Friday, September 25, 2009

Nature's Mind Foods

Are you concerned about keeping your memory in tip top shape? There is a way to nourish your mind the natural way by eating certain foods that help your mind. Here are some of the best foods for aiding your brain's functioning.

Berries. Berries are great sources of antioxidants that help prevent free radical damage to brain cells. According to the Mayo Clinic, antioxidants have been shown to help protect against certain neurological conditions such as Alzheimer's and attention deficit disorders. Enhanced memory functioning is a byproduct of antioxidants. Berries include raspberries, blueberries, strawberries and blackberries.

Coffee and tea. Finally, something positive about coffee. Recent studies have shown that those drinking three 8-ounce cups daily experienced less memory loss than those who didn't. Caffeine seems to be the main factor. Those who drank decaffeinated experienced a memory loss decline as compared to caffeinated drinkers.

Green Tea. We have all heard about the benefits of green tea, with its high antioxidant level. Green tea is high in polyphenols which can improve your cognitive dysfunction caused by stress. This helps to keep your brain healthy as you age.

Fish. The American Heart Association and Mayo Clinic have recommended eating two to three servings of fish weekly as part of a heart healthy diet. Fish contains many beneficial nutrients, the most prevalent being Omega-3 fatty acids. These essential fatty acids are found in cold water fish such as herring, mackerel, sardines, trout and albacore tuna. Omega 3 helps improve neurodegenerative conditions such as learning capacity, decrease behavioral problems and diminish dyslexia (reversing letters).

Dark green leafy vegetables. Spinach, collards, mustard greens and other leafy greens are high in Vitamin C and folic acid. These antioxidants are needed for a healthy memory, brain functioning, heightened learning and mood. Frozen spinach is as beneficial as the fresh version.

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The Mayo Clinic
The Better Brain Book, David Perlmutter, MD
101 Foods That Could Save Your Life, David Grotto, RD

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Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Importance of Reading Food Labels

It never ceases to surprise me how people buy products without reading the labels. Then, when the person consumes the product, ill health besets them. All the individual needed to do was know what they were consuming.

Reading product labels will give you insight into what ingredients are in the product. If you are allergic to peanuts, the food label will tell you whether or not the food you are considering buying actually contains peanuts. Or, it will state whether the food was processed in a peanut processing manufacturing plant. (This means that the factory produces other products that contain peanuts and bits of the peanuts might have gotten into the food you are considering purchasing).

Food labels will tell you the amount of fat the product contains. It will breakdown the fat into saturated, unsaturated and trans fats. This is important if you are monitoring your fat content.

Other things you can learn from reading a food label: sugar content, calories per serving (take note of what is considered a serving size), cholesterol, sodium (salt), carbohydrates, fiber, protein and ingredients. Ingredients are listed from the most prominent to the least used. (The first ingredient listed will be what the product contains the most of).

Labels will let you know whether those “healthy” energy drinks contain caffeine or other energy-producing ingredients. If you cannot tolerate caffeine, don't buy an energy drink that contains caffeine. This needs to be mentioned since a newsworthy piece lately centered around a lady who was surprised she ended up in the emergency room after drinking an energy drink. The energy drink contained caffeine. She didn't read the label. She thought the drink was “all natural” and “healthy” as the advertising claim stated. Caffeine is all-natural.

It was not that long ago that food labels did not exist on our products. The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) initiated a grass roots operation to protect us consumers. Food manufacturing are now required to list the ingredients in the products they sell in our marketplace. Be appreciative of the fact that they do. There is a ways to go with the information these labels state. For the time being, however, they have come a long way. USE THEM. You are responsible for your health, no one else.

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Saturday, September 05, 2009

What is Plain Soymilk?

When I think of plain soy milk, I think back to the “hippie days” when not many people drank it. Plain meant the ingredients were nothing but water and soybeans. It couldn't get much simpler than that.

With the recent popularity of soy foods come many changes within the ingredients. Everywhere you turn it seems there is another soy food choice. And, after reading the ingredients, some are not too healthy.

Plain now comes in varieties. Spare me. There is Plain Unsweetened. This consists of only filtered water and soybeans. Choose organic soybeans, if you can. Many times when I buy this, I simply add a little water to it. For my taste preference, straight from the container is too thick for me. You may be different.

There is soy milk marked 'Plain'. After purchasing this, I forgot to read the ingredients label. (OK, I made a mistake). This plain variety contained water, organic cane sugar and soybeans plus other stuff. In other words, it was sweetened Plain soy milk.

There is Plain Regular and Plain Low Fat. Unless you like drinking sweetened water, forgo the Plain Low fat. I hadn't tasted anything so unpalatable in ages. The Plain Regular was better, but still too sweet for my taste buds.

Personally, I think all this soy foods stuff has totally gotten out of hand. It can be very confusing to someone not used to eating any soy. After going to the marketplace and being bombarded with all the varieties available, it can be very intimidating. That is one of the main reasons people come to my classes, to learn about soy and how to use it.

Hope this helps others going through the same thing.

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Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Heart Healthy Breakfast Treat

The first meal of your day is important since it provides fuel to carry you through. Here is a fiber rich and tasty way to help your heart out. The cantaloupe is high in Vitamin C and fiber. The cottage cheese provides protein. And, the flax seeds are high in Omega 3 fatty acids and fiber...both essential for heart health. This recipe is also low in calories.

¼ cantaloupe, cubed and removed from skin
½ cup low fat cottage cheese
1 teaspoon flax seeds
sprinkling of cinnamon

Cut up the cantaloupe and place onto serving plate. Place the cottage cheese on top. Sprinkle with the flax seeds and cinnamon. Adjust the cinnamon per your taste.