Showing posts with label brains on nutrition. Show all posts
Showing posts with label brains on nutrition. Show all posts

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Brains on Nutrition: What's So Great About Acai?

picture of basket of acai berries sitting on branches of tree

Brains on Nutrition: If Oprah and Dr. Perricone says the acai berry is good for your, then it has to be good for you, doesn't it? Not always, but there is lots of science to back acai as one of the top 10 superfoods and a brain booster.

What's so great about acai?

Acai, which is commonly pronounced a-sigh-ee, is a high energy berry of a special Amazon palm tree. Acai boasts 10 times the antioxidant benefits of grapes and twice that of blueberries. With it's remarkable concentration of antioxidants and its almost perfect essential amino acid in conjunction with trace minerals, acai is brains on nutrition.

Whether you are an athlete, someone suffering from a neurological or muscular disease, or a baby boomer trying to combat premature aging, acai promotes cardiovascular heath, digestive health, is vital to proper muscle contraction and regeneration, and aids in the production of new neurons.

For me, the greatest thing about acai is the production of new neurons. Since being diagnosed with a multitude of ailments and finding no relief with traditional or alternative medicines, I went on a campaign to produce new neurons.

My daily campaign includes a homemade acai smoothie, daily exercise, reading, visiting with friends or relatives, going to movies or restaurants, and going on an excursion with my camera in hand, activities which have been backed by research to promote new neurons.

Many friends and readers have reported tremendous success stories after a months' use of MonaVie, whose main ingredient is the acai berry but also contains the fruits of pomegranate, white grape, apple, acerola, pear, aronia, purple grape, cranberry, passionfruit, banana, apricot, prune, kiwi, blueberry, bilberry, camu camu, wolfberry, and lychee.

You can also find MonaVie-like products at Sam's Club, Whole Foods, and health food stores for about half the price.

Ideally combining nutrition, physical exercise, learning and social interaction, help us build new neurons, and the earlier we start building, the better; but it is never too late to start. And, the more activities, the better: the effect is cumulative.

Let us know if you have had any experience with the acai berry.


Related links:
Brains on Coffee
Food Pairings to Maximize Nutritional Payoff

Society for Neuroscience
National Institutes for Health
New York Times, Sharp Brains - Building Your Cognitive Reserve

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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Brains on Coffee: Sharpens Memory and Focus

It's 7:55 a.m. You are late for work, but you have just enough time to make a U-ie into the drive-through at Starbucks and place an order with your barista for a Venti joe to go.

You might be a little late for work, but your boss should notice your brains on coffee. Researchers have recently proven by MRI that caffeinated coffee can temporarily sharpen your focus and memory.

Another study recently published in a leading Neurology journal found the effects of coffee may be longer lasting — specifically in women.

This four-year long study involving about 7000 participants... all
participants went through thorough baseline evaluations – cognitive function was
tested, along with high blood pressure, high cholesterol and other vascular
issues. Participants were re-evaluated at the two-year mark, and again at the
four year mark.

At the end of the four year period, researchers found that women age 65 and older who drank more than three cups of coffee per day (or the caffeine equivalent in tea) had 33 percent less decline in memory over time than women who drank one cup or less of coffee or tea per day.

The results held up even after researchers adjusted for other factors that could affect memory abilities, such as age, education, baseline cognitive function, depression, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, medications, and other chronic illnesses. This caffeine-memory association was not observed in men — the authors hypothesize that perhaps that’s because men and women metabolize caffeine differently.

Brains on Coffee: So if memory problems are a concern for you, grab a cup of Joe to go.
For our tea lovers, caffeinated tea works, too.

Have a great day,
Beckie and Jamie

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Sunday, July 13, 2008

Product Review: No Pudge Fat Free Brownies

logo of No Pudge Fat Free Brownies with a pink smiling cartoon pig with a red tape measure wrapped around his tummy and the words No Pudge beneath the cartoonWe follow the 80-20 rule when it comes to eating healthy -- 80 percent of the time we eat healthy; 20 percent of the time, we like to indulge, and Sunday is one of our days of indulgence. We found a new dessert obsession that we could eat every day: No Pudge Fat Free Brownies ! We might need to recalculate our above-mentioned percentages.

Isn't the svelte pig mighty cute?

picture of four boxes of No Pudge Fat Free Brownie mix with a plate of brownies beneath the boxes, all on a blue background
Lindsay Frucci, a self-professed brownieholic, has whipped up a recipe for fat free brownies that are chewy, very rich and fudgy, and, best of all, a mere 120 calories. Did we mention that they were fat free? All we did was add yogurt, mix, and bake.

We bought No Pudge Fat Free Brownies at a national brand grocery store. To find stores in your area, visit Lindsay's site.

If you are afraid you can't each just one, here's a recipe for making a single serving.

In a small microwaveable container mix 2 tablespoons of your favorite flavor No Pudge! Brownie mix with 1 tablespoon of non-fat vanilla yogurt. Microwave on high for one minute. Top with fat-free frozen yogurt or whipped topping. Tastes like a warm, fudgy brownie pudding - Yum!!!

No Pudge Fat Free Brownies' site contains other mouth-watering recipes, too.

No pudge...just fudge.

Bon appetit!

Jamie and Beckie

Related articles:

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Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Brains on Nutrition: Portable Peanut Butter

picture of two packages of Justin's Nut Butter, four peanuts, two almonds, and two bananas on a gray backgroundBrains on Nutrition: Justin's Nut Butter -- portable peanut butter!

I eat fairly healthy every day. One of my friends commented that I had more options of eating healthy because I sit at home in my fluffy pink bathrobe and bunny slippers and write articles: I could run to the refrigerator for a blueberry yogurt. I could take a break and have a hand full of macadamia nuts and a piece of fresh fruit.

My friend is absolutely right!

But I'm not an agoraphobic nut -- I do leave the house every day -- but I’m nutty about nuts and peanut butter. So when I'm on the go, I found a great high protein low, carbohydrate snack to throw in my handbag: Portable Justin’s Nut Butter in 100-calorie packets.

Justin's tasty Nut Butters are the perfect thing to pack for work, school, hikes, car trips, and flights...even writing articles in my pink fluffy robe and bunny slippers.

Have a healthy day,

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Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Low Calorie Movie Snacks

head shot of Charlize Theron in a black dressIf you're like us, movies are on our 4th of July weekend agenda. Will Smith has become as traditional as Independence Day. We don't plan on breaking tradition this 4th. We are hoping for traditional fireworks with Will's new movie Hancock, co-starring uber-sexy and uber-smart Charlize Theron. But here's the prob, Bob. The high calorie snacks! Did you know that a large, lovely bucket of buttered popcorn has 1,600 calories?

We have been known to walk in a movie theatre with a very large handbag containing everything from Subway subs -- with very smelly raw onions -- to Margaritas in a Thermos. But if you want to stay healthy with low calorie movie snacks, here are healthy alternatives to the calorie popcorn:

  • Shelled, salted edamame

  • A mix of pretzels, almonds, raisins, and mini marshmallows
  • Air-popped popcorn
  • Fat-free potato chips
  • Jicama matchsticks, tossed with lime juice & chili powder
  • Frozen red or green grapes
  • Fat-free Fiddle-Faddle

We are going with the 80-20 rule here. 80 percent of the time eat healthy food. The other 20 percent, eat whatever you like. There is nothing better than sitting in a movie on 4th of July weekend with a bucket of buttered popcorn. We are going to pledge our allegiance to the Bucket of Popcorn and our 20 percent of "whatever you like."

Have a great 4th of July!

Source: Prevention, Jamie Temple, ACE, ACSM, Personal Trainer/Fitness Specialist.

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Saturday, June 21, 2008

Saturday's Smörgåsbord : Food Pairings to Maximize Nutritional Payoff

picture of a green stalk of brocolliWhen I was pregnant with my first child, I bought a nutrition 401 book and learned how to combine foods to ensure that I was getting the maximum nutrition for my baby. I would eat brocolli and mushrooms for breakfast, which gave The Hubster morning sickness. A few years ago they came up with a name for this food science voodoo -- food synergy, which says that the key to health is not what you eat, but what you eat it with -- eating food combos that biochemically balance each other. It makes nutritious foods even more so.

Food synergy is like adding 1 plus 1 and getting 4 or 6 instead of 2; the total is greater than the sum of the individual parts (or nutrients).

For example, a study in the December 2004 issue of the Journal of Nutrition, found that eating broccoli and tomatoes together offers better protection against prostate cancer than eating them separately.

The easiest way to take advantage of food synergies is to eat a wide variety of foods, especially fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and whole grains. But a few specific combinations can ensure that your body gets the maximum benefits from certain healthful foods.

Grapes and Apples: a Heart-healthy Combo
The next time you’re whipping up a fruit salad, make sure to include these naturally sweet goodies. Apples contain the flavonoid called quercetin, and grapes contain catechin. Studies show that pairing the two compounds may improve cardiovascular health by making blood platelets less sticky so they don’t clump together and clog arteries. “The combination tends to have a mild anticoagulant effect,” says Barry Halliwell, PhD, nutrition professor at the National University of Singapore, who co-authored a study on quercetin and catechin. Apples with the peel on! A bulk of the antioxidants are in the peel.

The Power of a Peanut Butter Sandwich
The grade-school lunch favorite is back—this time as a nutritional powerhouse. Pairing peanut butter with whole wheat bread enables the body to get the proper sequence of amino acids, which are important in making protein. “When your body is synthesizing proteins, it needs all the amino acids there at the same time,” says Diane Birt, PhD, a professor of food science at Iowa State University. “Wheat lacks some amino acids. Peanuts have the amino acids lacking in wheat. Together they make a whole.”

Add Some Fat to Your Salad
It may sound counterintuitive to healthful eating, but dropping your fat-free dressing in favor of a low-fat version may actually be a smart idea, nutritionally speaking. An Iowa State University study that was reported in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that people who ate salads with full- or low-fat dressings were better able to absorb lutein, a carotenoid (pigment-based plant compound) important in vision health. With fat-free dressing, they essentially saw no evidence of the carotenoid showing up in the blood.

If you’re fiercely loyal to your fat-free ranch, add some fat to your salad in other ways. Moderate amounts of cheese, nuts or avocado can replace the oils needed to get the maximum benefit from your salad veggies.

Spice Up That Burger
Ground beef—and many cuts of poultry and pork—often contains heterocyclic amines (HCAs), cancer-causing compounds that form when meats are cooked at high temperatures. So should you shun your beloved burger? Hardly. A recent study at Kansas State University found that sprinkling rosemary extract on ground beef before cooking it significantly reduces the formation of HCAs was presented at the March 2005 Pittsburgh Conference on Analytical Chemistry and Applied Spectroscopy meeting in Orlando, Florida.

J. Scott Smith, PhD, food chemistry professor and lead researcher on the study, says certain types of antioxidants in rosemary extract can block the formation of HCAs. Basil and oregano contain similar antioxidants, though they are not as plentiful, Smith says. Look for rosemary extract at health food stores.

Iron: Not Just for Carnivores Anymore
If you’re a regular consumer of red meats such as beef and lamb, your body’s probably getting all the iron it needs. But what if you prefer bean sprouts to steaks? The key is to combine foods rich in vitamin C with plant-based iron sources, says Pat Vasconcellos, registered dietitian and spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association.

Foods such as spinach and chickpeas contain significant amounts of iron, but it’s not as readily available to the body as iron from animal sources. However, vitamin C makes it easier for your body to absorb plant-based iron. So adding C-rich orange segments to a spinach salad can increase the amount of iron your body gets.

Iron and vitamin C lurk in a lot of foods, so it’s not hard to come up with a great combination. Pair iron-rich chickpeas with Brussels sprouts or tomatoes—both are full of vitamin C—or drink some OJ with your bowl of iron-fortified cereal. Talk about “iron-clad” nutrition!

Once you have the combinations down pat, creating food synergy is easy and tasty. The recipes on these pages make lone broccoli seem boring.

Green tea and lemon: As healthy at green tea is by itself, there's a growing body of evidence that suggests adding citrus to your daily spot will promote even greater antioxidant absorption. Fewer than 20-percent of catechins (antioxidants found in green tea) are able to survive their passage through the small intestines. When combined with citrus -- specifically, and conveniently, lemon juice -- 78-percent of catechins were able to survive this perilous journey. Tea combined with orange juice (or drinking a glass of O.J. along with your cup of tea) kept 71-percent of catechins alive as they passed through the non-acidic environment of the small intestines. Phytochemicals in tea have a few hour half life. So drink every couple of hours.

Brains on Nutrition: The Mediterranean-style diet is a perfect example of food synergy because it includes several healthful food patterns. (It's rich in plant foods, whole grains, legumes and fish; low in meat and dairy products; and contains more monounsaturated than saturated fats because of its emphasis on olives, olive oil, and walnuts.) A recent study concluded that the Mediterranean diet may reduce the prevalence of both metabolic syndrome (a condition that includes excess body fat, high blood fats, and high blood pressure) and the cardiovascular risk that goes along with it. Another study found that a Mediterranean diet was associated with a 23% lower risk of early death from all causes.

Soy Milk and Regular Milk: For some reason I can't find the authority on this one, but I know I didn't dream it up. If somone has the source, please let me know.

Cooked tomatoes with the peel on, along with olive oil. Ninety-eight percent of the flavonols (powerful phytochemicals) in tomatoes is found in the tomato skin, along with great amounts of two carotenoids. Absorption of these key nutrients is much greater when the tomatoes are cooked and when you eat some smart fat (like olive oil) along with the cooked tomatoes.

Cruciferous vegetables. Two phytochemicals naturally found in cruciferous vegetables (cambene and indole 3-carbinol) were more active when combined, according to research that tested the compounds alone and together in rats. The researchers found that the two compounds were able to protect the rats against liver cancer much better together. Both cambene and indole 3-carbinol are known to activate important detoxification enzymes that help the body eliminate carcinogens before they harm our genes. Foods rich in cambene include Brussels sprouts and certain varieties of broccoli. And all cruciferous veggies are rich in indole 3-carbinol

Soy Milk and Cow's Milk: If someone knows the source for this, please drop me a line. Every morning I fill half of a frozen, frosted glass with cow's milk and top it off with chocolate soy milk. Yum. It tastes a little like milkshake.

Roast chicken and pasta: The folic acid in enriched pasta helps increase the absorption of vitamins.

Avocados and tomatoes: When used together, vitamin E and lycopene reduced the growth prostate cancer cells by 73 percent according to lab studies

Red wine and broccoli: The polyphenol compounds in red wine enhance the antioxidant potency of the vitamin E in broccoli to reduce LDL levels.

Once you have the combinations down pat, creating food synergy is easy and tasty. The recipes on these pages make lone broccoli seem boring.

Bon appetit!

Sources: The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Web MD, Purdue University

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Sunday, March 23, 2008

How Beauty Chicks Survive the Easter Sugar Rush

Marshmallow Peeps

If you are like us, you raided your Easter basket this morning and your blood sugar has now plummeted. To keep you from hitting your basket hard again after the Easter brunch foodfest, eat cherry tomatoes, raw broccoli or cauliflower instead. Your body's pH will change from acidic to neutral. As a result, you will have fewer Peep cravings and decrease your hunger.

All you beauty chicks have a happy Easter with your peeps.

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