Study finds strawberries may boost heart health

 

People who are looking to boost their cardiovascular health should consider eating more strawberries. According to a recent study from the University of Warwick, strawberries may be beneficial to heart health.

Researchers discovered that extracts from this fruit may have many positive effects on the body, possibly due to the antioxidants strawberries contain.

After discovering the potential ways that strawberries can boost heart health, the scientists developed screening and mathematical modelling techniques to help identify the best varieties of strawberries, how they are served or processed and how many strawberries should be eaten for optimum health benefits. Soon, people may know exactly how to use this berry to help improve their health.

"So don’t feel guilty about serving up strawberries and cream … although I’d suggest more strawberries and less or even no cream," said professor Paul Thornalley from Warwick Medical School.

According to Health Diaries, strawberries contain anthocyanin, a particular phenol abundantly found in strawberries, which lends the rich red color to the berry. This substance is also a potent antioxidant. Furthermore, anthocyanin isn't the only healthy nutrient in strawberries. The news source added that one cup of strawberries contains a large amount of vitamin C, which has been shown to boost eye and immune health.

Another substance found in strawberries is manganese, an essential nutrient that acts as a powerful antioxidant. One cup of the berry contains 21 percent manganese.

Finally, strawberries may help boost bone health. The information provider stated that this berry contains potassium and vitamin K, all of which have been shown to potentially encourage healthy bones. 

These findings suggest that during the hot summer months, fresh strawberries may be a  good choice for a healthy and delicious snack.

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How to get more fruits and vegetables into a diet

 

Everyone knows that they should be eating more fruits and vegetables, but it can be difficult to work these healthy foods into the diet of a busy person. However, many fruits and vegetables contain vitamin C, fiber, antioxidants and other nutrients that may boost brain and cardiovascular health, so it's important to find ways to incorporate them into each meal.

Be Fit NOLA, a health and fitness information provider in New Orleans, and The American Cancer Society both offer some helpful tips on how to get more fruits and veggies into a diet.

1) People who have a long commute should grab an apple or orange on their way out the door and eat it on the ride.

2) For breakfast, be sure to add fruit to cereal or yogurt. Bananas, strawberries, apples and blueberries all go great with cereal or oatmeal.

3) In the summer, add some veggies such as mushrooms, onions and green peppers to the barbeque grill to go with hamburgers or hot dogs.

4) Dip bananas or strawberries into chocolate for a dessert. This is also a great way to encourage kids to eat more fruit.

5) At lunch, order a pita sandwich or wrap that's loaded with veggies instead of a traditional meat sub.

6) On pizza night, make or order a pizza that has all of the family's favorite vegetables on it.

7) Make one night a week meat-free, and try dishes such as roasted veggie lasagna, broccoli and tofu stir fry, veggie fajitas or whole-wheat pasta for dinner.

8) Adopt a Mediterranean diet for awhile. This diet includes healthy dishes such as hummus, which is made with chickpeas and Baba Ganoush, made with eggplant. The diet also involves a lot of fish, which is packed with healthy omega-3 fatty acids.

9) Make a pledge to add a vegetable side dish to every dinner, even when pressed for time. It only takes five minutes to heat frozen veggies, or even to microwave a sweet potato.

10) Participate in a local community garden, or create one in the backyard. Taking the time to plant organic vegetables is something that the family can do together that is fun and may encourage more healthy meals.

Clearly, there are many simple ways that people can incorporate for fruits and vegetables in their diet, regardless of how pressed for time they are. 

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This summer, eat healthy treats that may benefit the skin

 

During the summer, skin care is particularly important. This means that people should wear sunscreen and clothing that will protect them from the sun's UV rays. There are also many foods people can eat in the summer that may boost the health of their skin. These foods often contain vitamin C and E, antioxidants and lycopene.

The Huffington Post has compiled a list of summer foods that may be healthy for the skin. First, the news source suggested pomegranate, which is a major source of antioxidants. Next, the information provider said that tomatoes are a popular summer snack that can provide people with healthy amounts of lycopene, which may benefit the skin.

Kiwis, blueberries, and sweet potatoes are all loaded with vitamin C and E, and the information provider suggested that individuals eat these foods to boost skin health. Also, sipping green tea or even applying products that contain green tea may be good for the skin, and this beverage is another good source of antioxidants.

Fitness Magazine also has some recommendations for foods that people should eat that may benefit the skin. The news source spoke to Nicholas Perricone M.D., a dermatologist in New York who said that contrary to popular belief, chocolate may actually be good for the skin, as long as it's the dark variety.

"Dark chocolate contains high levels of flavonols, a potent type of antioxidant," said Perricone, quoted by the news source.

Finally, the information provider recommended walnuts to boost the health of the skin. These nuts are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, which may also boost brain health. 

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Get more fiber into your diet to help boost digestive health

 

People who want to boost their digestive health have probably heard a lot about probiotics. These healthy bacteria have been shown to potentially help promote gut health while improving some of the symptoms of common stomach problems. Recently, a study from the University of Illinois suggested that consuming more dietary fiber may support digestive health and beneficial bacteria in the gut.

Scientists found that while fiber seems to have many digestive benefits, people are not consuming enough of it.

"Unfortunately, people eat only about half of the 30 to 35 grams of daily fiber that is recommended. To achieve these health benefits, consumers should read nutrition labels and choose foods that have high fiber content," said Kelly Swanson, a U of I professor of animal sciences.

There are many delicious ways to get more dietary fiber. The Mayo Clinic states that this substance is necessary for digestive health and can even help with weight management by helping a person feel more full. Some of the best sources of fiber are cruciferous vegetables, fruits, whole grain, beans, peas, legumes and nuts.

There are also simple ways to work fiber into the diet. For example, choose a high-fiber cereal for breakfast, many of which will have the words "fiber" or "bran" right in the name. Also, The Mayo Clinic suggests that people look for breads that have at least two grams of dietary fiber per serving.

Finally, make snacks count. There are many delicious snacks that can help people feel satisfied between meals, while providing them with healthy amounts of fiber. These snacks include, fresh and dried fruit, raw vegetables, low-fat popcorn and whole-grain crackers, all of which are packed with fiber.

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Research shows resveratrol may help get you through a workout

 

Resveratrol is a natural compound found in some fruits, nuts and red wine. Over the years, researchers have found many potential health benefits associated with this substance due to its antioxidant properties. Recently, scientists found some evidence to suggest that resveratrol may be able to help with weight management. According to researchers from the University of Alberta, this compound may help enhance exercise training and performance.

The scientists saw that high doses of resveratrol appeared to help boost the stamina of mice while exercising. The researchers are planning further studies to determine if this compound can boost cardiovascular health.

"I think resveratrol could help patient populations who want to exercise but are physically incapable. Resveratrol could mimic exercise for them or improve the benefits of the modest amount of exercise that they can do," said researcher Jason Dyck.

The Mayo Clinic states that resveratrol is a polyphenol, which is a type of antioxidant. While this substance is commonly associated with red wine, peanuts, blueberries and cranberries all contain resveratrol as well. However, most studies have concentrated on the effects of the resveratrol in red wine.

Regardless of the potential benefits of resveratrol, it's important to drink wine in moderation.

There are other foods that can also help people power through a workout. For example, Forbes Magazine spoke to dietitian Ronni Litz Julien, who recommended eating a high-fiber cereal before an exercise routine, such as one that contains bran and fruit for vitamin C. It's also important to get a healthy amount of protein, so other healthy options are whole wheat bread with peanut butter on it, low-fat string cheese or nuts. Almonds, walnuts and cashews are good sources of protein, omega-3 fatty acids and resveratrol.

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The right nutrients may support eye health

 

People who are interested in supporting the health of their eyes should know that they need to be getting the right nutrients. These include omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins that can be found in both foods and supplements. Recently, The Vancouver Sun spoke to optometrist Dr. Sonja Hagemann, who often recommends that her patients change their diets if they are looking to protect their eyes from the effects of aging.

First, the doctor explained how the right nutrients can help keep the eyes young. She explained that certain foods have compounds that have been shown potentially benefit the eyes.

"Your eyes [may] benefit from the pigment found in lutein and zeaxanthin, which are best gained from eating superfoods such as kale, Swiss chard and spinach," said Hagemann, quoted by the news source.

Hagemann suggested that people strive to get at least one to two grams of omega-3s a day, which can be done through diet or supplements. Foods such as salmon, tuna, walnuts and flaxseeds are all good sources of these fatty acids. According to The University of Maryland Medical Center, studies have found that people who regularly ate fish high in omega-3s showed signs of support for eye health.

Next, the optometrist recommended taking the right vitamins for eye health. She said to look for high-quality multivitamins that contain high amount of antioxidants with CoQ10, green tea extract, alpha lipoic acid, N-Acetylcysteine and vitamin B.

Finally, Hagemann recommended that people avoid smoking, obesity and overexposure to sunlight without sunglasses if they want to keep their eyes healthy as they age.

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Healthy diet and plenty of exercise are key for seniors

Eating a diet that is full of vitamin-rich fruits and vegetables is one of the best ways to age healthfully. A new study indicates that people who consume this type of diet and get regular exercise have much better health in their senior years than those who lead less favorable lifestyles.

The results also suggest that it's never too late to develop proper diet and exercise habits. The study looked at people who were between the ages of 70 and 79. Starting a nutritious diet at this point in life may not seem like it would make a major difference, but the findings show that this change is important.

For the study, researchers from the University of Michigan and Johns Hopkins University tracked the health of a group of seniors over a five-year period. The results showed that those who at the most fruits and vegetables and got the most exercise experienced the strongest health during the time the researchers were tracking their well-being.

The carotenoid antioxidants were implicated with strong health. The researchers measured blood levels of this nutrient and used the reading to stand for fruit and vegetable consumption. The antioxidant is found in many plant foods. 

In the past, doctors would ask their aging patients whether they used tobacco to gauge their overall health and future prospects. However, the researchers said that shrinking smoking rates could make this measure irrelevant. Other lifestyle factors such as diet and physical activity may eventually become more important, and the new findings suggest that these could serve as useful tools to predict seniors' future health.

Fruits and vegetables are known to be the best food sources of vitamins and antioxidants. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends that most adults get about five servings of fruits and vegetables each day. 
 

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Men often eat healthy foods only for their wives’ sake

Women may be more likely than men to adopt healthy eating habits, and they often select nutritious meals for their partners, according to a new study out of the University of Michigan School of Public Health. While this may be one way to get men to eat vitamin-rich fruits and vegetables, it may have unintended consequences.

The researchers conducted focus groups with 83 married African-American men. The majority said their wives picked out meals for them and these menus typically included healthy options.

The men said they would eat this food to keep the marital peace, even though they often disliked the meal. However, those who were the most put out by their wives' food choices often headed to all-you-can-eat buffets at some point during the week to get their fill of the type of food they actually wanted, thus spoiling the efforts of their wives to encourage healthy eating.

A major factor in whether men ate extremely unhealthy meals on their own appeared to be the degree to which their wives consulted with them about dietary changes. When husbands played a role in the decision they were less likely to eat fatty foods behind their wives backs than when they were not consulted.

"The key to married men adopting a healthier diet is for couples to discuss and negotiate the new, healthier menu changes as a team," said Derek Griffith, who led the investigation. "Doctors could suggest that men have a tactful conversation with their wives in a way that ensures the husbands aren't sleeping on the couch that night."

Of course, every man should eat plenty of fruits and vegetables in order to get the vitamins and antioxidants his body needs. Doing so willingly may help individuals stick to this type of healthy diet. 

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Researchers recommend Mediterranean diet

Many people consume very high levels of saturated fat and omega-6 fats. While there is a role for these substances in human health, relying too heavily on them is a major risk factor for heart health complications.

New commentary published in the journal BMC Medicine suggests that people substitute less healthy fats for more nutritious options, such as omega-3 fatty acids. These are the types of fats commonly found in oily fish and some plants foods, like flax or kale.

The French researchers who wrote the paper said that this balance between omega-3s and saturated fats can be achieved by adopting a Mediterranean diet. This type of diet typically involves eating plenty of fish, vegetables, nuts and other low-fat, omega-3-rich foods.

However, the benefits of the Mediterranean diet go far beyond a simple omega-3 to omega-6 ratio. The authors wrote that this diet also generally incorporates foods that have high levels of antioxidants known as polyphenols. These nutrients have been shown to help the body synthesize omega-3s, which could further boost levels of healthy fats.

"Reducing dietary saturated fat and replacing it with polyunsaturated fat is still the main dietary strategy to prevent cardiovascular diseases," the researchers wrote in their report. "A moderate intake of plant and marine omega-3 in the context of the traditional Mediterranean diet (low in saturated and omega-6, but high in plant monounsaturated fat) appears to be the best approach."

Individuals do not necessarily need to make drastic changes to their diet. The American Heart Association recommends just two servings of fish per week in order to boost omega-3 intake. This type of diet may help support optimal heart health. 
 

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How to feel like you’re indulging without blowing your diet

Every diet needs some wiggle room. It can't all be rice cakes and tofu. The key, however, is to learn how to indulge without actually blowing a diet completely. Finding some sweet treats that are high in vitamins and minerals and low in fat may make it easier to stick to a weight management strategy.

Fruit is one of the best food groups to look to for some flexibility in a diet. There are lots of different options in this category that are sweet and delicious but also low in calories and fat. Looking to fruit to satisfy a sweet tooth can help dieters stay on track.

Strawberries are the most obvious example of a treat that likely won't blow a diet. Individuals who are on a low-carb meal plan may want to stay away from these berries, as they are sugary. But anyone who is simply looking to cut calories and fat should consider strawberries their dessert of choice.

In addition to being low in calories and fat, strawberries also have very high levels of vitamin C, fiber and numerous antioxidants. They can be used as a topping to sweeten up some low-fat frozen yogurt, blended with other berries to make a nutritious smoothie or just eaten raw. The options are endless. 

The ultimate sweet treat

Chocolate can be another treat that will not necessarily destroy a diet, particularly varieties that have higher percentages of cocoa. Of course, this sweet is very rich in fat and calories, but it has other properties that may offset these downsides.

Dark chocolate is one of the best sources of antioxidants known as flavonoids. These nutrients have been shown to play an important role in supporting heart health. However, the benefits of chocolate do not stop here. 

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