AGEs are toxic compounds. Their full name is Advanced Glycation Endproducts, and they form naturally in small amounts in our body. Until recently, scientists thought AGEs were just normal byproducts of our metabolic system linked to sugar.
By Keri Gans, Special to CNN June 27, 2013
Editor’s note: Keri Gans is a registered dietitian/nutritionist, media personality, author of “The Small Change Diet” and spokeswoman for the Aetna “What’s Your Healthy” campaign.
(CNN) – Despite recent heightened awareness about its many negative effects on our health, whether it’s to get through the mid-afternoon slump or paired with lunch or dinner as our beverage of choice, many of us still reach for soda daily for a jolt of caffeine and sugary satisfaction.
Perhaps because of a person’s overall unhealthy food and beverage choices, studies have shown that even minimal soda consumption may lead to weight gain. Unfortunately, that weight gain can lead to the development of Type 2 diabetes and a heightened chance of stroke.
Increased soda consumption also has been linked to kidney stones and tooth decay. Unfortunately, caffeine can be highly addictive and habit-forming, and many Americans are wary of cutting it out cold turkey.
So how does one ditch a dependence on soda? Here are five tips for kicking your soda habit for good:
Hydrate with H2O. The body needs water to function optimally, but its benefits extend beyond being a necessity for everyday, basic health.
Reach for a glass of water when the urge for soda strikes. While both beverages help us to feel temporarily full, water won’t leave you feeling deflated like the letdown after a caffeine high. If it’s carbonation you crave, try seltzer or sparkling water when you’re thirsty.
Water doesn’t have to be plain, either – try adding produce like lemon, lime, or watermelon for a refreshing and satisfying twist.
Seek support. Soda is often consumed in large amounts in social situations, whether at the movies or dining in groups. Enlisting friends, significant others, and relatives to help you rid yourself of your habit will help keep you accountable and on track.
As reducing your caffeine intake can often lead to withdrawal symptoms, including mood swings, it’s important to communicate effectively with loved ones. Keeping lines of communication open can help boost your mood and release negative thoughts and feelings.
Choose a healthier “caffeinated” beverage. Antioxidant-rich green tea is an excellent alternative to soda and has been shown to offer a number of overall health benefits. Studies have shown green tea may protect skin from sun damage, stabilize blood sugar levels and decrease the risk for certain types of cancer.
The taste of green tea can be easily enhanced by drinking it over ice, or adding fresh-squeezed lemon. Consuming green tea can also aid in weaning you from your perceived need for caffeine – the beverage contains a small amount (significantly less than soda) of naturally occurring caffeine.
Stay occupied. As with many of the things we do with repetition, they often become habits due to boredom.
If you find yourself mindlessly heading for the fridge, grab a quick, low-calorie snack instead. Sweet-tasting flavored low-fat Greek yogurt, for instance, may satisfy your need for a quick pick-me-up. Making a brief phone call to a friend or browsing your favorite website may also fill the need to busy yourself.
Isolate yourself from the source of your addiction. You’re much more likely to cave to the temptation of popping the tab on a cold can of soda if one is within easy reach.
It’s a simple solution, but ridding your environment of soda altogether can prove vital in your battle for a soda-free diet. If you do the grocery shopping in your home, don’t buy it to begin with. If your workplace is your pitfall, advocate for healthier options in your office’s vending machine or take a new walking route to avoid the lure of soda calling your name.
Health benefits of pumpkin seeds
Crunchy, delicious pumpkin seeds are high in calories, about 559 calories per 100 g. In addition; they are packed with fiber, vitamins, minerals, and numerous health promoting antioxidants.
Their high caloric content mainly comes from protein and fats. On the positive side, the nuts are especially rich in mono-unsaturated fatty acids (MUFA) like oleic acid (18:1) that helps lower bad LDL cholesterol and increases good HDL cholesterol in the blood. Research studies suggest that Mediterranean diet, which is liberal in monounsaturated fatty acids help to prevent coronary artery disease and strokes by favoring healthy blood lipid profile.
The seeds contain good-quality protein. 100 g seeds provide 30 g or 54% of recommended daily allowance. In addition, the seeds are an excellent source of amino acid tryptophan and glutamate. Tryptophan is converted into serotonin and niacin. Serotonin is a beneficial neuro-chemical often labeled as nature’s sleeping pill. Further, tryptophan is a precursor of B-complex vitamin, niacin (60 mg of tryptophan = 1mg niacin).
Glutamate is required in the synthesis of γ-amino butyric acid (GABA). GABA, an anti-stress neurochemical in the brain, helps reducing anxiety, nervous irritability, and other neurotic conditions.
Pumpkin seeds are a very good source of anti-oxidant vitamin E; contain about 35.10 mg of tocopherol-gamma per 100 g (about 237% of RDA). Vitamin E is a powerful lipid soluble antioxidant. It prevents tissue cells from the free radical mediated oxidant injury. Thus, it helps maintain the integrity of mucus membranes and skin by protecting from harmful oxygen-free radicals.
Pumpkin kernels are an also excellent source of B-complex group of vitamins such as thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine) and folates. These vitamins work as co-factors for various enzymes during cellular substrate metabolism in the human body. In addition, niacin helps to reduce LDL-cholesterol levels in the blood. Along with glutamate, it enhances GABA activity inside the brain, which in turn reduces anxiety and neurosis.
Furthermore, its seeds contain very good levels of essential minerals like copper, manganese, potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc and selenium. Just as in pine nuts, pumpkin seeds too are very rich in manganese (provide 4543 mg per 100 g, about 198% of daily-recommended intake). Manganese is an all-important co-factor for antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase. It is therefore, consumption of pumpkin kernels helps the body develop resistance against infectious agents and scavenge harmful oxygen-free radicals.
Medicinal values of pumpkin seeds
Research studies suggest that pumpkin seed to have DHEA (Di hydro epi-androstenedione) blocking actions. Thus, it cuts the risk of prostate and ovarian cancers.
In addition, experimental studies suggest that certain phytochemical compounds in pumpkin seed oil may have a role in prevention of diabetic nephropathy (kidney disease).