I know what you’re thinking – chocolate for Valentine’s Day? How cliché! The truth is, dark chocolate is the perfect (and healthy) way to celebrate your love. In case you need a little extra convincing, here are three great reasons why you should share a square with your sweetheart on February 14th:
1. Salmon: The high omega-3 essential fatty acid content of salmon makes it a very smart meal. Omega-3 EFAs are healthy fats, which your brain needs to function efficiently. Salmon also contains an array of other brain- and mood-boosting nutrients, including vitamin D, selenium, B vitamins and protein. Fuel your mind by enjoying a small portion of wild-caught salmon for lunch or dinner at least three times per week.
2. Avocados: Yet another source of healthy fat, avocadoes are a delicious way to stay sharp. The monounsaturated fats found in avocadoes benefit the brain by supporting healthy circulation throughout the body. Add fresh, chopped avocadoes to your salad, make a creamy dip/spread or top your salmon with a few slices for an extra-brainy meal!
3. Oatmeal: Kick-start your day with a warm bowl of hearty oatmeal, which contains brain-healthy B vitamins, fiber, vitamin E and more. Oatmeal also supplies slow-digesting complex carbohydrates, to keep you full and focused for hours.
4. Blueberries: Give your brain a blueberry boost! Blueberries are brimming with powerful compounds that promote brain (and overall body) health. Flavonoids (a type of antioxidant) found in blueberries have been shown to support healthy memory and cognitive function and may provide protection for healthy brain cells. Sprinkle a handful of blueberries on your morning oatmeal for an double dose of brain food.
5. Dark Chocolate: As if you needed another excuse to indulge in chocolate, it may actually be beneficial for your brain! Dark chocolate contains polyphenol antioxidants, which can provide protection from free radical damage. It also contains natural stimulants, including caffeine, which can help promote healthy mood and concentration. The darker the better – enjoy a 1 oz. square of 70% or more cocoa per day. (Just don’t overdo it, as dark chocolate is very high in both sugar and fat!)
November is National Pomegranate Month! So in honor of this nutrient-packed fruit, here are four fast facts about the pomegranate:
1. Pomegranates deliver more antioxidant power than green tea or red wine. Plant compounds known as polyphenols are responsible for the antioxidant effects of pomegranates. The polyphenol antioxidant content of pomegranates varies from fruit to fruit, but on average is higher than red wine, blueberry juice and red wine.
2. Pomegranate seeds are edible. If you haven’t attempted to eat a fresh pomegranate, you may not realize that the edible part of this fruit is actually the seeds. Many people like to chew the seeds to extract the juice before spitting them out, but the seeds can be swallowed. You can also blend /squeeze them to make juice and other products.
3. Pomegranate juice stains. Opening and de-seeding a pomegranate can be a tedious and messy process because the juice stains many different surfaces, including clothing, countertops and wooden cutting boards. For those who wish to keep their hands (and clothing) clean, there are many packaged pomegranate products now available, including juices and yogurts.
4. A heavy, brightly colored pomegranate is the best choice. When shopping for fresh pomegranates, choose heavier fruits (they produce more juice), and those with hard, vibrantly colored skin.
When it comes to glowing skin, there’s no need to resort to drastic measures. For a flawless summer complexion, simply add these five nutrient-packed foods to your plate:
Want to support healthy vision? Feast your eyes on these five foods – packed with plenty of nutrients to promote normal vision and eye health!
- Kale: This nutrient-rich leafy green is an excellent source of both lutein and zeaxanthin, two powerful antioxidants that can help shield the eyes from the dangers of environmental damage (including UV rays). Kale also contains vitamin A, a nutrient that helps protect the cornea and may support normal night vision.
- Milk: What can fortified milk do for your eyes? For starters, it’s a good source of riboflavin, an important B-vitamin. Individuals who are lacking in riboflavin may experience eye-related complications, including sensitivity to light. Milk also contains eye-supporting vitamin A.
- Carrots: Another great source of vitamin A is orange veggies, including carrots. Carrots contain beta-carotene, which the body converts into vitamin A. Aside from nourishing and supporting proper eye function, vitamin A also provides antioxidant protection.
- Bilberries: Looking for a delicious way to defend your eyes from free radical damage? Grab a handful of bilberries, which are brimming with protective antioxidants known as anthocyanins.
- Oysters: Due to its nutrient content, certain seafood may support healthy vision. Oysters are especially helpful because they contain both selenium and zinc, two nutrients that function as antioxidants to support eye health and function.
You may have heard the term “free radicals” in conjunction with products that offer antioxidant support. But what are they? And what can they do to your body?
Free radicals are highly reactive oxygen molecules generated in the body as the result of normal metabolic processes, like breathing or converting food into energy. They also result from exposure to environmental factors like smoke, pollution, UV radiation and poor diet (especially fried foods).
Once formed, free radicals are unstable because they are missing an electron. In a frantic attempt to stabilize their molecular structure, free radicals will try to “steal” electrons from nearby molecules (usually healthy cells), damaging them in the process. This process can also start a chain reaction, in which healthy cells actually become free radicals after losing an electron and try to stabilize themselves by damaging other cells.
How can antioxidants stop this dangerous cycle and defend against these harmful molecules? Antioxidants are able to donate electrons to free radicals, preventing them from damaging healthy cells and neutralizing the threat before it gets out of hand.
While the body does manufacture its own antioxidants, your cells may experience a constant daily attack from free radicals as a result of strenuous exercise, pollution and poor diet. It’s a good idea to regularly replenish your antioxidant supply by consuming fresh fruits, veggies, beans and nuts. Notable antioxidant-rich foods include berries, broccoli, tomatoes, garlic, spinach, pecans and pinto beans.
When it comes to healthy eating, kale is king! But what’s so great about this leafy green? And what exactly can it do for you? Read on to find out more.
1. Antioxidants: Kale is an excellent source of two natural compounds (carotenoids and flavonoids) with antioxidant properties. These compounds contain several health-supporting nutrients such as lutein, beta-carotene and quercetin that may help protect the body from harmful free radicals.
2. Fiber: With over 5% of your daily value per 1-cup serving, kale is also a good source of dietary fiber, which may support cardiovascular and digestive function.
3. Low Calorie: Kale’s extremely low calorie content (approximately 36 calories per 1-cup serving) makes it an excellent, healthy addition to any snack or meal.
4. Omega-3s: Kale delivers an abundance of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). In fact, eating 100 calories worth of kale will provide you with upward of 35% of the recommended intake for omega-3 essential fatty acids.
5. Vitamin K: A single serving of kale is one of the best nutritional sources of vitamin K, with over 1,000% of your daily value for this nutrient! Vitamin K is important for heart, blood and bone health.
Not sure how to cook it?
Steamed kale just may be your best bet, as this process seems to magnify kale’s health-supporting properties. Simply fill the bottom of a steamer pot with a small amount of water, bring it to a boil and add chopped kale. Steam it for at least 5 minutes and enjoy with olive oil or your favorite dressing.
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