Friday, October 28, 2005

Top Ten Best Foods

In knitting, I'm on the LAST row of FBS. Hopefully, I will finish it tonight!!!

In other news, I'm trying to eat better and live better. The flu season is upon us!! I'm gearing up my immune system by doing my best to eat right. I'm also trying to support my mind and spirit too. For today, here's a list concerning MUST eat foods.

Tomorrow, a few mind and spirit items.

Top Ten Smart Foods

Crossword puzzles and knitting won’t save your brain and protect it from aging, though they will help. So will the right foods. Some edibles are especially good at protecting the brain’s delicate nerve cells and blood vessels from the damage that accompanies aging. Most of them squelch free radicals, the renegade oxygen molecules spun off as the brain goes about the business of the mind. Most of the foods that are smartest for the brain are also good for the heart because both rely on a steady oxygen supply. The risks for cardiovascular disease correlate with risks for cognitive decline.

1. Blueberries
Sweet wild blueberries are bursting with antioxidants, which mop up nasty free radicals. Studies of rats show that a blueberry-rich diet improves memory and motor skills and reverses age-related declines in balance and coordination. Chemicals in blueberries affect the contractile machinery of arteries, and therefore have a good affect on blood pressure. Elevated blood pressure can damage delicate blood vessels in the brain and can lead to strokes.

2. Dark Leafy Greens
Chemicals called homocysteines are a normal part of protein metabolism, but high levels are linked with cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease (as well as heart disease), which accounts for most cases of dementia in the U.S. According to Katherine Tucker, director of the dietary assessment research program at the Human Nutrition Research Center of Aging, “homocysteine has a toxic effect on arterial walls, and oxidation corrodes the arterial walls too, which makes them a bad combination.” In order to break themselves down, homocysteines require folate and B12 or B6, vitamins found in vegetables like collard greens and swiss chard.

3. Salmon (NOT farm-raised!), Sardines, and Herring
Fatty fish are full of neuroprotective omega-3 fatty acids. Higher levels of omega-3 in the blood go hand-in-hand with higher levels of serotonin, a mood-enhancing brain chemical. A study from the Rush Institute for Healthy Aging in Chicago found that people who eat at least one fish meal a week are significantly less likely to end up with Alzheimer’s disease than those who regularly eschew fish. Because a fish diet aids communication between nerve cells, studies have shown its positive effect on learning acquisition and memory performance.

4. Spinach (Should be organic when possible.)
Spinach research has finally caught up with mom’s advice: Spinach turns out to be full of antioxidant power. James Joseph, chief of the Neurosciences Laboratory of the Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging, finds spinach beneficial in slowing down age-related problems in the central nervous system and cognitive deficits. A salad with spinach has more than three times the amount of folate than one with iceberg lettuce.

5. Red Wine, or, better yet, Grape Juice
Drinking red wine in moderation increases longevity. But since alcohol slows down the brain’s ability to function properly, grape juice may be a smarter beverage choice. New research from James Joseph shows that concord grape juice significantly improves short-term memory and motor skills. It’s not just the heavy dose of antioxidants. Joseph believes that grape juice increases production of the neurotransmitter dopamine. Concord grape juice has the highest total antioxidant level of any fruit, vegetable or juice tested.

6. Whole Grains and Brown Rice
One of the best things you can do to improve intake of nutrients is to switch to brown rice. It’s filled with vitamins and magnesium, which seems to be important to cognitive health. Whole grains contain vitamin B6, which aids in reducing homocysteine levels. Americans often don’t get enough vitamin B6, because they mostly eat processed foods.

7. Hot Cocoa
Warm up with hot cocoa to help your brain as well as your frostbitten fingers. Chang Young Lee, professor of food chemistry at Cornell University, found that the antioxidant content of two tablespoons of pure cocoa powder is “almost two times stronger than red wine, two to three times stronger than green tea and four to five times stronger than that of black tea.” The antioxidants in hot cocoa protect brain cells from oxidative stress that can lead to Alzheimer’s and other disorders.

8. Nuts, Notably Almonds and Walnuts (Keep in Frig)
Adding to their party-mix appeal, nuts are rich in antioxidants and have been found to lower blood cholesterol levels. A Harvard study showed that women who ate more than five ounces of nuts per week had a significantly lower risk of coronary heart disease than those who ate an ounce or less. And, they don’t contribute to weight gain as much as other kinds of fatty foods. Walnuts are rich in omega-3s.

9. Olive Oil (Keep in frig)
A staple of the highly touted “Mediterranean Diet,” olive oil contains the potent antioxidants called polyphenols, Olive oil has been shown to reduce blood pressure and cholesterol levels. The extra-virgin variety is best.

10. Garlic
This pungent herb fends off aging via its antioxidant properties. It also contains strong antibacterial and antiviral compounds that help shake off stress-induced colds and infections. Raw, crushed garlic is best; cooked garlic is less powerful but still benefits the cardiovascular system.
From Psychology Today © Copyright 1991 - 2005

While it's hard to try and eat all of these foods daily, you really should try to get them in you at least every other day to help build your immune system and slow down aging.

Also, you should be eating a minimum of 35 grams of protein a day!! Start paying attention to how many grams of protein there are in your food. You'll be surprised by how FEW!. If possible, cut out ALL WHITE sugar. In everything!! It depletes your immune system and aggravates arthritis. Go to Splenda and/or brown sugar. NO Equal, puts holes in your brain. We're trying to build brain and body power here.

Dark chocolate helps fight the flu by building your immune system. And who can resist a half-glass of red wine before dinner anyhoo?

Happy Halloween. How about making some Halloween "Eyeball soup" by using several small, round scoops of mozzarella decorated with olive-slice eyes served in a steaming bowl of tomato soup to delight your kids!

“Never confuse movement with action." -- Ernest Hemingway"


Blogger Linda and Denny said...

Sounds like an Atkins-style diet to me. I've lost 40 pounds in the past couple of years following a low-carb diet and certainly feel healthier for it. And I can't remember the last time I had a cold or was sick!

7:05 AM  

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