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The World’s Most Nutritious Foods

After analysing more than 1,000 raw foods, researchers ranked the ingredients that provide the best balance of your daily nutritional requirements – and they found a few surprises.

Many of us are paying more attention to our diets and how the food we eat can support our health. To help sort out the fact from the fiction, BBC Future is updating some of our most popular nutrition stories from our archive.

Imagine the ideal food. One that contains all the nutrients necessary to meet, but not exceed, our daily nutrient demands. If such a food existed, consuming it, without eating any other, would provide the optimal nutritional balance for our body.

Such a food does not exist. But we can do the next best thing.

The key is to eat a balance of highly nutritional foods, that when consumed together, do not contain too much of any one nutrient, to avoid exceeding daily recommended amounts.

Scientists studied more than 1,000 foods, assigning each a nutritional score. The higher the score, the more likely each food would meet, but not exceed your daily nutritional needs, when eaten in combination with others.

Calculated and ranked by scientists, these are the 100 most nutritious foods:

A short guide to the 100 most nutritious foods

Please note: a few of the foods listed are endangered species, which we would not recommend. We would advise researching the provenance of all ingredients if buying them yourself.

100. SWEET POTATO (v)

86kcal, $0.21, per 100g

A bright orange tuber, sweet potatoes are only distantly related to potatoes. They are rich in beta-carotene.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 49

99. FIGS (v)

249kcal, $0.81, per 100g

Figs have been cultivated since ancient times. Eaten fresh or dried, they are rich in the mineral manganese.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 49

98. GINGER (v)

80kcal, $0.85, per 100g

Ginger contains high levels of antioxidants. In medicine, it is used as a digestive stimulant and to treat colds.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 49

97. PUMPKIN (v)

26kcal, $0.20, per 100g

Pumpkins are rich in yellow and orange pigments. Especially xanthophyll esters and beta-carotene.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 50

96. BURDOCK ROOT (v)

72kcal, $1.98, per 100g

Used in folk medicine and as a vegetable, studies suggest burdock can aid fat loss and limit inflammation.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 50

95. BRUSSELS SPROUTS (v)

43kcal, $0.35, per 100g

A type of cabbage. Brussels sprouts originated in Brussels in the 1500s. They are rich in calcium and vitamin C.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 50

94. BROCCOLI (v)

34kcal, $0.42, per 100g

Broccoli heads consist of immature flower buds and stems. US consumption has risen five-fold in 50 years.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 50

93. CAULIFLOWER (v)

31kcal, $0.44, per 100g

Unlike broccoli, cauliflower heads are degenerate shoot tips that are frequently white, lacking green chlorophyll.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 50

92. WATER CHESTNUTS (v)

97kcal, $1.50, per 100g

The water chestnut is not a nut at all, but an aquatic vegetable that grows in mud underwater within marshes.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 50

91. CANTALOUPE MELONS (v)

34kcal, $0.27, per 100g

One of the foods richest in glutathione, an antioxidant that protects cells from toxins including free radicals.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 50

90. PRUNES (v)

240kcal, $0.44, per 100g

Dried plums are very rich in health-promoting nutrients such as antioxidants and anthocyanins.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 50

89. COMMON OCTOPUS

82kcal, $1.50, per 100g

Though nutritious, recent evidence suggests octopus can carry harmful shellfish toxins and allergens.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 50

88. CARROTS (v)

36kcal, $0.40, per 100g

Carrots first appeared in Afghanistan 1,100 years ago. Orange carrots were grown in Europe in the 1500s.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 51

87. WINTER SQUASH (v)

34kcal, $0.24, per 100g

Unlike summer squashes, winter squashes are eaten in the mature fruit stage. The hard rind is usually not eaten.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 51

86. JALAPENO PEPPERS (v)

29kcal, $0.66, per 100g

The same species as other peppers. Carotenoid levels are 35 times higher in red jalapenos that have ripened.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 51

85. RHUBARB (v)

21kcal, $1.47, per 100g

Rhubarb is rich in minerals, vitamins, fibre and natural phytochemicals that have a role in maintaining health.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 51

84. POMEGRANATES (v)

83kcal, $1.31, per 100g

Their red and purple colour is produced by anthocyanins that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 51

83. RED CURRANTS (v)

56kcal, $0.44, per 100g

Red currants are also rich in anthocyanins. White currants are the same species as red, whereas black currants differ.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 51

82. ORANGES (v)

46kcal, $0.37, per 100g

Most citrus fruits grown worldwide are oranges. In many varieties, acidity declines with fruit ripeness.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 51

81. CARP

127kcal, $1.40, per 100g

A high proportion of carp is protein, around 18%. Just under 6% is fat, and the fish contains zero sugar.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 51

80. HUBBARD SQUASH (v)

40kcal, $8.77, per 100g

A variety of the species Cucurbita maxim. Tear-drop shaped, they are often cooked in lieu of pumpkins.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 52

79. KUMQUATS (v)

71kcal, $0.69, per 100g

An unusual citrus fruit, kumquats lack a pith inside and their tender rind is not separate like an orange peel.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 52

78. POMPANO

164kcal, $1.44, per 100g

Often called jacks, Florida pompanos are frequently-caught western Atlantic fish usually weighing under 2kg.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 52

77. PINK SALMON

127kcal, $1.19, per 100g

These fish are rich in long-chain fatty acids, such as omega-3s, that improve blood cholesterol levels.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 52

76. SOUR CHERRIES (v)

50kcal, $0.58, per 100g

Sour cherries (Prunus cerasus) are a different species to sweet cherries (P. avium). Usually processed or frozen.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 53

75. RAINBOW TROUT

141kcal, $3.08, per 100g

Closely related to salmon, rainbow trout are medium-sized Pacific fish also rich in omega-3s.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 53

74. PERCH

91kcal, $1.54, per 100g

Pregnant and lactating women are advised not to eat perch. Though nutritious, it may contain traces of mercury.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 53

73. GREEN BEANS (v)

31kcal, $0.28, per 100g

Green beans, known as string, snap or French beans, are rich in saponins, thought to reduce cholesterol levels.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 54

72. RED LEAF LETTUCE (v)

16kcal, $1.55, per 100g

Evidence suggests lettuce was cultivated before 4500 BC. It contains almost no fat or sugar and is high in calcium.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 54

71. LEEKS (v)

61kcal, $1.83, per 100g

Leeks are closely related to onions, shallots, chives and garlic. Their wild ancestor grows around the Mediterranean basin.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 54

70. CAYENNE PEPPER (v)

318kcal, $22.19, per 100g

Powdered cayenne pepper is produced from a unique cultivar of the pepper species Capsicum annuum.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 54

69. GREEN KIWIFRUIT (v)

61kcal, $0.22, per 100g

Kiwifruit are native to China. Missionaries took them to New Zealand in the early 1900s, where they were domesticated.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 54

68. GOLDEN KIWIFRUIT (v)

63kcal, $0.22, per 100g

Kiwifruits are edible berries rich in potassium and magnesium. Some golden kiwifruits have a red centre.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 54

67. GRAPEFRUIT (v)

32kcal, $0.27, per 100g

Grapefruits (Citrus paradisi) originated in the West Indies as a hybrid of the larger pomelo fruit.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 54

66. MACKEREL

139kcal, $2.94, per 100g

An oily fish, one serving can provide over 10 times more beneficial fatty acids than a serving of a lean fish such as cod.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 54

65. SOCKEYE SALMON

131kcal, $3.51, per 100g

Another oily fish, rich in cholesterol-lowering fatty acids. Canned salmon with bones is a source of calcium.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 54

64. ARUGULA (v)

25kcal, $0.48, per 100g

A salad leaf, known as rocket. High levels of glucosinolates protect against cancer and cardiovascular disease.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 55

63. CHIVES (v)

25kcal, $0.22, per 100g

Though low in energy, chives are high in vitamins A and K. The green leaves contain a range of beneficial antioxidants.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 55

62. PAPRIKA (v)

282kcal, $1.54, per 100g

Also extracted from the pepper species Capsicum annuum. A spice rich in ascorbic acid, an antioxidant.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 55

61. RED TOMATOES (v)

18kcal, $0.15, per 100g

A low-energy, nutrient-dense food that are an excellent source of folate, potassium and vitamins A, C and E.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 56

60. GREEN TOMATOES (v)

23kcal, $0.33, per 100g

Fruit that has not yet ripened or turned red. Consumption of tomatoes is associated with a decreased cancer risk.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 56

59. GREEN LETTUCE (v)

15kcal, $1.55, per 100g

The cultivated lettuce (Lactuca sativa) is related to wild lettuce (L. serriola), a common weed in the US.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 56

58. TARO LEAVES (v)

42kcal, $2.19, per 100g

Young taro leaves are relatively high in protein, containing more than the commonly eaten taro root.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 56

57. LIMA BEANS (v)

106kcal, $0.50, per 100g

Also known as butter beans, lima beans are high in carbohydrate, protein and manganese, while low in fat.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 56

56. EEL

184kcal, $2.43, per 100g

A good source of riboflavin (vitamin B2), though the skin mucus of eels can contain harmful marine toxins.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 56

55. BLUEFIN TUNA

144kcal, $2.13, per 100g

A large fish, rich in omega-3s. Pregnant women are advised to limit their intake, due to mercury contamination.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 56

54. COHO SALMON

146kcal, $0.86, per 100g

A Pacific species also known as silver salmon. Relatively high levels of fat, as well as long-chain fatty acids.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 56

53. SUMMER SQUASH (v)

17kcal, $0.22, per 100g

Harvested when immature, while the rind is still tender and edible. Its name refers to its short storage life.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 57

52. NAVY BEANS (v)

337kcal, $0.49, per 100g

Also known as haricot or pea beans. The fibre in navy beans has been correlated with the reduction of colon cancer.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 57

51. PLANTAIN (v)

122kcal, $0.38, per 100g

Banana fruits with a variety of antioxidant, antimicrobial, hypoglycaemic and anti-diabetic properties.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 57

fruit vegetables

50. PODDED PEAS (v)

42kcal, $0.62, per 100g

Peas are an excellent source of protein, carbohydrates, dietary fibre, minerals and water-soluble vitamins.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 58

49. COWPEAS (v)

44kcal, $0.68, per 100g

Also called black-eyed peas. As with many legumes, high in carbohydrate, containing more protein than cereals.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 58

48. BUTTER LETTUCE (v)

13kcal, $0.39, per 100g

Also known as butterhead lettuce, and including Boston and bib varieties. Few calories. Popular in Europe.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 58

47. RED CHERRIES (v)

50kcal, $0.33, per 100g

A raw, unprocessed and unfrozen variety of sour cherries (Prunus cerasus). Native to Europe and Asia.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 58

46. WALNUTS (v)

619kcal, $3.08, per 100g

Walnuts contain sizeable proportions of a-linolenic acid, the healthy omega-3 fatty acid made by plants.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 58

45. FRESH SPINACH (v)

23kcal, $0.52, per 100g

Contains more minerals and vitamins (especially vitamin A, calcium, phosphorus and iron) than many salad crops. Spinach appears twice in the list (45 and 24) because the way it is prepared affects its nutritional value. Fresh spinach can lose nutritional value if stored at room temperature, and ranks lower than eating spinach that has been frozen, for instance.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 59

44. PARSLEY (v)

36kcal, $0.26, per 100g

A relative of celery, parsley was popular in Greek and Roman times. High levels of a range of beneficial minerals.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 59

43. HERRING

158kcal, $0.65, per 100g

An Atlantic fish, among the top five most caught of all species. Rich in omega-3s, long-chain fatty acids.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 59

42. SEA BASS

97kcal, $1.98, per 100g

A generic name for a number of related medium-sized oily fish species. Popular in the Mediterranean area.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 59

41. CHINESE CABBAGE (v)

13kcal, $0.11, per 100g

Variants of the cabbage species Brassica rapa, often called pak-choi or Chinese mustard. Low calorie.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 60

40. CRESS (v)

32kcal, $4.49, per 100g

The brassica Lepidium sativum, not to be confused with watercress Nasturtium officinale. High in iron.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 60

39. APRICOTS (v)

48kcal, $0.36, per 100g

A ’stone’ fruit relatively high in sugar, phytoestrogens and antioxidants, including the carotenoid beta-carotene.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 60

38. FISH ROE

134kcal, $0.17, per 100g

Fish eggs (roe) contain high levels of vitamin B-12 and omega-3 fatty acids. Caviar often refers to sturgeon roe.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 60

37. WHITEFISH

134kcal, $3.67, per 100g

Species of oily freshwater fish related to salmon. Common in the northern hemisphere. Rich in omega-3s.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 60

36. CORIANDER (v)

23kcal, $7.63, per 100g

A herb rich in carotenoids, used to treat ills including digestive complaints, coughs, chest pains and fever.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 61

35. ROMAINE LETTUCE (v)

17kcal, $1.55, per 100g

Also known as cos lettuce, another variety of Lactuca sativa. The fresher the leaves, the more nutritious they are.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 61

34. MUSTARD LEAVES (v)

27kcal, $0.29, per 100g

One of the oldest recorded spices. Contains sinigrin, a chemical thought to protect against inflammation.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 61

33. ATLANTIC COD

82kcal, $3.18, per 100g

A large white, low fat, protein-rich fish. Cod livers are a source of fish oil rich in fatty acids and vitamin D.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 61

32. WHITING

90kcal, $0.60, per 100g

Various species, but often referring to the North Atlantic fish Merlangius merlangus that is related to cod.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 61

31. KALE (v)

49kcal, $0.62, per 100g

A leafy salad plant, rich in the minerals phosphorous, iron and calcium, and vitamins such as A and C.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 62

30. BROCCOLI RAAB (v)

22kcal, $0.66, per 100g

Not to be confused with broccoli. It has thinner stems and smaller flowers, and is related to turnips.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 62

29. CHILI PEPPERS (v)

324kcal, $1.20, per 100g

The pungent fruits of the Capsicum plant. Rich in capsaicinoid, carotenoid and ascorbic acid antioxidants.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 62

28. CLAMS

86kcal, $1.78, per 100g

Lean, protein-rich shellfish. Often eaten lightly cooked, though care must be taken to avoid food poisoning.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 62

27. COLLARDS (v)

32kcal, $0.74, per 100g

Another salad leaf belonging to the Brassica genus of plants. A headless cabbage closely related to kale.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 63

26. BASIL (v)

23kcal, $2.31, per 100g

A spicy, sweet herb traditionally used to protect the heart. Thought to be an antifungal and antibacterial.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 63

25. CHILI POWDER (v)

282kcal, $5.63, per 100g

A source of phytochemicals such as vitamin C, E and A, as well as phenolic compounds and carotenoids.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 63

24. FROZEN SPINACH (v)

29kcal, $1.35, per 100g

A salad crop especially high in magnesium, folate, vitamin A and the carotenoids beta carotene and zeazanthin. Freezing spinach helps prevent the nutrients within from degrading, which is why frozen spinach ranks higher than fresh spinach (no 45).

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 64

23. DANDELION GREENS (v)

45kcal, $0.27, per 100g

The word dandelion means lion’s tooth. The leaves are an excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin C and calcium.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 64

22. PINK GRAPEFRUIT (v)

42kcal, $0.27, per 100g

The red flesh of pink varieties is due to the accumulation of carotenoid and lycopene pigments.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 64

21. SCALLOPS

69kcal, $4.19, per 100g

A shellfish low in fat, high in protein, fatty acids, potassium and sodium.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 64

20. PACIFIC COD

72kcal, $3.18, per 100g

Closely related to Atlantic cod. Its livers are a significant source of fish oil rich in fatty acids and vitamin D.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 64

19. RED CABBAGE (v)

31kcal, $0.12, per 100g

Rich in vitamins. Its wild cabbage ancestor was a seaside plant of European or Mediterranean origin.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 65

18. GREEN ONION (v)

27kcal, $0.51, per 100g

Known as spring onions. High in copper, phosphorous and magnesium. One of the richest sources of vitamin K.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 65

17. ALASKA POLLOCK

92kcal, $3.67, per 100g

Also called walleye pollock, the species Gadus chalcogrammus is usually caught in the Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska. A low fat content of less than 1%.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 65

16. PIKE

88kcal, $3.67, per 100g

A fast freshwater predatory fish. Nutritious but pregnant women must avoid, due to mercury contamination.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 65

15. GREEN PEAS (v)

77kcal, $1.39, per 100g

Individual green peas contain high levels of phosphorous, magnesium, iron, zinc, copper and dietary fibre.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 67

14. TANGERINES (v)

53kcal, $0.29, per 100g

An oblate orange citrus fruit. High in sugar and the carotenoid cryptoxanthin, a precursor to vitamin A.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 67

13. WATERCRESS (v)

11kcal, $3.47, per 100g

Unique among vegetables, it grows in flowing water as a wild plant. Traditionally eaten to treat mineral deficiency.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 68

12. CELERY FLAKES (v)

319kcal, $6.10, per 100g

Celery that is dried and flaked to use as a condiment. An important source of vitamins, minerals and amino acids.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 68

11. DRIED PARSLEY (v)

292kcal, $12.46, per 100g

Parsley that is dried and ground to use as a spice. High in boron, fluoride and calcium for healthy bones and teeth.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 69

10. SNAPPER

100kcal, $3.75, per 100g

A family of mainly marine fish, with red snapper the best known. Nutritious but can carry dangerous toxins.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 69

9. BEET GREENS (v)

22kcal, $0.48, per 100g

The leaves of beetroot vegetables. High in calcium, iron, vitamin K and B group vitamins (especially riboflavin).

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 70

8. PORK FAT

632kcal, $0.95, per 100g

A good source of B vitamins and minerals. Pork fat is more unsaturated and healthier than lamb or beef fat.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 73

7. SWISS CHARD (v)

19kcal, $0.29, per 100g

A very rare dietary source of betalains, phytochemicals thought to have antioxidant and other health properties.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 78

6. PUMPKIN SEEDS (v)

559kcal, $1.60, per 100g

Including the seeds of other squashes. One of the richest plant-based sources of iron and manganese.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 84

5. CHIA SEEDS (v)

486kcal, $1.76, per 100g

Tiny black seeds that contain high amounts of dietary fibre, protein, a-linolenic acid, phenolic acid and vitamins.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 85

4. FLATFISH

70kcal, $1.15, per 100g

Sole and flounder species. Generally free from mercury and a good source of the essential nutrient vitamin B1.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 88

3. OCEAN PERCH

79kcal, $0.82, per 100g

The Atlantic species. A deep-water fish sometimes called rockfish. High in protein, low in saturated fats.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 89

2. CHERIMOYA (v)

75kcal, $1.84, per 100g

Cherimoya fruit is fleshy and sweet with a white pulp. Rich in sugar and vitamins A, C, B1, B2 and potassium.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 96

1. ALMONDS (v)

579kcal, $0.91, per 100g

Rich in mono-unsaturated fatty acids. Promote cardiovascular health and may help with diabetes.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 97

SOURCES

Food selection, ranking and cost based on the scientific study “Uncovering the Nutritional Landscape of Food”, published in the journal PLoS ONE.   

Nutritional data based on The United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service’s National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 28.

Nutritional insights from The Encyclopaedia of Food and Health (2016), published by Elsevier Science.

Produced for BBC Future by Fact & Story.    This page was originally published as an infographic.

source: BBC.com


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Raw or Cooked? How Best to Eat 11 Fruits and Vegetables

Find out which foods you should eat raw or cooked to maximize antioxidants.

Fruits and vegetables contain a lot of nutrients and antioxidants like carotenoids, flavonoids, and polyphenols that help prevent health issues like cancer and cardiovascular disease and can improve mood. Antioxidants help your body counteract damage caused by toxic byproducts called free radicals. Eating more fruits and vegetables also increases your vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin B6, thiamine, and niacin, minerals, and fiber.

But it can be tricky to know how you should store and prepare fresh foods to get the most nutrients.

Luckily, when you store most fruits and vegetables, this generally does not affect antioxidants levels. In fact, antioxidant levels can even go up in the few days after you buy the fruits and vegetables. But when you start to see the fruit or vegetable spoil and turn brown, that usually means that they have started to lose antioxidants. The main exceptions are broccoli, bananas, and apricots, which are more sensitive and start to lose their antioxidants during storage within days, so eat those sooner than later.

Whether you should cook or eat raw fruits or vegetables to maximize antioxidants varies. Some vegetables like mushrooms, asparagus, cabbage, and peppers gain certain antioxidants after they are cooked.

1. Tomatoes: Cooked may be better than raw.

Storage tip: Even though this will make shelf life shorter, store tomatoes in room temperature since tomatoes can lose antioxidants (and flavor) when stored in cooler temperatures.

Cook your tomatoes to release higher levels of lycopene and total antioxidant activity. You can cook them for up to 30 minutes at 190.4 degrees Fahrenheit (88 degrees Celsius). Lycopene is found in red fruits and vegetables like watermelon, red bell pepper, and papaya and has been linked to lower rates of cancer.

Raw tomatoes have less overall antioxidants, but have more vitamin C.

2. Carrots: Cooked may be better than raw.

Cook your carrots to get more beta-carotene, an antioxidant that gets converted in your body to vitamin A, which is good for your eyes and immune system. Sous Vide carrots for best results. Steaming or boiling carrots preserves more antioxidants than roasting, frying or microwaving carrots. If you’re in Top Chef mode and want to maximize antioxidants, try sous vide carrots, which has even more antioxidants than steamed carrots.

3. Broccoli: Raw and cooked.

Storage tip: Keep broccoli wrapped in packaging in the refrigerator at 1 degree Celsius (or 33.8 degrees Fahrenheit). Unlike most vegetables, broccoli tends to lose antioxidants faster than other vegetables when stored without packaging, particularly when it starts to lose its color and turn yellow. Wrap the broccoli in microperforated or non-perforated packaging to keep antioxidants for longer.

If you eat raw broccoli, you’ll get higher levels of an enzyme called myrosinase, which creates helpful compounds like sulforaphane, which blocks the growth of cancer cells and helps fight Helicobacter pylori, a bacteria responsible for stomach ulcers. Myrosinase is sensitive to heat and thus destroyed during cooking.

Cooked broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower, increases indole, which is thought to be protective against cancer. Steamed broccoli has also better potential to reduce cholesterol than raw broccoli.

Sous vide or steam broccoli to keep antioxidants and nutrients. Boiling 9-15 minutes causes the loss of up to 60 percent of nutritious compounds become leached into the water. Stir-frying and a combination of boiling and stir-frying (common in Chinese cuisine) causes the most loss of vitamin C and nutrients. Steaming allows broccoli to retain better color and texture.

broccoli

4. Cauliflower: Raw and cooked.

Fresh cauliflower has 30 percent more protein and many different types of antioxidants such as quercetin. Raw cauliflower keeps the most antioxidants overall, but cooking cauliflower increases indole levels.

Don’t boil cauliflower in water because that loses the most antioxidants. Water-boiling and blanching causes the worst loss of minerals and antioxidant compounds in cauliflower because many of the nutrients get leached into the water. Steam or sous vide cauliflower to maintain nutrients.

5. Brussel Sprouts, cabbage: Raw and steamed.

Brussel sprouts and cabbage are cruciferous vegetables rich in compounds protective for cancer. One study found that people who consumed about 300 grams or two-thirds pound of Brussels sprouts daily for a week had higher levels of a detox enzyme in the colon, which helps explain the link between eating cruciferous vegetables and lower risk of colorectal cancer.

Raw Brussels sprouts give you the most folate and vitamin C. Steaming Brussels sprouts can release more indole compounds (but they arguably taste best when roasted!).

6. Kale: Raw and blanched.

Kale has beta-carotene, vitamin C, and polyphenols. Cooking kale significantly lowers vitamin C and overall antioxidants. Keep kale raw or, if you prefer cooked, blanch or steam kale to minimize antioxidant loss.

7. Eggplant: Cooked and grilled.

Grill eggplant to make it a lot richer in antioxidants compared to raw or boiled (and it tastes a lot better too). Don’t forget to salt your eggplant slices before cooking to get rid of excess moisture and bitterness.

8. Red Peppers: Raw and cooked (stir-fry, roasted).

Red peppers are a great source of vitamin C, carotenoids, polyphenols, and other phytochemicals. Raw red peppers provide more vitamin C because vitamin C breaks down with heat. But other antioxidants like carotenoids and ferulic acid go up when red peppers are cooked.

Stir-fry or roast red peppers. Do not boil red peppers—boiling red peppers loses the most nutrients and antioxidants. Stir-frying and roasting actually preserves red pepper antioxidants, more than steaming.

9. Garlic and onions: Raw and cooked.

Garlic and onions have been linked with foods that help fight high blood pressure. Red onions have the highest amount of quercetin, a type of flavonoid family antioxidant thought to protect against certain forms of cancer, heart disease, and aging.

Garlic and onions are pretty hardy when cooked. You can blanch, fry, and even microwave them without changing their antioxidant levels by much, so prepare them however you like.

10. Artichokes: Cooked.

Cook your artichokes in order to boost their antioxidants. Steam artichokes to boost antioxidants levels by 15-fold and boil them to boost them by 8-fold. Microwaving them also increases an artichoke’s antioxidants. But don’t fry them– that plummets flavonoids, a type of antioxidant.

11. Blueberries: Raw and cooked.

Blueberries are one of the fruits with the highest levels of antioxidants, and you can eat them raw or cooked to get the most antioxidants. One study found that some type of antioxidants levels went up with cooking blueberries, while others went down.

Here are some final general tips:

Avoid deep-frying. Bad news for vegetable tempura fans: Deep-frying vegetables creates free radicals from the hot oil. Not only are free radicals damaging for the body, but the vegetables lose much of their antioxidants in the process.

Fresh is generally better than frozen. Vegetables like spinach and cauliflower can lose B vitamins in the process of being frozen.

At the end of the day, prepare your fruits and vegetables so that you’ll be more likely to eat them. As long as you stay away from the deep fryer, fresh fruits and vegetables will generally give you a lot more nutrients and antioxidants than processed foods.

 Marlynn Wei, MD, PLLC            October 3, 2015       Reviewed by Ekua Hagan

source: www.psychologytoday.com


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22 Interesting Facts

Happy New Year!
In honor of 2022, I present to you 22 interesting little factoids to ponder.
  1. Avocados are toxic to almost every other animal except humans.
  2. Your body is actually designed to get 4 hours of sleep twice per day instead of 8 hours once.
  3. Loneliness is a greater hazard than obesity.
  4. Airplane food isn’t very tasty because our sense of smell and taste decrease by 20% to 50% while flying.
  5. A German study concludes that staring at women’s breasts for 10 minutes a day is better for your health than going to the gym.
  6. What you wear has an effect on how you behave.
  7. Men don’t generally finish maturing until around the age of 43.
    With women, it’s around the age of 32.
  8. Strawberries can whiten teeth.
    Strawberries
  9. Psychology says, you are not going to heal if you keep pretending that you are not hurt.
  10. Owning a cat can reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes by more than a third.
  11. Intelligent men tend to be more faithful.
  12. Singing in the shower helps boost your immunity, lower your blood pressure, reduce stress, and improve your mood.
  13. Teenage years are considered to be the best and worst years of a person’s life.
  14. Lack of sleep can cause weight gain of 2 pounds (0.9 kg) in under a week.
  15. Sweet potato ranks Number One in nutrition of all vegetables.
  16. Psychology says, discipline is the highest form of self love.
  17. Having sex can unblock a stuffy nose.
  18. Sleep makes you more creative and makes your memories stronger.
  19. We’re more closely related to a mushroom, than a mushroom is related to plants.
  20. Music is so influential on the brain that the type you listen to actually has the ability to change the way you think and look at the world.
  21. Having a large amount of hair on your body is linked to having higher intelligence.
  22. Having an orgasm at least three times a week can reduce the l,ikelihood of death from coronary heart disease by 50%
@Fact  @UberFacts @PsychologyFacts Twitter
 
May 2022 bring you health, growth, prosperity and happiness.
May you not only survive but thrive!
~ Thanks for being here ~


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Eating Chili Peppers Can Help You Live Longer, Cut Risks For Heart Disease And Cancer


DALLAS, Texas — Previous studies have shown that spicy food can have a positive impact on your health. Now, a study released by the American Heart Association has a “hot” new take on the topic. Researchers say eating chili pepper isn’t just good for your health, it can help you live longer by reducing heart disease and cancer.

The study finds consuming chili peppers cuts the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease by 26 percent. The odds of dying from cancer decreased by 23 percent compared to people who don’t include peppers in their diet.

One of the key findings is that chili peppers act as a natural anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anticancer, and blood-glucose regulator. This is due to the release of capsaicin into an eater’s system. This substance gives a pepper its trademark mild to intense spicy flavor.

The international appeal of chili peppers
Researchers looked at over 4,700 studies from five major health databases to gather their data. Their final report included four large studies on the health of individuals who either did or didn’t eat chili peppers. The data examined more than 570,000 people from the United States, Italy, China, and Iran.

Overall, the report finds a 25-percent drop in all causes of death among people who include chili peppers in their diet.

“We were surprised to find that in these previously published studies, regular consumption of chili pepper was associated with an overall risk-reduction of all cause, CVD and cancer mortality. It highlights that dietary factors may play an important role in overall health,” says senior author Bo Xu of the Cleveland Clinic’s Heart, Vascular & Thoracic Institute in a media release.

“The exact reasons and mechanisms that might explain our findings, though, are currently unknown. Therefore, it is impossible to conclusively say that eating more chili pepper can prolong life and reduce deaths, especially from cardiovascular factors or cancer. More research, especially evidence from randomized controlled studies, is needed to confirm these preliminary findings.”

Dr. Xu adds these findings have some limitations because the respondents ate different amount and various types of chili peppers. This makes determining if a specific variety or serving size is better for a patient’s health.

The study is being presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2020.

by Chris Melore NOVEMBER 13, 2020

Source: www.studyfinds.org/eat-chili-peppers-live-longer/


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The Fruit That Boosts Weight Loss And Reduces Fat Absorption

A weight loss fruit that makes you feel full, improves your gut health, and reduces absorption of fats.

Having an avocado every day as part of your diet will increase healthy gut bacteria and reduce the absorption of fat.

The fruit is rich in fibre and monounsaturated fat, a healthy fat that lowers “bad” LDL cholesterol in the blood.

A study by Ahmed et al. (2019) suggests that avocados contain a fat molecule that could help prevent diabetes and maintain a healthy weight by improving blood glucose levels, glucose metabolism, and insulin sensitivity.

A new study has found that people who eat avocados have higher levels of gut microbes responsible for breaking down fibres and producing a number of metabolites (short-chain fatty acids) that improve gut health.

Ms Sharon Thompson, the study’s first author, said:

“We know eating avocados helps you feel full and reduces blood cholesterol concentration, but we did not know how it influences the gut microbes, and the metabolites the microbes produce.

Microbial metabolites are compounds the microbes produce that influence health.

Avocado consumption reduced bile acids and increased short chain fatty acids.

These changes correlate with beneficial health outcomes.”

Bile acids are produced by the liver, stored in the gallbladder, and released into the intestine for breaking down fats from foods we eat.

Western diets are higher in fats causing more production of bile acids which can alert the gut microbiota population and cause intestinal inflammation.

The study recruited 163 overweight or obese participants and divided them into two groups receiving a normal diet.

The only difference was that one ate fresh avocados (175 g for men or 140 g for women) as part of a meal every day for 12 weeks and the other group had a similar diet but no avocados.

avocado-toast

Dr Hannah Holscher, study co-author, said:

“Our goal was to test the hypothesis that the fats and the fiber in avocados positively affect the gut microbiota.

We also wanted to explore the relationships between gut microbes and health outcomes.

Despite avocados being high in fat, the avocado group absorbed less fat compared to the other group.”

Dr Holscher said:

“Greater fat excretion means the research participants were absorbing less energy from the foods that they were eating.

This was likely because of reductions in bile acids, which are molecules our digestion system secretes that allow us to absorb fat.

We found that the amount of bile acids in stool was lower and the amount of fat in the stool was higher in the avocado group.”

Types of fats found in foods affect the gut microbiome differently, for example, avocados contain monounsaturated fats which are considered heart-healthy.

On top of that, avocados are high in soluble fibre: an average avocado contains 12 g of fibres which is a big portion of the daily recommended fibre intake (28 to 34 g).

Dr Holscher said:

“Less than 5% of Americans eat enough fiber.

Most people consume around 12 to 16 grams of fiber per day.

Thus, incorporating avocados in your diet can help get you closer to meeting the fiber recommendation.

Eating fiber isn’t just good for us; it’s important for the microbiome, too.

We can’t break down dietary fibers, but certain gut microbes can.

When we consume dietary fiber, it’s a win-win for gut microbes and for us.”

People shouldn’t worry that avocados are high in calories as it is more important that it is a nutrient-dense food that contains micronutrients like fibre and potassium that we don’t get enough of.

About the author      Mina Dean is a Nutritionist and Food Scientist. She holds a BSc in Human Nutrition and an MSc in Food Science.

The study was published in The Journal of Nutrition (Thompson et al., 2020).

source: PsyBlog   October 7, 2021


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How Your Gut Bacteria Controls Your Mood

Your intestines has about 39 trillion microorganisms in it. And yes I said trillion. We call this collection of organisms the microbiome and it consists of mostly bacteria, but also viruses and fungi. Collectively it weighs about 3 pounds which is about the same weight as your brain.

We feed these organisms and they produce chemicals that we need. They send messages to the brain through the vagus nerve.

Several factors determine whether or not your have good vs. bad bacteria:

  • Diet
  • Medications
  • Age
  • Sleep
  • Activity level

Download a guide on gut health here: https://MarksPsychiatry.com/gut-health

source: Dr. Tracey Marks

gut-brain

 Gut Bacteria Is Key Factor in Childhood Obesity

Summary:

Scientists suggest that gut bacteria and its interactions with immune cells and metabolic organs, including fat tissue, play a key role in childhood obesity.

New information published by scientists at Wake Forest Baptist Health suggests that gut bacteria and its interactions with immune cells and metabolic organs, including fat tissue, play a key role in childhood obesity.

“The medical community used to think that obesity was a result of consuming too many calories. However, a series of studies over the past decade has confirmed that the microbes living in our gut are not only associated with obesity but also are one of the causes,” said Hariom Yadav, Ph.D., lead author of the review and assistant professor of molecular medicine at Wake Forest School of Medicine, part of Wake Forest Baptist.

In the United States, the percentage of children and adolescents affected by obesity has more than tripled since the 1970s, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Obesity is increasing at 2.3% rate each year among school-aged children, which is unacceptably high and indicates worrisome prospects for the next generation’s health, the article states.

Yadav’s manuscript, published in the current issue of the journal Obesity Reviews, reviewed existing studies (animal and human) on how the interaction between gut microbiome and immune cells can be passed from mother to baby as early as gestation and can contribute to childhood obesity.

The review also described how a mother’s health, diet, exercise level, antibiotic use, birth method (natural or cesarean), and feeding method (formula or breast milk) can affect the risk of obesity in her children.

“This compilation of current research should be very useful for doctors, nutritionists and dietitians to discuss with their patients because so many of these factors can be changed if people have enough good information,” Yadav said. “We also wanted to identify gaps in the science for future research.”

In addition, having a better understanding of the role of the gut microbiome and obesity in both mothers and their children hopefully will help scientists design more successful preventive and therapeutic strategies to check the rise of obesity in children, he said.

Story Source:

Materials provided by Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Journal Reference:

Halle J. Kincaid, Ravinder Nagpal, Hariom Yadav. Microbiome‐immune‐metabolic axis in the epidemic of childhood obesity: Evidence and opportunities. Obesity Reviews, 2019; DOI: 10.1111/obr.12963

Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center         ScienceDaily, 30 October 2019 source:  www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/10/191030132704.htm

Brain-Food

The Best Diet For Good Mental Health

People eating the right diet experience better mental health and a stronger sense of wellbeing.

Diet can have a very real effect on mental health, according to the latest review of the research.

People eating the right diet experience better mental health and a stronger sense of wellbeing.

For example, there is good evidence that the Mediterranean diet can improve depression and anxiety.

Here are ten typical ingredients of the Mediterranean diet:

  • Green leafy vegetables,
  • other vegetables,
  • nuts,
  • berries,
  • beans,
  • whole grains,
  • fish,
  • poultry,
  • olive oil,
  • and wine.

The Mediterranean diet is anti-inflammatory as it includes more vitamins, fibre and unsaturated fats.

Vitamin B12 has also been shown to help with depression, poor memory and fatigue.

For those with epilepsy, a ketogenic diet, which is high in fat and low in carbohydrates, can be helpful.

However, in other areas the effects of diet on mental health are less strong.

For example, the evidence that vitamin D supplements are beneficial for mental health is relatively weak.

Professor Suzanne Dickson, study co-author, said:

“We have found that there is increasing evidence of a link between a poor diet and the worsening of mood disorders, including anxiety and depression.
However, many common beliefs about the health effects of certain foods are not supported by solid evidence.”

The conclusions come from a review of the research in nutritional psychiatry.

For some conditions, the evidence was comparatively thin, said Professor Dickson:

“With individual conditions, we often found very mixed evidence.
With ADHD for example, we can see an increase in the quantity of refined sugar in the diet seems to increase ADHD and hyperactivity, whereas eating more fresh fruit and vegetables seems to protect against these conditions.
But there are comparatively few studies, and many of them don’t last long enough to show long-term effects.”

Nutrition during pregnancy is very important and can significantly affect brain function, the researchers found.

However, the effect of many diets on mental health is small, said Professor Dickson:

“In healthy adults dietary effects on mental health are fairly small, and that makes detecting these effects difficult: it may be that dietary supplementation only works if there are deficiencies due to a poor diet.
We also need to consider genetics: subtle differences in metabolism may mean that some people respond better to changes in diet that others.
There are also practical difficulties which need to be overcome in testing diets.
A food is not a drug, so it needs to be tested differently to a drug.
We can give someone a dummy pill to see if there is an improvement due to the placebo effect, but you can’t easily give people dummy food.
Nutritional psychiatry is a new field.
The message of this paper is that the effects of diet on mental health are real, but that we need to be careful about jumping to conclusions on the base of provisional evidence.
We need more studies on the long-term effects of everyday diets.”

About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004.

The study was published in the journal European Neuropsychopharmacology (Adan et al., 2019).

source: PsyBlog


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One Portion Of These Foods Boosts Mental Health

People who eat more fruit and vegetables have better mental health, research finds.

Indeed, the more fruit and vegetables people eat, the better their state of mind.

Eating just one extra portion of fruit and vegetables per day is enough to measurably improve mental well-being.

Just one portion has the same positive effect as going for a walk on 8 extra days a month.

Only around one-in-ten people in the US eat the recommended amount of fruit and vegetables.

The recommended amount in the US is 1½ to 2 cups per day of fruit and 2 to 3 cups per day of vegetables.

Dr Neel Ocean, the study’s first author, said:

“It’s well-established that eating fruit and vegetables can benefit physical health.

Recently, newer studies have suggested that it may also benefit psychological well-being.

Our research builds on previous work in Australia and New Zealand by verifying this relationship using a much bigger UK sample.

While further work is needed to demonstrate cause and effect, the results are clear: people who do eat more fruit and vegetables report a higher level of mental well-being and life satisfaction than those who eat less.”

The study followed many thousands of people across seven years.

The study controlled for other factors, like lifestyle, education, health status and other aspects of the diet.

Dr Peter Howley, study co-author, said:

“There appears to be accumulating evidence for the psychological benefits of fruits and vegetables.

Despite this, the data show that the vast majority of people in the UK still consume less than their five-a-day.

Encouraging better dietary habits may not just be beneficial to physical health in the long run but may also improve mental well-being in the shorter term.”

The study was published in the journal Social Science & Medicine (Ocean et al., 2019).

April 8, 2021

source: PsyBlog

veggies

Link Between Dietary Fiber And Depression
Partially Explained By Gut-Brain Interactions

New study suggests that higher daily dietary fiber intake is linked to lower risk for depression in premenopausal women

Fiber is a commonly recommended part of a healthy diet. That’s because it’s good for your health in so many ways – from weight management to reducing the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and some types of cancer. A new study also finds that it might be linked with a reduced risk of depression, especially in premenopausal women. Study results are published online in Menopause, the journal of The North American Menopause Society (NAMS).

Depression is a common and serious mental health condition that not only affects a person’s ability to perform daily activities but can also lead to suicide. It’s estimated that more than 264 million people worldwide have depression, with numbers increasing over time. This debilitating condition is much more common in women, and there are a number of theories as to why this is the case. Changes in hormone levels in perimenopausal women have been linked to depression.

Because of the serious consequences and prevalence of depression, numerous studies have been undertaken to evaluate treatment options beyond the use of antidepressants. Lifestyle interventions, including diet, exercise, and mindfulness, may help to reduce the risk for depression. In this new study involving more than 5,800 women of various ages, researchers specifically sought to investigate the relationship between dietary fiber intake and depression in women by menopause status. Dietary fiber is found mainly in fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes.

Previous studies have already suggested the benefits of fiber for mental health, but this is the first known study to categorize the association in premenopausal and postmenopausal women. It also included a broader range of ages in participants and involved women who underwent natural, as well as surgical, menopause.

The study confirmed an inverse association between dietary-fiber intake and depression in premenopausal women after adjusting for other variables, but no significant difference was documented in postmenopausal women. Research has suggested that estrogen depletion may play a role in explaining why postmenopausal women don’t benefit as much from increased dietary fiber, because estrogen affects the balance of gut microorganisms found in premenopausal and postmenopausal women. The link between dietary fiber and depression may be partially explained by gut-brain interactions, because it is theorized that changes in gut-microbiota composition may affect neurotransmission. Fiber improves the richness and diversity of gut microbiota.

Results are published in the article “Inverse association between dietary fiber intake and depression in premenopausal women: a nationwide population-based survey.”

“This study highlights an important link between dietary fiber intake and depression, but the direction of the association is unclear in this observational study, such that women with better mental health may have had a healthier diet and consumed more fiber, or a higher dietary fiber intake may have contributed to improved brain health by modulating the gut microbiome or some combination. Nonetheless, it has never been more true that ‘you are what you eat,’ given that what we eat has a profound effect on the gut microbiome which appears to play a key role in health and disease,” says Dr. Stephanie Faubion, NAMS medical director.

Journal Reference:

Yunsun Kim, Minseok Hong, Seonah Kim, Woo-young Shin, Jung-ha Kim. Inverse association between dietary fiber intake and depression in premenopausal women. Menopause, 2020; Publish Ahead of Print DOI: 10.1097/GME.0000000000001711

January 6, 2021

Source: The North American Menopause Society (NAMS)        www.sciencedaily.com


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Foods That Can Reduce Stress

Stress levels may be high these days, but did you know that what we choose to eat can help to reduce stress, ultimately allowing us to take charge of our mental health?

“Instead of thinking of food as ‘stress eating’ or ‘guilty pleasures,’ we can think of using food to shape the lens in how we experience stress,” said psychiatrist Dr. Drew Ramsey, an assistant clinical professor at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons and author of the upcoming book “Eat to Beat Depression and Anxiety.”

Taking control of stress with the foods we eat can help to counter inflammation throughout the body, as well as elevated levels of the hormone cortisol, which can otherwise lead to high blood sugar, increased appetite and weight gain, among other symptoms, according to Felicia Porrazza, a Philadelphia-based registered dietitian who helps stressed-out clients find natural ways to improve their overall wellness.

Feeling less stressed already? I hope so! Here are some food suggestions to help you live in a state of calm.

Open your palate to oily fish

Try out anchovies, sardines and herring, in addition to salmon, trout and mackerel. These foods are a rich source of stress-busting omega-3 fatty acids known as DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), which play an important role in brain health.

“Increasing omega-3 fatty acids can help to regulate how our bodies handle stress,” Porrazza said. Stress can increase inflammation in the body so if we can reduce inflammation by consuming more omega-3s, we could also potentially reduce cortisol levels, which could improve health and wellness, Porrazza explained. In fact, omega 3s help to blunt the cortisol response after acute stress, some research has shown. On the flip side, low levels of omega 3s may affect the function of the HPA, or hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal, axis, which plays a role in how our bodies respond to stress, according to Porrazza.

Omega-3 fats might help to reduce the symptoms of clinical anxiety, concluded a recent review and meta-analysis of 19 clinical trials involving over 2,200 participants from 11 countries.

Consuming high amounts of these fatty acids in fish may help protect us from depression, too, according to other research.

Need some ideas besides grilled salmon? Try a Caesar salad with an anchovy vinaigrette dressing, or add some herring to your Sunday bagel order.

Mix it up with shellfish

Mussels, clams and oysters are rich in vitamin B12 in addition to omega-3s, which are both prominent nutrients in diets connected with lower anxiety, Ramsey explained.

In fact, B vitamins, including vitamin B12, help to maintain the nervous system, and stress can cause a slight increase in the body’s requirements of these B vitamins, explained Martha McKittrick, a New York City-based registered dietitian who provides nutrition counseling and wellness coaching to many stressed-out New Yorkers.

Vitamin B deficiencies can increase the risk of developing stress-related symptoms such as irritability, lethargy and depression.

Since vitamin B12 is not produced by plants, if you are vegan, you should ensure that you are consuming vitamin B12 from fortified foods or a supplement.

Consume more vitamin C

Foods such as red and green peppers, oranges, grapefruit and kiwi are rich in vitamin C, which in high doses has antidepressant effects and improves mood, and may be helpful in treating stress-related disorders.

Other research has revealed that vitamin C may help reduce anxiety among high school students.

To boost your vitamin C intake, aim to include one vitamin C-rich food with a meal, and another for a snack. You could also try one of my favorites: dark chocolate-dipped kiwis or oranges for dessert!

Bananas

 

Choose healthy carbs

Carbohydrates can help to boost serotonin production in the brain, which is key in influencing our mood. “Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that is responsible for happiness and well-being,” Porrazza said.

Serotonin has a calming effect and also promotes sleep and relaxation, McKittrick explained. In fact, low levels of brain serotonin, research has suggested, can lead to increased vulnerability to psychosocial stress.

Tryptophan is an amino acid that is necessary for the production of serotonin in the brain. Complex carbs including whole grains and vegetables can help boost levels of serotonin because they make tryptophan more available in the brain.

Carbs like soybeans and peas also deliver a small dose of protein, which can help to balance blood glucose levels. This benefit is important, since fluctuations in blood glucose can cause irritability and worsen stress levels.

Additionally, if you eat too many highly processed carbs that are loaded with sugar and lack protein or healthy fats, like cookies and sweets, you can experience blood sugar spikes and crashes, “and that can make you feel more stressed,” McKittrick added.

Fill up on fermented foods

Fermented foods such as yogurt, kombucha, kefir, tempeh and sauerkraut contain friendly bacteria known as probiotics, which have the ability to reduce stress and cortisol levels.

In fact, randomized controlled trials featuring probiotics suggest a causal link between the gut microbiota and stress responding.

Feeling shy? Fermented foods may help reduce symptoms of social anxiety, too, research has shown. These probiotic-rich foods may also help control negative thoughts that are associated with low moods.

How does it all work? Our gut bacteria produce about 95% of our body’s serotonin supply, which can positively affect how we feel, according to Porrazza. On the flip side, stress can increase inflammation and gut dysbiosis, which is basically an imbalance of the gut microbiota, and this can negatively influence mood.

Other fermented foods include sourdough bread, kimchi, miso and pickles.

Ramsey fights stress with a kefir-rich banana smoothie. “I get a good dose of potassium from the banana and I add nuts, cinnamon and cacao for its anti-inflammatory properties. It’s a great energy and brain boost.”

Bananas are also a source of vitamin B6, which helps in the conversion of tryptophan into serotonin.

Munch on magnesium-rich foods

A lot of times when you are stressed out, your magnesium levels can become depleted, McKittrick explained. “If you have a magnesium-deficient diet, it can raise stress hormones, so it is important to eat magnesium-rich foods, like leafy green vegetables, nuts and seeds; legumes; and whole grains,” she said.

Conquer stress with crunchy foods

“A lot of my clients, when they think about crunchy foods, they think of chips, but sometimes you can manage stress with healthier crunchy foods like celery and carrots with hummus,” Porrazza said.

Cutting up an apple and then munching on it can also release stress, as Porrazza has observed with her clients. “Doing something with their hands can help them take themselves out of their head and give them a little bit of a mindful moment, which can take them out of the stress of the moment,” she added.

Take a tea break

Green, black and oolong teas are rich in theanine, an amino acid that helps reduce stress and promote calm feelings.

These teas are also rich in antioxidants, which can help reduce oxidative stress in the body, which helps protect against disease.

Black tea in particular has been studied for its role in stress recovery and reduction in cortisol levels.

And while there isn’t enough research to show that chamomile reduces stress, the act of sitting and drinking a cup of this herbal tea may be calming for some, Porrazza explained.

Other stress-busting diet tips

Lastly, there are a few diet strategies to avoid, in order to feel less stressed. One is to consume less caffeine.

Caffeine has effects on the brain and nervous system and can elevate cortisol levels and exacerbate the effects of stress on the body,” McKittrick said.

Because of caffeine’s effects, it’s important to pay attention to how your body responds to caffeine. “If I am stressed, I can only have half a cup of coffee,” McKittrick added.

And it’s important to not go too long without eating. Doing so can cause low blood sugar, which can make you feel more irritable and worsen stress. “It’s very individual, but for most I would say don’t go more than four to five hours without food – but pay attention to your own body,” McKittrick said.

By Lisa Drayer, CNN        January 23, 2021

source : CNN


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The Weight Loss Diet That Automatically Stops Overeating

Unlike the Western diet, this diet naturally puts you off overeating.
No matter how much you like to eat, a Mediterranean-style diet can protect you from overeating.
According to a study, a Mediterranean diet stops the feeling of hunger and over-consumption, unlike the Western diet that causes prediabetes, obesity, and liver disease.
However, a Mediterranean diet can have similar amounts of carbohydrates, fat, and protein to other types of diets because what we eat is important.
Generally, vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains, seeds, nuts, olive oil, fish, and seafood are plentiful in the Mediterranean diet.
Researchers have found that animals on a Mediterranean diet didn’t eat all the available food and so didn’t put on weight.
Professor Carol Shively, the study’s first author, said:

“By comparison, the animals on a Western diet ate far more than they needed and gained weight.”

The study compared the impact of consuming a Mediterranean diet with a Western diet on monkeys.
The Western diet was mainly from animal sources, whereas the Mediterranean diet was from plant products but with the same amount of carbohydrates, fat, and protein.
Professor Shively said:
“What we found was that the group on the Mediterranean diet actually ate fewer calories, had lower body weight and had less body fat than those on the Western diet.”
The results show that in contrast to a Western diet, a Mediterranean diet averted binge eating, prediabetes, and obesity.
Moreover, the Mediterranean diet was shown to protect the subjects from non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).
The build up of excessive fat in the liver causes this condition which leads to cirrhosis and liver cancer.
NAFLD is a consequence of obesity and sadly it is predicted that one-third of the United States population will have the disease by 2030.
NAFLD is becoming a more frequent reason for liver transplants in young American adults.
Professor Shively said:
“Diet composition is a critically important contributor to the U.S. public health, and unfortunately those at the greatest risk for obesity and related costly chronic diseases also have the poorest quality diets.
The Western diet was developed and promoted by companies who want us to eat their food, so they make it hyper-palatable, meaning it hits all our buttons so we overconsume.
Eating a Mediterranean diet should allow people to enjoy their food and not overeat, which is such a problem in this country.
We hope our findings will encourage people to eat healthier foods that are also enjoyable, and improve human health.”
About the author
Mina Dean is a Nutritionist and Food Scientist. She holds a BSc in Human Nutrition and an MSc in Food Science.
The study was published in the journal Obesity (Shively et al., 2020). 
source: Psyblog
trout_fish

FODMAP Diet: What You Need to Know

You may have heard of the FODMAP diet from a friend or on the internet. When people say “FODMAP diet,” they usually mean a diet low in FODMAP — certain sugars that may cause intestinal distress. This diet is designed to help people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and/or small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) figure out which foods are problematic and which foods reduce symptoms.

“The low FODMAP diet is a temporary eating plan that’s very restrictive,” says Johns Hopkins gastroenterologist Hazel Galon Veloso, M.D. “It’s always good to talk to your doctor before starting a new diet, but especially with the low FODMAP diet since it eliminates so many foods — it’s not a diet anyone should follow for long. It’s a short discovery process to determine what foods are troublesome for you.”

What is FODMAP?

FODMAP stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols, which are short-chain carbohydrates (sugars) that the small intestine absorbs poorly. Some people experience digestive distress after eating them. Symptoms include:

  • Cramping
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Stomach bloating
  • Gas and flatulence

How does the low FODMAP diet work?

Low FODMAP is a three-step elimination diet:

  1. First, you stop eating certain foods (high FODMAP foods).
  2. Next, you slowly reintroduce them to see which ones are troublesome.
  3. Once you identify the foods that cause symptoms, you can avoid or limit them while enjoying everything else worry-free.

“We recommend following the elimination portion of the diet for only two to six weeks,” says Veloso. “This reduces your symptoms and if you have SIBO, it can help decrease abnormally high levels of intestinal bacteria. Then every three days, you can add a high FODMAP food back into your diet, one at a time, to see if it causes any symptoms. If a particular high FODMAP food causes symptoms, then avoid this long term.”

What can I eat on the FODMAP diet?

Foods that trigger symptoms vary from person to person.

To ease IBS and SIBO symptoms, it’s essential to avoid high FODMAP foods that aggravate the gut, including:

  • Dairy-based milk, yogurt and ice cream
  • Wheat-based products such as cereal, bread and crackers
  • Beans and lentils
  • Some vegetables, such as artichokes, asparagus, onions and garlic
  • Some fruits, such as apples, cherries, pears and peaches

Instead, base your meals around low FODMAP foods such as:

  • Eggs and meat
  • Certain cheeses such as brie, Camembert, cheddar and feta
  • Almond milk
  • Grains like rice, quinoa and oats
  • Vegetables like eggplant, potatoes, tomatoes, cucumbers and zucchini
  • Fruits such as grapes, oranges, strawberries, blueberries and pineapple

Get a full list of FODMAP food from your doctor or nutritionist.

Who should try it?

The low FODMAP diet is part of the therapy for those with IBS and SIBO. Research has found that it reduces symptoms in up to 86% of people.

Because the diet can be challenging during the first, most restrictive phase, it’s important to work with a doctor or dietitian, who can ensure you’re following the diet correctly — which is crucial to success — and maintaining proper nutrition.

“Anyone who is underweight shouldn’t try this on their own,” says Veloso. “The low FODMAP diet isn’t meant for weight loss, but you can lose weight on it because it eliminates so many foods. For someone at an already too low weight, losing more can be dangerous.”

How a Doctor Can Help

Dietary changes can have a big impact on IBS and SIBO symptoms, but doctors often use other therapies as well. Antibiotics can quickly reduce small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, while laxatives and low-dose antidepressants can relieve symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.

A combination of dietary changes, medications and stress management techniques is often the best approach. Learn how you can work with a doctor to find the SIBO and IBS treatments that work well for you.

Reviewed By:  Hazel Galon Veloso, M.D.


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Using Food To Ward Off Anxiety

It’s normal to feel anxious or worried from time to time. Work deadlines, writing an exam or giving a presentation, for example, can trigger short-lived anxiety.

People with an anxiety disorder, however, experience persistent and intense anxiety, worry or fear that’s out of proportion to everyday occurrences. Symptoms interfere with daily life, impacting thoughts, emotions, behaviour and physical health. Anxiety disorders include panic disorder, phobias, social anxiety disorder and generalized anxiety disorder (excessive worry about ordinary, everyday situations). Anxiety often goes hand in hand with depression.

Growing scientific evidence suggests that the foods we eat – and the ones that we don’t – play a role in developing and treating anxiety.

The diet-anxiety connection

Components in whole foods can influence mood in a number of ways. Some nutrients are used to synthesize brain chemicals (neurotransmitters) that regulate emotions, while others impact how the brain responds to stress.

An imbalance of omega-3 fats, which are essential for the integrity of brain cell membranes, may alter how brain cells communicate with one another. Certain nutrients may also dampen inflammation in the brain.

While diet can’t cure anxiety – nor can it take the place of medication – research suggests that the following strategies may help reduce symptoms.

Follow a healthy dietary pattern. Studies conducted in many different countries have found that healthy traditional diet patterns, including the Mediterranean diet and vegetarian diets, are associated with a lower risk of anxiety disorders.

In general, eating a diet that’s low in added sugars and emphasizes vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean proteins, nuts and beans and lentils guards against anxiety. In contrast, a “Western-style” diet consisting of refined grains, highly processed foods and sugary foods increases the risk.

Include omega-3′s, fatty fish. Observational studies have linked a higher intake of oily fish and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), an omega-3 fatty acid found in fish, to a lower risk of anxiety disorders in children, adults and pregnant women.

A randomized controlled trial published in 2013 found that medical students who received omega-3 supplements (2.5 grams a day) experienced a 20-per-cent reduction in anxiety compared with the placebo group. They also had lower blood levels of stress-induced inflammatory proteins.

Salmon, trout, sardines, herring, mackerel and anchovies are good sources of omega-3 fatty acids; these fish are also low in mercury. Include them in your diet at least twice a week. DHA supplements made from algae are available for people who eat a vegetarian diet.

Try fermented foods. Preliminary evidence suggests that a regular intake of fermented foods, a source of probiotic bacteria, may reduce the risk of social anxiety in women. Fermented foods include kefir, kombucha, kimchi, unpasteurized sauerkraut and yogurt.

Probiotics may also help ease anxiety symptoms. A review of 10 randomized controlled trials, published in 2017, concluded that probiotic supplements significantly improved anxiety. However, the strain of probiotic, the dose and the duration of treatment varied widely across studies.

Once consumed, probiotic bacteria take up residence in the gut, where they help to maintain a strong intestinal barrier. When the lining of the gut becomes more permeable than normal, toxins can escape into the bloodstream, triggering an inflammatory response that may interfere with neurotransmitters.

It’s also thought that probiotics in the gut increase the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that regulates stress and emotions.

Increase magnesium, zinc. Findings from a number of studies have shown that a deficiency of these two minerals, needed for healthy brain cells, can lead to anxiety.

Excellent sources of magnesium include oat bran, brown rice, quinoa, spinach, Swiss chard, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, almonds, cashews, black beans, lentils, tofu and edamame.

You’ll find zinc in oysters, beef, crab, pork, chicken, pumpkin seeds, cashews, chickpeas, yogurt, milk and fortified breakfast cereals.

Avoid triggers. Eat at regular intervals during the day to prevent low blood sugar, which could precipitate feelings of anxiety. Limit or avoid caffeine and alcohol, which can also make you feel jittery and nervous.

Drink water throughout the day to prevent becoming dehydrated; even mild dehydration can worsen your mood.

LESLIE BECK         THE GLOBE AND MAIL         August 23, 2020

Leslie Beck, a Toronto-based private practice dietitian, is Director of Food and Nutrition at Medcan.

source: www.theglobeandmail.com

salmon

 

9 Foods That Calm Anxiety
(and 3 That Make It Worse)

Scientists are just beginning to recognize the connection between food and our brain. Eat these nutrients for a wave of calming feelings that keep worry away.

Omega-3 fatty acids make your brain happy

Doctors often know how to calm anxiety, or treat it, with therapy and medications, but the answer to calming the condition could be hiding in plain sight: the foods we eat. Doctors and nutritionists are starting to understand more about how certain nutrients, or lack of them, affect the brain. “Our brain has very high energy and nutrient requirements,” says clinical nutritionist and health coach Melissa Reagan Brunetti, CNC. “Nutritional deficiencies and dietary patterns can affect its function, and alter brain chemistry and the formulation of neurotransmitters—chemicals in the brain that can stimulate and calm.” These neurotransmitters influence our mood as well as our appetite, she says. A study from Ohio State University showed one nutrient that’s especially good for reducing anxious symptoms is omega 3 fatty acids, found in fatty fish like wild salmon, flaxseed, walnuts, and chia seeds. “Our brains need fat from dietary sources to function properly,” Brunetti says. “If you are not eating a sufficient amount of beneficial fats, your brain will suffer.”

Probiotics are good for the gut

Surprisingly, another calming food source is probiotics. “Your gut bacteria is needed for production of neurotransmitters, including serotonin, dopamine, and GABA [gamma-aminobutyric acid], which all play a role in mood,” Brunetti says. “The microbiome [gut bacteria] has a direct link to the brain and the immune system, so restoring balance in the gut of good and bad bacteria through use of probiotics can benefit the brain.” Recent research has found that probiotics may actually work to treat, or even prevent, anxious feelings. You can either take a probiotic supplement or eat foods that have been fermented, a process which encourages good bacteria to grow, and has been shown in studies as a way how to calm anxiety. “I like to see patients eat more fermented foods like yogurt, sauerkraut, and kefir, as the kinds of bacteria in your gut influence anxiety,” says Drew Ramsey, MD, a psychiatrist who specializes in using dietary changes to help balance moods, and author of Eat Complete. Another fermented food you probably already have in your fridge? Pickles!

Caffeine makes you anxious

Although some of us feel like we’re miserable until we’ve had our morning cup of java, coffee and other caffeinated foods and drinks actually worsen anxious feelings. Because it’s a stimulant for the nervous system, it increases heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature. According to the University of Michigan, coffee can lead to symptoms of worrying like nervousness, sweating, and shaking. A study from Brazil found that caffeine actually induced panic attacks in people with an anxious disorder. Another study, from Wake Forest University, found that caffeine reduced blood flow to the brain by 27 percent. Not to mention that it can mess with sleep, which is essential for brain health. “Limiting caffeine intake can help quell inflammation and contribute to improved brain function,” Brunetti says. Likewise, Dr. Ramsey suggests avoiding energy drinks with caffeine, as well as indulging in too much dark chocolate (stick to one or two squares a day).

Water keeps everything flowing smoothly

How to calm anxiety in one step? Drink good old fashioned water. “Staying hydrated with clean water is very important,” Brunetti says. A study from the University of Connecticut showed that even mild dehydration can cause mood problems. According to the study’s author, Lawrence E. Armstrong, PhD, by the time you feel thirsty it’s too late. “Our thirst sensation doesn’t really appear until we are one or two percent dehydrated,” he says. “By then dehydration is already setting in and starting to impact how our mind and body perform.” The connection behind dehydration and anxious symptoms is not totally known; but the UConn study authors think it may be part of an ancient warning system alerting us to find water for survival. So, you should be sure to consume water throughout the day.

Stay away from refined sugar and processed foods

Sweets and processed foods all are, not surprisingly, bad for your mental health. Sugar and refined carbs cause a spike in blood sugar followed by a sudden drop. A study from Columbia University found that the more refined carbs and sugar women ate, the higher their risk for mood changes and depression. Another study, from the United Kingdom, found that eating processed meat and fried foods had similar responses, possibly because of the link with heart disease and inflammation, which are also associated with mental health problems. “Skip highly processed foods, as these are mainly simple sugars and vegetable oils,” Dr. Ramsey suggests. Instead, try eating more complex carbs like whole grains, which were linked to fewer mental health issues in the Columbia study.

Alcohol brings you down

Alcohol is a depressant but it can also worsen anxiety symptoms. And unfortunately, the two often go hand-in-hand—in a study that took place over 14 years, researchers found that people with social anxiety disorder (SAD) were 4.5 times more likely to develop alcohol dependence. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America says that 20 percent of people with SAD also suffer from alcohol abuse or dependence. Drinking can seem like a good way to calm your nerves, but in reality, it causes spikes and dips in blood sugar, dehydrates you, and causes impaired brain function—all of which can lead to anxious feelings, which then make you want to drink more, creating a vicious cycle. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, drinking a lot can cause changes in the brain’s neurotransmitters that may induce these symptoms. For this reason, Brunetti says it’s best to reduce or eliminate alcohol.

Load up on antioxidants

Here’s another reason antioxidants are superfoods: They can help quell anxious moods. “Antioxidants protect the brain against oxidative stress [free radicals],” Brunetti says. “Oxidative stress leads to inflammation, which can impair neurotransmitter production.” Research by the State University of New York found that anxious symptoms are linked with a lower antioxidant state, and that antioxidants could actually help treat mood issues as well. So which nutrients are antioxidants, and which foods contain them? “Diets rich in beta-carotene like carrots, sweet potatoes, squash, spinach, and kale; vitamin C like citrus fruits, red peppers, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and strawberries; and vitamin E like almonds, avocado, spinach, sunflower seeds, spinach, and sweet potatoes, are essential for supporting optimal brain function,” Brunetti says. Another powerful antioxidant Brunetti says is shown to combat anxious feelings is the trace mineral selenium, found in Brazil nuts, halibut, grass-fed beef, turkey, chicken, and eggs. Also, studies have shown that upping your zinc, which has antioxidant properties, leads to fewer anxious feelings. Cashews are a great source of zinc.

Magnesium is calming

Another nutrient that might stave off anxious symptoms is magnesium. “Magnesium is a calming mineral that has been found to induce relaxation,” Brunetti says. In an Austrian study with mice, diets low in magnesium increased anxious behaviors. Research has shown that magnesium may also help treat mental health issues in humans. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, inadequate magnesium reduces levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin, and antidepressants have been shown to increase magnesium in the brain—evidence of a positive link. “Magnesium can act at the blood brain barrier to prevent the entrance of stress hormones into the brain,” psychiatrist Emily Deans, MD, writes on Psychology Today. “All these reasons are why I call magnesium ‘the original chill pill.’” Dr. Ramsey suggests eating eggs and greens, like spinach and Swiss chard, for magnesium. Other sources include legumes, nuts, seeds, and avocado.

Try tryptophan

We usually think of tryptophan as the nutrient in turkey that puts us to sleep after Thanksgiving—and in fact, tryptophan is an amino acid that the body needs to produce the neurotransmitter serotonin, which helps regulate sleep and moods. According to the University of Michigan, tryptophan may help reduce anxious feelings. In one small study, participants who ate a food bar rich in tryptophan reported fewer symptoms than those who ate a bar without tryptophan. More research is needed, but it seems likely that there is a connection. Tryptophan is in most protein-rich foods like turkey and other meats, nuts, seeds, beans, and eggs. (Incidentally, protein is also important for the production on the neurotransmitter dopamine, which can benefit mood as well.)

B vitamins bump up good feelings

Harvard Medical School advises eating foods rich in B vitamins, like beef, avocado, and almonds, to help ward off anxious feelings. “B vitamins have positive effects on the nervous system, and deficiencies have been linked to anxious disorders,” Brunetti says. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, vitamin B6 helps the body make several neurotransmitters, including serotonin, which influence mood. A study from Australia found that stressed-out workers who were given a high dose of B vitamins felt less strained and in a better mood after 12 weeks. Another study, from the University of Miami, found that depressed adults who took a vitamin B complex had fewer depressive and anxious symptoms after two months. “Another nutrient that seems to matter is choline, found in eggs, which is a cousin of B vitamins,” Dr. Ramsey says. More research is needed, but these results are promising.

Cozy up with herbal teas

So you might not want to indulge in too much coffee, but you can relax with a mug of herbal tea in order to feel less anxious. “Great options for herbal teas are chamomile, skullcap, and kava kava to start,” Dr. Ramsey says. A study from the University of Pennsylvania found that participants who took chamomile for eight weeks experienced fewer anxious symptoms than those that didn’t. However, be aware that kava can interact with anti-anxiety and antidepressant meds, so talk to your doctor first if you’re on them. Plus, it’s so relaxing that high doses of it could impair your ability to drive, according to one study. If you’re using herbs for anxiety, steer clear of ones that are stimulating, such as ginseng, cautions Dr. Ramsey, because they might actually make anxious feelings worse.

It’s not just what you eat, but how

How to calm anxiety? Pay attention to how and when you eat. Bad habits can have a negative effect on anxious moods, which “get worse when people have low blood sugar,” Dr. Ramsey says. “A simple step people often forget is to eat regularly.” Brunetti says if low blood sugar is an issue for you (in other words, if you get “hangry”), eating smaller, frequent meals throughout the day can help. According to Harvard Medical School, there is evidence that our Western diet, with its focus on refined carbs and processed foods, might not be great for anxious moods; instead, Mediterranean or Japanese diets, which include a lot of veggies and fish, may be the way to go. But, be careful of fad diets that eliminate entire food groups. “Diets that are too low in [complex] carbohydrates can also be detrimental” for anxious feelings, Brunetti says. “Include a variety of foods in your diet to ensure you are getting a wide range of nutrients needed to calm the mind.”

Tina Donvito      November 21, 2018

source: www.rd.com