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Top 10 Brain Foods

by Daily Health Post 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.
Have any other tips for good brain health? Share them in the comments section!

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

source: dailyhealthpost.com


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12 Foods That Supercharge Your Brain

August 4, 2013  by: True Activist

Simply put, your brain likes to eat. And it likes powerful fuel: quality fats, antioxidants, and small, steady amounts of the best carbs. The path to a bigger, better brain is loaded with Omega-3 fats, antioxidants, and fiber. Give your brain a kick start: eat the following foods on a daily or weekly basis for results you will notice.

1. Avocado

Start each day with a mix of high-quality protein and beneficial fats to build the foundation for an energized day. Avocado with scrambled eggs provides both, and the monounsaturated fat helps blood circulate better, which is essential for optimal brain function. Worst alternative: a trans-fat-filled, sugar-laden cream cheese Danish.

Green it: you don’t need to buy an organic avocado – conventional is fine. But make sure your supplementary protein is free range, cage free, or organic.

2. Blueberries

These delicious berries are one of the best foods for you, period, but they’re very good for your brain as well. Since they’re high in fiber and low on the glycemic index, they are safe for diabetics and they do not spike blood sugar. Blueberries are possibly the best brain food on earth: they have been linked to reduced risk for Alzheimer’s, shown to improve learning ability and motor skills in rats, and they are one of the most powerful anti-stress foods you can eat. Avoid: dried, sweetened blueberries.

Green it: buy local and organic, and be mindful of seasonality. When blueberries are out of season, opt for cranberries, grapes, goji berries, blackberries or cherries to get your brain boost.

3. Wild Salmon

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for your brain. These beneficial fats are linked to improved cognition and alertness, reduced risk of degenerative mental disease (such as dementia), improved memory, improved mood, and reduced depression, anxiety and hyperactivity. Wild salmon is a premium source, but we’ll highlight a few other sources on this list for vegetarians and people who just don’t like salmon. Avoid farmed (read: sea lice infested) salmon.

Green it: the California salmon stock is threatened, so choose wild Alaskan salmon only, and eat small portions no more than twice a week.

4. Nuts

Nuts contain protein, high amounts of fiber, and they are rich in beneficial fats. For getting an immediate energy boost that won’t turn into a spike later, you can’t do better than nuts. The complex carbs will perk you up while the fat and protein will sustain you. Nuts also contain plenty of vitamin E, which is essential to cognitive function. You don’t have to eat raw, plain, unsalted nuts, but do avoid the ones with a lot of sweetening or seasoning blends. Filberts, hazelnuts, cashews, and walnuts are great choices, with almonds being the king of nuts.

For those avoiding carbs, macadamia nuts are much higher in fat than most nuts. By the way, peanuts just aren’t ideal. Aside from the fact that many people are allergic, peanuts have less healthy fat than many other types of nuts…maybe that’s because peanuts are not actually a nut! They’re still much better than a candy bar, however.

Green it: try to choose organic, raw nuts, and if you can’t get those, at least avoid the tins of heavily-seasoned, preservative-laden nuts that may have taken many food miles to get to your mouth.

5. Seeds

Try sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, flax seed, and tahini (a tangy, nutty sesame butter that tastes great in replacement of mayo and salad dressing). Seeds contain a lot of protein, beneficial fat, and vitamin E, as well as stress-fighting antioxidants and important brain-boosting minerals like magnesium.

Green it: Again, just look for organic and try to avoid the highly-seasoned, processed options. In general, things like fruits, vegetables, seeds and nuts are pretty low-impact, environmentally speaking, in comparison to meats and cheeses.



6. Pomegranate

Opt for the fruit over the juice so you get more fiber. Pomegranates contain blueberry-like levels of antioxidants, which are essential for a healthy brain. Your brain is the first organ to feel the effects of stress, so anything you can do to offset stress is a smart choice.

Green it: pomegranates are seasonal and not generally local for most of us, so enjoy sparingly and rely on other berries like acai, grapes and cherries when you can’t get this fruit.

7. Garlic

Garlic – the fresher the better – is one of the most potent nutritional weapons in your arsenal. Eat it as much as your significant other can stand. Not only is it fabulous for reducing bad cholesterol and strengthening your cardiovascular system, it exerts a protective antioxidant effect on the brain.

It makes life easier, but don’t even think about buying the chopped or peeled garlic. Nutritional benefits = zero.

Green it: just choose organic, and go for local if you can get it.

8. Green Leafy Vegetables

Spinach, kale, chard, romaine, arugula, lolla rossa – whatever green you like, eat it daily. Green, leafy vegetables are high in iron (slightly less “green” iron sources include beef, pork and lamb). Americans tend to be deficient in iron, which is too bad, because the deficiency is linked to restless leg syndrome, fatigue, poor mood, foggy thinking, and other cognition issues.

Green it: choose organic, and shop at your farmers’ market or order from a local CSA. Leave out the red meat a few days a week and rely on a big, well-seasoned green stir fry or salad.

9. Cacao nibs

Cacao nibs are among the top five most powerful brain foods, right next to wild salmon and blueberries.

Green it: as long as it’s fair trade and organic, it’s green.

10. Tomatoes

Go figure, but tomatoes don’t usually make the brain-boosting food lists. Tomatoes contain lycopene, an antioxidant that is particularly good for your brain – it even helps prevent dementia. You have to cook tomatoes to get the lycopene. But this does mean that ketchup is good for your brain. Although because of the sugar in it, you should look to other sources for most of your lycopene intake, such as fresh tomato sauce.

Green it: try to eat tomatoes that are local and get your lycopene in vitamin form when tomatoes aren’t in season. You’ll know when that is – the tomatoes will be pale, tasteless, and pithy.

11. Olive Oil

Though we know the brain does need a small, steady supply of glucose, don’t overlook fat. Studies have consistently shown that a low-fat diet is not the health boon we hoped it would be (remember the 90s low-fat craze?). In fact, avoiding fat can increase foggy thinking, mood swings, and insomnia. A diet rich in healthy fats is essential to clear thinking, good memory, and a balanced mood. Your brain is made of fat, after all.

One study of men found that those who relied on the processed vegetable fats found in salad dressings, snacks and prepared foods had 75% higher rates of mental degradation (dementia, memory loss) than men who ate healthy fats. Most processed foods and fast foods use corn oil, palm oil, soybean oil and other Omega-6 fats. You don’t want Omega 6 fats. Even saturated fat is safer than Omega 6’s.

Choose healthy fats such as those present in olive oil, nut butters, nuts and seeds, flax, oily fish, and avocados. Avoid processed fats found in pastries, chips, candy bars, snacks, junk food, fried foods and prepared foods. Eating the wrong fat can literally alter your brain’s communication pathways.

Green it: look for organic, local, or farmers’ market options when it comes to your food. You should also explore herbal remedies for mood swings and brain health.

12. Tea

You have to brew tea fresh or you won’t get the benefits of all those catechines (antioxidants) that boost your brain. Because tea has caffeine, don’t have more than 2-3 cups daily.

Green it: buy organic, fair trade loose leaf or packets to support sustainable business practices.

Sources :
http://preventdisease.com/news/13/080413_12-Foods-That-Supercharge-Your-Brain.shtml
www.trueactivist.com


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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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Pour on the olive oil: Big study finds Mediterranean-style diet cuts heart attack, stroke risk

MARILYNN MARCHIONE / THE ASSOCIATED PRESS    FEBRUARY 25, 2013

Pour on the olive oil, preferably over fish and vegetables: One of the longest and most scientific tests of a Mediterranean diet suggests this style of eating can cut the chance of suffering heart-related problems, especially strokes, in older people at high risk of them.

The study lasted five years and involved about 7,500 people in Spain. Those who ate Mediterranean-style with lots of olive oil or nuts had a 30 per cent lower risk of major cardiovascular problems compared to those who were told to follow a low-fat diet but who in reality, didn’t cut fat very much. Mediterranean meant lots of fruit, fish, chicken, beans, tomato sauce, salads, and wine and little baked goods and pastries.

Mediterranean diets have long been touted as heart-healthy, but that’s based on observational studies that can’t prove the point. The new research is much stronger because people were assigned diets to follow for a long time and carefully monitored. Doctors even did lab tests to verify that the Mediterranean diet folks were consuming more olive oil or nuts as recommended.

Most of these people were taking medicines for high cholesterol and blood pressure, and researchers did not alter those proven treatments, said one study leader, Dr. Ramon Estruch of Hospital Clinic in Barcelona.

But as a first step to prevent heart problems, “we think diet is better than a drug” because it has few if any side effects, Estruch said. “Diet works.”

Results were published online Monday by the New England Journal of Medicine and were discussed at a nutrition conference in Loma Linda, Calif.

People in the study were not given rigid menus or calorie goals because weight loss was not the aim. That could be why they found the “diets” easy to stick with — only about 7 per cent dropped out within two years. There were twice as many dropouts in the low-fat group than among those eating Mediterranean-style.

Researchers also provided the nuts and olive oil, so it didn’t cost participants anything to use these relatively pricey ingredients. The type of oil may have mattered — they used extra-virgin olive oil, which is minimally processed and richer than regular or light olive oil in the chemicals and nutrients that earlier studies have suggested are beneficial.

The study involved people ages 55 to 80, just over half of them women. All were free of heart disease at the start but were at high risk for it because of health problems — half had diabetes and most were overweight and had high cholesterol and blood pressure.

They were assigned to one of three groups: Two followed a Mediterranean diet supplemented with either extra-virgin olive oil (4 tablespoons a day) or with walnuts, hazelnuts and almonds (a fistful a day). The third group was urged to eat a low-fat diet heavy on bread, potatoes, pasta, rice, fruits, vegetables and fish and light on baked goods, nuts, oils and red meat.


Independent monitors stopped the study after nearly five years when they saw fewer problems in the two groups on Mediterranean diets.

Doctors tracked a composite of heart attacks, strokes or heart-related deaths. There were 96 of these in the Mediterranean-olive oil group, 83 in the Mediterranean-nut group and 109 in the low-fat group.

Looked at individually, stroke was the only problem where type of diet made a big difference. Diet had no effect on death rates overall.

The Mediterranean diet proved better even though its followers ate about 200 calories more per day than the low-fat group did. The study leaders now are analyzing how each of the diets affected weight gain or loss and body mass index.

The Spanish government’s health research agency initiated and paid for the study, and foods were supplied by olive oil and nut producers in Spain and the California Walnut Commission. Many of the authors have extensive financial ties to food, wine and other industry groups but said the sponsors had no role in designing the study or analyzing and reporting its results.

Rachel Johnson, a University of Vermont professor who heads the American Heart Association’s nutrition committee, said the study is very strong because of the lab tests to verify oil and nut consumption and because researchers tracked actual heart attacks, strokes and deaths — not just changes in risk factors such as high cholesterol.

“At the end of the day, what we care about is whether or not disease develops,” she said. “It’s an important study.”

Rena Wing, a weight-loss expert at Brown University, noted that researchers provided the oil and nuts, and said “it’s not clear if people could get the same results from self-designed Mediterranean diets” — or if Americans would stick to them more than Europeans who are used to such foods.

Dr. George Bray of the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, La., said he would give the study “a positive — even glowing — comment” and called it “the best and certainly one of the largest prospective dietary trials ever done.”

“The data are sufficiently strong to convince me to move my dietary pattern closer to the Mediterranean Diet that they outline,” he added.

Another independent expert also praised the study as evidence diet can lower heart risks.

“The risk reduction is close to that achieved with statins,” cholesterol-lowering drugs, said Dr. Robert Eckel, a diet and heart disease expert at the University of Colorado.

“But this study was not carried out or intended to compare diet to statins or blood pressure medicines,” he warned. “I don’t think people should think now they can quit taking their medicines.”

source:

 


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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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5 Fats That Don’t Make You Fat

By Jen Broyles

There are a lot of myths out there regarding nutrition. We are always eager to try the next health fad or new diet in hopes of dropping pounds and feeling great. One of the biggest misconceptions is that fat makes you fat. Our society is obsessed with low-fat and fat-free products thinking they are healthier. This simply is not true. The majority of foods that are labeled low-fat or fat-free are refined processed foods in which the fat has been replaced with more sugar. Not a good option. In fact, many fats are very healthy, essential to our wellbeing, and even promote weight loss.  Our body requires fat in order to function properly. Plus, many necessary vitamins, such as A, D, E, and K are fat-soluble, meaning the only way your body can absorb them is in the presence of fat. 

Here are a few types of good fats that are great to incorporate into your diet. Not only will you feel better, but you will be less hungry, and your body won’t feel deprived. 

Nuts
Nuts are very diet-friendly and are loaded with a ton of amazing nutrients, healthy fats, and protein. Nuts are one of the best sources of alpha-lenolenic acid, a type of heart-healthy omega-3. Omega-3s offer numerous health benefits from lowering cholesterol to disease prevention. They are also rich in L-arginine, an amino acid that has been shown to boost immune function, promote wound healing, improve blood vessel function, and help manage cardiovascular disease. Additionally, nuts contain soluble fiber and Vitamin E. Fiber helps lower cholesterol and glucose levels while Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant. Vitamin E is essential for proper immune function, healthy skin, and DNA repair.

Some of my favorites are almonds, walnuts, and brazil nuts. Try them in smoothies, nutrition bars, salads, trail mix, or alone. Nut butters are another delicious way to enjoy this nutrient-dense food.

Olive Oil
Olive oil is such a healthy oil to use when sautéing, baking, and making salad dressing. This fantastic oil is rich in monounsaturated fat and antioxidants such as chlorophyll, carotenoids, and vitamin E. 


Olive oil is great for reducing blood pressure, cancer prevention, managing diabetes, and lessening the severity of asthma and arthritis. In fact, including olive oil in your diet can help you maintain a lower, healthy weight. 

Avocados
Avocados are fantastic fruits with tons of nutritional benefits. They are an excellent source of glutathione, a powerful antioxidant that helps cleanse and protect your body by detoxifying, removing heavy metals, and fighting free radicals. Glutathione helps maintain a healthy immune system and slows the aging process. Avocados are rich in folate, which has been shown to decrease the incidence of heart disease and stroke. They are also the best fruit source of Vitamin E, which protects against many diseases and helps maintain overall health. 

Not only are avocados packed with nutrients, but studies have shown that certain nutrients are absorbed better when eaten with an avocado. Enjoy an avocado on a sandwich, in a salad, blended into a smoothie.

Coconut Oil
Coconut products offer an array of health benefits, and coconut oil is a great oil to use for cooking, or it can be added to smoothies, oatmeal, and other dishes. Coconut oil offers antimicrobial, antibacterial and anti-cancer properties. It improves digestion, nutrient absorption and intestinal health. It provides cardiovascular benefits and helps manage Type 2 Diabetes. Coconut oil promotes kidney and liver health and supports the immune system. It also benefits metabolism, energy, and weight management. 

Coconut oil had a bad reputation for a while primarily because it is composed of saturated fat, which we are told to stay away from. However, the saturated fat in coconut oil is different from that in animal products. The fatty acids in coconut oil are medium-chain triglycerides, which are easily metabolized and used as energy by the body. Research suggests that these fatty acids may boost your metabolism, promote weight loss, and increase HDL, the good, protective cholesterol in your body.

Seeds
Seeds, like nuts, contain a number of heart healthy properties. They offer beneficial fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, and protein. Seeds are also packed with health-promoting minerals such as magnesium, selenium, and zinc. 

Some great seeds to include in your diet are flax seeds, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds. Chia seeds, in particular, are considered a superfood due to their extremely high nutrient profile. They are super rich in omega-3s, even more than flax seeds. Plus, they are loaded with powerful antioxidants, fiber, magnesium, phosphorous, manganese, copper, iron, and zinc. Seeds can be enjoyed many ways. They are great in smoothies, baked goods, nutrition bars, salads, trail mix, yogurt, and other foods. 


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It’s the Olive Oil: Mediterranean Diet Lowers Risk of Heart Attack and Stroke

By Alice Park       Feb. 25, 2013


The Mediterranean diet is a well-known weapon in the fight against heart disease, but exactly how effective is it?

To find out, researchers led by Dr. Ramón Estruch, from the Department of Internal Medicine at the Hospital Clinic of Barcelona, put the Mediterranean diet to the test against a low-fat diet. They followed participants to track rates of heart attack, stroke and heart-disease-related death. After nearly five years, the results were so striking for one group that the study was stopped early, according to research published online by the New England Journal of Medicine.

The group that showed the least heart problems and lowest rate of heart disease deaths? Those who ate a Mediterranean diet high in extra-virgin olive oil. Coming in at a close second were participants who ate a Mediterranean diet high in nuts. Compared with those eating the low-fat diet, the extra-virgin-olive-oil group showed a 30% lower risk of having a heart attack, stroke or dying of heart disease after five years, while those consuming the Mediterranean diet with more nuts showed a 28% lower risk of these outcomes.

“We think the strength of this study comes from the fact that we measured hard outcomes and not just blood pressure or changes in cholesterol levels,” says Estruch. “We really believe the Mediterranean diet lowers incidence of [heart attack], stroke and cardiovascular deaths.”

Previous studies have linked Mediterranean diets to fewer heart attacks and deaths from heart disease, but most of those have correlated people’s recall of their diet with heart-disease outcomes rather than randomly assigning participants to eat specific diets and then following them for heart-disease risk, as Estruch and his colleagues did.

In the study, the participants in the Mediterranean diet groups agreed to replace red meat with white meat like chicken and eat three or more servings of fish each week, along with three or more servings of fruit and two or more servings of vegetables a day. The extra-virgin-olive-oil group also consumed more than four tablespoons of the oil a day, replacing regular olive oil with the extra-virgin variety, which contains more potentially heart-healthy compounds like polyphenols and vitamin-E tocopherols — which can lower levels of inflammatory factors that contribute to heart disease — in addition to oleic acids, which are lower in the saturated fat that can build up in blood vessels. The group that consumed more nuts was asked to eat a combination of 30 g of walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts every day. These groups were also asked to stay away from sodas and red meats. The participants eating the low-fat diet ate three or more servings of fish or seafood a week and the same amount of fruit and vegetables as the Mediterranean diet groups. They were discouraged from consuming more than two tablespoons of vegetable oils, including olive oil, each day.


To ensure that other factors that could affect heart-disease rates were not playing a role, the researchers also adjusted for the total amount of calories the groups were eating, since obesity can be a major contributor to heart attack and stroke. Even after making these adjustments, however, the olive-oil group showed statistically significant drops in heart-disease risk. And because the three groups were randomly assigned to their diets, Estruch says that factors like the amount of exercise the participants did, or the medications they took, would be about the same in all three groups, and thus affect all participants equally.

Estruch says that the study has some limitations, most notably that the low-fat diet group may not have had as intense an intervention during the first part of the study as the Mediterranean groups did, potentially biasing the results in favor of the Mediterranean diet. Some volunteers also dropped out, most of whom had higher body mass index on average, which may also skew the results toward a beneficial effect of the Mediterranean diet, since the individuals who remained might have been more motivated to take care of their hearts to begin with.

Still, the findings add to the body of evidence that suggests the Mediterranean diet can play an important role in protecting the heart, and should guide doctors and patients who want to avoid heart disease toward eating the foods that can help them the most.

source: Time