Nutrition

Make Time for Tea Time

No matter the time of year, tea is a go-to beverage for many, and there are so countless benefits of mixing in a cup (or two) of tea every day. For starters, it can be served hot or cold—so it’s versatile and easy to drink at almost any time. There are endless varieties, so there’s something out there for everyone. On top of all that, tea can give you a boost of caffeine when you need it, or help you wind down before bed. 

But did you know that drinking tea can also improve your health? According to Harvard Medical School, the secret superstar behind tea's many benefits are plant chemicals known as flavonoids.

“Tea is a good source of compounds known as catechins and epicatechins, which are thought to be responsible for tea's beneficial health effects," says Dr. Howard Sesso, associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and associate epidemiologist at Brigham and Women's Hospital. These compounds belong to a group of plant chemicals called flavonoids. Research suggests that flavonoids help quell inflammation, and that in turn may reduce plaque buildup inside arteries. Green tea has slightly higher amounts of these chemicals than black tea. Both black and green teas also contain modest amounts of caffeine, ranging from about 20 to 45 milligrams per 8-ounce cup. That's roughly half the amount of caffeine in the same amount of coffee.

Short-term studies have shown that drinking tea may improve vascular reactivity—a measure of how well your blood vessels respond to physical or emotional stress. There's also evidence that drinking either black or green tea may lower harmful LDL cholesterol levels. Blood pressure may also dip slightly in people who drink tea, but results from these studies have been mixed. Several large, population-based studies show that people who regularly drink black or green tea may be less likely to have heart attacks and strokes. 

A healthy diet isn’t limited to just the foods we eat. What we drink can have just as much of a benefit on our long-term health. And drinking tea on a more regular basis is a great way to take care of your body with health-positive properties.


Nutrition for Breast Cancer Prevention

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a time to raise awareness and to discover and share new ways to protect others and ourselves. There are many ways to get involved: get a screening, volunteer your time, make a donation or share a story of hope.

You can also get involved by making a tangible change in your lifestyle. According to Stanford Health, “There are many nutrition and lifestyle choices women can make every day to increase their protection from breast cancer.”

Step 1. Healthy weight

It is important to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight through daily exercise and a low fat plant-based diet. According to the National Cancer Institute, exercising for four or more hours a week may also decrease hormone levels and help lower breast cancer risk.

Step 2. Eat a plant-based diet

Plant foods are rich sources of fiber, antioxidants and phytochemicals which have been shown to decrease the risk of cancer and protect the body from other chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. Choose whole grains and legumes as well as at least 6-9 servings from a variety of brightly colored fruits and vegetables daily.

Step 3. Limit dietary fats

Some studies suggest additional benefit from limiting dietary fats in the diet, such as:

  •   Butter
  •   Full-fat dairy
  •   Poultry skin
  •   Fatty meats
  •   Hydrogenated oils
  •   Some margarines

Step 4. Soy

Soy is an excellent source of protein, fiber, B Vitamins, iron, calcium and isoflavones which can possibly help bind estrogen and may decrease the risk of hormone related cancers such as breast and prostate.

Step 5: Green tea

This beverage has strong anticancer properties from catechins, a flavonoid. Aim for 1-4 cups daily.

Step 6. Alcohol

Alcohol is a strong risk factor for many cancers, including breast cancer. Despite the benefits of resveratrol, a phytochemical in red wine and grapes, experts recommend avoiding alcohol as there appears to be no safe level for prevention of cancer.

Step 7. Bone health and vitamin D

It's important for women of all ages to consume adequate amounts of calcium and Vitamin D to maintain bone health and this may be even more crucial for postmenopausal women due to their increased risk of osteoporosis. Vitamin D has promising health benefits alone.

Step 8. Sugar and cancer

Limit concentrated sweets, added sugar from processed foods, and sugary beverages as these foods provide calories, but few nutrients. A high intake of sugar can increase insulin levels as well as encourage weight gain, both possibly leading to cancer.”

This Breast Cancer Awareness Month, consider all of the ways you can help yourself or your community in the fight against breast cancer and get involved! Even a few small changes today can make a big impact down the road—for you and for others.


You’ll Fall for These Pumpkin Oat Muffins

Pumpkin is the quintessential flavor of the season, plus it’s low in fat and high in fiber and antioxidants. That’s a win-win. If you’re looking for a perfect Fall snack that will fill you up without slowing you down, look no further than these Pumpkin Oat Muffins from the American Cancer Society’s Healthy Eating Cookbook.

Makes 40 muffins

158 calories, 5 grams of fat per muffin

  • 6 cups oat flake cereal
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 5 cups whole-wheat flour
  • 5 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon dried ground ginger
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup golden raisins
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 15-ounce can pumpkin
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 quart low-fat buttermilk
  • ¾ cup canola oil
  1. PREHEAT oven to 400˚
  2. MIX cereal, salt, sugar, flour, baking soda, ginger and cinnamon. Stir in raisins.
  3. COMBINE eggs, pumpkin, vanilla, buttermilk and oil in a separate bowl. Stir until blended.
  4. BLEND wet ingredients with dry until batter just holds together. Do not over mix!
  5. BAKE in cup-lined muffin pans for 17 minutes.

These muffins are brimming with pumpkin flavor and the tasty autumn spices you love. So whether you’re heading out leaf peeping or doing some leaf pickup, they make the perfect snack to fuel every fall adventure.


5 Health Benefits of Honey

Honey has many different uses for many different people. It’s a better-for-you, natural sweetener, a pre-workout snack, and even an allergy-defeating, locally-source superfood.

No matter what it’s used for, honey is an easy-to-get, affordable and almost universally loved food—but did you know it also has an array of major health benefits?

Health outlined five of the many ways that honey can make us healthier and offered a few ideas on how we can work it into our diets.

Honey may help treat upper respiratory tract infections (URI)
Oxford University researchers looked at 14 previously published studies related to the effectiveness of honey for the relief of URI symptoms. They found that compared to usual treatments (like over-the-counter meds and antibiotics, honey improved both cough frequency and severity, it and may serve as an inexpensive alternative to antibiotics.

Honey may help fight metabolic syndrome
First, honey has a low glycemic index, so it doesn’t trigger a spike in blood sugar and insulin levels, and it helps enhance insulin sensitivity. Honey has also been shown to prevent excessive weight gain and improve lipid metabolism by reducing triglycerides as well as total cholesterol and “bad” LDL cholesterol, while increasing “good” HDL.

Honey may help prevent artery hardening
Another recent paper about honey’s benefits explores its ability to combat artery hardening, a leading cause of death worldwide. Published in 2019, also in the journal Nutrients, the authors point out that honey contains over 180 substances—including natural sugars as well as a plethora of vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals.

Honey may help support a healthy gut
Honey possesses prebiotic properties. Prebiotics help to ferment beneficial bacteria in the gut, including bifidobacteria and lactobacilli. This shift has been linked to stronger immune function and enhanced mental well-being.

Honey provides nutrients
31 minerals have been found in honey—including all of the major minerals, such as phosphorus, calcium, potassium, and magnesium. Honey also contains approximately 600 volatile compounds that are thought to contribute to its potential biomedical effects.”

The benefits of honey are seemingly endless, but perhaps the most appealing benefit is its taste. So, how can you incorporate it into your diet? Try it as a sweetener in tea or coffee, add it to a smoothie or drizzle it over your oatmeal or pancakes. You can use it to sweeten cocktails or as a replacement for sugar in basically any other recipe. It’s also a great add-in to almost any homemade salad dressing.

Our recommendation for the best way to eat honey? Straight from the spoon.


Power up With a Spinach & Tomato Frittata

Eggs are a go-to morning meal for a lot of us, but there are only so many ways you can fry and scramble eggs before they start to feela bit repetitive. Enter the frittata. It’s sort of a cross between an omelette and a quiche and it’s totally customizable. Pre workout or pre workday, post run or post running errands, frittatas bring all the nutrition you’re looking for and can be made with all of your favorite add-ins.

Here’s one of our favorite frittata recipes from Prevention:

PREP TIME: 5 minutes / COOK TIME: 10 minutes

TOTAL TIME: 15 minutes

SERVINGS: 4

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 10 ounces fresh baby spinach or 1 package (10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 3 eggs
  • 5 egg whites
  • 1 c grape or cherry tomatoes
  • 4 slices (1 ounce each) low-salt mozzarella cheese
  • 4 slices low-sodium whole grain bread, toasted

1. HEAT 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large ovenproof nonstick skillet over medium heat. Cook the scallions for 1 minute, stirring, or until softened.
2. TRANSFER the scallions to a large bowl. Add the spinach, eggs, and egg whites. Beat with a fork until well blended.
3. PREHEAT the broiler. Heat the remaining oil in the skillet over medium heat. Pour the mixture into the skillet and scatter the tomatoes on top. Cover the skillet and cook for 4 minutes, or until the eggs are set around the edges.
4. BROIL 5” from the heat for 4 minutes, or until the frittata is lightly browned and the center is set. Top with the cheese; cover and let stand for 1 minute to let the cheese melt. Cut into 4 wedges and serve each with 1 slice of toast.

NUTRITION (per serving) 280 calories, 17 g fat, 5 g saturated fat, 22 g protein, 15 g carbohydrates, 4 g fiber, 263 mg sodium

So if you’re looking to start the day with a high-protein breakfast, want more veggies in your diet or just want to have breakfast for dinner, the frittata is your answer.

The only question is: how will you make yours?


The Best Oils to Use for Cooking

"When it comes to your health, "fat" is not necessarily a dirty word. You need some fat in your diet, and it actually performs some pretty impressive tasks like boosting energy, supporting cell growth, protecting your organs, keeping your body warm, and aiding in nutrient absorption and the manufacturing of hormones, according to the American Heart Association (AHA). And oils can be a great source of these healthy fats, but choosing the right variety is key," writes EveryDay Health.

According to experts interviewed by MindBodyGreen, canola oil should be avoided and replaced with other healthier alternatives.

"Despite some trace benefits, canola oil is often considered one of the least healthy vegetable oils because of the way it's manufactured. Most canola oils in the U.S. use chemicals, including hexane (a hazardous air pollutant) to extract the oil from the plant," wrote MindBody Green.

Experts recommend trying olive oil, flaxseed oil, coconut oil, walnut oil, sesame seed soil, and avocado oil.

In particular, flaxseed oil is a good source of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), one of three omega-3 fatty acids (olive and canola oils also contain omega-3s). You need dietary omega-3s since your body cannot make them on its own. Omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation and thus may help lower the risk of cancer, according to the MD Anderson Cancer Center, per EveryDay Health.

Flaxseed oil may also help reduce symptoms of arthritis, but avoid it if you’re on a blood thinner since flaxseed oil may increase bleeding, advises the Arthritis Foundation.


What You Need to Know About Healthy Fats

Fat-free and sugar-free diet fads are losing steam as more and more people wake up to the importance and benefits of integrating healthy fats into their diets.

While a fat-free diet was once thought to be an effective weight-loss method, diets such as the Mediterranean diet and the Keto diet have grown in popularity.

"We actually need fats -- can't live without them, in fact," reads WebMD.

"They provide essential fatty acids, keep our skin soft, deliver fat-soluble vitamins, and are a great source of energizing fuel. But it's easy to get confused about good fats vs. bad fats, how much fat we should eat, how to avoid artery-clogging trans fats and the role omega-3 fatty acids play in heart health.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's 2005 Dietary Guidelines recommends that adults get 20%-35% of their calories from fats. At a minimum, we need at least 10% of our calories to come from fat," reads the article.

In a recent interview with Mind Body Green, Cate Shanahan, M.D., shared what she views as the easiest way to know if something is a "healthy fat."

"If we're talking about fat that's a whole food, that's good," she explained. "That's natural fat, and human beings have been consuming it since there were human beings."

So the real key? Whole-food-based fats. Yep, when it comes to healthy fats, it's not that different from defining healthy foods: The closer something is to its natural form, the healthier it is, wrote Mind Body Green.

Read more about the different types of fats, which to avoid, and which to add to your diet, here.

 


One Powerhouse Veggie for Brain Health

Looking for an easy, tasty, and nutrient-packed green to add to anything from a smoothie, salad, sandwich, or pasta dish? With all the craze around superfoods and greens like kale and spinach, broccoli sprouts have been overlooked by most.

The immature broccoli plants, which resemble alfalfa or bean sprouts, have higher concentrations of the good-for-you compounds that have anti-inflammatory, anti-aging, and potentially cancer-fighting effects. They have a stronger, spicier taste that differs greatly from the grown-up version.

A recent MindBodyGreen article outlined the benefits of the small greens. “What makes them different and packs their power is a higher concentration of the necessary components to boost the production of sulforaphane.

In studies, sulforaphane has been linked to fighting against certain carcinogens, and it may support heart health and brain recovery as well. Researchers have also found it can support gut health, rounding out a pretty solid set of benefits that you may be able to attribute to these little sprouts.”

Dr. Jessica Cooperstone, Ph.D., assistant professor of Horticulture and Crop Science and Food Science and Technology at Ohio State University has focused on researching broccoli sprouts. She says that as a cruciferous plant, broccoli sprouts “contain compounds called glucosinolate, which convert into isothiocyanates when eaten and chewed,” per Refinery29. “All cruciferous veggies contain glucosinolates, but broccoli sprouts have an insane amount — about 10 to 100 times more than most cruciferous vegetables.”

She also speaks to the sulforaphane in broccoli sprouts, which are especially potent, adding that “there's evidence to suggest that sulforaphane can prevent DNA damage that leads to cancer, and in studies on mice, sulforaphane seems to prevent inflammation that can lead to neurodegenerative diseases, like Alzheimer's and Huntington's disease.”

To reap the full health benefits of broccoli sprouts, it’s best to eat them raw, as cooking them will deactivate the enzyme that converts glucosinolates to isothiocyanates.

While you can find broccoli sprouts at many health stores, they are also easy to grow at home. This way, your grocery store run turns into a mini science experiment, as you can sprout them yourself in a little sprouting jar.

Lastly, neurologist David Perlmutter, M.D., reminds us to chew our food well for the best outcomes. "The trick here is chewing," he explained. "You've got to chew the broccoli sprouts in order to release the enzyme that then liberates, or activates, if you will, the sulforaphane."


Why It's a Great Idea To Add Walnuts to Your Diet

You might be surprised to learn that for the past half-century, scientists and industry experts from around the world have gathered at the University of California, Davis, for a conference to discuss nothing other than walnuts.

Walnuts are packed with healthy fats, fiber, vitamins, and minerals, and researchers are continuing to learn about other ways they support health.

An article by Healthline discusses at least 13 benefits of eating walnuts, including its concentration of antioxidants, the most of any common nut. “A preliminary, small study in healthy adults showed that eating a walnut-rich meal prevented oxidative damage of 'bad' LDL cholesterol after eating, whereas a refined-fat meal didn’t,” read the report.

For those looking for omega-3 fats, which may help reduce heart disease risk, walnuts are a great plant-based source. They also may decrease inflammation, the root of many chronic diseases. Other studies indicate that the polyphenols in walnuts may reduce your risk of certain cancers such as breast, prostate and colorectal. However, more human studies are needed to confirm this. These nuts shaped like a tiny brain conveniently help support good brain function.

New research also shows that walnuts promote a healthy gut. Here’s an excerpt from a recent MindBodyGreen article covering a recent report published in the Journal of Nutrition which found positive changes in gut bacteria when people ate walnuts.

“The study included 42 participants, between 30 and 65 years old, who were overweight or obese. Participants were assigned to three different diets, which they followed for six weeks. One diet included whole walnuts and the other two excluded them but maintained the same level of nutritional value from different sources. Each diet used walnuts or vegetable oil to replace saturated fats.

After analyzing stool samples at the end of six weeks, Kristina Petersen, Ph.D., said, 'the walnut diet enriched a number of gut bacteria that have been associated with health benefits in the past.'

As one specific strain of bacteria (Eubacterium eligens) increased, blood pressure levels decreased. Another strain (Lachnospiraceae) reduced blood pressure and cholesterol. The other two diets had no effect on heart disease risk factors.”

Researchers indicated that replacing your snack with just two to three ounces of walnuts per day, or about a half cup of walnuts, could be a good way to improve gut health and reduce the risk of heart disease.


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