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Not A Myth: Mediterranean Diet Is Very Good for Your Health

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Healthy Mediterranean diet

Millions of people around the world follow the Mediterranean diet or the paleo diet, but many don’t know about their benefits. For starters, the paleo (short for Paleolithic) diet is based on what our ancient ancestors ate, whereas Mediterranean-style eating or diet places heavy emphasis on fruits and vegetables, legumes and whole grains, and even some wine.

According to nutrition expert Joy Bauer, “When it comes to the Mediterranean diet, we’re talking about eating primarily plant-based foods. Using olive oil instead of butter, limiting red meat to a few times a month and eating fish and poultry weekly.”

The primarily elements of an effective Mediterranean diet are as follows:

  • Eating primarily plant-based foods, such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts
  • Using healthy fats, such as olive oil, instead of butter or margarine
  • Flavoring food with herbs and spices instead of salt
  • Eating red meat only a few times a month
  • Eating fish and poultry at least twice a week
  • If you like, drinking red wine in moderation

As for the paleo diet, Bauer says it’s “a bit more restrictive,” requiring you to eat just lean, healthy proteins and eliminating grains, beans, dairy, added sugars and processed foods entirely. Stated earlier, the diet is based on what ancient humans might likely have eaten, such as meat, nuts and berries, and excludes food with which they had not yet become familiar, like dairy.

Mediterranean diet is good for men with prostate cancer

As if you needed more reason to make the switch, researchers at the Cancer Society Research Centre have found that men with prostate cancer can benefit greatly from a Mediterranean-style diet, concluding that “olive oil, fruit and vegetables, legumes (pulses), whole-grains and poultry with some fish and seafood” respond favorably to men suffering from prostate cancer.

Researcher Dr. Karen Bishop of Auckland, New Zealand, stated:

“We showed that dietary change to a Mediterranean-style diet is both achievable and beneficial for men with prostate cancer in New Zealand, albeit in a small and motivated group. This is the first time such a study has been carried out in men with prostate cancer in New Zealand. This result adds weight to the notion that a low-inflammatory, high antioxidant diet may benefit men with prostate cancer.”

Improve your memory with the Mediterranean diet

A study that pulled together all existing evidence about the Mediterranean diet and its potential benefits in relation to problems with memory, thinking and dementia showed an association between the Mediterranean diet and lower levels of memory and thinking problems.

The high levels of antioxidants obtained from a high intake of fruits and vegetables may help protect against some of the damage to brain cells linked with debilitating mental disorders like Alzheimer’s disease, as well as increase the levels of proteins in the brain that protect brain cells from this damage.

In another study, a trained dietitian used a 137-item food questionnaire to make sure his clients were sticking to their assigned diets. He tested them frequently for changes in memory and thinking over a four year period, finding that people who followed the Mediterranean diet not only preserved their memory, but also improved it by 4 to 9 percent, whereas those who stuck with a non-Mediterranean diet saw their memory function decline by 17 percent.

All said, a Mediterranean diet will do a better job at keeping your brain in tip-top shape than a regular first-world diet.

Mediterranean diet is the best Healthy diet?

The United States Department of Agriculture describes a healthy diet as low in saturated fats, cholesterol, salt and added sugars. It emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy, and includes lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs and nuts.

Essentially, the United States Department of Agriculture believes the Mediterranean diet and, to a lesser extent, the paleo diet are the de factor healthy diet that American’s should follow. Fortunately, properly-prepared Mediterranean food is delicious and relatively easy to come by.

So now that you are familiar with Mediterranean diet, particularly some of its health benefits, are you ready to make the switch? Admittedly, the paleo diet is just too strict for the average person and, thus, isn’t as practical, but too has its place.

What’s your answer?

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Diet & Health

Science Has Found The Best Way To Wash Pesticides Off Apples

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Apple on tree

Polishing an apple with your shirt might get rid of some dust and dirt, but removing the pesticides will require a little more work.

New research has found that washing apples with baking soda, the common yet miraculous household product, could be all you need to eliminate most of the residues on the surface of apples and other fruits.

Pesticides have long been used to increase crop yield, but rising concerns over their adverse effect on human health has many people talking. While the exact effects depend on the type of pesticides and the amount eaten, the World Health Organization says that certain pesticides could harm the developing nervous systems of fetuses and children.

A growing number of people have opted for organic food as way of avoiding the chemicals, but organic food usually command a price premium and there is no guarantee that pesticides were used. In fact, the organic, naturally-occurring pesticides that some organic farms use aren’t necessarily safer.

Washing has been and remains the standard practice used by both consumers and the food industry to remove pesticides, but some of the plant-protecting compounds that get absorbed by the skin of fruits and vegetables might be more resilient to current cleaning methods. To find the best method, Lili He, Assistant Professor at the ‎University of Massachusetts Amherst, and colleagues conducted a study in which they applied two common pesticides — the fungicide thiabendazole, which past research has shown can penetrate apple peels, and the insecticide phosmet — to organic Gala apples and then washed apples with three different liquids: tap water, a 1 percent baking soda/water solution, and a U.S.-EPA-approved commercial bleach solution often used on produce.

The baking soda solution proved the most effective at removing pesticides, eliminating 80 percent of the thiabendazole and 96 percent of the phosmet, respectively, after 12 and 15 minutes of the fruits being soaked. Plain tap water and the bleach solution were far less effective.

The different percentages are likely due to thiabendezole’s greater absorption into the apple. Mapping images showed that thiabendazole had penetrated up to 80 micrometers deep into the apples, while phosmet was detected at a depth of only 20 micrometers.

So, there you have it, if washing is your preferred method of removing pesticides off your fruits and vegetables, using a baking soda solution is the way to go. If all other options are to be considered, then peeling your produce is probably your best bet.

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Diet & Health

You Binge Eat Because You’re Sleep-Deprived

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Woman caught eating food

There have been many studies correlating sleep deprivation with a wide range of health risks, including decrease in alertness and increased risk of heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure. But what about a possible link with food cravings?

Researchers have long known that lack of sleep is associated with binge eating or just plain eating uncontrollably whenever and wherever, but a new study published in online journal Sleep suggests that the same chemical mechanism behind the munchies might be why sleep-deprived people not only feel hungrier, but also become buckle in the face of a big chocolate bar.

The study involved 14 volunteers aged 18 to 30, all of whom were first given four nights of either normal (8.5 hours) or interrupted sleep (4.5 hours) and then two meals and unrestricted access to all kind of snacks — both healthy (e.g., fruit and yogurt) and less-healthy options (e.g., chips and cake).

When the researchers monitored their endocannabinoid (eCB) levels, they found that those participants who had been sleep-deprived reported feeling hungrier and tended to eat the less-healthy snacks.

Moreover, they eat nearly double the fat and protein of the well-rested participants and exhibited an exaggerated cycle in their endocannabinoid levels, with an especially high level in the afternoon — around the same time they reported feeling the hungriest.

Endocannabinoids are chemicals that our bodies naturally create to play a part in such physiological processes as appetite, pain-sensation, mood, and memory. They also to activate the same receptors that get people high from consuming marijuana, explaining the temptation for food stemming from sleep deprivation.

Have you ever felt so tired as to almost feel high? Well, this might be the reason…

Scientists hope these findings will lead to further scientific discoveries on food cravings that would aid in the treatment and control of binge eating.

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Diet & Health

Improve Your Gut Health By Eating Mangoes

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Fresh Mango

If you suffer from constipation, a mango might just be what the doctor ordered.

A new pilot study carried out by Texas A & M University and published in the the peer-reviewed journal Molecular Nutrition and Food Research found that mangoes contain a combination of polyphenols and fiber that is more effective than an equivalent amount of fiber powder in relieving constipation.

Susanne U. Mertens-Talcott, a corresponding author of the four-week study and an associate professor in the department of nutrition and food science at Texas A & M University, stated:

“Our findings suggest that mango offers an advantage over fiber supplements because of the bioactive polyphenols contained in mangos that helped reduce markers of inflammation and change the make-up of the microbiome, which includes trillions of bacteria and other microbes living in our digestive track. Fiber supplements and laxatives may aid in the treatment of constipation, but they may not fully address all symptoms, such as intestinal inflammation.”

Researchers took 36 adult men and women with chronic constipation and randomly divided them into two groups — a mango group that ate about 300 grams of mango a day (equivalent to about 2 cups or 1 mango) and a fiber group that incorporated the equivalent amount of fiber powder (1 teaspoon or 5 grams of dietary psyllium fiber supplement) into their daily diet.

A food questionnaire was then given to the participants to assess their food intake and ensure their eating habits remained consistent (i.e. equivalent amounts of calories, carbohydrates, fiber, protein and fat) and measures of constipation severity were taken at the beginning and end of four weeks.

Their analysis revealed that while both the mango and fiber groups improved over the course of the study, mangoes proved more effective in reducing the symptoms of constipation than fiber alone.

Mango supplementation significantly improved constipation status (e.g. stool frequency, consistency and shape), increased short chain fatty acids levels, which indicate improvement of intestinal microbial composition, and helped to reduce certain biomarkers of inflammation.

Mangoes have long been know to be a rich source of dietary fiber, but Texas A & M University’s study is possibly the only study ever to be dedicated to the efficacy of the tasty fruit at relieving constipation.

But as promising as these findings are, the researchers concluded that more research is needed to determine the exact mechanism behind the protective effect of mangoes in constipation and the role mango polyphenols may play in supporting the beneficial effects of fiber.

A mango day keeps your food moving smoothly and easily, right?

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