Researchers have discovered an astonishing link between memory and exercise. Exercise releases hormones that help the brain store memories, and some research suggests it may decrease your risk of developing Alzheimer’s a whooping 45%. Even more surprising: just ONE 20-minute exercise routine can bring memory boosting results. Just imagine how good your memory could become if you come to Choice Fitness 3-4 times a week!
Consumer Reports The Answers to Good Health
Eggs are one of the closest things you can find to a naturally perfect food, says nutrition expert and author J.J. Virgin. They're rich in protein, vitamins, minerals and compounds that researchers have linked to everything from a lower risk of heart disease to better vision in your later years. And now, eggs might be healthier than they've ever been: Fortified eggs have nearly identical nutrition to regular eggs along with some added benefits.
How They're Fortified
Fortified eggs are eggs that typically come from chickens that have had ground flaxseeds added to their regular feed. Flaxseeds have a high concentration of omega-3 fatty acids, particularly alpha-linolenic acid, or ALA. What goes into the chicken comes out again, mainly, in its eggs, so a hen that's been eating feed supplemented with flax meal will yield eggs dense with omega-3 fatty acids. Your body can convert ALA to docosahexanoic acid, or DHA, and eicosapentaenoic acid, or EPA, both of which are linked to a lower risk of high blood cholesterol and heart disease. Fortified eggs may also come from chickens that have been supplemented with vitamin E, sea kelp, alfalfa and rice bran.
In 2008, scientists at the Tel Aviv University reported that you're not getting shafted by producers of fortified eggs -- these eggs really do have a higher content of omega-3 fatty acids than regular eggs. According to their study, a fortified egg could provide the average American with about 14 percent of the recommended amount of polyunsaturated fats she should have each day. The typical fortified egg has the same amount of calories, protein and fat as a regular egg, but contains 115 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids compared to the 49 milligrams in an ordinary egg. Depending on the chicken feed, fortified eggs may also have more vitamin D, vitamin E, folate and iodine.
What Experts Say
If you want to eat fortified eggs -- and can afford the usually higher price tag -- nutritionist Monica Reinagel says to go for it. They won't hurt you, and they can help you get the 1,100 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids that the Institute of Medicine recommends daily for adult women. However, the UCLA Center for Human Nutrition assistant director, Susan Bowerman, points out that you shouldn't depend solely on foods like fortified eggs to get your omega-3 fatty acids. A 3-ounce serving of cooked salmon will give you far more. If you're a vegetarian who consumes fortified eggs, you'll still need some other source of omega-3 fatty acids -- dietary supplements, for instance -- in order to get enough.
Egg Intake Recommendations
If you're a healthy woman, eating ordinary or fortified eggs regularly throughout the week isn't going to kill you, says the Dietitians of Canada. Yes, eggs do have cholesterol and saturated fat, but if you don't have high blood cholesterol, diabetes or heart disease, you can have one whole egg a day -- which includes eggs in dishes or baked goods -- without worrying. If you do have a history of these conditions, it's best to limit your intake to no more than two eggs a week. Just don't dump the yolk, especially if you're going out of your way to get fortified eggs -- most of the omega-3 fatty acids are concentrated there. If you skip the yolk, you don't get the heart-healthy fats.
Don’t waste money on eggs labeled “raised with no hormones.” By law, chickens that produce eggs cannot be given hormones. Eggs with a “no hormone” claim are no different from eggs that don’t have the “no hormone” claim.
Are those couple of slices of bacon on your BLT as dangerous as smoking a cigarette? Processed meats like bacon and cold cuts are listed as a Group 1 carcinogen - the same as smoking or asbestos. But that doesn’t mean they are equally dangerous. The classification reflects the strength of evidence linking processed meats (think bacon, sausage, hot dogs, jerky, and cold cuts) to cancer risk. Basically, any meat that’s been tweaked to enhance flavor improve preservation by salting, curing, fermentation, or smoking is considered processed. Just 1.75 ounces of bacon (about 2 slices) a day is linked to an 18% greater risk of colorectal cancer. That’s the equivalent of 1 hot dog or a couple of slices of cold cuts. While it isn’t a good idea to load up on these foods (they are often high in saturated fat and salt, too), let’s put the risk in perspective. The lifetime risk for an average American of developing colorectal cancer is 5%. An 18% increase raises that number to about 6%, so an occasional ballpark dog or BLT should be fine. Important to not: Simply choosing nitrate-free meats may not reduce your risk of cancer. High temperature cooking methods like pan frying and grilling may produce more carcinogens in meat. Choosing lower temperature cooling methods like braising or roasting may reduce your risk.
Health & Nutrition Letter from Tufts University
Here are a few tips to effectively reduce high blood sugar and cholesterol levels:
Eat healthy fats. To reduce cholesterol levels, many people cut out sources of fat from their diets. However, research shows that eating healthy fats like avocados, nuts, seeds, fatty fish, and olive oil can help reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol, increase HDL (good) cholesterol, and improve blood sugar control.
Reduce your intake of added sugars. Added sugars — such as those found in candy, ice cream, baked goods, and sweetened beverages — negatively affect both cholesterol and blood sugar. Cutting added sugar out of your diet is one of the best ways to improve overall health, including decreasing blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
Consume more vegetables. Increasing your intake of both fresh and cooked vegetables can significantly improve blood sugar and cholesterol. Try adding veggies like spinach, artichokes, bell peppers, broccoli, and cauliflower to your meals and snacks .
Eat mostly whole, nutritious foods. Relying on packaged foods or fast-food restaurants can damage your health, potentially raising cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Prepare more meals at home using whole, nutrient-rich foods that support metabolic health — such as vegetables, beans, fruits, and healthy sources of protein and fat, including fish, nuts, seeds, and olive oil.
Other healthy ways to reduce both blood sugar and cholesterol levels include increasing physical activity and losing excess body fat.
People who increased the number of steps they took in a day from 1,000 to 3,000 reduced their mortality risk by 12% - those who hit 10,000 steps cut their risk by 46%! And if you can step up your activity level by exercising longer and harder, you could lower your risk of heart failure up to 35%. As for your memory: a new study shows that higher aerobic fitness is linked to improved cognitive function. So, move to improve your health!
Health & Nutrition Letter from Tufts University
Coffee won’t actually clean out your arteries, but it could help protect against cardiovascular disease. A recent study reports that people drinking 3-5 cups of coffee a day were 41% less likely to show signs of coronary artery calcium than non-coffee drinkers. This calcification is an early indicator of the artery-clogging plaques – atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries – that causes coronary artery disease, the number one killer of Americans. More good news to perk up coffee drinkers: experts say there are also observational studies that indicate coffee intake is associated with lower risk of type 2 diabetes and dementia.
But beware: people drinking more that 5 cups of coffee daily actually saw greater risk for arterial plaques than moderate coffee drinkers…so more isn’t actually better!
Health & Nutrition Letter from Tufts University
Most health experts agree that prioritizing whole grains is a key element of a healthy dietary pattern. Aim for at least three servings of whole grains each day. One serving of whole grains is equivalent to 16 grams (a little more than half an ounce). While it’s easy to see if foods are authentic whole grains when you’re eating plain, intact grains, such as barley, oats, quinoa, and brown rice, it can be more difficult to determine if food products, such as breads, cereals, and crackers, are made with whole grains.
One way to identify whole-grain food products is to read the ingredients list; if the first ingredient on the list is a whole grain (for example, whole-wheat flour, oats), the food contains whole grains. Another option is to look on the product’s package for a Whole Grain Stamp from the Whole Grains Council. However, the absence of a Whole Grain Stamp doesn’t mean that the food does not contain whole grains. Another helpful clue is the fiber content of the food; whole-grain foods often contain 3 or more grams of fiber per serving, while refined-grain foods often contain 1 or 0 grams of fiber.
While all whole grains are nutrient-rich and deserve inclusion in your eating plan, the following whole grains have earned superfoods status due to their exceptional nutrition profiles.
WheatWheat—the “mother grain” of Western civilization—has been under attack in recent years. Due to the rise in awareness and prevalence of celiac disease and gluten sensitivity, gluten-free diets, which contain no wheat, have become increasingly popular. However, going gluten-free has become somewhat of a craze. Many people who do not have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity are avoiding wheat because they believe that a gluten-free diet is healthier than a diet that contains gluten. However, there is no research that supports the notion that wheat is inherently unhealthy, and some studies suggest that gluten-free diets may be low in important nutrients and fiber, as well as being higher in added sugar and salt.
When it comes to wheat, the key to healthy eating is to ensure that most of the wheat-based foods you select are made from whole wheat. There are many varieties and forms of whole wheat, such as bulgur, farro, spelt, and wheat berries, all of which can be healthful additions to your diet.
Wheat is rich in many nutrients; one serving (one-quarter cup dry or about one-half cup cooked) contains 6 grams of protein, 6 grams of fiber, B vitamins, magnesium, zinc, iron, and selenium. Polyphenols, phytochemicals found in wheat, have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.
The research-based health benefits of consuming whole grains are well established; they include reducing the risk of stroke by 30 to 36 percent, type 2 diabetes by 21 to 30 percent, and heart disease by 25 to 28 percent, as well as better weight maintenance and blood pressure levels.
When choosing wheat-based products, select breads, crackers, and baked goods made with whole-wheat flour. (Check the ingredients list to confirm that whole-wheat flour is the first ingredient.) In addition, you can simmer whole-wheat kernels, such as wheat berries, farro, bulgur, couscous, or freekeh, and include them in side dishes, soups, casseroles, veggie burgers, and salads.
RiceRice is one of the most important foods in the world—it provides about half the calories for up to half of the world’s population. In the U.S., consumption of this gluten-free grain has doubled over the past three decades to more than 25 pounds per person per year.
There are many varieties of rice—an estimated 40,000—and many types of rice classified by size (long-, medium-, and short-grain). In addition, rice comes in many shades, such as red, purple, and black—all of which are considered whole grains.
Once the inedible hull is removed from a rice kernel, what remains is brown rice, which is a whole grain. If the rice is milled further and the bran and germ are removed, what remains is white, refined rice. Brown long-grain rice has four times the fiber of white long-grain rice, and it has a higher mineral, vitamin, and phytonutrient content as well. Most of the phytochemicals in rice are concentrated in the outer bran covering; studies show that red, purple, and black rice have even higher levels of bioactive plant compounds than brown rice.
A one-half cup serving of cooked brown rice provides protein (3 grams), fiber (2 grams), and more than 15 vitamins and minerals, including magnesium, phosphorus, niacin, thiamin, and manganese.
Studies have shown that whole-grain rice intake may help cut diabetes risk, lower cholesterol levels, and help maintain a healthy weight. Research also has shown that people who eat rice regularly have healthier diets overall due to higher intakes of vegetables, legumes, and fruits and lower consumption of total fat, saturated fat, and added sugars.
OatsOats are almost always consumed in their whole form, with their bran and germ intact. Steel-cut oats are whole oat kernels (also called groats) sliced once or twice into smaller kernels. Old-fashioned oats have been steamed and flattened, which reduces cooking time but preserves all of the nutrients.
Oats are packed with nutrients: One serving (one-quarter cup uncooked) of oats contains 4 grams of fiber and 7 grams of protein, along with iron, thiamin, manganese, and magnesium. Oats also are very high in a type of fiber called beta-glucan, which has been linked to heart health and cancer protection, and oats contain phytochemicals that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.
Oats are probably best known for their power to reduce LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels, which helps lower the risk of heart disease. In fact, studies show that a daily serving of oatmeal can reduce elevated levels of total cholesterol by as much as 23 percent. In addition, oats have been found to increase satiety (the feeling of fullness), lower blood pressure and blood glucose levels, promote regular bowel movements, and reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. And, they may even help battle weight gain because of their satiating effects.
QuinoaQuinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) may have gained newfound popularity in the 21st century, but it actually dates back thousands of years, when it was an important staple crop and sacred food for the Incans in Peru and Bolivia.
Quinoa contains a variety of key nutrients: 4 grams of high-quality protein (it is one of the few plant foods that provides all of the essential amino acids your body needs), 5 grams of fiber, and several B vitamins, iron, magnesium, zinc, and copper.
While quinoa is relatively new to the world of nutrition research, some studies document its potential antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits and its role in protecting against diabetes and increasing satiety. What’s more, quinoa is a gluten-free grain, making it a suitable, nutrient-dense alternative for people who must avoid gluten because of celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.
Quinoa is available in shades of ivory, red, and black, and cooks in just 15 minutes. Simmer quinoa in water or broth to make a fluffy grain porridge, or stir cooked quinoa into soups, stuffing, and casseroles. Quinoa flour also can be used as a gluten-free alternative to wheat flour.
BarleyBarley is a nutrient-rich grain protected by a tight-fitting, inedible hull. Whole-grain forms include “hulled barley,” which has had the hull removed in a process that causes minimal bran loss, and “hulless barley,” which is a different variety of barley that grows without a tight hull. “Pearled barley” has lost some or all of its bran when its hull is removed, but it still has a fairly high fiber content. Barley flakes are similar in appearance to rolled oats; they’re made by steaming the barley kernels and then rolling and drying them. Barley flakes are not considered a whole grain if they are made from pearled barley.
Hulled barley provides 8 grams of fiber per serving (about one-half cup cooked), which is higher than most other whole grains, and 6 grams of protein per serving. Barley contains thiamin, niacin, iron, magnesium, and selenium, and it is a good source of the fiber beta-glucan. Hulled barley’s documented health benefits include reduced blood pressure, blood glucose, and LDL cholesterol levels.
Enjoy barley in soups and casseroles or substitute it for rice in pilaf and risotto recipes. Or, try barley topped with cinnamon, fruit, and nuts for breakfast.
MilletMillet is growing in popularity in the U.S. as people become more interested in healthful whole grains that are gluten-free.
These small, beige grains provide 3 grams of protein and 8 grams of fiber per serving, as well as several vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Currently, there is limited research documenting specific health benefits of millet, but studies point to its potential for blood glucose and cholesterol control.
Millet can be eaten as a simple porridge, as is common in Africa, or in roti, a traditional Indian bread made with ground millet. Millet can be steamed and served as an accompaniment to stir-fries or curries, stirred into salads, shaped into loaves and cakes, and added to baked goods.
TeffAlthough teff is fairly new to American cuisine, it is the principal source of nutrition for an estimated two-thirds of Ethiopians. It’s also a popular foodstuff in other parts of Africa because of its nutrient-dense profile and easy cultivation.
This grain is particularly rich in calcium, providing 10 percent of the recommended daily intake in a one-half cup cooked serving, as well as vitamin B6, and zinc, protein (7 grams), and fiber (4 grams). It’s also high in resistant starch, a type of fiber that may help with blood glucose management, weight control, and digestive health.
This mild-flavored grain is very versatile. While its most famous use is in the Ethiopian fermented flatbread, injera, teff also may be served as a breakfast porridge and used in side dishes, stuffings, veggie burgers, and grain salads. And, teff flour is becoming increasingly popular, since it is a gluten-free alternative that can be used in recipes for breads, muffins, pancakes, waffles, and cookies.
For years, we’ve been hearing about the risks of a high-sugar diet. And while I’m happy that people are paying attention to their sugar intake, I’m not so happy about all the misinformation floating around about sugar, especially the notion that by choosing “healthy” sweeteners instead of white table sugar, you can somehow find a work-around. I like sweets as much as the next person (actually, probably more than the next person!), so I wish that were true—but it’s just not. Here are the facts you should know so you can be smarter about the sweet stuff:
Some experts believe high-fructose corn syrup is linked to diabetes and other health problems. Yet many consumers feel because honey is “natural,” that makes it healthier and doesn’t affect your health negatively like sugar or other sugar substitutes. But that’s not true. Sure, honey contains trace amounts of phytochemicals from its floral sources and the beehive, but the bottom line is honey gets broken down in the body into glucose and fructose in proportions that are very similar to sugar and high fructose corn syrup. That means honey affects your body in about the same way.
Health & Nutrition Letter from Tufts University
Your eyesight is probably the most important of your five senses.
Eye health goes hand-in-hand with general health, but a few nutrients are especially important for your eyes. These nutrients help maintain eye function, protect your eyes against harmful light, and reduce the development of age-related degenerative diseases.
Here are 4 nutrients that benefit your eyes.
1. Vitamin A deficiency may lead to night blindness and dry eyes. Vitamin A is only found in animal-derived foods, but your body can convert certain plant-based carotenoids into vitamin A.
2. A high intake of lutein and zeaxanthin may reduce your risk of eye diseases, such as macular degeneration and cataracts.
3. Getting adequate amounts of the long-chain omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA from oily fish or supplements may reduce your risk of several eye diseases — especially dry eyes.
4. GLA, which is found in high amounts in evening primrose oil, may reduce symptoms of dry eye disease.