have still-developing brains – to consume these foods, adults should as well.

"One of the things that's so fascinating about the brain is its plasticity and ability to grow at any age," said Fotuhi, quoted by the Post. "Research has shown that if you change the diet in nursing homes, quality of life and cognitive performance changes. You can always improve brain function, no matter how old you are."

So what are you waiting for? Use these tips as a guide and start cooking meals that can help improve the health of your family!