Berry season is right around the corner, and if a big bowl of strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries didn't excite you before, maybe this news will: eating at least two servings of berries per week can help delay age-related memory loss in women. A recent Harvard study followed 16,010 women over the age of 70, finding those who ate berries slowed memory loss by almost three years. Researchers cite the plethora of antioxidants packed into these small fruits as being the reason. If preventing memory loss weren't enough, here are five more reasons why you should up your berry intake.
- They help with weight loss: Berries are loaded with the antioxidant anthocyanin, which has been shown to alter the activity of genes found in human fat cells, making it more difficult to put on weight. Blueberries, specifically, have been shown to diminish stubborn belly fat.
- They are good for your brain: Investigators with the US Department of Agriculture Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging in Boston found that the polyphenols in berries help the part of the brain that takes care of regular maintenance and "housekeeping." Blueberries and strawberries were said to contain the most polyphenols.
- They are good for your eyes: Berries, especially blueberries and raspberries, contain lutein, which is important for healthy eyes and sharp vision.
- They help protect against disease: Berries are brimming with carotenoids, an antioxidant that has been shown to reduce the risk of cancer. Other phytonutrients in berries have been shown to protect against heart disease, diabetes, and arthritis. Those deep hues pay off tenfold when it comes to maintaining the health of your body.
- They help slow down the aging process: The powerful antioxidants in berries prevent free radical damage in your body, and less free radical damage means slowing down the aging process to help you live longer!
Amped up for berry season yet? Mix things up by making one of these healthy berry recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and cocktail hour!
When you're in the mood for a crunchy snack, based on a recent study, you may want to reach for popcorn. This new study found that popcorn contains high levels of disease-fighting antioxidants — higher concentrations than those found in certain fruits and vegetables.
Researchers found that popcorn contains disease-fighting polyphenols in the center, or the hull, of popped kernels. This latest study, funded in part by a popcorn company, confirms older reports that popcorn (along with other whole grains) contains high levels of antioxidants; popcorn, in fact, has the highest levels of polyphenols when compared to other snack foods.
The study may give you reasons to snack on popcorn, but it's not reason to go overboard. For one, the researchers of the study aren't completely sure whether or not the the human digestive system is capable of absorbing the antioxidants found in popcorn. Not only that, but you should be careful with the type of popcorn you eat; the amount of fat and calories in movie theater popcorn, for example, outweigh any of the possible small disease-fighting benefits from the popcorn.
In any case, popcorn is already known as a good low-calorie snacking option when done right. That doesn't mean you should substitute a bowl of popcorn for fruits and vegetables (you'll be missing out on key vitamins and nutrients if you do), but if you're in the mood for a crunchy snack, here's how to make popcorn to keep it healthy and satisfying.
Source: Flickr User cyclonebill
Eating a rainbow of foods is an easy way to give the body much-needed antioxidants. Besides giving fruits and veggies their pretty colors, substances like lycopene and beta-carotene may protect against cancer, promote brain health, and act as an anti-inflammatory. This isn't the time to be monochromatic: since each pigment provides different benefits, get as many colors on your plate as possible. Keep reading for a rainbow color guide to see how each antioxidant helps the body and easy ways to incorporate them into your everyday meals.
Daikon is a white root vegetable often seen in Japanese and Chinese cuisine that resembles a carrot. However, unlike a carrot's sweetness, daikon is spicy and tart, similar to a radish. Its pungent and sharp flavor can be enjoyed raw, pickled, or cooked. The white pigment in daikon is called anthoxanthin, which is an antioxidant that may lower cholesterol and blood pressure. In Asian cuisine, daikon is often eaten alongside meaty dishes, and is said to aid in digestion and breakdown of oil, fatty animal protein, and dairy. Cooked daikon has a similar texture and flavor to turnips. Daikon is in season during the cold weather months, so if you've picked some up recently here's a quick and simple sauté preparation.
Pure maple syrup tastes great, and it offers a myriad of health benefits. Here are just a few:
- It's an antioxidant powerhouse. Researchers at the University of Rhode Island found that maple syrup is filled with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds that may help prevent several chronic and inflammatory diseases like diabetes, cancer, osteoporosis, and Alzheimer's. It also comes packed with phenolics — the beneficial antioxidant compounds in maple syrup — that may help diabetics keep their blood sugar levels balanced since phenolics inhibit the enzymes that are involved in the conversion of carbohydrates to sugar.
Here are more reasons why it's good for us.
From Peruvian maca root to Indian turmeric, here are five interesting superfoods from around the world that you can add to your smoothies for added nutritional boosts. High in minerals, antioxidants, and vitamins, prepare for these powders to help you feel energized, invigorated, and cleansed.
It's common knowledge to eat macronutrients like protein, fat, and carbohydrates, but many people skimp out on micronutrients, especially those that come from plants. Phytonutrients, or "plant-based" nutrients, consist of fruits and vegetables that make up the colors of the rainbow. By eating a variety of colors, you are providing your body with antioxidants and other nutrients that protect your body from disease and degeneration.
Lycopene, the phytonutrient that gives fruits and vegetables a red pigment, is part of the carotenoid family. You can easily obtain a high dosage of lycopene by eating watermelon. Lycopene acts as an antioxidant, and daily consumption may reduce risks of heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. Boost the flavor of the watermelon by tossing it in a honey-lime mint sauce.
See the watermelon recipe after the break!
It's National Nutrition Month, and while you may be eating all the bright colors of the rainbow, don't overlook that less flashy color — brown. As in, the brown crimini button mushroom, a market and salad bar staple for good reason.
The common mushroom is hiding some important nutrients that vegetarians should make sure they get enough of. One such important nutrient is selenium. While meat, seafood, grains, and nuts have excellent levels of the mineral, mushrooms are the only produce that have high levels of it, so they are especially important to include in your diet if you are vegetarian, vegan, or gluten-free.
Selenium helps produce antioxidants and also keeps your immune and thyroid systems healthy. Studies have even shown that it may reduce LDL cholesterol levels as well as help with inflammatory diseases. Crimini mushrooms are packed with the stuff: five ounces of the mushrooms provide over half of the daily value of selenium.
The benefits don't stop there, however. Mushrooms are also high in other important minerals, including iron, zinc, and potassium, as well as vitamin D.
I love to sauté crimini mushrooms in a little olive oil and seasoning for a quick side dish, but if you're into Meatless Mondays or thinking of giving up meat for Lent, try a mushroom leek tart, a vegan mushroom and garlic bisque, or a hearty broccoli and mushroom quiche for dinner.
January is dedicated to New Year's resolutions. February is all about hearts. And March is National Nutrition Month — that's 31 days dedicated to cultivating sound eating habits. Created by the American Dietetic Association to help Americans improve their diets, the month comes during the time of year when people find their resolve for making healthy choices start to fade.
This year's slogan, "Eat Right with Color," is cheerful enough to bust through the dreariness of late Winter. Eating a rainbow of foods is great way to ensure you're getting a variety of vitamins and minerals — different antioxidants create the different colors in fruits and veggies. Here's what adding a little color to your plate can do for you:
- Yellow/Orange: Sweet potatoes, carrots, pumpkin, mango, corn, and cantaloupe all contain a variety of carotenoids, an antioxidant that reduces your risk of developing cancer. Also high in vitamin A, orange and yellow foods make great post-workout snacks since cartenoids help repair micro tears in well worked muscles.
- Green: Vegetables such as kale, spinach, and broccoli are high in lutein, which keeps your vision sharp and clear. Treat your taste buds and your peepers to sautéed dino kale with pine nuts and currants. It's a snap to make.