A Delicious Way to Live Longer

Flavonoids, those plant-based miracle workers of good health score again. This time for slashing the risk of death. For this study, scientists followed the diets and mortality status of 1,063 elderly women for five years. Those consuming the most dietary flavonoids reduced their risk of all-cause mortality by an impressive 60 percent. Translation: Women who consumed the most flavonoid-rich foods were 60 perfect less likely to die over the 5-year period than the women who consumed the least. What’s more, the protective relationship between consuming an abundance of flavonoids and living longer extended to both cardiovascular and cancer-related deaths. Relative to low consumers, study subjects who had the most robust flavonoid intakes lowered their risk of death from both heart disease and cancer by 40-50 percent. Even better, the foods highest in these death-fighting flavonoids are notably delicious.apples and pears

Click here to see them. (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 105:5, 2015)

 

Orange and Green for Less Diabetes

healthy dipIf you want an easy way to cut your risk of type 2 diabetes, go for more orange and green veggies! In a study that followed the dietary habits of over 37,000 Europeans for a ten-year period, those consuming the most carotenoids, specifically alpha and beta-carotene, cut their risk of type 2 diabetes up to 22 percent. Carotenoids are plant-based pigments known for their robust antioxidant power as well as their brilliant orange to reddish hues. Because oxidative stress plays a role in the underlying pathology of type 2 diabetes, these results are not surprising. (Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases; 25 (4): 376)

For additional motivation to include more carotenoid-rich foods in your diet, please note that these special, nature-made compounds have also been tied to superior cardiovascular and brain health, protection from some cancers, and more youthful skin. Click here  to see the list of foods that provide the highest doses.

How to Do Your Starches Right

Starches are “comfort foods” that we all tend to want and even crave. Some are great for you while others are bad for you. Here are the lists of both to guide you to better health.

Good Starches
Any form of beans, peas, or lentils
Any form of winter squash – butternut, acorn, kabocha, pumpkin, etc.
Any intact whole grains – quinoa, brown rice, barley, bulgur, oatmeal, etc.
100% whole wheat pasta or multigrain pasta
Root vegetables – sweet potatoes, parsnips, turnips, rutabagas, etc.

Bad Starches
White potatoes
White rice
Any form of flour-based starches – breads, rolls, biscuits, etc.
Regular/standard pasta

Foods That are Always on my Costco Grocery List

Wholesale grocers are a great place to stock up on super-nutritious staples for a good bargain. Here are my Costco favorites:

 

Kirkland’s Extra Fancy Mixed Nuts

Bunny Love Organic Carrots

Rice Select Organic Texmati Brown Rice

Earthbound Farms Organic Baby Spinach

Earthbound Farms Organic Baby Mesclun Greens

Kirkland’s Organic Soy Milk

Mara Natha Almond Butter

FAGE Non-Fat Plain Yogurt

Food Should Taste Good Multigrain Tortilla Chips

Pacific Meadows or Wyman’s Wild Blueberries

Pacific Organic Chicken Broth

Bag of Fresh Avocados

Earthly Choice Organic Quinoa

Kirkland’s Raw Walnuts, Pecans, and Pine Nuts

Raw Shelled Hemp Seeds (Whatever Brand Offered)

16 Pack of Hummus

Large Bag of Yellow and Red Onions

Bags of Fresh Citrus

Pre-Washed Cut Fresh Broccoli Florets

Fresh Salmon (Wild Preferred)

Frozen Wild Alaskan Salmon Burgers

 

No Safe Dose for Sugary Beverages

 

In as little as two weeks, a daily dose of a sugary beverage can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease in healthy young subjects. That was the riveting conclusion from a new clinical trial that is the first to show a direct dose-response relationship between sugary beverage consumption and risk factors for cardiovascular disease. For this two-week study, researchers assigned 85 healthy young adults to a daily quota of sugary beverage consumption equivalent to either 0 percent, 10 percent, 17.5 percent, or 25 percent of their daily calorie requirements. Those assigned to the 0 percent group consumed a beverage sweetened artificially. All study subjects had their blood levels for several markers of cardiovascular disease monitored repeatedly both before and after the study. For study subjects consuming the sugary beverages, there were noted increases in their blood markers for heart disease across the board, with greater daily sugary beverage intakes translating to higher numbers. Even study subjects consuming the lowest dose of sugary beverages experienced significant changes in their cardiovascular risk markers, including an increase in LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglycerides. The study’s lead researcher commented, “These findings clearly indicate that humans are acutely sensitive to the harmful effects of excess sugar over a broad range of consumption levels.”

Drinking sugary beverages is arguably the most fattening and body-damaging, yet under-recognized of all high risk dietary practices. 50 percent of Americans still consume sugary beverages on a daily basis. Help spread the word on how bad they are for health. (Am J Clin Nutr, April 2015 DOI: 10.3945/ajcn. 114.100461)

 

The Three Secrets to Healthier Eating

Thanks to the researchers from the famed Cornell Food and Brand Lab, we can now take advantage of three proven tactics for boosting the likelihood that we will eat healthily. To uncover these “secrets to healthier eating” the researchers analyzed 112 studies related to healthy eating behavior. After carefully combing through these former studies, the researchers identified three key features that repeatedly stood out as prime drivers of healthier eating. They conveniently abbreviated the trio as “C.A.N.” Whether people were in restaurants, grocery stores, school cafeterias, or in their own homes, making healthy foods highly visible and easy to access (“convenient”), aesthetically pleasing to look at (“attractive”), and presented as a standard option (“normal”) all proved to be winning strategies. (Psychology and Marketing, 2015; 32 (5): 486 DOI: 10.1002/mar.20794)

 

There are almost endless ways to use CAN to kick up the health quotient of your diet. Click here to see what I think are the most effective, home-based ways to do so.

Take the Pressure Off With Yogurt

If you enjoy your yogurt like I do, you will be pleased to know that in addition to getting a nice dose of several critical nutrients like calcium, zinc, potassium, B vitamins and those awesome beneficial bacteria (probiotics) – yogurt may help lower your risk of high blood pressure. In a study that followed the eating habits of 2000 American adults over 15 years, the regular yogurt eaters (defined as those consuming at least six ounces every three days) were 31 percent less likely to develop high blood pressure. Additionally, systolic blood pressure, which typically increases with age, went up less in the yogurt eaters vs. those who didn’t eat yogurt. (American Heart Association High Blood Pressure Research 2012 Scientific Session)

Greek yogurt

For best results, always choose low-fat or non-fat PLAIN (not flavored- too much sugar) yogurt. To add some “healthy” sweetness– mix it with some fresh cut fruit, berries, or a small amount (1-2 tsp per 6-8 ounces) of molasses, honey, or maple syrup. These natural sweeteners have the highest nutrient to sugar ratio. Black strap molasses is always my preferred sweetener because I love its robust flavor and know it is loaded with important minerals including potassium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, and selenium. You can’t get any of these good guys from table sugar!

 

Healthy Tip

How to Select a Healthy Cereal :

There is a dizzying array of cereals to choose from these days with new arrivals on the grocery shelves almost weekly.  Some are great for you while others are nutritional disasters.  For a guaranteed healthy choice – simply refer to the Nutrition Facts box and select cereals that provide at least 5 grams of fiber (3 acceptable for kids) and 12 grams or less of sugar per serving.

healthy breakfast cereal

Probiotics for Peace of Mind

brain runningIf the hamster wheel of unpleasant thoughts, better known as negative rumination, is weighing you down, taking a daily dose of probiotics may lighten the load and brighten your mood. In an intriguing new clinical trial, researchers provided 20 healthy subjects a daily dose of a multispecies probiotic for four weeks and a matched group of 20 controls a placebo supplement. Both groups of study subjects underwent tests designed to measure negative rumination, one of the most predictive vulnerability markers of depression, both before and after the four-week study period. Relative to those taking the placebo, those on the probiotics demonstrated significantly less repetitive thoughts. (Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, 2015; DOI: 10.1016/j.bbi.2015.04.003)

Although these results are preliminary, there is growing evidence that the bacteria that reside in our GI tracts likely have a profound impact on our mental health for better or for worse. Because we already know that a healthy microbiome is integral to many other aspects of bodily function, we would all be wise to take steps to keep it vibrant and healthy. Click here to see how you can do just that.