Monthly Archives: March 2016

Superfoods for Your Heart

Superfoods for Your Heart
Eating properly is as important for your heart health as regular exercise. Studies have shown that up to 70% of heart disease cases are preventable with the right food choices.

In fact, eating the right kind of foods can even reduce your risk for atherosclerosis (the hardening and narrowing of arteries), a common cause of heart attacks and strokes.

There are many healthy foods that you can include in your daily breakfast, lunch, and dinner to keep your heart functioning well. A heart-healthy diet is one that is rich in lean protein, whole grains, fruits, and veggies and low in sodium, unhealthy fats, and bad cholesterol.

1. Salmon

Salmon is one of the best foods for heart health because it contains good amounts of omega-3s EPA and DHA. Omega-3 fatty acids lower the risk of heart rhythm disorders, reduce blood pressure and keep clotting at bay.

Salmon also can lower blood triglycerides and reduce inflammation. Wild salmon is preferred over farm-raised fish, which can be packed with insecticides, pesticides, and heavy metals.

The American Heart Association recommends two servings of salmon or other oily fish per week to cut your risk of dying of a heart attack by up to one-third.

You can enjoy grilled or baked salmon and even include it in your pasta, soup or salad. Other oily fishes like mackerel, tuna, herring, and sardines also support a healthy heart.

2. Oatmeal

Oatmeal is also rich in omega-3 fatty acids, as well as magnesium, potassium, niacin, calcium and soluble fiber. Eating oatmeal regularly can lower LDL levels (the bad cholesterol) and help keep your arteries clear.

Oats in all forms are good for people with diabetes also. To reap the benefits, start your day with a steaming bowl of oats and enjoy oat-based snacks throughout the day. Plain, unprocessed oatmeal is preferred over instant and flavored varieties.

3. Black Beans

Black beans contain B-complex vitamins, niacin, magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids, calcium and soluble fiber. All these nutrients help control both cholesterol and blood sugar levels.

Black beans are also a good source of dietary protein without the unwanted cholesterol found in meat. Health experts recommend eating four or more servings of black beans per week to decrease your risk of heart disease.

They can be served as a side dish or used as an ingredient in many main dishes. You can also add black beans to your soup or salad to give them a nutritional boost.

4. Red Wine

A glass of red wine daily can greatly improve your “good” HDL cholesterol level, which is important for your heart to function properly. Red wine contains the antioxidants resveratrol and catechins that help protect the artery walls.

Resveratrol can also help prevent cancer. It is advisable not to exceed one drink a day for women; one to two drinks for men. However, it is not recommended for people taking aspirin and certain other medications.

5. Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Extra virgin olive oil, made from the first press of olives, is especially rich in heart-healthy antioxidants called polyphenols, as well as healthy monounsaturated fats. It contains higher levels of “good fat” compared to various vegetable oils and their cholesterol-inducing “bad” fats.

Regular consumption of extra virgin olive oil can help lower cholesterol levels and protect blood vessels. This oil is great for cooking, and you can use it on salads, cooked veggies, and bread.

6. Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate can also reduce various cardiovascular diseases. Always choose dark chocolate that is at least 70% cocoa, the ingredient responsible for making chocolate a good food for your heart.

Flavonol, a flavonoid present in cocoa, helps lower blood pressure, improve blood flow to your heart, and reduce free radical damage that can i

7. Chia Seeds

Chia seeds are a nutrition power house that offer maximum nutritional benefits and minimal calories. Just a spoonful of chia seeds helps reduce bad cholesterol and aids in the reduction of plaque buildup. It also helps lower blood pressure and triglycerides.

Chia seeds can be eaten by the spoonful, blended into smoothies, or stirred into soups. They also make a great salad or yogurt topper.

8. Blueberries

Blueberries contain a good amount of beta-carotene and lutein (carotenoids), anthocyanin (a flavonoid), ellagic acid (a polyphenol), vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, potassium and fiber. All these healthy nutrients support heart health.

People who eat at least one serving of blueberries per week are 10% less likely to develop high blood pressure. You can add fresh or dried blueberries to cereal, pancakes, or yogurt. Cranberries, strawberries and raspberries are also good for heart health.

9. Oranges

Oranges contain beta-cryptoxanthin, beta- and alpha-carotene, lutein (carotenoids) and flavones (flavonoids), potassium, folate and fiber, all of which are heart healthy nutrients.

Oranges are also an excellent source of vitamin C, a potent protector against strokes by improving blood flow to the heart. This sweet, juicy fruit helps control high blood pressure, improves the functionality of blood vessels and reduces artery inflammation.

You can get these benefits from either eating oranges as a fruit or drinking orange juice. You can enhance the natural sweetness with cinnamon and lime juice.

10. Walnuts

Walnuts contain omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin E, magnesium, folate, fiber and mono- and poly unsaturated fats that promote healthy hearts.

Eating just a small handful of walnuts each day may lower your cholesterol and reduce inflammation in the arteries of the heart. They also reduce the risk of diabetes.

Try to eat unsalted walnuts as a healthy snack between meals to enjoy its health benefits. For variety, walnuts can be added as a flavorful crunch to salads, pastas, cookies, muffins, and pancakes.

Superfoods to Reduce Belly Fat

Superfoods to Reduce Belly Fat
Belly fat, also known as visceral fat that accumulates around the midsection, is a major concern for many. Not only does belly fat make your figure unattractive, it also increases your risk of high blood pressure, diabetes and fatty liver disease.

Many people try dieting to lose belly fat, but this is not the optimal solution. The ideal way to get rid of belly fat is to choose your foods wisely and do some physical exercise daily.

Knowing what to include in your diet is half the job, the other half is doing exercises daily that suit your body type. Certain foods actually help reduce stubborn belly fat and will get you well on your way to enjoying a slimmer physique.

1. Almonds

Almonds contain a good amount of healthy fats — polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. Both fats help prevent you from overeating. A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has proven that eating almonds suppresses hunger. They also help fight against heart disease.

High in magnesium, almonds are a key component for muscle building, and having more muscle will help you burn more belly fat.

In addition, the high fiber content in almonds will keep you feeling full for a longer time. Because almonds contain few calories, they will not contribute to belly fat. So, always keep roasted almonds handy and enjoy them as a snack or in salads or other dishes.

2. Watermelon

The American Dietetic Association declares watermelon as a perfect food to reduce belly fat. Watermelon contains 91 percent water and when you eat it at the beginning of a meal, it fills you up without adding a substantial amount of calories to your meal.

Plus, it keeps you feeling full longer and also helps combat water retention. This juicy fruit is also rich in vitamins B1, B6 and C, as well as potassium and magnesium. It is a great addition to a low-calorie and low-fat diet.

An interesting study done at the University of Kentucky revealed that drinking two glasses of watermelon juice every day for eight weeks reduces body weight (especially the fat around the belly) without altering muscle mass. Regular consumption of watermelon also lowers the risks associated with coronary artery plaque accumulation and heart disease.

3. Beans

Regular consumption of different types of beans helps reduce body fat, develop muscles and improve the digestion process. Beans also help you feel full for a longer time, thus keeping you from overeating.

This happens as beans are an excellent source of soluble fiber. This fiber especially targets belly fat, helping to break it down so the fat can be eliminated from the body. Plus, the protein in beans provides energy to your body. You can easily include beans in your daily meals by adding them to salads, soups or side dishes.

4. Celery

To get a flat tummy, fill your plate with green leafy vegetables like celery. Celery is extremely low in calories, full of fiber, and contains calcium and vitamin C that aid in weight loss.

You can drink half a glass of celery juice before eating your lunch or dinner to help cleanse your system. You can also add celery to salad or soup. An additional benefit of celery is that it contains apigenin, a natural compound that reduces the risk of ovarian cancer in women.

5. Cucumbers

Cucumbers are an extremely refreshing and low-calorie food. 100 grams of cucumber contains approximately 96 percent water and only about 45 calories. They are packed with minerals, dietary fibers and vitamins.

Eating a plate of cucumber salad daily is an effective and healthy way to cleanse your body of harmful toxins released by the digestive system and lose weight. As an added benefit, eating cucumbers daily can give you radiant, glowing skin because they are rich in vitamins B and C.

6. Tomatoes

One large tomato has just 33 calories. It contains a compound known as 9-oxo-ODA that helps reduce lipids in the blood, which in turn helps control belly fat. This compound also fights chronic diseases associated with obesity.

Plus, the powerful antioxidant lycopene in tomatoes offers plenty of additional health benefits like reducing wrinkles, fighting cancer and reducing cholesterol levels. Tomatoes are an excellent source of nutrients like iron and potassium and are rich in vitamins A and C. So, to enjoy a healthy body, include tomatoes (in both raw and cooked form) in your daily diet.

7. Avocado

An important amino acid known as lecithin in avocado helps in managing body weight. Also a source of good fats—monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, avocado helps burn belly fat easily.

Its rich fiber content also helps keep hunger at bay and keep you from overeating. Plus, avocado has anti-aging, antifungal and antibacterial properties that provide many beauty and health benefits.

8. Apples

Apples are high in dietary fiber, flavonoids, phytosterol and beta-carotene, which make your belly feel full and help you avoid overeating. According to a Brazilian study, women who ate three or more apples a day lost more weight compared with those who did not.

The natural compound in apples known as pectin aids in weight loss. Fruits rich in pectin usually require more chewing and when the pectin dissolves in the stomach, it forms a gel-like substance that traps dietary cholesterol and fat. In addition, pectin also reduces the risk of colon cancer, and the antioxidants and vitamin C in apples will help keep your skin wrinkle-free.

9. Tart Cherries

A study conducted at the University of Michigan found that a diet containing tart cherries helps lower symptoms of heart disease and metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome increases the risk of belly fat as well as heart disease and diabetes.

These cherries reduce cholesterol levels in the body and can reduce body fat to a great extent. Tart cherries also have antioxidant properties that have anti-aging benefits, making you look younger and feel better.

10. Pineapple

This tropical fruit contains the enzyme bromelain, which has anti-inflammatory properties. This enzyme metabolizes protein that contributes to a flatter tummy.

A study done at the University of Maryland revealed that bromelain’s antibacterial properties also help combat the bacteria that causes diarrhea and is also very effective in healing bowel disorders. Relief from stomach conditions can result in less abdominal bloating and a slimmer waistline.

Plus, pineapple contains vitamins B-6 and C, manganese, thiamine, copper, and fiber that provide a number of health benefits.

With these superfoods, you can fight that belly fat and enjoy a slimmer waistline. However, these foods will only play a major role in attaining a better figure when coupled with regular exercise.

Boost Your Brain Function

Boost Your Brain Function

    How many of you spare some minutes to think about your brain? The one organ that coordinates our body functions? For long, it had been believed that we are stuck with the brain we have got. However, with new researches, it has been proven that we can actually improve the performance of our brain, which not only enhances our reasoning and problem solving skills but also keeps away ailments such as dementia and Alzheimer’s. The tips here are free and effective, which could be employed by anyone. These are 10 of the best ways to boost your brain function.

Boost Your Brain Function:

  1. Learn a New Language

This is the one tip that most of the neuroscientists agree upon. It not only improves your social skills but learning a new language is better for brain functions than several other ways combined. It opens up new neural pathways and has a huge impact on cognitive skills. It has been found to delay the attack of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia in many people. For those who can’t go to classes, there are numerous websites and apps offering free coaching, like Duolingo and Memrise.

  1. Learn a Musical Instrument

If listening to music can boost your brain, learning music, particularly an instrument can benefit you even more. It can help you to become better in various other skills. Those who play musical instruments are found to be better in mathematical skills. So grab a guitar, piano or whatever interests you and start playing a few notes. Mind you, don’t annoy your neighbors though.

  1. Good Eating Habits

What we eat makes us what we are. A balanced diet is a seminal requirement for the brain’s health. You need to avoid the junk food and concentrate on consuming enough protein, fiber and various minerals. Eating habits have an immense role in brain function since a fifth of the nutrients we intake is consumed by brain. Include enough vegetables, fruits and Omega-3 fatty acids found in oily fish in your diet. Also drink good amount of water. And never forget to have breakfast, which is the most significant meal in a day.

  1. Exercise

Physical activity is not only good for your muscles, but for your brain as well. Exercise results in greater blood flow to the brain and causes nerve cells to release several chemicals that promote brain health. It also enhances neurogenesis, i.e. the formation of new brain cells. Exercise also improves neural connections and increases our cognitive function and ability to concentrate well.

  1. Puzzles and Brain Games

Just like we work-out our muscles, the brain also need working-out. The brain loves challenges as it help the brain to improve itself. Brain games, crosswords, Sudoku and chess are games that raise your level of cognitive thinking. Indulging in these activities daily keeps the brain effective and delays the onset of memory-related diseases.

  1. Sleep

Sleep is an important factor in daily life. We can’t stress enough how important it is to develop an effective brain. The body regenerates cells and remove toxins during sleep. Also the brain gathers the last day’s memories and resets itself when you’re asleep. It affects memory and learning. An adult requires six to eight hours of sleep. Loss in sleep leads to lethargy and fatigue and inability to concentrate on tasks.

  1. Meditation

Brain hates stress. One of the best ways to keep your head free from worrying thoughts is meditation. There are different types of meditations and of them, the easiest is to close your eyes and give your attention to breathing. Doing this meditation ten minutes to half an hour daily, keeps your mind clear and receptive. It reduces the production of anxiety hormones, cortisol, and puts up a strong resistance to the progress of diseases Alzheimer’s.

  1. Listen to Music

  Ever heard of the Mozart Effect? Essentially it says that listening to classical music can improve brain power. Whether it is true or not, music certainly has some magical powers. Researchers have shown that certain songs can help associating memories. Also it helps with cognitive functioning and increased concentration. In various studies, scientists found out that those who regularly listened to classical music performed better in solving puzzles and IQ tests. So, tune into some Mozart, Beethoven or Bach while reading or working out.

  1. Be Ambidextrous

  Being ambidextrous has its perks. Have you ever thought of brushing your teeth with the other hand than the one you normally use? What about writing? Of course you will face some difficulty at first. But by doing these things, you are breaking your routine and teaching the brain to do things differently. There is nothing else your brain loves, than doing new things. It stimulates the brain and pushes it to form new connections, improve its efficiency.

  1. Social Connections

  Man is a social animal and requires healthy social relations to survive. Being socially active is good for the brain. Those with many friends are less likely to develop dementia or depression than those who lead lonely lives. While online networking is good, it doesn’t match socially connecting in the real world, where all our senses are used. Hang out with your friends or take a walk, often with your significant other.