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This Beverage Reversed Normal Age-Related Memory Loss in Three Months

Drinking this could reduce your brain age twenty years in just three months.

Cocoa flavanoids — like those contained in a cup of cocoa — can reverse age-related memory loss in older adults, a new study finds.

This is the first direct evidence that an important component of memory decline that comes with age can be improved with a simple dietary change.

Typically, normal age-related memory declines are noticeable to people in their fifties and sixties: things like forgetting where the keys are or having trouble recalling a name or word.

These changes are much less severe than those which typically occur as a result of devastating dementias like Alzheimer’s disease.

The study, published in Nature Neuroscience, found a high-flavanol diet could restore aspects of older people’s memory back to that of a typical 30- or 40-year-old (Brickman et al., 2014).

The changes were clearly visible in brain scans, as Dr. Adam M. Brickman, the study’s lead author explained:

“When we imaged our research subjects’ brains, we found noticeable improvements in the function of the dentate gyrus in those who consumed the high-cocoa-flavanol drink.”

The image below shows the dentate gyrus in green (this is part of the hippocampus).

Previous research has shown that it is changes in this area of the brain that are associated with normal age-related memory loss.

dentate_gyrus

Participants in the study were 37 healthy people aged between 50 and 69.

They were randomised into two groups, one of which was given a high-flavanol diet (900mg of flavanols per day) and the other given a low-flavanol diet (10mg per day).

At the end of the three-month period of the study, participants on the high-flavanoid diet showed improvements on memory tests.

Professor Scott A. Small, one of the study’s authors, explained the results:

“If a participant had the memory of a typical 60-year-old at the beginning of the study, after three months that person on average had the memory of a typical 30- or 40-year-old.”

Flavanols are also found in tea leaves, and certain fruits and vegetables, although the exact amounts and forms vary widely.

The researchers cautioned that people should not eat more chocolate as the critical flavanoids are not present at the required levels — the dietary supplement used in the study was specially formulated.

Naturally, this is only a small trial, but the results are promising and the researchers are planning a larger study.

source: PsyBlog


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7 Nutrients Your Brain Needs To Stay Young

Perhaps you remember hearing your parents or some other authority figures telling you that fish is brain food. What they meant was that fish contains nutrients called omega-3 fatty acids that have been shown to enhance or improve brain function and help it to stay young.

For those of you who don’t care for fish or who don’t consume animal products, there are various supplements you can take to get your omega-3s. But omega-3s are not the only good brain nutrients; there are numerous others that can help your brain stay young and a wide variety of foods in which to find them. For example, the B vitamins (aka, B-complex) are a group of nutrients that work in sync to support and promote brain health.

In fact, the brain needs a constant supply of nutrients to support optimal function, from energy metabolism for its billions of neurons to the synthesis of neurotransmitters, propagation of nerve impulses, and other brain activities.

Here we look beyond the B vitamins to omega-3s and six other nutrients that your brain needs to stay young and functioning at an optimal level. These nutrients, along with a diet rich in these nutrients, regular exercise, avoidance of smoking, stress management, and sufficient sleep all have a role in maintaining a healthy brain.

Omega-3 fatty acids

According to researchers, omega-3 fatty acids have demonstrated an ability to improve cognitive function. A 2017 Brazilian systematic review, for example, found that omega-3 fatty acid supplements in mild Alzheimer’s disease may be helpful when there is slight brain function impairment. A mouse study reported that animals given omega-3 supplements demonstrated an improvement in cognitive function (i.e., object recognition memory, localized and spatial memory) as they got older.

In addition to cold water fish, omega-3 fatty acids are also found in walnuts, chia seeds, flax seeds, hemp seeds, and sea vegetables. Omega-3 supplements are available as fish oil, krill oil, and algae-based.

Cocoa flavanols

Dark chocolate is the source of brain-friendly phytonutrients called cocoa flavanols. In a three-month study, researchers discovered that individuals who consumed a high cocoa flavanol diet showed a boost in the area of the brain associated with memory loss and aging.

Cocoa powder is made by fermenting, drying and roasting cacao beans. The flavanols have been shown to lower blood pressure, fight cell damage, prevent blood clots, and improve blood flow to the brain.

To reap the brain-boosting benefits of cocoa flavanols, choose dark chocolate (organic preferred) and enjoy a small amount (about one ounce) several times a week or even daily. A 2012 study of adults with mild cognitive impairment showed that those who consumed cocoa flavanols daily benefits from improved thinking skills as well as lower blood pressure and improved insulin resistance.

Magnesium

The mineral that is associated with more than 300 biochemical activities in the human body plays a key role in cognitive health. Low levels of magnesium have been proposed as having a stake in the development of Alzheimer’s disease, but further research is needed. We know from mouse research that an increase in magnesium in the brain provides substantial protection of the synapses in models of Alzheimer’s disease and “hence it might have therapeutic potential for treating Alzheimer’s disease.”

Be sure to include lots of foods rich in magnesium in your diet, including green leafy vegetables, cruciferous vegetables, nuts, and whole grains.

 

Anthocyanins

You may recognize these antioxidants as being especially plentiful in blueberries, but others berries harbor them as well. Anthocyanins are associated with enhanced signalling of neurons in the brain’s memory regions. In one study, adults who consumed wild blueberry juice daily showed improvements in memory; namely, word list recall and paired associate learning, as well as reduced depressive symptoms and glucose levels, both of which can have a negative impact on cognitive function.

In a 2017 study, experts showed that daily blueberry consumption for six weeks by adults with cognitive decline was associated with an improvement in neural response. In addition to blueberries, you can include other foods that provide a good amount of anthocyanins, such as cranberries, black raspberries, blackberries, cherries, eggplant, black rice, red cabbage and muscadine grapes.

EGCG and theanine

The one food that nearly exclusively contains these two ingredients—epigallocatechin gallate and L-theanine–is green tea (Camilla sinensis). Although there are more than 700 compounds in green tea, EGCG and theanine are the ones responsible for improving brain health. Traces of EGCG are also found in apples, carob powder, hazelnuts, onions, pecans, and plums.

EGCG is a potent antioxidant that can pass through the blood-brain barrier and address the free radicals that can destroy brain cells. This polyphenol also has anti-inflammatory powers, which is critical since free radicals trigger brain inflammation, which in turn speeds up brain aging and contributes to memory loss, depression, and anxiety.

The impact of the amino acid L-theanine on cognition also has been shown in various studies. A review of 49 human intervention studies showed that L-theanine has “clear beneficial effects on sustained attention, memory, and suppression of distraction.” The only food sources of L-theanine are black and green teas.

Phosphatidylcholine

This mouthful of a compound is a source of the dietary nutrient choline, which is a member of the B-complex family. Recent research involving phosphatidylcholine explored its impact on brain structure in 72 healthy older adults. The researchers found that higher blood levels of phosphatidylcholine was linked to improved cognitive flexibility.

Although the exact ways phosphatidylcholine benefits the brain and cognitive function are not fully understood, experts suggest it may that the nutrient supports brain membranes, contributes to the production of neurotransmitters that promote and support cognition, or reduce inflammation in the brain. In any event, dietary sources of phosphatidylcholine include egg yolks, raw organic dairy, wheat germ, cruciferous vegetables, and meat.

Be sure to add a lot of these foods to your diet every day to keep your brain young.

 

[Editors Note: When choosing supplements for Omega’s and Magnesium our favorites are Barlean’s and Natural Vitality (respectively).
And when it comes to green or any tea, we love a cup of Bigelow Tea.]

References
Alban D. EGCG and L-theanine: Unique brain boosters in green tea. Be Brain Fit
Boespflug EL et al. Enhanced neural activation with blueberry supplementation in mild cognitive impairment. Nutritional Neuroscience 2017 Feb 21:1-9
Brickman AM et al. Enhancing dentate gyrus function with dietary flavanols improves cognition in older adults. Nature Neuroscience 2014; 17:1798-1803
Canhada S et al. Omega-3 fatty acids’ supplementation in Alzheimer’s disease: a systematic review. Nutritional Neuroscience 2017 May 3:1-10
Desideri G et al. Benefits in cognitive function, blood pressure, and insulin resistance through cocoa flavanol consumption in elderly subjects with mild cognitive impairment. Hypertension 2012; 60:794-801
Dietz C, Dekker M. Effect of green tea phytochemicals on mood and cognition. Current Pharmaceutical Design 2017 Jan 5
Krikorian R et al. Blueberry supplementation improves memory in older adults. Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry 2010 Apr 14; 58(7): 3996-4000
Li W et al. Elevation of brain magnesium prevents synaptic loss and reverses cognitive deficits in Alzheimer’s disease mouse model. Molecular Brain 2014 Sep 13; 7:65
Veronese N et al. Magnesium status in Alzheimer’s disease: a systematic review. American Journal of Alzheimers Disease and Other Dementias 2016 May; 31(3): 208-13
Yue Y et al TMDB: A literature-curated database for small molecular compounds found from tea. BMC Plant Biology 2014; 14:243
Zamroziewicz MK et al. Inferior prefrontal cortex mediates the relationship between phosphatidylcholine and executive functions in healthy, older adults. Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience 2016 Sep 28; 8:226

By Andrea Donsky
 


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7 Proven Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate is loaded with nutrients that can positively affect your health.

Made from the seed of the cocoa tree, it is one of the best sources of antioxidants on the planet.

Studies show that dark chocolate (not the sugary crap) can improve health and lower the risk of heart disease.

1. Dark Chocolate is Very Nutritious

If you buy quality dark chocolate with a high cocoa content, then it is actually quite nutritious.

It contains a decent amount of soluble fiber and is loaded with minerals.

A 100 gram bar of dark chocolate with 70-85% cocoa contains:

  • 11 grams of fiber.
  • 67% of the RDA for Iron.
  • 58% of the RDA for Magnesium.
  • 89% of the RDA for Copper.
  • 98% of the RDA for Manganese.

It also has plenty of potassium, phosphorus, zinc and selenium.
Of course, 100 grams (3.5 ounces) is a fairly large amount and not something you should be consuming daily. All these nutrients also come with 600 calories and moderate amounts of sugar.

For this reason, dark chocolate is best consumed in moderation.

The fatty acid profile of cocoa and dark chocolate is excellent. The fats are mostly saturated and monounsaturated, with small amounts of polyunsaturates.

It also contains stimulants like caffeine and theobromine, but is unlikely to keep you awake at night as the amount of caffeine is very small compared to coffee.

Bottom Line: Quality dark chocolate is rich in Fiber, Iron, Magnesium, Copper, Manganese and a few other minerals.

2. Dark Chocolate is a Powerful Source of Antioxidants

Have you ever heard of a measure called ORAC?

ORAC stands for Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity. It is a measure of the antioxidant activity of foods.

Basically, researchers pit a bunch of free radicals (bad) against a sample of food and see how well the antioxidants in the food can “disarm” them.

The biological relevance of this metric is questioned, because it’s done in a test tube and may not have the same effect in the body.

However, I think it is worth mentioning that raw, unprocessed cocoa beans are among the highest scoring foods that have been tested.

Dark chocolate is loaded with organic compounds that are biologically active and function as antioxidants. These include polyphenols, flavanols, catechins, among others.

One study showed that cocoa and dark chocolate contained more antioxidant activity, polyphenols and flavanols than other fruits they tested, which included blueberries and Acai berries.

Bottom Line: Cocoa and dark chocolate have a wide variety of powerful antioxidants, way more than most other foods.

3. Dark Chocolate May Improve Blood Flow and Lower Blood Pressure

The flavanols in dark chocolate can stimulate the endothelium, the lining of arteries, to produce Nitric Oxide (NO), which is a gas.

One of the functions of NO is to send signals to the arteries to relax, which lowers resistance to blood flow and therefore reduces blood pressure.

There are many controlled trials showing that cocoa and dark chocolate can improve blood flow and lower blood pressure, but the effects are usually mild.

However, there is also one study in people with elevated blood pressure that showed no effect, so take all this with a grain of salt.

Bottom Line: The bioactive compounds in cocoa can improve blood flow in the arteries and cause a small but statistically significant decrease in blood pressure.

 

chocolate

4. Dark Chocolate Raises HDL and Protects LDL Against Oxidation

Consuming dark chocolate can improve several important risk factors for heart disease.

In a controlled trial, cocoa powder was found to significantly decrease oxidized LDL cholesterol in men.

It also increased HDL and lowered total LDL in men with elevated cholesterol.

Oxidized LDL means that the LDL (“bad” cholesterol) has reacted with free radicals.

This makes the LDL particle itself reactive and capable of damaging other tissues… such as the lining of the arteries in your heart.

It makes perfect sense that cocoa lowers oxidized LDL. It contains an abundance of powerful antioxidants that do make it into the bloodstream and protect lipoproteins against oxidative damage.

Dark chocolate can also reduce insulin resistance, which is another common risk factor for many diseases like heart disease and diabetes.

Bottom Line: Dark chocolate improves several important risk factors for disease. It lowers the susceptibility of LDL to oxidative damage while increasing HDL and improving insulin sensitivity.

5. Dark Chocolate May Lower The Risk of Cardiovascular Disease

The compounds in dark chocolate appear to be highly protective against the oxidation of LDL.

In the long term, this should cause much less cholesterol to lodge in the arteries and we should see a lower risk of heart disease over the long term.

It turns out that we have several long-term observational studies that show a fairly drastic improvement.

In a study of 470 elderly men, cocoa was found to reduce the risk of cardiovascular death by a whopping 50% over a 15 year period.

Another study revealed that eating chocolate 2 or more times per week lowered the risk of having calcified plaque in the arteries by 32%. Eating chocolate less frequently had no effect.

Yet another study showed that chocolate 5+ times per week lowered the risk of cardiovascular disease by 57%.

Of course, these 3 studies are so-called observational studies that can not prove that it was the chocolate that caused the reduction in risk.

However, given that we have a biological mechanism (lower blood pressure and oxidized LDL) then I find it plausible that regular consumption of dark chocolate can in fact reduce the risk of heart disease.

Bottom Line: Observational studies show a drastic reduction in heart disease risk for the people who consume the most chocolate.

6. Dark Chocolate May Protect Your Skin Against The Sun

The bioactive compounds in dark chocolate may also be great for your skin.

The flavonols can protect against sun-induced damage, improve blood flow to the skin and increase skin density and hydration.

The minimal erythemal dose (MED) is the minimum amount of UVB rays required to cause redness in the skin, 24 hours after exposure.

In one study of 30 people, the MED more than doubled after consuming dark chocolate high in flavanols for 12 weeks.

If you’re planning on a beach vacation, consider loading up on dark chocolate in the prior weeks and months.

Bottom Line: Studies show that the flavanols from cocoa can improve blood flow to the skin and protect it against sun-induced damage.

7. Dark Chocolate May Improve Brain Function

The good news isn’t over yet. Dark chocolate may also improve the function of the brain.

One study of healthy volunteers showed that 5 days of consuming high-flavanol cocoa improved blood flow to the brain.

Cocoa may also significantly improve cognitive function in elderly people with mental impairment. It also improves verbal fluency and several risk factors for disease.

Cocoa also contains stimulant substances like caffeine and theobromine, which may be a key reason cocoa can improve brain function in the short term .

Take Home Message

There is considerable evidence that cocoa can provide powerful health benefits, being especially protective against cardiovascular disease.

But of course, this doesn’t mean people should go all out and consume lots of chocolate every day. It is still loaded with calories and easy to overeat on. Maybe have a square or two after dinner and try to really savor them.

Be aware that a lot of the chocolate on the market is crap. You need to choose quality stuff… organic, dark chocolate with 70% or higher cocoa content.

Dark chocolates often contain some sugar, but the amounts are usually small and the darker the chocolate, the less sugar it will contain.

There are of course other benefits to chocolate that I have not mentioned… such as the awesome taste.

By Kris Gunnars, BSc
 


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7 Nutrients To Help Protect Your Brain From Aging

Flavanols, Fish, Nuts, And Blueberries May Help Prevent Alzheimer’s

Apr 21, 2015      By Lecia Bushak

Eating certain nutrients, like cocoa flavonals and magnesium, as well as omega-3 fatty acids, help boost your cognitive function and brainpower.

While genetics and exercise play a large role in your brain health and risk of developing dementia, diet is quite influential, too. There is no magical elixir that can cure or completely prevent dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, but scientists have been able to pinpoint certain nutrients that are associated with improved cognitive function or memory. Keeping your diet full of the foods that contain them, then, can help you protect your brain.

Cocoa Flavanols

Cocoa flavanols are found naturally in cocoa and can be beneficial to your brain health; they make dark chocolate healthier than regular chocolate, which has been washed out with milk and sugar. A 2014 study examined the impact of eating a high cocoa flavanol diet over the course of three months. The researchers focused primarily on the dentate gyrus (DG), a part of the hippocampal formation in the brain that, when it declines, is often associated with aging. Scientists believe this part of the brain is linked to memory loss. After eating a lot of cocoa flavanols, the researchers report that the participants experienced “enhanced DG function.”

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Fish that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, like salmon, mackerel, and tuna, are going to not only help your heart health, but they’ll also give you a boost in brainpower. According to a 2014 study, mice that were given supplements of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid showed improved cognitive function while they aged — showing better object recognition memory, spatial and localized memory, and aversive response retention.

nuts

Nuts

Nuts contain omega-3 fatty acids like fish, so adding nuts to your diet in addition to fish will provide you with solid amounts. Walnuts, in particular, have been shown to fight memory loss. In one recent large-scale analysis, researchers found that a diet supplemented with walnuts — which are high in omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin E, folate, antioxidants, and melatonin — improved adults’ performances on a series of six cognitive tests.

Magnesium

Scientists believe that a magnesium deficiency may play a role in cognitive decline, brain aging, and ultimately, dementia. So taking magnesium supplements — or eating foods that contain magnesium, like chard, spinach, pumpkin seeds, yogurt, almonds, black beans, avocados, figs, dark chocolate, or bananas — can help you fight off the effects of the aging brain.

Blueberries

Blueberries are delicious, but they also help in boosting your memory. According to a 2010 study, blueberries were shown to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. They also contain anthocyanins, compounds that are associated with increased neuronal signaling in the brain’s memory areas. In the study, researchers found that participants who drank wild blueberry juice on a daily basis had improvements in paired associate learning and word list recall; they also found lower depressive symptoms and glucose levels.

Cruciferous Vegetables

According to the National Institute on Aging, eating a lot of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can help stave off cognitive decline as well as other chronic diseases, like heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Green, leafy, cruciferous vegetables in particular (like broccoli and spinach) have been shown to reduce the rate of cognitive decline. The Mediterranean diet, in particular (vegetables, legumes, fruits, cereals, fish, olive oil, mild amounts of alcohol — as well as low consumption of saturated fats, dairy, meat, and poultry) has shown in studies to be beneficial for cognitive health compared to more “Western” diets that are high in fats, carbs, and meat.

Green Tea

Green tea is good for a lot of things — but it’s also going to help you protect your brain. In a recent study completed at the University of Basel, researchers found that green tea extract enhances your thinking process and working memory. Participants scored higher for working memory tasks after they received the green tea extract, and an MRI showed a boost in connectivity between the parietal and frontal cortex of the brain, meaning that green tea “might increase the short-term synaptic plasticity of the brain,”  said Professor Stefan Borgwardt, an author of the study.


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13 of the Most Anti-Inflammatory Foods

What to eat to reduce inflammation and feel better.

By Franziska Spritzler / Authority Nutrition February 25, 2016

Inflammation can be both good and bad.

On one hand, it helps your body defend itself from infection and injury.

But on the other hand, chronic inflammation can lead to weight gain and disease.

Stress, unhealthy inflammatory foods and low activity levels can make this risk even worse.

However, some foods can actually help fight inflammation.

Here is a list of 13 anti-inflammatory foods that are supported by science.

1. Berries

Berries are small fruits that are packed with fiber, vitamins and minerals.

Although there are dozens of varieties, some of the most common berries include:

  • Strawberries.
  • Blueberries.
  • Raspberries.
  • Blackberries

Berries contain antioxidants called anthocyanins. These compounds have anti-inflammatory effects that may reduce the risk of disease.

Your body produces natural killer cells (NK), which help keep your immune system functioning properly.

One study found that men who consumed blueberries every day produced significantly more NK cells, compared to men who did not.

In another study, overweight men and women who ate strawberries had lower levels of certain inflammatory markers associated with heart disease.

Bottom Line: Berries contain antioxidants known as anthocyanins. These compounds may reduce inflammation, boost immunity and reduce the risk of heart disease.

2. Fatty Fish

Fatty fish are a great source of protein and the long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA.

Although all types of fish contain some omega-3 fatty acids, these fatty fish are the best sources:

  • Salmon.
  • Sardines.
  • Herring.
  • Mackerel.
  • Anchovies

EPA and DHA reduce inflammation that can lead to metabolic syndrome, heart disease, diabetes and kidney disease, among others.

This occurs after your body metabolizes these fatty acids into compounds calledresolvins and protectins, which have anti-inflammatory effects.

In clinical studies, people consuming salmon or EPA and DHA supplements had decreases in the inflammatory marker C-reactive protein (CRP).

However, in another study, patients with atrial fibrillation who took EPA and DHA daily showed no difference in inflammatory markers when compared to those who received a placebo.

Bottom Line: Fatty fish contain high amounts of the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, which have anti-inflammatory effects.

3. Broccoli

Broccoli is extremely nutritious.

It’s a cruciferous vegetable, along with cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and kale.

Research has shown that eating a lot of cruciferous vegetables is associated with a decreased risk of heart disease and cancer.

This may be related to the anti-inflammatory effects of the antioxidants they contain.

Broccoli is rich in sulforaphane, an antioxidant that fights inflammation by reducing your levels of cytokines and NF-kB, which drive inflammation.

Bottom Line: Broccoli is one of the best sources of sulforaphane, an antioxidant with powerful anti-inflammatory effects.

4. Avocados

Avocados are a true “superfood.”

They’re packed with potassium, magnesium, fiberand heart-healthy monounsaturated fats.

They also contain carotenoids and tocopherols, which are linked to reduced cancer risk.

In addition, one compound in avocados has been shown to reduce inflammation in young skin cells.

In one study, when people consumed a slice of avocado with a hamburger, they showed lower levels of inflammatory markers NF-kB and IL-6 than participants who ate the hamburger alone (23).

Bottom Line: Avocados contain various beneficial compounds that protect against inflammation and may reduce the risk of cancer.

5. Green Tea

You’ve probably already heard that green tea is one of the healthiest beverages you can drink.

It’s been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, obesity and other conditions.

Many of its benefits are due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, especially a substance called epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG).

EGCG inhibits inflammation by reducing pro-inflammatory cytokine production and damage to the fatty acids in your cells.

Bottom Line: Green tea’s high EGCG content reduces inflammation and protects cells from damage that can lead to disease.

6. Peppers

Bell peppers and chili peppers are loaded with vitamin C and antioxidants that have powerful anti-inflammatory effects.

Bell peppers contain the antioxidant quercetin, which has been shown to reduce one marker of oxidative damage in people with sarcoidosis.

Chili peppers contain sinapic acid and ferulic acid, which may reduce inflammation and lead to healthier aging.

Bottom Line: Chili peppers and bell peppers are rich in quercetin, sinapic acid, ferulic acid and other antioxidants with strong anti-inflammatory effects.

7. Mushrooms

Mushrooms are an incredibly healthy type of fungus, and thousands of varieties exist throughout the world.

They’re very low in calories and rich in all of the B vitamins, selenium and copper.

Mushrooms also contain lectins, phenols and other substances that provide anti-inflammatory protection.

A special type of mushroom called Lion’s Mane may potentially reduce the low-grade inflammation seen in obesity.

However, one study found cooking mushrooms decreased a large portion of their anti-inflammatory compounds, so it may be best to consume them raw or lightly cooked (38).

Bottom Line: Mushrooms contain several compounds that may decrease inflammation. Consuming them raw or lightly cooked may help you reap their full anti-inflammatory potential.

8. Grapes

Grapes contain anthocyanins, which reduce inflammation.

They may also decrease the risk of several diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, obesity, Alzheimer’s disease and eye disorders.

Grapes are also one of the best sources of resveratrol, another compound that has many health benefits.

In one study, people with heart disease who consumed grape extract daily experienced a decrease in inflammatory gene markers, including NF-kB.

Also, their levels of adiponectin increased, which is a good thing because low levels are associated with weight gain and an increased risk of cancer.

Bottom Line: Several plant compounds in grapes, including resveratrol, can reduce inflammation. They may also reduce the risk of several diseases.

turmeric

9. Turmeric

Turmeric is a spice with a strong, earthy flavor that’s often used in curries and other types of Indian dishes.

It has received a lot of attention for its content of the powerful anti-inflammatory nutrient curcumin.

Turmeric is effective at reducing the inflammation related to arthritis, diabetes and other diseases.

When people with metabolic syndrome took 1 gram of curcumin daily, they experienced a significant decrease in CRP when compared to placebo.

However, it may be hard to get enough curcumin to have a noticeable effect from turmeric alone.

In one study, overweight women who took 2.8 grams of turmeric per day had no improvement in inflammatory markers.

Eating black pepper along with turmeric enhances the effects. Black pepper containspiperine, which can boost curcumin absorption by 2,000%.

Bottom Line: Turmeric contains a powerful anti-inflammatory compound called curcumin. Eating black pepper with turmeric can significantly enhance the absorption of curcumin.

10. Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Extra virgin olive oil is one of the healthiest fats you can eat.

It’s rich in monounsaturated fats and a staple in the Mediterranean diet, which provides numerous health benefits.

Many studies have analyzed olive oil’s anti-inflammatory properties.

It’s been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease, brain cancer and other serious health conditions.

In one Mediterranean diet study, CRP and several other inflammatory markers significantly decreased in those who consumed 1.7 oz (50 ml) of olive oil daily.

The effect of oleocanthol, an antioxidant found in olive oil, has been compared to anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen.

However, it’s important to note the type of olive oil. Anti-inflammatory benefits are much greater in extra-virgin olive oil than in refined olive oil.

Bottom Line: Extra-virgin olive oil provides powerful anti-inflammatory benefits, which may reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer and other serious health conditions.

11. Dark Chocolate and Cocoa

Dark chocolate is delicious, rich and satisfying.

It’s also packed with antioxidants that reduce inflammation. These may also reduce the risk of disease and lead to healthier aging.

Flavanols are responsible for chocolate’s anti-inflammatory effects, and also keep the endothelial cells that line your arteries healthy.

In one study, smokers showed significant improvement in endothelial function two hours after eating high-flavonol chocolate.

However, make sure to choose dark chocolate that contains at least 70% cocoa (more is even better) in order to reap the anti-inflammatory benefits.

Bottom Line: Flavanols in dark chocolate and cocoa can reduce inflammation. They may also reduce the risk of several disease.

12. Tomatoes

The tomato is a nutritional powerhouse.

Tomatoes are high in vitamin C, potassium andlycopene, an antioxidant with impressive anti-inflammatory properties.

Lycopene may be particularly beneficial for reducing pro-inflammatory compounds related to several types of cancer.

One study found that drinking tomato juice significantly decreased inflammatory markers in overweight women. However, these markers did not decrease in obese women.

In a review of studies analyzing different forms of lycopene, researchers found that tomatoes and tomato products reduced inflammation more than lycopene supplements.

Lastly, it’s interesting to note that cooking tomatoes in olive oil can maximize the amount of lycopene you absorb.

Bottom Line: Tomatoes are an excellent source of lycopene, which can reduce inflammation and protect against cancer.

13. Cherries

Cherries are delicious and rich in antioxidants, such as anthocyanins and catechins, which fight inflammation.

Although the health-promoting properties of tart cherries have been studied more, sweet cherries also provide benefits.

In one study, when people consumed 280 grams of cherries per day for one month, their CRP levels decreased and remained that way for 28 days after they stopped eating cherries.

Bottom Line: Sweet and tart cherries contain antioxidants that reduce inflammation and the risk of disease.

14. Anything Else?

Even low levels of inflammation on a chronic basis can lead to disease.

Do your best to keep inflammation in check by choosing a wide variety of these delicious, antioxidant-rich foods.

P.S. If you are looking for the foods to avoid to reduce inflammation, then read this:Top 6 Foods and Ingredients That Cause Inflammation.

Franziska Spritzler has a BSc in nutrition and dietetics. She is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator with expertise in carbohydrate-restricted diets for diabetes and weight management.


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6 Common Chocolate Myths, Busted

Becky Striepe     November 4, 2014

From fat content to acne to your sex drive, there are some big claims out there about chocolate. Check out these common chocolate myths and the truth about chocolate.

When it comes to chocolate and health, the trick isn’t avoiding chocolate altogether. It’s making smart choices. Sure, if you eat a whole Hershey’s bar, you’re not doing your health any favors. But a few squares of good, dark chocolate can actually be beneficial. You can also add 1-3 teaspoons of cocoa powder to a smoothie recipe to instantly transform it into a healthy, chocolatey treat. The sugars from the fruit will offset the cocoa powder’s bitterness. Start with a teaspoon, taste, and add more until you get just the right balance.

The information below is based on a one ounce serving of 70 percent dark chocolate or one tablespoon of cocoa powder. An ounce of dark chocolate is about a quarter cup, grated. That’s usually about 1/3 of a regular-sized chocolate bar.

6 Common Chocolate Myths: BUSTED

Chocolate Myth #1: Chocolate is high in fat.

This is true of a chocolate bar, but not all chocolate is high in fat. While an ounce of dark chocolate contains 12 grams of fat (7 grams of saturated fat), cocoa powder is actually a low fat food. A tablespoon of cocoa powder has just one gram of fat and zero grams saturated fat. So add cocoa powder to your smoothies or baking without worry!

Like I mention above, an ounce of dark chocolate is a very generous serving – about 1/3 of a chocolate bar or about six typical-sized squares. If you treat yourself to a couple of squares of dark chocolate, you’re only looking at four grams of fat. Not too bad for a decadent treat!

Chocolate Myth #2: Chocolate is all empty calories.

This is another case of choosing the right chocolate. Most chocolatey treats are very sugary, but you don’t have to get your chocolate in a diluted cake-and-icing form. Dark chocolate has the highest concentration of cocoa. That ounce of dark chocolate provides 19 percent of your daily iron and 2.2 grams of protein. It’s also a good source of the trace minerals copper and manganese.

chocolate

Cocoa powder delivers a little less in the nutrition department, but it also contains only 12 calories. Not bad for a food that provides four percent of your daily iron needs and two grams of dietary fiber. It’s also a very good source of magnesium, phosphorous, copper and manganese.

Chocolate Myth #3: Chocolate is high in caffeine.

If you’re super sensitive to caffeine, I want to mention up front that chocolate definitely does contain this stimulant, but in a relatively low dose. An ounce of dark chocolate contains 22.4 mg of caffeine, and a tablespoon of cocoa powder has 12.1 mg. A one-cup serving of coffee, by comparison, contains 95 mg of caffeine. A small coffee at most coffee shops is a 12 ounce serving, which is a cup and a half or 142.5 mg of caffeine.

Chocolate Myth #4: Chocolate rots your teeth.

Sugary treats are definitely bad for your teeth, but like I’ve talked about a bit above, chocolate doesn’t have to be loaded with sugar. An ounce of dark chocolate has only seven grams of sugar — less than you’d find in a small apple — and a tablespoon of cocoa powder contains no sugar at all. In fact, one dentist shared four ways that chocolate may actually be good for your teeth.

If you do treat yourself to a sugary chocolate treat, brush your teeth as soon as possible afterwards.

Chocolate Myth #5: Chocolate is an aphrodisiac.

I am sorry to report that there’s no conclusive proof that chocolate improves your libido. While there have been a few promising studies about chocolate and sex drive, there’s a lot of conflicting research out there. Of course, if eating a little bit of delicious chocolate makes you happy, there’s no reason to avoid it.

Chocolate Myth #6: Chocolate causes acne.

The myth about chocolate causing acne is at least 100 years old. There’s actually no conclusive research showing that chocolate causes acne. The trick with eating for healthy skin is that our bodies are all different. Spicy food is a good example here. I can eat a bowl of Thai-hot curry and then go about my day. That same bowl of curry puts my husband right out of commission. Food triggers for acne vary from person to person in the same way.