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The Surprising Health Benefits of Avocado

Not only is avocado delicious but this superfood is packed with disease-fighting antioxidants. Find out how this creamy fruit can benefit your health.

Avocado: The underestimated superfood
Yes, avocados are relatively high in fat and calories (138 calories and 14.1g fat in half a medium-sized avocado). But they’re also one of the best foods you can eat, packed with nutrients and heart-healthy compounds. Here are five great reasons to eat them regularly.

Avocado is packed with carotenoids
Avocados are a great source of lutein, a carotenoid that works as an antioxidant and helps protect against eye disease. They also contain the related carotenoids zeaxanthin, alpha-carotene and beta-carotene, as well as tocopherol (vitamin E).

But avocados aren’t just a rich source of carotenoids by themselves-they also help you get more of these nutrients from other foods. Carotenoids are lipophilic (soluble in fat, not water), so eating carotenoid-packed foods like fruits and vegetables along with monounsaturated-fat-rich avocados helps your body absorb the carotenoids.

An easy way to do this is to add sliced avocado to a mixed salad. (Try this avocado salad with lemon-herb shrimp.)

Avocado can help you lose weight
Half an avocado contains 3.4 grams of fibre, including soluble and insoluble, both of which your body needs to keep the digestive system running smoothly. Plus, soluble fibre slows the breakdown of carbohydrates in your body, helping you feel full for longer.

Avocados also contain oleic acid, a fat that activates the part of your brain that makes you feel full. Healthier unsaturated fats containing oleic acid have been shown to produce a greater feeling of satiety than less-healthy saturated fats and trans fats found in processed foods.

Avocado can help stabilize blood sugar
Rich, creamy, and packed with beneficial monounsaturated fat, avocado slows digestion and helps keep blood sugar from spiking after a meal. A diet high in good fats may even help reverse insulin resistance, which translates to steadier blood sugar long-term. Try putting mashed avocado on sandwiches instead of mayonnaise or on bread instead of butter. To keep what’s left over from turning brown, spritz the flesh with cooking spray or coat with lemon juice and wrap in plastic. (If you love caprese salad, this avocado caprese crostini won’t disappoint!)

Avocado can protect your unborn baby-and your heart
One cup of avocado provides almost a quarter of your recommended daily intake of folate, a vitamin which cuts the risk of birth defects. If you’re pregnant-or planning to be-avocados will help protect your unborn baby.

A high folate intake is also associated with a lower risk of heart attacks and heart disease. Does your family have a history of heart problems, or do you have risk factors (such as being overweight or smoking) for heart disease? Avocados could help keep your heart healthy.

Avocado can help lower your cholesterol
As well as increasing feelings of fullness, the oleic acid in avocados can help reduce cholesterol levels. In one study, individuals eating an avocado-rich diet had a significant decrease in total cholesterol levels, including a decrease in LDL cholesterol. Their levels of HDL cholesterol (the healthy type) increased by 11 percent.

High cholesterol is one of the main risk factors for heart disease. The cholesterol-lowering properties of avocado, along with its folate content, help keep your heart healthy. (If you’re not exactly a fan of avocado, try these fruits and veggies to help prevent high cholesterol.)

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13 Superfoods for a Long and Happy Life

23rd April 2013   By Iryna Ostapets   Guest Writer for Wake Up World

Healthy eating is a good path to longevity. Many of us take supplements to add phytonutrients and minerals into the body. But the more nutritional needs you meet with your food consumption, the better the effects for your body. Consuming a variety of super-foods can provide the body with all the elements and nutrients that may be missing in your diet.
It was known from an ancient times that the best path to longevity is to comprise a good variety of foods crammed with vitamins and minerals. And the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have showed that healthy eating can decrease the risk of health diseases, cancer, diabetes and other infirmity. The Professor of Geriatrics at the University of Hawaii, Bradley Willcox also noted that the most beneficial diets rely heavily on fresh vegetables, fruits, and legumes — foods that are naturally lower in calories and packed with nutrients.
The below super-foods have the potential to hamper the aging process, reinforce the immune system and maintain blood glucose levels. They prevent the build up of free radicals that are responsible for the development of age-related diseases.

Berries:

They are packed with antioxidants and natural compounds that assist to boost immunity. They contain anthocyanins which were confirmed by University of Georgia study to decrease the risk of colon cancer. Eating one or two servings of berries such blueberries, strawberries, cranberries or blackberries daily you can detain cognitive decline for older people.

 

Nuts:

These superfoods are versatile and a great source of healthy fats, protein vitamins and minerals. They can reduce the risk of cardiovascular and chronic diseases. Cashews, walnuts, almonds, peanuts and Brazil nuts are rich in antioxidants, vitamin E and Omega 3 fatty acids. CBS news informs that a handful of any nuts can benefit your health, enlarge brain power, manage stress, hamper inflammation and keep fit for a long time.

 

Fish:

It has the highest level of Omega-3 fats that protect against heart diseases and strokes. Omega-3 combat inflammatory conditions, aging in cells and assist pull down blood pressure. Consuming two serving of fish can provide you with enough of Omega-3 fats. Tuna, salmon and other oily fish are in the list of the fish packed with abundant amount of these fatty acids.

 

Broccoli:

Researches have pointed out these veggies have extra life-extending benefits such as sulphoraphane, indole and phytochemicals. These health-protecting compounds can fight free radicals and keep its anti-cancer features. Broccoli is low in calories and a good alternative for healthy salads and sandwiches.

 

Tomatoes:

They contain generous content of lycopene that is associated with a proven cancer fighter. Tomatoes are rich in vitamin C and A, fiber, potassium and folate. The National Institutes of Health reports tomatoes are a great source of antioxidants that can decrease the risk of cancers.

Olive Oil:

Great source of monounsaturated “good fat” and vitamin E. It has excellent anti-inflammatory features and is clearly associated with cancer prevention and brain power. Two tablespoons of olive oil per day can benefit your health. It is better not to consume it a lot as it is darn caloric.

 

Beans:

They have the highest level of carbohydrates, resistant starch and fiber. Beans are excellent tool for cancer prevention, anti-diabetes and weight loss. They regulate blood sugar level, fight food cravings and decrease cholesterol level. Researchers found that the more fiber intake in your foods the less you are subject to breast cancer.

 

Seeds:

They are true fat sources that include a good variety of minerals, antioxidants, lignans, phytochemicals. Some seeds (flaxseed and sesame) have anti-cancer properties and versatile for health and brain health. Daily consumption of flaxseed can reduce the risk of breast cancer and the growth of their tumor cells.

 

Soy:

The consumption of fermented organic soy can promote weight loss and relieve menopausal symptoms. They are rich in isoflavone that lowers the risk of prostate and breast cancer. Moderate soy intake can have a good impact on bones and heart.

 

Bananas:

A well-balanced diet rich in fruits promotes longevity. Most of fruits have a plenty of healing properties and benefits, but we should place a much emphasis on bananas. They are important sources of potassium, vitamin C and B6, magnesium, fiber and other nutrients. They are naturally free from cholesterol and fat and balance your digestive processes.

 

Avocado:

They are full of vitamin E, fiber and monounsaturated fat. Eating avocados assists pump enough magnesium and bolster your immune system. It lowers the level of “bad” cholesterol and increases your “good” cholesterol level. New York University Langone Medical Center reports avocados contain 13 mg of calcium that can help you make bones strong.

 

Dark Chocolate:

It has the antioxidant, flavonol, found in cocoa beans that can reduce the risk factors of cardiovascular diseases and stroke. Notice chocolate overeating can help you get extra calories. Dark chocolate ameliorates brain function as learning and memory ability.

 

Garlic:

It can be beneficial in boosting the immune system and includes a good amount of sulfur compounds that benefit heart health and lose weight. Garlic is crammed with antioxidants (vitamin C and selenium) that push out free radical from the body.
About the Author:
Iryna Ostapets is a health writer, blogger and health advocate who aims to help people achieve and maintain a healthy and happy lifestyle. Passionate about healthy living and sport, she writes about natural health, nutrition, fitness, health tips and beauty at http://www.raipharmacies.com. An experienced Medical Writer, she has a Master’s Degree in English and advanced training in the medical field. Iryna continues to earn education certificates from the Australasian Medical Writers Association (AMWA).


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Hold the Cream: 5 Vegan Substitutes That Are Just as Good

May 14, 2013   By Leta Shy, POPSUGAR

Heavy cream can elevate many dishes, but its high saturated fat and calorie content doesn’t exactly make it the healthiest option. And if you’re vegan or lactose intolerant, your meals may be lacking that distinct texture from the dairy product. Stop pining and get the creaminess back with these five vegan substitutes!

Avocado. The creamy high-fat content of avocados make them a perfect substitute for milk and cream. Use avocado in baking or as a base for creamy sauces; one of our favorite ways is this vegan creamy avocado pasta from Oh She Glows.

Beans. Pureed beans can offer the consistency you’re missing in those comforting creamy soups. Use canned cannellini beans; not only are the white beans the right hue when substituting for heavy cream, but their mild taste also won’t overpower other flavors in your dish.


Bananas. Who needs ice cream when you’ve got frozen bananas? Keep a few ripe ones in your freezer (peel them and put in a container before you do for easier handling once they’re frozen). Before creamy cravings strike, toss one or two in a food processor or blender with a little peanut butter and freeze for two hours. You’ll have a 150-calorie vegan ice cream treat to enjoy after dinner.

Coconut milk. It’s a convenient and obvious option for many dishes, but watch out for the fat content — like regular cream, coconut milk is high in saturated fat and calories as well. But if you just have to have that creamy taste, this vegan options works as an occasional indulgence. We love to use chilled and whipped coconut cream (from a can of full-fat coconut milk) in desserts like this strawberry coconut cream parfait.

Root vegetables. Like beans, adding pureed root veggies like sweet potatoes or celeriac to sauces and savory dishes adds a thick consistency that is similar to cream. You can try cooked and pureed root veggies in dishes like this delicious-looking vegan mac and cheese, which uses cannellini beans, sweet potato, and nutritional yeast to make a creamy thick sauce that rivals the Kraft version.


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4 Natural Liver Cleansing Foods

by Anthony Gucciardi    May 29th, 2012 

Liver health is directly tied to your overall health, and poor liver health could very well be the root cause of many diseases that currently affect millions of people worldwide. Often assaulted with toxic substances like high-fructose corn syrup, which can ‘overburden’ the liver and subsequently lead to complications, it is very likely that your liver has experienced at least some degree of damage due to dietary and environmental factors. In fact, the only way to avoid the buildup of toxins in the liver would be to eat a nearly perfect diet free of additives, fillers, modified ingredients, or chemicals — virtually the opposite of the average American diet, which critically lacks any liver cleansing foods.

Thankfully, it is very possible to repair your liver naturally and help release excessive toxin buildup through the power of healing foods. Here are 5 natural liver cleansing foods:

1. Cleanse Your Liver with Avocados

Avocados have been shown to naturally protect and repair your liver. Containing a high amount of glutathione-producing compounds, avocados can actually help boost the ability of the liver to cleanse itself. Astonishing research has even shown that consuming one or two avocados per week for as little as 30 days can make a serious difference in the state of your liver health. The best part? Avocados can be enjoyed with virtually any meal, and are available throughout the world. Try adding in some fresh, organic avocados with your next meal to reap the benefits of liver cleansing foods like this one.

2. Garlic

The superfood garlic, which is known for its ability to fight against cancer and infections naturally, is also among the many great liver cleansing foods as it is very useful in repairing a compromised liver. While the benefits of garlic for liver health and beyond are many, one reason for its superior effects have to do with the fact that garlic contains numerous sulfur-containing compounds that are known to activate the liver enzymes responsible for expelling toxins from the body. Another lies in the presence of both allicin and selenium, two important nutrients that play an integral role in the protection of the liver from damage.


3. Turmeric

Turmeric can uniquely assist the enzymes that are responsible for flushing out known dietary carcinogens. The result is enhanced protection against liver damage, and even regeneration of affected liver cells. Turmeric is also notably responsible for improving the health of the gallbladder as well. These benefits are in addition to the shocking ability to turmeric to combat cancer in a number of studies. Researchers at the UCLA also found that curcumin — the ‘key’ compound within turmeric — exhibits cancer-blocking properties. The lab found that the enzymes in the patients’ mouths responsible for promoting cancer spread and growth were inhibited by curcumin supplementation. The ingestion of curcumin intake even blocked the spread of the malignant cells.

4. Lemon and Lime

While not exactly one of the liver cleansing foods, warm water with lemon or lime each morning could be one of the simplest and most advantageous methods of improving the health of your liver. High in vitamin C and potassium, lemons can help regulate biological functions. Some experts, such as A.F. Beddoe — who wrote the book Biological Ionization as Applied to Human Nutrition, have also stated that the liver produces more enzymes in response to water with lemon than to any other food.


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Top 10 Brain Foods

by Fiora Stevens on March 22, 2013

Boost your brain power and keep your cognitive processes running smoothly into old age with these top ten brain foods.

1. Olive Oil
Drizzling your salad with olive oil or using it to sauté veggies may help preserve your brain’s overall health and function as you age. A 2010 study found that diets rich in monounsaturated fats, found in olive oil, can improve scores on test of overall cognitive function as well as verbal memory.

2. Avocados
Like olive oil, avocados contain monounsaturated fats, which also contribute to proper blood flow to the brain and lower blood pressure. Since high blood pressure is a significant contributor to cognitive decline, eating foods like avocados that lower your risk of hypertension is a great way to ward off age-related brain power shortages.

3. Sardines
Rich in Omega-3s, sardines give your brain the fatty acids it needs to build and maintain cell membranes. Diets containing high amounts of Omega-3s have also been associated with improved memory and focus, as well as a lower long-term risk of dementia.

4. Walnuts
These fiber and protein-rich nuts contain another type of Omega-3 not found in animal sources: alpha-linolenic acid, also known as ALA. Plus, just about every type of nut, including walnuts, is rich in vitamin E, which can improve blood flow and ensure that your brain is getting the oxygen it needs to work efficiently.

5. Spinach
Popeye may have had the right idea. Researchers at Harvard Medical School found that women who consumed more green leafy vegetables over 25 years exhibited fewer signs of age-related cognitive decline than those who avoided veggies like spinach, kale, and Brussels sprouts.


6. Coffee
Women who drink coffee have a far lower risk of developing depression than those who don’t, according to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Although the effects haven’t been studied in men, it’s likely that this benefit translates to them, too.

7. Tea
If you’re not a fan of coffee, freshly brewed tea is an excellent alternative. Lower levels of caffeine may still protect the brain from depression and boost focus and memory without the risk of anxiety and jitteriness, while the antioxidants in tea improve blood flow to the brain.

8. Beans
Your brain runs on glucose, which means that maintaining steady levels of blood sugar help your brain to work better. Beans provide a steady source of energy to your brain, along with protein, fiber, and minerals that keep the rest of your body functioning well.

9. Blueberries
Since they’re frequently touted as an antioxidant-rich superfood, you may be getting somewhat bored of blueberries. But this little fact might reinvigorate your love for this fruit: a study in mice found that a blueberry-enriched diet can not only prevent, but can actually reverse memory loss related to object recognition.

10. Water
When it comes to immediate cognitive decline, dehydration is a serious culprit. In fact, when you don’t drink enough water, your brain actually shrinks. This means that your brain works far less efficiently than when it is hydrated, likely leading to impaired executive functions.


Sources: 
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S089990071000136X
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ana.23593/abstract
http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/omega-3/
http://archinte.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1105943
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20336685
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15852398
http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/eat-smart-healthier-brain


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7 foods that fight fat

By Maridel Reyes, Health.com
October 12, 2012 

(Health.com) – Get excited: You can burn calories and combat fat by eating yummy food.
“If you choose the right picks, studies show you can torch up to 300 extra calories a day,” says Dr. Pamela Peeke, author of “The Hunger Fix.”

Whole, unrefined foods are your heroes. Your metabolism has to work harder to break them down than processed ones, so you’re zapping more calories — and storing less as fat. These recipes double up (even triple up) on foods with serious metabolism-boosting power. Take that, dastardly fat!

Salmon
What a catch! Research suggests the omega-3s in salmon and other fatty fish help build muscle — and the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn. Omega-3s may also help reduce fat storage by lowering cortisol levels (scientists have yet to confirm how).

Go for: Two 3-oz servings of fatty fish per week.

Yogurt
Calcium-rich foods have slimming superpowers. Get too little of this mineral and your body’s more likely to pack away calories as fat, according to a review of studies.

With up to 50% more calcium per ounce than milk, yogurt is a potent source. Better yet, its probiotics may help keep belly fat under control.

Go for: At least two servings a day.

Avocado
For a speedy metabolism, you need to keep inflammation in check and blood vessels clear and supple. Avocado’s unique combo of essential fatty acids, monounsaturated fats, and antioxidants helps you do just that. Plus, one avocado’s 14 grams of fiber kicks up your calorie burn.

Go for: One to two daily servings of foods high in healthy fats.

Beans
High in resistant starch and fiber, beans force your system to use extra energy (as in calories) to break them down.

Research from the University of Colorado suggests that if you choose foods high in resistant starch — it’s also found in whole grains and not-quite-ripe bananas — you can increase your calorie-burning power by up to 24% over the course of the day.

Go for: One serving of a resistant-starch food per meal.

Chili peppers
Feel the burn? It’s more than mere sensation: chilies’ heat signals the presence of capsaicin, a compound that, along with capsiate, can propel the body to scorch an extra 50 to 100 calories following a spicy meal.

Go for: Chilies as hot as you can stand. (But watch out! The hottest ones — habanero, Scotch bonnet, and Thai or Indian peppers — are too fiery for many people.)

Green tea
This packs caffeine and antioxidants called catechins, a dynamic duo believed to stimulate your nervous system and increase fat-burning. Studies suggest that drinking green tea can help you drop pounds and trim your waist.

Go for: Several cups a day (keeping in mind how caffeine affects you).

Coffee
You use it to wake up — and your metabolism will, too.

The caffeine in one cup of joe temporarily perks up your metabolism by as much as 15 percent. Caffeine also helps mobilize the forces that burn stored fat.

Go for: One to two cups a day, especially before exercise.

source: CNN


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5 fabulous superfoods that will boost your health

By Dr. Joey Shulman

Start the new year off right by boosting your immune system, antioxidants, energy, metabolism and overall health by adding these trendy superfoods to your diet

1. Probiotic-rich foods
I always say: “You are only as healthy as your pipes.” In other words, you are only as healthy as how you are absorbing and digesting. 

In addition to supplementing your diet with probiotic capsules – these friendly bacteria can aid digestion, reduce bloating, boost your immune system and help get rid of unwanted yeast – it’s a good idea to add certain probiotic-rich foods into your diet, such as yogurt, sauerkraut, dark chocolate, miso soup, kefir and pickles. 

2. Green tea
A high source of antioxidants, green tea has long been known for its health benefits. As an alternative to coffee, green tea causes the body to secrete the amino acid L-theanine, which creates a feeling of alertness without causing the normal “java jitters.” 

In addition to containing lots of antioxidants, green tea is good for heart health and having anti-aging effects on your skin. Green tea can also give your metabolism a boost, providing an extra edge on weight loss. Taken in supplement form or consumed as tea (two to three cups per day is recommended for weight-loss effects) green tea is a daily must-have. 

If you’re a green tea lover, you can also try matcha green tea powder, which goes one step above green tea in terms of its nutritional value. When it comes to nutritional content – especially its high level of antioxidants – matcha green tea is much more powerful and potent. 



3. Delicious sea vegetables
Sea vegetables are filled with beneficial vitamins and minerals that are optimal for health. Some of the more common sea vegetables include: 

• Kelp: an excellent source of iodine and an important mineral for maintaining the health of your thyroid gland 

• Kombu: a high source of protein that is also high in vitamins and minerals, especially iron 

• Dulse: a good source of fibre that helps to improve digestion 

• Nori: an excellent source of protein, iron and essential amino acids. 

All of these vegetables are also low in calories, making them guilt-free additions to your diet. 

4. Quinoa
Quinoa is a supergrain rich in fibre, magnesium and protein. It is gluten free and easy to incorporate into many recipes that call for pasta or rice. Quinoakeeps best in the refrigerator once opened and should be rinsed thoroughly prior to cooking. 

5. Avocados
You must eat fat to lose fat. Many of the clients I’ve worked with have been “stuck” in their weight loss because their diets were too low in fat, causing their metabolism to slow down. Of course, fats have more than twice the calories of protein and carbohydrates, so portion size is important. However, incorporating good fats into your diet is critical for heart health, skin health, immune system function, cellular repair and weight loss. 

Of all of the “good fats,” avocados top the charts for nutritional profile. High in monounsaturated fat, rich in both soluble and insoluble fibre and packed with disease-fighting antioxidants called carotenoids, they are a beneficial addition to salads and wraps or can be turned into a delicious guacamole dip. The recommended serving size is 1/4 to 1/2 an avocado per day. 

Joey Shulman is a bestselling author and the founder of the Shulman Weight Loss Clinics. For more information, please visit drjoey.com