Daily Healthy Living Tip
Come back daily for a new healthy living tip!
March 5, 2010
You can boost the mind-protective HDL in your bloodstream just by doing this for 30 minutes a day: walking. When researchers looked at the relationship between HDL and cognitive function in people ages 95 to 107, those with higher HDL had superior memory. And a daily walk is a great way to boost HDL.
Get More HDL
HDL is the "good" cholesterol -- and more is definitely better when it comes to this friendly fat. In fact, people who live past 100 tend to have higher HDL than people who don't reach a ripe old age. HDL may up your odds of being a quick-witted senior as well, helping to ward off both Alzheimer's and dementia. So what are you waiting for? Start boosting your levels today with a daily walk.
HDL to the Rescue
Researchers believe HDL helps fend off Alzheimer's in several ways. First, it helps keep your veins and arteries clear, allowing blood to travel easily to both your heart and your head. HDL also encourages communication between brain cells and may discourage Alzheimer's-related amyloid plaques. And finally, HDL protects delicate brain cells from inflammation.
March 4, 2010
Metabolic syndrome. No one wants this diabetes segue. So here's a snack that just might help you thwart it: pumpkin seeds. Also called pepitas, pumpkin seeds are loaded with magnesium. And a recent study found that the more magnesium a person's diet had, the lower his or her chances of developing metabolic syndrome.
A Major-League Mineral
Metabolic syndrome is characterized by a cluster of ills, including high blood pressure, blood sugar, and triglycerides; low HDL cholesterol; and a big belly. When researchers recently tracked the eating habits of young adults, diets highest in magnesium were associated with a 31 percent lower risk of the syndrome. A super statistic to know, considering that metabolic syndrome could lead to health woes like diabetes and heart disease.
How It Works
Experts aren't completely sure how magnesium helps fight metabolic syndrome, but the mineral is known to improve the body's capacity to use insulin and help regulate blood sugar. In fact, of the volunteers studied, those who consumed the most magnesium had the lowest insulin levels.
March 3, 2010
Each of these veggies can help fight prostate cancer. But eating them together provides better protection. We're talking about tomatoes and broccoli. In animal studies, the combined dietary impact of 'maters and broccoli delivered an even more serious cancer-fighting punch than either produce item delivered alone.
A Dynamic Duo
What makes this pair so powerful? Not only are tomatoes our top source of the antioxidant lycopene, but also they deliver anticancer nutrients like vitamin C, folate, quercetin, kaempferol, and naringenin. Then there's broccoli, the king of the cruciferous family. In addition to cancer-busting carotenoids and polyphenols, broccoli is rich in sulforaphane, a compound credited with clearing carcinogens from the body.
March 2, 2010
Haven't reached your ideal size yet? Hang in there. In fact, make a pact that you'll at least shave off 4 pounds. Why? Because a new study showed that dropping a mere 4 pounds could cut hypertension risk by 8 percent in middle-aged people and by 11 percent in the 50-plus set.
More Is More
Of course, bigger weight loss had even better blood pressure benefits in the 8-year study. For example, losing 15 pounds reduced high blood pressure risk by 21 percent in the middle-aged folks. Better yet, people 50 to 65 who were 15 pounds thinner enjoyed an even more impressive 29 percent risk reduction. And isn't it great to know that a realistic mini goal of 4 pounds will still bring big health benefits on the road to 15?
March 1, 2010
Get more nutrition from your blueberries by tossing them into a steamy bowl of oatmeal instead of cold cereal and milk. Why? Because a recent study revealed that combining blueberries and milk in the same meal could block your body's absorption of the antioxidant goodness in the berries.
The ABCs of Antioxidant Absorption
Blueberries are packed with powerful phenolic antioxidants that help keep you young by combating oxidative stress. Problem is, these superchemicals don't always make it from your mouth to your bloodstream; you probably absorb less than 5 percent of the phenolics you get from foods. And certain food combos don't help. When researchers had volunteers eat blueberries with a chaser of water or milk, the blueberry-and-milk combo resulted in significantly fewer phenolics being absorbed compared with the berries-and-water combo.
When Milk Doesn't Do You Good
Researchers believe that the proteins in milk somehow interfere with antioxidant absorption. And other milk research has already shown similar results with tea and chocolate phenolics. So what to do? Skim milk in your cereal may be an option. Although skim milk still interfered with phenolic absorption in the blueberry study, it interfered less than whole milk. You could also wait a couple of hours between eating blueberries and having milk.
February 26, 2010
Your body might be able to break down fat better if you do this one simple thing: stand more. A small study suggests that when people sit around too much, enzymes that help break down fat are practically turned off. Bad news not just for your waist but also for your heart and artery health. The solution? Fidget, pace, get up, get down. Do whatever you have to do to move those legs of yours. Often.
In a small animal study, cutting back on time spent puttering about had a big impact on lipoprotein lipase, an enzyme that helps break down fat in the body. The enzyme's activity was slashed 94 percent by less than one day of inactivity. And researchers speculate that this dramatic drop means more fat retention for the body. But frequently engaging your large muscles could be a good way to counter it. That means more time puttering, less time lounging. Even if you already have an exercise routine.
The Daily Lowdown
Unfortunately, daily low-intensity activity -- everyday stuff like walking to the bus stop, pinning the laundry on the line, or pushing the lawn mower -- is going the way of poodle skirts and fuzzy dice, thanks to desk jobs, the Internet, and 500-channel TVs. But your body needs not only a formal workout routine but a high percentage of everyday movement, too.
February 25, 2010
For a razor-sharp memory, give your mouth this 6-calorie snack to munch on: a stalk of celery. Celery is a top source of a high-powered flavonoid known as luteolin, and these compounds may help cool off destructive inflammation in the brain's memory center (otherwise known as the hippocampus). Not a bad trade for 6 calories.
Sending a Signal
Over time, brain inflammation can interfere with memory, magnify depressed feelings, accelerate dementia, and perhaps even play a role in the development of Alzheimer's disease and other aging-brain conditions. Enter luteolin. New cell studies suggest that it may mute the nerve signals that tell immune cells in the brain to release inflammatory chemicals called cytokines.
Munch, Sip, Sprinkle
You can eat celery stalks as a snack, blend celery into smoothies, or sprinkle chopped celery onto salads for extra crunch. No celery lurking about in the back of your fridge? No problem. Respectable levels of luteolin can also be found in green peppers, chili peppers, spinach, lettuce, chamomile tea, and thyme.
February 24, 2010
Like a crime wave, colon cancer starts when a few bad-guy cells go wild. But munching on sweet, juicy apples could help keep those troublemakers in line. Credit quercetin, a cancer-fighting flavonoid found in abundance in apples. In a lab study, this anticancer compound appeared to slap the handcuffs on precancerous cells, keeping them from dividing, and even encouraging them to die off.
Quercetin Quiets Inflammation
Quercetin seems to work by controlling levels of cancer-fueling inflammation. And if it has the same effect in human subjects -- as lab studies using human cells suggest it might -- then loading up on quercetin-rich produce could lower colon cancer risk anywhere from 6 percent to 35 percent, researchers posit.
There's Something About Produce
Maybe it isn't just the fiber in fruits and vegetables that helps keep your colon healthy. Maybe it's also the quercetin and other healthy nutrients you get not only from apples but from onions, green and black tea, and buckwheat, too. Either way, your colon thanks you.
February 23, 2010
Want to burn more calories during the day? Then hit the snooze button. Seriously. Recent research shows how a sleep deficit does more than foster cappuccino cravings. A lack of slumber may also increase your risk for weight gain -- even if you're not overeating.
Sleepless and Sinking
In a study, middle-aged women who slept 5 hours or less per night gained more weight than the women getting 7 or more hours of shut-eye nightly. And the sleepless set was at much higher risk of gaining significant weight -- as much as 33 pounds -- during the 16-year study. Whoa! Women who slept 6 or fewer hours nightly also tended to gain a bit more weight than the 7-hour sleepers.
The truly big surprise of the study? The short sleepers weren't raiding the cookie jar. In fact, they took in about 50 fewer calories than their skinnier, longer-sleeping peers. All of which left the researchers to speculate that a lack of sleep may somehow depress metabolism, so people burn fewer calories around the clock. Missing out on deep, restorative REM sleep could also alter hormones in as yet undiscovered ways linked to higher body weights.
February 22, 2010
Your blood pressure could be lower just by indulging more in this sweet tropical treat: bananas. Cheap and plentiful year-round, bananas are bursting with potassium. And a review of several major studies suggests that people who add the potassium equivalent of an extra 1 1/2 to 2 bananas to their day could drop their blood pressure 2 to 3 points.
More Points for Potassium
Dropping BP by 2 or 3 points is nothing to sneeze at. In fact, it's enough to lower stroke risk. In other research, people with the highest potassium intake levels cut their stroke risk by a whopping 38 percent compared with the people who got the least potassium. This magical mineral works by encouraging your kidneys to filter more pressure-boosting sodium out of your bloodstream. It also helps tiny blood vessels relax and makes pressure sensors in artery walls function more efficiently.