In an uplifting new report, scientist concluded that a Mediterranean diet high in extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) may offer robust protection from breast cancer. For this five year clinical trial, a group of 4,000 women were placed on one of three different diets: a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra virgin olive oil (>15% of total daily calories), a Mediterranean diet supplemented with nuts, or a control diet (no diet advice other than to reduce fat). Woman assigned to the Mediterranean diet with the EVOO were 62% less likely to develop breast cancer vs. woman in the control group diet. Those consuming the Mediterranean diet with the added nuts also experienced a lower risk of breast cancer, albeit at a rate not statistically significant. EVOO is home to a host of potential anti-cancer plant compounds, including potent antioxidant polyphenols and breast cancer-protective lignans, so these results are not surprising.
Thanks to a new study from Harvard-based scientists, we have some promising new evidence that certain fruits and veggies are better than others for our waistlines. For this study, researchers monitored the diets and weight status of 133,000 men and women every 4 years over a 24 year period. Overall, study subjects who increased their intakes of fruits and non-starchy veggies over a four-year period lost weight. In contrast, study subjects who increased their intake of starchy veggies, including peas, corn and potatoes gained weight. More specifically, for each extra daily serving of fruit consumed over a four year period, weight decreased by just over a half a pound. For each extra daily serving of non-starchy veggie consumed, weight decreased by about a quarter of a pound. What’s more, certain fruits and veggies appeared to be significantly better than others. Click here to see the winners.
- Salads are arguably the best dish for “feeding your microbiome”. The microbiome refers to that rich ecosystem of beneficial bacteria that reside in our GI tract. Maintaining a healthy microbiome (which is vital to all-over health!) requires eating a broad array of plant-based foods. Salads are the perfect dish for giving those good bugs the variety and volume of plant-based foods they must have to survive!
- Did you know just looking at a salad can incite eating and stimulate your appetite? It is true! Both color and variety boost eating behavior at the level of the brain. Thus if you include a variety of brightly colored veggies or veggies with fruit in your salads, it can help you eat and enjoy a dish that is off-the-charts healthy.
- Salads make eating raw veggies easy and tasty. Some veggies are definitely healthier for you raw, and eating salads is the perfect way to take advantage of this fact.
Click here to see how to build the healthiest salad.
Like true nuts, peanuts (which are actually legumes) can rightfully claim superstar food status. In a new report that followed the diets and health status over a five to twelve year period of more than 200,000 racially diverse adult study subjects, those consuming the most peanuts were up to 21 percent less likely to die and up to 38 percent less likely to succumb to heart disease relative to study subjects consuming the least peanuts. Like true nuts, peanuts are chock full of disease-fighting goodies including healthy fats, fiber, vitamins, minerals, arginine, and potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory phytochemicals. Relative to most other true nuts, peanuts offer more protein and are often a better bargain. For those who prefer peanuts over true nuts, enjoy a handful (about one ounce) or two tablespoons of peanut butter daily.
Good sleep is known to be integral to healthy immune function. And according to an eye-opening new study, poor sleep may dramatically boost your risk for catching a cold. For this study, investigators carefully monitored the sleep patterns of 164 healthy adults ages 18 to 55 for one week. For the second week, all study subjects were quarantined in a hotel room for five days, during which they were exposed to a cold virus through nasal drops. Relative to study subjects getting more than seven hours of sleep each night, those sleeping six hours a night were 4.2 times more likely to catch a cold, while those grabbing less than five hours of nightly shut-eye were 4.5 times more likely to catch one.
Want a simple, quick, dirt cheap, and totally healthy way to improve your weight control? Drink a big glass of water 30 minutes before your meals. This was the encouraging conclusion from a new clinical trial published in the journal Obesity. For this study, researchers had 41 obese study subjects drink 500 mls (about 1 pint) of tap water before each of their main meals. A control group of study subjects were instead instructed to “imagine” they had a full stomach prior to eating their meals. Both study groups were otherwise provided identical diet and lifestyle weight loss counseling. At the end of the 12 week study period, the group instructed to “preload” with water in advance of their meals lost almost three more pounds than those in the control group. Study subjects in the water group who faithfully preloaded before all three daily meals experienced the greatest weight loss (9.48lbs.) vs. those who preloaded only once daily (1.76lbs.)
Lowering blood insulin levels is essential for weight loss and lasting weight control. Here are the four things that you can do to lower it:
- Reduce Your Intake of the Great White Hazards. This includes the refined, high glycemic carbs – white flour products, white rice, white potatoes, and sugars/sweets.
- Increase Your Levels of Physical Activity. Strive for at least 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity daily, but more is even better. Additionally, avoid prolonged sitting.
- Increase Your Fiber Intake. Eat more fruits, veggies, beans, and physically intact whole grains.
- Reduce Your Stress. Regular exercise is my top-rated strategy for reducing stress levels. Mindfulness-based breathing and meditation are also remarkably effective
Hot foods like chili peppers have been shown to help us eat less, and scientist have just uncovered a big clue as to how. Apparently capsaicin, the compound in hot peppers that gives them their spicy kick, can activate “stretch receptors” in the lining of our stomachs that send signals to the hunger-quieting parts of our brains. So in addition to adding that hot zip to your dishes, hot peppers and hot sauces may protect your waist line from getting zapped from eating too much. But be careful when it comes to indulging on fatty foods, the same researchers found that eating a high fat diet leading to weight gain can disrupt these receptors thus impeding the ability to feel full. (PLOS ONE, 2015; 10 (8): e0135892 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0135892)
- Salmon: Salmon, particularly wild salmon, is arguably the highest quality protein for brain health. This oily fish is the richest source of the all-important, but difficult to come by omega 3 fats, DHA and EPA. These vital fats are critical for both healthy brain structure and optimal brain function. As a huge added bonus, salmon is also an outstanding source of five other key brain nutrients: magnesium, B-vitamins, zinc, Vitamin D and choline. Because it is so clean and sustainable, wild salmon is preferred to farmed salmon.
- Avocados: Avocados are a supreme food for brain health. A review of their nutritional profile reads straight from the winning play book of eating for optimal brain health. They are chock full of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats (that promote healthy blood flow in the brain) along with a bevy of several of the brains most valued nutrients including: folate, potassium, vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin E, and copper. For healthy icing on the cake, they also provide loads of antioxidant carotenoids.
- Walnuts: All nuts are exceptional brain foods, but walnuts are the cream of the crop. Like other nuts, walnuts are rich in several nutrients instrumental for brain health, including essential amino acids, vitamin E, a full spectrum of minerals, and B vitamins. In addition, walnuts also offer a hefty dose of omega 3 fats along with especially potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant plant compounds called polyphenols. (For many reasons, the brain is uniquely vulnerable to damaging oxidation and inflammation.)
- A prudent portion of dark chocolate. When it comes to brain health, dark chocolate really is a desert you can indulge in without the guilt! Thanks to its exceedingly high levels of plant antioxidants called flavanols, along with its generous supply of magnesium, zinc, and fiber – dark chocolate is fabulous for brain health. In fact, dark chocolate is the only food I am aware of that has been shown to acutely boost both mood and focus. And if you eat a prudent portion (up to one ounce daily) of high cacao dark chocolate (72% or greater) it barely makes a dent in your daily sugar quota.
- Turmeric and curry. These Indian spices are prized for their bountiful supply of the golden yellow pigment, curcumin. Curcumin is one of most potent, naturally occurring anti-inflammatory agents ever identified. Because we now know that inflammation is the “universal brain destructor” – curry and turmeric are likely the very best spices for brain health. Honestly, I do not know of any other two second activity (shake, shake) that can provide a more healthy brain return for the effort.