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Posts tagged ‘antioxidants’

7 Tips For Eating to Look Younger That Actually Work

7 Tips For Eating to Look Younger That Actually Work

 

The day I turned 25 years old I headed straight to thestore and bought loads of different ultra pricey skin creams. I was sure this would keep me wrinkle-free. By 30 my tone had changed. I began to realize that while I still wanted to look young and vibrant, youth came from the inside. The foods you eat show through your skin. They’re what end up keeping you looking young or not so much. After all, your food is your medicine, three times a day, everyday.

As you already knew it’s loads of fruits and vegetables as well as other whole foods that end up doing the trick. If you’re concerned with aging gracefully, start where it matters, in your diet. Here are seven foods that will keep you looking younger longer.

1. Avocado and Other Good Fats

Avocado has a lot of things going for it not the least of which is its fat content. You’ll notice that as you age those with little flesh on the body, especially in the face, begin to age faster. A little flesh keeps us looking younger. Bathe yourself in good fats like olive oil and avocado. If you’re concerned with cutting the fat, focus on the bad fats like lard and excessive amounts of butter.

2. Water-Based Fruits and Vegetables

Hydration is a big part of looking young because it helps that skin retain moisture. When the skin is dehydrated it lays flatter on the body and wrinkles begin to show. This means not only drinking loads of water, but also making sure that you’re loading up on water heavy fruits and vegetables. Some really good choices include watermelon, cucumber, and citrus fruits.

Image Credit: mckaysavage via Flickr.

3. Guava

Guava is great for your skin because it’s loaded with vitamin C. According to the Dr. Oz Show, it has 4 times as much as citrus fruits. Vitamin C serves as the body’s natural Botox, keeping your skin cells full and wrinkle-free.

4. Oysters

Depending on type and variety oyster, they provide 16 to 182 mg of zinc per 100g serving, according to Healthalicious. This accounts for 110 to 1200 percent of the RDA for zinc. Zinc serves to repair damage done to skin cells. So if you spent too much time out in the sun as a child and caused problems for your skin, zinc can prepare it.

6. Seasonal Berries

Berries are among the highest is antioxidant content. Berries like blueberries, blackberries, and strawberries have some of the highest antioxidant capacity. These antioxidants fight the free radicals that cause wrinkling on the skin.

7. Omega Fatty Acids Oil

“Essential fatty acids are responsible for healthy cell membranes, which is not only what act as barriers to harmful things but also as the passageway for nutrients to cross in and out and for waste products to get in and out of the cell,” Ann Yelmokas McDermott, PhD, a nutritionist at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University in Boston told WebMd.

Omega 3 is made up of three acids EPA, DHA, and ALA. ALA can be found in hemp seeds, flax seeds, and chia seeds. DHA and EPA are found in algae, spirulina, blue-green algae, and chlorella. Omega 6′s are found in many vegetarian foods including olive oil, whole grains, and avocados.

By Sara Novak, Planet Green

5 Ways to Fight Inflammation

5 Ways to Fight Inflammation

Some aging factors are beyond our control, but one of the biggest – inflammation – needn’t be. Here’s how you can extinguish the flames of chronic inflammation before they ignite.

What is Inflammation?
Under ordinary circumstances, inflammation is a healthy process that comes to the body’s aid when it’s injured. For instance, if you cut your finger while making dinner, the body’s inflammatory response sends in an army of white blood cells to the scene.

Unfortunately, inflammation isn’t always so exact. Like a houseguest who overstays his welcome, inflammation sometimes hangs around too long and refuses to leave. Aging is one of the biggest risk factors for inflammation, since, as we age, our bodies are less able to disarm the inflammatory process. A genetic predisposition, high blood pressure or even smoking can also fuel the flames. When the inflammation switch refuses to turn off, the body operates as if it is always under attack. White blood cells flood the system for weeks, months and even years.

The problem is that the immune system can’t handle the constant demand. When the immune system becomes drained, the body then has difficulty warding off other illnesses. For instance, viruses, bacterial infections, even cancer cells that are normally destroyed by a healthy immune system can now slip under the body’s radar. Ultimately, the immune system may even turn against the body itself – the consequences of which are quite serious: Lupus, Graves’ disease, Crohn’s disease and fibromyalgia are all autoimmune disorders that come about when the body is assaulted by its own defenses. Scientists have known about autoimmune diseases for years, but now a new theory paints an even broader picture of how chronic inflammation helps other killers gain footholds.

Cancer Connection
Some forms of cancer can also be attributed to inflammation gone awry. Recent research indicates that inflammation plays either a leading or supporting role in many of the most common types of cancer – colon, stomach, lung and breast. Chronic inflammation wreaks havoc in the body by creating an ideal environment for free radicals, rogue molecules that travel through the body leaving a path of destruction in their wake. If a healthy cell’s DNA is damaged by free radicals, it may mutate. As it continues to grow and divide, it may set the stage for a cancerous tumor. Free radicals stimulate inflammation and thereby perpetuate the inflammatory cycle.

Chronic inflammation alone won’t always spark cancer, but left untreated it may create a more hospitable place for cancer cells to thrive, according to Dave Grotto, director of nutrition education at the Block Center for Integrative Cancer Care in Chicago.

The good news: Unlike many uncontrollable risk factors for serious illness, such as family history of heart disease or living in a polluted city, chronic inflammation is something you can control and even prevent through diet and exercise. Here’s a closer look at how both can influence inflammation.

Anti-Inflammatory Eating
Most foods either rev up inflammation or tamp it down. A diet high in trans-fatty acids, carbohydrates and sugar drives the body to create inflammatory chemicals. On the flip side, a diet heavy on vegetables, lean meats, whole grains and omega-3 fatty acids puts the brakes on the inflammatory process.

If you have an inflammation-related illness, such as atherosclerosis or arthritis, altering your eating habits may help you tame your symptoms, or even change the course of the disease. And if your genes or a sedentary lifestyle put you at risk for chronic inflammation, eating right may make the difference between staying healthy or drifting downhill.

1. GET FRIENDLY WITH FISH: Fish overflows with two key omega-3 fatty acids: eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid (EPA and DHA for short). Both are potent anti-inflammatories. Studies show that people who eat fish regularly are less likely to die from a heart attack or stroke, or develop Alzheimer’s disease. In fact, studies have shown that eating omega-3-rich fish just once a week may lower a person’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s by up to 60 percent.

To reap fish’s health perks, nutritional experts recommend indulging in a fish dish at least twice a week (baked or broiled, not fried). To get the most omega-3 fatty acids, stick to either fresh or frozen coldwater fish, including mackerel, salmon and tuna. Avoid oil-packed tuna, since the omega-3s tend to leach into surrounding oil.

You also need to watch out for fish that may contain toxins, especially if you’re in a high-risk category. Women who are either pregnant or hoping to be should avoid shark, swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish, all of which may hold potentially dangerous levels of mercury, which can damage a developing fetus. (Nursing mothers and young children also should avoid these fish.) Studies have shown that some albacore tuna (often packaged as canned white tuna) has unsafe mercury levels. This past March, the FDA and Environmental Protection Agency published a joint statement recommending that pregnant women, nursing mothers and children eat no more than 6 ounces of albacore tuna each week, or approximately one serving.

There are options for vegetarians, too. The body can make its own EPA and DHA from omega-3 fats (called alpha-linolenic acid, or ALA), which are found in flaxseed, wheat germ and walnuts (as well as some oils). But you’d better be hungry. The body’s mechanism for converting plant-based omega-3s isn’t particularly effective. You’ll need to eat four times as much ALA to equal the amount of bioavailable omega-3s found in a 3-ounce serving of fish.

Although flaxseed is often touted as an equal substitute to fish oil, it just can’t compete, says Jim LaValle, a naturopathic physician at the Longer Living Institute in Cincinnati, Ohio, and author of The Cox-2 Connection (Healing Arts Press, 2001). Vegetarians concerned about inflammation should consider fish-oil supplements. If fish oil is out of the question, focus instead on lowering intake of bad fats and ingesting more good fats, including extra virgin olive oil, wheat germ oil, hemp oil and flaxseed oil.

2. CHOOSE FATS WISELY: The body uses fatty acids to make prostaglandins, the main hormones that control inflammation. Because the body must make do with what’s at hand, a diet heavy in pro-inflammatory fats will fan inflammation. Conversely, meals that balance pro- and anti-inflammatory fats cool things off. Fats to avoid include safflower oil, sunflower oil, corn oil and all partially hydrogenated oil. Fats that get a green light are fatty coldwater fish, extra virgin olive oil, canola oil, walnuts and flax (plus those listed above).

Begin tackling fat by cutting out the worst offender: trans-fatty acids. “If your diet is rich in trans-fatty acids, you’re going to drive your body to make more inflammatory chemicals,” says LaValle. The top sources for trans-fatty acids are vegetable shortenings and hard margarines, but most processed foods also contain them in various levels. Soon, trans-fatty acids will be easier to spot, thanks to new legislation requiring food makers to add trans-fatty acids to ingredient labels by 2006.

3. EMBRACE YOUR INNER HERBIVORE: Fruits and vegetables are storehouses of antioxidants and other anti-inflammatory compounds. The best sources are brightly colored fruit and vegetables, such as blueberries, strawberries, bell peppers and spinach. “Anytime you go with a large variety of colors, you get a powerhouse of phytochemicals, some of which have anti-inflammatory effects,” says Melanie Polk, director of nutrition education at the American Institute for Cancer Research in Washington, D.C.

An easy way to up your phytochemicals is to select foods that are deeper shades of colors than you already eat, Polk says. For salad greens, choose the darker spinach over iceberg; grab a ruby strawberry instead of a banana.

For a simple way to eat more plant-based foods, Polk suggests using your dinner plate as a measuring tool. Ideally, two-thirds of the plate should be covered with plant-based foods, including fruit, vegetables, whole grains and beans, she explains. The remaining one-third can be filled with lean animal protein, like a chicken breast or fish fillet. Consider eating more anti-inflammatory herbs, like ginger and turmeric, and augmenting your diet with antioxidant supplements.

4. CUT BACK ON WHEAT AND DAIRY: Not heeding food intolerances and sensitivities is a one-way ticket to chronic inflammation, and no two foods are bigger triggers than dairy and wheat. For people who suffer from lactose intolerance or celiac disease (gluten sensitivity), the stomach treats dairy and wheat products as hostile invaders. Often it only takes a bite of bread or a spoonful of ice cream to kick the immune system into high gear.

5. SAY NO TO SUGAR: Sugary foods can also be a problem, especially when eaten between meals, since they cause a surge in blood-sugar levels. To regain balance, the pancreas releases a rush of insulin, which in turn activates the genes involved in inflammation. This biochemical roller coaster is thought to contribute to the onset of type 2 diabetes. “When I’m trying to quell people’s inflammation, I make sure they knock out refined grains and refined sugars,” says LaValle. “You’ve got to get rid of the inflammatory chemistry.”

Get a Move On
Although the role of exercise in staving off chronic inflammation is less well documented than dietary changes, experts still tout physical activity as one of the best ways to keep inflammation at bay. The best part? It doesn’t matter how you move – just get out and go. The indirect results of exercise on inflammatory diseases are bountiful.

Running for an hour or more per week lowers a man’s risk of developing heart disease by 42 percent, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association (Oct. 23, 2002). People who exercise regularly are also less likely to be overweight, which lowers the odds of suffering from an inflammation-related illness.

Exercise also may directly muffle inflammation. In studies, both aerobic and nonaerobic exercise have been shown to lower levels of C-reactive protein, or CRP (the body’s marker for inflammation). The lower the body’s CRP, the less inflammation is present.

In a recent study published by the American Heart Association, researchers at the Cooper Institute in Dallas recruited 722 men to observe how fitness affects inflammation. The men’s fitness levels were measured by how long they could walk on a treadmill at gradually rising inclines. Inflammation levels were calculated by performing blood tests for CRP.

In the end, researchers saw a clear trend toward lower CRP levels among those men who aced the treadmill test and higher CRP levels among those who struggled. Among the men in the lowest fitness group, 49 percent had dangerously high CRP scores. Conversely, only 16 percent of those in the highest fitness group had elevated CRP levels.

The rub is that scientists aren’t sure exactly how exercise diffuses inflammation. One theory is that exercise goads the body into making more antioxidants, which then seek and destroy free radicals associated with prolonged inflammation. William Joel Meggs, MD, PhD, author of The Inflammation Cure (McGraw-Hill, 2004), believes exercise may fool the body into thinking it’s younger than it is. “If the body senses it has a biological need to stay healthy, it will produce more antioxidants to control inflammation and slow the aging process,” he says.

For more on how and why to exercise as you age, see “Power Aging.”

To maximize the anti-inflammatory properties of exercise:

MAKE IT A HABIT: Aim for 30 minutes daily of moderate physical activity, such as walking, running, swimming or even yard work. Remember, a little each day is more beneficial than squeezing in a week’s worth of exercise on the weekend.

MIX AND MATCH: For your best shot at lowering CRP levels, get a mixture of both aerobic exercise, such as walking, running or riding a bike, and moderate weightlifting, either at a gym or with small hand weights at home.

DON’T OVERDO IT: If you find yourself hobbled for days after each trip to the gym, dial down your workout. An overzealous workout can leave muscles and joints sore, which may ultimately fuel the inflammatory fire instead of quell it.

RECRUIT YOUR MIND: “Mental states are important,” says Meggs. “We know that angry, hostile people have higher CRP levels than people who keep their cool.” The thinking goes that cortisol, a stress hormone, triggers the body to release a host of chemicals that contribute to the inflammatory cascade. Activities that calm the mind, such as meditation and guided imagery, lower CRP levels, he says. Better yet, try combining a meditative focus with physical movement in practices like yoga, tai chi or qigong. (For more on this topic, see “Emotional Biochemistry” in the Nov./Dec. 2003 Experience Life.)

Squelching chronic inflammation with diet and exercise is in many ways a no-brainer. Certainly health experts have touted much of this same advice (less junk food, more vegetables and regular exercise) for years.

But who knows, maybe understanding the inflammation connection will be enough to convince more folks to straighten up and fly right – particularly if keeping a lid on inflammation turns out to be the secret of healthy aging, or wellness in general, as Meggs suggests. “Inflammation may well turn out to be the elusive Holy Grail of medicine,” he notes, “the single phenomenon that holds the key to sickness and health.”

By Catherine Guthrie

Catherine Guthrie is a freelance health and fitness writer in Louisville, Ky.

Experience Life magazine is an award-winning health and fitness publication that aims to empower people to live their best, most authentic lives, and challenges the conventions of hype, gimmicks and superficiality in favor of a discerning, whole-person perspective. Visit www.experiencelife.com to learn more and to sign up for the Experience Life newsletter, or to subscribe to the print or digital version.

10 Foods That Promote Brain Health

10 Foods That Promote Brain Health

Who doesn’t want to become smarter? Who wants to look better or feel healthier? Many recent studies have shown how certain nutrients can positively affect the brain, specifically in areas of the brain related to cognitive processing or feelings and emotions. Generally speaking, you want to follow a healthy diet for your brain that will lead to strong blood flow, maintenance of mental sharpness and reduce the risk of heart disease and neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and dementia.

We know that foods play a great role in our brain, as concluded in several studies led by a phenomenal neuroscientist at UCLA, Gomez Pinilla.

According to one study, the super fats your brain needs most are omega-3 fatty acids. Your brain converts them into DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) which enhances neuronal communication and promotes neuronal growth.

Food and nutrients represent fuel to our bodies the same way that when we use our car we need to fill the gas tank. Unfortunately, we generally take better care of our cars than our bodies. Why is that? We are hearing frequently that consuming the right nutrients can help our health, aging process, and more efficient brain-body functioning.

With that said, I want to share with you ten foods you must keep in your diet to maintain brain health:

1. Apples: Eating an apple a day protects the brain from oxidative damage that causes neurodegenerative diseases such Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. This magical nutrient that acts as protection is quercetin, which is a phytonutrient.

2. Asparagus: Asparagus is rich in folic acid, which is essential for the metabolism of the long chain fatty acids in your brain.

3. Lean Beef: Lean beef is rich in vitamin B12, iron and zinc. These vitamins and minerals have been shown to maintain a healthy neural tissue.

4. Blueberries and strawberries: Studies show that people who eat berries improve their memory and their motor skills. In addition, their antioxidant properties can protect your brain from the oxidative process.

5. Dark chocolate: Dark chocolate offers incredible concentration powers. It is a very powerful antioxidant containing natural stimulants that increase the production of feel-good endorphins. Trick: you need to find dark chocolate with less than 10 grams of sugar per serving for optimal benefits.

6. Salmon: Salmon contains omega-3 fatty acids, which studies have shown to be essential for brain function.

7. Dried oregano: Certain spices have powerful antioxidant properties. In several studies, this powerful spice has shown to have 40 times more antioxidant properties than apples, 30 times more than potatoes, 12 times more than oranges, and 4 times more than that of blueberries or strawberries.

8. Walnuts: Walnuts are rich in protein and contain omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins E and B6 which all promote healthy neural tissue.

9. Whole grains: Whole grains deliver fiber and vitamin E that help promote cardiovascular health, which helps improve the circulation to the brain.

10. Yogurt: Yogurt and other dairy foods are filled with protein and vitamin B that are essential to improve the communication between nerve cells.

Make sure that from now on you select and plan a great menu that include these brain foods. Life is about choices and selecting the right nutrients can play a key role in your health.

Written by Michael Gonzalez-Wallace, who is the author of Super Body, Super Brain. You can read more from him at www.superbodysuperbrain.com or pick up his book Super Body, Super Brain.

Leesa recommends choosing organic and local as well as wild and grass raised (beef) when possible!

Top 10 Superfoods for Spring

Top 10 Superfoods for Spring

I’m the first to admit that the term “superfood” gets thrown around a lot in the media and marketing, but that doesn’t mean we should turn our backs on the bursting-with-nourishment, lovely, potent, and delicious foods that fall under the moniker. Especially when these foods that are known to lower cholesterol, reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer, and, while we’re at it, put you in a better mood.

Although some people have run rampant with the term and have made a mint by promoting the “miraculous! fountain-of-youth! death-defying!” benefits of superfoods, I hope that there won’t be a backlash against good, old-fashioned, super nutrient-exuberant food. As I’ve said before, I’m a crusader for most edibles in their pure forms–and the majority of them are superfoods in my book. There are few whole foods from the plant world that don’t have some health-boosting element to brag about–so how to decide what to eat? That’s why I like to think about–and eat–superfoods by season. Sure pumpkin is an A-plus superfood, but I like to save that for fall when it’s fresh and local, and look towards new fruit and tender green things this time of year. It’s a way to be connected to the planet’s cycle and decrease food miles, while giving your body a diversity of nutrients throughout the year to maximize its potential. And, to me at least, spring produce just tastes its amazing best in, yes, the spring! Funny how that works.

1. Artichokes
Studies have shown that artichokes contain a very high amount of antioxidants in the form of phytonutrients. A study undertaken by the USDA ranked artichokes as the number one fresh vegetable in antioxidant count. Among the most powerful phytonutrients are Cynarin and Silymarin, which have strong positive effects on the liver–any coincidence that artichokes have been reputed to help in the cure of liver diseases, liver cancer and to cure hangovers?

One large artichoke contains only 25 calories, no fat, 170 milligrams of potassium, and is a good source of vitamin C, folate, magnesium, and has 6 grams of dietary fiber–25 percent of the daily recommended amount.

How to prepare an artichoke? Read this.

2. Asparagus
According to the National Cancer Institute, asparagus is the food highest in glutathione, an important anti-carcinogen. It is also rich in two cancer-blocking vitamins (A and C) as well as the mineral selenium. These three nutrients have been singled out in several studies as fearsome cancer fighters. A 5 ounce serving (only 20 calories!) provides 60 percent of the recommended daily allowance for folacin which is necessary for blood cell formation, growth, and prevention of liver disease. Asparagus is also an excellent source of potassium, fiber, thiamin, vitamin B6, and is one of the richest sources of rutin, a compound which strengthens capillary walls.

Recipes:
Asparagus, Spring Onion, and Mushroom Pasta
Asparagus Spears with Black Pepper Pesto Vinaigrette
Savory Orange Roasted Tofu & Asparagus

3. Avocado
They’re rich, they’re buttery, they’re delicious, and they have about 30 grams of fat per fruit. Ouch. But that’s no reason not to love an avocado. Nutritionists have back-pedaled on their gentle warnings about avocados after finding that most of the fat in an avocado is monounsaturated–the happy fat that actually lowers cholesterol levels. Yay! Let’s have an avocado party!

A study published in the Archives of Medical Research found that the 45 volunteers who ate avocados every day for a week experienced an average 17 percent drop in total blood cholesterol. (Maybe because they were so happy to be eating so many avocados?!) As well, their levels of LDL (“bad fat”) and triglycerides, both associated with heart disease, went down. Their HDL (“good fat”) levels, which tend to lower the risk of heart disease, increased.

Avocados are rich in beta-sitosterol, a natural substance shown to significantly lower blood cholesterol levels. In a review article published in the December 1999 issue of the American Journal of Medicine, researchers pointed out that beta-sitosterol was shown to reduce cholesterol in 16 human studies.

Recipes:
Chilled Zucchini & Avocado Soup
Citrus Guacamole

4. Blueberries
Blueberries were one of the early belles of the Superfood Ball. Jam-packed with antioxidants and phytoflavinoids, blueberries are also high in potassium and vitamin C. Recent research has found that additional components of blueberries may play an important role in preventing and fighting cancer. The results of one study suggest a wide array of potential cancer fighting benefits related to wild blueberry consumption. Blueberries also have anthocyanin pigments, which may have the ability to halt cancer in the critical stages of promotion and proliferation. A 2005 study published in the Journal of Biochemistry and Cell Biology indicated that, in isolated cells, the tannins found in blueberries are very active at lowering a protein that plays a role in the metastasis of cancer.

And that’s not all! In addition to helping prevent and fight cancer, the compounds in blueberries are believed to help against Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, eye disease and urinary tract infections. See? Super.

Recipes:
Blueberry Creamy No-Bake Pie
Berry Custard Cake

5. Fava Beans (AKA Broad Beans)
Mmmm. Spring in a pod–I adore fava beans, even if they are a little work. Okay, a lot of work, but so worth it! Not only are the big, fat, creamy beans scrumptious, but fava beans are particularly high in fiber (85 percent of the RDV), and also high in iron (30 percent of a day’s requirement). They contain no cholesterol and are low in fat. Fava beans are also noted to contain L-dopa, which is used as a drug for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease. Additionally, as with most whole grains, consumption of fava beans can help reduce risks associated with heart disease.

Recipes:
Herbed Fava Bean Salad
French Spring Soup

6. Fresh Figs
You can get dried figs year-round, which is why they might show up on my winter superfoods list, but for now (mid-May for California figs), helloooo fresh figs.Fresh figs put the va va voom in fruit–the tender but toothsome skin gives way to a soft and sticky center, dotted with delicately popping seeds, the perfumed and honeyed flesh–you get the picture. In my humble opinion, figs are quite an experience. And beyond their drop-dead flavor is their profusion of life-boosting qualities.

Figs have the highest overall mineral content of all common fruits. With their standout source of potassium, figs may help to control blood pressure. Figs are high in calcium; bones, take notice. And as fate would have it, their potassium may reduce the amount of calcium lost as a result of high-salt diets. Figs are also a good source of iron, vitamin B6 and the trace mineral manganese.

The fruit also has tremendous amounts of fiber, more than any other dried or fresh fruit. Insoluble fiber protects against colon and breast cancer–soluble fiber helps lower blood cholesterol, and figs provide both. (Which also makes them a mild laxative, just so you know.) They also are a good source of flavonoids and polyphenols.

Recipes:
Try figs quartered, stuffed with goat cheese and drizzled with honey and topped with sea salt and black pepper.
Fig & Kalamata Olive Tapenade

7. Leeks

Leeks look like cartoonishly big green onions, with a wonderfully sweet and subtle onion flavor. When braised or slowly sauteed, they melt into a sweet and creamy concoction that is hard not to love. And they are workhorses in the health department as well. Like garlic, onions, scallions, chives and shallots–all from the Allium family–leeks can help the liver eliminate toxins and carcinogens. Leeks contain sulfur compounds that may protect against heart disease and some cancers, they can help the liver eliminate toxins and carcinogens. Regular consumption of Allium vegetables (as little as two or more times a week–although I could certainly eat them every meal) is associated with a reduced risk of prostate and colon cancer.

Recipes:
Linguine with Leeks & Lemon
Creamy Vegan Potato Leek Soup

8. Oregeno and Other Fresh Herbs
Give me fresh oregano and find me happy. I love fresh oregano, especially if salty Mediterranean flavors–capers, olives, roasted peppers–are involved. Yum. And yum. And superfood-y too! When researchers at the University of Oslo, Norway analyzed 1,113 foods to identify those foods richest in total antioxidants. Of the 50 foods highest in antioxidants, 13 were herbs and spices. One study found that oregano had 42 times more antioxidants than apples.

Is it surprising that fresh herbs are so healthful? Not to me, on an instinctual level they strike me as deeply salubrious. Randomly pick an herb and research its health benefits. You might find that parsley is an excellent source of beta carotene, the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin–essential for preventing macular degeneration–vitamin A, vitamin C and vitamin K. Or try cilantro. In research studies, cilantro�s remarkable components have shown the potential to help promote detoxification, reduce high blood sugar and lower levels of cholesterol.

Recipes:
Chard and Feta Tart with Oregano
Parsley & Walnut Pesto
Cilantro Tabouli

9. Spinach
Spinach, good old spinach. It’s almost surprising that something so good for us is loved by so many! Spinach is an excellent source of folate–the B vitamin that helps to prevent birth defects, heart disease, dementia, and colon cancer (the third most common cause of cancer in women)–people who eat at least one serving of greens, including spinach, each week are 20 percent less likely to develop colon cancer, according to Italian research. Another compound in spinach, lutein, fights against macular degeneration, which causes age-related vision loss–in fact, including at least two servings of spinach a week in your diet halves the odds of macular degeneration (a leading cause of blindness), according to the the National Eye Institute. Eating cooked spinach more than twice a week cuts the need for cataract eye surgery in men by half, according to new Harvard University research. And in a large-scale Harvard study, spinach singled out as most protective against stroke! Finally, because of it’s high in vitamin K, spinach also helps build stronger bones–lowering the risk of hip fracture from osteoporosis as much as 30 percent, suggests a joint Harvard-Tufts study. Popeye was on to something.

Recipes:
Spinach Soup with Rosemary Croutons
Coconut Creamed Spinach

10. Strawberries
A of eight medium strawberries provides 140 percent of the daily recommended allowance of vitamin C, 12 percent of our RDA for fiber, 6 percent of our RDA for folate, 210 mg of potassium, and is also high in vitamins K, B2, B5 and B6, copper, magnesium, and omega-fatty acids. In addition, strawberries contain anthocyanin, which has been used for studies in preventing initiation of cancers. Strawberries contain a unique phenolic group, ellagotannins, which are effective in preventing initiation of esophageal cancer.

With more antioxidant punch than most other fruits, berries in general strengthen tissue defenses against oxidation and inflammation, which are underlying factors in most age-related diseases. For example, substances in blueberries help with short-term memory loss associated with aging. All berries help lower risk for breast, oral, and colon cancers in women. With a wealth of phytochemicals like ellagic acid, adding strawberries to the diet lowers tumor risk by up to 58 percent.

Recipes:
Spinach & Strawberry Salad
Strawberry Rhubarb Bread Pudding (Or a vegan version.)
Simple Strawberry Cream Freeze

by Melissa Breyer

Slather Your Lips With DIY Cocoa Lip Balm

Slather Your Lips With DIY Cocoa Lip Balm

Slather Your Lips With DIY Cocoa Lip Balm

What could be better than protecting your lips from the winter’s chill by slathering on chocolate? Not much, and I bet if you went to the Environmental Working Group’s, Skin Deep website and checked out what’s lurking in lipstick (lead, yikes!) you’d ditch the lipstick and opt for healthy, homemade Cocoa Lip Balm. Here at Care2 we’ve posted about all that nastiness here and here.

Why Cocoa?

The cocoa bean is used to make chocolate. It’s made from roasted, husked, and ground seeds of the cacao bean, theobroma cacao, from which much of the fat has been removed. Cocoa contains large amounts of antioxidants. According to Your Daily Thread:

“Cocoa contains large amounts of antioxidants. According to research at Cornell, cocoa powder has nearly twice the antioxidants of red wine, and up to three times those found in green tea. Our super friend also contains magnesium, iron, chromium, vitamin C, zinc and more.”

Antioxidants that protects the body from aging, vitamins and minerals for overall health and…chocolate. Sign me up. In fact, my husband so sweetly made this Lip Balm for everyone on his holiday list after he read this. It was a huge hit! Try this recipe for healthy Cocoa Lip Balm that will make you smacking your lips for more:

DIY Cocoa Lip Balm

What you need:

1 teaspoon beeswax
2 teaspoons pure Fair Trade organic cocoa butter
3 teaspoons organic coconut or olive oil
5-10 drops peppermint essential oil
recycled containers

What to do:

Slowly melt ingredients in a double boiler or in 30-second spurts in microwave. Cool slightly and fill recycled containers. You may need to adjust the ratio of ingredients to suit your liking. Yum!

by Ronnie Citron-Fink

Ronnie Citron-Fink is a writer and educator. Ronnie regularly writes about sustainable living for online sites and magazines. Along with being the creator of www.econesting.com, Ronnie has contributed to numerous books about green home design, DIY, children, and humor. Ronnie lives in the Hudson Valley of New York with her family.

Foods That Benefit Your Thyroid

Foods That Benefit Your Thyroid

Located above your windpipe is a small gland that affects virtually every organ system in your body. This includes your brain, heart, intestines, and the quality of your skin. Your thyroid gland and the hormone it produces, is the energy source that runs your body. When your thyroid gland is compromised your metabolism slows, you feel fatigued and cold, your concentration is off, your hair thins, you gain weight, and your skin becomes dry. It may be a small gland, but when it does not get the nutrients it needs there can be powerful repercussions.

Medical research has confirmed that iodine is responsible for the formation of the thyroid hormones T1, T2, T3, and T4. Without sufficient iodine, the thyroid can produce only limited amounts of these hormones. The best way to support your thyroid is to eat a balanced whole foods diet, one that includes iodine, which can be found in foods harvested from the sea: fish, shell fish and sea salt; but the best source of iodine are the sea vegetables, kelp, dulse, arame, and hijiki to name a few. Earl Mindell recommends using kelp in his book, Vitamin Bible for the Twenty-First Century. He writes that, “Kelp has a normalizing effect on the thyroid gland. In other words, thin people with thyroid trouble can gain weight by using kelp, and obese people can lose weight with it.”

An excess of iodine in ones diet can be as detrimental as not getting enough iodine, cautions Anne Marie Colbin, author of  Food and Healing. “Considering that we are already ingesting large qualities of this mineral because of its presence in fertilizers and table salt, the situation (your iodine level) definitely bears watching.”

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Your thyroid gland also requires the amino acid, tyrosine, which is found in:

  • Meat
  • Dairy
  • Almonds
  • Avocado
  • Eggs
  • Bananas

Other nutrients needed by the thyroid include:
Selenium: whole grains, tuna, herring, wheat germ, sesame seeds, Brazil nuts.
Zinc: pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, seafood, organ meats, eggs, beans, whole grains, mushrooms, soybeans, wheat germ.
Copper: beets, molasses, beans, whole grains, nuts, seafood, raisins.
Manganese: nuts, seeds, whole grains, seaweed, leafy greens, legumes, egg yolk, pineapples.
B vitamins: shellfish, meat, fish, poultry, eggs, cheese.
Vitamins A: carrots, sweet potatoes, broccoli, dark leafy greens, eggs, yogurt, kefir, fish oils.
Vitamin C: berries, fruit, green vegetables, broccoli, tomatoes.
Vitamin D: salmon, fatty fish, eggs, sunshine, fish oils.
Vitamin E: nuts, seeds, eggs, organ meats, whole grains, wheat germ, molasses, sweet potatoes, leafy greens.

(Leesa recommends supplementing your diet with Chews4Health.  Chews4Health contains 4 varieties of sea vegetables – Dulse, Kelp, Bladderwack, and Nori along with Goji, Acai, Mangosteen, Noni, B-12, Resveratrol, Folic Acid, Alpha Lipoic Acid, Pomegranate, Blueberry, Cranberry, Raspberry to create an all powerful antioxidant blend that tastes delicious!  www.chews4heath.com/Leesa

Be sure to include the Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids in your diet in the form of flax and/or fish oils. Eating sufficient protein with each meal will help improve and normalize your metabolism, and this can aid in normalizing your thyroid function. It is important to note that protein is needed to transport thyroid hormone through the bloodstream to all your tissues.

Thyroid Blockers

  • The over abundance of polyunsaturated oils in the standard American diet can interfere with thyroid function.
  • Unsaturated oils block thyroid secretion and can inhibit thyroid hormones’ movement through the circulatory system.
  • Fluoride found in toothpaste and city water can leech iodine from the body.
  • The heavy metal mercury can displace selenium, a nutrient necessary for the critical conversion of thyroid hormone T4 to T3.

by Delia Quigley

Delia Quigley is the Director of StillPoint Schoolhouse, where she teaches a holistic lifestyle based on her 28 years of study, experience and practice. She is the creator of the Body Rejuvenation Cleanse, Cooking the Basics, and Broken Bodies Yoga. Delia’s credentials include author, holistic health counselor, natural foods chef, yoga instructor, energy therapist and public speaker. Follow Delia’s blogs: brcleanse.blogspot.com and brokenbodiesyoga.wordpress.com. To view her website go to www.deliaquigley.com

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