Effective Ways To Naturally Lower Cholesterol

(source: pexels.com)
(source: pexels.com)

Good health is a balance of different processes and in order to stay in shape, you need to ensure that all processes are working in the correct way. While keeping your weight within healthy measures and toning up your muscles are both great ways to stay on top, it is your internal health that really keeps things ticking over and paying attention to what you put in your body should be a top priority. Your cholesterol levels are essential for maintaining healthy cell membranes and blood vessels but should your number become too high, you could risk putting your health in serious danger.

When it comes to healthy cholesterol, it’s all about what you eat and by maintaining a balanced diet and lifestyle, you can ensure that you stay in the best possible shape. But what can you eat to make even more of a difference? These foods might be entirely natural, but they can really work miracles when it comes to lowering your cholesterol.

Oats

Not just a great way in which to start the day, oats are one of the best foods that you can eat to lower your cholesterol levels, boosting your health in the process. Simply by making them a part of your morning routine, you can cut your cholesterol levels by as much as 5% over a course of 6 weeks. Better yet, oats will keep you going for longer throughout the day, helping you to make healthier eating choices later on; who doesn’t want that?

Fatty Fish

While eating more fat in your diet might seem counter-productive, there are certain types of the nutrient that can actually help to bolster your health. Omega 3 is perhaps the healthiest fat there is, helping to ward off diseases such as heart degeneration and dementia. When it comes to cholesterol, it’s a similar story; fatty acids in fish such as salmon and herring can help to banish bad cholesterol while topping up your body’s supply of healthy fats. The better health you are in, the more effectively your body can function; simple!

Nuts

There’s a good reason why you should make nuts your healthy snack of choice. People who regularly eat small quantities of nuts like almonds, walnuts and cashews can significantly keep their bad cholesterol levels in check, while boosting healthy internal functioning in the body. Be wary, though; while the food is great as a snack, it is high in calories, so eating too many nuts can have an adverse effect on your health.

Beans

Beans really might work wonders on your heart! Naturally high in fiber, the food can effectively help to slow both the rate and amount of cholesterol absorption that occurs within the body, helping you to lower unhealthy levels of the stuff in your bloodstream. The lower your levels of unhealthy cholesterol, the healthier your heart will be. Now there’s a great reason to top up on your beans in every meal!

Avocado

Rich, creamy and undeniably tasty, avocados are a real foodie favorite but did you know that they can also work wonders on your health? Packed full of heart healthy monounsaturated fats, the green fruit can help to raise healthy cholesterol levels while keeping bad things in check within your body. Better yet, the plant can help to counteract the effects of other foods, helping your body to absorb less unhealthy cholesterol from other sources. Versatile and healthy? Now that’s something that we can all get behind.

Spinach

Want to keep your ticker in check? It’s all about loading up on your greens. Packed full of healthy lutein, spinach has been found to be an effective way to banish unhealthy levels of cholesterol inside the body and keep things running like clockwork. Eating just half a cup of the stuff every day can help your body to eliminate built up cholesterol that might be clogging up your arteries, effectively guarding against heart attacks in the future. Delicious when eaten raw or cooked, spinach might be one of the most versatile and healthy foods on the market!

Keeping your health in check is all about eating right, moving sufficiently and avoiding harmful chemicals and simply by making these super foods a regular part of your diet, you can help to effectively keep things in check. Your health is perhaps the most important thing in your life, so take the time to look after yourself; you are what you eat, after all.

5 Surprising Health Benefits of Coffee

Do you worry that your coffee habit is getting out of hand? Don’t put down that cup of joe just yet. Numerous research studies in recent months point to ways in which coffee may actually improve your health. Here are their findings:

It reduces your risk of premature death.

People who drink a moderate amount of coffee daily (fewer than five cups per day) have a lower risk of death from heart disease, neurological disease, type 2 diabetes and suicide, according to researchers from Harvard University. In a study published in the American Heart Association journal Circulation, the scientists looked at the effects of drinking caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee. They observed health benefits from both. This led them to believe that coffee’s protective effects come not from caffeine, but from other chemical compounds.

“Bioactive compounds in coffee reduce insulin resistance and systematic inflammation,” said study author Ming Ding, MD, in a news release from the American Heart Association. “They might be responsible for the inverse association between coffee and mortality.”

It reverses the effects of liver disease.

Scientists in Europe recently studied the effects of coffee on non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). When mice with a high fat diet were also given a daily dose of coffee, there was significant improvement in several markers for NAFLD. They also experienced less weight gain than other mice fed the same diet. The dose of coffee given was equivalent to 6 cups of coffee for a human weighing 155 lbs. The scientists concluded that coffee protects the liver from NAFLD because it reduces the permeability of the gut.

It prevents type 2 diabetes.

Three to four cups of coffee per day could reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. In a report in the American Chemical Society’s Journal of Natural Products, scientists revealed that two naturally occurring compounds in coffee have an impact on insulin levels in the body.

Insulin is a hormone that the body produces to convert glucose from food into energy. People with type 2 diabetes develop a resistance to insulin. The pancreas then makes more insulin to overcome this resistance, but eventually it just can’t make enough. When there’s not enough insulin, the glucose can’t be converted to energy and remains in the blood. High blood glucose levels are dangerous and can lead to blindness, nerve damage, and other health issues.

The researchers discovered that two compounds in coffee, cafestol and caffeic acid, both increase insulin secretion when glucose was present. They also found that cafestol increased glucose uptake in muscle cells, leading to lower blood glucose levels.

It’s rich in antioxidants.

When researchers from Monash University in Australia observed the behavior of free radicals in coffee, they discovered that coffee acts as an antioxidant. Antioxidants are compounds found in food that keep free radicals in check and prevent them from inflicting damage on cells and DNA.

Free radical reactions may be responsible for most degenerative diseases, such as atherosclerosis, cancer, inflammatory joint disease, asthma, diabetes, senile dementia and degenerative eye disease. By stabilizing free radicals, the antioxidants in coffee may help to prevent these diseases and slow the aging process.

It lowers your risk of dying from heart disease.

Heart disease is the number one cause of death for both men and women in the United States, where it’s responsible for one in every four deaths. Drinking coffee may prevent this deadly condition. Researchers from the Institute for Scientific Information on Coffee report that three to five cups of coffee per day may reduce your risk of dying from cardiovascular disease by up to 21%.

Article sources:

Centers for Disease Control – “Heart Disease Facts”

Florence, TM. “The Role of Free Radicals in Disease.” Aust N Z J Ophthalmol. 1995 Feb;23(1):3-7.

News release: American Chemical Society

News release: American Heart Association

News release: European Association for the Study of the Liver

News release: Institute for Scientific Information on Coffee

News release: Monash University

 

 

 

6 Healthy Breakfasts For Life On The Go

(source: pexels.com)
(source: pexels.com)

How do you take your breakfast? Is the first meal of the day a sit down affair, complete with waffles, fresh coffee, orange juice and eggs or, like so many others, is it an on-the-go job, gulped down as you make your way to the office? Despite the fact that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so few of us make it a priority, choosing instead to grab something as we rush to work or else forgo it entirely, snacking on sugary treats before lunchtime. It’s time to make a change. Eating on the go doesn’t have to be unhealthy and, as long as you do a little prep the night before, you can easily whip up an early morning treat to be proud of. Want the best of both worlds? You need to take a look at these fast and tasty breakfast recipes.

Berry and Yogurt Smoothie

When it comes to simple and healthy breakfasts, smoothies take a lot of beating. Whipped up in a matter of seconds and packed full of only the best ingredients, the thick, fruity shakes will keep you feeling full until lunch and help you get a load of your nutrients first thing in the morning. This recipe brings together some of the best breakfast time flavors, balancing greek yogurt with blackberries, coconut water and banana. Who said that fast food couldn’t be delicious?

Savory Oatmeal

Oatmeal is one of the healthiest and most delicious ways to start your day with a wholesome bang but if you don’t have a sweet tooth, it might not seem all that appealing. Enter the savory oatmeal. Offering up all of the healing power of oats without any of the extra sweetness, this breakfast bowl might just take your food to the next level. If you’re on the hunt for an extra protein kick, try topping off your bowl with a poached eggs. Served up with chives and a sprinkling of cheese, it is the breakfast of champions.

Quinoa Fruit Salad

One of the most popular grains at this moment in time, quinoa is a fantastic way to start your day on a health kick and will tide you over well into the lunching hour. This fruit-based recipe can be prepared the night before and stored throughout the week, making early morning preparation a thing of the past. Better yet, you can try whipping up a larger batch and enjoying it for lunch or dinner; it’s the recipe that keeps on giving.

Avocado Toast

Sometimes, you just can’t beat the breakfast classics and when it comes to healthy and fast food, few recipes do it as well as avocado toast. If you want a little more from your meal, you can try topping your avocado with a poached egg or even a little smoked salmon. Prepared in seconds, the meal will keep you going throughout the day, stocking you up on all of the essential nutrients well before lunch time.

Egg Breakfast Muffins

For some, however, breakfast just isn’t the same without an egg or two and if that’s the case for you, then you need to try these egg breakfast muffins at least once. Packed full of roasted tomatoes, spinach and spring onions, these tiny muffins are seriously full of flavor and, made up primarily of eggs, won’t fill you up with a load of sugary carbohydrates, either. You can try making up a batch at the end of the weekend and storing in a seal tight container. In the morning, simply zap them in the oven or microwave and enjoy!

Stuffed Apples

An apple away keeps the doctor away, so why not try making them a part of your breakfast routine? These stuffed apples come with all of the health benefits of the natural fruit, plus a little something extra, helping you to avoid the temptation of late morning snacks. While this recipe is great first thing in the morning, it can also be enjoyed as a late afternoon snack, giving you that extra boost of energy to keep things going throughout the day.
Simple, delicious and good for you, these breakfast recipes take a lot of beating. Requiring only the most minimal of early morning preparation, they can be enjoyed within a matter of minutes, making it easier for you to get up and get going!

Healthy Habits – How Many Do You Have?

Recent research reveals that 97% of Americans don’t have all four of these basic healthy habits.

What are the most important things you should be doing for your health? While there’s a ton of advice out there, most doctors agree that it boils down to four basic habits: watch what you eat; exercise moderately and regularly; keep an eye on your body fat percentage; and don’t smoke.

Just doing these four things lowers your risk of many health issues, such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, and type 2 diabetes. Seems simple, right? But according to recent research, only 2.7 percent of American adults adhere to all four habits.

When researchers from Oregon State University and the University of Mississippi looked at the behavior of 4,745 adults from across the United States, they were shocked to discover how few people had all four habits. Ellen Smit, senior author on the study and an associate professor in the OSU College of Public Health and Human Sciences, remarked on the findings in a news release. “This is pretty low, to have so few people maintaining what we would consider a healthy lifestyle,” she said. “This is sort of mind boggling. There’s clearly a lot of room for improvement.”

Not smoking was the most popular healthy habit, with 71 percent of subjects avoiding cigarettes. 46 percent of subjects hit or exceeded their activity level goal. 38 percent ate well. A mere 10 percent had a body fat percentage in the normal range.

Rather than simply asking the subjects about their behavior and relying on self-reported data, the study also used actual behavioral measurements. Each subject wore an accelerometer, which is a device that measures movement. The goal was 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous activity per week. Smoking status was confirmed by blood samples. X-ray absorptiometry was used to determine body fat percentage. Subjects who were in the top 40 percent of people who ate foods recommended by the USDA were considered to have a good diet.

Some other remarkable findings of the study were:

  • Having a normal body fat percentage appeared to be the most important factor in achieving healthy levels of HDL and total cholesterol.
  • While only 2.7 percent of the subjects had all four healthy habits, 11 percent had none, 34 percent had one, 37 percent had two, and 16 percent had three.
  • There were differences in habits according to gender. Women were less likely to get enough exercise, but were more likely to avoid smoking and eat well.
  • Mexican Americans scored higher on the healthy eating scale than non-Hispanic white or black adults.
  • While adults over 60 had fewer healthy habits than adults ages 20-39, they were more likely to be non-smokers and eat a healthy diet.

While the findings of the study were alarming, hopefully they will serve as a wake-up call to the many American adults who have unhealthy habits. Experts agree that more research needs to be done to discover the best ways to help people incorporate healthy behaviors into their daily lives.

 

Article Sources

News release: Oregon State University

 

 

 

The Wonderful Walnut

A handful of walnuts is good for your heart and your waistline.

 

Dieters who are watching their waistlines might steer clear of walnuts when they hear that a one ounce serving (a small handful) has a whopping 18 grams of fat and 185 calories. However, a recent study revealed that a walnut-rich diet can actually help you to lose weight and improve your heart health.

The research, led by Cheryl Rock, PhD, RD, of the University of California San Diego, compared the weight loss of women eating a diet with unsaturated fats (like those found in walnuts and olive oil) with those on a lower-fat, higher-carb diet.

“One of the surprising findings of this study was that even though walnuts are higher in fat and calories, the walnut-rich diet was associated with the same degree of weight loss as a lower fat diet,” said Rock in a news release.

The results of the study, published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, also showed that a diet containing walnuts led to improved cardiovascular health.

This finding may seem counterintuitive, given walnuts’ high fat content. However, 13 of the 18 grams of fat in a one ounce serving are polyunsaturated, and include a sizable amount of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). ALA is a plant-derived form of omega-3 fatty acids. The heart healthy benefits of polyunsaturated fats have been proven before: a recent study from Harvard showed that polyunsaturated fats may lower your risk of heart disease and help you to live longer.

“Considering the results of this study, as well as previous walnut research on heart health and weight, there’s something to be said for eating a handful of walnuts a day,” said Rock.

Lauren Blake, RD, wellness dietician at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, suggests a few creative ways to eat walnuts each day:

  • Puree or grind walnuts and add them to dips, chili, or smoothies.
  • Chop up a handful of walnuts and sprinkle them over a salad, vegetables, or fruit.
  • Spread walnut butter on fruit or toast or mix into oatmeal. Buy it at the store or, even better, make your own at home.
  • Top off your favorite dessert with chopped walnuts.
  • Give plain yogurt some pizzazz by mixing in crushed walnuts. Add a little sweetness by topping with honey or maple syrup.
  • Walnut oil is great for dipping chips or veggies, blending into a salad dressing, or drizzling over food. Blake cautions against heating walnut oil, which gives it a bitter taste.
  • Add crunch and flavor to fish by coating it with pureed walnuts.

 

Article sources:

California Walnut Board: “California Walnut Butter”

Lauren Blake, RD, Wellness Dietician at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center

News release: Edelman Seattle

News release: Harvard School of Public Health

 

 

 

 

 

Get The Glow: Eat Your Way To Better Skin

Your skin is a window into your body. The types of foods that you eat are reflected on your face and if you don’t take care of your internal health, it can start to show up on your skin. While spending time and care to create the perfect routine for your complexion is a great way to maintain its general health, if you counteract your skincare with unhealthy foods and nutrient-lacking meals, even the best products are all but powerless.

Everything that you put in your body can have an effect on the way your skin looks now and how it will continue to look into the future, so taking care of your diet is one of the best things that you can get a handle on your complexion. Want to get great skin? It’s time to take a serious look inside your fridge.

Oily Fish

Packed full of nutrients and minerals, oily fish are some of the best foods for your all-round health, as well as your skin. Stocking up on fish such as sardines, salmon and anchovies can help to maintain a youthful complexion as the food sources help to guard against the deterioration of the skin’s cell membranes. The fish can also help to keep your skin look more toned and taught by decreasing the formation of an acid which causes skin to sag over time. A better, brighter you? What’s not to love?

Antioxidants

The superheroes of mother nature, antioxidants can help your body in multiple ways. As well as fighting the effects of ageing and warding off diseases like cancer, the mighty nutrients can also help to maintain the health of your complexion by decreasing the adverse effects of sunlight and the environment. Better yet, antioxidants are renowned for battling against free radicals which, when found in skin cells, contribute to the wearing down of collagen, leading to the formation of fine lines and wrinkles over time. Eating foods like blueberries, carrots, kale, spinach and mangoes can help you find your way to better skin health and boost your general feeling of wellness, too!

Whole Grains

While gluten might not be high up on everyone’s wish lists right now, there are many arguments which fight its corner, proving why you should make it an integral part of your diet. In terms of your skin’s health, whole grains can help to aid healthy digestion, which in turn leads to brighter, better skin. When your digestion is on the blink, you’re much more likely to suffer from dry skin, eczema and rosacea, which can all lead to premature ageing and poorer skin health.

Vitamin C

Not just good for your internal health, vitamin C can also boost the state of your complexion when consumed on a regular basis. By stimulating the production of collagen, vitamin C can lead to new skin growth, a decrease in wrinkles and a healthier skin texture. Eating fresh is the way to go, so instead of reaching for the supplements, try chowing down on grapefruit, strawberries or oranges to get your nutritional kick.

Spices

As well as making your food delicious, spices can lead to better health and wellbeing. With so many to choose from, however, getting the right kind of balance can seem confusing. Here’s the deal: While spices like cinnamon, curry and paprika will improve your complexion by loading your body full of antioxidants, turmeric or chilli will help to keep inflammation or nasty breakouts in check. Simply consuming normal amounts of spices will help to keep your complexion clear and healthy; there’s no need to pile on the spices to see the effects!

Water

When it comes to skin clearing, it doesn’t get much more powerful than water. Drinking a lot of water throughout the day can significantly help to boost your internal health and help to clear up your complexion over a period of time. By helping your body to absorb nutrients and flush out any toxins, water helps your health to be in as best a shape as it possibly could be, which will show in your complexion. By keeping healthy inside, it will show up on the outside leading to better skin, a clearer complexion and a happier you.

Turn Up The Heat: The Health Benefits Of Spicy Foods

Whether you like your curries spicy, sizzling or hotter than the sun, there’s no denying that piquant foods pack a real flavor punch and are just downright delicious. But healthy too? That’s a turn out for the books.

It turns out that your favorite peppery dish might be doing a whole lot more for your body than you initially thought and that actually, eating on the spicy side of life could be one of the healthiest options that you could take. While hot foods are popular around the world, they rarely make the health plan headlines and although certain dishes are most certainly less healthy than others, there are many good reasons why you should be loading up on the chilis for your next dish. Tasty, punchy and good for you overall well-being, spicy foods are the new health foods and if you want to really do your body some good, then you will try turning up the heat on your next trip to the kitchen.

Improve Your Brain Function

Have you ever suffered from the 4pm slump? After a day in front of your computer screen, the dreaded hour rolls around once again and no matter how productive you might have felt, you find yourself tumbling into a vortex of inactivity. While you might feel inclined to reach for the coffee pot when you can’t focus, you might want to supplement it instead for a chili or two. It turns out that hot foods have a remarkable way of clearing the mind and helping you to solve problems more readily. Spices are believed to be linked to reducing the symptoms of degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s by reducing stress in areas of the brain linked to control memory and learning. While the findings are still in their early stages, the effects of spices like cinnamon are believed to be wholly positive. While you might be tempted to go out and eat a stick of of the stuff, experts claim that sticking to the same amounts that you would normally use is enough to have a positive effect on your health.

Reduce Carcinogens In Your Meals

Barbequed foods are something that the best of us can’t deny enjoying and with the temperatures beginning to hot up, it’s more than likely that we too will begin to fire up the grills. With barbequed meat, however, comes a list of toxins that are linked to cancers in the lungs, pancreas and breast. If you simply can’t get enough of the stuff, however, you can try supplementing your barbeque with a little sizzle of spice. Studies have shown that by either marinating or dry rubbing your meat with rosemary before cooking helps to reduce the level of the toxins by up to 70 percent. Antioxidant and delicious? We’ll take it.

Strengthen Your Heart

Hot peppers might get your heart pumping in more ways than one, according to studies. People who regularly eat the foods have a lower risk of developing heart disease throughout their lives than those who forgo spices altogether. The reason might be due to the foods’ ability to reduce levels of harmful cholesterol and enhancing blood flow throughout the body. Chemicals inside the peppers are so effective, in fact, that they are being used to treat circulatory problems, hardening of the arteries and irregular heart rhythms.

Prevent The Formation Of Ulcers

Despite packing a serious spicy punch, hot peppers might be the best preventative treatment that you can take against the formation of stomach ulcers. Filled with a bacteria-fighting chemical known as capsaicin, hot peppers can effectively help to ward off the formation of ulcers and destroy those that have already formed. In fact, people who follow a spice-laden diet have been effectively proved to be three times less likely to form a stomach ulcer compared with those who don’t. That’s another good reason to pile on the spice.

With links to better circulation, increased mental function and tip top internal health, spices might just be the superfood that we have been overlooking for years. And while die-hard spice fans will start the day off with a chili pepper, simply seasoning or topping off your normal dishes with a few piquant foods is enough for you to feel all of the health benefits. Tasty food can be good for you too and thanks to the wide world of spices, you can follow a varied, flavorsome diet.

What Happens When You Don’t Get Enough Fiber

Fiber – You’ve probably heard the word millions of times. Health experts continuously urge people to eat more fiber. Despite their recommendations, most adults still don’t usually get enough of it. An average adult needs about 25 grams of fiber a day. Adults currently only get about half of that amount each day. This can lead to many health problems. The following can help you see how important fiber is in your diet.

You Become Constipated

Everyone is different when it comes to bowel movements. Some people have one every day, while others have it only every two or three days. The problem is when someone goes from having daily bowel movements to only having one every few days – this is constipation.

Fiber helps you stay your regular. Since your body can’t digest fiber, it must clump to stool to get out of the body. This causes the stool to stay flexible making it easier to find its way out of the body.

Some people will suffer from hemorrhoids because of constipation. This is just another sign that they are not getting enough fiber in their diet.

To ensure you don’t have to deal with the uncomfortable and painful effects of constipation, eat a diet high in fiber every single day. In time, you will know whether you’re getting enough based on your bowel movements.

You Feel Hungry

Have you ever had a meal and then a few minutes later feel hungry? It’s likely because you didn’t eat enough fiber.

When you eat fiber, it swells up in your stomach. This takes up much more space than foods that do not contain it. This will keep you satiated for longer, since it takes longer to digest fiber.

You Increase Your Risk for Heart Disease

Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death in the United States. For many people, it’s because they don’t eat enough fiber.

Fiber helps you keep your cholesterol in check. Experts say that it’s because cholesterol sticks to fiber since it doesn’t break down in the body. When you have a bowel movement, the cholesterol leaves the body along with the fiber.

Since people who eat a lot of fiber are at lower risk for high cholesterol, their chances of heart disease are also decreased. What’s even better is that most people who get enough fiber also maintain a healthy weight. This further protects their heart.

Your Blood Sugar Levels Spike

Any sharp rises in sugar levels often result in a crash. That crash is what makes you feel so sluggish later in the day.

Foods high in carbohydrates are mostly to blame for sugar spikes. It’s important to stay away from them as much as possible.

Getting more fiber in your diet will help you stabilize your body’s sugar levels. This way you can feel alert and energized throughout the day.

What’s even more important to know is that fiber can not only help people suffering from diabetes, but it can prevent it as well. If your sugar levels remain constant, you’ll be less likely to end up with diabetes later in life.

How to Get More Fiber in Your Diet

It’s not too hard to get enough fiber in your diet. Raspberries have a lot of fiber with 8 grams in just one cup. You can add raspberries to yogurt, in a smoothie, or just eat them as they are because they are great for a sweet treat.

Oranges are another great fiber food. Not only that, they are loaded with vitamin C, which can keep you healthy. You can also add oranges to a salad, eat them alone, or squeeze yourself some fresh orange juice.

For all of the nut lovers out there, almonds can help you get the fiber you need. It also has magnesium, which is important in moving stool through your intestines. Almonds are great alone, in salads, or choose almond flour next time you’re baking.

One cup of beans has a whopping 15 grams of fiber for black ones. You can throw beans in just about anything or eat them right from a bowl. If you don’t like black, eat other types of beans because they all have a good amount of fiber in them.

Start making changes to your diet to ensure you get enough fiber. It’ll make you feel good AND protect your health.