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    Natracure Blog — Food

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    8 Foods That Help Improve Your Memory

    Forgot what you’re looking for? Bad with names? Writing down a lot of lists but then misplacing them? Like most people, you’re experiencing some memory loss—and growing older doesn’t help matters. Luckily, researchers all over the world are scouring the earth looking for ingredients that might organically improve human recall. Scan the menu of ingredients below and, if you make the right diet changes, you too could develop a champion’s memory. Salmon There’s a reason that fish is called brain food, says Lauri Wright, PhD, RD, LD, and assistant professor of nutrition at the University of South Florida and a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “Several studies have shown that a diet containing generous amounts of omega-3 fatty acids leads to decreased rates of dementia and improved memory recall,” she says. Researchers at the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago followed more than 6,000 people for four years to see how diet affected their memory. The frequent fish eaters (at least once a week) had a 12 percent slower memory decline than those who did not eat fish. The fish eaters also saw a 60 percent reduction in the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Wright suggests three four-ounce servings each week of omega-3-rich fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, herring, and sardines. Curry Plan a weekly Indian takeout night: Researchers have found that curcumin, a primary ingredient in turmeric and curry powders, slows the formation of plaque deposits and even destroys accumulations in mouse brains. These plaque deposits—known as amyloid plaques—have been linked to the development of Alzheimers. Curry has also been proven to help prevent cancer and heart disease. Blueberries and Grapes "Berry fruits and vegetables contain compounds that are important for optimal function and resisting decline with aging," says Robert Krikorian, PhD, who leads the Cognitive Aging Program at the College of Medicine at University of Cincinnati. One of his studies found that those who drank blueberry juice every day for two months significantly improved their performance in learning and memory tests. In another study, he found similar results with Concord grape juice. Beets Not only are beets super trendy these days, they’re also loaded with nitrates. Great—but what are nitrates? “Nitrates are a form of nitric oxide, which is a natural compound that is involved in vascular dilation (and associated blood pressure lowering),” explains Krikorian. So the nitrates increase blood flow and oxygen to the brain, thus improving mental performance. Spinach and Kale Leafy greens contain antioxidants and they’re also loaded with a significant amount offolate. “Studies have shown that folate-rich foods improve memory by decreasing inflammation and improving blood flow to the brain,” says Wright. Folic acid has also been proven to lower levels of homocysteine, an amino acid linked to a higher risk of heart disease. In a study published in the American Society for Clinical Nutrition, researchers followed 321 men for three years and tracked their levels of homocysteine; those with higher levels showed memory decline and those who ate foods rich in folic acid seemed to fight memory decline. Chewing Gum If you’re on deadline at work, try popping a piece of Trident into your mouth. During a 2013 study, researchers at Cardiff University had two groups of people each listen to a 30-minute recording of a sequence of numbers. When asked to recall the sequence later, the group that chewed gum had higher accuracy rates and faster reaction times than the group without the gum. “This suggests that chewing gum helps us focus on tasks that require continuous monitoring over a longer amount of time,” the lead author of the study, Kate Morgan, explained. Coffee Can’t remember where you put your phone? (Oh, that’s right, it’s in your hand …) Have a cup—or three—of Joe. Researchers from the University of Innsbruck in Austria found that the caffeine equivalent of about two cups of coffee increased brain activity in two locations, one of which is involved with memory. And a study by researchers at the French National Institute for Health and Medical Research found that women over 65 who drank three or more cups of coffee a day were better at recalling words than women who consumed little or no coffee. Chocolate You can swap in a cup of hot chocolate for coffee if you prefer: A 2013 study found that older adults (73 years old, on average) who drank two cups of cocoa every day for a month had improved blood flow to the brain and performed better on memory tests. Or try a bar of dark chocolate (with at least 70 percent cocoa), which is a good source of flavonoids, antioxidants that have been linked to brain health. By Lisa Freedman via Yahoo Beauty

    Healthy Fats: The 7 Best Foods to Eat

    To combat body fat and live a longer, healthier life, you have to eat fat—the right kind that is. It’s actually quite simple, and new research out of Harvard is piling on the reasons why you should reacquaint yourself with fatty foods: Replacing five percent of your caloric intake from so-called bad fats (like trans and saturated fat found in red meat and lard) with unsaturated fat from plant-based foods (like olive oil) can reduce your risk of death by 27 percent. Twenty-seven percent! How to Replace Bad Fat With Good Fat The health benefits of certain types of fats were largely dependent upon what people were replacing them with, the researchers say. People who replaced bad saturated fats with good unsaturated fats—especially polyunsaturated fats—had a significantly lower risk of death overall, as well as a lower risk of death from CVD, cancer, neurodegenerative disease, and respiratory disease, compared with those who maintained high intakes of saturated fats. Interestingly, kicking out both good and bad fats didn't have as great of an effect. The researchers found when people replaced saturated fats with carbs (instead of good fats), they had only a slightly lower mortality risk. What’s more, replacing total fat with carbs altogether actually caused slightly higher instances of death. It’s likely because carbs in the American diet tend to be primarily refined starch and sugar, which have a similar influence on mortality risk as saturated fats. "Our study shows the importance of eliminating trans fat and replacing saturated fat with unsaturated fats, including both omega-6 and omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids. In practice, this can be achieved by replacing animal fats like red meat with a variety of liquid vegetable oils," senior study author Frank Hu said in a press release. Check out the best sources of plant-based, and some incredibly healthy animal-based, fats. EGGS Not only are eggs considered the "perfect protein" (6g per egg) for containing all essential amino acids, they’re packed with vitamin D, riboflavin, and vitamin B12 to boot. The yolk contains heart-healthy fat, including omega-3 fatty acids, lutein, choline, and selenium. There’s only 1.6 grams of saturated fat per large egg. And that’s not all. Research suggests consuming conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), found in egg yolks, and hitting the gym for at least 4.5 hours per week significantly reduces body fat–not weight. More research discovered CLA has a direct impact on the reduction of some forms of colon cancer, too. FRUIT AND VEGETABLE OILS Coconut oil is enjoying a recent resurgence; the fatty acid MCT (medium-chain triglyceride) has antibacterial, anti-fungal, and even fat-burning properties. Research has found people lose more weight, especially belly fat, when they consume coconut oil. Algae (monounsaturated fat), olive (monounsaturated fat), peanut (monounsaturated fat), walnut (omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic) all have their unique health benefits and work best in different scenarios. NUTS AND NUT BUTTERS Cashews, almonds, and hazelnuts are chock-full of monounsaturated fats, which can keep your cholesterol in check by lowering bad LDL cholesterol and raising good HDL levels. A 2013 study of nearly 190,000 people published in the New England Journal of Medicine found those who ate a one-ounce serving of nuts daily decreased their risk of dying from any cause, including cancer and heart disease, by 20 percent. “These people also tend to be leaner, which is a curious finding, considering a serving of nuts is 160 to 200 calories,” says study researcher Charles S. Fuchs, M.D. Fuchs suggests that nuts’ positive effect on energy balance, metabolism, and satiety likely explain how the high-fat snack can actually keep your weight in check. Rotate what you snack on: pistachios, walnuts, peanuts, cashews, and Brazil nuts all have their own nutrient profile. Add nut butters to your diet too. Used as a dip, spread, or smoothie add-in, you can boost your protein and healthy fat intake with almond butter in so many dishes. OLIVES Olive oil usually gets the health halo, but the fruit itself has tons of antioxidants that can help prevent heart disease and healthy monounsaturated fat which can increase good cholesterol. The oleic acid olives contain can reduce blood pressure, too. AVOCADO The CDC suggests people who eat, on average, half a medium avocado daily arehealthier than those who skip the fruit, more closely adhere to dietary guidelines, consume 48 percent more vitamin K, 36 percent more fiber, 23 percent more vitamin E, 16 percent more potassium and 13 percent more magnesium, have higher intakes of healthy (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated) fats, have higher good HDL cholesterol, weigh about 7.4 pounds less and have lower BMIs, and have 50 percent lower odds of developing metabolic syndrome. Need we go on? Make some avocado toast already. FATTY FISH Fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, like salmon, tuna, trout, mackerel, sardines, and herring. These fish have an impressive combination of protein, healthy fats, vitamin D, and marine oils, which are essential for a healthy nervous system. You can bulk up and boost your total-body health by eating more fatty fish. SEEDS Flaxseeds and chia seeds are an amazing plant sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Both are are brimming with fiber, perfect for maintaining digestive health and lowering cholesterol. Toss either, or both, in your oats and smoothies for some sustained energy. By Brittany Smith via MSN Lifestyle

    8 Surprising Foods You Should Not Eat This Summer

    Eating seasonally isn't just better for the planet and your health—it's better for your wallet, too. Here's what to avoid in the summer, plus, tasty alternatives you should absolutely indulge in. CITRUS Sure, you'll find the odd Valencia orange at the store, but most citrus needs cold weather to mature and get that sweet, juicy flavor you expect. California grapefruits ripen in summer, but they tend to have thicker rinds and are pulpier than their winter-ripening cousins from Florida and Texas. SWEET POTATOES Sweet potatoes are harvested in the fall, and you might find local ones up until spring, but they all but disappear once summer rolls around. That's because they've got a fairly short shelf life compared to other root vegetables like carrots or potatoes. If you do find them during summer months, they're probably imports from China, the world's leading producer by far. But who needs 'em (and that massive carbon footprint) when you've got fresh sweet corn to look forward to? BEEF Burgers and summer may sound like a match made in heaven, but the fact is they can give your body temperature a spike. Foods that contain high amounts of protein and fat heat up your body a bit while you're digesting them. They move slowly through the digestive system, causing your body to use more energy. However, the spike in temperature isn't enough to cause you to sweat and cool down, which happens when you eat spicy foods on hot days. POMEGRANATES If you want fresh pomegranates grown in the US, you'll have to hold off until winter. At other times of the year, many pomegranates are imported from Chile, and you can bet these are doused in pesticides to comply with strict government regulations aimed at cracking down on the spread of pests and diseases across international boundaries. Nosh instead on homegrown juicy stone fruit, like peaches and nectarines, and give pomegranates a rest until cooler months. TEA & COFFEE Your favorite morning beverages are diuretics, so they're probably not the best way to start a sweltering day. Diuretics make you run to the bathroom more often, ridding your body of salt and water, dehydrating you in the process. Go for a fresh juice in the morning instead. OATMEAL Complex carbs—like oatmeal, brown rice, and whole wheat—are in the same boat as high-protein foods. The grains are tougher for your body to digest, and that extra work causes your body temperature to rise slightly. Stick with a chilled breakfast using our smoothie recipes instead. ASPARAGUS Asparagus is strictly a spring crop, and at any other time of year, it just won't be at its best. You might still find it locally in early summer, but expect it to be limp and low on flavor. Otherwise, it's probably imported from across the globe—typically from Mexico or Peru—where it's being farmed unsustainably. Fortunately, there are plenty of other fresh green veggies growing in summer, like snow peas and string beans. SHELLFISH Have you ever heard the claim that you should only eat shellfish in a month that contains the letter R—making them off limits from May through August? Well, there may be some truth to it. Seafood has seasons just like fruits and veggies do. They're typically considered "out of season" when they're spawning, which happens to be summer for most types of oysters, clams, and mussels. Harvesting spawning shellfish before they have a chance to reproduce may put populations at risk. Plus, they just don't taste good when they're fertile—they're said to be unpleasantly milky and soft. You can get around these problems by buying commercially farmed shellfish, but that comes with its own problems, like genetic modification. Stick to one of the 10 healthiest fish on the planet during these months instead. By Rebecca Straus via MSN Health

    The Uglier, The Better

    Blemishes and scabs increase the antioxidants in some fruits.When people see a tomato that's sprouting five miniature tomatoes from its stem, or a carrot that looks like the foot of Sasquatch, it seems like a Little Shop of Horrors situation. But NPR says at least some scientific evidence suggests that weird-looking fruits and vegetables will not hurt you, but that they could actually deliver greater nutritional value than the prettier stuff.   Here's what some of the more recent findings discovered: One study showed that an apple covered in scab has more healthy, antioxidant phenolic compounds, called phenylpropanoids, than a scab-free apple peel. Another study showed that apple leaves infected with scab have 10 to 20 percent more phenolic compounds. Similar research has found high levels of resveratrol in grape leaves infected with fungi or simply exposed to the stress of ultraviolet light. A study of Japanese knotweed, a plant with a long tradition of use in Chinese and Japanese herbal medicine, found that infection with common fungi boosted its resveratrol content as well. As NPR notes, it's already been pretty well established that organic produce contains more antioxidants. It can't rely on pesticides like conventional produce can, so it ends up doing most of the dirty work. Research suggests organics end up with 20 to 40 percent more antioxidants than regular stuff and that those tend to contain a lot of compounds typically produced when plants are attacked by pests (flavonoids, phenolic acids, carotenoids, etc.). Blemishes and gashes are sort of like kids playing in the dirt, or taking vaccines — it may make that piece of fruit a serious survivor. And it could even taste better: One apple grower says she's found she can make a more delicious hard cider using scarred Parma apples because they have 2 to 5 percent more sugar than undamaged apples from the same tree.

    By Clint Rainey via msn health

    The Hottest New Diet Isn’t a Diet at All

    Meet the dietary pattern, a style of eating with a proven record of success. Diets are out; dietary patterns are in – at least, that's what the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans seems to say. That's big news for those of us who like to incorporate the report's nutrition advice into our personal eating habits when it comes out every five years. This time, the government suggests we abandon diets that glorify or shun single foods and nutrients (think butter, eggs, fat and fiber – past years' targets) and shift our attention to overall eating patterns, or the sum total of what, how often and how much we eat, as well as what we eat it with. Why the move away from "good food/bad food" diets? For one, nutrition science is continually evolving and we are learning from our mistakes. Back in the 1980s, for instance, the guidelines told us to cut back on "bad fats" to lower our risk of heart disease – the No. 1 cause of death for Americans. But people who followed that recommendation filled the void on their plates with simple carbohydrates, such as pasta, bagels and fat-free cookies. In time, we learned those foods weren't any better for our hearts (or waistlines) than the high-fat fare they replaced. So in 2000, we tried again. The guidelines issued that year redeemed fats – as long as they were "good fats." This recommendation was based on newer research linking populations that regularly ate olive oil, avocados and almonds with a lower incidence of heart disease. We followed suit, dipping our bread in olive oil, adding sliced avocado to our burgers and making almonds our go-to snack. But so far, the only thing that has improved is sales of those foods. Our single-minded pursuit of the perfect food (or fat) to fight heart disease has kept us from seeing everything else that contributes to its lower rates in people with different dietary patterns. Now, after spending more than two decades rationing just three eggs into our weekly menus, we're being told cholesterol isn't as bad for us as we once thought. Does that mean it's time to order the broiled lobster tail with drawn butter to celebrate? Not so fast. What it means is precisely what the latest Dietary Guidelines concluded: When it comes to diet, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Put another way, when you eat foods together, their health benefits are greater than a single food could produce on its own. For example, eating eggs every day can lower your risk of heart disease if you are also eating plenty of vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds, fruits, whole grains, fish and olive oil. On the other hand, eating eggs every day along with regular servings of fatty meats, refined grains and excess sodium from highly-processed foods can increase that risk. That's because the connection to heart disease isn't just about the eggs – it's also about everything else we consume with them. Another advantage of adopting a healthy dietary pattern is that the benefits are cumulative, like compounded interest. So, people who have been eating a Mediterranean-style pattern all their lives, for instance, get an immediate return on investment by meeting their nutritional needs early in life to support optimal growth and development. Later, they receive a long-term dividend by preventing, or greatly reducing, their risk of suffering from the noncommunicable diseases of adulthood, such as arthritis, osteoporosis, macular degeneration and the ubiquitous heart disease. But this payoff requires making consistent contributions to your healthy eating plan, just like building retirement wealth depends on making consistent contributions to your 401K. Both are more effective the sooner you get started. Choosing a healthy dietary pattern over a diet also leaves more room for the occasional holiday food exemption. (Sorry, but weekends don't count as "occasional.") That approach is different from the can-eat-can't-eat diet style, in which we're open to every loophole that might give us a free pass. Have you ever rushed off to work without eating breakfast so you feel entitled to partake in the office pastries? How about arriving home from work too tired to chop vegetables, so you eat pizza (without a salad) for dinner? What about the Sunday you finally get the whole family together for brunch and end up eating eggs benedict and a Belgian waffle to celebrate? You get the picture: Food choices can change with the seasons, but a dietary pattern remains the same. Convinced yet? If so, the highly-regarded Mediterranean and DASH plans are a great place to start. Those patterns offer the best of what is known about the food-health connection when put together right, so you won't have to upgrade to something new in another five years. You also won't have to worry about getting caught up in the next fad diet that promises to solve all your health and weight issues because history has shown us they don't work in the long term. Think gluten-free, low-glycemic index, high-protein, low-carb, antioxidant-rich, paleo and probiotic diets, to name a few. It's time to move on something more sustainable. You can start transitioning to a healthier pattern by following some of these simple tips. The goal is to make the right choice a habit so it becomes your default option. Eat at least one piece of whole fruit daily. Order “whole wheat” as your bread choice for sandwiches, toast and pizza crust. Choose fish over meat or poultry for an entree at least once a week. Drink one full glass of water with each meal. Add a layer of fresh or grilled vegetables to every sandwich. Use nuts or seeds instead of croutons on salad. Make chili with more beans and less (or no) meat. Have brown rice with all Chinese takeout. Include some vegetables whenever you grill. Use Greek yogurt instead of sour cream in cooking and baking. Make your meat portions no larger than the palm of your hand. Choose vegetables to top pizza, fill an omelet, stuff a potato or stretch a soup. Keep hummus, salsa and sliced vegetables on hand as your go-to snack. Be more inclusive of fruits and vegetables by including fresh, frozen, canned and dried varieties in your repertoire. Copyright 2016 U.S. News & World Report

    By Robyn Flipse via msn health