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.

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Best foods for healthy kids


Healthy eating isn't just important for adults, but children as well. Parents have to pay very close attention to what their children eat, since their developing brains require a lot of vitamins and minerals to grow and function. However, it can be challenging to get kids to eat healthy foods, since they tend to be very picky. Luckily, there are many dishes that are simple to make, delicious for parents and children alike, and packed with nutrients.

For example, Parenting Magazine recently published an article listing "superfoods" that children should (and will want to) eat.

Most important meal of the day

First, WebMD states that while adults need breakfast to do their best at work, children need it even more. Their growing brains and bodies depend on food, which it's why it's important for kids to eat regularly, including in the morning.

Keeping that in mind, Parenting listed many healthy foods that can also be used at breakfast. For example, the news source pointed out that eggs are a great source of protein and vitamin D. Protein will help children feel full and focused throughout the morning, and vitamin D is essential for bone health.

Along with eggs, parents may want to consider cooking oatmeal for their children in the morning. This food is rich in fiber, which is digested slowly and can provide kids with energy throughout the day. If your child seems a little resistant to oatmeal, then sprinkle some brown sugar and healthy nuts on it, like walnuts or almonds. These legumes contain omega-3 fatty acids, which may boost brain health and help feel kids focused.

Fruits and veggies are key

Along with important sources of fiber and protein such as eggs and oatmeal, it's important to make sure that kids get healthy fruits and vegetables. For example, blueberries are a great source of antioxidants, and many kids love their sweet taste. Another great fruit for kids are tomatoes, which contain lycopene to benefit heart health. Pair tomatoes with olive oil, which is both delicious and is full of omega-3 fatty acids.

Culinate has a list of healthy vegetables kids will love. For example, even though broccoli is one of the most notoriously kid-hated foods, studies have shown that changing what you call this veggie will help, so try calling them "dinosaur trees" and pairing them with a bit of low-fat cheese. Also, kids will go for carrots, artichokes, zucchini and basically anything if you pair it with ranch dressing. Just be sure to choose the low-fat variety.

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How much do you know about resveratrol?


You may have heard of resveratrol, an antioxidant that can be found in red wine, but do you really understand what it is and how it works? Many people don't, since there has been a great deal of contradicting studies on how resveratrol may or may not benefit human health. Recently, Bliss Tree published an article explaining some of the basics about this antioxidant, and why you may want to consider getting more of it into your diet.

Help reach your weight loss goals

According to the news source, studies have suggested that resveratrol may be able to to help offset the effects of living a sedentary lifestyle.

"The results [of studies on the antioxidant] indicate that resveratrol may be able to prevent the consequences of sedentary behaviors during periods of inactivity, whether it is from illness, schedule changes, injuries or even travel. Resveratrol can work for you both in and out of the gym by preventing a decline in metabolic health when your levels of activity are at a minimum," stated Bliss Tree.

Studies have also shown that resveratrol may be able to boost the health of your immune system by working on a cellular level.

While this antioxidant can be found in red wine, Bliss Tree recommends taking one or two capsules of a high-potency supplement.

Cardiovascular health benefits

If you've heard of resveratrol, you've probably heard that it may be able to improve your heart health. According to The Mayo Clinic, resveratrol is a polyphenol that has been shown to potentially help reduce the risk of experiencing cardiovascular problems. However, the jury is still out on this one, which is why you shouldn't start binging on red wine to help your heart.

Where can you get it?

Wine and supplements aren't the only ways to find resveratrol. The Clinic states that red and purple grape juices contain the antioxidant, along with peanuts, blueberries and cranberries. However, it is unclear if people can get the same benefits of resveratrol from eating these foods as they could from drinking wine.

Remember, it's important to drink in moderation, because even though resveratrol may have health benefits, over-indulging on alcohol can come with some serious consequences. Moderate drinking is defined as two glasses a day for men, and one for women. 

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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. 

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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.

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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! 

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What can chocolate do for you?


How much do you know about chocolate? This delicious treat has gotten a bad reputation for years for being high in fat and sugar – but dark chocolate is also a good source of antioxidants, which may be beneficial to cardiovascular health. Of course, it's important to consume chocolate in moderation, but a little bit of this snack may actually be good for you.

Recently, the Mother Nature Network published an article explaining some of the top myths about chocolate, and what you should know about this treat.

"Both the Mayans and Aztecs believed the cacao bean had magical and divine attributes, appropriate for service in even the most sacred rituals of birth, marriage and death. By the 17th century, chocolate in drinking form was a fashionable quaff for the European elite, who believed it to have nutritious, medicinal and aphrodisiac properties," according to the news source.

Surprising health benefits

While many people believe that chocolate will raise their cholesterol and cause them to gain weight, Mother Nature Network states that this may not be true. According to the news source, chocolate contains cocoa butter, which may be high in saturated fat, but most of the fat from chocolate comes from stearic acid, which doesn't act like saturated fat. This means that it is unlikely to raise LDL, or "bad" cholesterol levels.

Also, while consuming large amounts of chocolate on a regular basis may sabotage your weight loss plan, you don't have to give up the snack for good. The news source cited a study which found that people who ate a small amount of chocolate five days a week actually had a lower body mass index than those who did not. Of course, moderation is key.

It won't ruin your teeth and skin

Mother Nature Network added that two other common myths are that chocolate causes acne and tooth decay. According to the news source, studies have shown no association between chocolate consumption and cavities, and have in fact found that parts of the cacao bean may actually help fight decay.

Also, studies have consistently failed to find a connection between chocolate and acne.

Reap the benefits

The Huffington Post spoke to David Katz, M.D., who said that dark chocolate is rich in fiber, so it may help fill people up and keep them from overeating. Furthermore, consuming this snack may help combat stress and anxiety.

So enjoy that small piece of chocolate guilt-free!

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More health benefits of green tea


There are many sources of antioxidants, but one of the more well-known ones is green tea. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, green tea is made from unfermented leaves that have the highest concentration of polyphenols, a powerful antioxidant, compared to other edible plants. Furthermore, studies have shown that green tea may benefit the skin, boost cardiovascular health and help with weight loss.

Recently, the Huffington Post published an article about the many health benefits of green tea.

The drink that can do what others can't

First, the news source cited a study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, which found that even though it contains caffeine, green tea can help relieve thirst. The study said that although it is commonly thought that caffeine-containing drinks lead to dehydration, that is not the case with green tea, which can actually successfully hydrate the body.

Green tea can also contribute to health aging. The information provider mentioned a study which discovered that elderly individuals who consumed green tea had a better independence than those who did not.

"Drinking green tea could help you function better – meaning you don't need help doing basic activities like bathing or dressing – as you get older, according to a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The research, which included 14,000 adults ages 65 and older over a three-year period, showed that the ones who drank the most green tea had the best functioning in old age compared with those who drank the least,"  according to the news source.

Feel better and look better

The information provider added that studies have shown that drinking five cups of green tea a day has been associated with weight loss. In particular, this beverage has been shown to effectively reduce belly fat. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, some scientists believe that catechins, which are substances found in green tea, are responsible for its fat-fighting effects.

Finally, green tea may be able to help protect the skin. According to Everyday Health, studies have shown that drinking the beverage may be able to help protect the skin from the sun's ultraviolet rays. Furthermore, many natural skin care products use green tea extracts in their formula to help keep the skin looking young and protect against the signs of aging. 

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What you really need to know about vitamins


Vitamins. Everyone has heard of them, most people know they need a healthy balance of them, but many individuals also have a lot of misconceptions about the nutrients they need. Recently, reporters with the Huffington Post spoke to a number of health experts who explained some of the myths and facts about vitamins, and what people really need to know in order to have the perfect balance of nutrients.

"There’s so much interest in nutrition today," said dietitian Joan Salge Blake, a professor at Boston University, quoted by the news source. "Baby boomers, especially, are interested in living longer and better than the generation before. They are savvy about seeking out information; they follow health news and use the Internet to learn more. I think many are willing to do whatever it takes to stay healthy."

You always need a healthy diet

The information provider stated that some people believe that if they take a multivitamin, they don't need to eat a well-rounded diet because the supplement is filling in the nutrition gaps. In reality, Blake said, vitamins can't replace a good meal. When adults eat healthily, and get a good amount of nutrients from food, then they can trust that their bodies will absorb what they need.

Vitamins are meant to enhance a healthy diet and provide more of the nutrients people need each day – not all of them. The news source suggested that people take their vitamins with food. When vitamins are taken on an empty stomach, the acids may dissolve the pill and send its nutrients unevenly to different organs, making them less efficient. When taken with a meal, vitamins bond with the food and offer the best chances of proper absorption.

Many aren't better than one

According to the news source, for most healthy adults a multivitamin is sufficient to help them get the nutrients they need. However, there are some exceptions in which people may want to take single-nutrient supplements. These include calcium, vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acid supplements.

Everyday Health states that all vitamins are needed in the body. However, it's not just vitamins people need, but minerals as well. The information provider recommended that people make sure to get sufficient amounts of iron, copper and zinc, all of which can be found in either food or supplement form.

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Could resveratrol keep elderly walking tall?


Elderly individuals face a number of challenges as they age. For example, older people may have a more difficult time seeing, hearing and avoiding falls than younger individuals. Luckily for this population, a new study suggests that an antioxidant known as resveratrol, which is primarily found in red wine, may be able to help increase balance and mobility and help keep the elderly from getting hurt from a fall.

Researchers from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh recently presented their findings at the 244th National Meeting and Exposition of the American Chemical Society. They said that their results could lead to the development of natural supplements that can help increase mobility and prevent falls in the elderly.

"Our study suggests that a natural compound like resveratrol, which can be obtained either through dietary supplementation or diet itself, could actually decrease some of the motor deficiencies that are seen in our aging population," said Jane Cavanaugh, Ph.D., leader of the research team. "And that would, therefore, increase an aging person's quality of life."

Walk like you're years younger

The American Geriatrics Society states that one in three older Americans experiences difficulty walking or balancing themselves. For this study, researchers had two groups of mice – one older, one younger – walk on a mesh balance board. In the beginning of the trail, the older mice had a significantly harder time getting across the board than the younger ones.

The elderly rodents then had resveratrol added into their diets. At the end of one month of consuming this antioxidant, the older mice were navigating through the mesh as well as the young ones.

This isn't the first study to highlight the positive effects of resveratrol on the body. Past research has shown that this antioxidant may promote healthy aging and boost cardiovascular health.

Don't pop a bottle just yet

Unfortunately, the researchers added that a 150-pound person would have to drink almost 700 four-ounce glasses of red wine a day in order to get the full benefits of resveratrol, which no one should ever even attempt to do. However, these findings open the door to the potential of developing more potent resveratrol supplements. This antioxidant can also be found in red grapes, blueberries and nuts.

For now, elderly individuals should take precautions and install handrails in the shower, kitchen and anywhere else in the house where they might stand for a prolonged period of time. 

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